Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Tonics bootlegged

John Nepomuceno built a bootleg CD containing the Pop Go The Tonics EP and our concert recordings, among other things. Steven: "When I saw it, I was like, holy shit, it looks better than the official CD. It's actually got a jewel case and liner notes, and the cover is a picture of that girl from our lyrics web pages."

Friday, April 29, 2005

Good news

It looks like we are going to play.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Neon Phosphor's mailbag

"your punning is getting out of control. i am shocked and a bit offended by today's 'summer' pun. wtf? says arta."


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Special dinner gig confirmed, sorta

The Tonics will play at the special dinner at Stebbins Hall, but only if we can get our Bay Area cast together again. We are currently in the process of looking at our respective planners.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Concert recording

Steven finished editing the concert recording: "The best part is hearing that you actually hit the right notes, something that doesn't always happen in the heat of the moment."

Copy 13 is mailed to the piNoisepop festival, which we qualify for because we have at least one Asian bandmember.

"What are your summer plans?" ----That question leaves out a lot. My TI-85 is also a differencer, producer, and a quotienter.

"Are we to expect this kind of wordplay on the album?" ----Sure, if you stack the works of Shakespeare on top of our CD. Did you know that Shakespeare was such a master of the language that he invented hundreds of common words and sayings still used today?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Concert to be mixed

Today was pretty eventful. Steven got a copy of the concert recording (recorded by Morgan Wadsworth and Matthew Siemonsma). He will attempt to mix out a metronome track that was accidentally recorded on top of the whole recording.

"This is the ultimate challenge for a waveform manipulator. I should earn a merit badge for this."

Obviously we cannot expect this to have the same fidelity as, say, The Who Live At Leeds, but you will still get a very good feeling of the energy from this concert.

Today, Mark recorded a new demo of "Alpha and Omega" with a cool harmonized guitar part.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 9

The Rolling Stones arrangements

They're really geniuses at producing a rich sound without sounding overproduced, probably better than The Beatles. Today's spotlight goes to "Memory Motel" by The Rolling Stones. Piano, organ, acoustic guitar, a bit of electric, bass. That's the kind of the sound we're going for, I think.

Other great songs by the Stones: "Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses," "Let's Spend The Night Together" (for the doo-wop backing vocals), "Ruby Tuesday," "Miss You" (containing probably Arta's favorite spoken word passage) and "Gimme Shelter."

I don't know if we can sing like Mick Jagger, but there's still a lot to learn from "the world's greatest rhythm section."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

This Be The Verse

I don't really have much to say today, either. Here's a poem by Philip Larkin:

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Nothing to say today

Neon Phosphor takes a break.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Arta: "We need to make music that will destroy the world"

Speaking of apocalypse, it's time for a Sunny Ash moment.

As some of you may know, we released an album called Sunny Ash back when we were Sculpted Static. In fact, Thank You (on our EP) is the same version from Sunny Ash, only touched up a little.

Here are all the references to the sun in Sunny Ash:

"the sinking sun face the smile of the moon" (Lucy)
"sleep on a bed of nails to see the sunrise" (Apart)
"soaking the warmth from the rays of the sun, he takes in some heat" (Follow The)
"so he follows the sun round corners and trees" (Follow The)
"early morn the sun is in my room" (Haste)
"the sun will burn off the day all day" (Nothing)
"the sun is just as big or small" (Nothing)
"he tried to blot the sunlight" (Refrain)
"marisol" (Refrain, we think this means "sunny sea")

Could the sun be a metaphor for a nuclear bomb?

On a side note, the word "no," "nothing" or "not" appears in every song except "Apart."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 8

(Happy 4/20, folks. Copy 12 will be mailed tomorrow.)

Today's spotlight: the beginning

This is a particular weakness of ours. We don't usually give our songs their proper introductions. Let's look at a sampling of good intros, particularly those that aren't just the first chord played for 2 bars.

Intros that appear nowhere else in the song

The Beach Boys - California Girls (it keeps building: piano and guitar, bass, then horns, then the organ)
The Beatles - If I Fell (intro verse)
The Beatles - Michelle (guitar part)
The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night (chord)

The intro is also a between-verse link

Elliott Smith - Everything Means Nothing To Me (brief piano flourish)
The Beatles - In My Life
The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

One song or instrumental track introduces the next

Blonde Redhead - Equally Damaged/ In Particular
Van Halen - Eruption/ You Really Got Me
Queen - We Will Rock You/ We Are The Champions
Brian Wilson - Our Prayer/ Gee/ Heroes and Villains

I'm sure there are many other excellent intros out there. This is just what I can come up with off the top of my head.

Honorable mention goes to The Offspring - Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) for a spectacular multi-part intro:

Sample: "gunter glieben glauten globen"

Female vocalist: Give it to me, baby
Male vocalist: uh huh, uh huh

Spoken: And all the girlies say I’m pretty fly for a white guy

Guitar riff

Spoken: Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinquo, senco, ses

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 7

(Produced and mailed copy 11 for a customer.)

Today's spotlight: pop songs with totally different movements

This is a tricky category. How do you work with sudden shifts in music without it turning prog rock? Let's try to find out:

The medley

The Beatles - Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey (1:12), the Beatles experimented with medleys as early as 1964. Just put two songs with the same key.

The 5th Dimension - Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) (2:18), The 5th Dimension are one of the best pop groups of the 60s, no question about it. Here, they accomplish the switch by splicing two songs into a medley.

The cut up and splice method

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations, this is an example of how you put completely different sections of music together and still have one of the most popular records ever.

Brian Wilson - Heroes And Villains (2:17), the switch to the "in the cantina" section is borderline prog rock, I think. By that, I mean it doesn't work as well as some of the other songs, perhaps too self-consciously a sudden switch. A successful switch should sound smooth and natural.

Petula Clark - Don't Sleep in the Subway (0:51), she is best known for "Downtown" but this one is a really good song, too.

The Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun, brilliant. My favorite sections are "I need a fix" and "mother superior" with that weird time signature.

Radiohead - Paranoid Android, inspired by the Beatles song named above.

The "different" coda

Madonna - Vogue (4:50), new lyrics and melody for the end: "ooh, you got to..."

The Beatles - Ticket To Ride (2:46), the "my baby don't care" section with a new beat and guitar solo.

So.... how are The Tonics responding to all this? "Lucy Tricked Me Into Something"

Monday, April 18, 2005

We want photos or recordings

If you have any photos or recordings of the show, we'd love to see them! E-mail

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Next Big Thing

According to the website for "The Next Big Thing" (KALX), which played Sculpted Static two years ago, they have not yet played us. The next chance is tomorrow (Monday), so tune in on at 6:00pm Pacific, and hope for the best.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Harmony work on "Tonight"

Harmony vocals on "Tonight"'s (very intense) last verse. "It's getting very near the end."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mixing "Tonight"

Steven did some more mixing work on "Tonight."

"I got rid of the piano in the beginning because it was too much, also the french horn had to go because it was really doing the same thing as the harmony vocals."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An exclusive interview with Steven Chow


SC: we played to about 300% more people at this gig than the last. at this rate, we're 4 gigs away from playing the berkeley greek theatre, which has a max capacity of 8000.


SC: we've sort of taken a step back because we'll probably have to record some of the songs again. like the clapping song, for sure, and crowds of nervous people. on the bright side, i think we have a better idea how to arrange them. also, i would like to bring back shoes because it's a good song. we can do that one with just piano, acoustic rhythm guitar, one lead electric guitar, bass and drums. in fact, i'd like to see that arrangement done more, it's basically what we had during the concert. mark pointed out that my piano-based songs usually sound complete as they are, and if the band can just play around the piano instead of overwhelming it--like on radio--it could work really well, like karma police or pyramid song.


SC: been working on one, yeah. it's another depressing one on the piano.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 7 1/2

Here's another brilliant one, courtesy of Ringo.

The Beatles - I Feel Fine (1:24)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Concert report

It really was an awesome concert, and we don't normally feel that way about our concerts. Mark's really improved his stage presence from playing with a cover band in Davis. You should've seen him freaking out during the interludes of "The Clapping Song." "The Clapping Song," by the way, went sooooo well that we have to re-record it.

Here is the complete setlist:

Soundcheck: Lucy. 2nd soundcheck: Airbag (partial), The Clapping Song, Cosmic Dancer, True Love Waits (partial).

Show: (John addresses the audience), 1. Distance, (Mark introduces G the bassist, then a tuning break), 2. Telegraph Avenue, (Mark introduces the rest of the band), 3. Lucy, (Mark introduces the next song), 4. The Clapping Song, (Steven talks about the web site), 5. Lucy Tricked Me Into Something, (Mark talks about the next song being a Smiths cover), 6. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Neon Phosphor took a break on 4/9 to celebrate the successful gig.

We would like to thank Joanna Wisniewski, John Nepomuceno, Matt Siemonsma, and G for playing with us. Thanks also to the people who put the concert together and the people who came to see it. Finally, thanks to Sarah Accomazzo and Binh Au for loaning us equipment.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Rehearsals for the big show

The first rehearsal happened today. Amazing to hear the songs live. We are still short on equipment and hoping to borrow some by tomorrow. Mark arrived in Berkeley after the rehearsal.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Ad campaign for The Tonics

After hearing the promoters' modest expectations of a half-house at 155 Dwinelle (max capacity: 300), Steven took it upon himself to design and post nearly 200 flyers on the Berkeley campus. "Just for the record, I spent $8.70 today on copies. We're gonna exceed that 30 person attendance at the No Future Cafe."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Personnel issues

We are facing a bit of a crisis as our bassist has pulled out due to an emergency. Now we will see just how good Craigslist is. Also, our second electric guitarist can't do it anymore, but we won't bother replacing him.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 7 1/3

Arta: "you missed one of the greatest drums attacking moments. i'm very disappointed in you"

Radiohead - There There (3:57), after nearly four minutes of timpani, Phil attacks with his regular drumset, signaling the beginning of a brief, but kickass, guitar solo

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 7

"When drums attack"

Not just when drums come in, but includes examples where drums build tension (usually by an extended drum roll or hammering out the quarter notes) and release into a normal rock and roll beat. I don't know what the technical terms are---I'm no drummer!

Blonde Redhead - Kazuality (3:09-3:14)
The White Stripes - Hypnotise (0:59-1:15)
Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven (4:17-4:19)
Pixies - Rock Music (0:04-0:21)
Broken Social Scene - KC Accidental (0:10)
The Beatles - The End (0:19-0:34)

We sorta do this on "The Clapping Song."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

We don't have an update for you today

Sorry, man. Neon Phosphor needs a break.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 6

Today we focus on instrumentals that "preview" an upcoming vocal melody, often as a turning point in the song.

Blonde Redhead - Misery Is A Butterfly (2:48), guitar anticipates "Misery is a butterfly"
Radiohead - Where I End and You Begin (2:53), bass anticipates "I will eat you alive"
Radiohead - Sit down. Stand up. (2:25-3:03), piano chords in the rhythm of "rain drops, the rain drops"
The Beach Boys - You Still Believe In Me (0:00), the intro melody, made by simultaneously playing and plucking the piano strings, doesn't return until the coda (1:37 onwards)
The Beatles - You Never Give Me Your Money (0:00), the intro melody is the same as the verse
Blonde Redhead - Melody (0:00), keyboard intro anticipates the verse melody, ironically the keyboard starts playing something else once the singing starts

The Tonics used this technique on "Lucy Tricked Me Into Something."

Lineup determined

The Tonics have decided on the lineup and the setlist (Distance, Telegraph Avenue, Lucy, The Clapping Song, Lucy Tricked Me Into Something, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out), but we will hold off on the mass e-mail and announcement until things are more set in stone. Keep your schedule open for next Saturday, April 9, 5:30pm, if you're in Berkeley.