****The Making of Politics for Kids****
Fate would have Thought billed with Beyondo, the Pizzas and Big Swifty at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City, Queens, NY on Halloween of 2006. Thought dressed as a Goth band, and with the lights low proceeded to make the people dance, sweat, and chant. One of those people dancing that night was Producer, and Funky Monkey’s Leader Joshua Sitron. “I thought they were a Goth Costume Band who played fun, danceable, original music. I was totally captivated and wanted to recreate that feeling in my studio and make a record. Plain and simple.”
This couldn’t have been a more perfect time for Thought and Joshua Sitron to collaborate. The music Thought created over the previous 7 years together had slowly evolved, and matured from funky jazz arrangements, and original Country Songs (believe it or not), and the occasional cover (Bill Withers, David Byrne, Greatful Dead), to eclectic, pop, funk, afro-beat and soul inspired original songs. They drew on, and continue to draw on their experiences from Buffalo/Rochester NY, NYC, and beyond. Thought had built a repetoire of over 20 songs new and old to take into the studio. In fact, MiWi and Joshua had planned to find tracks on an old hard drive from a session Thought recorded a year earlier, and work with those tracks… The hard drive had crashed, and despite hours of trying to recover it, those sessions were lost forever. It was a blessing in disguise. Joshua, along with MiWi and PJ began working on one of the newest Thought songs called Nobody from scratch that very evening at the Playground in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The studio is no more than five Brooklyn Blocks from the Treehouse (PJ and MiWi’s abode, and formerly Tim’s). That was the summer of ’07. Thought had produced it’s first Single for what would later become Politics for Kids.
After a tour of the Carolina’s, and California with Thought Live featuring Nobody, the bonus single, Thought went back into the studio with Joshua to work on the next 10 tracks. During Fall of ’07, Joshua and Thought spent at least two days a week, recording, creating, mixing, tweeking, discussing, experimenting, and repeat- most times until the wee hours of the morning. By the middle of January ’08, it was time for the Mastering process to begin, along with Art Work, and pressing of the record. This is the result of the work, love, and collaboration for this special, ground-breaking, genre-twisting, Urban-spiced Pop record, Politics for Kids. Intelligent Dance Music for ears, eyes and feet. Enjoy!
In the words of one fan Rona from NYC via Ann Arbor Michigan:
Politics for Kids:
Makes you feel
Makes you dance
takes over your emotions
Brings smiles to your lips
Brings tears to your eyes
Politic for Kids is a party.
IN the words of another fan - Chris Cox from Brooklyn, NY...
"The first time I heard Thought's Politics for Kids, I was walking through a cold slantwise springtime rain, but I felt like I had my face turned to the clear warm sun."
You heard it!
*** Inside the music- song by song***
About the music, and lyrics by Michael R. Williams
IN all of the songs, I’d love for the listener to interpret for themselves. Most of them are stories, some true, and some fantasy, others true but stretched like silly putty.
NOBODY came as a rejection of the self and ownership. After many late night talks with dear Matty, always harping about sayi I in my songs, I decided to through “I” out the window. Or, at least give up ownership of the things that make me look the way I do, write the way I do, and I try to do the same for YOU and your things… I remember sitting with Eric Biondo after a shift at Jazz at Lincoln Center (We were Ushers making $10 an hour to hold the door for people as they entered the High Art Concerts). We were at a bar eating chicken wings when I showed him the first draft of the lyrics. He said to me, try and make it more an illusion. Or something like that… What I took from his idea was to leave more to the listeners interpretation. Don’t tell them what you’re thinking, simply imply an idea and let them run with it… And of course, the song had to be rockin, funky, and at the end of the day, You have to Dance Dance Dance!
I didn’t write the music on Hardest Thing, but I did record the Bass Solo at the end of the song. I did contribute to the lyrics by sending out a text to all the ladies in my phone at the time. The text was, “Your love would be better than…?” I got some pretty amazing responses. Some of them, I might have used in the second verse of this song.
ETCHKA- This story is taken in part from Actual events, and conversations that I’ve had with my dear friend Masha here in NYC. You could say one of us had a crush on the other. We would talk about money, the arts, love, and life. WE did sit by a river. Ducks swam by at one point. YAY! And, of course, the chorus is semi-autobiographical, but I think I can speak for boys and girls across the globe with the message. Masha also turned me on to a great band from St. Petersburg from which I got great inspiration in Russian melodies, and vocal delivery. They’re called Auktyon, and believe me the Treehouse Pumped their Live record for a solid 4 months.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, too. There are phantom lyrics that don’t get sung on this song. The melody in the horns is actually taken from a lyrical melody I had in mind to describe somebody very close to me. ## # For those who are wondering what Krycevia Glaza means, it’s Russian for Beautiful Eyes.
1001,100U- Ahhhh, a classic tale of love for a bachelor. Dating is a funny thing. Seeing multiple people at one time can be tricky, and very confusing. So many things going through your mind; Is this the right one for me? No, keep looking, but keep that one on simmer. “I might like you a lot. I might not.” Speaking ambiguously to keep that persons interest, and so as not to be brutally honest and hurt their feelings. Then, of course, you have the other side of the story; Marriage. YAY! It all works out in the end sometimes. Right? Or, in the meantime, just keep on counting, and you might end up with him or her… at 1,002- That’s you and You and you! * This is also fun to perform live as we get to point to the audience members individually and say You and You and You!
Nothing New Under the Sun- I’m a big fan of the philosophical lessons and text of the book of Ecclesiastes. This is one translation of ancient text I read in a new translation of the Bible. He says, there is nothing new under the sun. I tend to agree in many ways. I created some stories around this idea including what you hear: A young man moves away from his home in search of bliss and fun. A band plays in a bar, and people dance a little- they drink and smoke joints. A soldier dies during a battle, and His mother gets the phone call… does that sound new to you??? Does my love for Paul Simon's music come through in this song?
Don’t Wait Up – Life experience translated into song. Classic. As an artist, sometimes you have to sacrifice things that are very important to you, and to a potential love partner. Sometimes that just doesn’t fly, and it causes a riff in a relationship. This is a classic example of that struggle in a relationship. But, ask yourself, why does it seem that only one person is trying to change. Why do they have to change? Tomorrow I will make you smile. Just wait. I know you can stand me for at least a little while. Pretty cut and dry there… It just occurred to me in hindsight, telling a partner to not wait for them… to come around? Move on? Hmmm. I might have been on to something. Can you say, Double meaning? I might not make you smile tomorrow? I might not change everyday for you? Hindsight is 20/20
New Blue Afro-beat Rock- Tribute to Fela Kuti . Subtle politics. Subtle message. Fierce Delivery. I’ll tell you a little story of how we recorded this. The rhythm section was tracking without the solo or vocals playing. I was in the center of the room acting like I was taking a solo, and singing. I was literally out of breath, and sweating after three takes of Fierce Air Bass Trumpet solos. Trying to get the rhythm section to GO FOR IT. More More More! YES! I think it came across, and we got a hot take in the end.
Politics for Kids – it’s all right there in the words. I can’t put it any more blunt right here. Again, another tribute to Fela Kuti’s musical legacy and also our good friends in Antibalas with whom I’ve been fortunate to share the stage with (on a boat cruise!). This was great to put together in the studio. Special guests on horns, and dookers on vocals really made this track come together and give you a sonic adventure. I think Fela might be pleased. Also, I love the way Lynn sings on beginning. You might actually scream, YES in the background.
!!!!! We asked Thought in their own words, what was one of your favorite moments in making Politics for Kids:
"The song "So So Happy" was such a beautiful, instantaneous creation that
it will always stick out in my mind when I remember the "Politics"
sessions. Mike used his old casio and wrote this bassline and the
shimmering, cascade sound that accompanies it are all played live with
only a room mike on it. Sometimes writing a song can take months or, even
years (in my case) so it is always nice when a song just writes itself in
front of your face. The final product turned out as a dreamy interlude
for the ska-inflected "Don't Wait Up", perhaps the most pop-sounding song
on the album. "So So Happy" echoes in my head for hours sometimes after I
hear it. A very unique song for Thought."
Jared Schonig a.k.a. Shoneezy
I remember going into the studio to start recording "Nobody." We had a very distinct way of playing it live, so when Josh suggested a couple different things to try, I felt a little funny. Needless to say when I heard the final project I was floored. Josh had created one of the most unique and cool sounding tunes that sounded like nothing how we played it live! Trust your producer, and great things will come!
Michael R. Williams a.k.a. MiWi La Lupa
One of my favorite parts of this process was what I call the "While you were away memos." I would walk home from the studio totally shot leaving somebody there with Josh to work on other stuff like guitar, bass or whatever. When I would return the next evening, I'd hear, "check out what we did while you were away. I'd be like COOOOOOL! AWWWWWSOOOOME! And, I'd smile from ear to ear. There'd be some crazy Guitar stuff, or hot new vocal track or something Josh threw in there.
That, and having all the visitors/friends come to the studio to record horns, photograph, sing, speak, hang, listen and more. It really felt like a family project. Thanks to all the Dookers, and guests musicians!
****Making of the Artwork- Politics for Kids****
Thought and Co. are blessed with a wonderful, loving circle of highly talented friends in NY, NY (And beyond). Their dear friend, and fellow Dooker Cristina Maria Forte is an inspiring photographer, visual artist, and an incredible dancer. When asked to produce the art work for Politics for Kids, she went to different parks throughout BK and drew for hours underneath swing sets, on teeter-tawters, and risked her freedom (police don’t appreciate her types hanging out at playgrounds) to become inspired for the Album cover. The final product, after much deliboration in the band was choosen from an earlier piece of her portfolio; a photograph infused with mixed media. The back of the record is also a photograph from her portfolio.
***About the Band***"They are bringing the street credibility back to pop music" One thing that is obvious the first time you see this group of people together, onstage and off, is that this is a BAND. The members of this band are constantly feeding off of each other. They live together, work together, and play together. The most striking quality this young group possesses, is how the five distinct personalities shine through at all times, tempering and balancing each other. As bassist PJ says, " You can't make that s@#* up!" Their draw comes from their provocative male/female intertwined vocals, and the unique combination of bass trumpet and alto sax fronting the band. The rhythm section is no joke either. The members of Thought don't want their music pigeon-holed into genres or catagories (who does?), but they understand that this is the way the worlds' mind works. Therefore, they would like to call their creations, Multiple-Personality Music, or Sex-Punk. Really, they just want you to listen to it, and enjoy it.... and dance a lot.
After Eight years of sharpening their skills playing together as a band , Thought has played to thousands of people throughout the USA, Canada, and in the last three years focused heavily on the New York City scene. The members of Thought have both collectively and individually shared the stage with such notables as; Mike Gordon (Phish), Medeski, Martin and Wood, Dresden Dolls, Eliott Sharp, El-P, Butch Morris, Antibalas, Kenny Wollesen, John Ellis, Ulu, Zozo Afrobeat, Jerseyband, Beyondo, Rhubarb, Pela, Lazlo Holyfield, Jon Nelson's Genkin Philharmonic, and many, many more. Aside from their numerous live shows Thought has recorded two studio EPs, and their most recent LP POLITICS FOR KIDS available here.
PJ - Electric Bass Guitar
My full name is Peter James Boeckel (the “o” is silent). I hail from Buffalo N.Y. and was born on April 6, 1981. Fostering my musical growth, whom I have to thank for their encouragement, energy and patience, are such great teachers like Dr. Joseph Baudo, Rodney Appleby, Jack Kulp, John Currey and Miwi 3000.
My social beliefs consist of being anti-war, against corporate colonialism, its subsequent destruction to the environment, and fully believe in the power of creative force as a device to combat those converging on the tip of the triangle. My inspirations are the folks in Thought (all full of luv and passion), Meshell, Bklyn, winter, spring, summer, fall and all those self-proclaimed artists out there staying true to their guns. Of course I have to mention the peeps on our links page
MiWi La Lupa - voice/bass trumpet/songwriter
Michael is an Eastman School of Music graduate (’03), and he loves wolves. That's because he is a wolf. He also loves to learn new languages.
Mike also plays/has played/recorded with: Knights on Earth, Beyondo, Mocean Worker, Nublu Orchestra conducted by Butch Morris, Kenny Wollesen's Wollesonic/Himalayas, El-P, Ike Sturm Ensemble, Bat For Lashes, Pela, Danan Healy Band, Amun Ra, Mike Gordon, Slide Hampton, Joey Barron, MMW, Assylum Street Spankers, Knights on Earth, Yah Supreme, Slavic Soul Party, Donny McCaslin, Fire of Space, Eternal Buzz Brass Band, Antibalas, John Ellis, Zox, Lazlo Hollyfeld, Ulu, Uncle Sammy, Rhubarb, Beyondo, Joe Bagale, Sunny Jain Collective, and the Eastman Trombone Choir. MiWi has also played a very cold roll in a film called Living Wake which Premiered on June 8th 2007 at the Cinevegas film festival.
Mike has studied with: Mark Kellogg, Clay Jenkins, Slide Hampton, Joe “the kid” Baudo, Bill Weikert, Hagar and Dr. Bauch.
Current favorite music is; Sly and the Family Stone! Talib Kweli's Eardrum, Thomas Mapfuno, The Tiny (Sweden), Hot Like Stripes (Dr. Bauch), The Temptations, Itsnotyouitsme, Comfort Woman (Meshelle)
Mike now lives in Brooklyn (Bushwick) and loves the beautiful struggle. Current inspirations (besides 5:30pm): Borsh, Bear Stearns, Learning Hebrew and Russian, and Chocolate
Jared Schonig - Drums and back-up vox
I am a 24 year old drummer living in Brooklyn, NY. I'm originally from Los Angeles, CA. I did a lot of musically-related things in my youth and am very fortunate to be where I am right now in life. I graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2005 and shortly thereafter moved to Brooklyn. I've recorded with people such as Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Fred Hersch, etc. I currently play with a few different groups, including (but not limited to) Thought, Paradigm Shift, Brian Vanarsdale Quintet, Keith Ward Group, Dan Loomis Quartet, Brenda Earle Group, Julie Hardy, Jack Donahue... I also currently teach at Poly Prep Country Day School (Brooklyn) as well as teach privately. For a not so informal biography, check out my website. :)
Tim Allen - electric guitar/ songwriting
tim hails from the gorgeous slice of erie county known as buffalo. he now resides in brooklyn. he has been in many different types of bands over the years and shared the stage with many beautiful musicians in the process. to name a few : the genkin philharmonic, butch morris's orchestra slang, zozo afrobeat, fred's slacks, the operatives, anal pudding, the brooklyn strutters, and (obviously) thought. Recently tim has formed his own band, Hylofi, featuring members of his own favorite bands: Jerseyband, Beyondo, Zozo Afrobeat, Naked Brunch, and yes of course Thought. Think industrial/samba/funk with 5 horns and a bunch of random precussion instruments like shekere, cabasa, claves, bells, whistles, and fire extinguishers.
tim loves to dance/eat, walk around brooklyn, and doesn't think jokes about his name are funny anymore.
Lynn Ligammari - sax/voice/girl power
Lynn Ligammari, a native of Niagara Falls, NY, holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Specializing in both Jazz and Classical saxophone, she has studied under the direction of Walt Weiskopf, Dave Schiavone, Fred Sturm, David Demsey, Chienkwan Lin, Ramon Ricker and Chris Azzara.
In addition to THOUGHT, Lynn performs regularly with Mocean Worker, Knucklebean, HyLoFi, the Lynn Ligammari Quintet and the Bill Frisell Project. In addition, she has been fortunate to work and perform with Dick Oatts, Wycliffe Gordon, the Temptations, Clay Jenkins, Rich Thompson, Rufus Reid, Harold Jones, Reggie Thomas, Brad Lubman and Phish’s Mike Gordon.
While at Eastman, Lynn performed in a number of ensembles including The Eastman Jazz Ensemble, New Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Ossia, Chamber Ensemble and Jazz Performance Workshop. As a freelance musician in Rochester, she was a member of the Dave Rivello Ensemble, the Half Ton Horns, Uptown Groove, M6, and the New Energy Big Band.
As a music educator, Lynn has taught at the elementary through collegiate level and is currently employed as a Teaching Artist for the Lincoln Center Institute of the Arts in New York, NY.