And so ends the Amerikana era….

The ‘Toadlickers’ music video came out, made a lot of noise,  reached #18 in the YouTube ‘most viewed’ chart, got a lot more views, then rapidly vanished from the chart altogether! I think this was a YouTube admin move because of its ‘explicit’ content (puppets having sex; and an offensive word meaning ‘born out of wedlock.’) C’mon YouTube, cut me some slack. Even the Pope is lightening up these days!

This reminds me a little of the year I got to #2 in the Guatemalan singles chart… and the following week there was a military coup and the chart was not published.

Shotgun pop music. Most appropriate for ‘Toadlickers’, I think. And so ends the Amerikana era… except for one small detail: I never released the 17 Hills ‘dissection’ vlogs. So here they are, parts 1-3! And, if you can sit still right till the very end, there’s some exciting and definitive news about the Oceanea EP.

Part 1 looks at how we recorded the 17 Hills backing track, and overdubbed fretless bass and pedal steel.
Part 2 focuses on the day I spent with Mark Knopfler doing the guitar parts, and how to give direction to a demigod.
Part 3 talks about Ethel, Natalie MacMaster, and how I came up with the song in the first place.

Hope you enjoy these!

13 Responses to “And so ends the Amerikana era….”

  1. rocketman0739 says:

    Wow, these look great! I can’t wait ’til I actually have time to watch them. *sigh* Looking forward to Oceanea and Urbanoia!

  2. zengie says:

    Hi Thomas. Toadlickers is so much fun, the ‘dissection’ and ‘making of’ too! You don’t need Youtube anyway, the fans know where to find you. Great new songs, can’t wait to hear the newest… Still mastering? Keep it up!

  3. heretic says:

    Three cheers to Amerikana and to you Thomas for taking the time to put together these wonderful videos. In total there must be over an hour of videos now for this EP and I think the insight, wisdom and very engaging way in which you present your new songs is wonderful. The love, care and attention to detail that goes in to every aspect of the final production cannot be underestimated. Nor the time such perfection takes. Bravo and looking forward to the short wait for Oceanea!

  4. Mike Quinn says:

    Wonderful stuff! I just finished watching these three volgs and have a deeper appreciation of what makes a TMDR track so unique. It’s as I suspected all along: meticulous crafting of each element and not settling for second best. Great ideas, musicianship and arrangements.
    I’ll wager a bet Thomas could line up baked bean cans and tupperware, play them and still make a great track out of ‘em!
    With that said, what amazing playing from all the guest musicians and how lovely it was to hear all their tracks and interpretations. This all proves Thomas was never about gadgets, gimmicks and fads but using whatever tool did the best job to tell the story or get an emotion across. He’s no different to a master painter (the canvas kind, not exterior walls) or a classic actor viewed with the highest regard.
    Just like other artists before him, it often feels as though the world needs to pay more attention and show their appreciation and thanks to the gifts given to us that enrich our lives and souls.
    To misquote Nietzsche, life without storytellers, artists and musicians would leave us all rather empty and unfulfilled.

    Brinng on November 29th!

    Thanks Thomas!!!

  5. The YouTube honours go by the day, week, month, and year I believe. So it could simply be that the first day your video was up it got so many views that it put it into the top honours for that day, then the next day the views were not high enough to make the honour role. When you come back at the end of the week though, your views may he high enough to get into the honour roll for that week, same goes for the month, and the year. I’m not entirely sure how it works but I know when I put the video for “Stabbity Stabbity Stab Stab Stab” it went viral and got 20k in one day and I had honour pouring out my ass then as the views began to wane I lost all my honour.

    Of course one could argue how much honour a guy in creepy drag who puts out a song about a homicidal chibi has in the first place.

    I can just hear Lt. Worf saying “Klingon warriors DO NOT dress in drag.”

  6. jeffrey says:

    Hey Thomas – Thank you so much for the kind words about my bass playing! Coming from a talented and thoughtful person such as yourself, it is very humbling to hear. As a long time fan of your music and Matthew Seligman’s bass playing I feel honored to have been included on the Amerikana EP. Very much look forward to hearing what comes next.

    I got a kick out of your offhand remark about the wave shapes looking like fishes – I often have the same thoughts! I was recently comping the tracks of a trumpet player whose wave shapes reminded me of Angel Fish. And late at night, toward the end of a particularly long mix session, I was recently seeing headless chickens on a vocal track (I took that as a cue that maybe I’d been in studio a little too long and perhaps it was time for a break!).

    By the way, your new website homepage/cover photo is fantastic.

  7. hammerman says:

    Thank you Thomas for the in-depth workings of your creations (and Mark). I was so impressed with your beautiful string arrangement. How it soars. Wow, just beautiful texture there. I am so happy to hear new music from you! I will have to wait 2 more days for Oceanea…

  8. GMT-8 says:

    I’d just like to re-iterate everyone else’s comments on the you-tube videos.You really are an inspiration.

  9. Beauty_of_a_dream says:

    I didn’t care much for the Toadlickers video – but these latest blog videos about how you use Pro Tools are really good. Exactly what I’d like to see more of (I’m PT too !) and I dont think we could ever hear enough about your modus operandii.

    I also think the artwork and graphic design for the Oceana EP looks great and also that the website refresh looks good.

    Despite not liking the Toadlikers video and really disliking the TED thing you are involved with – I still think you are an amazing musician, producer and songwriter. 17 Hills sounds fabulous and I’m looking forward to hearing the whole CD in preferance to downloading it EP by EP.

    I think the reason why I get critical is because I really care about you and think you are something of a national treasure. And so I have a question for you…

    Do you think that what is missing in this brave new internet age of self publishing is the role of ‘quality assurance’ that in the past a producer and various record label staff played?

    Is that the reason why so much mediocrity slips out? Is the answer to surround yourself with the opinions of a few whom you trust?

    And will that aproach ever replace the ‘discerning’ role the record comapnies ever played if indeed they ever did?

    You might dislike me for my public frankness – but you equally claim to like to have the feedback that the internet age brings. Some of it may be not what you want to hear – but I think on the whole you handle the negative stuff with dignity which is to your credit again.

    Its over ten years since you gave us the Alloy list downloads and I’m still following you with a big will for you to succeed and show us all how to make the internet work for the modern artist. It is a brave new world you are treading and despite my sometimes critical or tough remarks I sincerly wish you every success.

    Just wanted to put that in writing.

    It takes a lot of courage to do what you are doing and I admire that too.

    I keep hearing Robert Fripp on one of your tracks (like hear comes the Flood) the one you will do some time in the future with your daughter’s awesome plaintive voice on the refrain – that version with her singing on Urban Tribal is just stunning.

    Sorry if I’ve ‘enerved’ you in the past – Its only because I think you are a genius and I care – keep it coming.

  10. Beauty_of_a_dream says:

    I can also hear you on a longer maybe 20 minute sparse introspective instrumental piece with Jon Hassel on flugel horn and trumpet produced by Brian Eno. It would be nice to see you break free from the ‘Songs’ and just go instrumental for your next project. The challenge being to express yourself with just sounds and maybe re-visit your earlier life – experimenting with sampling and found sounds and delighting us and maybe yourself again.

    I also think its high time you did some interviews in Resolution, Tape Op, EQ and Sound on Sound. Much of the old ‘traditional studio industry is dying and these great institutions could take something worthwhile from your experiences of doing things the new way without a major label.

    I think all these are still widely read and valued – but the new media like Gearslutz by contrast is becoming less valuable as it descends into squaberling. (A few thoughts for Zen, George, Jules and Fletcher to take note)!

    On the subject of studios – another question: why was the Metropolis gig cancelled by the way?

    OK loads – to keep things going. ….

  11. jwarv says:

    Mr. D,

    Excellent videography! Thanks for taking the time to break it down. I find recording & mixing tedious at times, but enjoyable. But to film it on top of that is sacrificial in my mind.

    Question: I notice the majority of tracks were mono. Do you find yourself ever using a stereo broadening fx to get a fuller sound? I’m never quite sure which is better. Centering a sound or widening it. Especially vocals.

    Also, how do you conquer the problem of your mix varying from system to system? (Boombox, Car stereo, ipod, etc.)


  12. doctorjoe says:

    Anybody think that Caroline in “Lifeboats” is the very same in Commercial Breakup?

  13. cyberyukon says:

    It’s just as much fun watching you create the new material as it is hearing it.

    So I hope this is the beginning of beginnings. Hope we don’t have to wait two more decades for more new stuff.