Geoff Geis


Hey, Zombie!

This song is actually a left-over from the Pizza! era. There were several song ideas that we had floating around before we broke up, but most of them were just instrumental jams. This song, however, was the result of a recording back-n-forth between Duncan and me. He created the backing track – as a sketch for something more complicated later, I guess – then I wrote the vocals, then I went to his house where I recorded my vocals and he sang the background parts.

I guess we would’ve put it through the full band process after that, but we never got there.

It’s fine like it is though, right? It’s more simple than a typical Pizza! song. That’s not a slight on Pizza!, because complexity is both awesome and worthwhile. But simplicity has its own charm. Anyway, I released it last year on the Vanity Projects compilation. You can download that here, by the way. It’s got some good music on it.

I don’t have any idea what this song is about. If you think of something, please let me know.

Album artwork by Champ. []

Album artwork by Champ. []


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Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 1.56.08 PM

This is serious.

Juiceboxxx is one of my favorite rappers and showmen. His performances are awesome, and he’s just as insane as his persona. Well, it’s not a persona actually. He lived with me for a few months, so I can tell you that it’s certainly no act.

The characters in his songs aren’t characters, and he doesn’t turn it down when he’s not onstage. He’s truly an American treasure.

Anyway, my boy had a bit of a viral moment last month after this performance on a local TV show in Milwaukee:

There are a lot of haters in the comments for that video, but they’re all complete idiots. This article gives you an objective explanation of why, but I think it has more to do with those haters’ joylessness and severe lack of imagination when it comes to what they think music ought to be. Perhaps, instead of commenting on Youtube videos, they should occupy themselves with something constructive.

Sure, it wasn’t his finest moment. In case you’re wondering, that moment was this:

Anyway, during my brief time living with the guy under my roof, we created a couple of collaborations. I shared the first one of them, a remix of a song by clipping., on this blog last year.

What I didn’t post – because you know, I like to let things get really old before I mention them, so that I can I have the least potent promotional impact – was this track. Called “The Saga Never Ends,” it’s a JB Mixtape jam that includes some really messy guitar work by me.

The video stars Valerie, a very nice dog.

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Crazy Kids (Ke$ha cover)

I’m normally a huge Ke$ha fan, but the original version of this song is just bad. She nailed the affirmation anthem with “We R Who We R” but “Crazy Kids” is so bland. The worse part is the verse from, which I left completely out of my cover version. This guy is known for ripping off other artist’s tracks, dumbing them down, and making huge hits. Yet somehow, on “Crazy Kids,” he manages to sound like a hacky facsimile of himself. Truly incredible in its badness.

I recorded this cover on Christmas Day and it was included on Mabson Enterprises’ Now That’s What I Call Mabson 2013 compilation.

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Lay All Your Love on Me (ABBA cover)

Why do we cover songs? What’s the point?

I hate it when I hear a cover song that sounds either a.) just like the original or b.) like it’s the result of a too-formulaic transposition of a performer’s established aesthetic onto another artist’s jam, like Limp Bizkit doing “Faith” or Reel Big Fish doing “Take on Me.”

If you want to do a precise version of a Green Day song in your bar band or drop a no-frills acoustic cover of “Driver 8” into your set at the coffee shop, that’s cool. But if you’re recording a cover, you should attempt to something to it or at least bring something out of what’s already there that is worth looking at more closely. By saying that I think that covers should “add something,” I’m not saying that artists should try and surpass the original versions because that’s likely to be a futile goal. But each recorded cover needs a reason to exist, even if it’s slight.

So for for what slight reason does this cover exist?

“Lay All Your Love on Me” is about jealousy, but the subtext is that it’s not condemnatory. I wanted to revel in the jealousy, as if it was a sublime pleasure, and I determined that I could do so with stark production that emphasized dark, crawling vocals. For a bit, it had no beat — just piano and bass sounds. But in the end, I added percussion to help keep it interesting through the duration and to (hopefully) keep it on the side of sultriness rather than creepiness.

The original version of this song is about as hard as ABBA gets. Mine is a little less club-ready, but I still hope it’s danceable.

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Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Is “Dancing in the Dark” about trying to get with a girl? Obviously it is. The lyrics are pretty clear. But I hear what I want to hear with songs, I guess. I didn’t really put that part together until I covered the song and actually thought about it.

Until then, I just kind of fixated on the title, being “sick of sitting ‘round here trying to write this book” and “there’s something happening somewhere, baby I just know there is.” I always just thought it was a song about feeling stalled and restless in general, which speaks to me. I guess the love thing’s pretty universal, too.

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People Like Us (Talking Heads cover)

“People Like Us” is at the emotional core of David Byrne’s 1985 film True Stories. The movie is about a town in Texas and how all of its colorful characters are preparing for the town’s 150th anniversary. Perhaps the most charismatic of these characters is Louis, a lonely man played by a then-unknown John Goodman who spends the movie trying to find love via a video dating service. Louis is adorably pathetic, and Goodman is as good as ever in the role.

This song, which the character is supposed to have composed, is an ode to desperation: “We don’t want freedom, we don’t want justice, we just want someone to love.” He mentions picking up the phone, giving the impression that the “us” in the refrain literally refers to Louis and his fellow dial-a-daters. In one scene, he petrifies a woman by singing it to her, a capella, in her living room.

“It’s awful sad,” she says. “I couldn’t have that sort of sadness in my life. Do you really feel that way?”

“I never thought about it,” he replies after a stammer. His look is genuinely quizzical before there’s a flash of realization: “Maybe I am kinda sad. I like sad songs.”

He looks downward.

“They make me want to lie on the floor.”

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Omnichords I Like

Often, the instruments that we use color the sounds that we make.

Well, I mean… obviously! But it goes beyond just timbre or style. We all have certain ways of interacting with our different instruments, and this can impact melodic or harmonic choices as well. On a piano, for example, I’m more inclined to write in C-major because I’m not really that good with piano but it sure is easy to only hit white keys. On guitar, though, I’m much more fluid with key — in part because I’m better at it but in part because of the nature of the instrument; changing key on guitar is usually as simple as moving up or down a few frets.

omnichord_om300 Then there’s the Omnichord, this fun little guy from Suzuki.

I’ve had limited applications for the Omnichord since I bought it a few years ago, but I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. It’s mostly good for flourishes, but it also has an interesting songwriting function because the layout renders all chords equal.

With two hands on the chord buttons (if you just forget about the magical strum pad, which must’ve seemed incredibly impressive pre-iPad), you can find yourself completely liberated from key. Every chord is always in reach — you’re not only encouraged to leap out of key, but you’re enabled by the fact that there’s no mechanical challenge involved.

Hence, this little instrumental.

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So this happened…

So Sarah dumped me last week.

I know! I was surprised too. Actually, she did it on Wednesday, the same day that I posted that sweet little rock song about missing her. Our hearts and our minds were in different places, apparently.

I’m okay. The world isn’t over and I’m sure I’ll be back on my feet and for a lot of reasons I’m excited about the future. I’m still sad though, of course. We were together for four and a half years, almost, and our lives are interwoven. I certainly invested a lot in the relationship.

And that’s all I’m going to say. This isn’t Livejournal. I will, however, share this song.

I didn’t write this song for this situation. I have written a few of those – obviously, because that’s how I deal with everything – but I’ve not satisfactorily recorded them yet. Soon! I did write this at a similarly sullen time; I believe it was 2006. It taps into a certain mood that I’ve been rolling around in.

Tyler and I recorded this at his parents’ cabin in Pinecrest, California using a combination of Garageband and a really fancy dictation tape recorder from the Seventies or Eighties.

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Another collaboration

It took me way too long to post this, but that’s no excuse to not post it. I’ve got a backlog of things that I’ve done but not written about, and it’s time to start going through them.

A while ago, I noticed this band on Soundcloud called Lovevalley. They’re from Tokyo. I thought they had cool music, and then I noticed that they’d “liked” a couple of my songs.

I’d always wanted to collaborate with a stranger over the Internet, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try something like that. So, I messaged Lovevalley and they ended up sending me Garageband stems of this song that the singer, Tokimune, wrote a long time ago but never finished to his satisfaction.

I played a little bit of guitar, made the beat, added effects to the parts the band sent me, and sightly rearranged the order of the parts. We exchanged messages back and forth the whole time, with him giving me feedback as I tweaked the production.

It was so fun. I like collaboration in general, but doing it over wires and waves with people in Japan was very special. And it really shows the power of music as a community-maker.

Here is what we did:

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Vanity Projects at LA Zine Fest

UnknownI’m very excited to be tabling at LA Zine Fest! It’s like, the coolest event in town. Every year they attract so many talented artists and publishers, and it’s a real honor to be involved this time around.

Here is an interview that they did with me for their blog.

The Fest is tomorrow at Helms Bakery in LA.

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This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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