Howdy, gang! Welcome to the Manbird pre-order fiesta!

Hope you’re all safe and well in this very unsettled and scary time. We’d been planning to run a Kickstarter campaign in April to raise money for the Manbird double album, but recent events have made the idea of crowd funding much more unpleasant than it already always is. So, we’ve run the numbers and read the runes and the conclusion is that we ought to be able to raise the needed money doing this pre-order campaign instead of the dreaded crowd funding. We’re still offering a tiered system of rewards, but our main focus will be on a basic pre-order price for the two CD Manbird set, plus a pair of download-only albums to accompany the disks. 

Updated 27 May: Funded!

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Here, have a taste…

About the Album

The idea for Manbird came to me in Madrid, on tour with Julia VBH. On a night off, we went to see the film Lady Bird. Set in Sacramento and with a Catholic school girl in the title role, there was much I could relate to. The fact that it’s set/filmed in so many familiar parts of my hometown was striking. Of course, teenage Lady Bird can’t wait to get the hell out of her Sacramento, whereas I was basically afraid to leave the nest of mine, and it wasn’t until my 30s that I did. (Seeing the film in Madrid made it crystal clear that I did indeed finally get the hell out!) Yet, as with the character in the film, I’ve found myself returning home again and again. I’ve traveled so much in the last ten years that the very notion of “home” has taken on a strange resonance. Berlin has felt like Home, while Sacramento/California will always be “home.” I lived in Cambridge for 5 years, but Oxford has always been “home base” in England for me.

The songs on Manbird span a vast range of styles. If it’s shocking to hear me nailing “Featherweight,” my first and only hardcore punk song, is it calming to hear that track fade into the Hare Krishna chant? And what do both songs have to do with McKinley Park, where Lady Bird tried unsuccessfully to get her boyfriend to feel her up? “Don’t Knock The Mockingbird” makes a daily flight from “Dairy Road to Dahlem,” with a bit of Twelve Tone thrown in for measure, just as the titular “Manbird” treats both McKinley Pond and Landwehr Canal as “fountains of youth.”

Even the recording itself of the title track reads as a travelogue. Written at a Danish cafe in Berlin, the song was recorded in Germany, California, and Oxford, UK. So yeah — I took the title track and turned it into a double album concept trip all about leaving the nest, traveling the world, and always returning home, even when I’m not sure which home is Home. Somehow, I managed two disks of original material here, and with a crazy number of groovy guests helping me out.

Who What Where?

Speaking of groovy guests, some of those folks gave their time and talent for free, some of them for a fee! While I can make much music on my own at home, I still need (and love!) to work with certain people in recording studios for certain things. Urbano’s drums were tracked across two sessions in two studios in California. Shonk in Oxford gets a shoutout, too.

Besides studio costs, we’ve got the price of having the record mastered. Considering it’s a double album and considering I worked with three (!!!) mastering engineers before finally getting Manbird right, I STILL came in slightly under budget. But that’s under budget for a double album, so… Oddly enough, the cost of manufacturing a 2 CD set isn’t outrageous. We’ve been working with the same Polish manufacturer for a while and we’ll do so with this album, too. The rest of the money we need to raise will go towards hiring a publicist. I’ve had all sorts of luck with PR over the years, but mostly good luck lately. We have someone lined up who can work both the US and UK for us, which makes sense as the record will come out on Beehive and Gare du Nord, respectively. Both of these are your semi-socialist cooperative labels. The artists cover their own costs and the label acts as a mouthpiece at the time of release. The publicist will only do download send outs, so that will save us money on postage, but we will have to pay postage ourselves for any promotional CDs we send. Postage costs for you, though, will be covered in the $40 package price. 

Why Preorder?

One aspect of this as a pre-order campaign rather than a crowd funding deal is that there’s less need for us to offer all sorts of little incentives. While these bits and bobs can be fun, we’re doing all we can to simplify and minimize trips to the post office. The primary “physical release” we’re offering is the 2 CD Manbird set. Other music will be download only. If you wish to burn your own CD-Rs from there, that’s cool.

Another plus for us is that by bypassing Kickstarter or whomever, we’re not giving away X% out of money we’ll earn. Sure, there will possibly be some PayPal fees, but not anywhere close to what Kickstarter or other CF companies take. 

The biggest thing, though, for me anyway, is that this feels sooo much lighter. We’re making it up ourselves, setting up the website and working out our own rules. I want this record out in the world, but I don’t want to have to beg for it at a time when we’re all suffering. I’m happy to make music, happy if it pleases people. I think Manbird is special and I’m excited to have landed in this pre-order airport. Please have your liquids ready for inspection!