Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hubbard Homestead. Issue #121

Good stuff happened last week, most importantly the groundbreaking of "Hubbard Homestead Park" named after my family. This was really cool in a kind of full-circle movie kinda way. Let me explain...

If you're familiar with the north end area of Seattle, then you can probably picture the park and ride behind the Northgate Target/Best Buy complex. It's been there for years, and became less and less used over the past 15 ever since the new park and ride went in on the south end of Northgate mall. Well, right where the Target park and ride is is where my grandfather was raised in a place called "Hubbard Homestead". This is where his father was also raised, and so on...long before any freeway existed and "Target" was something you shot your slingshot at as the hot entertainment of the day. Damn, we all have ADD now...

Anyways, when my grandpa met my grandmother and had my mom and aunts they picked the house up (literally on the back of a big ass truck) and moved it a mile away to where they still reside. Years later, the park and ride was poured in the mid-70's. Fast forward to little over a year ago when my aunt Shaun caught word that the city of Seattle was planning on putting a public park in that very spot that my family had called home for so many years and generations before. Knowing the significance of the area to my grandpa, she got in touch with the city and luckily was greeted with open arms as people in charge began to realize gramps one of the few people still around that knew what the land looked like under the asphalt. My Grandpa lobbied heavily that they open up the creek residing below that he and his siblings had enjoyed for so many years, and that's exactly what they're going to do. A month ago we caught word of the news of a ground breaking ceremony, and soon after that it would be named after our family. It was really cool. My grandpa was in his glory, visually proud, and it was great day. The mayor (Greg Nickels) spoke (I met him, nice guy), and gramps got to give a speech. I sat there for a moment amazed at the series of events that had led to this day and wondered if in his wildest dreams as a little guy if he ever could imagined it. I'm sure not. Very random and very fulfilling I can imagine for a man in his golden years. Magic stuff.

Speaking of magic stuff, the Pearl Jam concert was just what my cilia needed; something worth it in spades to remind them that their life is short but justified. Not much to say other that the whole night ruled. Reuben got to catch his first PJ show, we worked the free food and VIP angle to the extreme, and wish my other gift-giver Jim could have seen it too. Didn't get pulled out of the crowd to do a song again...damn. Next time! ;)

Other highlight of the week was delving mouth first into more Seattle street food. Not my usual fare of picking half-eaten Good N' Plentys off the street mind you, but more finally getting my maw on a pulled pork sandwich from MAXIMUS in downtown Seattle. In my next life, my first high school car will look like this. Could be possible now, maybe I'm just thinking too small. Yeah, that's a big ass pig car. Amazing looking up close and rivaling the sweet Tamarind soaked and cilantro topped pulled pork sandwich. Throw in a crispy and hot side of mixed thinly-sliced beets/green beans and IT'S ON. Cheap at $6.45 a sandwich, but make sure you spring the extra buck for a topping of Beecher's cheese. Nomnomnomnomnomnom...suddenly tonight's frozen burrito is looking sorry.

Lastly, this weekend is the final comic-con for KIRBY KRACKLE in Long Beach, CA. It'll be a great end to a 7 convention year as the band is being flown down so we can rock the HERO INITIATIVE charity benefit on Saturday night. Family is coming in from Hawaii and L.A. for the show so that will be really nice. This time we've got new T-Shirts, buttons and we'll be handing out 1000 download cards for "Going Home", the single we recorded as an exclusive for the organizers last month. Disturbed by the picture below? Good, the ladies in "Uterus Parade" would be happy. It made my mom really proud, and Jim's was astounded by his newly developed art skills as described. It's also my first time performing in California in 7 years so maybe that one drunk guy who kept yelling at me to "Shut Da Hell Up!" in Oakland will be there. Dreams can come true, you know...

They can,


Monday, September 21, 2009

Evasive Maneuvers! Issue #120

Evasive maneuvers! Evasive Maneuvers! *squawk! squawk* (that's a warning siren) *tap tap tap tap klang klang* (That's Sean Connery running through the halls), etc...

Yeah, you guessed it right, that's submarine lingo for when things are needing to be remedied. I know from the week I've spent on one. Well, not a week solid. If you added up the combined time of every school days field trip I've visited one, it would be around that much time. Basically, I know what I'm talking about, okay?

This week's entry is called "Evasive Maneuvers" because that is what needs to go down to avoid what I feel has been creeping up and something that I knew I'd talk about eventually here. What is that?

Writer's Block

Or more accurately, the heading in the direction of that big monster in the sea of creative type wackiness. It can be avoided I think, but sneaky ninja moves will be needed get me out the tractor beam of it's Death Star like pull. That's for the nerds who read this. You're welcome.

First off, I don't believe it the concept of "writer's block". I don't remember who is was that said it (too lazy to look it up), but it's the famous quote of "writers write" that I think sums up the need to put gravel on this slippery slope I find myself starting down. A combo of personal life stresses at the moment and the feeling like I "need" to write the best album of my life (the new Kirby Krackle disc) have got me in trapped like a deer in headlights (from a guy in a small penis truck probably). I don't have the "block" per say; the act of sitting there and being unable to do anything but drool, but more like whatever I do I think sounds like crap. That may be true, that may not be true. Still, something is not clicking that's needs to (and fast) and it's time to do something about it.

That said, I'm hoping that two things going on this week will bring me from the edge into newly found creativity...

First off, PEARL JAM concert on Tuesday 9/22. I've already done my love letter to PJ blog (see here) last year, so you know I'm more than psyched for this show. My birthday isn't until October 25th, but my good friend Reuben and KK conspirator Jim gave me an advance 30th birthday present that blew me away...2 tix to a VIP party before the show and then floor seats. Reuben is tag teaming the night with me and it's going to rule. No doubt the rock will be brought with a hellish fury of distortion and melody, and I hope it's a lethal injection of inspiration. I've followed these guys not as a psycho fan (really), but more as a student my whole life and now just feels like the time to be inspired again. Can't wait, and can't wait to share pictues from the night. Thanks Jim and Reuben. :)

Secondly, I'm going back to basics (not the Christina Aguilera record).
What that means is I've been compiling a playlist of the songs that inspired me to be an artist and continue to blow my mind today. The idea is I'm going to listen to this playlist religiously with hopes to click into the heart place and bring out the some winners. Part dramatic high school teenager, part maybe the best experiment I've ever done...I'm into the idea that something cool can come from this. The nominees are...

JEFF BUCKLEY "Eternal Life"
TEMPLE OF THE DOG "Say Hello To Heaven"
OASIS "Live Forever"
INDIGO GIRLS "Least Complicated"
WEEZER "My Name Is Jonas"
CROWDED HOUSE "Don't Dream It's Over"
LIVE "White Discussion"
R.E.M. "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"
U2 "Lemon"
PEARL JAM "Animal"
FIONA APPLE "Never Is A Promise"

That looks like a solid list to me. Can you tell when I grew up? Nope, didn't think so...

Looking at the list you would think that the sound I'm going for is that of a middle-aged lesbian from Ireland that relocated to Seattle with dreads, a Les Paul, of a militant mind, and with severe daddy issues. Really, that's not a bad mix. Again, this isn't to recreate these songs but more of a "trip out to the woods" for a week to reconnect. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this...

Before I go, feel free to check out the new coat of paint at kylestevensmusic.com. Not a complete overhaul, but way more user friendly and specially more enjoyable for social networking freaks like you(?)...and me. :) Equivalent to Apple's "Snow Leopard", but I'm not charging you $29 bucks for it...yet.

See you on the other side of a self induced serving of tinnitus,


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fairy Tales. Issue #119

Ever since I was little, I've been in love with the idea of being involved with a "movement" in rock n' roll. Call it ingrained in me as a 11 year-old kid growing up in the Seattle suburbs during the "grunge" movement in the early 90's, but the idea has always been exciting to me. Starting a band in my early teens with my best friends I bought fully into the idea that the fairy tale of making it with those people was the "only way" that my career in music would work for me. Obviously, I didn't know what I was talking about and since then have had so many twists and turns that I would never have imagined that have both bummed me out, and later on blown my mind with the opportunities they had created for me in the process. You can watch any 3 out of 5 VH! "Behind The Music" episodes and you'll have someone say that that they "knew" a "movement" was happening when it was. I call BS on that. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it sounds great to say you were that tuned in to what was happening at the time, but more often than not I don't buy it.

What I'm trying to say is that at last week's KIRBY KRACKLE show with BEEFY at The Highdive, I felt for the first time the potential starting of being a part of something that for the longest time was very important to me; the mythical fairy tale of rock n' roll when things line up at the right place at the right time and a grouping of like minded groups all moving forward in a new way simultaneously. Dare I say I feel a movement of northwest nerdcore/geek rock? We'll see, but the possibility is more than present. Maybe that sounds douchey, but I'll risk it to be honest and that's what this blog is about; to chronicle all angles of this adventure. For the past year the trip through the development of KK has not only been the most fun I've ever had professionally, but the most fun I've ever had in music period; music for the sake of fun first, and maybe for that reason has led to the most commercially successful a project of mine has been. Definitely something to think about when approaching life in general...what happens when you put the joy of something first.

Though the KK show at Highdive wasn't nearly as packed last months Showbox show...the air had a special and good feeling swirling around. People sang along (still blows my mind), and even some guys dancing. So cool. Beefy started the night off with his unique brand of nerdcore-rap; an audience directed dialogue about gamer-girls and videogame frustrations. If we have the comic fanboy set tagged; he owns digital nerd fanbase through and through. It was the first time we had shared the stage with a fellow nerdcore/geek rock artist and the mutual loved flowed from the stage to the beer taps to the urinals and everywhere in between. Jim and I were proud to be on a bill with him and even prouder to have him guest-spot on our closing song, "Ring Capacity". RC has been really good to the band since we gave it away as an email list enticing summer-single, and it was great to have Beefy take the chorus with us. See below...

What next? I've got the new KK album to finish writing before we hit the studio for a week in November. I've kind of been uninspired musically (happens when stress gets in there) and so to attempt to remedy that I've been painting/reading new books/learning new things to see if that stirs the creative juices. Hopefully, I'll get a kick in the butt and step up the game soon. October is always a good month for me (don't subscribe to astrology all that much but I'm a Scorpio so that's got to mean something), and I hope good sounds come from that. Multiple factors working in the favor here...(cross fingers).

"Instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has it figured out..." -Michael Burke


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

KIRBY KRACKLE Debuts LBCC Exclusive Single, "Going Home". Issue #118

First off, how is everybody? If you're like me, you're digging the feeling of summer coming to an end (where did it go?) and seeing the official transition into fall as the local microbreweries hit the shelves with their "Pumpkin Ale" offerings for 2009. I usually wait for October to partake in the nutmeg-iness, but this fall all rules are out the window...crazy I know, some would say edgy even...

This week KIRBY KRACKLE debuts the song that we recorded for the Long Beach Comic Con a few weeks back (you may remember the pictures). The song is called "Going Home", and documents our road trips to the different conventions over the past year as a nice cap musically and final offering single-wise for 2009. We were commissioned to do the song about anything we wanted subject wise, but it was a nice coincidence that it ended up being about a convention without pandering or being the show's "theme". First and foremost we're fans, and hopefully other fans like us can relate to the story. You can hear it via the player below, and also via our official site at kirbykracklemusic.com.


How do you get it? Well, since it's a convention exclusive only the fist 1000 attendees who want it at the convention receive it, but otherwise listen away for free. A ghost told me it won't always be unavailable though...

If you follow my twitter or facebook feed, you know by now that I didn't go to Hawaii to open up for Norah Jones due to the concert being canceled. Disappointing? Yes. That's showbiz, baby?? Yep. It's ok though, and I was able to take care of some stuff I needed to do in the meantime like paint, catch up with friends, and sort cherry tomatoes with my grandma. (?)
I hate tomatoes, but for some reason hers are like candy. The seniors and I do well together.

Last Friday, I received a call from good buddy TJ Sherrill to see if I could help him out accompanying him at his weekly gig at Willows Lodge winery. I didn't have enough time to learn the songs on guitar, but I could play drums for him no problem and luckily he let me keep the beats without yelling at me...too much. I don't play drums that often, but I'm competent with a simple trap-kit set up as long as I know how the songs go.

After seeing him many times over the past 5 years I felt good about pulling it off and I had a blast. Me in the corner with my skinny arms wailing away sipping on an expensive scotch was not I thought I'd be doing Friday (thought it would be more like lilikoi juice on Waikiki), but it was perfect. Good times!

This Thursday KK will be nerd-rocking the Highdive in Fremont with a 9:00 show. This show is not to be missed and will be a very, very fun night if you can make it! Opening for KK will be local nerdcore rapper BEEFY. He's great, and we're lucky to be sharing the stage with him. I'm also thankful to have my uncle Gary fill in on bass for this show in place of out-of-town regular bassist Scott. Gary taught me everything I know foundation wise for music, and it's going to be a trip to finally share a stage with him after 17 years of jamming at the house. It's gonna be a blast, and he's gonna blow the low end out.

That means, "he's good". :)

Check yourself before you wreck yourself,


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Toronto Fan Expo. Issue # 117

Toronto. Home of the Blue Jays, Our Lady Peace (one of my favorite bands), and seemingly hordes of girls that like to dress up in raccoon ears. I don't pretend to get it, I just write songs...

Jim and I took the KK caravan of tricks to "The Queen City" for 3 days of hustle and our second appearance at a Canadian show. We had our best single selling day ever on Saturday, and ran out of albums on Sunday with 6 hours left in the show. That was a first both cool and annoying, but that way we got to walk around for once and check all the great goods and art. Felt good to get the juices back after a lackluster showing at San Diego and once again saw how Canadians get their "beyond nice" rep. It was great to catch up with the NYC Marvel gang again on Saturday night, see artist friends Laurie B. and Kandrix, and enjoy some fine local micro-brews I had never tasted. Alexander Keiths = good stuff. I also saw Spock! Looking good Leonard...

You never know who will be in the booth next to you at these conventions, but we were entertained all weekend by the ladies from UTERUS PARADE. Yes, you read that right. They create cute home crafted mini-comics about their adventures both real and made up, and sew crazy octopus plushy things with evil eyes. Awesome. They also drew us a picture of an endowed guitar which I can't post here (gotta protect the kiddies), but lets just say it takes a lot to set me back...which they did. Score one for them.

Because Jim is media whore (and that's why I love ya you big Greek bear), he managed to corner the film crew from CTV; the local news program that was doing a piece on the show. Being graced with the gift of gab, he set them up with a great interview that was aired that night. All weekend we had folks come up to us after having seen the spot and it was a lot of fun. You can follow the link below and we are featured at the 16:20 mark.

Only one more convention left of the year and it's gonna go off with a bang! For the weekend of October 3rd-5th the Long Beach Comic Con is flying the full band down for a big rock show benefiting the HERO INITIATIVE, a charity that helps out retired comic creative types needing funds for medical services. It's gonna feel really good to be involved with it and I'm really excited for a big rock California adventure.

Speaking of adventure (but maybe not the rock), I'll be leaving tomorrow morning for Hawaii to open for Norah Jones in the solo acoustic format. Been a while since I've performed my solo stuff since KK has been in my direct line of sight for the past months so I'm looking forward to busting those tunes out. The beach better be giving out sunglasses though...the pale white devil is on his way.

"Chaos is a friend of mine."
- Bob Dylan