Friday, May 27, 2011


In addition to Audubon Park and Aimee, tomorrow the mighty Actual Persons Living or Dead will be playing. Odds are, if you are reading this you are in that band, but if you are someone who ended up here by Googling "MC Skat Kat" (you would be surprised by how many people are Googling "MC Skat Kat" on a DAILY basis), please take a moment to listen to this:

A Youthful, All-American Energy!

The Durham Herald-Sun saves print media by running this:
Audubon Park and Aimee Argote performing "Born In The U.S.A." (Saturday, Local 506) - Audubon Park is a Carrboro-based pop band with strong, personal lyrics and a sense of youthful energy that sometimes passes for a Los Campesinos brand of art-punk on tracks like "A Plum in Light and Air" but is really an all-American sound that would make The Boss proud.

Enter Aimee Argote, better known as Des Ark (have you got a copy of her new album yet?). The former pride of Durham before moving to Philadelphia, Argote has been showing up around the Triangle the past few weeks playing solo shows. She's back, and this time she's going to be performing with Audobon [sic] Park as they run through the entirety of Bruce Springsteen's biggest album.

Let's do this for the kids!

(NB: Print media was not actually saved because this was just one their website. The Internet is saved!)

The History of Audubon Park, Errata

Yesterday, I wrote about how I came up with the title for our first EP "Angry Bees Outside, These Bees Inside." I've been informed that it was actually Jennifer who came up with the title.

This news calls into question the veracity of everything you read on these pages. I apologize. Now I am worried about this post I wrote about Audubon Park's first Grammy nomination.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Sixteen

It just occurred to me that I never explained where the name of our first EP, "Angry Bees Outside, These Bees Inside," came from.

One afternoon, Jennifer and I were driving on 15-501, listening to NPR, because duh, that's what you do in Chapel Hill. There was a report about an abandoned house, maybe it was one that was foreclosed on and left in a bad state or something. I don't remember.

Anyway, the reporter said, "Angry bees outside. Dead bees inside."

"That would be a great title!" I said.

"It should be 'These Bees Inside,' Jennifer said. "'Dead Bees' sounds a little metal."

"We are sort of metal."

"No. Honey. I'm sorry."

She was right. We weren't metal at all.

The History of Audubon Park, Part Fifteen

After the universal, crushing success of "Angry Bees Outside, These Bees Inside," the band decided we needed to strike while the iron of popular acclaim was hot, so we returned to Nick's studio a few months later and recorded what we thought would be our masterwork.

I mean, one of the songs even had two violins on it, which is some next level Carpenters-type sophistication.

A friend of mine, Mike Turner of the Warmer Milks said he wanted to put it out on his record label, so we sent him the master. "It might take a while," he said. "I want to do this right."

That release, I will tell you about later. This is not its story. This is the story of the EP we recorded to fill the gap between EPs.

I proposed the idea one afternoon at Go!. "Let's record an EP with the two songs from the demo that we know that didn't make it onto 'Bees' and this new song 'Tree Full of Snakes' and maybe a cover." We didn't have any money, so another weekend with Nick was out of the question, so we decided to let Matt record it on his 8-track 1/2 tape machine. But where.

"My mom is going to be out of town," Finn said. "We can do it at my mom's."

We sure can!

A Value Based System of Values; or, What Does My Mom Do On Facebook?

There is a button in the Blogger dashboard labeled "MONETIZE." I have never pushed it. I almost did once, but it was because I thought it said "MONKEYTIZE."

Audubon Park: Who Needs Practice When There Is A Mall To Go To!

The Independent has just published this article about Audubon Park. It is very nice. Perhaps, too nice!

The History of Audubon Park, Part Fourteen

After Robert and Rob moved into the Big House, Nate lived in a really sketchy house on Greensboro Street for a while. V. Sirin would practice there in his bedroom, the only room in the whole house with a lock on. A pad lock. One afternoon, we were checking out the basement and Matt asked, "Is that asbestos."

"I guess we'll know in about 20 years when we die from it."

The situation in the house soon became unpleasant in a number of ways and Nate moved out to the country with Nick Petersen. Nick worked at Go! and liked to record bands. As everyone who has ever met Nick knows, he is the nicest, coolest person. He recorded the two last V. Sirin songs. The penultimate, "Death to Videodrome," he recorded on an 8-track in the living room of that old house. I'd never heard a song of mine sounds that great before. It was just two acoustic guitars and drums, but it sounded like Led Zeppelin. Not long after that, Nick moved and started Track and Field in a house over in Carrboro. V. Sirin's last song, "Marginalia," was recorded there. He was living with Dave Perry at the time, I think, and you can hear toward the end of the song, me laughing as Dave walked through the living room while I was tracking vocals. He gave me a timid nod and I lost it.

When it came time to record, we asked Nick. With the exception of five songs (four by us at Finn's mom's and one with Zeno for a Compulation) we have recorded everything with Nick. Putting aside for a moment the fact that he is really great at what he does, making our soupy mess sound like the music of Olympian Gods, he is some how magically able to put up with Audubon Park recording--a non-stop parade of tasteless jokes, many of which make it onto tape. He has a special sense to know which dumb ideas we really mean and which we don't mean.

We recorded "Teenage Horses" with Nick when he moved the studio to Go! old location and "Passion" at his new house out on the edge of Carrboro within view of some cows.

So here is a toast to Nick--the real reason that Audubon Park albums are worth listening to (because he said 'No' to actually recording those cows).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Thirteen

Once, we were at Ben and Lauren's house when they lived in Carrboro. We were listening to the Clash and I was working my way through a 2 liter of Mountain Dew. "No open-toe Tuesdays," Ben said as Arthur and Tina sat, staring at Robert, waiting.

From the Vault

These are images I found on this very blog while trolling this very blog:

The History of Audubon Park, Part Twelve

Audubon Park's first show was at the Nightlight in May of 2003. We played with Erie Choir (the beginning of a long tradition of letting Eric ride on our coattails). This was when the stage was still in the front corner of the place. And when it still had books and was the Skylight Exchange during the day.

The Nightlight was my favorite place to play for several reasons, but the ability to browse water-damaged and molding paperbacks was the clincher. The piles of books still in boxes from some estate sale, ancient Ellery Queens and brightly colored Modern Library editions, dust covered and dry. Old covers, old translations, authors that have faded out of even the most rabid reader's memory. It was just the perfect place for Audubon Park to play. Our little bower of forgotten books.

In the weeks leading up to the show, with our set of songs perfectly practiced, we discussed learning a cover. We batted a few things around and finally Finn said, "Hey, listen. Can we play 'Takin' Care of Business' by BTO?"

"Really?" the rest of us said.

"Yeah, I have my reasons. See..." And then Finn explained why he wanted to play it. It would be improper for me to put Finn's business on the street, so I will let him chime in on his love for that song if he wishes. All that needs to be said is that we learned it and when we played it, we melted faces.

After that, we began a tradition of playing covers at shows, but increasingly we did it without ever bothering to learn the song first. We played "Never Tear Us Apart" at Go! after running through the song once at practice, with Finn faking the sax solo with his mouth. We played "Don't Stop Believing" and "Cut Your Hair," both without ever having played the song before based purely on some unspoken cultural understanding.

In fact, after our first few shows, we more or less stopped practicing all together. We began to only get together to learn new songs and record every so often. Most of the time, our ragged charm overflowed the boundaries of our errors, but on a few occasions, we "flew too close to the sun with this not-practicing thing'" (as Matt said).

Of course, we are combining everything into one great stew this Saturday--Friday night will be the first time that all five of us have been together in over a year. We are going to relearn all our songs and then all of "Born in the USA."

I have no doubt that we will be able to "take care of business" because I "don't stop believing" that being unpracticed will "never tear us apart" or "cut our hair."

I'm sorry. That almost worked.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Eleven

One weekend afternoon in late 2002 or early 2003, I was in my bedroom playing with my 4-track alone when my mother-in-law called. She asked me if Jennifer was home, and it told her that Jennifer was at school, holed up in her carrel doing school work. She told me that Jennifer's grandfather had passed away unexpectedly and asked me to tell Jennifer. I said I would, gave my condolences and hung up.

Jennifer was very close to her grandfather and I knew the news would upset her and I wasn't sure if I should run to school and tell her or wait until she got home. It seems like a minor conundrum now, but at the time, I really didn't know what to do. Would she want to know right away? Would she want a few more hours of not knowing? I didn't know. In the end, I waited a little and then drove to school and told her and tried to comfort her as best as I could.

The aimless instrumental I was recording when her mother called, I named "New Jacket" after the hand-me-down sport coat that I'd been given a few months before that had been her grandfather's. He was a pretty cool guy. He'd been a nuclear scientist, jazz drummer and had a glass eye. We can all aspire to such heights of awesome.

Since that time, her other grandfather passed away along with my three remaining grandparents and my step-father. And we took care of each other as best we could, which was pretty good.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

*footnotes 4

FACT: AP skinsman Ben Spiker spent some time in Germany in his youth and in college. And apparently he did a little bit more while he was there than just eat sausage and stalk Larry Mullen Jr. when U2 was in Berlin making "Achtung Baby." We here at Tropic of Food have discovered this rare footage of his first musical endeavor — and it's not called WEAVEXX. The pube 'stache may have hidden his identity up til now, but this is unmistakably him:

The group, called Ausfahrt, which means "stinky fart" in German, never played a show and had virtually no following, according to Spiker, save for a gawky German girl named Hildegard who followed them around and documented their activities. Someone finally got around to uploading the video for their one and only recorded song, "Tippen Ein," which means, "Put 'Em On The Glass" in German. Again, it's hard to make out in this boy the man who would one day sit on the drum throne for classics like "Sunbathers" and "The Blasted Heath," but those eyes are unmistakable, as is the graphic design motif throughout the video. See below.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Ten

"Green Refuge" is the first real Audubon Park song as it is the first song that was written after the band got together and I had an idea of what we could do and how we would sound. I wrote it crouched on the floor of the townhouse that Jennifer and I lived in after Lindsay Street.

The two verses of the song are divided between the body and the spirit. In verse one you have a green refuge (a wildlife refuge near where I grew up), teeth willing to eat, reedy fields and ticks on a body--all elements of a fleshy, earthy world. As a contrast, in verse two, you have a dormitory of ghosts learning to haunt and a palm print on a window. The line "Let's sing together in the shower" may sound sexy and of the body, but comes from a story that our friend Kara told us about something that happened when she was in art school in Georgia. The dorm she lived in was haunted (of course). Each door had its own bathroom and one afternoon, one of her friends was in hers taking a shower. She heard the girl next door singing in her shower. Afterward, the first girl complimented the second on her singing but the second girl said, "I wasn't singing. I thought it was you." This was during a time when there was no one else in the dorm. Conclusive proof of life after death? No, of course, there is no such thing, but that is what I'm talking about with the shower stuff. I am allowed to sing in a non-fiction mode from time to time.

The line about "living bales" refers to a time when we were in college and Jennifer and I went to the wildlife refuge with a class. Our teacher, on the drive back told us that haybales are alive and moving very slowly if you just are patient enough to watch.

And then the outro of the song: "The comfort of machines offers no peace of mind. With their whirring and their clicking, they are sadder than I as they stare blankly and hope to find a kind loving God to paint them a sign, saying, 'This way, this way, come with me tonight.' But in the pile of calculations on the floor we miss the light." The point of all of this being that the pursuit of happiness through purely physical, spiritual or intellectual channels is fraught and ultimately unsuccessful, but that there is something meaningful in that which we assume has no meaning and value, if we are able to be patient to see it.

Or maybe those are just the words that came out when I was making stuff up off the top of my head and I was impressed with the internal rhyme.

Band practice usually would follow this pattern: Saturday morning, everyone meets at the Weathervane for brunch. Ben only drinks coffee, Robert eats waffles, Finn has yogurt, Matt eats shrimp and grits and I have a breakfast burrito. We talk too loudly, sitting on the patio, watching early risers filter into the mall. For some reason, we spend the whole morning talking about Linc. He's just always doing interesting things. Finally, forty minutes after we were supposed to start practice, we pay our bill and drive down to the Big House and load our gear in the backdoor into the bedroom that was once Linc's. Maybe that is why we talk about him so much. He is our spirit animal. After we set up, we aimlessly jam for an hour, trying to see who can play the most ridiculously awesome sound. Robert usually wins. Then Matt says, "Shouldn't we practice. We have a show tonight and haven't played together in months." At this point Finn is thinking about Thai food. I don't know why or how I know this, but he just is. So we practice and the songs some out perfectly and all of our cheeks flush with pride. Later that night, at the show, we will screw them all up, but at that moment, in the Big House, we get them all right. After a few old songs, we try a new song, play it twice and then decided to play it at the show. Finally, after a good thirty minutes of hard work, we take a break to watch "The Country Bears." We slouch on the couches in the living room and Robert produces some cookie dough from somewhere. We open the windows and enjoy the spring air which is better than the enclosed air of the practice room as I haven't bathed in a few days and sort of ripe. Ben takes pictures of us with gummi candy our faces and we laugh and laugh and laugh.

And thus, "Green Refuge" is proved.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Nine

When Matt and I were in college, during finals the dorms extended the "quiet hours" all day with the exception of one half-hour block at 9 pm every night. Being bright young men, Matt and I referred to this as the "Loud Half Hour."

Matt and I really chaffed under this sonic ban during the first week of finals our Freshman year. Our souls yearned to strum loudly and listen to "Weld." One night, finding the burdens of monastic silence too much, we decided to put the Loud Half Hour to use.

I was the only person in our dorm who had a real stereo. Not a one piece unit with tiny speakers, but a full size component stereo with giant speakers. I also had a Peavey bass amp with a monstrous 18" speaker (years later, after V. Sirin broke up and I stopped playing bass, I gave the cabinet to Go! to use as a monitor. I have no idea where it is now). Matt brought down to my room his Peavey Audition Plus. We lined our amps up, leaned our guitars against them and, with my door locked, right at 9 pm, we turned our amps on as loud as they would go.

For sure, we were far from SUNN0)))) territory, but for a tiny dorm in rural Kentucky at 9 pm on a Wednesday night, it was bone-rattling enough. We also cued up on my stereo a Dinosaur Jr song that begins with a squeal of feedback. Matt continually hit the back button, playing the squeal over and over and over.

We did this, uninterrupted and without variation for exactly 30 minutes, and then stopped. Angry neighbors were beating on the door and screaming at us. The RA thought it was a fire alarm and tried to evacuate the building.

As the song says, Matt had a Washburn with a locking Floyd Rose. I think I probably bullied him into trading it in for the Jaguar he plays to this day. I remember really wanting a Jaguar myself, so there was probably something selfish in my encouraging him to buy a guitar that he couldn't really afford. Also, once I dropped it and broke the switches and didn't pay to have it fixed.

Really, I was the least honorable person. I apologize for that.

The first drummer in our band was my friend Rob (who would later introduce us to Robert). Rob decided, without consulting us, to become our drummer and bought a drum kit from the one guitar store in Danville. When he bought it, he asked the salesperson, "I think I need a top hat too."

"You mean hi-hat."

"One of those also."

The kit was made by TKO and he played in a way that I've never seen someone play the drums. Rather than having a hand dedicated to the hi-hat and ride and one for the snare, Rob used whatever hand was closest to the drum he intended to hit at any give time. It was like watching someone play whack-a-mole.

The first time that Matt and I ever played live together was our freshman year at a talent show in our school's coffeeshop. We played "Brother" by Alice in Chains and "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction. For many reasons, I don't think any one is proud of that performance. Matt had never preformed live before, but I'd done it twice, so I was the pro of the group. When we started, Matt was singing about three feet from the microphone. I leaned over to tell him to sing closer and he stopped playing, turned to me and said, "What?"

"Don't stop playing. Sing closer to the mic," I said sternly. Because I was a pro.

We got through our set and Matt's father said we were great (it was Parents' Weekend and his whole family was there). "You all are my favorite local band." The subtext was that he didn't think we were better than Cream.

When we recorded "The Loud Half Hour," Ben doubled the drum track. Listening back, I thought, 'No, we aren't better than Cream, but we are better than the Velvet Underground and that is something.' Finn walked into the control room with two chili dogs, looked at the monitors and said, "Wow, that sounds great."

"Hey," Matt said, "Where did you get those chili dogs?"

"A man has to have his secrets," Finn said, sat down, and began to eat.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teenage Horses is Available Online

If you are reading this and don't already have a copy of our first album, Teenage Horses, you can now purchase it (or just stream it) below (all proceeds go to CyTunes and cancer research).

The History of Audubon Park, Part Eight

Jennifer adopted a cat when she lived in Louisville and named him Register. Register loved to sit on your chest while you were reading and tread softly, his eyes closing slowly in happiness. Register also loved to pounce, claws and teeth flashing, onto your bare legs, often drawing blood. Days would go by with no problem, with just sweet catness, and then something in his mind would change and no bare calf was safe. But we loved that cat.

The song "Oh, Register! Why Are You Crying?" was written in our little duplex with peeling linoleum. Ants would come in the backdoor so we spread red pepper across the threshold like some modern folk ritual. One night, an electronic toy went off in the closet and scared us both, always ready to believe that there is a ghost in Carroboro. Each night Register slept at the foot of the bed for a while and then began his nightly prance and play. His favorite game was Foot Attack. This was my least favorite game. If we put him out, he would be quiet for a while and then begin to pound on the door like a full grown man. BOOM BOOM BOOM. Waking to a pounding on your bedroom door is also not fun for those prone to spectral fancies.

Once Register evens started to turn the door knob. I began to scream. "Here he comes now! That malefic beast!"

"Don't say that about your cat," Jennifer replied. We let the cat in and he licked Jennifer's face and we slept until morning.

The song isn't just a cute song about a cat. With the lyrics, I wanted to capture Register's dual nature: placid on one hand, uncontrollable on the other. But even still, "he's the best cat in the world, tell me that I'm wrong." The music reflects this, changing from an inoffensive Belle-And-Sebastian-style pop song to an unhinged cyclone of atonal squealing that ends abruptly.

The song's main melody was another creation of my day in bed, waiting for LSAT scores. I crouched in my boxers over the 4-track, bells in hand, and in one swoop found the perfect notes. When we recorded the song at Nick's, we saved it for last. We knew that we had just enough time on one reel of 2" tape to record all of our songs. We planned on doing "Register" last and just jamming it until the tape stopped. At some point during the melee, Matt began to scream into his pickups. I heard this and thought it was Nick trying to get us to stop and I began to flail my arms until we all were silent. It turned out we had plenty of tape left, so we just cut the song after Matt's screaming.

I heard it twice on the radio in one day and I realized that we'd accidentally recorded a song that people liked.

Eventually, Register became too much to handle. The days of calm sweetness were few and far between. Every day was more or less a battle to keep him from attacking you. It was impossible to walk around the house in shorts, or to sit where he could get access to your face or arms. We took him to the vet for help, but the vet said they didn't know what was wrong and that there was nothing they could do. We looked for shelters that might could take him, but the thought that a family with a small child might adopt him worried us. Register was not fit to be around children.

Eventually the attacks became violent enough that we decided that we had to have Register put to sleep. He'd attacked Jennifer while she was carrying him, leaving her face and neck bloody. I made the appointment and drove him to the vet and held him while they did it and then when the vet left the room, I had a breakdown.

Loving someone is very difficult. It can be as full of pain and unhappiness as it is joy and warmth. I don't think Register was a bad cat. He was good, but there was something wrong with him, something that I think he didn't understand either and I feel very bad for him, but I hope that he was happy. He had two people who were just crazy about him, despite his problems.

While I hear that song, I don't think about our cat. I think about the plainness of human life and how it is full of days dreaming in the sun and days of flipping out in anguish, but in union of the sorrow and happiness, that is where the real joy of being alive is.

I am very fortunate to get to share my life with Register and Typee and Jennifer and Matt and Ben and Robert and Finn and Eric and all of my friends, even if we bite each others legs sometimes.

The History of Audubon Park, Part Three (Original Version)

This was lost by the Blogger outage of '11 but has now been returned and reposted for 'historiograpic' reasons.

Finn Cohen's first show with the White Octave was at the Local 506. The day seemed like any other day and he had little reason to suspect that his musical life was about to change in the most profound way possible. Not because he was going to play his first show as guitarist in a semi-popular local band. Let's be honest: That shit doesn't make any difference. The White Octave were good, but there are lots of good bands in this world.

No, Finn's musical future was about to be altered because that was the day he met me.

After V. Sirin played, Finn approached me and said, "Hey, you all were really good."

"Eh, everyone says that after you play, even if you don't mean it."

"No, but I do. I liked your stuff."

"Oh, I am sure you did."

"No, really man."


A few months later we were all out for my bachelor party and Finn knocked over every trash can on Franklin Street. This was after we'd failed in our attempt to be kicked out of Top of the Hill. "Why does everyone want us so bad," Matt screamed, shaking his fists at God. A police officer approached us with some gentle critiques of our behavior. I grabbed Finn and said, "Please, sir, don't take my friend to jail!" and then ran down the street setting right what had been set wrong.

Later, we picked up a girl at a rave and broke into a pool after Eric stole a sign from an apartment building. I am sure the statute has run on all of this, but the less said, the better.

After V. Sirin broke up, I called Finn on the telephone, which I don't usually do, and asked him to play bass in the new band. I thought this might be a tough sell as no one wants to be the bass player.

"Sure!" he said.


"Yeah, I like your songs."

"Okay, I guess I believe you now."

"Yeah, that song on the NE v. NC comp is really great. I sounds like 'Muskrat Love.'"


However, Finn's life was still not totally complete. He'd still not yet met a gentleman that I knew from volunteering at the shelter downtown, a man that would become his closest collaborator and musical confidant and life coach. This fellow went by the name of Silk Nogg, a name he got off a carton of soy based holiday drink that he found in the garbage one day while rummaging. Finn made the mistake of giving Mr. Nogg his phone number. Unlike me, Mr. Nogg has no fear of using the telephone and leaving long, emotionally troubled messages for Finn.

"I feel like my life is complete now," Finn once told me when we were laying out by the pool. "I just feel happy. Listen to this new message I got."

All I heard was bellowing and something about shampoo. My stomach turned and I gazed off at the sparkling surface of the still water.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

*footnotes: 3

This was posted years ago on this very blog, but who knows how to find that?

The History of Audubon Park, Part Seven

"Snowy" was written this way: First, I played the rhythm guitar part through my old Danelectro amp that I unfortunately no longer have. I had the tremolo on and as soon as I strummed the first chord, an E major, the whole rest of the song appeared in my head. I turned the 4-track on and made the rest up in one pass. Then on a second pass, I made up the lead guitar parts.

The lyrics took a couple of tries. Generally my process for writing lyrics is to sing random things over top of the music until something sticks. I rarely sit down and write lyrics out like I used to do in college. Some songs don't have lyrics until we record them and even then, I just make them up as I go. This was the case with "Yardbird Sings Metal" and "Waiting for Later" on the new album.

In the case of "Snowy," my first pass on making things up sort of stunk. It was about regional sales managers or something. I don't quite remember. Anyway, I'd written and recorded it in December of 2002. That December, I was also scheduled to take the LSAT. However, two nights before I was to take the test, there was a terrible, apocalyptic ice storm. The evening before, when the snow started, Jennifer had nearly been trapped in Durham and only barely made it home in time. That night, Jennifer and I woke to the sound of trees breaking. Not just branches, but whole trees. The cracking sound of trunks snapping made the duplex tremble. The power went out and it got cold and we were scared. But we were also tired, so we went back to sleep.

The next morning, we woke to a world encrusted in ice. It glittered in the sun and hurt our eyes. It was beautiful, but after a few minutes of wonder, Jennifer and I realized that we had a few problems:

1. No power.

2. No heat.

3. I had the LSAT the next morning, but no alarm clock.

4. Seriously, no heat. We are going to die.

5. No food.

6. You don't need food if you are dead from cold and missed the LSAT.

After a few panicked hours, including an aborted trip to Harris Teeter for rations (the inside was a dark throng of cold people offering up laments to God, so I just bought a loaf of bread at Weaver Street and called it a day), we decided to sleep in Jennifer's office on UNC's campus. Of course, we couldn't leave the cat, so we smuggled Register in, yowling loudly the whole time, Jennifer and I both assuming that if we got caught with the cat on campus we would be jailed and she would get kicked out of school. Don't laugh, these were dire times.

But once we were nested in her office, I learned that the LSAT had been postponed a week. At that point, it was just party time!

Flash forward to mid-January. When you take the LSAT, there is a designated day the next month when you can call and get your score early. So I spent that day, a Saturday, in bed, in my boxers, calling the number which was busy all morning, clogged with nervous law-students-to-be. I don't know why I wouldn't get out of bed. Maybe the floor was lava. I don't know. I had my 4-track and keyboard in bed and I was messing around. I listened back to "Snowy," which wasn't actually called that then, and I remembered Jennifer's story of almost being stuck in Durham and the inspiration came to me. I plugged in the microphone and from bed, began to croon. Of all the songs I've written about Jennifer over the years, this was the best one.

When I finally got through to the LSAT people, I found out that since I took my test late, I would have to wait another week for my score.

I rose from my bed and put on my pants.

The History of Audubon Park, Part Six

The first song I wrote for Audubon Park was "Bardstown." In this song you can hear all of the hallmarks of "An Audubon Park Song": A riff that is clearly lifted from an 80s heartland rock song ("Baby Vaughan, Your Life Is on Fire" and "Frightened by the Lake"), two verses ( "The Blasted Heath," "Ghettos of the Sun" or "Oh Register, Why Are You Crying"), nothing that resembles a chorus ("Register," "Sunbathers," and "Yardbird Sings Metal"), a long bridge with six or so chords that none of us remember ("Pleasant Hill," "Tree Full of Snakes," April in Kentucky"), and then an outro that has no musical relationship to the preceding sections (All of the above mentioned). We just have to face: I do how I do.

I wrote "Bardstown" while sitting on the futon in the the duplex that Jennifer and I lived in on Lindsay Street in Carrboro. I was watching television and idly strumming. I think I was strumming Matt's acoustic guitar, which means I borrowed it, which means I must have been planning on recording, which means that maybe "Bardstown" wasn't the first song I wrote for the band.

That we place so much importance on the trustworthiness of memories is frightening.

Bardstown, Kentucky, is where bourbon comes from. The "sparkling bottles of Tavern" are empty bottles of Kentucky Tavern, cheap whiskey for college kids on a budget. The academic team references is my Future Problem Solving team. I don't know what "Future Problem Solving" is now and I didn't know then. I just enjoyed being around people. In those two lines is another Audubon Park Thing: The blending of transparently cultivated naiveté and transparently cultivated worldliness. The truth is, we both don't not know as much as we act like and don't know as much as we let on. Don't worry, I'm confused too.

Once, I did get to see a bar fight and it was awesome.

When we recorded the song, the first one we recorded, listening to the play back, to the dry guitars plinking away and Ben's drums thumping and the wild synthesizer sounds melting over the fuzz bass, I realized that we were the best band of all time. I know this is another trick of my memory, but nothing has ever sounded as good to me as that first play back of that one song.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Five

We began to practice at Go! Rehearsals.

As most of you know, Go! had once been a warehouse. I don't know what they housed there. Wares, I guess. Anyway, I worked with a guy named Steve who'd worked at the warehouse in the 1990s. We were talking about the band and he told me, "Oh, you practice in that place. You know what happened there?"

I did not know what happened there, but when someone says, "Oh, you know what happened there?" it makes me want to know what happened there.

"See, there was this guy who'd worked double shift or was drunk or something and he went up to the office to take a break. He was up there smoking and feel asleep on the couch with the lit cigarette still in his mouth. It caught the couch on fire and the office and eventually the whole place went up. Boom! He died. Thousands of dollars worth of wares were destroyed."

"That is terrible."

"Not as terrible as what happened in the parking lot of the Domino's next door."

"What happened in the parking lot of the Domino's?"

"This guy on a motorcycle, on purpose, drove as fast as he could under a guidewire for a powerline and it decapitated him. Slice! His head rolled on the gravel ground, co-eds with armloads of pizza screaming, the head smiling and laughing. The motorcycle sped away with the body still on it."

"So you are telling me that where my band practices there have been two grisly deaths. Did something terrible happen at the car wash in between the two places?"

"No, that's just a car wash."

I didn't tell the band about the man who burned alive where we practiced our upbeat pop jams, nor did I tell them about the decapitated biker in the parking lot of the place where we ordered our pizzas from. After a few weeks, I forgot about the miasma of lurking horror that surrounded the band.

Then, one Sunday evening as we were running through one of our songs, Mike, the manager of the rehearsal space poked his head in. "Hey, I'm going to step out for a while. You all are the only ones here. The door will be locked, but I wanted to give you a heads up." The rest of the band nodded happily, but my soul was gripped by a chill. We were locked in the haunted rehearsal space alone!

We played a little while longer and then took a break. As we sat and talked, we became aware of a noise. A distant, low sound.

"Man, what is that sound. It sounds like the engine of a motorcycle," Finn said. "But, like a really evil motorcycle." Fear gripped me but I said nothing.

"Yeah," said Robert, "And maybe I can hear some laughing too." I began to sweat.

"Let's check it out," Ben said. We crept out of the practice room and I broke down. "Guys, stop!" I told the about the headless biker.

"Yeah, but that was at Domino's," said Matt. "Even if ghosts were possible, which they are not, it would be over there, haunting a pizza."

"I would eat a haunted pizza," Ben said. We all nodded. We would all eat a haunted pizza. Nevertheless, curious, we crept on down the hall toward the mysterious sound. We got to practice room one. The door was vibrating. The sound was coming from in there. Slowly, Finn pushed the door open and we saw it.

Razzle was having practice. "Oh, sorry to interrupt," I said, "Thought we heard pizza." Dave Cantwell gave us the 'these boys are crazy eye' and we walked back to our practice room.

"See, it wasn't a ghost, it was just...Wait!" I said. "Mike said no one was here."

"So," everyone else said.

"And RAZZLE BROKE UP!" Our faces went white and we rushed back to their room, threw the door open and saw--the members of Razzle were all floating above the ground.

"GHOST RAZZLE!" we exclaimed and with a great shriek, the band vanished with a sulfurous smell. "Damn," Finn said, "They farted on the way out."

"I'm sorry," Robert said, "I'm just confused. Are we practicing more or what?"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

*footnotes: 2

In early 2010, after Ben and Robert realized (late in the game) that they had lost an ally in the fight for creative control when David moved to Virginia, they spent a weekend together in the mountains, listening to Kid A and the Gang Starr Full Clip: The Anthology cds over and over again. Both of them being drummers, they realized that what the band really needed was a deeper sense of their craft — an appreciation for the tone of each drum, the rich timbres that come with subtle increments of force, the ghostly undertones of the cymbals. The non-Ben members of the band had a new regime for the rest of the band: play whatever you like, but please, just turn down, if not off.

Kalb was immediately on board, saying that he'd been looking for a project that he could just "chill" in. Finn, at this point in the band existing solely as the unexpectedly successful source of photographs of dogs in tiny severe-weather outfits, raised no objections.

And the result is here: the recording of "Yardbird Sings Metal," a song off the upcoming Audubon Park release "PASSION."

*footnotes: 1

Little Known Fact

In early 2007, David, Robert and Ben held secret practices without Matt and Finn, hoping to wrest creative control away from them and further toward a more "punk" sound. This phase did not last long, mainly because David had to stop using cough drops.

It did bear some fruit.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Four

The last piece of the puzzle was to find a drummer. Eric suggested that I ask Ben Spiker. I only knew Ben a little bit--from parties and such. I'm not generally very friendly at social events. You could say I am shy, but honestly, I'm just sort of an aloof jerk, so it takes me a long time to make friends.

Wait, that is beside the point.

Eric said that Ben was really cool and a good drummer and funny. That was key. So one afternoon, at an anti-war rally in Raleigh, I saw Ben and Linc and casually mentioned to him the possibility of playing music.

"Sure man. Also, I hate war." We cheered. A few days later, I sent Ben an email memorializing our conversation and letting him know that we were going to get together on Sunday for our first practice, but I never heard back from him.

Faced with the possibility of no drummer, Robert volunteered that if we couldn't get anyone else, he would drum.

The night before our first practice, Matt, Robert, Finn and I went to see Des Ark and Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan at the Nightlight. This was the Nightlight's first weekend and the room was pretty packed. Between sets, we saw Ben and Lauren. "Oh hey," Ben said, "Did I ever respond to your email?"

"No," I said.

"Oh, shit, man. I am in!"

"We have practice tomorrow."

"I'll be there!"

And thus, the final piece of the greatest puzzle known to mankind was in place. Wait, what? I don't know.

At the time, Ben and Lauren were living in Carrboro, just a few blocks from my house and I would sometimes go over and work on songs with him in Lauren's knitting room, just the two of us. Usually the practices ended with Ben playing the drums with Lauren's knitting needles and the both of us laughing or him making up names for the songs and the both of us laughing. Ben named "Tree Full of Snakes" and "ESP Territory." There are probably others, but I don't remember.

Typical AP Practice Conversation:

Matt: Serious musical question.
Finn: Serious response to musical question.
Robert: Serious counterpoint to musical question.
David: Ben, what do you think.
Ben: I have a shirt just like that.

Ben gave me a corduroy jacket that had been his father's, a grey one with a "Joe Namath" label inside. A sleeve is coming undone, but I still wear the jacket everywhere I possibly can.

The History of Audubon Park, Part Three

So, yesterday I wrote a really nice entry about how Finn ended up in the band. And then, apparently, Blogger had some sort of "End of Days" malfunction and not that post is gone.

I could try and recreate it, retell meeting Finn, my bachelor party, the various semi-illegal activities that ensued, and his growing dependence on a homeless man with the initials S.N. I could, but it wouldn't be the same.

Rather, I offer this:

Слушай, мне было грустно, на АЗС, один с желтым телефон, и этот человек пришел и сказал мне, эй, эй, эй, и я был, как, сэр? А потом он показал мне свой арахис, и я сказал, это самые арахис. И он спросил, если я видела его сестра, Красная Шапочка, который он назвал говорил, и я сказал, "чипсы"? Я был так же удивлен, как он был, что мы были тогда смыты наводнениями и, как я lisened ему кричать о помощи, я задавался вопросом, как ему удалось так много арахис?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Two

When I was in high school, I was in a band with my two best friends: Jonathan and Rob. We didn't do much more than spend hours sitting in the basement, screaming into headphones that had been plugged into an amplifier's input while one of us turned the knobs on a delay pedal. Basically, we were great.

Unfortunately, we didn't make it big. Frankly, we didn't even make it small. We played on ill-fated show in a pasture that is best not spoken of.

After high school, Rob went off to college at Guilford College, home of the Fighting Quakers ('Fight fight inner light/kill, Quakers, kill') and became friends with a young man from Goldsboro named Robert Biggers. This was during a largely pre-email era (we had email addresses, but we didn't use them for anything other than subscribing to Sebadoh-L).

It wasn't until after graduation from college that I met Robert. He and Rob were passing through Louisville, where Matt and I were living at the time, and spent the night. We had a jam session in the basement of our house with me playing the drums. Nothing musically fulfilling came of the evening. To be honest, Rob and I both sort of need to stay as far from the drums as humanly possible.

I remember Robert telling us that despite the fact that he was clearly a very talented guitar player that he had just joined a band as their drummer. This band was called the White Octave, which also seemed like really cool name for a band, so I was totally jealous.

"Why can't I be good at things and have a good band name?" I asked Matt.

"Would you please put on some pants?"


By pure chance, Jennifer decided to apply to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for graduate school. Within a few months, Matt and I were living in Chapel Hill, just down the road from Rob and Robert. The band Matt and I started the day we rolled into town, V. Sirin, practiced in their house on the nights that the White Octave wasn't practicing.

That house was our home base for a few years, the locus of many rambunctious parties, one which even had a child's moonwalk that nearly killed me when it deflated while I was inside. It was where we all met up for my bachelor party, Rob, Robert and Matt yelling surprise and then putting a copy of "Spice World" in the VCR. I have to admit, I was sad when Rob and Robert moved out, to some house on Huse St. in Durham. DURHAM! It was the end of an era, my youth gone! I was certain we'd never hang out again or have fun parties or anything.

After V. Sirin broke up and after I asked Matt to join my new band, named Audubon Park on Jennifer's suggestion, I asked Nick Petersen and Ben Dunlap to be in the band. The four of us played once, and it went well, but they were far too busy to be in Audubon Park.

In another stroke of luck, The White Octave broke up around this time. I realized that I had no desire to be in a band that worked hard and promoted itself and tried to be good. I just wanted to be in a band with my friends. So I asked Robert if he wanted to play.

"Sure. I just got this keyboard and it makes these strange sounds and I don't really know what it does. Listen." The keyboard made and uncontrollable noise like a Valkyrie dying.

"It sounds perfect to me."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part One

Audubon Park's origin can be traced to one, solitary fact: I was tired of being in a band with Matt Kalb.

Matt and I met our freshman year of college in rural Kentucky. Our dorms were at opposite ends of the hall and one afternoon as I strolled back to my room from the shower, I could hear him in his room playing "Drive" by R.E.M. on his electric guitar. I was eager to find someone to play music with, so I knocked.

To my surprise, I found a long-haired metal dude with an electric blue Washburn with a Floyd Rose tremolo and a Peavey Audition Plus. Over his desk hung a picture of Chris Cornell. He was wearing cut off shorts and boots.

We stared at each other. "I like R.E.M.," I said in my thick, country drawl, sounding slightly simple. "Oh?" he said.

I probably was not wearing a homemade Cure t-shirt and black jeans, but I will say I was because it will make me sound cooler than I really was. I did have an unsightly mop of curly, black hair and basically looked like a feather duster come to life. Actually, if I was on my way back from the shower, I probably just had on a towel, which makes the interaction sort of awkward.

"I can play the guitar too," I said. He handed the guitar over to me and in that moment I couldn't think of any songs other than "Plush" by the Stone Temple Pilots, which I hated, but seeing Matt's long hair and cut off shorts and Chris Cornell pictures, I assumed he would like.

I played the first three or four chords and said, "See." His face was blank. "Here's one I wrote," I said, instantly monopolizing the guitar and conversation and letting lose a long string of poorly played open chords along with an atonal caterwaul that I think of as my singing voice. His eyes narrowed.

Whether or not I did all of this in just a towel, we will never know.

A few weeks later, there were some girls in his room, hanging out. Two girls! In Matt's room! (A fun fact: The ladies just loved Matt.)

I stopped by and the girls, learning that I could play music too, wanted us to play a song. Matt said, "Ugh," which we all know is Matt's reaction to most everything. I ran down and got my bass and amp (a 400 watt Peavey Mark IV) and we played an impromptu version of "Just Like Heaven"--the only song that both of us knew well enough to attempt.

After I left, he told the girls that I was the worst musician he'd ever played with. It should be noted that Matt was correct in his assessment. I stunk! But I was enthusiastic and kept dropping by Matt's room with my 12-string guitar to play chords while he soloed.

I came back from Christmas break that year and told Matt that we needed to start a band. I have a vague memory that one of us had suggested it and that the other had said no, but I don't remember which it was. I was still sort of in my band from high school, which I was fiercely loyal to (though they'd all realized that we'd broken up already) and Matt sort of drove me crazy some. Matt wanted to play different kinds of music than I did and I sort of drove him crazy.

Yet, for whatever reason (hint: there was no one else to play with)we decided to give it a try. I said, "I wrote a bunch of songs over the break."

"Let's hear them."

I showed him the lyrics.

"Yeah, but the music."

"Oh, I don't have music yet for them."

"Then you can't say that you wrote a 'song.' Songs have to have music."

This blew my mind. He was right. So we started working on music for the words that I wrote. In a few weeks we'd recorded our first album together on my 4-track. We called the band Gertrude and the album "Nyaya" (which is some crap we learned in a Religion class).

After that, we began work on our second album. This one had more solos on it.

"Matt, are we the best band ever?"

"Probably not."

"But maybe?"


In 2001, after a short tour of the midwest, the band that Matt and I started when we moved to Chapel Hill, V. Sirin, broke up. Our drummer Nate emailed us one morning and said he couldn't deal with us any more. The email said, "I can't deal with you all any more."

Matt called me at work and asked what I wanted to do.

"We've been playing together without a break since 1993," I said. "I think I need a break. I need to do some other stuff." Matt understood. For months I'd been making absurd demands on the band, trying to get them to kick me out or let me quit. This does not reflect well on my character, does it? I would demand to play more guitar and Matt let me. I would demand to play the electronic drums on my cheap keyboard and Matt let me. It didn't occur to me that Matt just liked being in a band with me.

So, with V. Sirin ended, I was free to not be in a band with Matt. I took a few months and wrote some songs. Simple little jingle-jangle songs that V. Sirin or Gertrude would never have played. My wife Jennifer asked me, "Who are you going to ask to be in a band with you?"

I thought about it for a moment. "I guess I'll ask Matt."

"Matt? I thought you were tired of playing with Matt."

"Yeah, I can't imagine being in a band that doesn't have Matt in it."

So I called him and we started Audubon Park.

Monday, May 09, 2011

My Cardinal Is Blue

Here is our new single, "My Cardinal Is Blue." You can download it for free at the link.


PASSION; or, The Audubon Park Album.

Audubon Park has risen from a prolonged slumber to bring you a new FULL LENGTH ALBUM entitled PASSION.

The album was recorded in early 2010 and after a year of mixing and mastering, will be released on May 28 through CyTunes. We are playing a release show that night at the Local 506. The show is $7 and you get a download of the album (with all the money going to CyTunes).

Opening will be Actual Persons Living or Dead. Then we will play.

AND THEN, as the grand finale, Audubon Park will be performing Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. with Aimee Argote on vocals and Bob Wall on keys. I hope you are prepared for MUSIC.

We are very excited.

Here are some notes on the songs that are on the new album. It is a NON-FICTION record of TRUE songs about REAL things that happened to REAL people.

2 Wounded 2 Quit. On Friday afternoon, Stingy picked me up at work and immediately asked if I liked “The Cosby Show.” We drove with Finn and Robert to the beach, but I don’t remember if we ever saw the ocean. I just remember, we spent the first night sitting on a bench in the dark, drinking beer, and I tried to explain God, but I was drunk. The next night, we drove to Beaufort and met Sarah and Sha who said some very strange and inappropriate things. We grilled hamburgers and watched television and took pictures of Stingy.

What Happened to the Nighttime this Weekend? When we got to Lantern, before the Neil Hamburger show, Eric and Maggie were there laughing about this couple we’d just missed who were on a blind date. “She kept asking him about cilantro.” Some folks went to the show and some went to Fuse. We looked at fliers on a telephone pole and Erin asked the question that became the title of this song. Every time I hear this song, I get really hungry. This may be because I only listen to it at lunchtime.

My Cardinal Is Blue. After my wife finished grad school, she got a job teaching in another state and we were apart for a while. I didn’t have a car, so to visit her, I would have to borrow my sister’s car. I also slept in a bed I borrowed from my sister. I was living the "good life." The drive up to see my wife was easy. The sky was beautiful and the music was loud the mountains thrummed with happiness. The drive home was always cold and damp and all music sounded terrible. I have to confess, she never at dinner at the mall. The quick-serve chain Mexican restaurant she ate at all the time was in a shopping center. Mall just sounds better. This is a sequel to the electronic piece that I composed our senior year of college.

Winding Sheet. The first two songs that Matt and I ever wrote together, during our freshman year of college, were about how much I did not like working. Seventeen years later, I still don’t much care for it. This song is nowhere near as awesome as those two songs were. The reason that this album took a year and a half to come out was because we could not agree on the keyboard solo. I am completely serious about this. One of us wanted the solo to be really loud. Another didn't want the solo at all. A third person wanted to ride a cow. I won't say which position won, but we are no longer allowed near this one farm in Orange County.

Cosmos or a Hillside. A springtime drive to Pittsboro has an element of the metaphysical to it. Once, after a particularly bad week at work, my wife surprised me with a weekend stay at Fearrington Village. For dinner we drove back to town and ate at 411 West. “This place is terrible.” “It’s like an Olive Garden inside of a Best Western.” “I wish we’d eaten at Carrburitos.” “I wish I’d eaten woodchips.” “I think you did.” “Let’s go to CD Alley.” “Okay.” It was a wonderful weekend.

Laugh Riot. Do you remember that time that Cy did stand-up comedy at Kings? This songs is how music should sound and is an indication of the band’s music direction for the next seven years.

Waiting for Later. Every party that we ever had in the Big House exists all at once, forever and ever. Hepler is always setting off illegal fireworks that never seem to kill him and Rossi is always neck deep in uncut grass and Dave is always asleep in the tub with five cats. The best part of any band practice is always just before, when you are sitting outside in the crisp autumn air, stomach still full from brunch, or just after, ears ringing wondering what way you will waste your weekend next.

Yardbird Sings Metal. We were outside of Hell and this guy comes up and starts slapping his thigh and singing Iron Maiden. Bob, Dave and Dave were intrigued and impressed. Robert recorded it and at the end of the song you can hear his voice and know that I am making none of this up. Matt says the guy is dead now. Luckily, the song goes on forever.

Baby Vaughan, Your Life Is on Fire. While the story of Baby Vaughan may appear to be one of sadness and failure, I would suggest that being lost in the dreams of our youth is a blessing. We all live more or less the same lives: we wake, we eat, we bathe, we work, we sleep. It is only when we lose ourselves in our reveries that the real colors come alive.