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 parts of my hometown familiar 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. Of course, 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 “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.
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 in across two sessions in two studios in California. Shonk in Oxford gets a shout out, 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. Summing up the sums, I can be blunt and tell you that we’ve spent $1000 on studio/musician fees, $900 on mastering, with an estimated $700 for CD manufacture and $1500 for PR. 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 to you, though, will be covered in the $40 package price.