brand new MUSIC VIDEO from our old pal Max Sorensen
“My friend Jesse Elliott called me last winter while I was driving home from work. By the time I had rounded clover-leaf and gotten up to speed, I had agreed to make his CD package for his next album….
I wanted the CD package to unfold like the unruly road map your father had stuck in the glove box on family vacations, that never folded up quite the same way twice.” (Todd Roeth)
As many of you out there in LovingListenerLand know, our dear old pal Justin Craig isn’t joining us on the road this go-round. He’ll be working on a buncha other great stuff he’s been working on all along, including, especially, Englishman - more on that soon!
The great news is, our other dear (and even older) pal David Strackany will be ripping the hot licks from stage right (as we say in the business). You may (ought!) know him better as Paleo, the freewheeling creative force who produced the very first TUS album, A Picture of the Blahblahblahetceterablah… [sic].
Paleo will also be opening some of the very greatest shows of the tour – in Austin (tomorrow night!), El Paso, Seattle, Hood River, Boise, and Denver — with his own mind-bending solo set. We figured it was our moral, economic, and political responsibility to get you hepped to this potentially life-altering collaborative moment ASAP. To that end, a MOVING MUSICAL PICTURE!… -Jesse
I know this will embarrass the hell out of Justin, if he had Facebook. However, since he’s no longer playing with the These United States (and still has somehow avoided Facebook)… here we go:
I’d done a bunch of touring with Justin in Scourge of the Sea before Justin joined TUS. But – the dynamic was that Robby and I would sit in the back and talk about Dylan or Neil Young, and Justin and Andrew would ride in the front and listen to “sad bastard music” (and ignore Robby and my requests to TURN IT UP!). Understandably, our interactions were pretty limited.
When These United States recorded our second record, Crimes, Robby suggested bringing Justin on board. I thought it was a great idea – it’d be nice to have a rhythm guitar player (the cockiness of youth). We set up at our stations in the studio and started rehearsing.
Immediately, I realized that I was in trouble. As we all wrote and rehearsed our parts, one of two things happened. Either 1) He’d take a part that I’d labored on and embellish it so beautifully that I’d be far more into his idea than mine, or 2) Write a part so quickly and efficiently that I would have to adapt and write around him.
It was the first time I’d ever worked with a true “second” guitarist in a band – Jesse would hold the fort down with his nylon-string, and Justin and I had space to roam…within reason. It immediately became apparent that not only would we have to listen to each other, we’d have to actually (gasp) work our parts out together.
And that was the story of the next five years and four albums (not to mention countless demos and recording/arranging a record). Being in the studio with Justin is an exhilarating and intimidating process – you either keep up, or fall by the wayside. He’s incredibly skilled on so many instruments (drums, piano, bass). Working with him is one of the most inspirational experiences I’ve ever been lucky enough to have. Listen to “Maps” off the new TUS record… Just plays everything except the organ part on it, and it’s great.
I’ll miss touring with him just as much – Justin’s calm temperament and professional demeanor go a long way. He’s the first to help load in, and the first to help load out. As a driver…he’s damn good. (He does inexplicably miss the last turn of a trip, though…consistently.) Justin is also the only person I’ve ever met that can set up his sleeping mat in the middle of a raging party and immediately fall asleep. Although, for some reason, animals like to urinate on his sleeping bag. Its a trade-off.
Although we won’t get to play together for this next tour – I have no doubt that we’ll be working together in the future. Its just too much fun.
So – this is a virtual Cheers to my partner in Crime(s), cold brown treats, Budweiser, Pho, Chess (even if I’m still up a few games on him), the man who actually made me LISTEN to ELO (and learn to like it), the former guitarist of Flank, future guitarist of Clunch, the Crustman: Justin Craig. Here’s to it, buddy. -Tom