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the making of A. G. - diary

"American Gothic" outtakes

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10/26/23 "American Gothic" will be released online at all streaming services on November 10th!  At that point, all the alternate takes that have been online will mysteriously disappear.  So hear them now!

Reviews of the album will begin on November 1st, so please check back for who, what and when. In the meantime the English AND French versions of "The Devil Whammy!" are everywhere online. Isa  Pill from Les Manteez does the vocal duties on the French version.  Shouldn't you be dancing???

08/13/23 So… AMERICAN GOTHIC IS COMPLETED!!!!  It is scheduled for an online release to all the usual streaming services during the first or second week of October.  Join the newsletter for updates on vinyl releases. In the meantime, “The Devil Whammy” will be released in a full dance version in time for Halloween and there will also be a French version sung by Isa Pill from Les Manteez!  They are my label mates on MAY I Records. VERY excited about this!  Les Manteez will record a song from “Mojave” and I will cover a song from their album “Magical Seeds”. FUN !  Can’t wait to start.

“Mojave is available on vinyl and CD! Contact the good people at MAY I Records and order one at:

“American Gothic” has been challenging. Not only finding the right songs to be included (there are 19 outtakes from the album), but how it would all shake together to feel complete. Hunter and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a week, looking for inspiration, or at least clues.  The Universe did not let us down.  We were introduced to the yarn art of the Huichol culture of Mexico in a folk art gallery.  They call themselves Wixarika (so shall I). The Wixarika trace their origins back to the Aztecs. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, the hillside Wixarika people were beyond their reach. As a result, they retained their culture for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Their people travelled between Mexico to New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. 

The yarn artwork resonates with the intent of “American Gothic”; the Wixarika culture is threatened by modern western society. Many of its children wish to live a modern, convenient lifestyle. Alcoholism is another threat. Peyote is central to their religion and has created problems with the Mexican government. To see an ancient way of life slowly succumbing to newer ideals struck a chord with us. I couldn’t stop talking about the painting the week we spent in Santa Fe. It is a gorgeous piece of art.

The name of the artist is on the back of the painting. This led to several months of detective work to find her, finally getting an email from her daughter through the owner of a gallery in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They live in the hills 3 ½ hours north of Puerto Vallarta and as we understand, they only 

come down from their property for supplies and to sell artwork. The last song on the album, “One Old Coyote” was born from the search and discovery of their culture.  Now we sit and wait, hoping the daughter returns my email asking for her mother’s permission to use her beautiful yarn art. The picture you see here will HOPEFULLY be the front cover of “American Gothic”.  We will see.  In the meantime, we’re kicking around ideas for a Plan B cover.

07/07/23 - well THAT was weird! Some updates have disappeared from this page!  Hmm.  Anyway, "American Gothic" is in its final stages. Waiting for some vocals from Hunter, writing lyrics for the final track, some mixing and TA-DA time!  "Mojave" is now available on vinyl and CD through MAY I Records in France. I know copies have been purchased throughout Europe, not sure if anyone has seen them yet in America.  Let me know if you have.

The outtakes listed above are temporary!  Once "American Gothic" is released, the alternate takes will disappear. The songs that didn't make it to the final album will remain on the streaming services for awhile, then I will put them all on a secret page of this website for people who buy the album. So hurry up and absorb them now!  Most of the alternate takes are WAY different than the final versions.
So the final track order for "American Gothic" is:
1) We Are The Falling Rain
2) Ticking Away
3) Where Are You?
4) Lochinvar
5) The Abandoned Carousel
6) Cropsey
7) The Devil Whammy

8) We'll Meet Again
9) Runaway Girl
10) 3 Feet From A Vein
11) I Still Believe (this title may change - working on the lyrics now)

01/30/23 - So much happening!  "Mojave" will be released worldwide on vinyl and CD on March 24th on MAY I Records !  To help promote the album, we have several new treats for you!  Hunter shot a new video for "One Cut" that is where creepy goes to get scared. YIKES she frightens me sometimes! It's in the Videos page.

Along with that, "Lochinvar" has just been released; the latest song from "American Gothic". T
he original title I gave Hunter for this song was “When Johnnie Comes Marching Home.” Hunter found out her great-great-great-grandfather owned a Mississippi plantation in 1836 called "Lochinvar".  She then found out that James Gordon (the son) inherited the house and when leaving for war (a confederate), he left a caretaker the family called “Uncle Ebenezer” in charge of guarding the family and property. After a time, Uncle Ebenezer caught pneumonia and died before Gordon could return from war. It's such a hard thing to understand how someone oppressed by another would guard his "master"s world so the oppressor could defend his right to own other people, To this day, there are reports of Uncle Eb roaming the grounds with his lantern, making sure everyone was safe. Now THAT is Dark Americana!

And along with all THAT, I just finished a new deep dive into the "Mojave" album called "The Mineshaft Rabbit Hole". It's a 4-day email adventure that reveals the secrets and mysteries of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts and also gives you some gifts for taking the journey.  Give it a spin!   MINESHAFT RABBIT HOLE

11/07/22 - work continues on "American Gothic" It is 10 songs strong so far with three more to come.  "Ticking Away" just made the final cut once I put on a section of discordant mayhem featuring squealing horns and police sirens.  In the meantime, I want to announce that the last album, "Mojave" has been signed to a licensing deal with MAY I Records in France!  Through their agreement with PIAS/
Integral, "Mojave" will be available on vinyl and CD worldwide in January!  Hunter and I are beyond thrilled over this.  It is currently being mastered by legendary French engineer Dominique Blanc-Francard.  In the early 1970's he was the main engineer at the Château d'Hérouville - where he engineered Pink Floyd, Elton John, David Bowie and on and on.  Now to prepare for performances wherever people buy this thing.

10/10/22 –  the new single, “We’ll Meet Again” is going live through all streaming services this Friday (10/14) and I hope you love it!  It’s a bit on the creepy side, but you should expect that from me at this point.  It came from a busy weekend – both “We’ll Meet Again, “Now We Kiss” and “When The Truth Comes Out” were written and recorded in the last 10 days, along with TWO new versions of “We Carry On”. I don’t know why that song obsesses me, but hopefully these versions will give me some relief.  The original version of “We Carry On” was sent to a Nashville song runner this weekend, the second version may show up at some point in time as an outtake and the third version is likely going to be on “American Gothic”.  This third version is just me, a guitar, mangled and bludgeoned into sounding like it was recorded in 1928. If you have ever heard that old folk song “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, it sounds like that. Sort of. The other three songs are oddly psychedelic, in answer to a request from a tv show music supervisor looking for garage rock. Only “We’ll Meet Again” will end up on “American Gothic”. “Now We Kiss” just doesn’t fit thematically and will wallow in oblivion.  I may create an outtakes page at some point, since there are now about 10 songs in the Dark Americana series that haven’t left the studio.

I finally received a copy of my performance at the Think Positive Party in Los Angeles, on August 6th.  I played to 10 of the videos, in front of a 10 foot screen. The visuals from the film are disappointing. The company filming that night was not prepared to film in the dark, so their camera, that was set to autofocus, turned the show into an impressionistic/cubist acid trip.  I did upload one song from the show to youtube – “You Don’t See Me”. It has the least amount of visual artefacts and will give you an idea of what the show looked like to everyone except that camera.  You can see it on the “Videos” page on this website.

More songs are on the way, including a new one from Hunter called “I’m Taking You Down” - very sludgy, grimy rocker.  “American Gothic” is taking shape, I’m doing some interviews to bring everyone up to date on it and plan to set up more performances before taking this thing on the road.

09/09/22 - "3 Feet From a Vein" is now available on all streaming services (or will be if it's not showing up on your favorite yet). Please have a listen!  I'm going to release a new track from "American Gothic" every 4-6 weeks from now on until the full album is ready to drop. These single releases might be somewhat different from the album versions depending on how panicky I get about the mix quality of each song.  There are some reviews and interviews coming out and I hope I don't sound stupid (which is a mantra I chant under my breath every day).  The next song to be released might be "Miracle Water" or possibly a brand new one tentatively called "Runaway Girl". It's a little psychedelic with clanky bathtub percussion and an electric piano pretending to be pouring rain.  Not sure what it's about yet, possibly a hitchhiker with a lethally felonious past getting picked up by a driver with bad intentions.

Also, Hunter just finished a new video for "You Never Really Know" from the "Mojave" album.  It's in the video section if you want to spend a few minutes pondering fate.

08/29/22 - I just uploaded to Bandcamp another song from "American Gothic", the new album I'm hoping to complete by late November. This one is sort of the heart of the album. It's called "3 Feet From A Vein (Seldom Seen Slim)".  It will be officially released on all streaming services on September 9th. "American Gothic" is morphing and changing by the day; I guess all collections of music (are we allowed to call them albums anymore?) do this morphing thing. "A.G." wants to challenge me more than other albums did; equipment stops, the computer crashes, parts disappear.  It's getting weird. In the middle of singing a line a weird lower octave appears in the vocal (it creeped me out so I was able to remove it).  I'm using more modern techniques on this collection while keeping a foot in the Old West and I'm starting to believe this thing is haunted. The mix on "3 Feet" was an exercise in sonic whack-a-mole.

The subject of "3 Feet From A Vein", Seldom Seen Slim, was a prospector who lived by himself in a ghost town for 50 years called Ballarat in Death Valley. He spent his life working in the depleted silver mines, hoping for the big strike. He lived in each building of the rotting town. He loved his solitary life and became somewhat of a legend. There are other songs out there about Slim that are just... well, I'll remain kind. In this song I wanted to spend some moments with Slim as he leaves this world and journeys to the land where it rains mezcal. Angels sit vigil with him until the Mother Goddess calls him home. 

The next song I release will probably be either "Miracle Water" or "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home".

07/31/22 - it looks like the new album will be titled "American Gothic", based on where the songs are going. It seems to have an overarching theme of "America Gone Wrong"... sort of an expanded version of "Mojave".  The original "Carnivals" idea will be incorporated into the album - it was just too small a concept to stand on its own without becoming a bit "musical theater" .  There are a number of tracks in varying degrees of completion. "Devil Whammy" is the latest single (see the Spotify player at the top of this page) and is a dance song about dancing with the devil.  It's a silly little romp and I hope you like it! 
Other songs so far include:
1)  "3 Feet From A Vein (Seldom Seen Slim)" - about a now-famous Nevada prospector and his last moments, angels welcoming him home. It's a tearjerker with a huge, almost Pink Floyd ending, complete with a boys choir.
2) "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" - definitely not the old Civil War song.  I'm waiting on lyrics from Hunter for this one.  A real spooky mid-tempo number, no idea what it's about yet.
3) "We Are The Falling Rain" - it's one of a few songs that are venturing dangerously close to political commentary. Fascism is loudly rising in America and this song is from their point of view.  I released a version a few months ago that was sadly undercooked - I was too eager to release something.  It will eventually be a large sounding thing, maybe the first song on the album once I get it right.
4) "Where Are You?" - featuring the exquisite Hunter Lowry and a warped caliope. This one is already out there in the world and is on this page to scare you.  Enjoy!
5) "Miracle Water" - a pile of junkyard percussion - it has sort of a church revival sound to it, with the preacher hawking his miracle water (and the miracle pail). Beware the miracle water...
6) "Coming Together (Falling Apart)" - years ago I started writing songs that were in three different keys and three different time signatures at the same time.  If you hunt, you can probably find one of them from years ago on the internet somewhere called "In Slo Mo".  "CT(FA)" will continue that dizzying concept, but with more banjos.
7) "Under The Bridge" is just a rhythm, bass and tremelo guitar thing at the moment.  More found-in-the-wilderness  percussion stuff - the final track will probably have a "Sister Ray meets Sonic Youth" feel. Noisy, but with an Americana flavor. Not sure what it's about yet, but something not wholesome.
Other tracks under consideration include:
8) "The Spirit Moves With A Strong Back Hand" - an outtake from the "Stories and Songs" album.  Think "Stairway to Heaven" in 4 minutes with a 30 member gospel choir.  I just can't sing the damn thing - too many wildly soulful singers all over the place making my voice whiter than it already is.  I'll figure this one out at some point.
9) "I Have A Dream Of America" - an outtake from "Mojave". Another political song.  It starts as a proud, aspirational, hymn-like rouser, all freedom and apple pies, that turns ponderous and by the third verse the lyrics are from the diary of John Wilkes Booth as he ran from the law.  I came close to releasing it during the last presidential election, but I was afraid of any potential backlash, or it eventually being used by the wrong people. It's message is a little too subtle for modern America.
10) "Come Fields Of Green" - an outtake from "Mojave" that I released about 7 months ago.  Gothic horror with a hurdy gurdy solo. The song ends with a reading from Edgar Allan Poe's "Lenore".
11) "We Carry On" -a "Mojave" outtake, which was going to be the opening song on "Mojave".  I just couldn't get the vocal right.  One of the more country-ish things I've done.  Sort of Charlie Rich / Dwight Twilley.
12) "Ticking Away" - another "Mojave" outtake and another song that was almost the album opener. It starts with a mandolin/portuguese guitarra duet, similar to the beginning of "Maggie Mae" by Rod Stewart, then turns into rather theatrical tune (think early Peter Gabriel) about blowing up like a bomb. Stress!

More songs are coming too.  These are the ones that are formed to some degree. The album wants to be more sinister than "Mojave" and it wants me to find ways of making psychedelic sounds with banjos, jugs and dulcimer.  Some sections sound very back porch Georgia, some sections will sound very NYC.  

Anyway, that's it for now.  I hope you enjoy the two tracks at the top for now!


04/11/22 - Several new songs for "Carnivals" are progressing, although they are being very fussy about their clothes.  We just came back last week from a week of shooting video in the Nevada desert for several videos.  Right now, we're working on videos for "Down The Ravine", "You Never Really Know", "Like A House With Broken Windows" and Hollywood Trax hired us an intern to get a video going for "The Perfect Storm" from the first Dark Americana album.  Here are some shots from the video shoot:

kilroy navy plane_edited.jpg
cowboy walking toward area 51.jpg
kilroy toward plane.jpg

02/24/22 - When I was young, my family would spend all our summers on my grandfather's farm in Arlington, Wisconsin. My mother grew up on that farm.  My father asked for my mother's hand on that farm while he was an Ensign and my mother was a WAC during World War 2. 

For a kid from Long Island, the trip through five states in our family station wagon was pure adventure.  The trip took three days back then - the five of us would sleep in the station wagon, once dad found a big truck stop to park for the night.  Mom and dad would sleep in the front seats and my brother, sister and I would jam ourselves in the back, flipping down the back seat to make just enough room for us.  I would look out the back window at the large parking lot lamps and listen to the large semi trucks drive in and out and past the truck stop; the high whine of their engines getting lower and quieter as they drove away.  It was probably not everyone's happiest memory, but to me it was magical.

Once we reached Wisconsin, we would stay on Grandpa's Wolff's farm (my mother's maiden name), Along with being a farmboy for a couple months each year, a big highlight was also the carnival that would set up on my Uncle Gordy's land every year in Madison.  Along with rides that are still seen in parking lot carnivals today, there was also a sideshow, with those incredible painted warnings on canvas, detailing the horrors of nature and man inside for $1.  I never had the guts to go into the sideshow (and knowing my protective mother, she probably wouldn't (or didn't) let me. It haunts me to this day; what was in that tent?  Was the gorilla man/beast real?

As of now, "Carnivals" is about that period of my life - when everything was bursting with wonder and danger. I expect the new album to be complete in late 2022 and will hopefully give you the willies.  For now, have a listen to "Where Are You", which should give you a hint of what's to come.

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