personalized expeditions in music from a musician who doesn't matter

Behind the Alleged “Music”: A Very Dripping, Sopping Holiday

Posted by r on December 24, 2011

(edit cleanup 3.19.13: A lot about the Christmas EP I made in December 2011 under the joke-rock fake-band Dripping, Sopping: A Saturation Celebration. I currently only keep this EP available in the 20-30 days before Christmas, because ultimately I was not that happy with it and I’d rather people listen to the 2007 DS:asc project instead, if they must hear any of the always-very-hastily-rendered goofy fruits of the DS:asc project at all. Warning: That link above will play loud music if you click on it.)

Good morning, and hope everyone is having a happy-ish holiday season. I am a horrible, horrible traveler and hate pretty much everything associated with being away from my personal home on Xmas… but at least there is the consolation of this apparently-brand-new yacht, belonging to my wife’s grandparents, that is currently “parked” out back of my in-laws’ northern California home.


I am really, really hoping that I can convince my wife’s grandparents to take us out for a cruise in this thing on Xmas day, while I pull up Michael McDonald’s Greatest Hits on Spotify, patch into the yacht stereo, and crank ‘er all the way up until thar she blows. Also, will def be looking for an admiral’s cap today, although I doubt I will find one on our last-minute shopping trip stops.

Anyway, before I give everyone the wrong idea re: why I got married, here’s why I am here. I released a Christmas-themed rock EP on Thursday under my Dripping, Sopping: A Saturation Celebration monicker, which is the seemingly pluralized nom de plume that I have also used before for an incredibly dumb, quickly-made meta-rock rock record. So I’m gonna talk about that new “release.” It’s not that music this silly really requires a great deal of in-depth discussion, though, so I’ll try and keep it short.

It’s really bugged me for many, many years that I don’t make nearly as much music as I want to. Like so many things, I can’t explain it. It eats at me every day and I dream up new ways to just PRODUCE new crap, amazing, creative ideas to generate “productivity” with which I never go through. I buy new instruments all the time and hardly play them. I have new musical ideas in my head at least 3-4 times daily, and yet they hardly ever get farther than my head– at best, perhaps the voice recorder app on my phone gets a grateful listen.

The last few years have been really bad in this regard; my “home studio” (if you can call an array of computers that) has not really seen any use whatsoever since I produced / mostly played both sides of my friend The Bassturd’s 7-inch single in the summer of ’09. Very sad.

So a couple weeks ago, I had the brilliant idea to try and produce a new DS:asc Christmas record in the middle of one of my busiest times of the year as a teacher. I figured that it had been way too long since I’d produced a ridiculous, deconstructive Christmas record– at least 18 years, to my last recollection. I also figured that since it was a Dripping, Sopping project– meant to be the fastest, sloppiest, dirtiest and most obscene in output of all my current imaginary band names– I could still manage to find enough time to get it done.

And I did– barely.

So this is a DS:asc project, and the lyrics are dumb. Instead of songs about rock factories and Steve Albini’s penis, this year the theme is more concentrated, naturally… an incredibly emasculated 90s sensitive man suppresses his homicidal urges toward his ladyfriend for the holidays, Joseph complains more than a little about his marital situation, and Santa both goes leather daddy and gets shot out of the sky by trailer trash. In the end, God blows up the world as a Christmas gift to Jesus.

…Award-winning stuff, truly. But I figure you’re never too old or too educated to be 13 years old again when the guitars are turned up and the mics are on.

Also, to be fair, I wrote an awful lot of this stuff in my head / in the car, as seems to increasingly be my wont (“Ballad” from the last DSasc record was written in the car on the way to Radio Shack to procure a needed headphone extension cable for another song I was recording during the project).

In this minute-long MP3, you can hear “phone demos” at the moment of an idea’s conception vs. their semi-finished counterparts from Dripping, Sopping Holiday.

I was very, very sad that I didn’t get to finish the would-have-been-way-too-involved-and-elaborate-for-the-time-scale country ballad “This Christmas (On The Fourth of July)”, which is provided on the released version in bad-demo form as a bonus track. En route to work, I got the idea of fusing melodic fragments of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Frosty the Snowman” as a musical portmanteau. I grabbed my phone, tossed down the fragment above and laughed the whole rest of the way to work, trying to think of other patriotic/Christmas combos I could similarly fuse; didn’t come up with much, sadly.

(Remember, don’t songwrite and drive! Or else you may end up with a bunch of stuff like this series of “lyrical outtakes” from “Joseph’s Lament”, the only surviving bits being the first two lines and the “oh no.” Also, your fellow commuters look very strangely at you as you jump up and down half-screaming into your phone in the driver’s seat.)

Other ideas came from elsewhere. Soopageek, who was the genius responsible for inspiring “Fuck That, Son” and “Re: Steve Albini,” came through again in the form of a proposed song called “Bitch Better Buy Me An Xbox,” which of course became the horrible hacky-sacking 90s alternatripe faux-ballad “A (Red) Ring For Christmas.”

Longtime friend Sandi told me I should write a song about Santa in an “alternative lifestyle.” So I did; we now have the horrific “Master Santa.” That song, by the way, was written Sunday afternoon, recorded straight away in 45 minutes pre-vocals (even with eight tracks of layered guitars AND eight failed drum takes!), and then I think the lyrics actually took me three hours to write before I could lay down the vox Tuesday morning. They are still terrible, terrible, terrible. But I worked awfully hard to make them not as bad as they very well could have been. I know I had totally given up when I threw down the closing “dookie / cookies” couplet. But I love the backing on this track. I should really make fake Fugazi songs more often.

Unlike the previous DS:asc effort, this one was pretty well “programmed” in a given sequence in my head from the get-go, and “Xmas|7/4” was truly meant to be the project centerpiece as track 4 of 6 and the longest song on the record by at least a minute. But it probably would have taken at least a week of work by itself to do up properly. God bless Nashville!

Most of Dripping, Sopping Holiday was recorded at my shop that isn’t really a shop. In particular, I wanted more time / care to produce the live drum tracks than I had managed on my last DS:asc project (on the last one, almost every drum performance is first take, panicked performances I was trying to rattle off in one unrehearsed < 3-minute blast before the cops got called, with lots of resulting slop). I wanted to be able to use actual, live, plugged-in, feeding-back guitar amps (which I did not use at all on the first DS:asc, they were all simulated / PC-modeled amps).

But in 2011 as in 2007, I lived in an apartment with shared walls, and these types of loud, repeated noises (to say nothing of screaming at the top of my lungs) tend not to fly with most shared-wall neighbors. So I took a bunch of gear to the shop and did most of my recording there… pretty much exclusively between 5 and 9am in the morning or 8p-midnight, when no one else was there.

Drums were done over two days, mostly; guitars and bass were quickly added in layers. Vox were done dead last, over two days and a total of about three hours on Monday and Tuesday of this past week. I was terrified I’d lose my voice, especially during the ridiculous “soaring” alterna-chorus of also-dumb Faux-Fighters anthem / opener “A Father’s Gift.” I found myself having to take 10-minute breaks after every phrase by the time I got to the second chorus; my voice would get to a point where it would literally refuse to reach the required pitch.

IN CONCLUSION, I had a lot of fun with this book by A. A. Milne making this marginally blasphemous piece of rock waste, and I’m at least mostly pleased with the sonic results, which I think are a lot better than the previous DSasc effort, even if the songs are even dumber. Hope y’all enjoy it too, all ten-ish minutes of it. And perhaps DS:asc will find yet another revival in the coming new year– but let’s just hope I can bring the IQ factor up by another 10-15 points.

ps – If you listen to this record in some form, the last twenty seconds of the bonus track are a “hidden feature” of the second chorus of “A (Red) Ring for Christmas,” played solo so you can fully enjoy it by itself. Sixteen layered tracks of lap steel guitar… damn, isn’t it just beautiful?

pps – I forgot to tell the story of CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER’s epic solo on “Joseph’s Lament!” Well, dammit, we have some shopping to do right now. Next time! I promise.

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