Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Banff, Eh? Issue #99

Guess who showed up tot the airport a bit to early?

Yeah, moi.

And yes, "moi" because I'm sitting in the Calgary airport trying to understand the French Canadian-ness of it all after a weekend promoting KIRBY KRACKLE at the Calgary Expo. Calgary isn't "officially" a French-Canadian area but work with me here...

The Calgary Expo is a comic convention that marked the last of the KK convention circuit tour. The con is put on my Kandrix Foong and Laurie B. Who I've talked about a few times here (she's a cartoonist, fleshed out/brought to life "Frank The Pocket", etc...), and was a killer event for my first trip to Calgary.

We weren't sure how KK would do in Calgary being that we hadn't been actively promoting to Canadian comic fans/websites, but our neighbors to the north turned out in droves and made it our 2nd most successful convention yet. As usual it was great to meet the fans and share our album with new folks who hadn't yet heard of it, but laughed at the booth when they finally did. After 2 days of working the table solo (Jim was helping run the event) it came across to me that one of the main ways people had started to hear about us was word-of-mouth. This was great to hear as I've always thought that was the most powerful form of vouching for something and left us with a rewarding feeling after 2 long days.

It also seems that I need to keep my subconscious a little more alert after I found out I slept through a fire alarm Saturday night that emptied the whole hotel across the street and summoned the Calgary fire department. Oops.

After the show closed on Sunday, a few vans and a big bus loaded up 50 or so fellow artists/creators to head up to Banff, Alberta for a few days of lounging, relaxing, and putzing around. It was really inspiring for me to be hanging out with artists and writers that I respect and to be around that many awesomely creative people from all over. Most of the time was spent sitting around talking, drinking beers, and charring up steaks. Being the only "music guy" amongst the bevy of artists and writers, it was really interesting for me to observe how alike all of us who create are. I'm reminded more and more that regardless of what form of art we all express the self-doubts, seeking of perfection, and wanting for others to like your work cross every spectrum and ability level. It's really that across the board we all wonder what the hell we're doing and if the best of our works have already happened or are right around the corner. It was so cool to be around the folks and heroes of mine up there, and a reminder to surround myself with more of those experiences that don't revolve being creative only on the music side of things. It was actually refreshing and more fun not being of the same ilk...

Though I was only up for a full day before being dropped of here at the airport, I did get to do the tourist thing by heading up to the top of Sulphor Mt. via the Gondola. A 10 minute trip takes you up a rapidly escalating 9,000 feet to the top of the mountain and some of the cleanest air you've ever breathed. Crisp, cold as hell, and peaceful, a 1/4 mile walkway leads you along a swerving path that eventually reaches an outpost that was used in 1921 as a Canadian Mountie lookout station...that back then took 9 hours to reach from the bottom of the mountain. Original diaries were featured at the station along with the most "exciting" of the excerpts. For example...

"Today elk and lynx walked along the ridge. Its was cold. Maybe Falcons will fly around tomorrow."

Yeah, we all have ADD today for sure.

The cafeteria at the top of the Mountain also exposed me to what I feel is probably one of the finest of local cuisines in the form of a dish called "Poutine". Not only meaning "whore" in Spanish, it also means that when ordered you are brought out a steaming pile of fries covered with melted cheese...and wait for it....GRAVY. Yeah, pretty much the best thing ever and you all might want to go make it right now.

The next week and a half preps the other set of gears for the COLLIDER CD release show on May 8th. The album I had doubts would ever get finished will be finally here and I'm looking forward to returning to my favorite of stages to play @ The Showbox Market. By and far the best full on "rock record" I've made, I'm looking forward to finally sharing it with all of you.

Time to go mow the lawn...


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Three Miracles. Issue #98

13 bottles of Gatorade, 5 boxes of Kleenex, 1 Bottle of Clindamycin, 2 bottles of Nazonol, and 6 sessions with the Nettie Pot; this is how I rolled last week trying to recover from a 103-degree temp and Strep Throat before heading to NYC for one of the most important trips I've had in a while. Sounds fun, huh?

Kidding aside, last week was really rough in deciding whether or not Jim and I should cancel our trip to NYC for some cool KIRBY KRACKLE shows and meetings at the Marvel Comics office. A lot of work had gone into planning this trip, so waiting till the last minute we decided to roll the dice and gamble that I would be able to sing for the shows on Friday and Saturday night. This post isn't at all meant to be a woe session or a request for sympathy, but thought I'd share because this blog is about keeping it real I just thought I'd give an accurate account of how the trip went; both hard and fun. This is showbiz people...

Leaving Friday morn, I told Jim that I was barely functional and with him being the healthy one he helped me out a lot on the trip in general. Good little nurse wife in the form of a Greek guy with sideburns. The first time I could taste/smell in a week was when we first arrived in NYC, dropped off our bags, and headed to lunch at BLUE SMOKE. It was truly some of the best BBQ I've ever had and paired with a Hot Toddie was welcomed completely as a journey back into the full senses. An ability stripped away as quickly as it was given, I was glad it was for this meal that I could taste. Amazing Amazing Amazing.

Later that night we stopped by the bar where the Marvel guys hang out and chatted (Jim did, I was trying to save my quickly fading voice) for a while before heading back to the room. Upon returning to our hotel, we noticed along the way that some seemingly emergency road work was being done to the intersection and thought nothing of it...until we got back to our room and realized it was right under our window. I've never slept with a jackhammer in my room nor a steel lined truck bed having concrete thrown in it, but that's basically what we were experiencing. After calling the concierge we had it confirmed that the emergency road work would be going on all night and after briefly laughing hysterically about our situation astoundingly fell asleep through the destruction right outside. When we woke up we could not for the life of us understand how we slept through that; an abomination of all that was good that I thought for sure would rob us of any rest and thus send me further into the UGH. This was miracle number one.

The next morning we got up early to go drop my instruments off at JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSE which was to be our performance venue for the night. After stocking up at the local CVS on Kleenex and meds, we grabbed some breakfast and went to go drop our stuff of at our host's house for the remainder of the trip. Jim's friend Gregg Schigiel is a cool artist that currently works for the Spongebob Squarepants franchise as well as his own creator owned characters. Besides being the host with the most, Gregg is also a hardcore "foodie"; someone who is wise to the best food that NYC has to offer regardless of price or accessibility. A "Foodie" is not a food snob at all, but instead someone who understands and appreciates quality and flavor in a non-discriminatory way. We were in good hands and all weekend I felt like my culinary experiences (despite the fact that I couldn't taste) made up for our lack of taste adventure in San Francisco.

The shows were only half of the reason we took the trip, the other parts being a few meetings regarding KK that we had the the guys at Marvel which took up the majority of Friday afternoon. The meetings went great and honestly not trying to sound like a douche when I say this (hard not to I know) but even though I would freaking LOVE to talk about what KK has in the works...I can't. Yeah, douche...I know. Seriously though, we're very very excited and the moment we can you know we'll share. Better than lying and saying nothing happened though...and again can't wait. :)

That night we were all set to play other than the fact my voice was deteriorating throughout the day at a rapid pace. This was not the "oh my voice is sore" stuff that I sometimes experience but more I could barely talk above a whisper. As a singer, stuff like this is my worst nightmare. If you break a guitar string you can buy a new one. If you bust a drum stick, you reach into your back and pull one out. When your voice goes're f'ed. The only thing that will make it better is time and with 2 hours before the show, time is what I did not have. I sucked down any liquid I could get my hands on with hopes that the extra hydration would help me out. As the opening band finished I realized I was where I was and that I just had to do it. Quickly I ran down the set list lowering octaves where I could and thankful I could do that last minute if anything.

Again, I try not to be a perfectionist to the extreme with my music, but I know elements of that tendency are very much there. There's a certain presentation that one likes to put out and this time it was something I was on the opposite of control of. Explaining to the crowd I was a little under the whether without apologizing, I ran down the set list of songs. After a pretty rough start and some concerned eyebrows directed my way I started to warm up a little bit but could definitely feel the burn in my vocal cords. Looking back, each song I thought I as able to push it a little further and by the end felt that it was tolerable. Getting through the show was something that up until the last song I didn't think I would be able to do and for that reason I call this miracle number two.

The next morning I woke up to the absolutely worst feeling in my vocal cords that I have ever felt, blood in my saliva, and no voice. An acknowledgment that I shouldn't have sang the night before and the fact that I'm a dumbass. We really didn't have anything to do Saturday day, but that night was the big show on Staten Island for our buddy "Socko", the owner of COMIC BOOK JONES. We met Socko in January when we were at the NYC convention and after declaring his love for KK gave us an open invitation to perform at this store with promises "we would be treated like kings". You can imagine how it felt knowing that this guy had put together an amazing night with catering, store sales, and the renting of a sound system combined with the fact that there was no way in hell I could sing. Jim and I weighed the options to cancel (the last thing we wanted to do at all costs), or something else we thought of. Being that I had the album on my iPod, came to the conclusion that the only way to pull it off was to play the album over the P.A. while I played extra accompaniment guitar and performed along with it. Many folks would have heard the album, but many folks wouldn't have either. The lyrics are the thing that sets KK into the niche that it resides in so as long as they were there and sung well (not gonna happen with me) it would be ok. (?)

Like most of us, I hate disappointing people so the call and proposition to Socko was kind of pride swallowing but was received with open arms. His brother is a performer so he completely understood the haywire-ness of things sometimes so was very open to the idea and just wanted us to be there regardless. A classy and a good guy, that helped us look forward to the show and get excited despite our current situation.

We took the ferry to Staten Island and after a 1/2 hour of watching some little kid "machine gun" everybody on our side of the boat, made our way to the venue. When we got out of the car were greeted by the COMIC BOOK JONES family and welcomed in the warmest way possible. I say family because they truly are. Never have I (nor Jim and he owns 3 shops) seen employees so dedicated to their employer to the point of me wanting to work there and to be part of this amazing and tight knit group. Socko introduced us to his crew, "Tiger", "Max Organized Flamingo", "Mild-Mannered Jones", and my fave..."Waffle". The food arrived as Socko had promised; pizza from the local Staten Island pizza place and even old-family recipe lasagna that his mother had made for the event. Unbelievable. Before we got down to serving the food, Socko had the following announcement...

"Welcome to my store as you are all guests here. This store is to be treated like my home, and in my home I have people love each other and respect each other. Kirby Krackle is here to entertain you guys and have fun. They are my guests and when they are done with a song, you will clap for them and show them you are glad they made the trip. Have a good night and let's have fun."

Socko is my new favorite person ever.

After a delicious meal, we set up to play in the swankiest comic book shop I have ever seen. The walls were blood red, it was clean, and even feeling as bad as I did I couldn't resist the contagious positive energy that pulsed from the room. The crowd was big and as we were hitting the stage I asked the them if they were down with the MILLI-VANILLI action that was going to have to happen that night. They cheered and I knew it would be a great show regardless. They were just happy we were here. This is what I call miracle number three.

There were even two "Super Fans" who showed up and I say "Super Fans" because I had no idea who these people are but they gyrated, danced, and sang along with EVERY word of the show. Freaking crazy. Freaking awesome.

After the show we signed albums, talked (tried to talk) to fans, and soaked in the post show glow. I couldn't believe we had pulled it off and that the crowd was into the unorthodox-ness of the night. We ended up getting home late and crashing before flying out on Sunday afternoon.

It was a good trip, but a hard trip. I'm sure this post would have been much different had a not been seeing it through the viewing lens of mucous and throat issues, but even with that some really great things happened.

Currently I've been given the task of not talking at all before I meet with a vocal specialist on Thursday. We'll hope for the best huh? With a bevy of KK shows and the Collider CD Release on the not to distant horizon that's what I gotta do!

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the NYC fans for showing the love,


Sunday, April 12, 2009

New COLLIDER Single, "Last Sunset". Issue #97

(Photo taken before we found new bass player Kent Harris, but none-the-less some cool pics I wanted to share. Photos by Joshua Stearns.)

Around the same time I started working for Island Film Group, and before KIRBY KRACKLE even existed I started a band called COLLIDER with friends Matt Edington and Ian Caruso.
The band debuted at The Showbox in Seattle in March of 2008, followed up with a few more shows at The Showbox and Highdive and then seemingly disappeared. Those of you following along know that we didn't disappear but instead just took a step back...what turned out to be a big step back. I was sure the debut E.P. would be done at the end of summer (our goal) and in my over-excitedness announced it would be so.

Didn't happen.

Sure that it would be out in by December, I blabbed my mouth again that it would be the case as well.

Nuh Uh.

Risking the title of "boy that cried wolf" I can now FOR SURE say that it's done and is heading to the printers this week lest some act of God (Colbert?) strikes me down before then. What does that mean? It means that I'm very happy to announce the first offering from the COLLIDER debut self-titled E.P. in the
form of the single, "LAST SUNSET".

Click here to be taken directly to the COLLIDER Myspace page!

Though I didn't talk about it very much on this blog (no one wants to hear about the same guitar part being redone over and over), a lot of work has gone into this over the past 8 or 9 months and I think you'll find it worth the wait. It is by far the heaviest thing I've ever done and consciously on the other end of the spectrum from solo/Kirby Krackle music and the place where harder rocking muscles can be exercised.

It's a big guitar record, and I hope you get a taste of what you can expect to find when the E.P. is released on May 8th with a COLLIDER CD Release show on May 8th at The Showbox! Also, please make sure you friend us via the link above if you haven't yet as well so we can keep you in the loop. It'll be a great show and more music will be posted on the site in the next few weeks leading up to the album's release.

As for this past weekend, the trip to Coeur D'Alene/Spokane went well and all-in-all logged 12 hours of driving. Caught up on some music/audiobooks and enjoyed the scenery as everything (slowly) is getting to look more and more like spring (not here obviously). Besides playing, I think my favorite part was hanging out with my CDA host's new baby, Jude. A cute as all-get-out seven month-old that had the bluest eyes you've ever seen. Thanks Eastside crew, it was a fun weekend and look forward to coming back this summer.

On Thursday Jim Demonakos and I head back to New York for KK business and some cool meetings/shows at Jim Handley's Comic Universe (Manhattan) and Comic Book Jones (Staten Island). It's going to be crazy. See you with hopefully some fun stories next week, and if you're in the area check the KK site ( for details on the shows.

Keep it real mang,


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hometown Nerd Love. Issue #96

I'm sitting here waiting in the Mazda service center waiting for my car to get road ready for this week's trip to Eastern Washington and Idaho. On Thursday the 9th I'll be at Moontime Cafe in Coeur D'Alene Idaho, and on Friday the 10th I'll make a long overdue show at Caterina Winery in Spokane with opener and Spokane favorite son Mark Ward. I'm looking forward to the long drive, getting some quality Eckhart Tolle time in, and catching up on albums like the new Ingigo Girls, Bob Mould (out today!), and the Mode 7 "Mainfinger" album. Looking forward to it...

If you're like me and were at the Emerald City Comic Con this past weekend, you're still recovering and getting feeling back in your feet. The show was bigger, better, and badder than ever with a multitude of A-Class media guests and the usual amazing artists an vendors. The show was also the first local appearance both in selling and in performing for KIRBY KRACKLE in the convention setting. If you've been reading the past few months, you know that Jim Demonakos and I debuted the band's album in late January and started making the convention rounds in early February first in NYC, and then in San Francisco. The response from the album has been overwhelmingly positive on the road, but we were curious to see how it would be received at home. You always want to be accepted and appreciated where you're from and releasing an album about comic books and video games is really no different in the response you hope to get back. Needless to say, the fans came out and made it our most successful show to date both in sales and in excitement generated regarding what we're all about. It felt completely awesome, made us thankful to say we're from Seattle, and again enjoyed meeting the fans of all ages and walks of life.

Opening at 10:00am, my brother and I handed out headphones, spun discs, and sold swag until 6:00pm that night. Normally Jim would work the show with me but considering it is his and THE COMIC STOP owner's show, he was a little busy. At the end of the first day and and completely spent, we hit dinner near home before I had to go do lights for EXPLONE at The Highdive. I've done show lights for a few bands over the years so when Patrick Porter told me he wanted to know if I knew anybody who could do it, I cut the line and jumped at the chance. Considering I was in Explone for a few months I knew most of the songs and after he had me over to the studio last week to check out the new material, I felt good about complimenting the show. After I brief tutorial was given to me by the sound guy the band hit the stage and kicked out the jams. It was a freaking blast punching the drum hits with purple pulses and trying to set moods as the songs pushed and pulled between shoe-gazy verses and arena-rock choruses. The new material is crazy strong and fans of the band are going to LOVE the new album. Even though I had a few plums (stage going completely black = not good), I felt it went well and would do it again in a second.

I think I wore shoes that weren't the best on Saturday because I woke up on Sunday feeling as sore as when I started running cross-country in high school. Lesson learned in wearing shoes that you can stand in all day and not pay the price later...
Sunday was show day for KK and the band met at 8:00 early style to unload at the convention and sound check before it opened. As we were loading in somebody told me we were quoted in the Seattle Times after an interview the day before from this really nice guy who worked for the paper. You can read it here! After a quick set-up and level test we headed back to the booth to promo for the afternoon show to kick off at 12:30. It was amazingly cool to see that some fans who hadn't planned to make it back on Sunday for the concert show up and say that after buying the album they had to catch the live act. I think it's good be to a little nervous before every show (I believe it's a sign you're ready/into it), but was honestly more than usual before this show because its new, and the debut of the full live band locally...and anywhere. My solo backing band graciously volunteered to be the KK live band and worked their asses off just a few weeks before to learn the songs. After two days of pimping the show, we were lucky enough to perform to a packed room with people that understood the material and where the passion for the stories came from. If somebody cared enough to be at the convention, those songs were written for them! We rocked the set and signed albums afterward for KK fans.

After that we hung out working the booth for about 4 hours meeting cool folks and checking out the other exhibitors when we could step away from the booth. It was my favorite convention to date and had a blast through and through. Thanks so much to everyone who helped us, stopped by to say hi (including out of town friends like Christine!) and made it a great weekend! Also, I realize I may be validating the naysayers of events like this after posting all these super awesome outfits (seriously), but hecklers be's really less that 10% off the folks there so don't hate. Go check out one in your area if you can!

Well, the car is done, the man has my money and now it's time for the trek over to Idaho on Thursday. No Obama sticker on my car, got a burned Nickelback album in my stereo just in case, and I'm good to go...

Next week...the new COLLIDER single and CD Release date finally here? YES!