It's weird. Some questions crop up routinely ("When are you going to tour Europe," "Why did Eddie Mansfield break kayfabe on national TV"), but over the past six months or so it feels like people have been asking me "When do we get an All Hail West Texas reissue?" and "Is All Hail West Texas ever coming out on vinyl?" a lot. I have been evasive when confronted with these questions, because the whole time I was getting these questions in my Twitter mentions and my Tumblr asks, there was a secret plot afoot to 1) reissue All Hail West Texas on Merge and 2) put it out on vinyl for the first time ever.
Getting the reissue together has been a really interesting project for me, because it involves going through old boxes of tapes, which necessarily means exhuming the corpses I became at several turns between then and now. All Hail was the last grinding burst of the machine on which I'd built whatever name I had at the time. It was recorded in the final frenzy of the boombox-era writing style (hit a stride, work absolutely every night until you write a song you don't like, sulk for a couple of days, start up again), though I'm hesitant to say final, because who knows, I still track demos on a couple of the working decks I still have and I have ~~~ideas~~~about restricting myself to demo'ing on tape for a season at some point, who knows, life's long, "seldom say never" remains my non-committal motto par excellence. It's the only album where one of the worktapes went missing not by accident (the fate of untold handfuls of worktapes) but because I made good on my generally-empty promise to myself to destroy stuff if I don't want to see it out in the wild at some point. In between the songs that made the album on the two surviving worktapes there's a lucky 7 that didn't make the cut, sometimes for technical reasons ("ran out of tape"), sometimes for artistic ones ("this chorus: what were you thinking?"). These songs have been transferred from the original cassettes and are now on the reissue as bonus tracks, mainly ones that fit into the former category. Several more I didn't transfer from the original cassettes at all, because after listening to them, it was learned that they kind of sucked. RIP, "Red Southern Curl," you are just plain not a good song.
There's more to tell, but most of it's in the new liner notes, and the rest of it's in this piece Matt Fraction wrote about it, which is legitimately all you really need to know. The vinyl's
220 125grams, mea culpa on being wrong when I wrote this update , and who really knows what the CD weighs, because who weighs CDs. Preorder is up right over here; Merge picks up the shipping costs on US orders. Bonus! See you next month!
OK so last year we get this offer to play a festival in Bialystok, Poland, and I get extremely amped for it because you know how when you're in high school you land on something to get into and it's your personal secret deal? One of mine was Polish poetry, especially Tadeusz Różewicz but also Alexsander Wat and Miron Białoszewski (who wrote one of my favorite poems of all time) and also Anna Swir. So I'm very excited about this offer to go Poland, but Wurster can't make it, either because he's touring with another band or because he refuses to perform in a country which has never won an Olympic gold medal in basketball, I forget which, and I don't want to go alone, because going to a new place is just more fun with your bandmates, bands are families, not the bad kind of family, really bands are the intersection of sitcoms and tableaux vivants, I will elaborate further on this theory at a future date. So we played a John-and-Peter duo set for the first time in a long time -- I think maybe since 2006, possibly 2007.
It was really cool: the duo set was how we lived from 2001-2007. On the Transcendental Youth tour last year we started structuring the set for a little duo space on either side of a solo section in the middle, playing "It Froze Me" and sometimes "Jenny" with just me and Peter on one side of the set-break and "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace" with just me and Wurster on the other. Then, in January of this year, Wurster and I played a few songs in New York and again it was way cool, and I got all chin-strokey thinkin' about "oh yes, the dynamics of a duo vs. a trio vs. a quartet, the particular qualities inherent to various arrangements," etc., I like to think about stuff like that and in those sorts of terms, I am a record collector and music nerd, that is how we operate.
Peter and I toured our asses off back in the pre-trio days, but that was before our ascent to the absolute upper echelon of global media saturation. We are pleased to report that a year-plus worth of talking about touring the Mountain Goats in alternate configurations to all-ages rooms is yielding its first fruits this June, in the form of the TUTTLINGEN WARRIORS TOUR 2013, whose name is an inside joke, I'll tell you about it between songs at some point during the tour, I have too much else still to cover here to get into it right now. We're bringing out the Baptist Generals, one of our favorite bands, who have a new album coming out -- their first in years -- and for Peter and I this is a huge event, like on an "unheard post-Marquee Moon pre-Adventure Television album discovered" level: some bands you know will someday get the acclaim that's due them and this is one of them. Their new album is so deeply moving I'm not even going to get into it right now, here, try this, see what I mean, are you enjoying the continuing effects of José Saramago on my use of the comma, I hope so because I can no longer help it.
We're hitting several places we haven't been before and some we haven't managed to get back to in years (what's up Hoboken), and yes, in case you missed it in the avalanche of dependent clauses above: all dates are all-ages. All of them. Hell yes, I say, it's about time, sorry it took so long. I have been squirreled away cobbling together a master setlist through the early months of this year (will we be attempting "Fall of the Star High School Running Back"? signs point to "yes") and Peter and I will be getting into rehearsal sometime this month, where I look forward to hearing "no, John, that's not how you played it on the tape" at least once and realistically more times than once.
I'll have more news on stuff soon but let's face facts, we're pushing up against a thousand words here, the trend of the times is toward brevity, don't tell JD that he'll cry. Peter and I will be rocking the cities you see in the yellow post-it to your right this June and we hope to see you there; if you follow a link and the tickets aren't on sale yet, don't panic, they should be up by later this week at the latest. Also don't panic under other circumstances if you can help it, panic is seldom a helpful or pleasant emotional state, unless you happen to be writing a piece called "What I Look Like When I Panic," then maybe OK. The Darnielle-and-Wurster duo tour is presently unscheduled, but will, when it arrives, include a Q & A about the lesser-known works of Bob Ezrin, so be sure to dust off your copies of Steve Hunter's Swept Away. Bonus points if you can hum the title track without looking it up. I don't know what, if anything, you can actually use the bonus points for, but this, too, will be addressed at a future date.