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2012 – The Year in Review

2012 – The Year in Review

As I look back on 2012, I see the usual line-up of records, videos and live shows. However they all fall to the wayside in the shadow of one event … performing at the Reason Rally on the National Mall in Washington DC.  It was a once in a lifetime experience to share the stage with the amazing Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Kraus, Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Bad Religion and the dozens of other thinkers and artists I admire. This was the largest atheist event ever held and I honestly felt as if I was taking part in an transformational moment in American history.

If you’ve been out of the loop, here are the highpoints for the rest of  2012 ….

  • My first solo EP Don’t Fade Away
  • The video for my song Let’s Get The Band Back Together
  • The animation for my song Are You Ready To Rapture earning a finalist nomination in the Atheist Film festival.
  • Playing the Gutter Island Festival in Denmark and touring Scandinavia with The Master Plan
  • Playing bass on the posthumous Joey Ramone release “….Ya Know” which also included a song I co-wrote with Joey 20 years ago.
  • Touring Canada with Walter Lure from the Heartbreakers and The Waldos.
  • Placing two of my songs in the movie about CBGB’s tentatively titled CBGB –The Movie
  • …and finally releasing the Christmas classic for heathens “Fuck Christmas

…. more music and more videos coming in 2013!

Your Friend,
Andy

Happy Holidays!!

I want to wish everybody all the best during the holidays. Please enjoy my video Christmas card and feel free to share it with your loved ones…. Happy Holidays everybody!!

My new EP will make a delightful Christmas gift …. Click here.

“The Dictators Go Girl Crazy” in The New York Times

“The Dictators Go Girl Crazy” in The New York Times

Atheist Film Festival PT 2….

Just got my official certificate from the Atheist Film Festival. This was my first attempt at creating a video for one of my songs, so it’s very fulfilling to see the acceptance it has received…. Working on a Christmas video as we speak.

New EP – ‘Don’t Fade Away’


It’s not the destination it’s the ride and crafting my first solo EP has been a resoundingly, satisfying trip. From working out the tunes with Tricia Scotti and Brian Hurd at The Lakeside Lounge (RIP), to recording in Springfield Missouri with the incredible Skeletons, to mixing with Vance Powell (former Skeletons soundman), right up to shooting the video two weeks ago with Geoffray Barbier, Travis & Jonathan and Dave Hill it has been an absolute ball!!!

People always want to know the story behind the creation of the songs, so here goes….

Let’s Get The Band Back Together

In the fall of 2011 I saw my buddy Jesse Bates perform an early version of Let’s Get The Band Back Together at Tom Clark’s Treehouse. I had a good laugh but when I went home I couldn’t get the tune and concept out of my head. I asked Jesse for permission to re-work it and he enthusiastically agreed. So I sprinkled a little Shernoff ‘magic, fairy dust’ on it, added it to the set and found that people responded to it with the same enthusiasm I did.

To be honest my goal is to make “Let’s Get The Band Back Together” the new national catch phrase. Your boss calls a meeting – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’…. you catch up with old friends – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’ ….. C’mon people, we can make it happen. …. go Team Shernoff!!

Laugh and Walk Away

In January of 2012 I went to Springfield, Missouri to record four songs with The Skeletons. I could have rounded up some great musicians and recorded in New York but I was looking for the feel of an actual ‘band’ as opposed to a bunch of musicians thrown together for a session. I also wanted guys who were studio savvy and had the capability of playing a variety of musical styles. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section would be the model and The Skeletons are the living, breathing example. Very early on in the session it became obvious that The Skeletons knew my musical references and had the skills to help me navigate my musical vision. I decided to take advantage of my time in the studio and throw a few more tunes at them. One was a chord progression in open G tuning that I was fooling around with. Those chord changes quickly fell together and became Laugh and Walk Away, the only song I have ever written in a recording studio and my favorite song on the record……….I also came home with seven songs.

Hey Boys

In 2011, from May thru December I played almost every Wednesday at Eric Ambel and James Marshall’s late and lamented Lakeside Lounge. I relished the challenge of playing a residency as I knew it would force me to be creative and come up with song ideas. I brought in new things almost every week but I also experimented by reinventing old Dictators songs. I would change a melody or reconfigure chord changes to make things interesting. Hey Boys is one result of that process. I like to think of it as The Everly Brothers recording in Bakersfield with Don Rich on guitar…. that’s the record geek in me, but I truly love the way it came out. Tricia Scotti is doing the harmonies and here’s a fun fact. Hey Boys is the first song my Dictator/Del Lord brother Scott Kempner ever wrote.

Don’t Fade Away

I had the melody and title for Don’t Fade Away for a few years but was always stumped on lyrics. My mother passed away in November of 2010 and after the dust settled, the lyrics came fast and furious. It chronicles our relationship as she slipped into Alzheimer’s disease. The song quickly became a staple of my acoustic show. An interesting pattern also started to emerge, after almost every performance somebody would come up to me, often with tears in their eyes, recounting similar experiences with a close relative. The purpose of songwriting is to communicate so when I see one of my songs visibly touching people, it is very gratifying. We are all in this together and music can be the glue.

So that’s the story, I know the sound of this EP doesn’t have the hard edge I built my ‘reputation’ on but I wanted to record songs in a classic, timeless style without the restrictions of genre. I feel very satisfied with the results and think the quality will overcome any unreasonable expectations. However if anybody feels this EP is not up to my past standards. I will refund your money! … Can’t beat that, a musical money back guarantee!

The EP is available for download if you click on Shop on the menu to the left on my website.

Now I start working on my next project, a very special Christmas single and another EP for March release. It has been a blessing to make music for my entire adult life and if I have learned anything over the years it is – everyday I make music is a good day!!

Video Killed the Punk Rock Star



I gathered a few friends together the other day and shot a video for my new EP. We had so many laughs making it I’m confident the fun will shine through in the finished product. Kudos to director Geoffray Barbier, Dave Hill, Travis Harmon, Jonathan Shockley, the fabulous Carla Rhodes and my two beautiful divas Tish and Snooky for Oscar worthy performances.

Atheist Film Festival

Atheist Film Festival

I am proud to announce that the animation for my song “Are You Ready To Rapture?” is a finalist in the Atheist Film Festival.

Many of you know me as the “Christopher Columbus of Punk Rock” others know me as the “Punk Rock Sommelier”…… From this moment on I request that everyone please refer to me as – “The Punk Rock Auteur”

 

Joey Ramone’s New Record Report

Hanging with Professor Irwin Corey "The Worlds Foremost Authority", Marky Ramone and Joey Ramone

I’m in disguise on the left with Professor Irwin Corey “The Worlds Foremost Authority”, Marky Ramone and Joey Ramone

 

On May 22 the new Joey Ramone record, “… Ya Know”, will be released. It’s really a compilation of old demos with newly recorded backing tracks. Ed Stasium did a exceptional job framing Joey’s vocals with new instrumentation and it’s certainly a trip to hear Joey’s voice coming through the speakers again though there is a part of me that wishes people could hear the original raw demos.

I was honored to be asked to play bass on four of the tunes; New York City, 21st Century Girl, Cabin Fever and Eyes of Green. Through the magic of modern technology I was able to rock out with the great Bun E Carlos from Cheap Trick on Eyes Of Green without ever sharing the studio with him. I predict in a few years people will be able to make records even if they can’t play an instrument or sing in tune…. mark my words!!

The most special song for me is “Make Me Tremble”. I co-wrote it with Joey and played all the music. When Mickey (Joey’s brother) expressed interest in using it on the new record we were unable to find the original 8-track master tapes. I could only find the DAT copy that I kept as a rough mix. That is the version used on the album. No remixing or overdubbing, just this unembellished document of the 3 or 4 hours we spent in the studio. It’s a sweet, simple song documenting a different side of Joey.

May 19th IS JOEY’s BIRTHDAY…. PLAY MUSIC ALL DAY LONG TO CELEBRATE!!

Viva Nashvegas!

I just got back from Nashville where I wrapped up a few mixes for my new record with Vance Powell. I met Vance many years ago when he was doing live sound for Dave Alvin. He’s since gone on to work with people like Tammy Wynette, Tom Jones, Wanda Jackson and record a few classics albums with Jack White, garnering three Grammy’s in the process…… hey Vance, don’t forget to mention me from the podium when you win the Grammy for this one, along with God of course.

This was probably the easiest mix in my xx years in the music business. Lou Whitney (who was also Vance’s mentor) did such a great job tracking  that we were able to knock out mixes in 3 to 4 hours. That allowed us plenty of time to hunt down some Nashville BBQ …. and who knew Nashville had decent ethnic food? I tried Thai, Vietnamese and El Salvadorian cuisine while I was down there…. though I didn’t know Thai food came with biscuits and gravy !

Richie Teeter – 1951-2012

When Richie Teeter joined the Dictators he was a few years older and already married, which instantly made him more mature than the group of nihilistic, knuckleheads that recorded ‘The Dictators Go Girl Crazy’. Suddenly we had a responsible guy who could keep a beat, sing like a bird and provide a solid foundation that never wavered.

When the music business snubbed our first album I was determined to write songs that would allow me entrance into their exclusive club… naively assuming I actually belonged there. Richie’s voice and rock-hard drumming upped our game and provided the sheen that enabled The Dictators to finally garner some radio play.

I wouldn’t say he totally embraced The Dictators lifestyle but we bonded over our intense love for all things music. Richie was way
more accepting than me, appreciated everything from anarchic British punk to wimpy pop to German prog-rock. His taste was so genuine and authentic that I wouldn’t even make fun of him when he listened to Genesis. He wasn’t concerned with trends; he just honestly loved an amazingly wide assortment of sounds.

My last communication with Richie was his request for a vinyl copy of the Dictators compilation “Everyday is Saturday. Unsurprisingly, he told me he had given up on CD’s and was only listening to music on vinyl. I knew he was going through treatments for esophageal cancer but his ‘gonna beat it’ attitude disguised the difficult stage he was really at.

Richie was quite possibly the nicest guy I ever met which makes it even more depressing to acknowledge that he is the first member of the expanded Dictators family to pass away. We beat the odds for so long but time’s relentless march takes no prisoners… it was great to know and play with you my friend, we won’t forget.