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The Monas: 1/12/2016

I am walking down memory lane this evening. Care to join me? I am thinking about my old band The Monas. In 1983, my two sisters and my brother and I found ourselves living together in the same city after seven years of living on opposite sides of the country. I was 18; I was so happy to be with them again, we were in Los Angeles, MTV was blowing our minds, and our mom had a garage.. How could we not start a band?


Our first gig was a Mormon dance. We played for three hours. We knew exactly five songs. I am not kidding.  I know for sure three of the songs were, “You Better Be Good To Me,” “Summer of ’69,” and “Leader of the Pack.”  There were two more, original songs I think. We played those same songs for three hours. The only reason I mention we were playing for Mormons is that they don’t drink, so they were fully cognizant of our repertoire. Thankfully, Mormons are also a peace-loving people, so they didn’t kill us.


Soon after that maiden voyage, my 14-year-old-bass-player sister, in a move that proved her to be wise beyond her years, quit the band. My brother got his friend Aaron to replace her and off we went. We set our sights on making a splash in the Los Angeles music scene.


We spent the next bunch of years working our way up the food chain. We played anywhere and everywhere that would have us. Eventually we ended up at places like the Roxy, the Whisky, the Troubadour, and Club Lingerie in Hollywood; at the Old Towne Pub in Pasadena; and downtown at Al’s Bar.


First we had a manager named John Dallas who bought us clothes on Melrose Avenue. He regaled us with stories about Poison (he was Poison’s first manager). He drank a case of Pepsi a day. He once died and was dead for over two hours. At least that’s what he said. Don’t judge us. You’d be surprised how ubiquitous that kind of guy is in Los Angeles. He booked us at festivals and made us dress how he thought we should dress…I had to look like a Robert Palmer girl.


Next we had a manager named Bob who had one of his fingers missing at the 2nd knuckle. He had a tattoo of a fingernail on his knuckle. He lived in a commune in downtown L.A. and we played at some of his parties. I believe our relationship ended when he heard one of our songs on the radio and tried to sue us because he thought we were making a lot of money.


We got a regular gig playing at Camp Pendleton every Thursday. Marines are not like Mormons. We knew a lot of songs by then, but we weren’t Metallica. And so after they drank about 15 beers they got upset when we couldn’t play Metallica songs. Every week. After a couple months of the weekly drive to base, we realized we never got paid. The booking agent was not answering our calls. Taking matters into our own hands, we drove to her apartment in the San Fernando Valley with a couple big guys and a baseball bat. She wasn’t home, her husband wouldn’t give us any money, and we didn’t know what else to do. So we just went home, and stayed home the next Thursday, thus ending our tour of duty in Oceanside.


Finally, we had a manager named Jonathan who introduced us to Tim Burton. Jonathan was very wealthy because of his boyfriend, and he was really well connected. I remember we sat in Tim Burton’s office on the Warner Brothers lot and he asked us if he could direct our first video. Uh, yes, we said. He asked us if we could wait until he was done directing Batman II. Uh, yes, we said.  Fate had different plans. Jonathan passed away soon after that meeting, and our Warner Brothers dreams went with him.


We soldiered on. We made a CD and an EP. We kept playing shows. We learned about perseverance and we learned about human nature. We never got a record deal and our mother couldn’t park in her garage for almost ten years. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic way to spend the eighties.

Sitting and Thinking: Does it work?: 1/5/2016

It is January in the 716. I don’t have any shows scheduled until April. I was sick for around two months. As you can see, this has been the perfect setting in which to write songs. But unfortunately, writing songs doesn’t work like that. The idea is, you think a lot, you notice things, and then the beginnings of songs start to emerge. No such luck for Al Pipitone on January 5, 2016. It’s a desert in here. I have experienced great success with the thinking component, but it’s not the right kind of thinking.  I’ll give you two examples of my recent thinking (that is to say, so far today):


“Why is ice heavier than water? I know I learned why at some point, but I can’t remember. And besides, it doesn’t make any sense. Ice should weigh the same as water. I get that steam is lighter, but is it really? If you could concentrate steam the same as water or ice, wouldn’t the weight be the same?”


Or, here’s another one (after walking past a 75% Off wrapping paper bin as I walked out of Rite Aid this morning): “All the leftover Christmas wrapping paper has a tan background. Obviously. Who designs the patterns that go on wrapping paper? That would be kind of a fun job, designing wrapping paper. Or would it? Were they art majors? Do the people who design wrapping paper worry about their place in the world? Or do they wake up every workday, bright eyed, excited to get in there and get designing? That would be awesome. Are there conferences for wrapping paper designers where they give out awards? Oh look, here’s my car.”


I don’t think I can pull off songs about science, so the ice, water, and steam theme is not an option. And the song about the wrapping paper designers? Well, that would just be about- A) pursuing your dreams, or B) being disappointed with your life. Western Civilization doesn’t need any more of those songs.


            So here I sit, just thinking. Sitting and thinking. Typically not a good recipe for landing yourself on Shark Tank.  My father noticed this proclivity of mine many moons ago – when I was 16 years old. That day I got the Italian motivational speech, which mostly just boiled down to yelling:


“AL!! Get out there and get a job!! You’ve got to get out there and DO something!! Do you think you can just open the window and a man will be walking down the street saying, “JOBS!!!! JOBS!!!!! Get your jobs here!!!!!!”? 


After that, there were many days when I was sitting on the couch, staring into space, and he’d walk by with one word: “JOBS!!!!!” Point taken, Roy-Boy. Sadly, instead of taking his sage (albeit condescending) advice, I opted to spend much more time in my bedroom.


I know I am lucky to have the luxury of sitting and thinking. Believe me, I appreciate it. But that doesn’t make it any more fruitful. Well, back at it, as they say. But I’ll leave you with a little tidbit, which may or may not end up in a song:


How many stars

How many low clouds

How many long nights

Deep in the rain

How many barking dogs

See? You’ve got to hang on


How's this for an idea?!?!?: 9/26/2014
We have a new album coming out in about a week or so.... It's called One Fine Minute. Do you know WHY it's called One Fine Minute? Well, because every single song on the album (15 of them) - is one minute or less!  I had been thinking about time, and modern forms of communication, and well -it's a long story -nevertheless, I asked everyone in the band if they wanted to try to write one minute songs. They all said yes (!) - they all wrote, and so did I. I have to say, it was a REALLY fun project, and the songs are complete...that was our challenge- to write really short songs that feel like complete songs, not just clips. Interested in hearing it? We are doing downloads only. For $7 (you can only download the entire album, not individual songs) - Anyway, look for it in a week or so on this website, on FB, on cdbaby.com, iTunes, and lots of other places!
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