CARK’S COLOSSAL COVID COLLAB CREATES CRACKERJACK CHAOS
When confusion rock duo Cark formed in Oregon in 2004, it’s songwriting process was somewhat non-existent.
“Dustin would say something odd, like, ‘we should have a song called Soggy Nachos,’” says guitarist and singer, Josh Gross, “And I’d say, ‘okay,’ and then we’d play it. Whatever came out first was the song.”
While the material this creative process generated made for an exciting debut record (2006’s Superhellamegaepic), unsurprisingly, it didn’t translate well to remote collaboration after drummer Dustin Wasserman moved abroad.
“We really needed to be in the same room to play off each other properly,” says Gross.
And so they didn’t play much at all for nearly a decade.
But when Covid-19 came along, Cark, like so many others, found itself stuck at home and bored, and with no more excuses not to make an album—even if it meant having to actually write songs.
The result is Carkey Malarkey, a 13-song collection that the band spent the previously inconceivable amount of time of over a year on, and which will be released on January 21, 2022.
The songs include previously-unrecorded Cark tunes like “Shark-Wrangling Band” (a cowboy-themed biography of a rubber shark named Deepthroat which the band had improvised live on the radio in 2006), and a new take on what was originally their swan song “Can You Rock in Singapore?” about the unknowns of moving abroad, updated to instead address Cark's eminent midlife crisis.
Other tunes were penned from a shared list of title and theme ideas in a modified version of their improv process.
“I’d take an idea Dustin had from a Google Doc, record a simple guitar demo as a voice memo on my phone, and then send it to him,” says Gross. “Then he’d cut it up and add some things, then send it back, and I’d do the same, and then we’d repeat that process until it was a finished song.”
That produced pithy, punchy garage-rock numbers like “My Ghost is the Most,” “Tokyo Thunder,” and “Kaiju Mama.”
But since the recording process was entirely virtual—recorded directly to home computers using closet-sized electronic drums to create as little neighbor-angering live sound as possible—Cark was able to move beyond its guitar and drums format to include synthesizers and layered backup vocals for songs like “Radioactive Squirrels,” “Kuchi Sabishii,” and “What People Say,” that weren’t possible with its previous live writing and recording process.
Cark even dared a foray into power-balladry with “Rock it for the Sound Guy,” a sprawling ode to the unsung heroes of open mic nights stuck behind the mixing board.
Thanks to a process of file-sharing and video-chats between Oregon and Tokyo that weren’t technically possible in the era of MySpace pages when recording Superhellamegaepic, Carkey Malarkey was completed without the band ever even being on the same continent, let alone in the same room.
“Calling it an evolution seems like an understatement,” says Gross. “Recording Carkey Malarkey” was a different animal altogether.”
“It took me sixteen years to come to terms with not playing live drums,” says Wasserman. “It felt like I had to fully reprogram my brain to accept digital blasphemy.”
And yet, despite a flipped creative process, the album remains entirely Cark, full of the same playfulness, wild energy, and off-kilter sensibilities that drove the band’s early work. The songs are equally at home with painfully odd lyrical sincerity like “Radioactive Squirrels” lamentation of “why am I so screwed up?”, as they are with the shredding rock guitar of “Tacotronic,” and the blowing of fart-noises in place of an instrumental solo in the song, “Cark for Kids.” It is music that could never thrive within the context of another group, but somehow makes perfect sense blasting forth from Cark.
“What’s most important is that we’re amusing ourselves,” says Gross. “If we’re having enough fun, anyone listening will get brought along for the ride whether they planned to or not.”
And if the band’s new album is anything, it is fun.
The debut single, “Can We Rock?” and its corresponding music video will be released November 5th, 2021. A second single, “Kuchi Sabishii”, will follow on December 17.
Carkey Malarkey will be released by Tingle Finger Records to streaming platforms everywhere on January 21, 2022 and will be available for pre-order on November 5, 2021, along with the release of the first single "Can We Rock?". The band will tour if it ever gets around to it.
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Cark laid out a bold thesis by naming its debut album, Superhellamegaepic. But they delivered, dishing up short, sharp, blasts of giddy rock and roll that dared the audience to get over itself and just go a teensy bit bananas with them.
It's been more than a decade since they made that dare with Superhellamegapic, and now, though it baffles comprehension, the band has found a way to tack on a more hyperbolic adjectives—and deliver on those as well.
On November 19, 2019, Cark will release Superhellamegaepicdeluxeremaster, which includes 16 previously unreleased recordings, included alongside digitally remastered versions of the seminal album's original tracks.
The new bonus material includes several previously unreleased songs, such as "Hobotronic," "The Age of Wrinkle-Free Injections," and "Cark is a Shark-Wrangling Band," pulled from early demos and live cuts, as well as an interview from KPSU's long-running Live Fridays radio concert series. Also included are two comical efforts at radio edits of Cark's profanity-rich lyrics.
The remastered reissue is being offered along with a new version of Cark's cross-continental recording project, We Are the Internet, Motherfucker! to celebrate a one-off Cark reunion show in Oregon.
But will we hear more from the Seppaku Two? A Japanese tour? A new album? Maybe. Buy enough copies of Superhellamegaepicdeluxe and we'll talk.
After a 18 year hiatus, the STDs of rock, Steineria & Dustiphilis, have resurfaced in Tokyo, spreading a new EP stran of Pussy Cat Face among stray cats and featuring a double dose of Steineria (Ben's brother Dave on vocals).
released April 22, 2018
Vocals - Dave
Guitar - Ben
Drums/backing vocals - Dustin
All songs written and performed by Steineria & Dustiphilis
Recorded at SOUND STUDIO NOAH (Shinjuku branch) April 22, 2018
Produced, mixed and mastered by Dustiphilis
Executive producer - Steineria
Inspirational thanks to Cat Cafe Calico (Shinjuku) and Brian's Bar (Golden Gai)
©2018 Tingle Finger Recordings
Try as the world might, The VAM Commanders (“VAM”) can’t be stopped. Neither snow nor rain nor old age nor fading artistic relevance or the Pacific Ocean stays these rockers from their sacred duty of bringing the thunder. Something they’ll be doing on tour with performances at:
But thanks to a rare extended stateside appearance from Tokyo-based drummer, Dustin Wasserman, VAM is back on the road again, with a string of Pacific Northwest performances listed below, and This is Not a Time Machine, a new album recorded cross-continentally through the use of file-sharing programs.
And it’s all for one reason: the fans.
“For years after we scattered, people kept writing to us asking us to play this show or that, or so they could tell us what VAM songs had meant to them, or that they were learning to play from our albums,” says Josh Gross, the band’s guitarist. “We just got tired of telling them no.”
This is Not a Time Machine is a collection of older tunes the band never got around to recording like it’s anti-arena rock anthem, “(Please Don’t) Show Your Boobs,” the rapped diary of VAM’s disastrous first tour, “Highway 2 Hell,” the self-titled ode to band hero, “Al Bundy”, as well as a series of new songs written specifically for the album, and a handful ported over from side projects.
“The songs written just for the new album are the most mature we've ever done,” says Gross. “They are then balanced out by those oldies so immature we didn't bother to even record them back in the day. I know it's too late for the new songs to be VAM classics, but they should be. Like wine, cheese and bagels, I think we've improved with age.”
Other than maturity, one thing that sets the band’s newer material apart is a more broadly inclusive songwriting process. Joe Perez, the band’s hypeman has been in VAM since the start, but This is Not a Time Machine is the first of the band’s albums to include songs he wrote.
“The weirdest thing isn’t just that Joe wrote songs on the new album, it’s that he wrote some of the best songs on it,” says lead vocalist Will Shapiro.
The album’s title came from Gross, who was the most skeptical of reunions due to his belief that people didn’t want new songs or performances so much as to turn back the clock, something the band not only can’t do, but something he feels it shouldn’t try to do.
“We started out in a small tourist town that wasn’t so hot on a bunch of punk kids causing a ruckus,” he says. “VAM was a way to take control of our own destinies rather than having them prescribed from on high. It’s always been about looking forward, not back.”
That sentiment is flushed out in the album’s title track, which Gross penned as an anti-nostalgia anthem.
A reuniting rock band that is dedicated to smashing nostalgia might seem like an odd pairing, but VAM whether it was crafting lounge tunes for its punk audience, singing punk songs about chihuahuas, only playing handmade guitars from the band’s bass player, performing in only towels, or releasing an EP made up entirely of the same audio track with six different sets of lyrics as a homage to the late great Wesley Willis, VAM have always done things their own way, generally wrong, way.
This is Not a Time Machine will be physical and digitally released worldwide on September 16, 2014 on Tingle Finger Recordings.
Advanced digital release coming soon to the Tingle Store!
Slowly going through a site makeover to celebrate out 10th anniversary! Thanks for bearing with us as we polish up the tingle. :-)
Sneak preview of things to come in 2014 from VAM. Welcome to the Age of Anti Wrinkle-Free Injections and Happy New Year!
15th anniversary reissued deluxe version of "Relics of The Flowbee Empire," the 1998 debut album from seminal Southern Oregon band The VAM Commanders. On its way to digital records stores everywhere and available now in the Tingle Finger Store with two additional secret bonus tracks only found here!
In the words of the band themselves, "We recorded this album when we were total idiots. The songs are stupid, the recordings are garbage. But we were the best kinds of idiots: those that had yet to learn what we couldn't or shouldn't do, and so pursued every bizarre idea that came into our heads."
To honor the release, The VAM Commanders will be playing a few shows in Southern Oregon, see below:
In the final midst of mastering their new album, VAM decided to do some shows while in Boise to remind you all that ska-punk is not dead; It's just sleeping in later cause its back hurts in the mornings.
Come see what that looks like with Southern Oregon turds The VAM Commanders and Boise's own Nude Oil and the PirkQlaters. Good times alleged but not guaranteed.
Just when you thought the Tingle was dead, out pops the lyrical J-pop Masters, GIRI, with their one night masterpiece, Okujyo Maeni. The GIRI tale began in a little Shibuya dormitory. It was there, as if by destiny, 4 young students climbed to the top of the dorm one night with guitar and beercans in hand and their Japanese idol in their hearts. The fruits of their labor came to be known to all by the Giri. But the one night joys did not stop there, music videos were made for the hit single "Patsukin" as well as live performances throughout the streets of Shibuya. If you're not convinced yet, check out more behind the scenes video of GIRI in their glory days featured on Tingle Tube.