Hear "New Wave Hootenanny here:
Like many confused and shiftless young people, I managed to squander a prodigious amount of time and energy being in love with some aspect of the world of "rock and roll" music making. I bought a guitar and started supposedly original bands nobody ever heard of, mostly in New England, where I washed ashore following an uneventful childhood in suburban Pittsburgh.
I grew up listening to random things on the radio, being totally un-cool. I could name as many members of Spike Jones’ City Slickers as I could The Beatles (Sir Frederick Gas, anyone?) and owned more Spike Jones records, too. I didn't get it, this young person's music. When I finally ended up in college, in Worcester, Massachusetts, a community radio station DJ handed me a copy of The Ramones “Rocket to Russia” and it dawned on me that theoretically, anybody could make a song, start a band, and make creative noise (not to mention becoming rich, famous and desired by all). So, a guy down the hall in the dorm and I did just that. I didn't know how to play any instrument or nuthin’.
All I ever really enjoyed about bands, aside from the basic, shear, of-the-moment pleasure of making noise with friends in a musty basement, was the challenge of creating songs. I think I've learned maybe four cover songs in my life, so most people assume I can't play anything.
I always had a certain knack for fearlessly thinking I'd invented a tune that someone else already had done years before, and a cartoonist's (alas, not a poet's) way with words. Every time I learned the slightest lick on guitar I tried to build a song around it. And I'm a slow learner.
My first band was a very stupid phony punk band called "Vic Vomit". The next band was "The 'Legendary' Prefab Messiahs". You can find samples floating around online these days thanks to the diligent archival activities of the former bass player (who still does quite a bit of cooler music stuff up in Boston, like perform in a Theremin collective.)
The Prefab Messiahs was a much better idea than it was a band, even if it wasn't that good of an idea. At the time I could barely play more than a few bar chords, and my knowledge and appreciation of other music was pitifully, tragically limited. Yet I was the main songwriter and vocalist. I was an ugly, awkward guy with negative stage charisma and non-existent chops and basically nothing I did came anywhere near what I was trying to do or hoping to sound like. I suppose we were hoping to be a psychedelic-retro-neo-post punk band... sort of the Byrds meets the Ramones meets the 13th Floor Elevators meets the Yardbirds meets the Cars? We were weird, but primitive and clumsy in a naive, accidental, not really cool way. This was in... wait for it, kiddies... 1981 to 1982. Wormtown, Massachusetts. Google it.
Mid-decade, still the Reagan era, I spent my life savings on a five hundred dollar four-track cassette recorder and have about 100 songs of variable un-listenability rotting away on tape to prove it. I developed a very small fan base of approximately 10 other guys with similar cassette decks. I envied people with real recording equipment and the ability to produce any sort of sound not too closely resembling the audio quality of a muffled gerbil stuck in garbage disposal.
The Huh? is a semi-imaginary band/music home recording project I got going after many years of thinking about it. The Huh? (You’ve gotta include the punctuation!) as a moniker is highly flawed by virtue of being almost impossible to find online (the punctuation!) and for having to compete with about a million other dopes who also thought using the word 'Huh' was an original idea (but without the punctuation!) So the name might change or evolve one day, kids.
Some folks wonder why I didn't just use my real name, but Seth (or even "Xeth") Feinberg is bad enough for a person. (Where would Bob Dylan be if he went as Zimmerman?) Also, part of the appeal of whatever it is I'm doing involves creating music that hides behind an alternate identity. Sad but true fun fact: There actually is a guy younger than me who had a blues combo in NYC named The Seth Feinberg Band. I learned this from the internet. For the record, that IS NOT me.
The Huh? might just be another way of saying I don't want to be associated with my own songs. Or visa versa. Or that I just wish it was circa 1965 and could start a band like The Kinks.
The Huh? Music, at present, consists of an album of approximately 13 original songs. I recorded and played everything myself using a Protools 7 LE m-box gizmo that plugs into my Mac mini. It took me years to figure out how to use the software. I guess most of the useful software-learning parts of my brain had been burned out with animation tools like Flash. (Side rant: The documentation and info on recording software is, in my opinion, written by the same sort of head-up-their-ass arrogant, incomprehensible morons who typically work in a Guitar Center Superstore - no idea of how to explain anything to anybody who doesn't already know everything. Anyway, the only thing that saved me was a book called “Protools for Musicians and Songwriters” by Gina Fant-Saez.)
I tend to have bits and pieces of a least 25 tunes floating around in my head at any given time … guitar parts or melodies running through my head. Some have been there for decades. I also have a bunch of scrap paper and notebooks with fragments of lyrics or song titles. Sometimes the words and music come together fairly easily, but a lot of times I seem to have a tune with no fitting lyrics or words that don't seem to fit a tune.
The Huh?'s "The Hypothetical Return of The Prefab Messiahs, Vol. 1" was a conscious attempt to finally get some of them on 'tape' and also to recreate stuff in the spirit of my earliest band.
Usually I write for guitar… I strum along enough to make up all the changes, figure out where words should go, etc. Recording adds a whole new dimension… you become a producer… and a lot of things evolve at that point. I lay down a basic click track to keep tempo, then play a basic guitar part that holds the song together. Then you get to add all sorts of other tracks… more guitars, drum noises, assorted keyboards and effects… all courtesy of the recording software. It's pretty amazing to be able to do that. I recorded and played everything myself. The Huh? is a solo project. These days I find it much easier and more convenient to have only one band member to be deeply disappointed at.
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