It’s finally here! My vintage instrumental country band, The Burnt Ends, has just released our debut album, Way Out There. This is a collection of classic and rare country songs from the 1940s-60s, reimagined for three horns and full rhythm section. Check out more about what we do on the Burnt Ends page and you can listen to and purchase the digital and vinyl record on Bandcamp!
I used to work with Pat Penta at The New School for Jazz. I advised students, he tuned pianos. Whenever he popped into my office I knew we were about to take a delightfully warped trip to the unknown. One day he told me, “someday, I’m gonna make a movie about vampires on a submarine during World War II and it’s gonna be called ‘Subferatu’ and it’s gonna be great!” AND GUESS WHAT. Two years ago he started doing exactly that.
He built a lifesize cross-section of a sub in a warehouse in Seattle. He wrote a hilarious script. He spritzed the actors in the face with water before each shot. And as he and his wife are SHWILSON’s biggest fans, he asked if I would write and record the soundtrack. YES PLEASE.
As a rabid classic horror fan, I was psyched. After reading through the script, I immediately rewatched some of my favorite films from the ’70s and ’80s for inspiration. Phantasm, The Shining, Videodrome, The Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. All synthy and delicious.
I started sketching, running my synths through tons of pedals, glitching out and feeding back. Sweeping filters. Dark oscillating ostinatos. I wanted this thing to ooze with creepy nostalgia. There are even a few large ensemble numbers to support the WWII-era and tropical themes.
And now it’s done! Just need to run it all through some warm tape vibes and it’ll be ready to scare the pants of any willing listener (hopefully). Stay tuned for the horror of…SUBFERATU.
Recently I dug up some forgotten tracks that either didn’t make it onto my last album or I’ve been tinkering with for some time. And in the spirit of continuous creation, I wanted to push them past the finish line and add them to the SHWILSON collection.
Take Me To Dry Land is a reference to one of my favorite childhood movies, Waterworld. If you ever wonder how or why SHWILSON is what it is, watch this film, then rewind the VHS tape and immediately watch it again. This was a monthly routine for me for a few years of my youth. For whatever reason, the bass line and vibe of this song gave me the feeling of sailing on Kevin Costner’s boat attempting to outwit Dennis Hopper and his gang of Smokers.
For Great Moves, I was experimenting with the 1985 Casio SK-1 and it’s sampling abilities. Bubble baths and piña coladas seemed to fit the vibe of the song, especially when pitched down an octave. And the second section is heavily inspired by campy 80’s horror movies like Phantasm and Evil Dead. But mostly this song was an excuse to make some weird shit.
In my appreciation for the Vaporwave movement, Sky Way came from taking an old anime theme song, slowing it way down and recording over it. I’ve been scouring the internet (thanks RetroJunk.com) for fascinating old public service announcements and commercials. I don’t know if it’s cool but it certainly is fun.
And rounding out this bizarre smattering of music is Beach Party. Years ago I was urged by Curtis Macdonald to start my own project. I was challenged to imagine what I could possibly contribute to the vast landscape of the modern music scene. I wanted to make music that reflected what I care about, and I had fun playing my Casio keyboard through effects pedals. So I started SHWILSON. And this was one of the first pieces I recorded. Curtis and I always came back to Beach Party. It was our constant barometer of sanity in an insane world. We laughed, we argued. Friends came over to give feedback and texted us Beach Party lyric references in the middle of the night. But over time, it became more than a tropical parody song for us; it became our anthem.
My next SHWILSON project is almost complete, a horror film score set to vampires on a submarine during WWII. Stay tuned!