Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from BT

From all us Turtles, wishing you a healthy and happy 2010. Party on.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What Exactly is Geek Rock, Anyway?

Given the type and style of music we write, our band Beatnik Turtle is often categorized with the label "Geek Rock". Depending on what song of ours they're listening to, we're often compared to "other Geek Rock bands" like They Might Be Giants, Fountains of Wayne, XTC, Weezer, Ben Folds Five, and Barenaked Ladies or solo artists like our contemporary, Jonathan Coulton.*

But just grouping us with other "geeky bands" that we may sound-like, while extremely helpful in setting potential new fan expectations, doesn't make a good definition of Geek Rock.

To me, Geek Rock is not so much about the music or even the personalities of the artists themselves (though yes, that does spill over into the music), rather it's about the subject matter that's tackled. It's the fascination with focusing on "geeky" things -- placing that interest unapologetically front and center to the music.

So, while I can't come up with a good definition, the way I've been describing Geek Rock in person when asked by people is: if Rock equals "Maybe I'm Amazed" (Paul McCartney) then, Geek Rock equals Maybe "I'm Downright Amazed at What I Can Destroy With Just a Hammer" (a very cool tune by Atom and His Package).




In other words, it's not so much about the music wrapping, Geek Rock bands can cross all types of music styles -- rock, country, folk, jazz, alternative, grunge, etc. -- so much as the topic that's being sung about.

And that's where our band comes in. We're obsessed with writing songs about things that haven't been put to song. We write songs about Google, IT departments, cereal, pizza, warp gates sucking in kids, blogging, secret agents, Star Wars, interns, obsessive compulsive children, and porn on your computer.

And while we sometimes take the subject matter with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, we always take the music part of the songs extremely seriously -- from melody, to harmony, to recording, to mastering (just download and listen to Pizza: The Rock Opera if you've never heard us before).

Of course, music genres are slippery, amorphous things. Just when you think Beatnik Turtle is completely Geek Rock, we go and record SHAM ROCK, an album of rocked up traditional Irish songs (i.e. Tell Me Ma). Now how does this fit in with Geek Rock?

Uh, I don't know. We just do what we do. Guess we'll have to leave it up to others as to how to categorize that one!

*The interesting thing here however is I remember when most of these bands came out, they weren't labeled "Geek Rock". This is a retroactive term that's been applied to try and capture this hard-to-pin-down genre. This is true for our band well. We started over 12 years ago and the word geek and rock were rarely uttered in the same breath when we took the stage. We were labeled "alternative" (or better yet, "weird") since we had no hope or interest in being mainstream.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Even Though Santa Doesn't Like You

Every year around this time our "Un-Holiday" album, SANTA DOESN'T LIKE YOU, respawns, er, gets reborn. (Jesus was the world's first respawner, no?). And it's that album as well as all the Un-Holiday songs freely available at that put our entire band in the awkward position of passing on Season's Greetings.

"How can you say Merry Christmas to me when you have a song called Christmas is a Vulture?" they say.

Um, it's satire?

"And what's this about Santa not speaking Spanish? Do you play that to kids?"

Oh, that one. We just thought it would be funny if Santa couldn't speak Spanish. You know, "Santa" is a Spanish word anyway and --.

"Whatever, jerk."

So, just in case you're not that person and won't hold it against us, "Happy Holidays" anyway -- no matter what you celebrate (or don't).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

George Hrab on TV Playing "When I Was Your Age"

We were a little late in seeing this, but that doesn't make it any less awesome!

George Hrab -- our mega-multi-talented friend, podcaster, author, and musician -- was recently interviewed on TV - Channel 69, WFMZ (yep, Channel 69, baby!). The interview can be streamed here and is worth watching.

But the even cooler part for us is George played "When I Was Your Age" live. The link to that performance is in part 2 (they link to it here as well). See if you can spot George's cool, new lyric changes from the studio version we recorded back in February.

Way to go George. Great interview, great song. Thanks for the shout-out by the way!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Housing Bubble

Looks like we're not the only band that has a housing bubble song. Dave from Blimp sent us a link to their video. Damn funny.