Frank Gutch Jr. interviews Tom Dyer on the topic of Christmas albums in SEGARINI: DON’T BELIEVE A WORD I SAY
Green Monkey— the 800-Pound Christmas Gorilla
Good ol’ Green Monkey. If any label loves Christmas on an indie scale, it is Tom Dyer and crew. They have just released their umpteenth Christmas album (I will look the actual number up in a minute) and have a catalogue to make all the Santas in the world jellyroll with joy. Why, these guys have so much fun doing this, people check in just to see who’s outdone who. A few years ago, Gary Minkler and The Green Monkey Christmas Chorale teamed up for this Popeyed version for sailors.
Two years ago, Dyer himself along with the Northwest Ono Band offered up this little rocker. I assume that the “Lou” in this song refers to Lou Reed, who died that year, but they keep me out of the loop for a reason, I guess. I think they are afraid they will become super successful and have to tour or something. Still and all, it’s a great substitute for another lame Frosty the Snowman, eh?
The year before, Seattle band aaiiee served up a little Krampus stew with this little ditty from Green Monkey’s Merry Krampus.
See where I’m going with this? Oh, it seems like great fun and some of the tracks are intriguing if not world class, but there is a method to the madness. You see, Green Monkey has always been an oddball organization in that they are incredibly supportive of one another and they do this for charity each year. Yep. Whatever they bring in, they give out. Now, if that ain’t cool, nothing is.
I wanted to know a little something about the commitment to Christmas albums and charities, so I contacted Dyer. First off, the lineup and title for this year’s compilation?
DYER: The lineup so far is: Green Pajamas, 3 Ninjas (4th Year), Tom Dyer, Tim of Seattle (Me and Jim of Seattle), Toxic Socket (5th Year), Zelda Starfire (2nd Year), Pleasure Island (2nd year), The Navins (2nd Year), Write Brothers, Guns of Nevada, Fresh Prince of Brain Wizard, Eric Padget, Free Creature, Steve Martineli… There may be a couple more. (Ed. Note: the “years” refer to the number of years they have contributed to the compilations)
Well, why do it in the first place?
DYER: Why do it? Well first off, I am not Christian so it has nothing to do with that (though I still like doing Jesus Xmas songs – doing “Joy To The World” this year).
I’ve just always liked Christmas music. I have a pretty big pile of it in my CD collection and of course my Xmas 30 Years In The Making CD, shows I’ve been whacking away at it for a while. When I started doing this label again in 2009 I thought from the get go it would be fun to do a Christmas album. Did one the first year and by god it was fun! I have done one every year since except the year we did a Christmas show. Part of what makes it fun is when I put out the word for submissions in early October, I have no idea what I will get. Could be a goose egg, could be a million. It is never either of those – always end up with about 15 – some repeaters some new. Then you have to pull all the pieces together in a very short time. Most people that make Xmas albums plan ahead and record them in summer. I like the spontaneity of slapping it together right before Christmas. I have only rejected two songs ever. One because it was just too slick for my tastes and one because it was too crude in regard to procured professional sexuality (hookers). I am fine with cuss words, suicide and all kinds of stuff. Every year we have “bummer Xmas songs” led by the “king of bummers” Three Ninjas. I love his stuff. Finally we give all the dough we get to charity – MusiCares, which helps music people in need and that is a good thing.
Man, you gotta love an attitude like that. It is fun, though. For one thing, I am an avid Green Pajamas fan. I believe them to be one of the most overlooked bands in existence. Yes, they have a following and, yes, it isn’t all that small, but damn it, it should be much much bigger! And it is always interesting to see what they come up with. Their albums, as well. As for the others, like Dyer said, you’re never sure what you are going to get.
By the way, the title of this year’s album is All I Want For Christmas. Here is the link.