Geoff Geis

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Say Hello to Soft Sailors

I am delighted to announce that I have a new band, Soft Sailors! Our music is this post, but you have to scroll down to hear it!

We're performing at Pehrspace on Friday, May 30.

We’re performing at Pehrspace on Friday, May 30.

We’ve got our first shows coming up. The very first one, at LA’s esteemed Pehrspace, is this Friday, May 30. It’s being presented by Mountair and will feature Galaxy Kat, Untoward Children, and Flight Crew as well as us. Why don’t you RSVP on Facebook while you wait eagerly for it to start?

So who are these Soft Sailors? What is our story, and how is it that we sound?

Perhaps you remember the band Pizza!, of which I was a member for several years. We were five best friends and the band was a truly collaborative experience — we were all in our mid-twenties, in that fun space between college and real life, and we lived together and were constantly being creative together. At the same time, I was in a band called Big Whup with a similar background and process and a similar personal bond — we even got matching tattoos!

But you know how it goes, don’t you? Time, proximity, and the trials and tribulations of growing up cause people to move apart. Eventually the halcyon days gave way to interpersonal drama, and eventually we stopped being able to operate the way we used to.

Pizza! was a sick band, and by the way no one ever booed us offstage during our entire run -- fuck you, Culkin! [photo by Jed Johnson]

Pizza! was a sick band, and by the way no one ever booed us offstage during our entire run — fuck you, MacCaulay Culkin! [photo by Jed Johnson]

With Pizza!, we stopped living together and creating became a chore. We held on, in name only, for a while, before officially calling it quits in 2011 with an album (We Come from the Swamp, available here on Spotify) yet to be released. With Big Whup, the other singer decided that she wanted to focus on other things but didn’t bother to say anything  — I read about her decision secondhand in LA Record.

The whole thing was depressing.

Both bands had something pretty special, and we even had a little bit of momentum. Each group went out with a fizzle, rather than a bang.

Here's what I looked like when I was with So Many Wizards. In this photo, I'm Frank Maston. [David Uzzardi]

Here’s what I looked like when I was with So Many Wizards. In this photo, I’m Frank Maston. [Photo by David Uzzardi]

Anyway, in the ensuing years I kept doing music. I made a solo album, Princess, by finishing up some scraps of songs that I’d written for Pizza! and Big Whup but that never got produced due to our calcifying process. I played bass in my friends’ band, So Many Wizards, for about a year — we toured England and made a pretty cool record, Warm Nothing. I also started spending a lot of time creating covers and instrumentals to upload to my SoundCloud account, which started to build a bit of a following and helped me connect with musicians around the world.

All of those experiences were really fun and educational, but I must admit that none of them gave me the same thrill that I got from collaborating so hard with my best friends in Pizza! and Big Whup. As the time passed, I started to wonder if I even should continue making music at all. When I left So Many Wizards, I was intending to bow out and do something else – maybe even leave Los Angeles. I was working with Pizza!’s drummer Tyler on an album of solo songs that I thought would be my farewell to music as an attempted career.

Tyler doesn't look anything like this now, but he did once.

Tyler doesn’t look anything like this now, but he did once.

One song for that album, “Shake it Up,” was an early Pizza! jam we’d never recorded. Most songs fall away after a while, but this one always kept coming back to me. It’s a song about turning away from dependence on a wrecked relationship, no matter how comforting you may be deluding yourself into thinking it is. Perhaps it keeps coming back to me because the premise keeps repeating itself in my life.

We decided to record it with Pizza!’s bassist, Alex. He did such a good job that we asked him to play bass on the rest of the record.

Duncan, at practice.

Duncan, at practice.

And then the Smell, which is the lynchpin of the entire Los Angeles DIY scene and one of our band’s chief inspirations and motivators, wanted us to reunite for their 16th birthday this January. We accepted the offer, and it felt so good to play again! As we prepared for the show, we all realized that we’d been missing each other’s energy. Duncan, who’d spent the ensuing years getting a Master’s Degree, started talking about writing together again.

Jenna, on bass.

Jenna, on bass.

This was around the same time that I started hanging out again with Jenna, the bassist of Big Whup, who had spent the years since that band’s demise getting a law degree and playing in a great new band called Sweet Bump It. She was really enthusiastic about the new songs we’d been working on and offered to help — which was perfect, because a couple of brutal world tours with Liars and Fol Chen had burned Alex out on the idea of doing anything other than recording.

So Jenna agreed to take the bass, not only solidifying rhythm section but infusing the whole project with both energy and professionalism. And that completed the lineup — Rand, who was in both Pizza! and Big Whup, is too busy being a robot genius at Jet Propulsion Laboratories to be too involved this time around; but fortunately he’s agreed to do engineering stuff for us. His first task is installing an electric pickup onto an acoustic banjo.

And now, we’ve got a handful of shows and a couple of songs.

Here’s the second song we released, called “Work Doesn’t Pay.” I wrote this one during that time I was telling you about earlier, when I was thinking about quitting music and ditching Los Angeles.

Lyrically, it’s a pretty heavy number and reflects some pretty heavy thoughts. I’m proud of it because it’s more direct and honest that I usually am, and clearer. The story’s there: I was demoralized. I’d come to this city because I thought I could accomplish things here, and I’d started to accomplish them but now they were crumbled and all I had left was this go-nowhere day job that I’d gotten in order to sustain myself as I tried to accomplish what I was no longer trying to accomplish.

Soft Sailors photo by Dalton Blanco.

Soft Sailors, from left to right: Tyler Sabbag, Jenna Eyrich, Geoff Geis, Duncan Thum. [Photo by Dalton Blanco]

That’s not where I am now — and I sure am glad. For one thing, the job’s better. But mostly, it’s really great to be playing with these guys again. And I’m really excited about the material.

What started as a farewell now seems like a new beginning. And thank goodness for that; as much as I wanted to try and do something else, I sure as hell couldn’t figure out what. Music just keeps calling!

So please come see us, and don’t put it off! We”ve got three shows coming up in rapid succession, and then we’re taking off for a couple of months while we complete more recordings, tend to our personal needs (Jenna’s even taking the bar exam), and find a publicist.

Here’s the schedule:

May 30: Soft Sailors at Pehrspace. With GalaxyKat, Untoward Children, Flight Crew. Presented by Mountair.

June 6: Soft Sailors on KXLU’s Demolisten. Streaming online from kxlu.com and on the air in LA at 88.9 FM between 6-8 pm PST.

June 13: Soft Sailors at the Smell. With Post Life and more. Presented by KXLU 88.9 FM.

Like Soft Sailors on Facebook for music, images, events, and nautically-themed jokes.

 

Filed under: geoff geis, get excited, music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One fewer Wizard

So, back in September I told So Many Wizards that I needed to leave the band. This Friday, January 18, marks my final appearance as bassist in SMW. We’re playing at the Smell, and we’d love it if you came. You can RSVP on Facebook.

Though necessary, my departure leaves me with a heavy heart. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with the Wizards, and I’m proud of the album that we made together. I’m also really glad I’ve had the opportunity to become great friends with such talented and warm people as Nima, Erik, Frank, and Melody. Even more than that, I’ve enjoyed playing for the most energetic and supportive group of fans I’ve ever known.

However, I’ve put a lot of my personal priorities – both musical and non-musical – on hold to be in this band. Now it’s time for me to return to them.

I wish nothing but the best for the Wizards! This band deserve all sorts of accolades, and I hope they’ll give me tickets to watch them be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2037.

Here is a video we made with director Walt Gorecki. Enjoy!

Filed under: so many wizards, Video, , ,

Pre-order “Warm Nothing” by So Many Wizards

Last October, I joined the band So Many Wizards. The guys in the band were my good friends, and I was a longtime fan of their music — I included their initial single “Fly a Kite” on the Big Whup Industries compilation I co-curated in 2009, and the next year I reviewed their album “Love Songs for When You Leave Me” for LA Record. They needed a new member around the same time that I was looking for a new band, so I lobbied singer Nima Kazerouni to let me in. Because they’d already added Frank Maston as a guitarist, I bought a bass and took to learning it. A couple of weeks later, I played my first show.

Since then, things have been pretty interesting. In January of this year, I started getting emails from Nima with acoustic guitar/drum sketches of songs I’d never heard — I’d listen to each song twice, write a bass line, record it directly into my computer, send it to Nima, and then get another song. I even had the pleasure of helping to produce one song, “Deep Down,” which required electronic drums. I don’t think that I even knew that we were recording an album until Nima said “it will be called Warm Nothing and it will be released this summer via JAXart.”

I was still dubbing parts on top of new tracks when the boys started mixing the songs with Niko Bolas at Capitol Records. The next thing I knew, it was early March and we were in a stranger’s kitchen in Liverpool sharing mastering notes via Skype with Richard Dodd. And then it was done. Other things have happened since then, but this is a post about the album so I’ll keep it at that.

So now it’s about to be released, and I’ve had a little bit of distance from the whirlwind recording — enough of a distance to actually listen to it and think about it. And it’s good. It’s cohesive, it’s compelling, and it’s brisk. If I were still outside of the band, I’d give it a glowing review.

Anyway — leading up to the August 7 release date, we’re offering a special deal to people who pre-order it on iTunes. Pre-order the album for $7.99, forward your receipt to somanywizards@gmail.com, and you’ll get bonus tracks including a B-side and some live versions from our UK tour.

Here’s a link to the iTunes pre-order.

We’ll be celebrating the release on August 18 at the Smell with some of our loveliest friends. Would you like to come? You can RSVP on Facebook.

Filed under: so many wizards, Uncategorized, , ,

Tonight!

What an all star lineup. Even if I wasn’t in So Many Wizards, I would attend this show. Come and get a peek of our new video, “I Like it Here,” directed by Walt Gorecki (who did an excellent job directing the video for my song “Jeremy” last year). This is the only chance to see the video before its official release!

RSVP on Facebook.

Filed under: Events, so many wizards, , , , , ,

New Exquisite Corpse-style EP from the members of So Many Wizards

Okay, so last week I regaled you with the illustrated story of So Many Wizards’ trip to the UK in March. Now, I bring the jams.

Much of the time on tour was spent in our van, which was ably piloted by Dave Buck of Bare Necessities Tours. While riding, we came up with an “Exquisite Corpse“-style game to pass the time. It went like this: one of us would make a beat and a simple melody using the iPad, and then that person would pass it to another person who’d layer a part over it, then pass it to another person, and another person, and so forth until we’d completed the circle. We ended up making five of these jams, which I present here.

In addition to the four members of So Many Wizards (Erik Felix, Nima Kazerouni, Frank Maston, and myself), these tracks include contributions from our good friend and videographer Sergio Munoz, Jr.:

Making these tracks was a special bonding experience. Just look at how excited Nima is as he builds his first loop!

We call this EP “Play ‘Fly a Kite!'” because people keep yelling that at us when we play shows back in the States.

We decided to call the project Geordie Shore because… well, DUH

Filed under: geoff geis, mp3, so many wizards, Video, , , , ,

Selected photos from Britain

Last month, I went on tour to Britain with So Many Wizards. It was fun!

We saw this guy rocking hard in the London Underground on our first night. I didn’t realize that he was missing a limb when I started videoing him.


The next day, we played our first show. Before we could play, we had to rent an amplifier using the Internet. We tried finding one on Facebook first, but we failed.

The Mexican food section at Sainsbury’s was predictably poor.

My favorite band of the trip was Brilliant Mind. We played with them at our second show, in Newcastle.


In Edinburgh, I saw a man playing with fire in the street.

Erik “changed over” at midnight in Edinburgh.

There was a Taco Bell at the mall in Manchester. We all decided to go because we’re all such fourth meal fanatics. Sadly, Taco Bell isn’t the same in Britain. My burrito was folded like an envelope, and the cheese was sharp cheddar! Everyone who ate the meat said that it tasted funny, but I think the beans were pretty normal. After that, Sergio and Nima decided to get apple pies at McDonald’s and it took a really long time. I didn’t get a picture of that.

After Taco Bell, we played a show. Sergio made a video of our soundcheck before that show. Boy, he can sure hold a camera steady!


Erik had a good birthday. That night, we went to a fast food restaurant and he was in such a good mood that he ate rice left behind by another customer. This video is from that night. We never drove.


In Leeds, Frank danced to R. Kelly.



I saw this sign in Liverpool.

This bird was hanging around near the “Elderly Crossing” sign. The seagull, not the fiddle-shaped bass guitar, is the official symbol of Liverpool.

Frank and I agreed that this was an example of “Too Much Information.”

The sleeping arrangements in Liverpool were not ideal. I had a hard time snoozing, but Erik, Frank, and Dave did just fine.

I saw this pink sparkly donut at a gas station when we were on our way to the airport on our last night. It reminded me of Sarah so I took a picture of it.

Filed under: geoff geis, so many wizards, Video, , , , ,

March 2012

Happy birthday, Shaq! (March 6)

My debit card has had the expiration date of March 2012 for as long as I can remember, which has made it seem like kind of a milestone for years even though I’ve not had any reason to think of the month as anything particularly special. It seemed very distant once, but like all expiration dates it’s now come and will soon pass. Hopefully my bank will remember to send me a new one.

Oh, but in the meantime March 2012 actually became a real milestone. Thanks to So Many Wizards, I’ll be in the United Kingdom next week participating in my first overseas tour. Immediately after that, we’ll be at South by Southwest. We’re really excited to be supporting “Lose Your Mind,” the first single from our new album Warm Nothing that will be released by JAXART soon:

Juiceboxxx has been crashing at my house for the past month, stressing about meeting his new goal to blog every single day. Apparently, some TED Conference speaker convinced him that blogging everyday is the key to making stuff happen. I buy the argument completely. I’m not prepared to publish something every day, but Juice’s blogging has inspired me to blog at least more regularly than I have been blogging. March 2012 seems like a fun place to start, so here I go. Starting next week, I’ll be posting dispatches from the road…

Check the rest of the post for tour dates.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: geoff geis, so many wizards, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Thanks KSPC

KSPC, the college station out in Claremont, has been awesome for as long as I can remember. But this year’s staff takes the cake! They’ve just released the results of the staff and listener “best of” polls for this year, and I’m really honored that they mentioned Princess as one of their favorite local albums from 2011. So Many Wizards also gets quite a few nods. Check it out!

Thanks again, KSPC! I hope to see more of y’all in the new year!

Filed under: geoff geis, princess, so many wizards, , , ,

What am I doing?

This month sees me returning, happily, to the grind of having performances all the time. I’ve got a lot of solo shows in November, including one to celebrate my first music video! I also started playing bass in So Many Wizards, and I’ve got a few performances with them. I’m very excited to be part of a group that has long been among my favorites.

Here’s the calendar:

Filed under: Events, ,

Update!

The picture above is from my show at Pehrspace on August 1st, which was the release party for my album Princess. It was an exciting show, and I’m really grateful for all the amazing people who came to see it. Sean Carnage has more photos on his website.

I’ve been doing a lot to promote the album, but probably the most fun thing has been this interview I gave to Mark Givens (of D.I.Y. heroes Wckr Spgt) for his massive electronic literary zine, MungBeing. Mark let me talk – a lot – about my musical history, my ideas about digital distribution, and Marcel Duchamp (of course). If you like that kind of stuff, you should read it! If not, you might want to check the nice little mp3 sampler that comes along with the interview – it includes some rare and unreleased jamz from my solo act, Big Whup, the New Motherfuckers, and Pizza!

Speaking of Pizza!, we just released this new video for our old song “Be a Man.” It was directed, beautifully, by our friend Blaine Ludy. When will we finally release new music? Sooner than you’d expect…

Oh yes, and there are also a couple of live shows to promote. One is this party at 5 Star Bar to celebrate the anniversary of the Summer Fun Time Society, an event production crew headed by my pal Vivian. You can RSVP on Facebook. Here’s a flyer for that one:

Finally, I’m organizing an event with FMLY on Saturday, Aug 27 at Tierra de la Culebra in Highland Park. It’s a “stripped-down” affair, and it will feature semi-acoustic performances by the likes of the Monolators, So Many Wizards, Dnonkong, Seasons, and Magick Orchids. You can also bring an instrument if you’d like to jam as well. Here’s the Facebook invitation. A flyer is forthcoming.

Filed under: Events, geoff geis, get excited, mp3, pizza, princess, Reviews, vanity projects, Video, , , , , , , , , , ,

About


I'm a musician and writer from Los Angeles. When I feel motivated, I use this website to share my creative output and give my thoughts on the world around me.

Vanity Projects

I release cassettes and zines under the Vanity Projects label; I've done things by myself and also things by friends. Visit Vanity Projects on Tumblr.

@GeoffGeis on Twitter

Music

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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