Magical Musical Mayhem since 2005

The Story of Wizard Boots

     Ladies & Gentlemen….The Story of Wizard Boots.  Band leader Christopher Elsken attempts to separate the what from the why, and gives his recollection of the journey thus far.  No names have been changed and no one involved is innocent…

It seems like 100 years ago or maybe yesterday. Maybe it was someone else, but pretty sure it all happened to me.   It must have been somewhere around 1989 back in my hometown Fort Smith, Arkansas, when I started getting serious about finding my way around on the bass guitar.  My friends and I formed the genre jumping Groove Bucket, a  truly non-fashionable band.  We didn’t really care about looking cool and weren’t opposed to going in any direction musically.  We played a reggae version of “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme.  I made my live music debut with them at a bar called Tiger Harry’s in the summer of 1991, and I still remember the very first song of our set was a cover, “Shot of Love” by King’s X.  A girl who I’d previously thought to be totally out of my league ended up goingflannel home with me after the show and I thought “Well, there’s something to this….I’d better start trying to write some songs.”  By 1992 I’d discovered things like The Butthole Surfers,  tripping on acid, listening to The Butthole Surfers while tripping on acid and the virtues of getting weird.  Another group of young hooligans and I formed the psychedelic freak out, Voodoo Moon.  We spent a couple of years playing all over Arkansas and opening shows for our heroes, The Faith Healers from just north of us in Fayetteville.  In 1994 we moved the band down to Dallas, Texas and one by one everyone was replaced until I was eventually the only original member.  Voodoo Moon broke up in 1996 and I spent a couple of years playing bass in some other Texas bands like Psalm 69 and Generika. Around 1999 I was doing a lot of home recordings and started slowly figuring out how to write my own music.  EL KABONG was the name of my new project and in 2000 I put  together a cassette EP called “Hit On Head Lessons”.  My singing was still pretty bad then (some might say I still haven’t improved…) and the material was so fragmented and weird, but at least I was on the path towards my own musical vision.  Over the next couple of years I would continue to write, record and experiment.  I did have one last very special gig as a bass player in the summer of 2002, when I backed up the legendary comedian Mitch Hedburg at The Improv in Dallas.  He was tripping his balls off on mushrooms, but it was an amazing performance that I’ll never forget.  Mitch even paid me 100 bucks for the show….I love that guy and miss him very much.  In the meantime I was looking to recruit musicians for El Kabong and eventually I hooked up with the brilliant rockabilly/surf guitarist, Rob Stone.  We started arranging all my weird songs into a kind of punk/blues style with him on lead guitar, me on rhythm guitar and vocals.  The sound was pure evil sleaze. We found the mighty June Nagy, who joined us on drums after we all three signed a psuedo-Satanic contract on a bar napkin.  Sonically somewhere between The Cramps and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, we went ahead without a bass player and got down to it.  The live debut of El Kabong went down at The Liquid Lounge in Dallas on July 18th 2002.  I was pretty wound up that night. Not only was elkabong1I playing guitar onstage for the first time, but now I was the lead singer too….thankfully there was booze.   We started playing all over the DFW Metroplex; The Cavern on Lower Greenville, Club Dada, The Galaxy Club and Club Clearview in Deep Ellum and my personal favorite, The Wreck Room in Fort Worth, which sadly is no longer there.  My confidence started to catch up and I produced a demo of the band which we recorded at our rehearsal space.  Fort Worth Music editor, Grady Smith described our sound as, “Crazy, weird, sick, humorous, insane, funny, great.” To paraphrase his review, “El Kabong is something else! It’s like they pulled a guy out of an insane asylum and put him in front of a microphone with a band behind him…this shit is crazy! 3 out of 4 stars!” We later tried to record at a proper studio which ended up being mostly a waste of time and money .  On January 16th 2003 I performed my very first solo acoustic gig (also at The Liquid Lounge) and this became the point where El Kabong began to fall apart.  Rob and I had a huge falling out over the new directions we wanted to explore and I kicked him out of the band.  He was so mad that he stole my PA system, but I recovered it from his paranoid speed freak room mate over 8 years later when we came through Dallas on tour.  June and I carried on for a short time as a duo until our very last El Kabong show at The Bar Of Soap in late 2003.  I ended up passed out dead drunk on a pool table by the end of the night and had to be carried home, so it was a very appropriate end to a very inappropriate band.  June is still playing down in Los Angeles and we stay in touch.  Not sure what became of the elkabong3mysterious Mr. Stone, but he’s a great guitar player so I’m sure he’s doing something cool.  I’d spent a big chunk of my adult life playing in bands by then, so I disappeared from the music scene for a couple of years and just lived my life.  Although I did do a few gigs in Dallas and Austin filling in on rhythm guitar for my friend Ian Macdougall’s band, The Kickz.  He later went on to play guitar in The Riverboat Gamblers.   In 2005 I was renting a room in my friend Jeff Covington’s house in Irving TX, not too far from the old Texas Stadium.  We’d been friends for a long time and I’d been living there for a couple of years.  Jeff’s house, which we called Casa Del Covington was just a really cool place where you couldn’t resist being creative.  He was a photographer, so there was a huge studio in the back where we’d paint or host weird themed dance parties.  The empty office in the very back became my studio control room where I’d already begun to put some new musical ideas down on tape.  I was ready to start something new, but wasn’t quite ready to deal with another band situation.  So I became Wizard Boots.  It really came together on this weird night when I was alone in the hot tub outside Jeff’s house.  There was a full moon and I had a vision….it was very strange. Three or four songs came to me very quickly right then and I went into the studio right from the hot tub and recorded them.  Naked.  That’s probably why the very first Wizard Boots song I recorded was called “I’m Naked (Right Now)”.  Another song from that first session later became “Gonna Set U On Fire” on our second album.  On December 10th 2005, I played the very first show as Wizard Boots in the back studio at Jeff’s house for about twenty Wizard2friends.  My girlfriend, the lovely Hillary Whitehead joined me on tambourine and over the next couple of months we played some gigs around Dallas as a duo.  In March of 2006 we traveled up to Fort Smith and played a show there for the first time since I’d been in Voodoo Moon some twelve years earlier.  We were having fun but a sinister undercurrent of chaos seemed to be lurking just beneath the surface.  Hillary even walked out in the middle of a show one night at The Art Bar downtown when the show veered out of control into some pretty mean spirited territory.  Exploring the outer realms of one’s psyche can be dangerous…..sorry Hillary.  I returned to Fort Smith that April for a long solo show at Roosters, where a confrontation with a group of rowdy drunks nearly turned violent.  Was I feeding off the chaos in a creative way or was I just a rowdy drunk myself?  It’s hard to say, but somehow I was moving forward.  At the time I was always adding new songs to the set, along with a few reworked El Kabong tunes and a growing list of cover songs given the Wizard Boots treatment.   Back in Texas, Wizard Boots mutated once again with the addition of heavy hitting drummer, Paylyn 66.  As a trio, we then became known as Wizard Boots & The Sex Zombies and we set off down the path to the dark side.  We worked up a bunch of new songs, including the nifty “Sex Zombie Theme” which we would play live with as many drunks as we could fit on the stage….moaning like sex zombies.  Paylyn’s drumming was brutal, I was a madman howling at the moon and the shows were complete mayhem.   My relationship with Hillary fell apart amidst all the chaos.  I was very sad sexzombiesabout that for a very long time.  We carried on with a rotating cast of hell raising ladies hooligans filling the tambourine slot.  I was pretty much a complete mess at the time and the band operated as if everything could fall apart at any time.   In addition to our other gigs, we’d also conned our way onto the pool hall circuit and were actually getting paid pretty well for causing complete mayhem.  That scene is for proper cover bands, but we were doing whatever the fuck we wanted and getting away with it for some reason. Everything went sideways that summer and a bunch of unfortunate shit happened.  We’d had a lot of fun, caused a whole lot of trouble, did quite a bit of damage and made a hell of a lot of noise while that whole period of the band only lasted about four months.  I always look back on my Texas years fondly, and although I lost control of my life for awhile, the early days of Wizard Boots are no exception.  The final WB & TSZ’s show went down in Hurst TX on August 12th 2006 and ended with me falling head first into a trash can….probably where I belonged at that time.  I needed a change of scenery and actually had no plans to continue the band when I moved back to Arkansas that fall.  Of course….I couldn’t leave it alone for very long.  Back in Fort Smith I got a job as a camera operator for the local news and spent a lot of time going on long bike rides which I’d usually return from with a head full of ideas for new songs.  My good friend, and genius guitar player Christopher Jones was helping me out with digital mixes of all the stuff I was recording on tape.  “(I’m Going To Go) Completely Insane”, “Let’s Pretend We’re In Love” and “Ten Years (3650 Days)” all came together in those last months of 2006.  Expressing a kind of melancholy desperation in a cheeky folk song kind of became my calling card in those days.  During the news broadcast I was working one night, there was a hilarious story about kids in nearby Eureka Springs stealing the Baby Jesus from the downtown nativity scene, so that led me to write “Who Snatched The Baby Jesus?”  People still ask me about that damn song and one of the actual culprits even contacted me in the middle of a tour a few years later.   On BootsnsteveDecember 10th 2006, which was exactly one year from the first Wizard Boots show, I played an acoustic set at Rooster’s along with Big Steve from local punk duo Fire Don’t Care on percussion.  That was a lot of fun.  We played for over 3 hours and it just eventually degenerated into a sick party.  I was happy to be home and returned to play there again that following Christmas Eve.  We played an old El Kabong song, “Just Like James Brown” as a tribute to The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz, who had sadly passed away that day. On January 21st 2007, another new version of the band was unveiled at Roosters.  Wizard Boots & The Horsehead Bookends featured Big Steve on percussion, Chris Jones on guitar and another friend who’d been helping me with some recordings, Chance Hambright on keyboards.  It was great because we never needed to rehearse.  They just knew what to do from working in the studio with me.  Billy, the maniac owner of Roosters (R.I.P) loved Wizard Boots and gave us the freedom to go wild and wreak havoc on stage.  There were some great back and forth confrontations with the drunk hecklers in there….I was learning how to handle morons who tried to interrupt our set.  Sometimes a real fight would break out but the bouncers liked me and always had my back.  The people watching the shows loved it because all the chaos became a part of the show.  One very snowy February night I ran extension cords out the back door of the bar to my van, which I’d set up as a mobileDSC00124 recording studio, although the best thing I captured on tape that night was a long interview with a pair of strippers from Oklahoma.  Somewhere in all this madness I received a surprising email from the legendary producer KRAMER.  We worked out a deal for him to  master the forthcoming Wizard Boots album, which I’d begun putting together over the last few months.  Kramer’s old band, Bongwater is one of my favorites and he was even a Butthole Surfer for awhile too, so I was pretty excited.   On April 7th 2007, an official CD release party was planned at Roosters, but unfortunately the album still wasn’t nearly finished, so we instead took the opportunity to do an even more elaborate stage show with electronic beats in place of drums and a huge projection screen.  That was a period when we started doing fairly long opening sets, disappearing to the staff apartments upstairs for a 30 minute session of massive bong hits and then coming back for a really long and really weird second set.  That show ended with a really big punch up too.  It was like something out of the movie “Roadhouse”.   Finally on June 9th 2007 we played a proper release show for the first Wizard Boots album, “Dandelion Blossoms“.  Having no record label, I released it under the banner of my newly founded production company, Invisible Grizzly Agenda.  I’ve always said that if you don’t know how to do something, do it anyway.  That first album was a big ol’ jangly mess and had way too many songs, but also some great stuff that folks really seemed to love.  I had yet to learn about editing unnecessary things out, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.   Still some good stuff in there, I just wasn’t as skilled at being oblique and abstract in my themes and lyrics as I would eventually become.  As summer was winding down, we weren’t playing as many shows and my sister in California suggested I move out to the Bay Area where she lived.  I’d had a really wonderful year, but it was time to go west.  On Friday September 21st 2007, Wizard Boots & The Horsehead Bookends played our final show in Fort Smith at Roosters, and we gave them a proper farewell that lasted over four hours.  The stage was so crowded with guest performers, we could barely move around.  I even had something up my sleeve for the hecklers this time; a one time skully3performance of “Power Tools”, which was technically a song with lyrics and everything, but was mostly me and Chris Jones assaulting the audience with leaf blowers over a crushing beat.  Even the staff at the club tried to calm us down during that one.  48 hours later, I packed up the van and headed west.  Arriving in Walnut Creek CA after an adventurous 3 day drive, I surveyed the scenery and the situation.  I’d had visions in the back of my mind for probably the last ten years of just saying “FUCK IT”, packing up what I could and heading off to explore the west, but now here I was.  I spent the first few weeks just wandering the hills of the far East Bay, hiked all over downtown San Francisco, and played at a couple of open mic nights down the road in Berkeley.  Spring had arrived in California and I learned that you should never, EVER talk a walk on a beautiful sunny day for granted.  Mount Diablo was just a few miles out the back door, and I loved going up in the hills to write for hours.  I overheard shadows whispering in the trees one day and briefly saw them in my peripheral vision.  A lot of good stuff and interesting new ideas were coming together in those days;  “Fuckabouthat” ,“Headless Heart”, “Contra Costa County” and a prog-drone sci-fi epic called “The Citadel”, which would eventually find it’s way into later live sets and go through three different recorded versions before ending up on a 2013 album.   I was trying to figure out editing video too and made a couple of digital films for the melancholy “I Miss You” from Dandelion Blossoms and a newly recorded cover of The Frogs‘ “I’ve Got Drugs (Out Of The Mist)”.  Taking six contracostamonths off to get completely lost and unwind was great.  If you ever get a chance to do it, I highly recommend it.  By summer my nomadic tendencies were simmering again and this time I had my eye on the Pacific Northwest.  A call from my friends in Portland, OR with a perfect rooming situation in a great old house was all it took.  In May of 2008, I once again packed up everything into the van, gave my only sister and favorite nephew farewell hugs and was off again.   Way back in Dallas on a hot summer night in 2005, I somehow found myself onstage with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, taking the mic for the song “Sailor” when singer Anton Newcombe had lost his voice.  That led to a 3 year long email correspondence with my friend, Anna way up in Portland.  She and her husband invited me to rent a room in their lovely Chihuahua infested house, where I transformed the huge basement into a studio that became known as The Boot Cave.   That summer I formed  a duo version of Wizard Boots with guitarist/percussionist, D and we set off playing around town, beginning with our Portland debut at Kelly’s Olympian downtown on June 30th 2008.  D eventually opted to leave and later that year the lineup became more permanent  with the addition of Gerald “Grand Funk Railroad” Lunn on drums, and Andi Nix on bass, keyboards, trumpet and rubber chicken.  We were doing a bit of recording and a lot of playing live, so I figured “Why not book a tour?”.  The “Boots Up Yr America Tour” set off burned (2)in the spring of 2009 and took us all across the western half of the country and back again.  I just wanted to see what would happen if we went out and played in places as far away as Tulsa and Tucson.   We were really good some nights and on others we were kind of a mess, but there was a great sense of adventure figuring out how to do it while we were doing it.  We made it back to Portland and started planning our next move.  Gerald was actually quite a versatile musician especially good on bass and guitar, so we started looking for a new drummer.   Tony Aparicio joined Wizard Boots just in time for a show celebrating my 40th birthday and also appeared along with the rest of the band in a  video I directed for the new recording of “Fuckabouthat”.   This quartet version of Wizard Boots played some very memorable shows over the next few months, but we couldn’t get it together to tour in the spring.  Instead, we got down to recording another album.  Although I was still writing all the songs, I really pushed everyone to contribute.  Gerald was really brilliant at coming up with parts I never would have thought of and he played some great stuff on those sessions.  Unfortunately he had band2this really horrible girlfriend who wrecked one of our shows, talked shit about my friends and accused me of being a “racist ass cracker” when I called her out on this bullshit.  Gerald had to go at that point and became another casualty of the Wizard Boots band.  I decided to get out of town to clear my head and flew down to Fort Smith for a pair of solo shows with my old friend Chris Jones on guitar.  Back in Portland, the band plowed through and we finished the second Wizard Boots album, “Ole’ Biscuit Barrel!“.  The CD had a cool fold out sleeve which featured one of the house chihuahuas, Franka Bean on the front cover.  She was old and crazy and misunderstood, and we were kindred spirits.  The wild fuzz rock sound captured in The Boot Cave really suited the new songs. New stuff like “Speedfreak4yrLove“, and “(I Just Ate Some) Yogurt” worked quite well in our live set.   I was still coming up with songs that dealt with my turbulent romantic life;  “(You Better Stop) Fucking Around” and “Nurse Hit & Run”.  Our fake commercial “Crunchy Cereal” eventually became an onstage food fight that irked the staff at more than a few venues.  Brian Jonestown Massacre bassist and Portland native, Colin Hegna added some cool whistling to our galloping spaghetti western, “Theme From ‘Rattlesnake!‘”.  It had been three years since “Dandelion Blossoms” and although the sound had changed radically, the original spirit was still there.  We played an album release show at Maui’s in North Portland, and continued gigging around the Portland scene through the end of 2010.  The band’s debut performance in Seattle at The Comet Tavern that October went well enough, but turned out to be Andi’s last show with us.  Over the years, I’d come to find that so called serious musicians seemed boring and didn’t really do much that interested or excited me.  Peter Herres had assisted with the final stages of mixing “Ole’ Biscuit Barrel!” and had an understanding of what the band was all about.   He also had no musical background at all, which didn’t matter since I was learning the value of taking someone completely wrong for playing in a band and making them right for Wizard Boots.  Tony had endured through a pretty turbulent era of Wizard Boots, and was still behind the drums.  He’d become a more confident player, was great on backing vocals and could jump over onto guitar or bass anytime we felt like changing it up.  He was definitely my most valuable collaborator.  Peter learned new rudimentary bass lines which he played on a Korg synthesizer through a huge bass amp.  The band had never before sounded as consistently solid, and we unveiled the new trio at The Tonic Lounge in December of 2010.  Now we were really kind of becoming a gang. REVO Over the next few months we stormed the Portland scene with a series of over the top live performances.  Going into 2011, we planned the “Wizard Boots vs. Everything Tour” and hit the road that March.  Our good friend Cameron Blunt came along and even saved our lives during a snowstorm in The Rocky Mountains.  I recall a lot of screaming and trying to strangle myself with a seat belt, out of my mind on speed.  We made it to Denver and in fact we made it to every other city we had shows in too.  The boys in the band fell in love with my old hometown, Fort Smith when we came through for a pair of epic length shows.  The band had found a renewed sense of unity in our travels, and we pushed ourselves to take it over the top every night. I began to visualize the longer shows as a maze we had to find our way out of and an old saying of the mighty Butthole Surfers was adopted.  “We’re going to learn something….”  Quite a lot of drinking, drugging, fighting and generally poor behavior went down on that tour, but once again we returned to Portland alive near the end of April.  The Wizard Boots vs. Everything Tour was the most fun I’ve ever had on the road in my life. We were tight that summer, playing quite a few local shows.  Our friend, Craig King began to appear during a few songs in the set, playing wild harmonica. The spirit of the band was at an all time high and Andi even reappeared to occasionally guest on bass and trumpet at a few shows.  I was guiding 243866_10150177511422030_725432029_7045540_6022993_oWizard Boots in a heavier direction and we were getting a reputation in Portland as uncontrollable troublemakers.  We went after other bands like we were in a WWE promo and I was constantly offending overly sensitive folks or threatening to kick somebody’s ass.  Going into the new year, I was working on putting a compilation of the last five years together.  We’d recorded some new stuff mid-tour in Mesa Arizona at Audioconfusion with our new friend and brilliant engineer, Jalipaz Nelson.  My other studio accomplice, Nathan Whited of Vancouver WA’s The New Jangles did a great job helping me out with the digital mixes.  Invisible Grizzly Agenda is a true independent entity, not some boutique hipster fashion label.  We have to hustle and work for every dollar we earn, so it seemed more sensible to do a compilation rather than spend money on reissuing the first two albums.  Released in February 2012, “Five Years On Earth With Wizard Boots…An Improper History” was the definitive sonic document of where the band had been up to that point.   Portland’s Willamette Week reviewed the album, declaring us top weirdos of the city’s freak scene.  I always knew it, but it was nice that somebody else noticed.  Wanting to keep up the intensity, we planned to do another spring tour and another album of new music.  The Crabbit logo had becomeCultPoster synonymous with the band, appearing on album artwork, T-shirts and show posters over the years.  The summer 2012 “Cult of The Crabbit Tour” took us through some serious highs and lows.  Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but we managed to have fun anyway and made the best of it.  We ate the best burgers ever and played a really long set ending with us totally fucked up trying to steal a life sized cardboard cutout of that Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In the World” down in Wichita, Kansas, spent a blazing hot Texas day floating on the river in New Braunfels the day after our Austin show and by then it was a tradition to play what always became a wild drunken party at my old friend Chris Fitzgerald‘s record store CD Universe in Dallas.  I had to be carried to the van after that one.  We returned to Audioconfusion in Arizona for a marathon 14 hour session, where we recorded a bunch of songs we’d been playing live; the funky “Booly Woman“,  anti-consumerism manifesto “Complaint Department“,  prog-drone vision of doom “The Citadel” and our ambitious attempt at epic sprawling stoner metal, “The White Witch (This Is The Last Time I Sing Happy Birthday To You) Part Two“.  Fort Smith musician and friend of the band, Jim Dick had come along and contributed some cool rowdy saloon piano on my ode to the greatest star of adult film, Brianna Love.  Jalipaz was recording all of us stomping on the wooden floor, drunk and laughing our asses off by the end of the session.  The bulk of a new album done in one day, we rolled on through the desert for our last shows in Las Vegas, where a shady local promoter screwed us over for the second year in a row (but I had the last laugh winning 400 bucks on a slot machine),  and San Francisco, where we always had a great time playing with our west coast friends The Crazies Will Destroy You.  The long and draining trip definitely soured us on going out for weeks at a time and really ended up being our last extended tour.  But our tenacious spirit had prevailed in the face of adversity and Wizard Boots returned to Portland for a triumphant homecoming performance at Dante’s on May 17th.  We played a few more shows that summer, including a trip to Seattle’s Blue Moon Tavern in June to play with Bob & The Dangerous Brothers.  They came down to Portland the next night and played with us at Kelly’s Olympian and have been my favorite Seattle band ever since.  I’m even putting out a best of compilation of their stuff years later in 2020.  Our shows around that time could be great or could just as easily degenerate into a drunken circus.  I sometimes look back and can’t believe the nastiness I could inflict on both my own band and anyone who got in our way.  Most of my regrets these days are all about how horribly I treated a lot of people in the past.  Meanwhile, I was having trouble getting motivated to finish the new album.  While between permanent living situations, we came up with a solution and I moved into the garage at Peter’s two story residence, The Rabbit Hole.  The studio gear was set up right across from the couch I was sleeping on and the spartan conditions were perfect for capturing the vibe we were after.  The 3 month sojourn from conventional living became known as Project Garage Exile.  “Lurker Berzerker” was one of the songs built from the ground up, and finished versions of “Luddite Stomp” and “Slowly, The Little Penguins” were assembled from the tracks we brought back from Audioconfusion.  I had put up microphones all over the upstairs and recorded layered ambiance from a rowdy dinner party we had one night for the album’s opening song “(It’s A) Bugger’s Banquet“, and I spent one day putting together “The Ballad of Peter Herres“, an ode to our band mate’s nasty habits and proclivity for living in trash.   I’d come to appreciate these intensely creative periods connected to a specific time & place.  In an atmosphere of suspended madness, the band always seems to thrive.  By October nearly all the recording and mixing were complete.  I moved out and got down to finishing the album, although it felt like it was never going to be finished.  2013 seemed like a cursed year for me from the very beginning, but we finally released “Bugger’s Banquet” in February.  I’d learned a thing or two about putting a cohesive flowing record together by then and in a way it was sort of an accidental concept album that chronicled all the sickness, perversions and depravity of the world we found ourselves in.  We even had a proper front cover painting done by the brilliant Washington artist Nikai Birchler.  We played a pretty wild CD Release show at Dante’s, but unfortunately by then Peter was becoming a bit of a art_phlash_yeti2_norhazard to himself and a liability to the band.  In March the decision was made to part ways with him.  Tony and I managed to regroup and get a video together for the previously mentioned “Brianna Love”. Andi Nix also rejoined the band for one appearance of the post “Ole’ Biscuit Barrel!” trio at Kelly’s Olympian.  Becoming a bit of a hazard to myself as well, I broke my shoulder in a bad bike crash that April.  I was out of commission for nearly 4 months.  The curse of 2013 was upon us and it seemed like nothing in the world of Wizard Boots was ever gonna go right again.  By summer I was well enough to play again and we unveiled yet another new trio version of the band at The Tardis Room on Saturday June 8th.  Nathan’s brother Joel Whited, also from The New Jangles, was even a proper musician .  He played 5 string bass, sang very precise vocal harmonies and helped us push the band forward through a pretty tough period.  We were finally able to do versions of Wizard Boots songs we could never play live before and also worked up covers of George Jones’ “White Lightning” and  “Tequila” by The Champs. Some of our instrumental jams in the middle of songs seemed to almost be channeling the spirit of The Who‘s “Live At Leeds” era.  Unfortunately, times where the band is firing on all cylinders never seem to last that long.  We were having some scheduling conflicts and I was getting mad at everybody.  I’d had enough of everything that year and the chip on my 1044370_10151454668627443_306379564_nshoulder was getting big enough to crush me, while my fragile psyche was overloaded with a steady stream of vodka, coke, speed and unsettling chaos.  We were scheduled to play in Eugene on August 17th and Joel was complaining about being sick.  I knew somehow that going ahead would end with me punching somebody, so I kind of flipped out and unceremoniously booted him out of the band.  Looking back now, that line up of the band wasn’t together long enough to get too upset about and I don’t have any hard feelings towards Joel.   This has been a wild ride running this band for all these years and there has been a pretty wide range of personalities that have come in and out of it.  There have been incredibly tense and stressful situations that are hard for anyone to deal with.  There are former band members I still consider friends, some who I do not consider friends and I’m sure that most of them feel the same way about me.  Who cares? I’d start a bullshit fashion rock band if I cared about folks liking me. We went into a kind of hiatus and the only appearance of Wizard Boots for the rest of the year was when I played “Headless Heart” at Tony’s wedding that summer.  Finally around the end of the dreaded 2013 I felt like I’d better get busy doing something.IMG_20140307_180228  After all that time and everything that had gone wrong, I was grateful that Tony was still around and still excited about playing.  I’ve always hated New Year’s resolutions, so I actually started getting my shit together in the beginning of December and we reappeared as a duo for a mostly acoustic show at The Penguin Pub on New Year’s Eve.  We were back and I had a vision for the future. Now it’s 2014.  In the early days of the north western spring, I had an unexpected meeting with lovely lady Brianna Love, the queen of adult films and got to give her a copy of “Bugger’s Banquet”.  She has the most beautiful…….ass.  Strange things happen in real life if you’re open to them……It seemed that destiny was shining a light upon the way forward in the realm of infinite possibilities….. as I gazed upon Brianna Love’s majestic booty.  I fantasize about her cruising down the sunny coastal California highway blasting the copy of Bugger’s Banquet I gave to her….joyfully singing along to her theme song.  Anyway …………………. We started doing a once a month acoustic gig at The Penguin Pub down in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland.  Planning the 3 hour+ shows kept me engaged and excited for awhile, but it eventually stagnated and we felt like doing the wild power trio thing again. Tony’s wife, Veronica Aparicio came on board as our new synth/bass player for a spectacular debut at Kelly’s Olympian in July.   I kissed a strange lady that night….it was hot and sweaty and wet and we had the audience screaming and dancing.  We had stayed together all of those years and here we were flying the Crabbit flag in the face of all the mediocre fashion bands clogging up the music scene toilet.  Another new album was slowly taking shape by then, but nothing ever seems toIMG_0035 happen in a timely manner in the wild world of Wizard Boots…..so, the “it’ll be finished when it’s finished” strategy was once again put into play.  Tony & Veronica had a lot of other stuff going on in their lives and took an open ended break from Wizard Boots.   We played a handful of great shows, but by the end of the year I was feeling like a change and likewise they wanted to break off to work on their own project.   Tony had been the engine for the band longer than anyone, so I was ok with it.  I think we both understood what the mission was at that point and feeling too comfortable about anything in Wizard Boots doesn’t really work after awhile.  Throwing caution to the wind and exploring the sheer absurdity of life is what this is all about.  Like a few other fine folks, The Aparicios are a close part of the Wizard Boots family…..We eventually came to realize that we didn’t have to make any permanent decisions regarding the band. All we had to do was disappear to whatever unlikely location had become our most recent recording environment. Tony and his old friend Aaron went Skeletons Cover-1off to pursue their new project, G.I.N.A.H.,  although he and Veronica were very much involved with the new Wizard Boots recording sessions as well.  I had relocated from the Sellwood neighborhood in deep SE Portland back up to the Overlook House and it’s fantastic basement where I’d had The Bootcave studio a few years before.  We set everything back up down in the basement and got down to it.   The work on what ended up becoming the new album took almost two fucking years.   I am beginning to suspect that I perversely enjoy getting lost in the twisted process of making an album.  The important thing was that we’d emerged from the fog and moved forward.  Those recording sessions are quite strange to look back on.  I was definitely down & out at the time.   To me everything from around then sounds like i’m 80 feet underwater. Somehow all of the weird disjointed sounds I was coming up with were gradually molded into a somewhat cohesive form.  We released the double album “Love Songs For Skeletons” in March of 2016.  Looking back now it definitely sounds like I’m drowning deep underwater in the hazy world I was living in back then and maybe editing it down to a single disc would have been better, but so be it that’s where we were at the time.  The band played a wild album release show at a friend’s new bar.  But for some reason, I wasn’t really interested in playing live shows to promote the new material, so that era of the band kind of ended right there.  Instead I decided to revisit an old unfinished side project.  BREWHAÜS was originally conceived along with electro-noise artist, The Lounge Gizzard back when I’d first established myself in Portland nearly ten years prior.  Towards the end of 2016 we enlisted the now sober Peter Herres and his growing arsenal of synthesizers into our trio and set off creating what we called Evil Goth-Prog.  Our intention was to make one album, one music video for the first single and perform one live show.  We succeeded, but it took a little over a year.  Around Halloween of 2017 we unveiled the surreal horror film video for “We Are BREWHAÜS” followed by the December 13th release of “No Good Can Come Of This“, the first non-Wizard Boots album to come out on the Invisible Grizzly Agenda label. It was an intense frenzy of activity that went into preparing the live show and I was totally exhausted afterwards.  Pretty sure I was genuinely sick for the next 3 months, but we had damn well done exactly what we set out to do.  We’d all been through a lot over those last couple of years, we were all getting older and I was especially beginning to feel the mileage that a life in creating music had piled on.  I’d been with my Jaymee for a few years by then and was looking forward to something more that living like a gypsy as I’d been doing for the last 15 years. So, Tony had gone off to work on G.I.N.A.H., I’d done our dark electro freakout project and sometimes in looking for the way forward you make some wild left turns that nearly derail your life.  Tony and I made the ill fated decision to work on an electronic, evil goth performance art group called The Sexy Offender & Jorge’, which ended up lasting only about two months with two live shows.  No one was in the right headspace and I got myself into a lot of trouble around that time. We were growing up later in life and it was messy.  With a lot of luck and work we were able to move forward somehow.  I’d moved into a house with M’Lady on a good size plot of land, and set up a studio in the huge barn out back, which expanded into The Morrison Hotel Barn, complete with a replica sign from The Doors album of the same name.  So by then it was 2019 leading into the dark American days of 2020.  I’d gotten about as straightened out as I could…..some great creativity started creeping back in….concepts and ideas were flowing.  We played some private shows for our BBQ parties and a few gigs at some nearby dive bar punk shitholes.  And then….the George Floyd/Covid Virus match lit the powder keg and the world exploded.  In isolation (which honestly, I kind of enjoy lately) I finished a record we’d been working on for awhile, which started out as one concept and morphed into a nautical themed album called “Red Ships of Spain and Other Tales of Adventure & Romance At Sea”.  Pirate dirges, sexy sea shanties and love in the sand….this was the best work we’d done since the wild untamed “Bugger’s Banquet” in my opinion.  As of summer 2020 we’ve got the record in the can, about to release a single, working on various other Invisible Grizzly Agenda projects like the outside artists who I thought should be heard, new video singles and a feature length psychedelic horror film.  We’ve come too far to compromise on anything, finding ourselves at a point where there was no real reason to keep Wizard Boots going….. yet there was also no real reason we should stop.  So here we are.  Make no mistake….. the so called music business is a joke.  We’re in the Wizard Boots Business and that means doing things our way.  Every show, album, tour, video we’ve done is part of a story that continues to unfold.  We’ll do the work and let it speak for itself. There is still work to be done, it’s only a matter of figuring out what it is we want to do and having the desire and motivation to actually do it. These days I might plug my guitar into an amplifier or I might be just as likely to throw it out the window just to see what that would sound like.  (It sounds great in case you’re wondering….)   Is there any sense to be made of all this?  I don’t know, but more than ever I’m totally freaked out by the world around me and that will always give me ideas.   Not knowing exactly where anything was going has always been exciting and I hope we can continue to do the work unaware of what might be around the corner.   Until that uncertain future arrives, we’ll just be out here hiding in the psychedelic forest….waiting to be found.


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