We escaped this weekend to write music. We needed space and time to JUST. PLAIN. WRITE. Back in the early days of Another Perfect Crime, before Jeanne and before David, we would write songs from teatime to pizza time all day on a Saturday. We were just learning how to write and it took a lot of hours. Because we are more experienced now and can complete one anotherâ€™s musical sentences, we started believing we didnâ€™t need those long stretches.
Except for the fact that we still need them. As our lives get busier, it becomes more important to claim time for writing.
So we headed out to Ike Kinswa State Park and set up shop in a primitive cabin decorated like Great Aunt Ethelâ€™s Holiday Craft Shop. (â€œEverybody gets three cubbies!â€) With mini practice amps (Jeanneâ€™s was 6â€ tall!), flip chart paper, an H4N Handy Recorder, and journals, we set out to write songs.
We had neighbors. Some of them had gun racks. So Jeanne cranked up her amp and Teresa walked away from the cabin, using elaborate hand signals to tell Jeanne the appropriate volume. When the hunters woke us up at 6:00 in the morning with explosives and gunfire our guilt evaporated.
We wrote three new songs and completed a fourth one. Their titles: Red Attic, Flowers for Your Grave, Hobo Code and Telekinesis (working title). We write collaboratively. You may wonder, how the heck does that collaborative songwriting thing work? Hereâ€™s the formula:
How to write a songÂ by APC
Jam in the practice space on Monday nights.
Always record jams.
Store one million jams in bandâ€™s Dropbox.
Patiently sit through laughter and conversation in order to hear song pieces.
Choose good song pieces. (Make sure to use fast forward.)
Decide which song pieces go with other song pieces.
String the pieces together. Write the order on flip chart paper.
Play the song. Record it.
Listen to the new song.
Rearrange song part order.
We were missing one essential ingredient this weekend. Our beloved drummer, Rebecca, had to stay home and fix bugs in a medical app. Missing Rebecca was like missing the Theo Chocolate bars in Teresaâ€™s homemade hot cocoa. We did our best. We wrote songs, listened to them on the H4N recorder and made videos of wild drummer gesticulations. Hereâ€™s a helpful video for Rebecca to use when writing her parts:
We were not always so serious. We also ate banana pancakes, hiked through trails of gigantic maple leaves, skipped rocks, and invented a few inside jokes.
Behind the Lyrics: I had just recently read a facebook post from a sister Girls Rock Camp about the long line of celebrities and big names that they were able to secure as guests for their week of Summer Camp, and I was feeling a little glum. Rock Camp isn’t about celebrities, but I must say that I was nevertheless feeling slightly jealous. The words, “no stars here” came into my brain, and kind of lingered there. I was sitting on the sofa in my living room, which looks out onto Lake Union, and started thinking about how we rarely see real stars in Seattle. Weather it’s due to constant cloud cover, or light pollution, we do not have a typically starry sky. That connection felt very poignant to me- no stars- literally and figuratively.
The rest flowed out fairly easily, because Seattle is an easy city to write about. It is so complex, the love affair that people have with living here. We love it, and we hate it. It is so good to us, and it can be so brutal. Today the sun is shining, and everyone will be wearing shorts. Today everyone will finally wear one of their 6 pairs of sunglasses that they have been buying since April at department stores- stores with a national distribution plan that assumes that “seasons” happen simultaneously throughout the country. Â Today the temperatures will reach “well into the 60s!” and we will all jump for joy… and you know why? Because yesterday sucked. Yesterday was rainy, cloudy, windy, and drab. It was June 26th, and I wore my winter coat to walk to the bank. And you know what also sucked? All of June. And why don’t you throw in a little May, April, March, Feb, Jan, Dec, and November while you’re at it. But today… oh glorious day! It turns out we have mountains here! And I can see them! The glory of this city!! I will never move! Ever!
I worked for many years in a psychology clinic in a hospital on a hill. Many of the patients were suffering from chronic PTSD, but along with that, many of them had depression, and Â as I’m sure you could guess, (given the locale), Seasonal Affective Disorder. A disorder that comes from a lack of sunshine. The more people I saw getting prescribed “Happy Lights” as their treatments, the more I started thinking about this city, and what we might look like to a bird, or an alien, looking at us from above. If they could see into our houses, what would they see? They’d see all these tiny people, sitting like robots in front of flickering lights, hoping to get the happiness from a light box that the sun does not afford them.
As I am writing this, my friends and family in Colorado are at great risk with uncontrollable fires devouring their wilderness and their homes. The temperatures are up past 100, and the humidity is at 9%… aka, not a drop of moisture in the air. As I breathe in the cool, damp air of Seattle, I feel very grateful, and never want to take for granted the lovely… rainforest… that I live in. I often wish that we could send our abundant rain to places that need it the most. I only ask one small favor in return… can you send us back some sunshine?
PS: We think this song would sound really great in cars driving down I-5, listening to KEXP. Want to help make that happen? Request us:Â firstname.lastname@example.org
Natalie Walker, bassist for Another Perfect Crime, founded the Seattle chapter of Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, which not only teaches young girls how to play in rock bands, but also provides lessons about privilege, self-esteem, and self defense. All four band members volunteer their time in the rock camp, and APC has developed a strong following among the growing Rain City Rock Camp community.
Formed in 2006 as a trio, APC’s last album was described by The Stranger as having “bright guitar riffs that sweep you up in energetic flourishes with intricate vocal interplay. Melodies swell into a warm froth of strong, defiant femme-vital pop.” They were joined in mid-2011 by guitarist Jeanne Mitchell, who added an additional aggressive and powerful guitar tone to the bandâ€™s notoriously melodic and creative sound. APC has toured the west coast and played locally for the past six years alongside Star Anna, Tea Cozies, Lozen, and the Redwood Plan.
About the Album
You Have to Care is APC’s second full-length record, and embraces the band’s typical style of interweaving melodies, soaring vocals, and story-telling collaboration with new maturity and sonic confidence. The band created an aggressive, yet undeniably melodic declaration, drawing upon their rich musical influences such as Wild Flag, Sunny Day Real Estate, Joy Formidable and PJ Harvey. The album was mixed by David Smith (of the Washover Fans) and Steven Aguilar (The Head and The Heart, Damien Jurado) and mastered by Ed Brooks (RFI). Their CD comes with a 16 page full-color fanzine with photos, lyrics, and insights into their eclectic inner workings and behind the scenes of the making of â€œYou Have to Careâ€ over the past year.
What started out as a solo singer-songwriter outfit has now transformed into the dreamy power pop collaboration of Alexandra Niedzialkowski, Lance Umble, and friends. Described by Sound on the Sound as putting onÂ “some of the most polished indie pop shows in Seattle” and on the verge of releasing a new EP, Cumulus is a band you don’t want to miss.
Tape Stacks are Kara McPhillips (Guitar, Vocals), Josh Buser (Bass), Layton Hayes (Keys), and Mandy Hubbard (Drums, Vocals). They’ve been involved in various other musical projects, such as Calvin Badness, Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, and knife gun gun. They grew up tinkering in junkyards, wrestling alligators, climbing redwoods, and pushing sugar in various corners of the country, and found each other in Seattle in 2011.
Have you ever had to write a paper and the white page (or screen, these days) just stares back at you and you think, “I don’t know if I can ever write another word. I just can’t write. I can never write a paper again.” Well… that’s similar to the feeling I was having before I wrote the music behind Boys Night. I was over-editing all the music I was writing, to the point that I was finding myself left with nothing. Everything had to be JUST RIGHT, otherwise it could not be. Eventually I thought, I’ve got to just power out a song. Even if it’s ‘bad’, even if it has the most expected of progressions and changes… I need to just prove to myself that I can write a song. I wrote the progression on my ‘ol nylon string, just klunking out powerchords, and moving from one section to the other without the usual, “Oh, maybe it should do a weird thing here, and maybe it needs a more creative chord,” etc, etc. I just did what I thought would be obvious and didn’t edit at all. When we first started playing the song live, I figured everyone would view the song in the same way… it’s sort of a fake song… not a real song… because it’s just very basic. But, I was wrong. People continue to come up to me after shows, and say that Boys Night is their favorite, or that they enjoyed it the most. At first I thought it was a little insulting… here we have all these other songs that are so intricate, so thought out, and SO CREATIVE, and everyone likes this fake songy-song better? All those years of voice lessons and music lessons, and people like the one where I’m not really singing in a real voice, and I’m just playing along on the root note?!!?! But now I think it’s kinda cool. Sometimes the formulas are formulas because they work. It’s just that I had never really followed those formulas before : )
Background behind the lyrics:
I did not write all of the lyrics to Boys Night. Â I wish I could give authorship credit to everyone who said any of the statements that we satire in this song, but some of them are so common, it’s nearly public domain.
There was one precipitating event that led to the birth of Boys Night. Our good friend David Smith joined our band back in 2009, right before our CD release show for Get Out! David came off the stage after the show and one of the attendees approached him and said, â€œYou know, Iâ€™m really glad youâ€™ve joined the band. It makes them seem like less of a… gimmick.â€
Oh, so because we are all women, we are somehow a joke band? Our gender makes us a gimmick?
Teresa and I sat in my backyard on a sunny day and brainstormed stories of all the ridiculous things that have been said to us, or that we’ve overheard being said about other female musicians over the years.
“People only care about that band because they have a hot chick singer. If I just wanted my band to be famous, I would get a hot girl to sing for us.”
“I’m a real musician, and I’d like to tell you that the last song you played was by far your best song.”
“So you play guitar? Yeah, we don’t really need an acoustic guitarist in this band”
“Another Perfect Crime scares me. Their songs are about hating men.”
Then there’s the little snippets about how we’re always compared to other all female bands (ALL of which we are very honored by the comparison, and I really do hope it’s true!… that’s not the point)… The first time I ever heard of anyone comparing us to a band that was not all-female was in a voice lesson with the amazing Wolf Carr (after we’d been a band for two whole years, mind you!). In the span of 1 hour he compared us to both Fugazi and Black Sabbath, and his ability to see beyond gender and to hear the SONGS forever won my respect. Plus… Fugazi? Black Sabbath?? I’ll take it!
Some of the lyrics in Boys Night are statements that were directed at us, but we turned around as if it were being said to a man, so that the true idiocy of the statement could be revealed.
You’re such a good male drummer- I can’t believe you’re in an all-boy band!
We had recently played on a bill that consisted of all female-fronted bands, and it was advertised as “Ladies in the Limelight.” I don’t have a problem with playing female centered shows, or female focused events, etc. In fact, I love it. But it brought up the thought… if we’re “Ladies in the Limelight” on Friday night, what were the other shows billed as that week? Saturday? Sunday? Monday? Tuesday? Were those all billed as “Boys Night?”
The lyrics in the chorus are a reference to the dominant male voice, and relays my frustration with the lack of awareness that I have seen from very smart people about how one-sided their art and media consumption has been in their lives. Those who don’t seek out a balanced voice will most likely hear male produced music- performed by men for men, from the male perspective. I challenge everyone to at least LOOK at your book collection, CD collection, movie collection, art collection, and your list of idols and role models. Are all of your favorite authors and directors men? Do you feel like there’s probably “enough” women onstage when you see a few here and there? At Sasquatch this year, where women were only 15% of the performers, we still had folks coming up to us and saying, “Really, only 15%? It seemed like there were a lot more than that!” See the Geena Davis video for more on why that is likely the reaction…
There will be further explanation of the rest of the song via a series of skits that act out some of the scenes from Boys Night. These will be filmed over the next few weeks, so be on the lookout! Interested in being in the skits? Contact us at: email@example.com
Here at Another Perfect Crime HQ, we are constantly thinking of ways to take your money and infiltrate your daily lives. We started by embroidering dozens of pillow cases with our nancy drew logo. Â Nothing says “in your face” like an APC logo on your cheek all night.
Next, we silkscreened APC underwear, but you didn’t get to see those. We ended up liking them too much, and kept them for ourselves.Â Again, nothing like an APC logo on your cheek all night. Our big sellers have been our embroidered boxers. So far, no one has sent usÂ any pictures of themselves in them, and we can’t complain. This item is usually the first to sell out at our shows, and we have recently received a request for an order of them to be used as door prizes for a “No Pants Party.” We know some special people.
The latest craze in APC couture are our custom designedÂ baby bibs. They’re fit for infants and toddlers alike, and are loved by boys, girls, and everyone in between. Twins especially love them, because the custom design helps their parents tell them apart. There is a foreseeable downside to all of this. The increase in online baby bib sales might correlate to aÂ decline inÂ attendance at our shows. I guess someone’s got to stay at home with the little poopers. So, while you’re at home instead of rockin’ out to us on the town, Â pop in our CD, Â put on your iTunes APC playlist, or crank up your APC Pandora Radio station, and airplane those smashed peas into your little bundle of joy.
Luckily for two of us in the band, there will be two more boys in our lives this April. Teresa and I are both expecting…. nephews, that is. They are due a few days apart (just like me and T… awwww). Here’s a picture of one of our most loyal fans (modeling last season’s APC silkscreen design), as she finishes cooking one of our future loyal fans in her oven:
If you have an appropriate picture of yourself or your offspring in APC garb, please send it our way: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re working on a way to get our merch online, so stay tuned on all the new ways we’re coming up with to make it easier for you to buy. That’s what friends are for. 🙂
Also, for those who are waiting for a new supply of embroidered boxers, never fear! We are headed into the studio this week, and you know what that means… whoever isn’t tracking is embroidering. Oh, I guess that also means… new CD in the works.Â That’s just how we roll.
Keep on breeding,
ANOTHER PERFECT CRIME
Fine Print: All pictures have been shared with parental consent. Trust us, we know all about baby labor laws. The unborn baby also signed a waiver.
For me, there were so many highlights and adventures on tour, but the most substantial impact that it had on me was the joy I got from closeness and camaraderie within the band.
For starters, we gave David a crash course in being around girls (and weâ€™re not even that girlieâ€¦ ok, well maybe I amâ€¦) Another band member (who was going to remain anonymous, but she outed herself in her own blog post) and I both forgot to bring bras. â€œWhy might that be bad?â€ David wondered. So, we got to explain to him the physics and mechanics of what happens when you wear the same bra for an entire week. He subsequently named the tour â€œBratastrophy Tour.â€ David also got to learn about periods/tampons, what are â€œboyshorts,â€ menâ€™s restrooms are WAY grosser, and he also learned to embroider, but I donâ€™t think that should be gendered.
We made fun of Teresa for a good 4 days for her dislike of lettuce due to the â€œwork to fullness ratioâ€. Apparently you have to work really hard to eat it, and then youâ€™re not that full? After numerous lettuce recurring jokes, I remembered the story of a friend of mine who got really tired of being made fun of for years and years just for asking to eat fish and chips one night. So I stopped giving Teresa a hard time. But reallyâ€¦ lettuce?? Plus, she wouldnâ€™t let me bring â€œpotatoâ€ as my desert island choice of vegetable during the desert island game , so I owe her a little for that.
I didnâ€™t really make fun of Rebecca or give her a hard time, (did I, Rebecca?) although I did try to convince her to get a real tattoo, just out of spite for Sonny not responding to one of her texts about her fake tattoo. â€œThatâ€™ll sure show him,â€ I told her. Pretty sound advice, if you ask me.
Following is a day-by-day account of our trip, from my perspective:
Monday, Sept 13th
Teresa and I loaded up the van, and swung by Rebecca and Davidâ€™s corporate job to head out on our journey. I was a little nervous about the van because it smelled funny and shook every time we went over 50 mph. Luckily, the van got better over the course of the tour- either that, or I just got more laid back. Iâ€™m hoping it was a little of both.Â
We stayed in Eugene and David and I barely slept since we were sharing a bed and were both deathly afraid of accidentally violating any social or personal boundaries.
Tuesday, Sept 14th
We inched our way to San Francisco, where we rolled up to the venue right at show time. Whatâ€™s up, rock stars. The San Francisco show was a little rough around the edgesâ€¦ I totally forgot my part to 95% (one of the easiest and most played song of ours), and when we tried our new song, my mind went completely blank on the words. Teresa wrote some really great lyrics to this new song, full of amazing imagery and allegory and irony (you know, all those thingy-things you try to use in writing), and my mind just saw a blank page. David also sang some beautiful harmonies to â€œNo Starsâ€ using the word â€œwatermelonâ€. There were a few cool things about that show, though. We got to warm up for our show at Silverlake Lounge the next night, and we got to suck a little in front of a seemingly tolerant crowd. Teresa added in some fascinating banter about a street performer shooting something out of their booty with a cigar or something (?) and an underwater puppet show? Iâ€™m not sure, but it was charming as hell. One of the guys from The Facekicks told me that he could really relate to the song â€œNo Starsâ€, as he has a window in his apartment that has a view of the city sky. Wowâ€¦ someone was actually listening to the words? And relating?
Wednesday, Sept 15th
It was a moment of solidarity for the entire band when we were driving from SF to LA, and an email from Eli at The Croc came through my phone. He was asking us to play a show!! Weâ€™ve never played at the Croc, and itâ€™s sort of been a dream of ours forever (am I projecting MY dreams on the band? Yes). Itâ€™s the kind of dream you donâ€™t really try for because it might just make you sad or waste your time (unless youâ€™re writing to ask to open for Idlewild, which I did, and no, weâ€™re not opening for themÂ ). The fact that we were all together when we got the email felt a little bit like the part in â€œThat Thing You Doâ€ when they get played on the radio for the first time and they run around hugging each other and turning on all the radios. Except we didnâ€™t have a radio, and weâ€™re not allowed to hug each other unless weâ€™re not at band practice/doing band business. Itâ€™s an unspoken (and spoken) band rule.
We arrived in Echo Park, parked illegally, ate avocados, got a ticket, and hung out with the famous Becky Gebhardt . The order is a little fuzzy, I know. We made our way to Silverlake Lounge and we felt really cool. I mean- I didnâ€™t- but I could tell everyone else did. Suckers. Becky Gebhardt now plays in a rock band. They were really good. They were supposed to be all â€œcarelessâ€ and â€œraucousâ€, but they were frickinâ€™ tighter than weâ€™ll ever be. It was probably the best night of music we have ever taken part in. Praise the lord we stepped it up, because I am not even kidding you, these bands tore our faces offâ€¦ literally. Wait. Not literally. But you know, for real, yo. My friend Garth came to the show and took hundreds of amazing photos. Oh- and I got to play out of Beckyâ€™s amp and I sounded good. We got to meet Jennâ€™s friend â€œJobby Jobâ€ and he brought us a delicious guava cream cheese pastry. Thatâ€™s rock nâ€™ roll, folks.
Thursday, Sept 16th
Today we had a little bit of time off, Teresa and Rebecca visited with friends, while David and I got to have an amazing breakfast prepared by Becky Gebhardt. Teresa joined us again later for an epic game of â€œSentence Picture Sentence Picture Sentenceâ€. The rules of the game are simple. First person writes a sentence. The next person draws a picture of that sentence, and the next person writes a sentence off of that picture (not being able to see the sentence prior) â€¦. the most Important part being that you cannot see anything anyone else has drawn or written besides the one right before yours. Itâ€™s like â€œtelephoneâ€ with drawings. This one has to be my favorite, but I had to edit it slightly in case any of our impressionable fans end up reading this.
At night, we played an acoustic set at KUCI, and got to spin tracks from all of our favorite local bands: Danielli, Elba, Ghost Lobby, The Sound of Speed, The Quit, Buzzing Silence (Rain City Rock Camp band), Cober, Sheâ€™s Your Sister (not local, but Jenn Johnson is). We also played a lot of us. Later, we took our charming DJ, Rita, out to a night of debauchery (otherwise known as a pleasant dinner with 80â€™s Muzak). David tried to order a â€œgardenâ€ burger in Orange County, but was appropriately corrected that it was a â€œgardeeen burger.â€ Duh.
What can I say? Los Angeles, I love you. I have judged you unfairly in the past. But donâ€™t take it too personally. I also judged Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, expensive shampoo, and avocados, and I ended up coming around to loving those things eventually as well.
Friday, Sept 17th
Drive, drive, drive, drive. Teresa made us see a fish house, and weâ€™ll never regret it. We stayed with Craig, Teresaâ€™s brother, and had fun with the genetics game. We went to Martinâ€™s loft in Oakland to play a show for his handpicked crowd of intellectuals. He was awesome. It was HIS birthday, yet he made US feel special. He bought us Thai food and made people give us money and stuff. My kind of guy. We played to an attentive crowd that was snuggling body pillows (and bodies), and got to sing through cordless mics. Iâ€™d like to have body pillows and cordless mics at every show from here on out. Craigâ€™s band McPuzo and Trotsky played, and sang all sorts of clever innuendos and dressed up as grasshoppers halfway through the set. Sounds like something the sibling of Teresa might do. The next morning Craig and Jane took us to delicious breakfast and I had a burrito that I am still dreaming about. Some people were really mean to me and Rebecca, but I still think Berkeley is nice. Luckily I donâ€™t hold a grudge or anything.
Saturday, Sept 18th
We trekked up north to the resort town of Ashland, OR and tried to find people dressed up in Shakespearean outfits. No such luck. We pulled in to the Caldera Taphouse, scarfed our comped meal, and set up our sound for the night. David played a beautiful opening set for us. Teresa, Rebecca and I cried into our free beers at the gorgeous sounds coming from the stage.
We pretty much played to no one, except for a baby boom biker couple, but I loved it. Apparently we did have one audience member who came down later on because she received a text â€œYouâ€™ve gotta come down here, the band is awesome.â€ The crowd may have been sparse, but they seemed to appreciate us. We only had one mic and one mic stand, so the entire night was like a choreographed dance around the mic- swinging and swaying in and out of the way of the next vocalist. It was FUN. Maybe just for me, though. It added a level of athleticism that Iâ€™ve been missing out on since living the rock nâ€™ roll lifestyle. Yes people, that was my workout for the week. By the end of the night, after one too many tastes off the tap at Caldera Taphouse, I got it in my head that it would be brilliant to call our next record, â€œDonâ€™t Spoon with Strangers.â€ Hmmmâ€¦ I think Iâ€™ll just set that one aside for a rainy day. But itâ€™s pretty sound advice, nevertheless.
Sunday, Sept 19th
Today we played in Portland, and for being the city that all of us are enamored with (and supposedly know people there?), we had quite a bit of trouble finding a place to stay and finding bands to play with. We had the fortune of playing with Leslieâ€™s newest incarnation: Lather, Rise Repeat. She is my bass sister, and it was so awesome to see how her basslines have taken on a life of their own. Iâ€™m pretty sure we killed that show. Even if we didnâ€™t, Iâ€™m choosing to remember that we freakinâ€™ killed it. It was the last night on the road, and everything just flowed under our fingers like butter and the dynamics took on new dimensions. You werenâ€™t there, so how would you know? Just trust that it was epic. I know that word gets overused in music writing and describing, but you know what? Thatâ€™s the word
Monday, Sept 20th
We treated ourselves to breakfast at Bijous with some of our remaining earnings from tour. We stopped by our old stomping grounds, Rock nâ€™ Roll Camp for Girls, to donate the remaining CDs from our tour to their Ladies Rock Camp. We owe them for all that we are. I stumbled my way around a conversation with sts, then we made an imperative stop at MLK Fashion Plaza. Teresa and David had fun with tutus and undergarments with bling.
When itâ€™s all said and done, I think the entire trip is best summed up by this Mad Lib that Teresa created for us that we all did together during the last stretch on I-5: (if you click on the image it’s easier to read)
Thank you to my band. I love you. Thank you for amusing me and my crazy ideas, and for making my dreams come true.