2019 was actually my 2020, if you will. That year was an unbroken string of personal and professional disasters. I lost my job, lost my car, turned 60, it was the worst birthday of my life, and so forth. I was consumed by a crippling depression. 2020 didn’t start out so hot, either. The first three months were all about preparations for a new Bentmen show scheduled for late March, which, of course, was scuttled at the last minute when everyone went into lockdown.
Living in NYC for the next few months was terrifying. We lost friends, and even more friends-of-friends. It wasn’t until May that I landed a new job, ironically enough while everybody else the country was losing theirs, and the rest of the year was topsy-turvy like that. But having all that as prologue made me even more determined to finish old business.
And so I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to say – yes, it was a year that killed more than a quarter million of our citizens, devastated us and many of my friends and family, and nearly tore the country apart, but speaking strictly for myself, and specifically artistically, it made me want to bust my ass, and ended up one of the best years of my life in that narrow respect, and I refuse to feel bad about that. It kept me relatively sane. If anything, that’s my way of saying FU to 2020! If any of it helped lighten your burden, that’s all I can ask. Anyway, here’s what got shipped.
I’m in three bands and all three saw significant action this year.
A. Secret Agent
The debut album, DECLASSIFIED, was released worldwide on October 15th. My pet project that I’ve been working on for the better part of 20 years. It’s now available on Amazon, YouTube, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Pandora and Deezer. I’ve played on other people’s records, but this is the first legit release that is truly my own. Thanks to Ted Mason and Mi5 Recordings (UMG). Plans are already afoot for Volume 2.
I also put together a Halloween set for a benefit for ONCE Virtual Venue. Videos created in Virtual Reality with MicrodoseVR.
I made a feature-length video, spanning the 30+ year career of my other band, the Bentmen. In addition to remastering tons of archival video and making a bunch of new ones, I built our own version of something like Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in VR, and did a video fly-through of that, using it as a framing device. Also built an enormous demented sideshow in VR for our song ‘Carnival of the Damned.” We’re going to be working on an all-new album in 2021.
Just yesterday, I finished mixing a live EP for John Ashton’s Satellite Paradiso, my other other band, and sent it off to John for final mastering. It’s an enormously important record for me, personally. The lineup is Fred Schreck on vocals, John on lead, Jonathan Donahue, Grasshopper and Anthony Molina from Mercury Rev on guitars and keys, the legendary Sara Lee on bass, and me on drums. This project has been on the stove since it was recorded in 2014. It’ll be coming out early in the new year. One of my favorite reviews of our first album called it “a monstrous, swaggering wall of sound,” and this definitely lives up to that description. Everybody’s going straight for the jugular.
Expect more from here in 2021, as well.
OTHER MUSIC / VIDEOS
Each night for about a week, I sat down and tried to write, record and mix something new from scratch in one sitting. I came up with a pile of new music, some of which is likely to end up in the next Secret Agent album.
Charles Strouse – 92nd birthday virtual choir – “Applause”
My friend, Eric Vitale, asked me to put together a virtual choir video for the 92nd birthday party for Broadway legend Charles Strouse. He wrote the music for Bye Bye Birdie, Annie, and many more. Those videos you see of people playing and singing together on Zoom do not happen in real time. That’s a physical impossibility. All the parts have to be recorded separately and synched by a video editor. This project involved synchronizing thirty individual singers in Final Cut. Did it in about three days. He loved it. Got written up in Variety.
The Surfer Novas – Plight of the Planemo
I made this video for my pals, The Surfer Novas. As you can imagine, it was massive fun to put together, and totally up my alley.
M’Lumbo w/ Page Hamilton (Helmet)
I made a couple of music videos for my friends, M’Lumbo, for their new album with Page Hamilton from Helmet. “World music from another world.”
A. King of the Moon
B. In the Meantime
We had fun making a short film for the Roger Corman quarantine competition, starring us and the cats.
I bought a new drum set. It’s KILLER. First track I used it on was a new song from Fred Schreck called “Leveler” that’ll be coming out soon.
A Killing Joke Primer
PLANNED FOR 2021
New Secret Agent
New Satellite Paradiso
Orphans of the Storm remix project, feat. Tony Levin, Gary Lucas, Greg Hawkes, Casey Desmond, many others.
Music video for Yasmin Haddad
More VR art
More more more…
Stay safe, and hope to see everyone here at this time next year!