Life’s Just Bitchin

30 years ago …. After losing an entire first record (I mean completely lost it …the masters everything ..long story) I convinced my folks that I was never going to college and to help me make a much needed record for our band Little Women.

We knew Ray Woodbury from his tenure with David Lindley and El Rayo X he agreed to produce at a studio in Claremont California (weirdly where our drummer Brad Rosen was from … Read his excellent book Bunkie Spills to get the whole vibe) Little Women had been pretty much living out of our van, or camping or hotels donated by drug dealers for years by then. I think we had two rooms for the whole recording… Ray had a solid grip on what he wanted from us… And I remember it was a lot of hard work … And though the tempos might suggest otherwise … No blow.

We were in SoCal and both brad and I had grown up saying “bitchin”. It was supposed to be a joke . I remember the Boulder Colorado (where we were officially based) press not getting it. We had been doing pretty well as uber hippie roots reggae band … And this record foretold that the shit was getting darker, quickly. We played something like 300 shows a year and we were, to a man, certifiably insane when we started and complete lunatics by the time we got to Claremont and Ray …

I think we were scared of the white reggae or the Dead Hippie labels, (there was no such thing as a “jam band” then) long before we made this record . I am not a person who goes back and listens to my old music however somebody played me a live recording from this time period and it’s pretty fucking good … Even better … Everyone who made this record survived ….

Life’s Just Bitchin ..indeed.
Jerry Joseph
Kona Hawaii

I Really Fucked Up

I Really Fucked Up
I really fucked up…I was wrong. I need to say I’m sorry.
Mostly, I need to apologize to my children…I failed you.
And to the world. Failed.
I walked into bikram yoga at 4:30 west coast time…in Portland, Oregon…I walked out and straight into Mississippi 1954.
Total absolute failure…to protect the future of my kids and grandkids from racism, misogyny, loss of free speech, global warming, fascist fundamentalists and stone cold, uneducated stupidity.
I would love to blame it on a half of a nation not voting…on self-righteous millennials voting for wood fairies and free jam band festival tickets…who now say they want to march (with helpful cops). On the media giving a pig enough free coverage to win.
On Hillary ignoring the disenfranchised rust belt. On Russian hackers and FBI coup plotters. On Obama not publicly recognizing areas where he didn’t make the grade and doing his best to ensure us that the democrats have learned from failures and near misses.
On my fellow musicians who are too worried about rocking the boat with their fan base to say anything beyond “vote love” or just “vote please”…total chicken shit drivel and a complete water down and whitewash of anything that gave power to the voice of the artist.
On dumb fucking Americans who are not educated enough, enlightened enough, compassionate enough or simply gleefully wallowing in fear and hate and ignorance to HAPPILY vote for a shit blowing waste of sperm…and call it change.
Trust me…I want to blame all of them.
I can only blame myself.
I was a huge supporter of Trump winning the RNC nomination…I smugly thought he would eviscerate the republicans and then, pretty much anyone would stomp him into history…fuck man…I was so wrong
I underestimated the power of the whiteIash…I saw the signs like everyone else…and I didn’t fight it. I’m a lefty…I’m pro-choice…we should have slaughtered it in utero.
I laughed at Bernie and his wet dream of a vision and his army of children who want to be younger and hipster, contemporaries who only seemed interested in selfies taken in front of feel the Bern signs who ultimately handed trump his victory…when I should have fought harder for his ideas and not left it up to American Apparel models.
I am 100 percent owning my support of Hillary…I still think she would have been the best president…I am still unclear Bernie would have survived the campaign. However, had he been our nominee and had he survived the republican tar and feathering of a socialist…he would have won Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin for starters.
Bernie understood better the disenfranchisement of blue collar America…which admittedly I am very removed from. I tend to always vote with global issues in mind…and I certainly quit giving a fuck about poor white southern cracker agendas a long time ago…dude…totally should have been paying more attention.
I blew it.
I didn’t fight hard enough…I posted hip Salon articles and listened to Public Enemy records and posted smarmy memes and patted myself on the back for righteously telling the few trumpers and non-voters on my social media page to suck my dick.
In a time for firebombs I used an iPhone app…fucking pathetic. And now, as my friend Ben says, I will die before there is a liberal Supreme Court again. Rudy Giuliani is going to be Attorney General…and my daughters reproductive rights will be revoked as will my children’s rights to clean water and free speech.
This is a complete failure to protect my kids.
I am so fucking sorry.
So what now???
First…we are at war…I think it’s beyond a war of ideas…
Wall Street looked at the Occupy movement as a fucking joke…no leader, a lot of well-meaning people with bongos and phish shirts not doing shit and definitely not willing to get hurt for their cause.
Look…I love love.
I might call my next record:
Jerry Joseph
I Love Love
But you want to bury these racist fucks who just took power? It’s not going to be with love…no matter what Michael Frante says (I love Michael, don’t get me wrong).
I have musician friends posting that they are frightened and hurting and just want more love…are you fucking kidding me?? Now is the time to use the albeit not very intimidating guitar…and start smashing racists over the head with it…musically and literally.
I see my younger musician friends saying, “now is our time”…for what?! More songs about your girlfriend and how much you love good pot and camping??? The most vital political record this year by white guys was American Band by the Truckers…handsome strapping gentlemen that they are…but are by no means a bunch of 25-year olds.
So…you’re time? Show me…for the love of God…how you are going to help overthrow this fucking nightmare, ‘cause marching in your MMJ tshirt with a canteen full of small batch bourbon and yelling real loud for your rights isn’t gonna fucking cut it champ.
And before I get to me…what about our generation? (I am 1961…still a boomer?)
Every fucking thing that has been accomplished since the sixties has now been (or will be momentarily) wiped off the board…somehow I don’t see the oldchella crowd stuffing their Teslas and BMWs full of C4 and driving into tanks. I would like bring the idea to the table, however. We all had a great American experience and we owe our kids the same 🙂
At least the AARP generation can show these kids how make a pipe bomb and keep throwing punches with a face full of tear gas.
All this…though I never truly believed Trump…I don’t think when he got into this he was really that guy…or really anything but a storyboard treatment for a game show. However…those white guys standing behind him? They are as clearly my enemy as any time in my life.
And Trump supporters.
These guys on my page saying “things have changed Jerry, you best accept it” or on Patterson’s page saying “I wouldn’t let Obama sign my watermelon.”
These people are the fucking enemy…and I have zero fucking love for them…hold your kids, love your family, love your planet…but I implore you…Racist Facists don’t need love. They need bullets or at least a couple kicks to the head…like the bullies they are…you keep hitting them long after they start crying…to make sure they never come back.
All that being said…I really don’t know the best course of action here. I’m going to try to keep taking music abroad to show we aren’t all Neanderthals…but my wife would tell you I’m just doing that for my own damn self.
I can jump up and down and hit my head and scream rock songs…but it’s unclear more than 20 people are listening.
I could hit the streets (in some place that matters…not Portland) and fight Trump pigs…but they haven’t released the locations yet of where to meet up…and I’m a 55-year old little dwarf with kids that need me…so I don’t necessarily want to die or go to prison for ten years.
I don’t have money.
I don’t own a gun (though I’m reconsidering that).
I have a lot of social media friends and I make a pretty good curry…
I am at a loss…I’m open to opinions and ideas…my friend Richard Davis is driving trucks of supplies to Standing Rock and still we talk about feeling helpless…I refuse to be helpless.
So you tell me…What’s Our Next Move?
In the meantime
To my kids…my grandchildrenmy family.
My country…my planet.
I am humbly and devastatingly sorry.
I failed you.
Jerry Joseph

The Enemy of my Enemy…and Other Words of Love and Hope

Greeting from Reykjavik. After a long, long solo drive around the UK, it’s nice to kick back and enjoy…my new wool scarf…it’s freezing.

I’m here for a couple shows after opening the Ireland / UK portion of Richmond Fontaine’s “Last Tour Ever.” I could…and should…just write an entire piece solely on RF. I have always maintained they are one of the best American bands. Period. Willy Vlautin is among the finest song writers (and novelists) anywhere…and an interesting guy to be with in the middle of the “Dylan wins the Nobel” news cycle (we both agree that while we adore Dylan…it sets a weird and difficult precedent. Songs aren’t literature. Though you could make a case for Nick Cave…and Willy).

Richmond Fontaine were beyond kind to me…they didn’t have to let me do this…as a result I walked out every night to sold out crowds…told my giraffe story…and hit my head repeatedly as I am want to do. Those of you who are RF fans in the states would flip over their crowds here…1000 plus tickets sold at Electric Ballroom in London. Beautiful and surreal.

Thanks to the wonderful Peter Bruntnell and Shawn Whitehouse. Mostly thank you to the great Richmond Fontaine. We eagerly await your $2,000,000 Coachella reunion.

I’ve blogged about Iceland before (easy to find) and I’m sure I could write endlessly on trying to be paleo in Dublin and Manchester ( a sad, sad bummer)…however…I go home tomorrow and I am relapsing on a croissant as I write this…it tastes fucking amazing. Maybe I should switch from a caveman diet to a viking diet…just focus on whales and Irish monks (with lots of butter and salt). However…that’s not what I’m writing about.

Here’s my rabid froth…against all advice…

I have been resistant to writing about the election. I wrote about my support for Hillary last March…and fought with Berners for a couple months. At least they don’t private message death threats…though cute Berner girls telling me “I’m so fucking gross” for supporting Hillary…was a touch brutal. I know the Jackmormons were very upset about losing the thousands of hot 22-year olds who usually attend our shows and I was stumped for a response to the charge that I’m a centrist conservative.

This isn’t about Hillary…I’m traveling…I worry about geopolitics…and though I would prefer everybody just quit fighting…and all go see Amma for hug…I understand we are the USA and like it or not, an imperial superpower. I am good with my choice of Hillary for president. I think, while she’s not as liberal as I’d like…nobody who gets elected president will be…experience and the nuances of global power are crucial. Hillary has it in spades…earnest, beautiful Jill Stein supporters who think I’m a fucking toad notwithstanding.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy…I was all for it…I was screaming from the rooftops, “go Trump!” I was actually scared of the Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Paul possibilities…and I wanted to see Trump burn the Republican Party to the ground. I thought it was a blessing and a gift for a public figure to expose the majority of current republicans for what they are…racist, misogynistic, evangelical fundamentalist, ignorant, mouth-breathing, useless scum bags…and on and on…hopefully I’m clear here as I can’t think of any more nice things to say about them.

To be clearer…I have very conservative friends…In politics, the military, my family, etc. And I value their opinions very, very much…dialogue is the point of America…and to be remotely informed in my opinions is to be cognizant of and clear about the ideas and motivations of the intelligent people I love, yet disagree with. Sadly…those people have run for the hills with this election cycle.
Careful what you wish for…as here we are a little over a week out from the general…I don’t think Trump will win…though if every fucking self-centered, “I’m not voting / I have scruples / I’m voting for ____________ (name your useless, never-going-to-happen, feel good, waste-of-breath here)” person on my social network feeds actually stays home…well…nobody thought Brexit would pass. Come over here and ask the Brits how that’s working out.

A point before moving on to the Trumpettes…

I was arguing with Jeff Crosby awhile back…a smart millennial Berner. I looked at his iTunes music…70% was music made between 1967 and 1975. I truly think there is romantic notion…particularly among millennials…that a Trump presidency will bring the revolution to the streets and this generation will have its glory moment. Maybe…I’ve met people who have won revolutions…when I asked them how they got involved it was usually something like, “When ______________ (insert dictator here) lined my family against a wall and shot them…I signed up. I do not think the “I’m not voting, bring on the revolution” Berner folks are going to willingly die or suffer grievously for collage debt reform, loss of privacy, loss of rain forests, petrol cartels, repealing Citizens United, etc.

Tom Hayden just passed. He knew something about revolutionary America in the modern age…he was supporting Hillary. It sounds great…we all hit the streets and bring about change and maybe rock music gets relevant again…and…and…and…look…Trump wins?!? I have children, and grandchildren, and I swear…I’ll be there in the streets with you…but you’d better study your black bloc literature and learn how to actually take down a riot cop…or a drone…and how to wash pepper spray out of your eyes and keep fighting and not cry when your girlfriend gets her nose broken with a riot baton or you’re held in detention for a couple years…seriously…you self-righteous, “I’m not voting,” entitled children.

There’s no app (that I know of) for fighting pigs…and if Trump wins…the blame is squarely on you…I’ll expect to see you in the front lines. If you don’t vote…or vote for some feel good muppet…you should be ashamed of yourself…people around the world are dying daily for the privilege…grow the fuck up. Please.

I am regretting my realized dream that Trump prevailed in the RNC. My friend Joe was so pissed about my stance…”this is how Hitler came to power!!!!” I don’t believe that, however, Trump did indeed do what I hoped he would do…rip the thin mask off the face of right-wing America. Again, though I don’t think he will win the general election…there is no going back to finding common ground. The enemy has been revealed…in all their glory…and they are not going to go away. Leaving me with this sad reality…if you support Trump for any reason (I’ve long since quit caring about the plight of southern white people losing their “Real America”), you are by default supporting the modern face of racism…KKK / alt-Right / minutemen / Pat Robertson Evangelicals / Confederate apologists…all of it…you are supporting institutional misogyny, rape culture, theocratic biblical views on the “woman’s place,”…and this is before we get to the geopolitical, economic, environmental disasters you are willing to bring on because you’ve lost your 19th century voice. Frankly Bro…you are the enemy…everything I have ever believed was evil. And there’s no coming together at this point.

Nathan Scott Moore…an excellent songwriter and smart social media commentator…wrote about the hysterics of the Right and Left, and that we all need to come together as Americans…sit at the table…work it out.

Sorry Nathan…you’re out of your optimistic mind. I have met Taliban supporters who are more enlightened than the American Right.

The only thing to bring to the table is a fucking baseball bat.

There is no walking this back.

You, Trump supporters, are a direct threat to everything I value…the future of my country (and I love it as much as you fucking do), the future of the globe, and most importantly…the future of my children and grandchildren.

I don’t know how this plays out…but for the first time in my adult life…it’s a clearly divided battle line. Fortunately…after years of death threats and rabid gun owners taking about defending their goddamn homes against…essentially me…or people I believe in…I’m not afraid.

I think the American Right are completely chicken shit…sure…Aryan Brotherhood…some vets and a couple failed Texas quarterbacks could hold their own…but you motherfuckers are not ISIS…as much as you’d like to be the God-fearing, American sword bearing forces of righteousness and evil vanquishers…I’m not worried…since you won’t read the ISIS handbook and actually take shit “back”…well…becaus half of you can’t read…and the authors of the ISIS “how-to book,”…though of pretty much equal minds and ideals…are brown.

I feel like such a hypocrite these days. After trips to Palestine, Afghanistan, Tijuana, Rochester…I’ve tried to make a point to bring some love and God to my performances and songwriting…and now here I am…pissed and writing rabid manifestos.

You Trump guys who say “shut up and play your guitar”…seriously kids…if you find anything in my music to like…then I’m guilty of making shitty music. I am too old and too cranky and too unsuccessful to give a flying fuck if you never hear my music again. You guys sending thinly veiled threats via social media…I’m the easiest target in the world…I’ll be on solo tour in your town soon…as in…by myself…and yet…per my past experience, I won’t see a one of you.

It’s important to note…I am…by no stretch of anyone’s imagination…some sort of badass or voice of anything. I’m a 55-year old dwarf with a bad temper…but at this point…I am beyond even considering reason with what I see as a direct threat to everything I hold dear.
Just because the Left are anti-gun and pro-transgender bathrooms doesn’t mean we can’t defend ourselves (think Viet Cong, Sandinistas, etc.). And just because I love Amma and Jesus and Junior’s My Little Pony collection…doesn’t mean I’m a pacifist. You want to take away my America? Best of luck to you. Considering Howard Zinn is probably correct…and the divisions between poor whites and black slaves and Native Americans were concepts created by the power elite that to this day, work to divide the unwashed masses…I’m no longer looking for a common thread. Alienation, lack of representation, a general malaise and hopelessness…whatever, dude…if you’re on the Trump side, my sense of empathy has sailed a long time ago.

While I’ve been writing this…they acquitted the Bundys (and started shooting the peaceful SD protesters)…I think it’s here…I think it’s too late to dial back the clock and hope all the hate and ugliness will dissipate…Hillary is going to win…and the mentally challenged, uneducated Right are going to be fucking pissed and loud. Good. Let’s hope it’s the last gasp of a dying breed of Neanderthal.

They will eventually wither and die like their Salafist and Apocalyptic Hasidic and Los Guionistas (and on and on ‘til I puke) brethren in the world. It’s time to put this shit to bed. Half the world is trying to figure out alternative energy, safer medicines, water rights, space travel, dub step, and male birth control pills…while the other half is trying to figure out how to keep the rebel flag flying over Mississippi and how many tires it takes to burn Shiite villagers in the town square…both while marrying or raping twelve-year old girls.

Pick a fucking side.

I had Trump apologists ask me…why the liberal hate???

Seriously…we as a species have been hamstrung by your “Jesus / Allah is my righteous sword of ignorance” influence on human decency for far too long…and though I can’t speak for anyone else…I think it’s safe to say we are done. Once we take your guns and daughters and lock you all up in FEMA gay indoctrination camps…we are all going to breath just a little easier…provided your unhealthy “we don’t want negrobama care” pestilence doesn’t seep into the general population. I suppose it won’t be the first time some nasty-ass mental virus crept up from the swamp. That’s why God made the Drive by Truckers…the Rock and Roll RAID for hate breathers.

Look…it’s fun to rant…and thank God I live in America where I can have a platform to say what I feel. I reiterate however…I think this is sad…I know that forgiveness is the fast track to spiritual enlightenment…but I cannot at this moment find it in my heart to forgive the forces of racist hate…and thusly…I choose to stew in my liberal hate.

Because one thing we do have in common…we think we are standing on the side of good. The Third Reich thought they were good and righteous and that their racist, fascist God would prevail. And from what I can tell of the American Right…they feel the same. Frankly, I’m betting on my side and my compassionate loving God.

I am guilty as charged…call me officially intolerant…you vote for Trump…or you don’t vote at all and help Trump and his limping army of sad losers of the evolutionary lottery…then you are indeed…to me…The Enemy. Go fuck yourself.

Peace Love Hope
Jerry Joseph
Reykjavik, Iceland
October 2016

Perth to Earth

Two hours into my 5-hour flight from Brisbane to Perth…I saw election results from Tuesday night…though crossing the dateline I missed Wednesday (I never really get used to that)
I am glad Bernie did so well in Utah and Idaho. Not only did he need those states and delegates…but as traditional red states it was good to remind people there is a solid left wing under the Mormon white sugar, white flour, whrrrright wing surface (I have always felt from my times living in Utah, that they have a tad more righteous left as a result of a repressive history). I also wanted to write this while he was on a high note. So congrats to the Berners.
I am voting for Hillary Clinton in the Oregon primary and hope to do so in the general. I understand the backlash from my own fan base and demographic on this statement will be brutal (this from the “fuck the troops” guy…you Berners are so fired up you make me nervous).
If Bernie wins the nomination, I’ll be in 100 percent for him…hell…I’ll get the tattoo (well…no…actually, Charlie Freeman will) because I’m not only a Democrat…but I think Bernie has a crucial voice to be heard. He’s doing his job and pushing the Democratic Party conversation to the left where it needs to be. I tend to be far to left on most issues, so listening to Bernie is a comfort to me…like listening to old Chicago records…it sounds fucking awesome.
This is the political theater of American Politics…the big show…and frankly kids…the stakes are as high as I can ever remember them being. It is a messy nasty game and anyone who wades in and says they can play…has huge brass balls (Hillary included)…Bernie being no exception…I hear people say things like “they’re playing dirty…they’re being mean…he’s a decent man!” Trust me…he brushes his teeth in the morning…looks in the mirror, and says to himself, “You can be the leader of the free world.”…massive massive ego, massive massive balls…please don’t assume for a second this isn’t true.
I love most of his positions and I am completely down with the socialist / occupy / feel good Easter basket…break up the banks…raise taxes on the top tier…student debt relief…single payer health care…free university education…and on…Great! He’s dead right, God bless him…I am all for the revolution…I do not think Bernie is it and I do not think it’s coming right now…
I have been a few places lately with recent revolutions. It hurts. There’s blood. People die.
Young Americans forced a change in the past…we withdrew from Vietnam…a President resigned…um…Nixon was shooting at the revolution…the CIA was dropping pounds of free heroin off at Black Panther headquarters (and shooting at them)…FDR was a facing a viable Labor supported Bolshevik revolution of his own in America…and on…this ain’t the first time we’ve heard the word bandied about.
As excited as I get about participation, particularly by young people in politics…Nader, Ron Paul, Bernie…I tend to feel like its underwhelming, it’s not a real threat (like right wing fucktards taking over bird refuges and then giving up)…the Occupy people in Zuccotti Square made Wall Street laugh. My response in the 80s to my Earth First friends who would tell me their cause was life and death…”Really? Life and death? You know who thinks their cause is life and death? The IRA, the PLO, Sandinista, Tamil Tigers (remember this was the 80s)…spiking fucking trees isn’t going to change the picture…it just makes you feel good…start shooting the CEO and upper management of LP Lumber and they’ll take you seriously.”
Point being…social revolution is not coming from the feel good candidate out of Vermont…sorry…no fucking way.
How unreal is it that I…at 55…am saying the “dream” is bullshit? One thing I have learned to never assume is that the President of the United States will ever be riding in on a white horse waving Jerry Joseph’s Lefty agenda.
It’s America…presidents are center right by nature. I was talking with my friend Justin about empirical exceptionalism…and he asked if I agree with that description of American global agendas…and in the end, I do…there’s no way around it.
I tend to vote with my eye on geopolitics…I think the future…our future…my children’s future…lies in the way we work with the rest of the world, right now, as the (perhaps tentatively) most powerful nation on the planet…tick…tick…tick
Noam Chomsky (who was essentially endorsing Bernie over Hillary) says…
Bernie is a New Deal isolationist.
And I do not think that’s an intelligent way to go forward
China’s (and we can all agree, this is their century) self-stated goals of controlling the western Pacific…Iran stepping into to the global playing field…the possible hard right swing of Europe over the immigration / Isis issues…Putin…global warming…space…new oil and mineral discoveries in the deep Pacific…Radiohead touring again!…for starters
Again, Bernie is not my guy…
I’m voting for Hillary’s rolodex and her ability to utilize it…Hillary’s understanding of global power and American political power…Hillary’s understating of capital (we live in a capitalist country…and it’s quickly changing from Wall Street money to Calif tech money…and sorry, Hillary is far more entrenched there and understands it).
And while like anyone running for President, I can come up with a list of why not to vote for her…
But I think her commitment to causes that are important to me is without question. Why do you think the right hates her so so much?
Nobody liked LBJ…nobody trusted him…hell, a lot of people thought he’d just killed his boss…but he knew power…and he didn’t back down…and he got the Civil Rights Act passed. He was an effective (and hawkish) President. There are up to three Supreme Court nominations on the table in the coming few years…I’m going with a powerful slightly left of center candidate over a wet dream candidate. My wife owes a shit ton in student debts…fucking ridiculous…and to be a teacher! Still…my three year old daughter’s reproductive rights trump student debt relief…period.
I think there’s a reasonable chance Bernie pulls ahead. I’m not sure he wins over Trump, Cruz or a last minute Ryan entry…the right hasn’t even begun with their “communist” attack on him and I think it will scare the shit out of right center voters.
I think the Bernie left has so deeply bought into the 25-year, GOP narrative of Hillary that they can’t walk it back…and even their (Bernie left) worst attacks on Hillary …I’m not sure I care…the TPP?…That’s about Chinese sphere of influence 30 years from now…Benghazi? Emails? Wall Street contributors? Grow up. It’s American politics. My biggest worry with Hillary is “super power” women leaders tend to come in guns blazing (Gandhi, Thatcher) or glaringly wielding immense power (Merkel “we own Europe”) but, that in and if it’s self is a pretty sexist thing to say. I don’t think Hillary needs to be treated with kid gloves because she’s a woman…attack away…but her survivability in the face of unprecedented attack from the right (and now left) just leaves me feeling she’s got the brass to do the job.
I think the idea of the Berners not voting for her in the general is at best the most entitled, self-centered example of affluence of young white voters I’ve seen…
I have a high profile very liberal friend who is supporting Hillary and we were talking about Berners withholding their votes and handing the country (again) to a dangerous republican candidate. And we agreed…you get the government you deserve. And frankly kids…you’ll give it to Trump because you buy into the wicked witch narrative…and it’s all yours…and weirdly, I welcome that in a sick way…besides the hard right being very good for business if you’re a lefty entertainer…it’s also going to be the catalyst for real revolution that people who have never traveled in post-revolution countries seem to think is so fucking romantic.
I’m not scared of an angry Tea Party, Trump got denied, revolution…I think we can all agree for the most part that these right wing “revolutionaries” are just fucking stupid and at best pussies (can’t wait for my FB pages on that one) however, a Cruz controlled government??? Fasten your bike helmet…’cause that guy is going to shoot at you when you take to the streets in your coexist t-shirt. Bring it on…I suppose. Again, if Bernie wins the nomination…I’m all in…until then…
Hillary Clinton in 2016

Life on Mars

The new record is out…and it’s amazing when these things see the light of day, after what seems like a trip to Mars (no pun intended) and back, time wise…I’m sure both people who buy it will love it (half of them, anyways).
By now those of you playing at home and remotely following our press, social media, stage banter, etc…have been inundated with the narrative of songs written in war zones…edgy magic God channeling…middle-aged catharsis…homey vignettes of childhood space dreams and redemptive post-heroin atonement coupled with light breathing E major chords and life sucking A minors. And that’s all great and it beats the usual “I kicked dope/left my girlfriend…went to a cabin with my acoustic whatever and laptop and cried a lot and made this record” press release I seem to read every day…or worse. Me and the band just wanted to have fun…so we jammed a lot and wrote words/poems to the live tapes and the record company paid for the juicer (or our own mastercraft beer Brewer guy) or however the fuck people make records these days. All valid to be sure.
Still…I’m good with what’s coming out for the new record as far as press spin…but it’s missing the point. Point being, (one would hope) the music and the people who played it.
Two years ago in Virginia City, our (it was a three-piece…so me and Dex?) bass player of 19 years left…it was a long breakup…like ten years…and to Junior’s credit…Stockholm Syndrome throwing ice on a “finally seeing success” Jmos was a good reason to be pissy. Plus, I got sober, thus killing whatever shred of “good time” element (tho, as Junior reminded me every night…finally there were enough drugs for everyone else to have some) we might have collectively shared. Regardless we fought and clawed and pissed and moaned and tried to keep it together…and in the end…the good sex wasn’t worth the swinging frying pans, and it was sayonara JR (his call, to be clear). A bummer, to be sure…and a bummer mostly for me and Dex, as he was our best friend (in different ways for each of us).
However…his last shows, as far as our fans went, were…a wake…or an execution…or a rape…seriously…the whole room was crying, people telling me I killed the band, and it will never be the same, or any good, or…you get the picture. Me and Dex kept saying, “he isn’t fucking dead…he wants to sell cars in SLC!” (we all have different opinions of what constitutes death, I suppose).
Anyway. It was pretty heavy.
We had been playing a lot of PDX area shows over the previous year with my old guitar player from Little Women, Steve James, who as a bass player was on a mission to stick it in the eye of decades of shitty and overly busy bass players…and frankly was indeed better than most, and getting closer to a lot of the greats (I’ve played with a couple).
We also had been having our friend, Jeff Crosby, sitting in on a lot of shows…we released his record and for a while there it seemed, I was talking more in the press about how good he was, then touting my own band.
We had shows booked…some east coast things and Europe. If you’re ever trying to get new band members to say yes… “who wants to go to Paris and hang, and then go write songs in Ireland?”…usually works well.
So we had a band…whether it was any good or not, was anybody’s guess. And the stakes were high. We needed to be able to tell Junior’s (and trust me…I fucking love Junior) pallbearers to shove it up their collective asses…in short, we needed to be better. What we weren’t going to do was find a six-foot five, Mormon, punk rocker who knew three notes, blew up every amp, and sang like Richard Simmons or a teenage sad angry lesbian. You don’t replace Junior Rupple. you just don’t.
So the idea was… “what if we try to play good, instead of just loud??!” It was a novel concept for us…for me, having been saddled with “jam bander” for years, and choking on my own puke from said description…I was a little hesitant to talk about constructed guitar solos and George Porter’s approach to Meters’ funk in the same conversation as my music. I’m a person who responded to “find a deep groove” in the context of anything besides pussy with… “you’re fired.” (Actually I don’t think I’ve ever fired anyone… ‘cept one keyboard player 35 years ago, and it was the biggest musical mistake I ever made).
However…I and Steve James started playing in rock bands in the early 70s, and had 40 years of common music listening…plus playing reggae for ten years together. I’m not sure Jeff Crosby owned any records made after 1979 (‘cept Jack Johnson and the “dead” Ryan Adams-era stuff). Plus, there’s Dex…and sorry, but fuck you…Dex is the best drummer I’ve ever played with (I’ve played with a couple)…so we took the leap and went for “music”…a dodgy decision to be sure.
It was pretty damn good coming out of the gate…our acoustic shows in Paris…our brilliant night in Dublin playing for not one person and a killer show in London. We came home and we had “a thing.” My wife will vouch for the fact that I make a lot more money playing solo shows…but I want to be in rock bands…and it has to be Really. Fucking. Good. And it was really good.
Immediately we realized we needed to make a record…we recorded a Clash and a Hiss Golden Messenger song in Drumlish, Ireland. Plus, we wrote in one day…Heavy Feather…Giraffe…Craters of the Moon. Plus, I had all the songs I’d written in Afghanistan (to be fair…I wrote those with Junior’s voice very much in mind). It was imperative to us to ”roll tape” or push record or whatever…so we set out to do just that.
The original idea…starting with Junior…but then continuing into the new line-up…was to go to Joshua Tree with our long-time collaborator Patrick Kearns…and basically plug in and write on the spot…maybe I’d actually use some pedals (bad idea)…and just burn psych out Jesus riffs for hours into pro tools. We were on the way and Patrick called to say we lost our studio hold, due to Dave Grohl (I’m not sure that’s true, but it sounds good)…we were fucked…Pat was devastated.
Weirdly, we were headed to play for my old friend Chris McCutcheon, who was managing TRI (I still don’t know what that stands for) the legendary state-of-the-art, Bob Weir studio in San Rafael. We were going to play a show for future streaming…Chris was paying for it…It was a gift and a treat…then our recording in the desert big idea tanked.
Long story…but essentially Chris said…why don’t you make your record here? Actually, he said, “please make it here.” My longtime friend, producer and bandmate Dave Schools had been working at the studio a lot…almost his home away from home…and Chris said “how about if Schools produces?” We asked if we could bring Patrick…they said yes…and we were beyond ecstatic. Our consigliere enabler Joe Kempler also said yes…and it was on…Junior leaving to putting TRI studio holds down…90 days??? It was eerie it moved so fast.
Dave and I have made a few records. It’s an intense process to say the least…and it’s always been as much about developing a personal relationship and learning to trust each other (and take the fight outside) as it is about what amp for what song. God love Patrick…but making a record with him is more of a “let’s do this fucked up thing”…he might roll his eyes…but he makes it work. Dave and me…not so easy. Actually hard work…and long, long trips down rabbit holes that might or might not bear fruit…it can be daunting and very rewarding.
We both had a lot to prove with this record. I needed to beat Happy Book. He needed to not beat me with a baseball bat (and trust me…the amount of people screaming at him to do just that was unnerving) and make a really outstanding record he wasn’t playing on…as his bass playing alone usually makes a record outstanding.
First…there was Crosby. Dave handed me a frikken scroll of available famous guitar players. We said, “Jeff’s our guy,” and Dave knocked him senseless, daily…and Jeff Crosby rose to the occasion and blew everyone in the room away…every god damn day. It was beautiful.
Steve James is one of those guys you don’t want to complement too much…or he’ll ask for a pay raise (probably deserved) and larger billing on the poster. But, he walks in with Dave Fucking Schools producing…in Marin “there’s a thousand amazing bass players” County…and seriously nails every note…every groove…teaches me how to play my songs…makes Crosby nervous…and doesn’t break a sweat…it was incredible…really. I’m not a frother music guy…I could give a fuck about your James Jamerson finger approach…or Phil Lesh’s play around the groove…or any of that shit…but Steve, under heavy pressure, nailed the music with grace and dignity and soul.
You know where I stand on Dex.
Dave kept insisting he wanted it to sound like a band…I was unclear there was a band beyond the recording…but he’s bigger than me and he prevailed. We brought in our friends Scott Law and Steve Kimock on (sparingly used) guitar. Primarily, we leaned on the King of Jewish retirement home accordion…Mookie Siegel on keys…But Jason Crosby and Dave Pellicharo were there…and Sikiru Adepoju, the Nigerian talking drum master…we started to have a record.
I know I would never read a play-by-play account of how a record was recorded…I’d rather read Marco Rubio’s foreign policy plan, or the collected works of Tom Clancy and Ayn Rand…but I have to say…two tracks in particular, Istanbul and Fog of War, were perhaps the most intense experiences I’ve ever had in the studio (barring the OxyContin and Blow version of me and Dex doing Ho Chi Minh at Barbe’s one night during a lightning storm). These were long songs…everybody (Scott and Mookie as well) was in the room…all the red lights were blinking…and it was a spiritual experience. The band played with more soul and restraint…following my scratch vocal (I sing scratches like they’re to be keepers)…no wonky notes…no showboating…for 15 minutes a song…one take each…dude…seriously, it was so fucking amazing…we finished Fog of War and I just sat on the floor of the vocal booth shaking and crying…very intense…and for me anyway…very, very beautiful.
We were at TRI a long time. thanks to Joe and Chris…nobody was pointing at a clock…we had done our homework with Patrick. We knew it was one of those, “people will love to see you fall on your face” moments in time. We had everything to prove as a new band…Dave had two baseball bats in a canvas bag…Rolemodel Rick Vargas our engineer had a Mosberg shotgun with implicit instructions to “kill it with an axe if it sucks.” There was a lot on the line for our little world…and the band simply won the day. I can never articulate my gratitude sufficiently.
Then, as records tend to do, we started flying the shit around to finish vocals and overdubs. To Supernatural, in south Portland, and then to our friend and producer of a lot of my records. Gregg Williams…we had Mike Lewis (of course) and Patrick as well as the band singing backgrounds and Jenny Conlee-Drizos (also, of course) playing accordion. And it was pretty damn done.
One advantage when you’re a rock star like Dave, is you have a heavy motherfucking rolodex you can actually use…so he called Jim Scott to mix.
For a person who never made it big in this industry…I’ve been able to work with some major producers in some legendary studios…walking into Jim’s is just crazy. Jim has worked on more records I love than I could fathom, while actually looking at the damn things hanging from the studio walls. Plus…and a big plus it is…he’s a total sweetheart who absolutely cares…he doesn’t need to work on stuff he doesn’t like…and that he agreed to mix this record was unbelievable to me. He mixes manually…it’s like watching Monet paint individual lilies…and there’s that sound…when you say, “how does Petty’s stuff sound like that?”…then you watch Jim leave the space in the mix and you say… “oh.”
So here it is. It’s a record…I look at them like postcards…a place I went at some point in my life. I have long let go of the idea that hundreds of thousands of people will hear them and I’ll get handed little gold statues and fat stacks of cash…I’m good with the few people who will hear it (I’m totally fucking lying here) and at the end of the day…I hope the people who made the record can be proud of the work. In this case…I think everyone including Youngblood and Young Jim stringing guitars, and never fucking running out of coffee…should be really proud of themselves. I have yet to actually listen to the thing…but my kids like it…so I’m on board.
I cannot thank each person who contributed toil and treasure enough…It was a dice roll and as far as art goes…it came up sixes…I can only speak for myself.
Thank you everyone.
I love you all.
‘By The Time Your Rocket Gets To Mars’ is available from:
Cosmo Sex School Records | iTunes | Amazon

Nah Nah Yea Nah Yea

Wellington New Zealand…everyone has gone home (not the residents, of course) but Dex and Jenny and Joe and Ellen and Mikey and that weird life-size African statue with the massive female genitalia he stole out of the Oriental Bay Airbnb…heretofore referred to as Blanche).
So I’m sitting here on Tory Street alone…traveling alone-alone being very different than traveling as part of a group, yet still being alone. I’ve noticed over the years people are pretty excited to say goodbye to me…I’m pretty sure that’s because I give excellent “goodbye bro hugs.”
This has been a long trip. Portland to Perth/Freo to Sydney to Melbourne to Auckland to Wellington. Much to the dismay of my social media team…I didn’t write a blog from AUS full of witty insightful comments about kangaroos and funny accents and Bret Mosley (tho I played shows with Bret in Western Australia…I have long maintained Bret is one soulful badass motherfucker. He is playing and teaching music in Perth/Freo…uh, I wouldn’t want to learn from him …as whatever dark painful soul scorching hole you have to go down to remotely sound like him is a crap shoot as to survivability) and in what really would have been an excellent team move, tie the Aussie blog to our new record release.
Unfortunately, on the plane across the Aussie wastelands, I wrote I was supporting the UnBernie…thereby dominating whatever we were promoting with banter to rival Mao’s green revolution. I’m still unclear I won’t be dragged down Alberta Street in a dunce cap, getting spit on, when I return…with my family publicly denouncing me as a capitalist stooge and a traitor to the cause. Already the band is asking to stay in separate hotels because “it’s just easier on the Uber bill” and “we don’t really need wi-fi anyway” and the traditional workhorse…”we just want you to have some space bro” and “could you wear the bright red windbreaker so we don’t lose you ?”…so it’s been a bit tense…tho obviously I’ve been here before.
Australia…I didn’t write a blog from Australia…like I don’t write travel blogs from California…I am more than a little unclear they’re not the same place…just turned upside down…and as someone who grew up in San Diego, if Fremantle isn’t San Diego 1976 (with hipper music, better food and possibly more beautiful girls)…then I couldn’t really tell you where the hell I was. Seriously. Take away that they say the word chemist (like chemo with an ist) and the fact that there’s 2000 different kinds of avocado and those big bouncy rats that sound like Rottweilers and can kick you to death and that there’s a Bon Scott statue and Nick Cave is from there and people are generally lovely and cigarettes cost 50 bucks and the whole yah nah yea thing…and it’s California. Big California, big fucking cities, big big deserts, big Opera House (where we saw a big Decemberists show)…big waves, big music, big suburbs…big prices for everything…and big-ass sharks. I mean…what else do you want from me on this subject (besides an in-depth report on the Bunbury brunch knifing avocado smash Easter fest)…I think I nailed it.
So…I’m in Welly…and the whole cutesy thing is starting to grate. Football is footie and bikers are bikies and herpes are herpies and Wellington is Welly. New Zealand…Fuck me…I can’t believe I’m back.
In 1976, I was in a lot of trouble in the California school system…my father was a renowned international fisheries conservation scientist…and when faced with the imminent destruction of his eldest son (Dr. Spock had not provided instructions as to the proper response to one’s 12-year old eating acid…or anything southern calif children were coming up with), he and my mother decided to move the family to New Zealand for a year-long writing sabbatical…mostly to get me to the furthest end of the Earth were I might chill out and ride horses or something that didn’t involve class A narcotics and cops. Yesterday, I drove up to where the house was, (I reconnected thru FB with my old friend and neighbor Steve O’Neill…he was instrumental in getting us here) a farm house with a paddock on 14 acres…stunningly beautiful. I had no idea the whole time I was there. If you went down the hill to Lower Hutt…where the schools and social life were (someone yesterday called it the Bronx of Wellington)…it was a whole new world for me. I was a La Jolla kid…and I walked into 15-year olds legally quitting school…everyone drinking (I started smoking cigarettes because Carey Duncan said I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t…I’ll be sending the NZ government my impending lung cancer bill)…and pretty much fighting…constantly.
I don’t think anyone ever actually knew my name. I was “the Yankee Cunt” the whole time. Cunt being a word here like fuck. All purpose…like, “Er cunt all ya fucking cunt…eh ? Ya cunt?” that’s when people were being friendly. Everybody was in some kind of gang (no guns…pipes and knives and crossbows and whatever…but zero guns) and I was like…hello?…and proceeded to pretend I was a rough and tumble bloke who could handle myself.
I’d love to tell you I learned to fight…but basically I got the shit kicked out of me on a regular basis…by white guys and Maori and Tongans and Samoans and Rarotongans and Fijians and a couple of big ass Cook Island girls…and I kept coming back for more. I wasn’t the sharpest of tacos on the Xmas tree…to be sure.
I always thought had I stayed in La Jolla and played guitar, my teen years would have been pretty good…then again…most of my friends from there are dead…so…posing and faking and bleeding my way thru my NZ year was my lot. I did play in a couple cool bands and played my first paid bar gigs (and ultimately was in a band with an EMI deal…tho…). But mostly I tried to swing pipes at big face tattooed Pacific Islanders and missed. It was a miserable year for my family…my little brother, particularly…and I can never say I’m sorry enough. Ultimately, the metaphorical pipe connected and I was in a lot of trouble and asked to leave, (on the bright side the paper my dad wrote while there is credited with saving the Pacific dolphin population…so you’re welcome).
So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days…taking a long hard look down the barrel of the past and not turning my gaze in the hopes I can help my kids avoid the same bullshit . I was a righteous dick of a teenager (you are going, “no way…that sweet Jerry Joseph? A massive douche bag of a kid?”)…and then I left NZ and I never went home again until I was an adult. Funny, it was not to be the first time I received a beautiful gift and failed to recognize it for what it was…this place is beyond beautiful. Everything you have ever heard or read or seen in pictures is true…sure there’s a dark side…dark sides give stuff, people, places…soul. I’ve never been anywhere without a dark side…’cept maybe Vermont or Switzerland and who the fuck wants to go there? If you are ever lucky enough to travel here, you’ll hold it in your heart the rest of your days (just make sure to smuggle in a lot of cigarettes…and if you’re going to the Hutt…a shotgun would be helpful).
This tour was good…great shows…Jenny and Dex were amazing every night. We actually had crowds and cool bands to play with…and it was worth the price of admission just seeing Kempler be a door guy (as I’ve noted before…none of this would happen without his support). My only regret is it took 40 years to get back here…and that I never found Johnny Kouara who beat me with a broken wine bottle on my 16th birthday and put me in the hospital…man…I’d have really loved to see him now…
Anyway, it’s Sunday night at Meow…the club we played here on Friday. I’m watching a guy play Neil Finn covers…and I love Neil Finn…he’s a national hero here…and drinking coffee and trying to do my social media homework.
We have a new video out…a new record that comes out next week. I am a long-ass way from home…really all I can think about is getting back to my family…and Shelly Mulligan…Shelly was my second-grade girlfriend…her birthday is April 12th…I’ve remembered that for close to 50 years, and every year on April 12th, I write, “Happy Birthday Shelly Mulligan” in my journal. So have a great Shelly Mulligan day. Buy or stream or steal the new record. She’ll be right ya cunt eh? Yea nah nah yea.
Man, I really miss Blanche.
Jerry Joseph

Wellington, NZ

April 2016