Thursday, September 15, 2005

Projects, Prospects and Plans

(Originally posted Sept 15, 2005)

Since we are taking you backstage, it's only fair to share with you our current plans and projects. We promise to track them as they succeed, or fail. The film American Movie seemed to get a lot of mileage out of doing something like this for a movie project. We'll do the same thing for the band projects.

These are all things that we will be working on within the next two years. And in some cases, we expect that the "payoff" won't even happen for quite some time on these. As an indie band, you can't always do things because it gives you a direct benefit. You have to enjoy what you're doing, at the time, for the sake of doing it and with no expectation of reward except working on the project. That said, we're very excited about working on these projects!

Songwriting projects

Theme Songs, and All Backing music for a Comedy DVD

Beatnik Turtle worked with a sketch comedy group two years ago, and played behind them as a Saturday Night Live-syle backing band at Second City. Besides playing transition music, we were also integrated into a couple of musical sketches, so we were half pit orchestra, and also half rock band that played one of their own songs in the middle of the show, like SNL guest bands. It was a total success and a ton of fun. One of the best things that we got out of it was the connections to theatrical folks. A few members of the band ended up becoming writers and producers of a Comedy DVD that is currently in progress. This has already begun filming production, and Beatnik Turtle will be doing all of the music for this project, including incidental music, theme songs for the DVD, and any other music for the project. This will probably not come out for two years or so, but the songwriting and music is ongoing.

Recorded Music for a Second City Sketch Comedy Production: Sci-Fry

The same Second City folks that we worked with for the sketch show, and the Comedy DVD had a few members that started a sketch comedy project called Sci-Fry, which is touted as "a dark comic roast of the fantasy and science fiction genres." They commissioned Beatnik Turtle to do all of the music for the project. We met with them about three weeks ago, and they brought the script, and told us the music that they wanted for lead-ins to each sketch. Then, the some of the producers/writers walked with us to the studio and we wrote 7 songs for them that night, ending at about 1 AM. The songs came out quite good, including a jazz number, a cartoon theme song, a madrigal-style piece similar to what you'd hear at a Ren Faire (done badly, intentionally), and a 50's style song ("You're My Everything...and more"). We're going to have to re-record some of it for the final version because some need to be longer based on their production, but we knocked out most of their music in a night. The show comes out in October, and the script is hilarious! We actually can't wait to go to it in the audience to see it done. (We're not part of the cast, so we don't see the rehearsals. We just provided recorded works for it to be cued by the sound guy.)

Theme and Incidental Music for a TV Pilot

Another group of the Second City folks, and some from the Comedy DVD project, made a side-project and created a pilot for a fantastic TV show idea. The idea is a very salable one, in particular one that sponsors should love. Because Beatnik Turtle was associated with the Comedy DVD project, and other productions here, they commissioned us to write the pilot and all incidental music. We're going to be working on writing possible themes for this on Friday night, Saturday recording, and Sunday recording with the full band. Out of all of the projects, this one has the chance to go the farthest, because if this show gets picked up by a network, it will do a lot to get our name out there! We'll tell you how the songwriting sessions go, and how the theme songs come out in the next few weeks, as we write and record it.

Theme Song for a TV Talk Show

A friend of a band member has a TV Talk Show on cable access television, similar to the Tonight Show, or David Letterman. It's been getting articles written about it, and the producers are planning to submit it to larger networks for distribution. What it lacks is a theme song, and Beatnik Turtle has been asked to write it. We hope to work on it a little this weekend, in between working on the TV Pilot project, and have some ideas to present to them by the end of the month.

Album Projects

Beatnik Turtle Live Album

In May, Beatnik Turtle recorded a live album of about 20 songs. We've been putting some studio polish on the recording, and are about to move into mixdown within a month. The songs include a whole bunch that are not on any studio album yet, but recording a live album was the best way that we could get this music out there quickly. We tend to write a lot of music! We also didn't have good live recordings of the band, so it was great for us to have it as a memento for the band itself.

We don't know when we're releasing the album yet, as there's a lot of work to do even after we're done with recording and mixdown. We're getting the songwriting projects listed above done first before going forward with this album. We foresee at least two months of work on this before it's ready for release.

Beatnik Turtle Studio Album: BT2

Beatnik Turtle has released three albums so far, and the Live Album listed above will make a fourth album. But our planned second album, which now looks to be our 5th, is still in the wings, calling out to be recorded.

Our debut album release party, in 2001, was a success. One of the features of the release party was the introduction of five new songs that weren't even on the first album! We've played at least four of those songs regularly in shows in the last four years. Those songs, and others that we've written in the intervening time, deserve to be on a studio album. The reason why they're not is…well, let's take you backstage again, and give you some history.

In the early part of 2002, the band went through some band member changes. The drummer for BT at the time got married, and also had a child. His time became quite limited, very quickly, and caused the band to scale back playing live, and even curtailed our ability to record in the studio. What came out of that time was Santa Doesn't Like You, a studio album that made fun of the holidays. It included the title track, Coed Naked Drunk Xmas Shopping, Goin' Through the Motions This Christmas and many others. The album was a success, it made it onto the Dr. Demento show, and also started a Beatnik Turtle tradition of performing an Un-Holiday show. But the album had a drum machine rather than a drummer (except for one song, which was partly performed by other folks).

The album after Santa Doesn't Like You was The Cheapass Album: Songs About or Inspired by Cheapass Games. The short version of this story is that we wrote a song that was published on a popular game company's website, and generated a ton of interest. We wrote an entire album of songs about their tongue-in-cheek games, and got a lot of mileage out of the album, including, eventually, a licensing deal with Disney for an advertising campaign. The point about this album is that we were riding a wave of interest in our band, on the web, and had to record that album before doing our actual second album.

So, finally, we're in a position to record our second album, and we take some solace in the fact that we've recorded some of the songs intended for this album, some of which have been around since 2001, on the Live Album to give them a home. For those that liked our music, the only way that they could get those songs would be to go to a show.

We're looking forward to recording these songs in the studio, and releasing our second album. Even if it is coming out as our fifth!

Other album ideas

We've got ideas for many more albums after these. Among them:

  • An Irish Album, where the band will take traditional irish songs and make them rock out. Hopefully getting Beatnik Turtle into Irish Festivals.

  • A Kids album, where we have almost half written already, and just need a few more songs, and some studio time.

  • Songs to Offend, Volume one, an album of music that…probably shouldn't be released, but we might have to anyway.

...and there's more, but we want to keep some things under wraps.

Holding Back

Ok, we can't tell you everything that we're planning, because there are a few that are going to be somewhat secret until we have it solidified. We promise to talk about them, behind the scenes, either after or slightly before they are released. There are a few band announcements coming out within a month or so, and we'll announce it here, but then quickly take you behind the scenes to see how we did it, and what our thinking was. Then we'll track it over time and tell you how it goes.

Coming Soon

We hope you enjoyed being backstage for the future plans of an independent band. Coming soon, we'll also talk about the Disney advertising licensing deal, including how we got it, and how it was put together. We will have an entry on one independent band's website, and how it was built (There's a LOT more to it than you might think). And finally, there will be some announcements soon about the release of a major Beatnik Turtle project that has been in the works for almost two years. And most importantly, as promised, we will take you backstage to see the how and why.