Monday, November 23, 2009

Sensitive Blood Suckers In The City Of Angels. Issue #129

Quick Reminder! Show this Saturday 11/28 at KISS CAFE in Ballard with Scott Andrew kicking it off at 8:30. No cover, all-ages, and beer. Thanks!

A few years ago after Laymans Terms broke up I was gearing up on my solo material and working on a new band name. It was an exciting time for me with all potential monikers choices in the ether and subsequently a nightmare for my inner circle. I guess hearing "what about this?" around 40 times a day for a few weeks got old. I can't understand why. The name I came up with that until just going with plain old "Kyle Stevens Band" was going to be "Kyle Stevens and The Twilight Militia". If I had a time machine I'd go back and buy myself extra cheese on my Whopper because after what I saw this past weekend, that wouldn't have been the best career choice...or would it have been?

I flew out early Thursday morning for a quick weekend to spend time with good friends and family in L.A. My friend had tickets for opening night and asked me if I would like to come because yes, no matter how inherently wrong, I try to be informed about all things in the entertainment world. Plus, I've had a thing for undead sexy vampire emo dudes ever since I was a little girl. Like James Brown said, "You don't know where you're going until you know where you've been". He also said he wouldn't be joining ZZ TOP cause they "weren't good enough to play his music". Don't know what I'm saying here, but I like people to be musically educated...

So like I said, we were there for the Twilight debut and after making "I'm sorry man" eye contact with the other 23 guys attending I settled down in my seat. After 20 minutes of previews the logo came up and the crowd LOST THEIR MIND. All of a sudden I was excited and I didn't know why. Well actually I do. When that much enthusiasm is generated in a large is completely infectious. Not excited was I for the movie itself, but excited that I had never been in an environment that was that crazy. When the wolf boy would take off his shirt and the vampire boy "Sparkled", it was like the Beatles walked on stage...That level of fan mania both audible and visual. Everyone should get a response like that sometime in their life. You'd remember it forever I think, and all societal problems may disappear along with your cilia. When the movie was done, the theater emptied and I think I even saw some tears as the crowd spilled out in the lobby in a feverish mix of hormones and B.O.. Amazing. I hope I'm that into something that hardcore in my lifetime...without the whole shaking thing.

What I find so fascinating about the whole experience and talking about it afterward is that the franchise is completely polarizing. Saying I went was like I said I voted for George Bush. The second time. The Kevin Smith video below breaks it down completely, but may not be for the younger of readers. If you're a parent, you're welcome. If you're a 12 year-old dude...quick before mom comes downstairs! If you like comic books, are a big fan of a band, or crazy about video games...YOU (and I) CAN'T SAY SHIT about this social movement. It's the same thing. The only difference is that that vampire guy is better looking than any of us guys complaining about it, but not to worry gentleman; Your mid-50's aged wife isn't going to leave you and your 13-year old girlfriend isn't emotional ready to date a 109 year-old in a teenager's body...You're safe. Now, go back to pretending you don't know the names of the characters to make you feel like a man...('s Edward).

In non-undead disturbing female (mostly) fantasy news...I ate like complete crap this weekend. That happens occasionally on fast weekend jaunts, mostly cause I love to try new places or foods in known of unhealthy places just for the experience. In obligatory fashion for Washington residents, I hit up IN-N-OUT the moment I got in and set the tone for my grossness the rest of the weekend. Cupcakes I never eat? Check. Donuts never consumed? Hell yes. If I may brag about the depths of disgusting I went to, the night before the movie we hit up a swanky place called "Chilis" (look it up). As part of their meal you are offered something called a "Sweet Shot". For a moment I expected "To Catch A Predator" to show up, but the camera crew never happened. *Sigh*. What a "Sweet Shot" turned out to be was what nasty choice of cake you would like stuffed into 3 small plastic buckets to consume and remind yourself you stopped swimming a few months ago. Brilliant, and only in America. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Spent a few hours in a local bookstore basically loitering and realized it's something I need to do more of. Classy upgrade? Instead of buying a funny book that I'll convince myself I'll read and never will (annoyingly time selective), I've found that for now taking a picture of it makes me feel good and like I've read it. That's called uneducated validation. The most fun of the bunch can be found below...

Met up with my sister on Saturday and I helped her and her husband destroy, then put back together a set for a photo shoot he had the following day. The whole premise was that of a spy couple wrestling money from each other, or a couple robbing a bank, or...I guess I don't really know. But it was cool to see all the prop money that had been rented as they put the briefcase full of scrilla together. Social experiment of doing the same and then spilling it everywhere at a downtown crosswalk may be in order.

We also visited a cool toy shop called "Wackos". I LOVED this place and need to win a spelling bee soon for a shopping spree to go down there. That big one eyed guy? $5000. Not sure it's worth that, but it was awesomely detailed in person. We slow danced.

That night for dinner we hit a new spot called "Umami" for Japanese-American fusion style burgers. They were a little more tangy than American fare, and the house "Umami Ketchup" was something I should have taken home with me. So Good! It was also the first time I had rice beer. I couldn't really tell a difference other than it was a little lighter in body (kinda like how rice milk is), and less filling. More room for Ketchup!

That's all I have for this week, and Happy Thanksgiving to all! Me? I'm thankful for my family, friends, my dog, and the fact that there are people who read this blog and those to seem to enjoy my music from time to time. Art and love when you break it down...that's what it be about? Yes.

Gonna be stuffed with stuffing,


Monday, November 16, 2009

Exploning. Issue #128

If it's true when they say "you are what you eat", then the 10-hour drive back from this weekend's EXPLONE mini-tour has left me a nasty ass DNA makeup of lemon bars, twizzlers, Chex mix, and Whatchamacalits. Gordon, my sugar worm feels like it's Christmas morning. Oh sorry, I mean "Holiday". Never can be too careful you know...

On Friday, my new tenure in the band was tested (I talk a lot in the car) with a few shows over The Pass to the town of Rosyln, WA. If you're not from Seattle, you may know that town name from the tv show "Northern Exposure" that was filmed there. And man, they don't let you forget it. Tried to jack one of the signed posters on the wall but a young svelte and pre "Sex In The City" John Corbett shamed me with his judging eyes. Plus we didn't have room cause the 15-passenger van was packed with guitars, drums, amps, and my assortment of road ready metrosexual travel products.

After a little hairy of a drive over The Pass now beginning to see some of the first heavy snowfall of the year (Patrick's knuckles were understandably white), we arrived at "The Brick" for the show. I had never been to the venue, but it's the one big bar/music venue in town and a beacon of entertainment in an otherwise seemingly sleepy town. As expected, the small town niceties and politeness seeped from the locals and we enjoyed a much needed meal before the show. Both nights of the tour we opened for WILL WAKEFIELD & THE CONGRESS HOTEL; guys I've been acquaintances of for years but never got to talk to much so it was nice to do that. We played well, and the crowd was attentive and into it. Also there was a HUGE drum riser to climb on, spin Josh's cymbals for no reason but to entertain myself (oooohh...shiny), and then jump off of trying to get record air without blowing my knees out of the tops of my thighs.


After the show we were lucky enough to be put up in a loft above the venue for the night where until wee hours of the morning we fell into hysterics making fun of each others lyrics. Truly a traditional music guy pastime and for those who aren't offended like a baby, a testament to how much they are respected...if only to be torn down by goobers trying to make each other laugh. Again, more innocent eyes than mine occasionally read this blog but lets just say that a chorus changed to rhyme with a horrific metaphor including an "amputee and bus pass" left me choking on tears. Good times.

The next morning we packed the van and went to breakfast. Drummer Josh made fun of me for ordering herbal tea and asked if I'd like some pink slippers to go with it. That was ok, until the waitress laughed too and said she'd get them for me after the meal. Tear.

Hit the road again passing in and out of consciousness and listening to Prince on the iPod. I always enjoy listening to non-rock stuff on the day of a show. It helps me personally to make the music I'm playing that night sound fresh. Rarely do I listen to harder or heavy metal-esque music the day of cause it just makes me feel like I'm playing Lisa Loeb tunes no matter how hard I hit the strings. She does have hot glasses though and sang to me personally through the tv as a 14 year-old. Moving on.

That night we booked ourselves a hotel before the show and got a chance to shower off the road funk. I always get accused of taking too long of a shower by tour mates so since I'm not the Dad in the band (Patrick is), I kept the water hogging to a record minimum. Lack of sleep has me operating from a place of unnecessary details so please indulge. Off to dinner at a Mexican restaurant we went before the show and I had to take a look at my morals. What morals? I have a hard and fast rule of no mexican before I play. A food poisoning experience when I was much younger has led me to believe that though chips and salsa are ok, the burrito no cometh between me and a pop song within the same 3-hour period. Awesomely, the best chicken burger I've ever had came out of the deal and momma was satisfied. We then arrived at the venue and refreshingly unpacked the van in 28 degree weather into a cool venue called "John's Alley". The sound guy was called "Vertical Dave" and yes he was...more than 7 feet of vertical at that. If I was in jail, this is the guy whose pocket I would hold to give you a better idea of how tall he is. Protect me, Dave.

The second show went well and despite a table of frat guys giving us stink eye for the first 3 songs I think we won the crowd over. The best part of performing with Explone besides the cool songs and camaraderie is that I can jump around like and idiot without running out of breath to sing. Yeah, pass the donuts. I'd like to think I had a possible Olympic moment that would make Bob Costas proud on the final song. Right before the last chord of the final tune I pulled a big scissor kick, and at the height of the jump, my strap came off which left my body descending and the guitar floating up. From what I can remember I threw my arms up to grab it and came down on one knee proposal style (no tears though) with guitar in had. History has shown that in past instances when this type of thing has happened, I end up playing a chord for the final hit in the key of diarrhea. This time though the prickish French judge may have surprised everyone cause a B-minor bar chord crunched down just in time. Pure reaction then had me stand up fist in air shouting, "YES!" to the confusing of everyone around me. Embarrassing but mentally strutting the rest of the night. If you set your standards low, it's easy to impress yourself. Try it!

The next day we went to breakfast and set out on the 10-hour journey back to Seattle stopping over in Portland for dinner before the final leg back to the Emerald City.
Great trip all in all.

I have the WILLOWS LODGE winery this Wednesday and then a trip down to L.A. for the weekend so that will be fun. Next week, I have my show at KISS CAFE in Ballard with Scott Andrew opening for some overdue All-Ages action and catching up with the influx of people in town for Thanksgiving.

Practicing stomach expansion in anticipation of gluttony,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Clear A Dance Floor. Issue #127

I'm happy to announce my final all-ages show for the year on Saturday, November 28th, at the KISS CAFE in Ballard. I know, I know, the all ages shows have been slacking this year but I hope to make it up to the haters at this one. Kirby Krackle bass player SCOTT ANDREW is opening for me and kicking the evening off sexy as only he can at 8:30 with his fun up-tempo songs and infectious laugh. I'll be drawing the set from my solo material and all my albums over the past 5 years including Laymans Terms, Collider, and Kirby Krackle. Maybe even a few few choice covers to get your Stipe on. If you have never been to the cafe before, it's a fun place where dogs are allowed and where I feel lies the best bottled beer selection in the city. The sandwiches are grub worthy as well. I like to consider it one of my hangouts so it's kinda like doing a show in my living room, minus the whole taking your shoes off and leaving a quarter on the hutch. Vacuum bags aren't cheap you know. We did a show there last year the same weekend and it was a blast and packed, so get there a bit early if you want a seat, stool, or strangers lap. I know a few willing to be taken. Not creepy...

This past weekend I was honored to be asked to do the reception music and perform at my friend's Todd and Raechelle Downing's wedding. The wedding took place in West Seattle in a venue called "The Sanctuary". It's a refurbished 1920's home that has gone back and forth it sounds like between being a private residence and a public rental hall. Really old woodwork and seemingly original antique banisters, window frames, and stage gave it a really nice old romantic feeling much like a movie. That works out good for Todd being a director, and the man behind the camera for many of my performance videos you see on the KK site. When they asked me to write a song for the wedding I wanted to do something that sounded like a lullaby and came up with a song called, "Leave The Light On". Having gone through many things in their lives before meeting each other, I liked the idea of each of them being the others "lighthouse" as they navigate through their lives. It actually turned out to be one of my favorites I've written this year even though it's really simple and not too long...and is on ukulele. Doesn't sound Hawaiian though, more like a music box. I'll be recording it soon and putting it up on my site for ears curious. They even had an artist doing caricatures...

All in all the wedding was magical and filled with love in the air the whole night. There was an incident though that left me wondering if I was really there or in a coma creating it all in my head. Let me explain...

The couple asked me to DJ their wedding (i.e. be the official iPod wrangler) to which I said no problem. They supplied me with a list of songs to grab online if I didn't have them in my collection and after a 2-hour iTunes shopping spree the playlist was complete. Well, almost complete. I needed to start filling in the list so we wouldn't have repeats, and so I started scouring my iPod library for only killer, no filler. Ryan Adams? Check. Replacements? Why not? When all was said and done, I noticed that there wasn't much dance music for the hoochie mommas. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the songs that take a great family party to the next level when the tracks hit; the beats that bring music lovers together regardless of age or musical taste and release dance moves that make you think, "Man, I thought she was a good girl?". We all have an inner freak dancer.

Knowing this, I put together a side dance mix just in case the night went that way but first asked Todd if I could release my secret weapon, Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance". First released in 1990, the song has always been a sure fire crowd pleaser and something that can't really be followed in a mix. The breaking of a fever if you will. I asked my wedding party masters and was told it wasn't that kinda of party which I understood, but just in case anyone needed a chance to "do the hump", it was there to be had.

Fast forward 3 days later and the post dinner dance party was under way. Todd and Rachelle were on the floor, and the conga line broke out 3 songs in so you knew it was gonna be a fun night. Being the keeping of the iPod, it was my job to take requests from older ladies to "turn it down" followed by 30-somethings asking me to "turn it up" throughout the night. Part of the job mang. Things were going great and then my vice "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" hit the speakers and THE FREAKS CAME OUT. Shoes were off, ties were on the side of dudes heads, and great aunts who thought it was a new Tina Turner single were snapping and smiling. Who doesn't think that's one of the greatest songs of all time?! I digress...
What I'm saying is is that the moment had come to take it to the next level and with submarine-esque evasive maneuvers I ran to The Classic to cue up secret-weapon dance mix.

The wedding DJ who yelled at me in 2002 for requesting Snow's "Informer" cause "He doesn't play that shit" would have been proud. (?). Beyonce was followed by Timberlakes "Sexy Back", followed by Arrested Development's "Tennessee", followed by Naughty By Nature's "O.P.P." followed by Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and so on...

I was running out of booty shakers so I put my hand on Todd's back and asked/yelled in his ear over the music permission to release "Humpty Dance". By this time time I had enjoyed a few of his beverages and and excited to give birth to what I felt like at the time was my "Manhattan Project", my "Ace In The Hole". If I were Steve Jobs it would be my "One More Thing...". Given the ok from the president, I cued up the song knowing that we were reaching the breaking point and something that would be really funny (to me). I pressed play and 5 seconds into the song...


WTF?! Huh? *Pinch*Who doesn't like "The Humpty Dance"?! That's like hating Oprah. It's like hating Christmas cookies cause "they're delicious". It makes no sense.

Above the sliding bass line I could only hear my friend JD laughing and pointing at me, possibly at the wind leaving my deflating sails or at my jaw now laying on the ground. Head down, I took the walk of shame back to my table and looked around in disbelief. People were still having a great time, the party was still one of the best weddings I've been to, but alas no one was singing about "getting busy in a Burger King bathroom" like I had dreamed of. Sipping my Belgian ale and people watching, the song ended to be followed by Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" from which the dance party resumed. It appears again that when given the chance, Garfunkel trumps Tupac (did you know he was in that group?) every time. The universe is a tricky mistress, and this young jedi has much to learn...

This weekend I'm on the road with EXPLONE for a few dates in Roslyn, WA and Moscow, Idaho. Check their site for details! It will be cold, and it will rock.

Pronounced with an Umpty,


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Point (Trying). Issue #126

My life feels a bit like summer camp lately. Every day I get up, feed the dog, take a shower, and clock in for geek rock merit badge at 10:00 AM with Jim as he and I have been working hard to finish the writing for the new Kirby Krackle disc due out in early 2010.

Last year, we had a pretty lax schedule with writing the debut album since we started in February 2008, and really didn't have any responsibilities with the band other than we knew it had to be done 9 months later in December. This year with all the conventions, shows, and goings on we had a bit of a late start even though we knew basically what we wanted to do and a road map for the second album. The only difference this time was that we had the possible self-inflicted curse of over analyzing the process and the songs; something that was absent on the first disc if only because we had no idea how it would be received. Because of that I felt the album had a kinda freshness that worked well for us in our travels this year. So, what I'm trying to say is how were we supposed to sound like we "didn't care" again when we obviously do? Yeah, tell me if you know cause we don't, but upon solidifying the track list yesterday (whoo hoo!) I'm crazy excited to lay these songs down in the first week of December. Don Gunn will be co-producing the album this time with us after we gelled working on "Ring Capacity" and "Going Home"; both summer singles the KK put out in the summer and early fall. It was really important for me to make this disc the most hard rocking album I'd ever recorded (even more than Collider), but still fun and light-hearted in essence. If these rough versions are any indication, I'm thinking that's just what it will be. Excited! Mucho!

The rest of the month is getting our live band up to speed with the arrangements to take them into the studio as well. I decided to leave the drums and keyboards up to those who actually play them as their main instrument...what a concept, huh? More on this as it develops...

Hope everyone had a good Halloween! Me? I laid low and watched "Blood Diamond". Scary in and unto itself. No trips to Africa in my near future even though I'm 1/8 African American. No, I'm not joking. Seriously. Enjoy my friends Reuben and Lita as they joined up as the newest members of the Dharma Initiative! One season left, and then it's new jobs for them.

This is not Rick James, it's one of the past kings of Sweden. Confused? Me too.

On Sunday, I took a trek down to the Farmers Market in Ballard for a little home-grown goodness and bad white boy dreads. Luckily, the goodness eclipsed the scent of patchouli but I digress. Something about the vendor displays really struck me this time and made me unusually excited to eat a radish and/or a carrot. It had a really old-school vibe and everyone seemed happy on a crisp fall day. Even the guy screaming in the alley. Those were screams of joy. Also, a warning that blueberry vinegar samples, no matter how small, will peel your gums off. Learn from my mistakes. I also

This weekend I will be performing and DJ-ing at my friend Todd's wedding. DJ-ing is a loose term for an iPod operator but even the guy who writes down license plates in the parking garage has to take pride in his work. We all need a task, and if mine is pressing PLAY while scarfing down some risotto then I'm into it fully! I'm sure it will be a beautiful ceremony based around a beautiful meeting of two very cool people.
I love weddings.

Put em up in the air and wave em like you just don't care,