Happy November to you of the International Popular Music Community!
For this month’s AotM we are going to the well with our old pal, Eric Lichter. As you no doubt recall, Eric is a long time member of The Green Pajamas, was the drummer for The Life, whose 1987 album we re-released last January and was featured on our Xmas album last December. We also featured his band/project with Jimm McIver, Picture Day, as AotM in Feb 2011. Man, that is one lotta bona fides.
For this album Eric went to Paris and recorded in ten days with long-time Posey Ken Stringfellow (who also has a new solo album, Danzig in the Moonlight). To pull this off, Eric managed a successful Kickstarter project (with super-duper promo vid by our Senior VP of Video Howie Wahlen) and has now kicked the whole thing out to the general public – that’s you. To give you a little sense of how he pulled off this exciting project, we have included Eric’s Kickstarter travelogue below. Nicely played Eric!
Next month we will again feature a Xmas album for your holiday pleasure. As usual, we don’t really have it together yet, but fear not, it shall be done. In other news, The Green Pajamas are shooting another video for Death By Misadventure, this time for The Spell. A second video for I Ain’t Blue Anymore has been shot and is being edited – for There Be Killin’ (In My Town), with plans for a third video forSmithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig) in the works. The Jim of Seattle album We Are All Famous looks like we will still get it out by January and we have a few other irons in the fire, so pay attention.
All songs by Eric Lichter, BMI 2012,
except Subway to the Sun, music by Eric Lichter & Steve Kawasaki. Additional lyrics on A Plan So Beautiful by Ken Stringfellow.
Eric Lichter: Vox, Gtr, Keys
Ken Stringfellow: Gtr, Vox, Keys, Bass, Effects, Etc.
Mike Dumas: Drums
Andrea Wittgens: Bk vox (Leonard Street)
Produced by Ken Stringfellow
Recorded at Le Domicile Studios (Paris, France) and Crackle & Pop Studios (Seattle, USA) Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI (Seattle, USA)
This is the portal to ELKS IN PARIS, a music project featuring a new album from Eric Lichter (EL) produced by Ken Stringfellow(KS).
Both musicians have ties to the Pacific Northwest music scene. Eric has been a longtime contributing songwriter for the Green Pajamas and Picture Day. He has a previous solo album, Palm Wine Sunday Blue on Parasol Records. Ken was a founding member of The Posies, The Disciplines and spent a decade touring and recording with REM.
The idea behind ELKS In Paris was to record an album in the world’s most beautiful city. For a long time, the dream was only that – until a community of supporters mobilized to finance the project via Kickstarter. Eric flew to Paris in late June of 2012. He spent 10 days working with Ken at Le Domicile Studios in the fabulousBastille district. There was little sleep, lots of coffee and beaucoup work. When the frenzy was over they had ten great new songs.
The music is dreamy, acoustic-psychedelic pop. Alternately bright and forlorn, simmering and exploding. Catchy choruses, gentle undertones, and a few sharp blasts of wind to blow your head clear. Feels a bit like a season in Paris, with the colors, moods and sensations changeable hour by hour. Take a listen and see what you think.
Kickstarter: The Big $8,000!!! March 24, 2012
Now that I’ve hit my goal I’ve had some people ask me if they can still become a backer. The answer is absolutely yes! There is still time. I have 28 days left in my Kickstarter and every penny will be put to use for this project. Recording projects alwaysgo over budget and any money pledged beyond the goal will greatly help. And, I want to give out more rewards like Lichter lighters, Truce cookies, holiday cds, a tour of the Nike Campus and MORE. So don’t hesitate to tell your friends to join.
March 31, 2012:
Just Booked my flight to Paris. Leave 3rd week in June. Umm, did I say I am very, very, very psyched!!?
April 4, 2012:
Close to $9,000 in my fundraising!! It’s so great and will go a long way towards making this album even better!!!!
Story from yesterday:
The famous local Leschi grocer, Steve from the Leschi Mart came running out after me and my two boys bought a couple of his Polish sausages. Really the best in town…. I think Steve has been there for some 50 years ( I’m not sure but I think his parents started Leschi Mart perhaps some 70 or 80 years ago?!) I love that store! In his typical super friendly way he said, “hey send me that link to your music project again, I lost it!” I shook my Polish sausage link with gratitude and said I will, and moved on. I didn’t think much of it and to tell truth I was kind of distracted as I was trying to stop my 2 year old from giving a dog at the Starbucks next door his sausage. 2 hours later I see on my Kickstarter page that Steve made a great donation. You just never know about people. The suprise and amazement is manifested in so many ways- Thank you Steve!
April 22, 2012
It’s been done! At 10:06 last night my project was FUNDED!!!! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I am brimming this morning.
So, what next? I leave for Paris June 21st. I will be there for 10 days to record the album. I cannot wait to go! Meanwhile look for more updates as I will be working on getting rewards out to all of you. Please be patient as it will be a process, but a very fun process!!!
Thank you, thank you!
May 6, 2012
Just a quick update. First things: I am busy getting rewards together. It takes time, but you WILL see these rewards. Estimated delivery date to your door July/Aug for most rewards. The CD will probably take longer of course. The project got pushed to end of June and we are mixing 1st week of July. After that we have to master, press, etc…. I really appreciate your patience.
I leave for Paris June 21st and will be there until June 30th. We are working mostly 12 hour days in the studio. I get a few half days. I gotta see a little bit of Paris while I’m there!
June 6, 2012
Ken and I did some pre-production here in Seattle to get ready for the Paris recordings. We did drum tracks at Crackle and Pop studios in Ballard with the amazing Mike Dumas on drums. We had two long hot challenging days getting drum sounds but we got all the drums tracks done and they sound great!
Now to the fun stuff. I leave for Paris June 21st, Fly to Frankfurt, then a short 45 minute flight to Paris. I go right to the studio from the airport and we will probably work 8 hours that first day. I know I’ll be wiped but who cares!? It will be Paris wiped…. Then we are scheduled 12 hour days in the studio for the next week with one half day. that’s the day i will bop around Paris a bit just to say I actually saw the city :))
June 12, 2012
I just sent out surveys to collect names and address so I can start to send rewards to your doorstep. They will come in waves, but they WILL come. I leave for Paris in 9 bloody days!!!! OMG is an understatement. Thanks everyone. Look for more updates soon. I’ll be posting from THE CITY OF LIGHTS. Just remember that when you see these pictures coming from me in Paris, that you made this happen for me.
June 21, 2012
Ok, everybody, this is it. I leave tomorrow morning for Paris. Will arrive on the 22nd, hop in a cab and head right for the studio. I got these homeopathic pills called no-jet leg. Hope they work cuz I am gonna hit the ground running.
June 23, 2012
OK, I am actually here. It is stunning! Spent the first day in the studio laying down bass tracks. Ken played all the extra bass parts we didn’t nail is the Seattle sessions and man, can that guy play like no ones biz!
Great night sleep. Off to get a mega sized cafe au lait avec pain au chocalate or some other scrumptious goodie and write postcards to my backers. Be in the studio by 10:00.
June 25, 2012
Day 4 of the recordings. It is going so well. Way beyond my expectations. Mr Stringfellow is such an amazing producer and he is adding a particular magic to these songs. Yesterday was my one and only half day in the studio. Took the metro up to montmarte and had lunch at the sweetest cafe. Had the best chevre salad and a yummy glass of red wine. So good, so fun, so French! Poked around wine stores, bought a few gifts, and wrote post cards to my backers. So far I have written 28 cards! so today it is back to work cutting guitar tracks. Tomorrow keyboards then on with vocals.
June 26, 2012
It is interesting hanging out with Mr Stringfellow. It’s a bit like being with Mozart on speed. In between working my album into a blistering, magical frenzy, he is booking a show in Istanbul, Skyping with some famous Dutch film maker in which he is producing something for, at the same time on a different computer he is promoting his brilliant new album in about 10 different ways, while finding moments to laugh with his wife about some secret joke, being sweet and cuddly with his little 8 year old girl, and…. doing about 5 other technical I don’t even come close to understanding. This all might take place in about a half hours time. I am not kidding here. This guy is working on a different plane. He has a way of making everything of equal priority so I never feel like our work is being put off or ignored. At times I feel like a small french fry in a field of giant parisian potatoes. But I am one luck fry.
I’ve been meaning to tell you that for those of you that pledged at the T-shirt level, you are in for a treat. The T-shirts are being designed by Gazelle Samizay, international artist and film maker. The design is stunning and I think you guys are really going to love what she did.
June 28, 2012
The very steep winding stairs you see are the three flights I’d climb to the studio. Probably climbed up and down that thing 5-10 times a day. I got in a few runs here but really these stairs where a bigger work out.
Yesterday Ken had some stuff to do so we got started a little later. I went out to St Germaine. One would imagine since I am in Paris, I get to “do and see” Paris. There has been almost no time for that. just little sneak peeks now and then. I was really happy to get out here and see the bridge of locks and made momentary visual with the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and the Seine. Very emotional just to see. I’ll admit I cried upon seeing it and some sweet older Parisian man offered me his already used hankie. Very kind sir. I hung out on this bridge for 10 minutes and then, oops, it’s 11:45 and time to get back to la studio.
June 30, 2012
Well, I just finished recording the album. Laid down the last vocal track. Difficult to describe this whole experience but it went far beyond my expectations.
July 1, 2012
Here’s the conversation I had with the US custom agent at Newark airport today:
Agent, “What was your purpose in Paris, sir?” (this guy was super stern and kind a scary)
Me, “I went to record an album.”
Agent, “What kind of music is it, sir?”
Me (a bit thrown off by the question), “Uhh, I suppose alternative rock.”
Agent(spending a FULL 2 minutes alternating between his screen, my passport, and my face) finally said, ” You’re in the Green Pajamas” (one of the other bands I am in).
Me, “Uhhh yes, I am.”
Agent, “Hope your new album goes well.”
July 5, 2012
Here’s a really nice description on the Paris sessions from Ken Stringfellow‘s blog.
I spent the week recording Eric Lichter, from Seattle. Eric has been contributing some songs and playing on record (and, in their extremely rare live performances) with Seattle’s reclusive kings of psych pop, the Green Pajamas, and gave me the gift of their upcoming album in advance of the release, which I checked out one evening after our work was done. The album, ‘Death By Misadventure” which is a great title, is really good. There’s a tune of Eric’s on there, ‘Wrong Home’ which I picked out from his batch of 30 demos as a real winner, til he sheepishly informed me it was already set to be released on this album. And I’m glad we didn’t record it–not only do we have ten great songs on the album we’re working on, but the Green Pajamas’ version is as fine an expression of the song as could be done.
We’d done some good work in Seattle in May, recording all the drums for the album and a few bass tracks. Two of the songs were quite bare bones, the drummer playing a simple pattern, like a loop, that somehow we would have to introduce dynamics to….as far as the drums were concerned there were no ups and downs, no heroic swells for the chorus, just a steady beat. So, those songs were big question marks in my head–what would we do with them?
In fact, when I sketched out what needed to be done in the 8 days we had in Paris, it seemed like a tall order. We dug into it, Eric fresh off the plane from Seattle via Frankfurt and barely able to sit upright. Me too, for most of the week–as the temperatures went into the low 80s in Paris, and since when we do recording of live instruments or voice we have to close the windows and the doors to the salon, we’re essentially locked in an airless room with lots of sizzling hot vacuum tubes. When Eric was singing, I have to be perfectly still, to avoid shuffling noises or chair squeaks, and I close my eyes to listen to how the performance is going down…you can see where this is going, at one point I completely dozed off–hot room, no air, beautiful music in the headphones…reminded me of those last few days of school that could sometimes fall in June, the year’s work complete there’s nothing left to do but show movies to the kids–I remember the steady, hypnotic rattle of the projector, and the strangely pleasant effect of the warbly sound of these old beat up films…the airless classroom, now dark…and fighting to stay awake, doing the jerky head bob thing.
When the Zen master was asked the secret of life, he thought for a long while, then told the student: “eat when hungry, sleep when tired”.
So, that’s what I did. I only had one nodding off incident, the aforementioned–but we did have an apero each evening, with cheese, wine, figs, saucisson, olive oil and bread. So, we had our own little path to zen.
And the work? Well, with the fear of God in us about finishing, we worked quite fast–finally finishing up ahead of schedule, Friday evening. I only have raw vocal tracks, unedited, that have to comp, I had time to comp and tune and EQ two vocals on Friday, but generally, everything is in ship shape. The work was similar to the Ian McGlynn album, where Eric had his domain (singing, and some acoustic guitar) and left me free reign to do the rest–I programmed drums and other electronic sounds to augment the organic tracks, played acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, bass, guitaret, percussion, keyboard, iPhone. I did many of the backing vocals, too. It’s always great when an artist puts their trust in me. We made a sonically adventurous, diverse album, with songs that inhabit dense landscapes of ominous synths and pulsing rhythms in some cases, and in others revel in simple acoustic charm. Always with some trippy element…for a person as well grounded as Eric is, the lysergic brainmelt runoff off the Green Pajamas has definitely dripped some freak factor into his mental reservoir. And of course I’m a good ol’ acid casualty myself, maybe equally as much from my experiments with mind-altering substances in my youth as from listening to the Residents, or Gorecki, or….