“Corn on the Cob” – story behind the song

Hoag recently gave a detailed answer to a fan question on facebook about the story behind the new song “Corn on the Cob” on the album “Lockers.” Some good background story behind the music! Buy the album “Lockers” on iTunes and rock it.

SEAN (DALLAS, TX): “Hoag… can I humbly ask you guys what was going on in your heads regarding Corn on the Cob?”

HOAG: “I wrote the song (except for the intro riff) during a lesson I was giving to a drum student back in probably 2012. It was without words for three years. When we decided to put it on the album I heard some vocal melodies in my head but also wanted to include samples, almost like a hip hop track. I was watching batman returns and basically everything the penguin said sounded so cool to me. One thing I didn’t end up using because I couldn’t find the clip on YouTube and was too cheap to rent the movie was the line “It’s amazing what a little TAPE and PATIENCE can do”. The penguin had spent hours taping back together the incriminating documents that Christopher Walken’s character had shredded. And the lyrics fit the dark lyrics I already had. The lyrics I came up with have to do with maturing or evolving out of idealistic mindsets of youth (“am i wise? Or have I just lost hope?” etc), and feeling sometimes just how quickly time passes, and if I’m doing life in the right way (“don’t do the math, it makes it worse”). And because it’s a trippy schizo song I wrote some lyrics that have to do with those times when I used to have a lot of panic attacks and anxiety (“not sure how long I’ve been in this glade, might be a day or fifteen years. Melt up a red sun and a purple moon, notice the stars are not the same”. Sometimes you get lost in time and space when you’re panicking or things are weird. Which reminded me of the land of “Fae” that the character Kvothe slips into in “Wise Man’s Fear” (a book). It’s a parallel world where time is fluid and the colors are slightly different than earth colors and when you look up in the sky the constellations are totally different. When I used to have really bad panics it would feel disorienting and scary like that. I only get them anymore if I eat too much weed. It “Sounds fun!” at first but it can get frightening and you can slip into The Fae. I love the two-edged sword of saying the phrase “sounds fun” in such a creepy, suspicious way. As for the instrumental break towards the end, that came as a little mathy experiment in feel changes. The drums approach each pass through that angular breakdown riff very differently each time. First the drums mimic the melody of the riff exactly, then they play a syncopated beat over top that grooves a little more naturally, and then finally they just slam a heavy backbeat that a listener can actually nod their head to without feeling off balance. Think I covered it all!”

Florida Tour Diary #1

Day off in Ft. Laurderdale! If you’re wondering where you can find a strip mall, try Ft. Lauderdale, there are a couple here. Also popular? 32-lane highways and signs that say “No Left Turn”. Honestly, if there are any civil engineers out there (Mikey I’m looking your way), can you please help identify a possible reason that Florida has basically outlawed the left-hand-turn? In what twisted world does this make things easier for automobile transportation?

But I shouldn’t hate. The people here are very friendly and open (met quite a few at the show at the Culture Room last night opening for Rx Bandits), and I’m sure the beaches are the bees knees. Should be hitting up the beach here pretty soon in fact. This morning after our breakfast run to Dunkin Donuts (egg and cheese on a multigrain, add extra egg, small orange juice, medium latte, why am I telling you this, who cares) we parked the Whale in a strip mall (!) and went our separate ways. Actually I’m pretty sure everyone went to some weird Sci Fi movie starring the lovely Mila Kunis, and though I’m usually down for any movie as long as the multiplex has amazing chairs and huge movie posters and floor-laid track lighting on lush hallway carpeting,  for some reason I wasn’t interested this time. I have a strange relationship with the Sci Fi genre, some days I’m just really not feeling it. Like today. So I took the tour bike (compliments of Fairdale Bikes) and the laptop over to the strip mall across the street (!), but they didn’t have a coffee shop or anything, so I went to the strip mall next to the strip that was across the street from the strip mall and found a Dunkin Donuts (not the Dunkin Donuts we went to this morning).

So now I’m writing a tour diary drinking another latte! Today rocks so hard! No it’s all good, we’re going to the beach soon. After Mila Kunis saves some weird planet and then has alien babies with Channing Tatum.

I’ll tell you what did rock though, last night’s show with Rx Bandits. Their crowd is full of really open-minded music lovers, and though I don’t think they knew exactly what to do with my incredible jokes and our sophisticated, high-brow brand of stage banter, I think they were picking up what we were doing musically. Some full-on metal dude with long hair and tats came up to me afterwards and was all “Duuuuuude! That song ‘Honeybee’ was the SHIT!” So you never know.

And man, RX is phenomenal. They’re like a slippery underwater octopus/sea-horse that shreds rock n roll. And on top of that, they are hilarious and fun to watch old Prince performances with. Shout out to Choi the Ambidextrous, Embrina Simone, Righteous Brother Joe, and Chris Son of Thunder. Can’t wait to do it again in Orlando tomorrow and on a cruise ship later this week.

So I guess I’ll just go backwards on this diary. That takes us to….Saturday, Brannon and Rebekah’s house in Ft. Myers for a 20-Tour house show. Man what a cool place they have. They just recently moved in and are in the process of creating a pretty serious party pad. It’s almost like a music venue. Huge wrap-around tiki bar on the back porch that sits next to a pool and hot tub and a little water fall that goes into the pool, ALL of which sits next to a peaceful little canal that wraps around their property. There was even a manatee sighting. And I think somebody caught a catfish. Met some real cool folks and re-united with some old standbys like Gayle and Scott. Bonesaw even had a beer at this show! A Corona, to be exact. I think he just really loves that scene in the first Fast and Furious where Paul Walker goes to Vin Diesel’s house party after saving Vin Diesel’s ass after the street-race, and Vin is like “Hey man you want a beer? You can have anything you want…as long as it’s a Coronaaaaa…”

I turned in around 1am but I was told in the morning that Smell and Sean got down on some key-lime pie or something. Kinda wish I had seen that. But I’m not really, because I was pretty excited to spend some time on the Tempurpedic mattress that Brannon had in one of his guest rooms. Unfortunately Bonesaw was also in the bed with me, but I didn’t let that get in the way of the splendor of it all. And truthfully, he’s a pretty great bed-mate. I’ve been told by the guys that I’m not a very good one myself, but I think that’s just because I like to throw in a little game of footsy to mess with them. I really don’t think the problem extends into when we’re actually asleep, because I tend to hug the edge of the bed pretty hard and I pay close attention to any directional-changes that are happening (to avoid face-to-face bed sharing).

My god, what were we even talking about? Oh, the show. Yeah it was a fun show. We played another game of “Who Can Mess Up the Worst?” this time over the song “Greetings”, and it may have killed the game forever because it was pretty much taken to its limit. So here’s how you play: Basically each band member must—at a random point in the song—intentionally attempt to sabotage the song. It can be a melodic move, like playing a part a half-step up or down from the original key, for instance, or it could be rhythmic, like playing a beat that is un-listenably contrary to the tune’s actual pulse. The problem with this game (well there are a lot of problems with this game, least of all that it sort of ruins the entire song and makes everything horrible) is that if you’re not careful, your sabotage attempt can come off as just being Jazzy or progressive. So it’s actually harder than it might seem. I mean I suppose you could just start doing a Chewbacca imitation when you should be singing the chorus, but even that might be met with a favorable reaction from the audience. You just never know. So you sort of have to have your finger on the pulse of the audience and see what their vibe is. Are they the type of group that will take a Chewbacca chorus in stride but be unwilling to accept a break in the song’s rhythm? Because they’re the ones who vote for the winner.

But like I said, we may never play this game again because of how hard it went down at Brannon’s. The song was cruising pretty beautifully for the first minute or so, and I even tried to call off the game and audible into a straight-up version of “Greetings”, but I was unable to make eye-contact with everyone. So I decided, alright f*** it, I’ll start things off. BUT…I made a rhythmic attempt and it proved to be a mistake. It was contrary, but as the audience explained to me afterwards, it was more awesome than anything else. What can I say, you know? No, I’m just kidding. I always really want to win the game and I feel like I missed a chance on this one. So then the song continues, blah blah blah, everybody’s waiting for someone to make the next move, and right as we dip into the pre-chorus, both Sunny and Bonesaw make one simultaneously. We were told afterwards that this was not discussed beforehand and there was no collusion, so all we can really be sure about is that when we hit that pre-chorus they unleashed a two-pronged Red-Team attack on me and Smell. What made it even more devastating was how it happened from the flanks. Smell and I always set up in the middle of the stage, so here we were just being assaulted from the right and the left. AND…Sunny and Bonesaw each chose a different mode of attack. Sunny’s move was to play the Chorus over the pre-chorus, and Bonesaw’s was to play the pre-chorus, but flatted by a half-step. It was the perfect storm. Hit so hard that I sort of just…folded. I had nowhere to go rhythmically or melodically so I was forced into silence. Like a knock-out punch. The audience didn’t even have to vote. Truly one for the history books.

Brannon and Rebekah, thank you not only for hosting such a great show and introducing us to your motley crew of friends, but also for flying the Whale flag on the front-yard flagpole and for having us over early to fish and play beer pong and see manatees. And for the tempurpedic mattress. Also I borrowed some toothpaste by the way.

OK, from Saturday backwards into Friday…that puts us in Orlando for a 20-Tour living-room show at Mike and Rebecca’s house. They originally planned to have us play next to their pool in the backyard, but the unseasonable chill in the air forced us into the living room, where—it turns out—the acoustics were excellent. Mike was particularly jazzed about the impressive sonic qualities that had heretofore lay dormant within his home, and I swear I saw a glint in his eye that betrayed a budding interest in possibly turning his house into a sort of suburban live music venue. Which we fully support of course.

Rebecca, on behalf of Bonesaw I’d like to thank you for having some gluten free snacks for our fearless leader. And also for opening up your engagement barrel of whiskey so that Sean and I could partake of its joyful promise. And the little Whale napkins you had on the tables? Solid touch! To say nothing of the name-tags and sharpies you set up near the front door. Brilliant!

Great to see Ryan, an old friend from the Rombello Cruise make the hour and a half trip in, and also a new guy Cliff who happened to see our name in an email from “Bandsintown” and after checking us out online decided to drive the 3 hours to catch this random house concert. Pretty cool. He also loves Mastodon! WE LOVE MASTODON TOO! That’s how I knew he was really cool. He also came to the show two nights later at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale. Think we can get him to come to the Circus? I think we’re working from a 75% chance right from the start, so things are looking good.

And maybe even some of the new people we met here who didn’t drive 3 hours will come to the circus. It was a very hospitable and attentive group, which of course is really the perfect combination I suppose, right? So thanks Mike and Rebecca!

Rewinding now to Thursday, the first night of the tour, in St. Augustine Florida. Played at a place called Café 11, and thanks to the fine promotional efforts of a Mr. Chad Cockney we played to a great first-time crowd. Never played in St. Augustine before so we were a little worried. Although we knew in advance that we’d at least get to see our friends Barb and Mr. Ed (mom and step-dad of legendary fansaw Marisa Roberson Friedhoff)). Actually Barb and Mr. Ed brought out a pretty rowdy crowd just by themselves. Some of whom were Canadian which made the vibe even livelier. Somehow. But it did.

Big fist in the air for the opener Root of All, a great 4-piece roots reggae band from St. Augustine. Equal parts dread and Dead, if you ask me. They struck the perfect balance between reggae and psychedelia.

And Chad, those 3-Daughter IPA’s you had on special could really deliver a solid jab-cross, jab-cross. Impressive!

Ok well it’s our day off today and it’s almost over, and I gotta say, I could really use the 10pm-12am hour for a little de-compressing. So I’m gonna end this diary entry and turn the computer off right now. Or am I just being a sissy? We spent all day at the beach, how worn out could I possibly be? (Yeah we went to the beach after they did the movie and I started this diary at Dunkin Donuts. Threw a bunch of Frisbee. Swam around. Walked on the boardwalk. It was jussssssst right.) But no, its fine, the entry is complete anyway. But you won’t hear from us until after the 311 Cruise, so stay tuned for the second half of this tour diary in a couple of weeks.