Crash Test Dummies Blog

Written by Brad Roberts


06 Dec

SUNDAY BLOG


If I were more conscientious, I’d do a once-a-week-blog. A Sunday op ed piece,

If you like. Too bad my editorial opinion isn’t worth much.

I listened to David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” this morning, and I have to say, it really holds up to the test of time. The first side of the record is one continuous piece, as though the band doesn’t stop playing for 30 minutes live in the studio. I wonder if they pieced it together by cutting tape, or if the tracks were recorded live in one pass, all in a row. Knowing what a stickler Bowie is, I suppose the latter is likely.

This is a record that I can warmly recommend, all these years later.

I’ve been trying to read books again, and picked up the biography of Katherine Mansfield, an early 20th century short storywriter. She died young, and left us with some uneven work, the best of which is genius and helped define the short story as a modernist genre. Though often isolated by virtue of her having contracted tuberculosis, she nevertheless travelled in circles with people like Virginia Woolf, Bertrand Russell, and many others of the so-called Bloomsbury Group.  She wrote volumes of letters whose pitch reaches an intensity that she never quite achieves even in her best fiction.  These letters were published by her husband, after her death, and he made quite a tidy sum, despite her having told him to “burn everything.” I’m glad he didn’t listen to her, but he was a bit of a bastard.

The history of literature provides us a few examples of this sort of posthumous publishing dilemmas. One  famous example is the case of Franz Kafka’s close friend, Max Brod, was instructed by Franz to burn all of his work when he died, and which was as yet unpublished.  Kafka died, and Max published anyhow, claiming that Kafka’s knew Brod, who loved his friends work, could never do this, and that Kafka was therefore tacitly telling Brod to publish.  Pretty flimsy rationalization.  But without, Brod, we wouldn’t Kafka.

I have lost all my papers that went toward the writing of my first 3 records. Notes, rewrites, etc. I wouldn’t want anyone looking at them.  But what if I did have those notes, and told my wife to dispose of it at the end of her death. What would you have her do? Dishonor my wishes, or put it out there?

There. My first Sunday op ed. (And hey, buy my Xmas record!)

Best,

Brad Roberts



No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
28 Nov

Long time no write!


Dear Friends, Fans, Family , and Comrades –

I have been most remiss in not blogging sooner than now. The truth is, I have not had much to report. I dropped out of the picture generally several years ago, and took a break from doing music altogether. Now things are moving again, and I can share a some of it with you.

I’ve finally mastered the new CTD’s record, entitled “Ooh La La.” And my other new recording project, Satsang Circus’s “Chanting Under the Big Top” is mastered as well. I’m very happy with both, which are very different from each other.

On the CTD record, I am working with Stewart Lerman, who happens to be Suzzy Roche’s partner of 17 years. If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know I became a life-long freak for The Roches when I saw them at age 16 at the Winnipeg Folk festival. Later I had the chance to meet them, as CTD’s opened for them doing an Xmas show at the Bottom Line some years back.  It was through Suzzy Roche, then,  that I met Stewart Lerman.

Stewart and I have the best working relationship I’ve had in my life as a professional singer/songwriter. He gets great vocal takes out of me. And although I write all of the lyrics, Stewart occasionally suggests a different line at crucial moments. He also can put down chord changes for, and hum a melody to, any lyric he sees.  Moreover, his arrangement skills are amazing, and he is an artist as a mixer. He has a lot to bring to the table as a musical collaborator:  he’s worked with literally 100’s of bands, and right now is working on the soundtrack for the upcoming Martin Scorcesse film. He is also one of the gentlest souls I know.

Although this record was inspired and composed on amateur hobbyist instruments, we took these songs and overdubbed real players, creating a very luxurious and almost cinematic feel. I plan to do a video, which will illustrate how these toys work, how they inspired the songs, and what the songs sounded like before the overdubs.

Satsang Circus, on the other hand, was produced by Terry Derkach.  Terry used to live in Winnipeg (I’m from there ) many, many years ago, and we were in a band for about 15 seconds. Then one day I was walking down the street here in NYC, and there he was! We’ve been working together ever since.

The Satsang Circus record is composed of Sanskrit mantras, so there are no lyrics. I invented the melodies and chord changes, and Terry sculpted many beautiful tracks

to flesh them out. He also mixed the record and did a spectacular job. I think that even those CTD fans who have doubts about this record will find themselves pleasantly surprised.

The release of these albums is slated for spring. I am working with MRI records, and have taken on a new manager. I’ll be touring in mid 2010. The rest of the Dummies all have children or serious relationships, and likely won’t come out with me.  But the songs are all mine, and it’s my voice singin’ them, so I hope you’ll all cut me some slack! I’ll likely do a mini-set of Satsang Circus material in the middle of the CTD’s set.

We will have some fabulous merch for both projects. Good design, quality materials, and a source of fond memories. T-shirts pay our bills, so if you want to see me on the road more often, buy our t-shirts!

That’s all for now, folks.

All the best, and happy holidays,

Brad


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
17 Aug

The Scoop


Hey Guys and DollsI

I know this is getting tiresome, but I just can’t seem to help myself. i resang the entire new CTD record, “Ooh-La-La”, and considered it mixed and ready to master to the digital file which is what we used to call the record. Then it occurred to me and my inveterate co-writer, audio engineer, mixer and producer, Mr Stewart Lerman, that, surprise surprise, we needed MORE STUFF! So, we are getting a violin/violist/pedal-steel player to come in one day, and a trumpet player another day.

This record is becoming symphonic. It’s a thrill to dive into this new approach. And we couldn’t have done it without the optigan, on which we composed. Anyone who gets the chance to play an optigan, do so! All you have to do is press buttons and it plays music in a variety of genres. Made in the 1970’s by Mattell Toys, the omnichord was originally a hobbyist instrument. It has been used more recently by the odd out-there band. Few have explored it’s depths to date, aside from the efforts of Stewart and I, I daresay! Go to optigan.com. and check them out.

So, what started with a toy instrument has evolved into symphonic proportions. No wonder it has taken us over three years to make the thing. But I think you’re gonna love it! The artwork looks freakin’ fantastic already! And Ellen and I have never sounded so good together.

Still no release date, but hey, the last record I made was in 2004, so if I’ve waited this long, so can you! Stand by me, soldiers of great courage and strength<p>All for now.

Brad


1 Response Filed under: Uncategorized
04 Aug

Getting your veggies


i found this vegan restaurant that actually has good food. i hate most vegan food that i’ve ever tried. but this place has it together. it’s called “wild ginger”. i just ate some.

last week i re-sang most of my vocal takes. the original vocals were the first time i had sung the songs. now that i’ve lived with the songs for a while, i can sing them way

better. when this record comes out, it is gonna be a doozie. expect to hear very cinematic music. totally different territory. there’s a great story behind the record as well,

and i’m going to do a very short documentary of it for you tube. or embed it in the website.

speaking of the website, our webmaster jerry brace has volunteered to update the site when the new record is ready.

i’m nearly finished this freaky record of old sanskrit mantra’s. you can here it for free in it’s present form. soon we’ll master the whole thing, and make it available for download. (see myspace.com/satsang circus)

question, fans and friends – what is your favorite blog?

brad


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
21 Jul

Ooh La La


hey folks

well, i played a benefit for my good friend scott harding, who was paralyzed in a drunk driving accident. the perps got away with it. scott took it all in stride. he is now back in action, and we raised money for him to get a much better wheelchair. new york city isn’t very wheelchair friendly.

i did a ctd set as well as a set with my new project, satsang circus. cypress mangaged to get her friends to do a 2 camera shoot – one fixed, one moving. it will be edited soon and posted on youtube.

i bought a very nice hand held sony recorder and have been recording recent shows. they don’t sound great, but they are not bad for bootlegs. i may have them mastered and released for a nominal fee, if there was any interest.

tomorrow and friday i finish my vocals on the new ctd’s record, ooh la la. then we can master it and get the damn thing out there! and i’m nearly done mastering Satsang Circus, so that is in the offing soon as well.

hope this finds you guys happy and well.

oh, and dan roberts had another boy. james. he already looks like a killer, of which i’m proud.

all for now

brad


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
15 Jul

Latest Update


Hi folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve been online, but here I am. I’m doing a benefit for Scott Harding, a good friend who was paralyzed in a car accident.

The gig is at the Living Room, 154 Ludlow, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. July 19th at 7pm, tix 25 bucks. There will be 5 or 6 great sets by some great artists.

I will also be doing a set with my new project, “Satsang Circus”, which you can hear a myspace.com/satsangcircus. I have made a chant record, but with western flavors. It will be available for purchase soon.

I’m also putting the final vocal touches on the new Crash Test Dummies record this week. I have enough material to release two albums per year for the next two years. So, after a long drought, I’m back.

The album will likely only be available as a download. I simply can’t afford the manufacturing and distribution of hard copy. However, I might try and do a deal with DOD at amazon.com, so there is hope.

And for those of you who love CD’s so much, get over it!  :)  There will be no CD’s or record stores by 2015. That’s my own prediction.

Hope this finds you all well.

Best

Brad


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
04 May

Mantra chants at the yoga studio


hey gang:

i’m doing a series of mantra chants at the yoga studio where i go. it’s
tied to a new thing i’m doing with a friend called ‘satsang circus’, as
you’ll see below.

if any one wants to come, it’s on wednesday may 6. here’s the lowdown:

it’s, to quote our flyer “a class in which you will directly experience
the power of group chanting. Discover mantras, and the narratives that
surround them. We will help you to use your voice with ease and fluency.

No experience is required, just wear loose clothing. Blankets, blocks
and bolsters will be provided for comfortable sitting.

Satsang Circus is nada (sound) yoga with Brad Roberts and Cypress.

Brad is the singer songwriter and front man for Crash Test Dummies.
Cypress, is a professional singer and yogini.

They are currently recording an album mantra combining experimental
melodic-driven music and ecstatic vocal harmonies.

Pre-register: staff@virayoga.com or 212-334-9960
Class limited to 10 students
Group Chant with Satsang Circus’ Brad Roberts and Cypress
Virayoga’s Healing Annex
580 Broadway, 2nd floor, New York City
7-8pm


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
23 Dec

CTD Holiday Contest Winners


Thanks to everyone who have sent in questions for Brad to answer for a chance of winning one of the 3 signed copies of Jingle All The Way.

Winner # 1 Question:

“How do you schedule your time on a daily basis as a musician/songwriter to get creative work done?”

Answer #1:

This is an excellent question. the answer comes in two parts.

Before I had a record deal, I chose to tend bar, as the tips were in cash, and my work week was flexible. Also, the job was very social, and I liked that it got me out of my writing solitude and into the world of people. (Left to my own devices, I would never leave the cozy environs of my apartment.) This arrangement worked very nicely. I always wrote in the evenings during the god shuffled period. after putting in a few hours, I’d go out for a cocktail, and hit the hay around 4am.

Now that I have the money to pursue writing more leisurely, I find that in fact too much unstructured time isn’t good for my head; and when my head is no good I can’t write. as a result, now I have to go out of the way to do other things so that i can keep my faculties going so that I can then come home to write. These days its kickboxing, yoga, and old-school shaves at my barber.

Thanks for writing.

Winner # 2 Question:

I own all of your albums and I wonder what your inspiration/intention/tendency is in sticking so close to rhymed couplets (all the way back to The Ghosts That Haunt Me to Songs of the Unforgiven)? Have you ever been tempted to move towards a completely different lyrical structure?

Answer #2:

Interesting comment, my man. My verses are often not rhyming couplets, but rather A/B/C/B, or the more challenging A/B/A/B. I find it useful to switch to rhyming couplets – A/A B/B – when I get to a chorus, just to change up the vibe. I have to admit i’m getting a little sick of myself now that you mention it. maybe i’ll try some new things.

Winner # 3 Question:

I see how your early writing was influenced by your English and Philosophy studies (GSHF).  What influences your latest work?

Answer #3:

In my early writing, my studies were evident in a more obvious way than they are now; more lately, so-called ‘life experience’ has layered itself into the newer work, but the early influences remain just the same.

The Toys record, still under construction,  is the most playful, positive thing I’ve written in some time. The record spans many genres, and I do everything from Tin Pan Alley, to Solemn Ballad, to Nasty Ass Old School Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The following is a list of some other interesting questions asked:

Question #4:

I’ll be interning at DC Comics next year in NY, NY so I’m interested in what you think of it up there, since you’ve lived all over- Nova Scotia, Canada, London, New York, I was wondering which you prefer and where do you see yourself a decade or so from now (still in NY?)

Answer #4:

DC comics treated me very well during the Superman song period. They even had a panel in one of their comics where a guy is wearing the name ‘Crash Test Dummies’ on his shirt, as a kind of shout-out to me. Very sweet of them.

Question #5:

I know there’s a comment from Benjamin Darvill regarding the decision to call I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind a CTD album, has there been any comment on the continued calling albums like Puss N Boots, Songs for the Unforgiven, etc. CTD albums without featuring20all of the core line-up?

Did you or any of your bandmates have a say in the track list for the best-of?

Weird Al has singled CTD out as one of the most supportive when it came to his parody of their song. What was your initial reaction when you found out he was going to do “Headline News”?

Answer #5:

RE Ben: He and I have been speaking recently about his solo career, which has been going well, by the way. And it is true that the core line up hasn’t appeared on any record since ‘A Worm’s Life’, let alone ‘I Don’t Care’.

However, as the founder of the band and the owner of the name, not to mention the frontman and songwriter, I have released many records under that name Crash Test Dummies, simply because people know the name. Our core line up disintegrated when i decided not to tour any more after the ‘I Don’t Care…’ release. No hard feelings, just moving on. Mitch and Dan and Ben all have kids now. I’m very happily married living in NYC and hate the road and nd Ellen is happy to be in Toronto with her friends and loved ones. The core line up is simply no longer viable.

We had some say, but not the final work on the best of track list. It was all about money.

I consider being covered by Weird Al a milestone event and a real honor. And i’m very serious. I admire him, and I love his shamelessness.

Question #6:

Instead of beating your brain on “band or your life questions”, I want to check in on your thoughts of the Trailer Park Boys show being canceled? I am one of the few Americans who have been fortunate enough to stumble across this amazing show and noticed you mention them in one of your blogs. Well recently it was announced there will be no more Seasons of TPB and I am so sad. How does it make you feel and have you ever met those blokes?

Answer #6:

I too was devastated by the cancellation. I have never met these good lads, but I have walked through many a trailer park in Halifax, and they have that world nailed to a freakin’ T.

Question #7:

Why not for this next CTD album, make a real last big physic album on CD with a part on DVD of cool stuffs & a complete CTD videographie ?

Answer #7:

I tried to make a DVD once and I failed. Yhis has left a bitter taste in my mouth. They are way more complicated than making records and I’ve not got the time nor the inclination. But I appreciate your interest.

Maybe I can think of some cheap hand-held thing to do for the Toys record. I’m on shoe string budgets!

Je suis desole, i wish i could speak more french.

Question #8:

Now that you’ve been an active participant in the practice of yoga for a few years now, and you must be super-flexible.  Can you manage to lock both your legs behind your head now?  And if so, it bodes another question.  Why??

Answer #8:

You and I both know that my interest in yoga is to become flexible enough to fulfill every man’s dream – to suck his own dick. Smart ass. ;)

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! Happy Holidays!



No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
12 Dec

Response to comments


Hey there folks,

Thanks for your comments. Nice to see some of you are visiting the site.

Regarding the new Toys album. First of all, it won’t be released until early Spring, so this is a little premature on my part, but here goes anyway. There are many of you who would like to have a ‘real’ CD, not ‘just’ a download. I do not yet know if I could handle the mail order business that would come through here for hard copies. Its a lot of administration, whereas the download is no trouble at all (on this end).

So I’ve done a little investigating and I believe I may have a compromise. Apparently it is possible to download artwork with the album and one can even download an entire booklet with all credits, graphics, etc. It may even be possible to make it possible to print these out and put into a jewel case. Thus one has a ‘physical’ copy by just burning the tunes onto a disc, and putting them in a jewel case which will fit a booklet of info.

I will see if I can do any better than this. In the meantime, thanks so much for your interest. This record is turning into a two volume work, with 20 songs completed (unmixed) to date. I’m quite excited to get it out there.

Its warmed up a little bit in New York, but I still have to get a fire going in the wood stove. That’s right folks, I’m probably the only person in New York who heats his apartment with wood. I really don’t mind; in fact its downright cozy. One wood stove-related minor casualty recently, however – I bought a packet of wood that was full of cockroaches, all of whom went running into my walls as soon as I opening the packet. Now i have a full fledged war going on with the cockroaches.

My old manager Jeff Rogers is here in NYC and crashing on my couch. He has all kinds of ideas for promoting the Toys record. Some of it involves touring. I have absolutely no desire to tour. The only good thing about touring is performing. That is something I’m good at, something I enjoy. But the constant travel, living out of a suitcase, the greasy truck stop food, the lack of physical exercise (sitting in a van for hours every day) – everything about it just plain sucks. So I’m not making any promises.

I hope you folks out there aren’t being hit too badly with the stock market. I have many friends here in NYC who are losing jobs. Lets hope this thing turns around sooner than later.

Anyhow, thanks folks once again for checking out.

Best,

Bard


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
01 Dec

Insomnia


Well, here I sit with my usual insomnia. I have not been able to sleep until about four in the morning lately. It’s interfering with my work and it is starting to pick my ass. But, you do what you can. The strangest part is that I have nothing to be stressed about, except the insomnia. A vicious circle.

I sat down today and in just one hour, I wrote an entire lyric and set it to chords/melody. It came out great. I can’t seem to stop coming up with more stuff. I wasn’t even trying. Weird.

I had planned to make the new record available as a download only. However, I’d consider running some cd’s with artwork if there is any fan interest. I can’t get the record to your retail outlet, but I could do a mail order thing. Its time consuming and costly, but like i say….

By the way, I won’t be writing about politics or religion any time soon. I’m unpopular with some folks over my recent comments. No hate mail though.

The only spiritual experience I ever had was in bed with a woman. Suddenly it was as though we were fused and I had no separate identity. We were locked together in a way that hasn’t happened before or since. So god and I are on pretty good terms.

I had a medium talk to me a few days ago. She proceeded to tell me what I’ve been doing for the last few years with the Toy Record. It was quite uncanny. Apparently the energy surrounding the record is strong. If you believe in that stuff. I’m still a sceptic. My dead Grandmother tried to talk to me, about what remained unclear. Hi Grandma.

Time for me to try sleep. Hope this finds you folks well.

Brad


No Response Filed under: Uncategorized
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