Are You Committed

by vonHummer

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(free) 05:11


At some point in early 2008, I despaired of ever working with another drummer ever again. I liked programming drum tracks just fine, but when it came to playing live, I always found it horribly arduous working with a drummer to recreate the recorded versions.
As a solution, I got myself a looping pedal (the Boss one: cheaper) and decided to play along live to the beats I make scratching the strings of my bass.
In another recent development then, I'd added an extra pickup to my Danelectro Longhorn bass, one just to capture the high string set (1 bass G string and one guitar G string, both tuned up to B) with a separate out.
ALSO, roundabout then, I'd bought myself a vocal harmonizer: you stomp the pedal and suddenly your one voice sounds like the Eagles singing harmony behind you. This would also be part of the live set up from thence forward.
It all sounded so good to me that I thought, "Ah! I must record an album of songs using this arrangement [new bass + scratch loop + vocal harmonizer] and then when I play live, I'll FINALLY sound just like my recorded version."
And so I did. 15 new or slightly used songs, (none previously released anyhow). I even toyed with my vocal style a bit, aping the Peter Gabriel/David Gilmore moan plus pronouncing my 'R's like Springsteen.
I finished the album, listened back to it, liked the instrumental part, hated the vocal stylings, and filed it away to fix later.
So the rest of 2008 I instead did another new album, "Ever So Transient," released it in 2009, and then fell into the whole Thebrosmad rigamarole through to summer of 2010, and looked around, looking for something quick and easy to release as just me.
I gave another listen to that forgotten album of 15 songs, and found it to be better than I remembered.
New vocals, some drums added and it could be superb, I reckoned.
Initially thinking I would release all 15 tracks as an album, I scaled it back to the first 6 as an EP, since it's that kind of an era. "Give the people less, but more often" is my new credo for music.
I know I started off with a kind of "just release any old thing" attitude, but this EP became really fun for me to finish off, and the results I'm horribly pleased with.
First, the challenge of adding drums LAST to an album. The rule is, generally: NEVER DO THIS. But, like all lobsters, I only do stuff backwards, so that was no affront to my sensibilities.
The loop groove was already in place as a tempo guide, so the drums I added, using the finger pads on my Zoom RT123, were free to be a bit more primitive and expressive, and not so much beat-anchors.
Also—a first for me—I had a swell time coming up with cool backing vocals for some of the songs. Usually I don't do that, because I won't be able to recreate them live, but I just wrote it off. It was too fun to miss. I guess I got used to enjoying backing vocals from Thebrosmad, and wanted to one up those recordings with even better vocals. I feel like I did. The backups on "Some People" almost sound like a passel of Phil Collinses to me.
In designing the "cover," I did my usual reliance on a good photo, this time by a fan of mine, and all around artist in his own right, Jov Luke, who happened by as I was doing an on-the-street promotion for an upcoming concert in Portland.
Twilight had fallen and the city lights gave me a swell halo as I stood on the plywood and astroturf platform that makes up my portable stage, perched precariously on the tailgate of my beloved Buick Roadmaster.
It seemed apropos to use that image. Anybody nuts enough to play songs on a self-constructed stage like that, parked on a city street surely conveys being "commited."
As indeed I ought to be.


released August 27, 2010

vonHummer: everything start to finish, except the cover photo by Jov Luke, and the back cover photo by Cris De La Fuente.




vonHummer Portland, Oregon

vonHummer is a Portland music/cable access legend whose career spanned from Fall of 2001 to Fall of 2011, during which he recorded a hundred or so songs for use in his absurdist show (and feature film) and played only a handful of concerts. Currently retired, his work shines on for the ages. Or will he someday return...? ... more

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Track Name: Dumbluck Avenue
Dumbluck Avenue
Pull up a lawn chair and drop your worries/Nobody here has got to hurry/Clear out your Reptile House/And open your Emotional Zoo/We're gonna drink til we fall off our stars/And then we're gonna drive our cars/Back and forth all over virtue and Dumbluck Avenue...
Pick up a six pack and drop your morals/Nobody here has got to quarrel/Chill out your Greenhouse Effect/Let your ozone pop a hole or two/We're gonna drink outta buckets and jars/And then we'll play air guitars/As "Won't Get Fooled Again" rings true on Dumbluck Avenue...
Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah/We just keep winning the lottery/Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah/We just keep testing negative/Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah/Juries keep voting to acquit/Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah/No, life's not fair, we must admit...
Put on a lobster and turn it over/Nobody here needs a four-leaf clover/Someone's in the bathroom with Dinah/Sad, but it's true/We're gonna drink til the neighbors get sick/And then we're gonna flick our Bics/Like Statues of Liberty do on Dumbluck Avenue...
Track Name: Some People
Some People
Some people live where greed is thick/Snack on deception til it makes them sick/I know I do/I know I do/Do you? Some people watch their lives dribble by/Can't look the mirror in the eye/I know I do/I know I do/Do you?
Some people mock and hide the truth/Pass a poison fang off as a sweet tooth/I know I do/I know I do/I know I do/I know I do/I know I do/I know I do/Do you?
I know that my facade must look good to you/(As good as yours looks to me)/I'm not here to take confession, but can I get a witness?/Is no one out here moved to concern/Or am I too near-sighted to see?/Nobody gives a shit, and it's scaring me shitless/
Some people try and some people strain/Some people flinch although they feel no pain/I know I do/I know I do/Do you?
Some people know how to smile as they scar/Some people feel homesick wherever they are/I know I do/I know I do/Do you?
Some people catch themselves before they fall/Jump back and claim they didn't mean it at all...
Track Name: '89 Reliant K
'89 Reliant K
I got an '89 Reliant K/Top of the line/I'm gonna thunder down the I-5/Doing 59/And if I aint rebellion personified/I am at least defiant/Cruisin' steady in a box of off-white lightning/'89 Reliant...
I got the windows rolled down all the way/Hair in my face/Nothing but minivans, pickups and SUVs/All over the place/They sorta sneer as they pass me on the right/Forgive me, ye fastlane giants/For cruisin' steady in a box of off-white lightning/'89 Reliant...
Won't be long til I find my true love and we/Steam the windows and we stain the upholstery/We'll cruise from one remote local to another/Deaf and dumb from loud music which will be compulsory...
On the outside/Life is cold and hard/But inside it's cool and pliant/Together we can pop it open like the hood of my/'89 Reliant...
I got an '89 Reliant K/And an empty heart/Don't know a single soul in town, but this girl's got a jumper cable/Well that's a start/ I made a deal with these streets I leak oil upon/And I'm keeping up my end/By cruisin' steady in a box of off-white lightning/'89 Reliant...
ps/pb/Fully automatic/I don't need to shift/You look as low-down as I do, Shortcake/Can I give you a lift?
I got an '89 Reliant K...I got an '89 Reliant K...
Track Name: The Dachshund (and the Setter Bitch)
The Dachshund
A fine, virgin bitch/In heat, from the city/Setter pedigree/Went with her mistress and master to pasture/For her first chance to breed/With other setter seed...
Fine farmhouse with barn,/Bitch tied up inside it/Owners off haggling price/When who should drag by but the wily old Dachshund/From some farm down the way/He sniffed to say "Good day,/My dear virgin bitch! In heat, yes?/Your very first time?/Lucky you met me!/I'd be willing to mount you quick/Just for practice,/That you know properly/How to receive the seed..."
"I thank you, kind sir,"/Said the Bitch/"But no, thank you/You'd put me in a family way."/"Dear child, can't you see/I'm a dachshund, not canine/See these stubby legs?/We're lizard-like, we lay eggs."/The Bitch said, "Okay,"/And he climbed on behind her/Pas de deux in a strange ballet/And it was not enormous pleasure she felt/Then again, she couldn't complain/Neither was it great pain...
With a yelp and some drool/The Dachshund was done/And he crawled off to sleep in the hay/Just in time, as the masters and stud turned the corner/Setter stud sniffed the air/Did her, didn't care/How many months passed til one night in the city/the fat Setter bitch yelped and whelped/a wily-eyed, long-eared, stubby-legged litter/Making Master and Mistress/bemused and bitter...
Track Name: In a Day or Two
In a Day or Two
See the man/Making love/Hot above/Honeymooning now with you?/He's gonna say/"Sorry, I'm gay,"/In a day or two...
See young Jeff/So talent bereft/He can't even play a kazoo?/He's gonna crack/Be a right Bach/In a day or two...
So don't bother the antique dealer/Asking "What's new?"/Prearranged/It's all gonna change/In a day or two...
See the jock/Run out the clock/Hovering over the hoop?/He'll be obese/Ducking police/In a day or two...
See the wanton woman/Wantin' to know/"Why don't we get drunk and screw?"/She'll be a number one/wonder nun/In a day or two...
So get mean/Join the Marines/Be one of the proud and the few/But prearranged/It's all gonna change/In a day or two...
I was there with a golden spike/When they finally/Put the railroad through/But with a champagne glass/I was flying First Class/In a day or two...
I jumped out the window in '29/Lost my mind/When the market blew/But I'd a been a billionaire/Had I kept my ass in the chair/For a day or two...
See Marie/In her SUV/GOP, National Review?/She'll be DNC/Sittin' a tree/In a day or two...
See Glenda/Hand to extend-a/Here to help your dream come true?/She'll be for sure/Your worst saboteur/In a day or two...
So why cry when the Upstairs Guy/Pull the rug under you?/Prearranged/It's all gonna change/In a day or two...
Track Name: Are You Committed?
Are You Committed?
If you must make waves/Do it/Without too much tumult/Can you care enough to keep committed/And indifferent to the result?/Because it's there/We must climb the hill of beans/Where the bitter end/Justifies just beyond our means/
Are you committed?/If you are, say "Yes!"/Are you committed/To the process?
If you have end-run/Endurance/And you give good quality Assurance/And deforesting the forest/For the trees/Somehow to you makes sense/Because the wrapping's/Worth more than the gift/The lowered tide/Leaves us beaucoup boats to lift...
Are you committed?/If you are, say "Yes!"/Are you committed/To the process?
Committed to the process/Regardless of result?/Join the people for Freedom From!/Committed to the process?/Regulation declaration of result independence?/Bang the fife!/Blow the drum!
If you can't put up/And shut out/All them outstanding standouts/Can you concentrate on traits of triumph/Inside, residing til presiding?/Because desire/Sires the labrador/That swings to bring all/Brought down lucky ducks to shore...
Are you committed?/If you are, say "Yes!"/Are you committed/To the process?
Are you committed?/Have you ever been committed...?