1994, Spring - A Letter from Flansburgh

From This Might Be A Wiki


A Letter from Flansburgh
by John Flansburgh
TMBG Info Club
Spring '94

Hey everybody, JOHN FLANSBURGH here, with greetings from Brooklyn, where one man's t-shirt reads "Where weak are killed and eaten."

Just got back from Bearsville Sound Studio in upstate New York, where TMBG were recording part of our next album, now tentatively titled "John Henry." Bearsville is a stone's throw away from Woodstock, and is steeped heavily in the legacy of the Sixties. The studio was started by Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, with the intention of creating a more informal, residential recording facility. It has been very active ever since, and the site of recordings by The Band, Dylan, and the Isley Brothers, and more recently the B-52's, REM, and 10,000 Maniacs. We stayed in houses that various members of The Band used to live in, and heard a bit of the history of these small towns.

We soon found that Bearsville in January is very stormy and very cold, and with this January being among the snowiest in recent memory, the experience ended up more like being stuck on Ice Mountain than the beatific working vacation I thought it would be. While we didn't get out into town that much, there was plenty of work to keep us busy. At the end of the day I would retire to my house and turn on the five billion channel cable TV in search of another broadcast of that Danzig video. That song has now become my mantra.

We rehearsed for a couple of weeks in a renovated barn, figuring out the songs we were going to record for the album. This is our first album with the full band, and we wanted to capture the best part of the live sound, while holding on to the focus and intensity of our previous records. Up until "Why Does The Sun Shine?" our recordings were made primarily with a drum machine as the foundation, with John and I recording our parts individually on top of the sequenced drums and bass. Fortunately for this new configuration of the band, we've been working on most of these songs for a while, so it wasn't a big scramble cooking up our parts. But when it came down to the actual recording, it felt very different going for a single good take simultaneously with Brian, Tony, and John. We were revved up by the high quality sound at the studio and it was exciting after all the demos and rehearsing to finally be laying it down for real. Of course, sometimes recording the instruments live just didn't quite come together, and we'd have to go back in and fix up mistakes or edit together different takes. But overall, I was surprised how quickly, balstered by many cups of coffee, we were capable of making a workable recording. The guitars sound really good to me, and it seems like this past year of working with the band has really brought my playing up.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the titles of the twenty songs we tracked (some with their beats per minute along side the title):

    A Self Called Nowhere
    Destination Moon
    Dirt Bike 74
    Extra Savoir-Faire 111
    I Should Be Allowed To Think 133
    Meet James Ensor 93
    Nyquil Driver 124
    No One Knows My Plan 113, 0
    Do Not Forsake Me
    Out of Jail 153
    Sleeping in the Flowers 72 up to 156
    Snail Shell 110
    Spy 168
    Stomp Box 140
    Subliminal 132
    The End of the Tour 121
    Thermostat 128
    Unrelated Thing 111
    Why Must I Be Sad 127

Looks like the record will be coming out in August. For some previews of demos, call Dial-A-Song at 718-387-6962 and hear how the songs sounded before we figured them out. Hope we're coming to your town on this upcoming tour. If not, I'm sure we'll see you in the Fall.