Saturday, June 21, 2008

Animals Part Six: April 2008, live @ the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Jeff Goodyear: Drums
Carlos Sanchez: Li'l Drums
Jose Sanchez: Bass
Charles Larrabee: Guitar
Briana Fitzpatrick: Keyboard
Jenny Westbury: Drawings, Animal Sounds
Cley Miller: Fancy Dances, Animal Sounds
Joe Mathlete: Singing, Guitar

This is the last show we've played to date. We were asked to open for Voxtrot at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts (now with rock bands!); unnerved by the prospect of playing on a proper soundsystem in front of more than fifty people, I tried to assemble a lineup that would be as tight and well-rehearsed as ever. We still only had one rehearsal where we all showed up, but it went off rather well all the same.

Cley was playing keyboards for most of this set and didn't have time to learn this song. He said he would figure something out. I did not think this was what what he was going to figure out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Animals Part Five: Autumn-ish 2007, live @ Rice University

Gie Gie McGee: Vocals, Pianica
Briana Fitzpatrick: Keyboards
Ryan Goodland: Guitar
Iram Guerrero: Drums
Carlos Sanchez: Other Drums
Cley Miller: Other Other Drums
Jose Sanchez: Bass
Joe Mathlete: Vocals, Guitar

Here's us playing a show at some weird gigantic student center thing at a college campus. Pretty much the same lineup as Part Three, plus Gie Gie on vocals. Everyone here had played the song multiple times-- all together, even. And we're still not very tight. But it has been said before: what we lack in professionalism we make up for in unprofessionalism.

Apologies for the sound mix/quality, but on the bright side this clip totally has more than one camera angle (It has two. Two of them). Also I apologize for how much I look like a hobo, or possibly some guy whose job is selling weed to record store clerks.

If I could, I'd like to take this opportunity to plug Young Mammals (the hydra-headed rhythm section of this clip) to the half-dozen people I have not alienated yet with my narcissistic band-rambling on this blog of late. Here is a video they did when they were still called the Dimes, before an achingly mediocre go-nowhere band from Portland with the same name threatened legal action while pretending to be their "record label" (this is akin to calling someone in middle school using a deep voice and saying you are your dad and you're going to kick their ass. If you were an ugly orphan). If you care to feel depressed about how slowly you're achieving your life's goals: they wrote and recorded this song in high school, before some of them could even drive legally.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Animals Part Four: 4/10/2007, live @ Rudyard's

Bubba Hightower: Bass
Charles Larrabee: Guitar
Gie Gie McGee: Vocals, Pianica
Joe Mathlete: Guitar, Vocals
Briana Fitzpatrick: Keyboards
Mike Switzer: Trombone

This was kind of a bummer.

We were offered a show at a bar called Rudyard's, one of the best places in Houston to see live music, as part of a bill with a number of other local musicians I really admired. We had never played at Rudyard's before, and I was really excited.

None of the three drummers who were playing with us at the time ended up able to make the show; Gie Gie and Charles had this bizarre antiquey drum machine from the early 1970s we ended up using for most of the set. We didn't have much time to rehearse (though I guess we probably wouldn't have rehearsed much more if we could've), and between a long series of instrument swaps, mangled songs about animals and robots, and general chaos, we ended up driving most of the crowd downstairs after just a few songs. To top it all off, I forgot to move my car after we loaded in our instruments and it got towed in the middle of our set. All in all, not one of our better shows, but looking back on it now with some distance (and the knowledge that I didn't give up music forever after that night), I kind of like this clip.

For bonus laffs, here's a review of the show by a blogger named Justin Crane entitled "Sloppy". Most of the humor for me stems from the fact that he played guitar with us on one song.

The most important lesson learned: don't play your most "Children's Band"-esque show ever in a bar.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Animals Part Three: 8/15/07, live @ Super Happy Fun Land

Briana Fitzpatrick: Keyboards
Ryan Goodland: Guitar
Iram Guerrero: Drums
Carlos Sanchez: Other Drums
Cley Miller: Drumsticks, Lights
Jose Sanchez: Bass
Joe Mathlete: Vocals, Guitar

Eight months later and this is what "Animals" sounds like. I was lucky enough to draft the members of my favorite Houston band into being Mathletes starting in early 2007 (they had to change their name to Young Mammals earlier this year, due to a threatened lawsuit by a woefully shitty band from Portland who shared their original name, a name I will refrain from mentioning). You can't so much tell from this video, seeing as 3/4 of the band are playing drums (Jose stuck to his bass), but they're really good at doing rock and roll songs.

If you squint very carefully, you will notice that I'm the only person in both this clip and the last one.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Animals Part Two: 12/27/06, live @ the Proletariat

Gie Gie McGee: Vocals / Pianica
Joe Mathlete: Guitar / Vocals
Bill Savoie: Drums
Giorgio Angelini: Guitar
Bubba Hightower: Bass

In the winter of 2006, the Mathletes were asked to open for a touring band called 1986, fronted by a high school friend of mine by the name of Giorgio Angelini (oddly enough, the guy who set up the show didn't seem to know Giorgio and I had ever met. Small world, I guess). We hadn't really been a band for some time at this point; the last thing approximating a steady lineup disintegrated about a year prior and I'd mostly just been recording on my own, as I am wont to do. But I figured, y'know, the songs we play live aren't too tricky to pick up, and I know a lot of musicians. I'll just make some phone calls and see what happens.

We rehearsed twice, sort of. I was never actually able to get everyone together at the same time, so it was basically a couple long afternoons of me trying to teach whoever showed up how the songs went, and promising them it would sound neat when the rest of the band was there. I think there were about seven or eight of us that night, with people swapping in and out as we got to songs they did or didn't know. About two-thirds of the band met each other for the first time ever the night of the show. It ended up going over well enough, and though I did what I could do solidify around a real lineup, over the next year the "oh, we've got a gig, let's see who shows up this time" method became pretty much gospel.

"Animals" was basically written so Gie Gie could sing it live. She's a real-live elementary school teacher, I kid you not. Her schedule has always been very wonky, and even back when we had a pretty stable lineup there would be times where she couldn't make shows and we'd have to soldier on without her. It is weird for me when we play this song and I'm singing it.

Wow, I sure did write a lot. Ah, well... Just enjoy ("enjoy") the clip, and stay tuned for more. Or go read something that isn't about my band, I guess.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Animals Part One: Album Version

So let me say this up front: I write lots and lots of songs. Some are good, some are bad, some are mediocre, some are silly, some are straight-faced, some are pointless. If you would like to hear some songs I consider to be more on the "good" end of the spectrum, I'd suggest the ones I stuck up here.

Now for a pointless one:


This goes all the way back to 2003 (it ended up on an album called Jest and Earnest that had way way way too many songs on it but a lot of them I'm still pretty fond of). Basically I started off trying to write a fake Deerhoof song, and after thinking about what it'd be like to play it live I ended up with some of the worst lyrics I'd ever "written."

This is one of the most annoying songs I have ever written, and one of the worst, and I guess eventually probably one of the best. Check back tomorrow and I'll begin explaining why.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I am going to talk about my band here for a little bit

Probably for close to a couple weeks. Hope that's okay.

So yeah, I play music and write songs and record albums. It is a lot of fun. The band is called The Mathletes, and we have an album that just came out on Asaurus Records called #$@% You And Your Cool. It is good. If you would care to hear it, you can listen to some of the songs on the internet, or for six dollars you can get a hard copy at the Asaurus website (but you should do that before the end of the month because they sort of decided to go out of business). There were 100 copies of said album manufactured, and it is shaped like a bologna sandwich.

I apologize for marketing at you, but it seems more or less appropriate to get this out of the way up front. Anyway, Asaurus wanted to make up a press release, so the guy who runs it asked me to email him some information about the album. The press release ended up mostly being the entire contents of that email. If you like PDFs, you can read it here, but otherwise, get ready for some copypaste:

FROM THE DESK OF JOE MATHLETE: Well, I started off making songs all alone, just recording in my bedroom, not really thinking about what I'd do with them. Eventually I showed them to people, and eventually people said I should play my songs live because that's what people who write songs do. Looking back on it a lot of people who were telling me this ended up playing in the band so maybe they just wanted someone to play music with, but regardless I'm glad people said something because playing music in front of people is fun. But I kept recording songs on my own 'cuz it's just what I'm used to.

Mathletes would come and go for one reason or another, and eventually the lineup became more or less completely fluid. Some shows there'd be three of us and some shows there'd be around twenty. But old habits die hard, and I kept recording music all alone in my bedroom or whatever like I was still in high school, writing songs to avoid homework and then keeping them to myself. This album I guess represents both the breakthrough of finally showcasing what we sound like as a live band to the world beyond Houston , Texas , and some of the bedroomiest bedroom pop I've recorded lately.

We're a mess of a band so it's a mess of a record; looking at it now we've got ten tracks (of wildly varying fidelity) recorded at eight different places, lyrical matter veering from jackassery to as sincere as I get, the most confrontational album title we've ever had but I chickened out of actually writing the cuss. The title refers to when I went and saw a very fashionable Indie Rawk band (who shall remain nameless) and felt underdressed wearing a t-shirt and jeans among all the fashion kids, and I looked onto the stage and saw an army of dorks trying to look like they didn't care about anything while playing what basically amounted to super-expensive and ornate Built to Spill or Yo La Tengo songs, and I never saw Yo La Tengo or people who dug them wear leather jackets with tons of buckles and scarfs and eyeliner and gigantic shiny belts and act like they don't care, and at that point in my life I was so sick of people acting like they didn't care I said wait a minute I'm not underdressed, these people are missing the boat and they wouldn't care if they even knew there was a boat, and I walked by some coke guy in a leather jacket with tons of buckles and a scarf and eyeliner and a gigantic shiny belt and said "#$@% you and your cool."

Except, y'know, really quietly where he couldn't hear me, 'cuz otherwise I would just have been acting like a dick. But it's the thought that counts.

#$@% YOU AND YOUR COOL is Asaurus Records' (more or less) 64th release and quite possibly our last. We are closing our doors indefinitely starting this June and are thrilled to make one last go at breaking into the recording industry with the latest Mathletes record. #$@% YOU AND YOUR COOL is being released in a limited edition of 100 copies and yes, it is a bologna sandwich.

I put this here mostly to give you an idea of what sort of "band" we are. Tune in tomorrow(-ish) for what I hope to be a somewhat entertaining week and a half of "variations upon a theme" featuring a cast of dozens, and one of the most irritating songs I have ever written.

Eat My Beats,

Joe Mathlete

Monday, June 02, 2008

This is a bit out of character for me, but I thought I should pass it along anyway

If you are one of those fratty college guys posting on Craigslist looking for MILFs: Go to one of the New Kids on the Block reunion shows. There will be plenty of drunk thirtysomething ladies looking to recapture their youth (or someone else's). If you are unable to fulfill your fantasy of making love to an older woman who may or may not have given birth in this particular scenario, you should probably just move on.

I cringe at the possible traffic these keywords (MILFs, New Kids on the Block, fratty college guys) are going to bring in. I have no one to blame but myself.