Saturday, December 31, 2005

Steve Ison reviews "Anne Bancroft"

It's always fun for Neon Phosphor to write about our own music, but it's even better when a stranger does it for you. This is from the KIAC radio station "aLtErNaTiVe RetRo AnD pSyChEDeLIc."
Very very pretty song filled with that elusive 60s spirit..The kind of haunting, life affirming happy sad evocativeness that was so prevalent in 60s music but is (sadly) so scarce now..Such a refreshing joy to hear a track like this amongst all the terminally cold, mediocre corporate modern rock chancers that i've just unfortunately assaulted my ears with here on I.A.C..Many thanks guys for the great vibes..:)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Lava Lounge gig, part 2

Steven, after the instrument switch:

Mark sang "Thank You" at the keyboards.

Arta, looking sharp.

Too bad we don't have any photos of Alek. We'll see if Lisa took any.

Here are the bands that came after us. Que Sera is a mostly instrumental band:

Hello Fever is a pop punk band:

Stratageme played at midnight, but we were standing outside by then. Sorry, no pictures.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lava Lounge gig, part 1

Here we are, at the site of our second gig this winter.

The Lava Lounge is a tiki-themed bar, with lots of sparkly decorations and colored lights.

Rock out! (Alek is obscured by Mark.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Final rehearsal

Today, the Tonics ran through their set at the Pasadena Rehearsal Studios, plus a few bonus songs such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Our House," "Hamlet," and "Here Comes Your Man."

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Blue Cafe gig: part 3

Mark had a lot of fun.

Alek looks a little more serious.

Steven's sang "Hey," a Pixies cover, while Mark went off stage for a drink.

Here's Arta playing his Les Paul. Mark is in the background singing "Thank You."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

If the LA Weekly says we're playing, then it must be true.

This is the cover of this week's LA Weekly, soon to go down as one of the most valuable and sought-after items on eBay.

Why? Because Page 132 contains the first mass media mention of The Tonics, soon to become one of the greatest bands ever. Take a look at this advertisement.

Here's a close-up. Notice how the font size makes it look like we're the headlining act (along with Hello Fever).

If you haven't already, pick up your free copy of the LA Weekly. They're everywhere.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Our House

Mark, Arta and Steven arranged Mark's new song, "Our House." Then, they worked on "Amaj7," another one of Steven's notoriously difficult piano songs. Arta: "It sounds too much like Radiohead and not enough like our other songs. [Starts playing 'Street Spirit'] This arpeggiation thing has been done."

The Blue Cafe gig: part 2... an exclusive interview with the Tonics


MW: it was amazing

SC: pretty good

MW: ok, it was pretty good

AK: pretty good? pretty good my foot

MW: i didn't get ten years added to my life and we didn't discover a cure for cancer

AK: aerosmith is pretty good. we were awesome

MW: so i guess i wasn't, you know, amazed

SC: it wasn't as good as an elliott smith show, i'm afraid

MW: no, that's a lie

AK: yeah man, elliott smith would've been jealous

MW: elliott smith's shows, especially the later ones, were nothing special

AK: and then he would have stabbed himself, twice.

MW: that's pretty low, man

AK: yeah, but on the record, his girlfriend totally killed him

MW: ok, so he would've been so jealous his girlfriend would have had to kill him

AK: exactly

MW: all right


MW: when i kicked the cable out of my tuner pedal during "get things done," so that the last minute was filled with buzzing

AK: that was hot

MW: i mean, i'll always remember that, i don't know if it was a high so much as highlighted

AK: but even better was when i had my tuner on, and thus my guitar muted, during the first three chords of save the day

MW: yeah, that was pretty good too.

SC: i didn't hear that, actually, i was too busy looking at my fingers

MW: i guess that makes the whole show a highlight for you, steven. wait, no. the highlight of the show was being told afterward that people were singing along or when that guy came up and tipped us

AK: well if we're not being funny anymore i agree

SC: yeah i couldn't believe it. they sang along to "how many kids did you trick" apparently.

AK: yeah the guy was singing to "you're so very nice" also

MW: i mean, i love to bitch, but that was bad ass

SC: who pocketed the tip, by the way?

AK: well it wasn't me

MW: who knows?

AK: and it wasn't steven, so hmm i wonder who that leaves

MW: i think it's safe to say we'll never be sure were the money went, and that it's best to leave it [at] that

AK: sure sure

MW: where that really shoots a hole in my case. the man who can't spell necessarily is a thief

AK: totally

MW: next question


SC: i think it'll be phenomenal

MW: it's the lava lounge

SC: everyone will be there

MW: because it's the lava lounge. it doesn't matter how much we practice -- we've got moxy, and moxy and the lava lounge are like friends with benefits or some shit.


MW: because they don't want to be assholes this coming wednesday, or maybe "gilmore girls" is on USA network or something. but this is rock and roll

SC: it'll be a milestone in rock and roll history

AK: it'll be a whole ton of fun, and if we like you, we'll buy you a drink afterwards

MW: you know, i've used the verb "to be" almost exclusively in the past couple of clauses. i just want to go on record as being aware of that

AK: you're so copulative, mark

MW: oh, that was good

AK: i know

MW: i won't lie, i love my copulae

SC: what the hell is a copulae?

MW: it's what makes the publicist cry, but without it my poetry dies. it's also pluralized [from copula]

SC: ah, i see

AK: poor steven

MW: he's not missing much

AK: you are an english major too. but you were born in the Orient, let's not forget.

MW: copulae is linguistics faggotry. we call it a linking verb in my occident


MW: hell yes

SC: excellent drummer

AK: absolutely

MW: the guy knows both music and how to play the drums

AK: what a great drummer and a great guy

MW: yeah, and he's a great guy. that's a ridiculous combination. you can't ask for that

SC: i hope he enjoyed playing with us. he should be a full-time member of the tonics

MW: he should

AK: absolutely


MW: mad props to alan

AK: the rehearsal's have been intense. tiring. but lots of fun

MW: oh, yeah. they're tough

AK: the fact that alan makes PRS such a great and friendly place also helps a lot

MW: mad props to alan

SC: the songs actually get more fun to play as the rehearsal progresses

MW: that's definitely true. we get to treat the songs as songs and not as orchestrations subject to infinite levels of revision

AK: well put

SC: we're still revising the songs, though. for instance, the save the day bridge is 10 times better thanks to this bom-bom-bom rhythm that arta jammed up

MW: yeah and that sort of adjustment is fun

AK: that's what playing live is all about

MW: exactly, there's no slaving away in a tiny room. well...

AK: it's a slightly larger room and there's no computer in it

MW: and we get to jump around a little

AK: yep

MW: that stuff counts for a lot

AK: absolutement

MW: this is rock, not the GREs

AK: that's french, bud. oh wait a minute, i thought you were dissing me. never mind

MW: hahaha. calm down, edward said

AK: what did i say?

MW: you thought i was dissing you

AK: i know. i was making a pun there. say, said. never mind

MW: no no, there's an ayn in that

AK: yeah, but how's whitey to know that? or steven for instance? he's not from that part of the orient? okay, question time


AK: the dizzy riders had an extremely fun show

MW: yeah, they did. they needed a bigger crowd

AK: yeah really, with some slam dancing by the stage. still, mark, you did well on that count

MW: i tried to give back some of the craziness they were throwing out

AK: but they were just what i needed after our set

MW: hey, my job is to be the nut in the band

AK: some punk rock craziness

MW: exactly

SC: they gave us these cool picks and free cds

MW: there was that, too

AK: i love that pick. i'm going to bring it to the lava lounge as a backup pick. put it on my guitar in case i drop my other pick and need a quick replacement (they stick to the guitar).

MW: and they were extremely encouraging, which i really appreciate, from an established band

AK: yeah that was great

MW: but the pick was totally sick, too. that rhymes. that should be the new slogan: "the sick pick"

SC: no more, "where's my pick?" says arta. like at the beginning of heart of darkness

MW: yeah, arta had a real phobia concerning lost picks back then

AK: i still do, deep down. but i've beaten it back

MW: whole recording sessions hinged on the recovery of a single medium gauge pick

AK: haha

MW: you fought the disease. he's a fighter. we're all stronger for it


MW: i think that's a great question. hmm...

AK: yeah, damned if i know. we need some help

MW: we're going to give away for free at the lava lounge, just as we did at the blue cafe

SC: yeah

MW: and we're going to gig again as soon as we can. we're just getting warmed up

AK: yeah

SC: i don't want to go home with a bunch of cds next time

MW: no, they've all got to go

AK: yeah they're all going

MW: the next gig could be pretty important

SC: i think we'll be fine

MW: who'll get a cd? an A&R guy? who knows? bottom line is that we're going to make some fans

SC: we might have to make some more this weekend, with liner notes that actually have notes

MW: hmm, that'll cost some bread, yo. just refer them to the website. that way they get lyrics & a bio, as well as more info than they could possibly comprehend

AK: the website needs more info and pictures of us that aren't from 4 years ago


MW: go for it arta

AK: my concept was to make it look as much as possible like an EGA shareware video game from 1994

MW: haha

AK: think AOL's Top Picks list

MW: duke nukem 2!

SC: best in the series

AK: you got it

SC: i thought it was based on EGATrek, though. we should cover its theme song

AK: yeah, there was that aesthetic

MW: i think the RP300 was made for covering video game theme songs


SC: those blimps are supposed to look like bombs

MW: you forgot the beetle with the fat oil stain

SC: the one with the biceps

MW: yeah. i think, in the context of the latest VW ads, that the photo on the back has some heavy handed commentary

AK: what VW ads?

MW: "on the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers"

SC: "drivers wanted"

MW: what they forgot to mention were the giant stains left by the vehicles in transit and the muscle men who take pictures of them. i mean 1) all that motorized individuality totally covers your life in oily residue 2) you have to be a goddamn muscled monster to keep track of it all. you have to be able to fight the man

SC: and the man is symbolized by the cube on the cover

MW: yeah, the cube is all about people and stuff


MW: arta, go first

AK: huh... oh sorry, i was reading

MW: jesus, this an interview, dude. your space sims can wait!!!! ... !!!!!

AK: sigh, you have no idea how right you are. and i won't tell you. i've got nothing to say

MW: i tried to soften the blow with punctuation

AK: come on the 28th, you will have a good time

MW: yeah

AK: and listen to the album

SC: wall of sound

MW: to quote an amazing song, "rock is alive"

AK: haha

MW: the last of the copulae, before myself to bed i lay

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Blue Cafe gig: part 1

The site of our first gig! Except we didn't make it onto the marquee.

Instead, we're on this white board outside the bar. Except it's missing the all-important definite article.

Blue Vault Room reminded us of a certain band called Sculpted Static, especially when they ended the set with a cover of Pink Floyd's "Echoes." I didn't take any pictures of them, but here's what the stage looked like after they cleared out. That's clearly the ghost of John Lennon wishing us good luck.

We got set up. That's Mark in a leather jacket. Arta in his work clothes. Steven lurking in the shadows. And Alek holding it all together.

Sound check was "Lucy Tricked Me Into Something." Here's Steven looking at his keys because he couldn't hear them through the monitors. Meanwhile, Alek is having trouble hearing the band.

Blue Cafe

The Tonics played at the Blue Cafe. Things went quite well. Neon Phosphor will have a full report and photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

First 19 copies

We were going to make 20, but one got lost during the trip back from Kinko's.


The band rehearsed today from 7:30 pm to 11 pm. Before that, Steven and Mark made 20 copies of the CD booklet and back cover.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lisa August-Schmidt's photography

Lisa was asked to produce something that reflected life in Los Angeles. The first piece is a nod to LA's car culture:

Here's a fake owl drinking from a diet root beer can:

A tree in front of a typical suburban home:

A VW van parked on the lawn. This picture could've been from the 1950s:

The blimp is a common sight in LA's clear blue skies.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Jimi Martinez's artwork

This one is like the Sunny Ash mushroom cloud:

Giant beach-goers sitting on a warehouse with a bum behind them:


This one's pretty cool. That's the band on the left:

New keyboard

Steven's dual-keyboard attack will include a Yamaha DGX305, a budget keyboard with a tone that's better than some digital pianos. The RadioShack keyboard, in service since 2001, will now enjoy a much-deserved retirement.

Steven: "Making music is a lot like knitting. You can ruin a good song by recording it with an obviously fake piano tone, just as you would ruin a good sweater by knitting it with cheap yarn that you found in the bargain bin at Target. If you're going to spend weeks knitting a sweater, you should be using the best quality yarn possible, such as mohair, merino wool, cashmere and angora, from fine makers like Anny Blatt, Berroco, Brown Sheep, Plymouth, Rowan, Sirdar, and Trendsetter. Conveniently enough, I happen to know a good place in Pasadena where you can buy all this stuff, and more. Such as quality bamboo needles that you wouldn't find at Michael's or Jo-Ann's. Anyway, this store is called Skein and it's where the Poobah record store used to be. Oh, they even offer classes for people of all ages and skill levels. How fantastic. Okay, some people might say, I'm endorsing this place because I work there, but no. It's really that good, folks."

Happy birthday to Mark

Our favorite singer-songwriter with a goatee turns 22 today!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Is Ian still in the band?"

----As far as I know, he's still in Triple Threat, so yes.

"No, I mean, is Ian still in The Tonics?"----The last time I checked, the letters in "The Tonics" couldn't be recombined to form Ian's name, so no.

Today's mass e-mail: "See the Tonics! Tues, Dec. 20 and Wed, Dec. 28"

Greetings, friend of the Tonics:

This holiday season, you are invited to see the Tonics performing live at the following engagements:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 @ 10pm
The Blue Cafe
210 Promenade
Long Beach, California

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 @ 9pm
The Lava Lounge
1533 N. La Brea Avenue
Hollywood, California

We've prepared a brand-new, rockin' set of songs, many of them found on our new album, *Get Things Done.* You won't want to miss Steven Chow's dual-keyboard attack, Arta Khakpour's hot guitar lines, Mark Williams's frontman swagger and Alek Zarifian's vicious but precise drumming.

Please visit our website for an album sampler:

Hope to see you at the show! Rock the box,

The Tonics

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The golden ratio

The golden ratio is an irrational number, approximately 1.618 033 988 749 894 848, that possesses many interesting properties. Shapes defined by the golden ratio have long been considered aesthetically pleasing in Western cultures, reflecting nature's balance between symmetry and asymmetry and the ancient Pythagorean belief that reality is a numerical reality, except that numbers were not units as we define them today, but were expressions of ratios. The golden ratio is still used frequently in art and design. The golden ratio is also referred to as the golden proportion, golden mean, golden section, golden number, divine proportion or sectio divina.

There are two ways to divide Get Things Done into two sections according to the ratio. The first way is to divide it when Mark sings "answerless question" on "Hamlet" and the second way is to divide it is a few seconds after the keyboards come in on "Lucy."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Mean Song" problematic

Now we think "Mean Song" has too much reverb, so we'll need to remix and remaster it. Bugger.

The Tonics get things done

"Sunday Night" was remixed and digitally remastered today. After almost a year of hard work, the album is finished and ready for the world to hear.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Second rehearsal

Arta, Steven and Alek rehearsed yesterday. "Save The Day" will replace "Hamlet." Steven and Arta mastered the album.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tonics in the Ozone

Mastering will be done on Arta's computer, which was recently outfitted with new speakers. We have been experimenting with matching this album's EQ to the stereo version of Pet Sounds.

Friday, December 09, 2005

New but temporary web site

Today's Tonics web site makes it really obvious that we have two shows coming up. There is also a full-album stream to encourage people to visit the site.

On December 20, the site will be replaced by the incredible Tonics magazine.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rehearsal time changed to 4-7

Today is the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death. Like the Tonics, Lennon was all about good pop songs, unlike his colleague Paul McCartney who did experimental shit like Sgt. Pepper and the flip side of Abbey Road. The rebellious but always genuine Beatle gave us "Imagine," still one of the greatest songs of all time. And perhaps the best Christmas carol of our time: "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." Incidentally, both of these songs were produced by Phil Spector.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Attention band

Room D, Pasadena Rehearsal Studio, this Sunday 2-5.

"Love makes" the album finished

Steven produced a new drum track and recorded some piano tracks for "Love Makes People Stupid." The 38 min 39 sec album is now mixed and ready for mastering.

Steven: "Rock is officially dead. It's time to move on with our lives."

Monday, December 05, 2005


Yesterday, Arta recorded some new guitar parts for "Mean Song," "Distance," and "Lucy." Steven recorded some harmonies for "Save The Day" and piano tracks for "Mean Song."

Arta: "Our revisionist history of rock and roll does not include Led Zeppelin."

Today, Californian artist Jimi Martinez received a bunch of photos taken by Bay Area photographer Lisa August-Schmidt. He will produce the album artwork over the next two weeks.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Album sequence, take 4

  1. Sunday Night
  2. Mean Song
  3. Distance
  4. Save The Day
  5. Get Things Done
  6. Lucy
  7. Bartleby
  8. Lucy Tricked Me Into Something
  9. Hamlet
  10. Greenback
  11. Love Makes People Stupid
  12. Elegy For Anne Bancroft
  13. Thank You

A taste of our next album

Mark recorded demos for "Savage" and "Our House" (formerly known as "The Band Song").

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Album sequence, take 3

Arta: "People have short attention spans and we must put all our hits at the beginning of the CD."

  1. Sunday Night
  2. Mean Song
  3. Save The Day
  4. Get Things Done
  5. Distance
  6. Lucy
  7. Bartleby
  8. Lucy Tricked Me Into Something
  9. Hamlet
  10. Love Makes People Stupid
  11. Greenback
  12. Elegy For Anne Bancroft
  13. Thank You

Friday, December 02, 2005

Album sequence, take 2

This is a sequence based on the idea that the album should start fast, then move into the slower, artsier songs, and then close with more fast stuff.
  1. Sunday Night
  2. Mean Song
  3. Get Things Done
  4. Distance
  5. Elegy For Anne Bancroft
  6. Lucy
  7. Bartleby
  8. Lucy Tricked Me Into Something
  9. Hamlet
  10. Love Makes People Stupid
  11. Greenback
  12. Thank You
  13. Save The Day

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Random notes in the key of Tonic

  • The album is now called Get Things Done.
  • "Mean Song" and "Sunday Night" need more echo.
  • "Save The Day" needs work on the first chorus.
  • "Love Makes People Stupid" needs a new arrangement.
  • Times confirmed: The Tonics are playing at 10pm on Dec. 20 at the Blue Cafe, and 9pm on Dec. 28 at the Lava Lounge.
  • We will not hire a CD duplication service because we can't afford it. Instead, our first run will be burned on our computers.
  • We will reuse the CD cases Steven found in the Stebbins Hall free pile.
  • Not sure if we want to use Kinko's this time. Anyone know of a cheap printing place that can do liner notes?

"Save The Day"

Arta and Steven finished producing "Save The Day." Steven recorded a bunch of new synth parts and harmonies.

Arta: "I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm trying to save the song."