Here goes nothing!
I’m going to do something this year; something outside of my band, Friendship Commanders. I’m not quite ready to talk about what it is yet, but I can tell you it’s already on the calendar—and not just my calendar. A few other people are involved. Something is going down.
I’ve committed the last five-plus years to FC; the choice to do so was mine. Time was, I’d do a bunch of projects at the same time. I had solo output, other collaborations and bands, and was always writing for other outlets. And I was a clothing designer for big chunk of years, too. I made a lot of work, sometimes through very complicated periods of my life. I’ve said many times that the creative outlets likely kept me alive and sane through those times. However, it was hard to do the work justice. Touring was difficult, and I scarcely had label or PR support of any kind for the work I was putting out into the world. At a certain point, I had to simplify. I put all other projects and personas on the shelf, literally and figuratively. I paused. And when we started Friendship Commanders, I went all in. While I have had the occasional outside collaboration in that time, all participation has been brief and limited. In the six years we’ve been a band, we’ve released two full-length albums, four EPs, four Halloween singles, and seven videos. It’s been an intense focus. The band is my favorite thing I’ve ever been a part of.
But I can’t pretend it’s the only thing I’ve been a part of. I’ve made a lot of work. And I just looked at a bunch of it because I was reorganizing the storage of all past releases to make room for new work. There isn’t any room. I’m maxed out, living among the work I don’t talk about for various reasons. Well, I’m going to talk about it. And I’m going to do something radical, in this age of crowdfunding and patreon and all that, I’m going to ask you to buy my previous work. This will help me pay for and make room for new work, both within my physical space, and also within myself. I’m treating it as a reclamation. My previous work has been wrapped up in difficult stories and realities relating to family, dysfuctional collaborative dynamics, loss, and grief. I set it aside to recover. But, I’m upright these days, and I’m going to claim it for what it was: mine. Regardless of who else was involved, these records are my writing and my concepts, outside of the few outside writers on Family Album. (More on that in a minute.) This work belongs to me, and I’d like to share it with you. I’d like to be known. And when/if there is something else to share, I hope you’ll check that out, too. But for now, I don’t want donations or to knit you a scarf or write out lyrics by hand. I want to share my previous work with you. And I’m making it as easy as humanly possible. All options and descriptions below.
Also, I send terrific mail. I can guarantee you’ll like getting the packages. Bonus materials will be involved.
I’m not going to strap a bunch of empty genre descriptors to the work below. It’s music. Some is electric, some is not.
* * *
The Way To Win: A True Story
First album by my first band! We made it with J. Robbins at the legendary Inner Ear studio in Arlington VA! 33 Slade was Boey Russell on drums, Levi Fuller on bass, and me on guitar and vocals. I started my record label, Trimming The Shield Records, with my brother to release this album. It came out in December of 2002. This is the true beginning.
My favorite track: "Mourning Rush"
Harmonies For One
This was our second album, produced in part with Grant Hart, and also with Matt Squire. Matt engineered it as well. Paul Kolderie mixed it. All of the above happened at Camp Street in Cambridge MA, a wonderful studio that is now gone, sadly. I loved working there and did so a few different times. I released this album after the band had already parted ways (geographically, primarily; Levi moved to Seattle). The record came out in 2007. I’m super proud of it. Oh, and this is the first record on which I ever acted as producer.
My favorite track: "Paved In Teeth"
I tracked this record right after 33 Slade wound down. I had just moved to Brooklyn (like, the week before), and did this project at SOMD in College Park MD. I worked with Matt Squire again; he was briefly working at this studio before moving out West. This EP was tough. It was the first solo effort I ever made and it felt lonely and pretty revealing. It’s an eight song body of work that features just me playing a 1960 Fender Duo-Sonic and singing. Mixed by Alex Hartman. Came out in the Summer of 2006. Also, Stumptown printed these CD cases, and they’re really lovely. Cover logo and lettering by acclaimed tattoo and visual artist, Scott Campbell.
My favorite track: "The Worst Of Me"
I could write a book about making this record and the one after it, no joke. But for now, I’ll just say that this work took a lot to get together for some reason. Singer was my first full solo album, and I made it over the course of two very long years. I made it in four studios between Boston, New York, and San Diego—with at least as many engineers! You’d never know it to look at the CD. It looks like a cool breeze. It wasn’t. BUT: I did make the trip to Ojai CA to master the record with the late great Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab, and man, was that a treat. If you don’t know about Doug, look him up. If you do know about him, you know that his contributions pulled the whole thing together with whatever wizardry he possessed. Not to downplay the work itself; I’m proud of it, But it was very cool to watch Doug change it for the better. This record came out in February of 2008. (I only have eighteen copies of this album left in the wide world; that feels crazy.) Cover logo and lettering by tattoo artist Ram Hannan.
My favorite track: "Happy Loser"
This record also took around two years to track, and here’s why: I made it with twenty-three members of my families of choice and origin, in homes all over the country. Field recordings! I finally have enough distance from the experiences to say that I love this work, and I’m glad I did it when I did. I certainly don’t have the stomach for it now. Along with songs written by me, the album features work by Boey Russell (my brother), Catherine Huebsch (my mother), Randy Prentice (my biological father), and Fred Neil. Fred was a close friend and collaborator to my mother, and I grew up knowing him as a sort of uncle. I recorded “Little Bit of Rain” by Fred for this collection. I mixed the record with Eric McConnell, here in Nashville, which worked on a couple levels. I had recorded the music in homes, and Eric’s studio is also in his home (you’ve maybe seen his home on the cover of Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose; that record was made at his house, too). And, Eric was terrific to work with, letting me lead the mixing sessions and see the vision through. I valued that experience very much. I returned to Ojai once more to master this body of work with Doug. Again, he applied magic; again, I was grateful. And that was the last time I saw Doug. He passed a couple of years later. This record was released in February of 2011. Cover logo and lettering by tattoo artist Ram Hannan.
My favorite track: "Brand New Lie"
* * *
Those are the greatest hits! There are other records with other people, but I’m focusing on these right now. This is the major work of my life, pre-Friendship Commanders. I’m proud of it. I hope you like it. Thanks in advance for your support, and of course to the people who have been paying attention all along! All sales of these previous albums will contribute to Something New. Feels like a good system. Physical media bundles below! Oh—and I’m making a few ties for this project. I have a necktie line called B. Arson Neckwear, and to honor this new reclamation of my work, I’m making a limited edition tie called AUDRA. The fabric is the very silk I made the Singer cover dress from. It’s stunning. Photos and description below! Enjoy.
ALL FIVE RECORDS - $33 (+shipping)
ALL BUICK AUDRA RECORDS - $23 (+shipping)
BOTH 33 SLADE RECORDS - $13 (+shipping)
AUDRA NECKTIE + ALL BUICK AUDRA RECORDS - $86 (+shipping) - only 3 available
If you absolutely can’t have physical media in your life, and have no use for the lyrics and liner notes (that we labor over as artists), you can buy the digital media on my bandcamp profile, on iTunes, or on Amazon.
Thank you for honoring my work. Art is not charity; it is art.
And I want to say this for myself, and for as well as for anyone else who needs to hear it: we are not our wounds. We are not extensions of our families. We are not what others think or say of us. We are our own. What a beautiful, powerful thing to be.
NEW! AUDRA NECKTIE
Handmade necktie // jacquard silk with charmeuse lining // 60 inches long by 2 inches wide at bottom (can be made shorter if necessary)