Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MORE MATT and ME



Harmonizing!

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Someday this period of my life will make sense.

Til then, I will gladly settle for music.

I have a feeling, though, that what's best in us emerges in our creations. Which is why people look to their children with such hope; they want to pass on what's best of themselves (honesty, honor, maybe hair color).

My music is often the "best Bill" I can put forth... in person, I'm the story of imperfection. My music can exceed my person.

Like many authors who have written odes that make the spirit soar, and in person they seem petty, ordinary or imperfect... poets of gorgeous delicacy who, in normal life, are misogynistic drunk bastards. Not to say I'm a misogynistic drunk bastard, or a poet even, just making an example.

Making "art" = reaching for the highest point of perfection I can achieve and taking a snapshot there to share with the world. Like leaving breadcrumbs (or raisins, or aspirins) for other travelers through life ---> "This way, dudes." Trying to sum up all I know of this world, everything I've learned.

Someday maybe my life will merge with my "art." My life itself will be the creation. Maybe it already is. Somerset Maugham kind of addressed that in "Of Human Bondage," talking of life itself as the final great masterwork, a bright weave of imperfection, beauty, life experience.

Makes me wonder if I should move to a far-off land and help starving children.

Time for another cup of coffee, maybe.

FECAL MATTER

SONGS FROM 1ST NIRVANA RELEASE, "FECAL MATTER"



DALE CROVER !

I like his drumming. I like the Melvins, too. Thanks to Jordan for introducing me.



Monday, July 16, 2007

BIG ORANGE SAGA, PART 1

Big Orange is a studio space I started with the dudes in Sound Team. It was a dream many years in the making. This is the first part of the story.
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Listen to this while reading:
BIG ORANGE (MP3)
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Early Dreams
I worked on a Tascam 4track for most of my high school life, copying songs by Roy Orbison, the Beatles, the Butthole Surfers, Stealer's Wheel, etc, as well as writing a number of my own. Songs included: "Cross Dressing Cheerleader," "Testes," "Prometheus' Lament," "Shake that Ass," and others.

While others played sports, met girls, got drunk, lived "normal" lives being led around by their hormones, I slaved away on my 4track, learning through trial and error and composing many many silly, badly recorded songs.

This continued into college. I released a number of tapes to friends, slaving over 4track operas nobody would ever hear. Not even my friends to whom I had given the tapes. It felt martyr-ish, in a way, but I didn't want to be an "art martyr" -- I wanted to be heard, to be understood, to be enjoyed. And key to that vision, for me was a real studio, a place to experiment and refine the experiments and create masterworks. To ditch the silliness, just a little bit.

Sound Team rented a room at Musiclab for about two years, I think. The place smelled terrible, probably still does. I remember taking my dog in there one time and he took a shit in the middle of the hallway and I just left it there, just to see how long it would stay. I think it was there over 24 hours. What I'm saying: Musiclab = not the place to make your grand artistic statement.

Home wasn't an much an option anymore; I had tired of living-room recording. Sessions would start enthusiastically but after a short time, my roommate Maverick and I would be slumped in the couch, listening to Nick Drake and wondering what had become of our lives.

I needed a place where ideas could germinate. A real studio.

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END OF PART ONE
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

FUCKED-UP CONVERSATION AT WORK

"Andy loves women," Rene said. She paused for a moment. "He realllly loves, them you know? Hey, speak of the devil."

Andy walks in the room.

"Rene says you love women, Andy," I said.

Andy straightened the wrinkles in his shirt.

"I have the utmost respect for women. I mean, there's this story of this bull, he gets real excited and tells his friend, 'Hey, let
s go run and fuck a cow. And I said, let's go walk and fuck them all. I love females of every kind."

I had to think about that for a second, and it still didn't make much sense. Andy continued with his monologue.

"First time I got married, the bitch took everything. I mean, everything. Left me without a bank account, sleeping on a friend's floor. But the bitch fucked up the divorce settlement. She wanted 10% of the business but she got 10% of the gross adjusted income. So I pay her $3000 a year instead of $25000. Not bad, eh?"

Andy leaned over the counter. He was wearing 3 large gold chain bracelets and a several gold medallions around his neck.

"My second marriage lasted for 5 months. She really helped me through a hard time, with the divorce and stuff."

Andy squinted and looked in the distance.

"But this time, I got wise. Wrote a prenup. Her lawyer said 'Don't sign that, you ain't gonna get shit.' I had to re-write that prenup 3 fucking times. She finally signed. So when it all broke up 5 months later, she didn't get shit. She walked out of that coutroom bawling but I said, 'I don't give a shit.' "

"So did she get anything from the marriage?" Rene asked.

"Well, she got a $15,000 rock, a real nice ring, you know. Plus while we was married we went out to eat every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We went to lots of great restaurants, you know?"

Andy stood up straight, tapped the flab under his chin 3 times, ran his hands over his slicked back hair.

" Now I run around with about 15 women at a time. Variety is the spice of life, right?"

He looked at me. I shrugged and nodded simultaneously.

"It's like the old days, with harems and shit. I mean, I don't give a shit about bitches anymore."

Rene shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"I love me some females," Andy said slowly and softly, shaking his head side to side.

Friday, July 13, 2007

TEXAS MUSIC MATTERS // MOHAWK TONIGHT // TOUR DIARY

David Brown will be spinning my song "Sandy Says, 'Zombies'" on his program Texas Music Matters. Tune in on 90.5 KUT if you're in Austin, or on KUT's website if you're elsewhere.
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I am playing a show tonight at The Mohawk. I promise to give my best possible performance.
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Here is a journal entry from my last tour through the UK:

i woke up after edinburg with the bus parked in some bizarre parking lot out in the english countryside. green fields, horses bucking about, and elizabeth, our video pal, feeding them some carrots. I stepped off the bus and soaked the sunshine. fed the horses. the dominant horse, a big black stallion, had dreads in his hair. when i stoppped feeding him, he nibbled on my shirt. Given the smell of my shirt, he must of been quite desperate. Or perhaps these horsies like pungent odors.

Speaking of odors, I decided to bathe. Our bus had parked in front of a rather large warehouse, which emitted screeching and banging sounds every second or so. A car repair warehouse.

I marched to the restroom and found a small shower: soapdish fileld with brown grime, assorted glittery "bath gels" discarded on the floor, a large plastic bag of clean ( ? ) towels... I hopped in and scrubbed. Hadn't showered in days and felt quite recharged, not only by the shower, but by the bizarre refugee-like conditions.

Pulled into Leeds several hours later. The Cockpit, the club was called. A stank quonset hut right underneath a railroad overpass. Sticky floors, sticky couches with all sorts of disconcerting cartoons drawn on them. I did a short interview with a British music writer lady, fed her several beers and spoke ecstacially about British dairy products. Played the show, fairly well killed it, I think.

Spent the evening downing more beers. Beer, mmmm.

Woke today in a fairly bleak parking lot, somewhere near the city center of Nottingham.

Spent hours wandering about several of the city's malls. Not surpirsingly, they're much the same as American malls, only with "Jacket Potato" stands thrown here and there. Still haven't tried a jacket potato.

I bought several beautiful tambourines in the mall that I will smash shortly. I've been rather enjoying the whole "desctruction" aspect of my percussion playing. Certainly cheaper than Pete Townshend's habit.

The Nottingham venue was called "Rescue Rooms" and seemed a half finished club. The whole upstairs area was under construction; we sat up there with construction workers disdainful of our laptops.

Next day we had off: headed over to some ridiculous castle. The most ridiculous castle I've ever had the misfortune to visit. I asked for, and received, a refund from the ticket agent. Then went on one of my patented "walk-abouts" --- headed about 4 hours walking time in a southern direction, filming the graveyards. Amazing thing to me: the graveyards seem the best places for peace and quiet in the dense, congested British towns. I visited several graveyards, hopped a mossy stone wall, walked along a vagrant campsite area.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"YOU AND ME MAKE 3" VIDEO

Just uploaded another copy of this video, a little better resolution on this one, I think.

I spent many hours making this video.
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DAYTROTTER INTERVIEW




A few weeks back, the kind folks at Daytrotter posted an extensive interview I gave.

You can find it here.

There are also some solo acoustic songs for download.

INVENTING MARK TWAIN

AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK "INVENTING MARK TWAIN"
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Traditional interpretation of the man dictated that Clemens had such a large personality that he needed a separate persona in which to carry it. That premise seemed… fundamentally false. Anyone who has ever performed, whether on the stage or at a dinner party, knows that maintaining a false persona places a huge strain on one’s ego. The larger the ego, in fact, the more difficult it becomes to sustain the invention. To live as someone else, to fully inhabit an invented self, the root self must have nearly no ego, or at least one so handicapped by insecurities that it might as well not exist. It became clear… that Sam Clemens could play Mark Twain to such success for so long only because his fundamental self was so unstable and uncertain. This hollowness at Clemens’ core resulted from the odd configuration of his childhood.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

QUICK NOTES ON TRAIN DRIVING

Show up each morning at 9am, lube the chains and wheels, set the hydraulic brake system, rev engine until air pressure reaches 120, check / add engine oil and transmission fluid, check emergency brakes and brake pads, check pins under cars, sweep the train, dislodge rocks from switches, lube switches with goopy red grease, dig out railroad crossings, start selling tickets at 10am for 10:15am train, take tickets from smiling happy kids and sunglassed parents, give a short speech abot dos and donts of train travel (Do scream and yell, DONT stand, litter, smoke, etc), drive train and follow certain speeds depending on whether I am rounding a bend, moving in our out of a switch, driving through a tunnel, or passing by groups of screaming unattended children. The track is several miles long and 25 minutes round-trip drive.

On the job, my full attire: untucked train depot shirt, striped conductor cap, no socks, cut-off shorts, hidden smile. During the day, between drives, I read newspapers, philosophy and short stories, listen to NPR and classical music radio, solve crosswords, stare at people and wonder if their children will end up just like their parents; sometimes it's hard to see similarities; sometimes I want the children to turn out better than their folks.

Feelings on the job range between bliss and boredom.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

OLD SOUND TEAM TRACKS


At the urging of my friend Paul, I'm compiling some old Sound Team tracks from 2002-4 that I sang on for a sort-of "greatest hits" compilation, although I would hesitate to call it a "greatest hits" since we never had a hit. I will likely put it out on cd-r in the next month or so.


Some of these tracks kind of made me choke up with emotion, thinking of all that's passed. These tracks are completely obscure and were never properly released, though we did try. Enough time has now passed that I can pass a few tracks out to the public.


Glad Tidings
Cover of a Van Morrison song. I think this is probably the peak of early Sound Team.

Beef Captain
Written very quickly... I wrote and recorded the basic tracks in 10 minutes before picking Matt up from work. The words were a scrap of paper I'd found on our living room floor... one of Matt's poems. We wrote the 2nd verse together.

Paint It, Orange !
This track's melody was adapted from the Byrds' "Change is Now." The words are kind of pretty and simplistic. You can actually hear Matt, Sam and I harmonizing on the track. I really like the ending of the track. Over my many objections, this track was never released. Sam is playing bass, I am playing 12string, Matt on guitar, Michael Baird on moog, and Willis Deviney on drums.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

JULY 4TH SHOW

Due to weather concerns, the show tomorrow night has been moved from Johnson City back into Austin.

The address is 3222 John Campbell's Trail. It's in southwest Austin, near Westgate Blvd.

Here's the schedule:

5:00 Shrew
5:45 New Science Projects
6:30 John Rose
7:15 Cedarwell
8:00 Ghost Night
8:45 A Drum And An Open Window
9:30 David Israel
10:00 Dustin and the Furniture
10:45 {{{Sunset}}}
11:30 Ryan Anderson

NEW NAME / BIO / ETC

I have renamed my musical project yet again. This time will hopefully be the last. Can't make any promises, though.

Here is a complete "bio," copied from my MySpace page.

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=== BILL BAIRD AND SILENT SUNSET BIO ===
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BAND MEMBERS:
Bill Baird = vocals, guitar, lapsteel, electric piano.
John Kolar = drums.
John Musil = acoustic guitar, bells, and vox.
Sam Sanford = bass and vox.
Sam Miller = acoustic guitar and vox.
Willis McClung = pedal steel and vox.
Cliff Brown, Jr. = keys, acoustic guitar, and vox.
Occasionally: Tim, Dave Longoria, Jim Fredley, Martin Crane, Will Patterson, Jordan Johns, Joey Koehl, Eric Katerman, Jason McNeely, and Zane Ruttenburg.

DISCLOSURE: Hi, this is Bill. I am just going to go ahead and refer to myself in the 3rd person for the duration of this "bio." I put the word in quotes because I have a little disdain for hyperbolic music-industry boilerplates; I've often called "bios" the "obituaries for those ain't dead." Anyhow, I will heretofore refer to myself as "Bill," in 3rd person form. I realize that, if somebody were doing that whilst you were talking with them in person, it would be incredibly strange and even creepy. Hence my full disclosure.

Bill has been writing and playing songs for a while. The early songs were "lo-fi" and contained numerous recording experiments. Lots of backwards flange pedal. These tapes were given to friends and sold to foes. "Sounds great, Bill," they would smile out the words through gritted teeth.

Besides engaging in 4track experiments, he also began "jamming" with his dad, who passed along a love of old blues (Robert Johnson, Hound Dog Taylor, Mance Lipscomb, Leadbelly, etc) folk (Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez), and 60's pop ( Beatles, Beatles, Beatles). Some of their jams even made it onto Bill's tapes, notably a cover of Elvis' classic "Little Sister."

Bill played out a number of shows of a "performance art" style, meaning he and his "bandmates" would find any way possible to make the audience feel uncomfortable and unsure of why they'd attended his show. "What is art?" they might ask themselves after a particularly riveting Bill Baird performance. Or not. Most people said, "Why is that guy screaming a Madonna song and banging a coat hanger on his lapsteel guitar?" Bill was banned from a number of clubs in the Austin area during this early "performance art" phase.

He had already put out several tapes and cd-rs when he met Matt Oliver and they started SOUND TEAM together. For the next few years, Bill concentrated mostly on ST material. As time progressed and his vocal duties diminished in ST, Bill started writing and recording on his own again.

So Bill compiled some song-y, folk-y, strum-y, pop-y songs and called the album {{{ SUNSET }}}. He simultaneously compiled a whole bunch of instrumental ambient soundscapes and called that album SILENCE !

Bill also made a DVD, "Candlelit Television Eyes," the 1st in a genre he calls the "DIY DVD" --- take the same DIY spirit of self-released tapes, cd-rs and zines and apply that to our new, YouTubed, media-overloaded age. It's like a zine, except you can watch it. Same basic idea.

Anyhow, back to our "bio." After releasing {{{ SUNSET }}} and SILENCE !, Bill toured the country, playing to small crowds all over this great land. He played taquerias, open mike nights, parking lots, Taco Cabana, sheet metal factories, historic statue plazas, you name it.

Upon returning to Austin, Bill assembled a group called {{{ SUNSET }}}. Bill originally intended on naming his stage act after his latest release. Like if Michael Jackson had called his band "THRILLER." You get the picture.

But this proved an unsatisfying approach, and a search was undertaken for a new name. In the end, Bill decided to conflate the names of his two recent releases and keep his own name at the top. This conflation represented his hope for the group : a combination of the ambience, experimentation and "New music" of SILENCE with the spontaneity and folk songwriting of {{{ SUNSET }}}. This delicate synthesis is still a work in progress, but their shows have been interesting and even occasionally engaging. Sometimes they march through the streets like a parade. Sometimes random crowd members join the show. They played a show outside the Clear Channel World Headquarters, which was pretty strange.

BILL BAIRD AND SILENT SUNSET are currently working on a full length album which, in my personal opinion, is going to be just great. They are also playing lots of shows in your area, if your area happens to be Central Texas. If not, they will probably hit the road sometime in the next few months. Keep your eyes / ears peeled.

PREVIOUS BAND NAMES INCLUDE:
{{{ SUNSET }}}, Bill Bard, Bill Bird, Will Weird, Bill Baird and Family, Buck Stephens, Stitch, Strum Strum Here We Come, Acoustic Alchemy, Base Elements and Acoustic Alchemy, Cabeza de Vaca, the Uncollected Hand, etc.

It is a project still very much in its formative stages, and will probably remain that way for the duration of the project. Beginnings of things tend to be the most exciting times. We strive to keep that excitement always!

EXPLANATION OF "EXPERIMENTAL" SHOW

A week or so ago, I played a show that differed from a typical "BB/SS" show. Normally, the sounds veer towards a country-ambient hybrid, with multiple guitars creating a uniquely humming listen. This time, I decided to explore drone music.


I first started with my own creation, the "drone guitar." The guitar is a double necked Epiphone, one neck a 12string, one neck a 6. I tuned the 6string to an open E, flicked the selector so that only the 6string would be audible, and strummed an E on the 12string, varying the voicings every 30 - 40 seconds. The open tuned 6string resonated with what I was strumming on the 12string, and creating wave on wave of strange floating tones. No attack, just hovering swells of golden notes. The effect was achieved without use of any effect. Wait, that's kind of a crazy sentence. The effect was achieved without use of an effect pedal, I mean.


To underpin the drone, I spread two synthesizers around the 4 corners of the room. Each synthesizer ran into a single amp, which was then daisy chained to the next amp. The effect was a sort-of "surround sound," although to me it seemed like the walls were humming. In addition, the modulation of each keyboards bounced off the amp to which it was daisy-chained--- creating a sort-of ping-pong of microtones, bouncing all above the blaring "E" note that had been taped down on each keyboard.

The show started with just me and "drone guitar" for several minutes. Then Sam Sanford turned on the keyboards and amplifiers spread through the room. After letting the drone settle deeper, a 5-piece band joined me on stage:

Jordan Johns on drums
Sam Sanford on bass
Willis McClung on pedal steel
Joey Koehl on lead guitar
Paul Sisler on dobro

We droned further and played a 4 song medley : two songs of my own ("The End of the World" and "Bright Blue Dream") and the last two songs on the Beatles "Revolver" ("Got to Get You Into My Life" and "Tomorrow Never Knows"). Sam contributed harmony vocals on all tracks.

Overall, the set felt strange, new, and decently satisfying. I think we can certainly do better, and will, but I ws especially happy to try a number of bizarre ideas and have them even marginally succeed. A new template has been set, and we now have an experience to build on if we wish to further pursue these more "experimental" type shows.


Here are some links to write-ups of the event:

Austinist
Gorilla VS Bear
My man Dave


Links to artists involved:
BILL BAIRD AND SILENT SUNSET
SAM SANFORD
JOEY KOEHL
JORDAN JOHNS
PAUL SISLER

Sunday, July 01, 2007

LIVE AT KVRX

Here are some mp3s from a Local Live Session I did with my band, Bill Baird and Silent Sunset. Yes, that's a new name. I think I like it better than just {{{ SUNSET }}}. Any thoughts? Comments are appreciated.


Civil War

End of the World // Got to Get You Into My Life // Tomorrow Never Knows // On the Road Again (medley)

New York Love

The World is Awaiting



I will post the rest of the tracks soon. Meanwhile, here are some photos from our show in Marfa, courtesy of Ben Sklar: