Over the last few years, my town of Portland has become a traveler's destination for food (as well as beer, coffee, comedy, books, and music). Many come to sample the delights of world-renowned restaurants like Pok Pok, and many of these food tourists end up in line at Voodoo Doughnuts (Their slogan: "The Magic is in the Hole"). Voodoo is co-owned by Tres Shannon, who used to run the famous X-Ray Café back in the early '90s and led the unstoppable Kurtz Project band. Now he runs a doughnut empire, and he's dabbling in releasing records under the Voodoo Doughnut Recordings banner ("The Sweetest Cuts from the Original Dough Nuts"). Their plan is to release one 7-inch single every month, on colored vinyl, in limited runs of 1000, and all with some sort of relation to "global doughnut awareness." They offer a "Doughnut-Record-of-the-Month-Club" for $99 a year; of course an annual bonus release bumps the offering up to a baker's dozen.
What really got me thinking of writing about this series of singles is the connections that exist between people in Portland working in music. A large number of artists on these singles have recorded at my studio, Jackpot!, and though none of these recordings are from my place (one almost was, but I was too busy) the rest are helmed by people I've known for years.
The first single features "It Ain't No Cupcake (Workin' at Voodoo Doughnut)" by The Doughnut Boys as "sung by our very own one-time nude janitor." The flip side, "Cheap Bastard" by Pink Boxxes, is classic PDX punk. Both tracks feature guitarist Dan Eccles, whom I've worked with many times (he was also once in a band with Andy Ricker of Pok Pok fame; see? Connections!). These songs were recorded by the fabulous Jake Hall (briefly a Jackpot! intern way back) at Audible Alchemy, Steve Lobdell's fine studio on happening Mississippi Street in North Portland.
Next the Deep Fried Boogie Band gets their own single for "Doughnut Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and "(Return of the) Tokyo Cowboy," featuring Portland music staples Sam Coomes (Quasi [Tape Op #2]), Chris Slusarenko (Eyelids and GBV), Brian Mumford (Dragging An Ox Through Water), and Paulie Pulvirenti (Eyelids, No. 2, The Geodes, and Nervous Christians). It's some crazy home-recorded rock 'n' roll, tracked onto a Roland VS 880EX through a Peavey 4-channel mixer in Paulie's basement and mixed in Sam's basement! Whew, now we know how to capture some grit. And guess what, we've seen most of these guys in sessions at Jackpot! and have even played music with some.
Audios Amigos are my new favorite guitar instrumental/surf-ish band in Portland, and not just for the punny name. For their 7-inch they offer up "Ain't That a Peach" and "Rip City Medley" (which features snippets of classic Portland songs by Dead Moon, Wipers, and Poison Idea). This was recorded by my friend, Pat Kearns, at PermaPress Recording in Portland, who has also worked at Jackpot! many times over the years. (Check out the new self-titled album by Pat's band, Blue Skies for Black Hearts, as well.)
Speaking of Poison Idea, they get the next single with "Triple Chocolate Penetration" and "Hypnoptic." Recorded by Portland's legendary guru of rock and noise, Mike Lastra at his Smegma Studios, and mixed by Justin Phelps (another Jackpot! alumn) at Cloud City Studio, it's a solid sonic punk blast that PI are known for. Jerry A screaming about doughnuts (or sex? or chocolate?) is pretty awesome.
As Portland has also become a hotbed of comedy, the most recent 7-inch, as of this writing, is a single, split between comedians Ian Karmel and Nathan Brannon. Ian's side was recorded live at Little Joy in L.A., and my guess is that it was captured on an iPhone! Kinda rough. Nathan's side was tracked by the staff at Helium Comedy Club in Portland and is much clearer, though it still sounds like an audience recording. Both these pieces made me think, "Why didn't someone multitrack a direct mic signal, as well as a pair of room mics?" At least the jokes are funny as shit! I've seen both these guys doing standup a lot recently, and they kill it.
The most recent 7-inch, as of this writing, features Le Onde del Cielo. Vocalist Max Usata, multi-instrumentalist Igor Stepniewski of Puts Marie, and percussionist Lou Caramella of Palko!Muski put together an Italian-language electronic offering from the underground Swiss music scene. This was recorded in September 2013 in Portland and mixed by Jeff Saltzman (another Jackpot! alumni!). It's a fun listen!
Package design and layout are by noted graphic artist Mike King, and all the singles share the same awesome die cut sleeves. I have to admit my studio walls are covered with Mike's fine show posters, including his cover art for Elliott Smith's New Moon.
All these singles were digitally mastered by New York punk-recording legend, Don Fury.
The releases come with download codes, and if you miss the first 1000 copies they are also available digitally from CD Baby, iTunes, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation. Upcoming releases promise to be as varied and interesting, and not all from Portland. Grab a doughnut, put on some vinyl, and enjoy.