New Faux Jean Album on 4/20

My First Foray into Fireworks (and how I failed)

Nice Faux People,

I hope this email finds you not unwell! (I’m keeping the bar low over here at Chez Faux Jean.)

I am very excited to announce that:

On April 20, 2021, I will be releasing an 11-song album of songs titled “My First Foray into Fireworks (and how I failed).” I would be grateful if you would pre-save this record on Spotify and then curl up with it on 4/20. It will be on all streaming services and there will be no physical copy.

My son turns 10 today. (Happy Birthday Hank!) I mention that because I was finishing the recording of this LP around the time he was born, and it helps me realize how long I have procrastinated on getting a “proper” release out on the streaming services. When he was tiny, I would put him in a car seat and drive up and down the Mississippi River Road testing mixes on CD-R and fretting over whether they were too lo-fi* while gobbling nicotine gum. These were fraught times, my friends. Eventually, I set it aside and began to process what releasing a record would mean with no physical copies. (Just seems kind of weird, but I’m okay with it now.) (I also began to process what being a dad meant.)(And then a daughter was born.)(And then we moved to Wisconsin.)(And then my wife got cancer.)(And then she got better.)(And then we moved to California.)(Etc.)

To make the record, I’d gone into a closet in our Nokomis apartment with a snare drum and brushes, a bass, a guitar and a beat-up old laptop, determined to figure out how to record myself playing everything in a digital format. I didn’t even have a microphone when I began the process. Eventually I purchased a Røde “Podcaster USB” mic and plugged that in, so as to be cooking with gas. This album is what I came up with.

Once I had finished recording, I took the little laptop to Albatross Studios so that Mike Wisti could bounce my Lo-fi digital tracks off magnetic tape, get some “warmth” out of the tape compression, or something like that. It was an attempt to assuage my insecurity about the fidelity. (You can hear the ghostly tape squiggles at the end of certain songs.) Some time later, my friend and former instructor at MATC, Todd Bowie, put the post-Wisti versions into Adobe Audition and bumped up the volume etc. And then I sat on those versions for another several years. Now it will be available on 4/20.

I stole this album title from an essay I’d written about the fireworks disaster that occurred in my hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, in 1988. My co-worker at the Duluth Radisson, Paul C., apprenticed as a pyro-technician on that fateful day, and had saved his own life by jumping into the frigid harbor to escape the inferno. He told me his story at the time (with very wide eyes) and I wrote an essay based on his account. (He was not to blame for the disaster.) And so, while this record is actually my first foray into self-recording at home in a digital format, the fireworks essay title has a better ring to it and I’m going with that.

It is exciting to finally present these songs to the void in this digitally monolithic way. I am not hiring a radio promotion company for this release, so I would be grateful if you would pass this on to your college radio DJ friends (or bloggers, etc.), to help get the word out “organically.”

Now I am going to dust myself off and finish some of the several hundred song ideas snoozing on my 2 TB Toshiba external hard drive and get to sharing my ideas again. But first, there’s a birthday to celebrate.


Faux Jean

This photo was take by Erik Tichy at Big Sang Lake in Northern Wisconsin.

* for instance, the main percussion on “The Bridge to Nowhere” is just pounding on a dictionary with my hands directly into the built-in mic on the laptop.