Dead Sloth – A new video from the Happy Gland Band

The Happy Gland dirigible is looking quite festive draped in all its poly-cobwebbed, orange belighted glory. Let’s just hope the fire marshal doesn’t find out and shut us down.

After we decorated the dirigible with gourd after gourd after bat-shaped piece of confetti, Jared and I decided to record one of our deeper, more emotional waltes, DEAD SLOTH. We also had some spare wigs lying around, and decided to make good use of them. Hence the video you see above.

Happy Halloween!

You Don’t Know Jack Shit About Auditioning: What I Learned When I Auditioned for ‘American Idol’

Old Town Gazebo - Sage Harrington

The gazebo in Old Town Albuquerque, where the “American Idol” auditions took place, and where I have played ohsomany times. Yeah, it felt weird to be there on different terms. Photo courtesy of Joel Kramer.

Originally published at Pyragraph.

I’m not sure if the internet needs my American Idol audition story. (This American Idol audition story already lives online, after all.) I don’t know if you need me to recount a day I spent mostly standing in a line that was not as long as it would have been in, say, 2004. I mean, they brought the American Idol bus to Albuquerque? As one of my friends said, “Their ratings really must have fallen if they’re coming here.”

My mom was the one who told me about the American Idol audition. Of course my mom thinks I should go to the American Idol audition.

Tons of people think that American Idol is one of the only surefire ways to a career in music. Ain’t necessarily so, and I’m assuming you also think there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Er, earn a living making songs.

But I kept thinking about it. I thought about how Amanda Palmer promoted a contestant of The Voice in her blog. And I thought, hey, if Amanda Palmer is endorsing a certain lady competing in a teevee show and if other independent artists are using it as a platform to increase their visibility, it might be worth looking into.

So I read the gross waiver they make you sign. They say things like this, but in legalspeak:

  • We are allowed to say defamatory things about you!
  • We may require you to sign other creepy documents!
  • We own any video taken of you and will pay no royalties on any original material you perform!

So this is where the hey-I’m-an-indie-I’m-in-control-of-everything-including-my-extremely-small-mailing-list thing butts up against corporate-town. Who’s in charge, if they let you in? Not you.

Oh, and they also encourage you to bring the waiver yourself, because they have “limited supplies” of it at the audition site. Bullshit. They want to cut down on their paper costs. I can’t blame them for this. I want them to cut down on their paper costs, too, but not for the benefit of their coffers, but for the benefit of, you know, the earth.

I decided to go in spite of this.

I got up early and stood in a line in the rain, feeling waves and waves of nervousness crash down upon me. This happened because I am no expert at taking auditions. I hardly ever feel nervous performing in my little town of Albuquerque anymore—our community is so small, and the venues I play at so familiar, that I can hardly ever get my adrenal glands worked up, ironically enough. So it was nice to practice managing that type of anxiety. I don’t know that I did that great of a job.

At the end of the day four of us were there at the head of the line and we were—gasp!—sent before one of the two ominous tents where the—what to call them?—magical glowing beings sat, who bestow upon you the blessing of Talented! or Not Talented!

You are a singer. You stand on painted tape. You step forward and hand your creepy paperwork to the magical auditioner being, who is really just a person. The other three step back onto their strips of tape. You stay, plink your ukulele, sing this song, and you quickly realize that you don’t know jack shit about auditioning.

I chose exactly the wrong song, I think, to sing in front of exactly the wrong judge, (need I say this next part?) in exactly the wrong competition.

Of course I spent the next day or two mulling over the auditioner man’s comments. “You have a soft, pretty voice, but we are looking for more developed voices…” What does this even mean? What am I supposed to do with this information? I tried to take it as constructive criticism, but I really don’t know if I even should, when it’s certainly a canned phrase he uses endlessly in his line of work.

Here’s the moral of my story: I realized that if I actually want to audition for something again, I gotta get my shit together. I gotta practice and talk to people who know what the fuck they’re doing. I gotta go to auditions, and take them, and get rejected, and then do more. This is what actors do all the time.

So, I’m not sure if I’ll want to, or feel the need to, do a cattle call audition like this again. Honestly, making DIY videos in my home is probably a better use of my time. But if I do, at least I’ll know a little bit better what I so didn’t know this time around.

Happy Almost First Birthday, Flooded Away!

Almost a year ago, the Happy Gland Band dirigible alighted from these desert soils and carted Jared, George Michael, Daphne, and I off to our very first CD release party! We had a grande olde time and just remembering it causes us to pull out our vintage 1970s print avacado green handkercheifs to wipe away the nostalgic little tears in our eyes.

So, drawing ever nearer to the first birthday of our very own first CD we made together, we’d like to bake it a cake and share this Bandcamp player with you.

A Happy Gland Band Ode to Columbus Day

You can buy this song here.

Columbus wasn’t just a brave and smart navigator, he was also a raping, murdering, genocide-committing piece of shit who deserves a Happy Gland Band song to be written about him. With much vulgarity.

I quoted from Inga Muscio’s Autobiography of A Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society liberally in writing the lyrics for this song:

We all know the story
We know what we’ve been told
Columbus, he was brave and smart and worth his weight in gold
But here is something I didn’t know
I wasn’t taught back in the day
It was quite a revelation to learn
To hear somebody say

Columbus was an asshole
A wholesale piece of shit*
This holiday’s a total sham
Let’s do away with it
Imagine your nine year old daughter
Sold as a sex slave**
What a fine thing to celebrate
This Columbus Day

S—Hey Jared—you know what I feel like doing this October 13?
J—What’s that, Sage?
S—Oh, you know, just getting in on a little US-Government-sanctioned celebration of someone who raped, murdered, and started a pattern of genocide of indigenous people that we’ve kept up over the past five hundred years.
J—You don’t mean Columbus, do you?!? I thought everyone loved Columbus!
S—Well, in 2011, Venezuelans tore down a huge statue of him and renamed Columbus Day, “The Day of Indigenous Resistance.”*
J—But that’s in Venezuela!
S—Actually, the Seattle school board just voted to rename Columbus Day “Indigenous Peoples Day.”***

Columbus was an asshole
A wholesale piece of shit*
This holiday’s a total sham
Let’s do away with it
Imagine you tried to escape him
And were fed to a dog the next day**
What a fine thing to celebrate
This Columbus Day

J—But Sage, Columbus Day has been a treasured family tradition for hundreds of years!
S—Actually, the Knights of Columbus, an all-male Catholic organization, convinced FDR to make it a national holiday back in the 1930s.**
J—But Sage, Columbus opened the door to a whole new world!
S—Yeah, for the Europeans who were interested in totally dominating the people who had lived here for 14,000 years.**
J—So Columbus Day is really just a bunch of white supremacist bullshit!
S—Now you’ve got it!

Columbus’s filthy white supremacist boots*
Never touched dirt we now call American*
So can somebody tell me why we here in the USA
Are honoring his memory today?

Columbus was an asshole
A wholesale piece of shit*
This holiday’s a total sham
Let’s do away with it
Imagine an entire nation
Worked, diseased to death*
In the words of Inga Muscio:
Fuck Columbus Day*

*quoted or paraphrased from the first chapter of Inga Musico’s really excellent book which you should totally read now, Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society
**paraphrased/sourced from The Oatmeal’s Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not)
***source: The Colbert Report on Columbus Day

For your interest:

An Ode to Columbus Day - Happy Gland Band

You can buy this song here, if you think that’s what you might be into.

The Souls of Unfinished Songs

Jared and I made this song—in a minor key, how unusual for the Happy Gland Band!—about what happens when the souls of the undead, irreconcilable songs haunt you. You can buy this song here, if that’s what you’re into.

The Souls of Unfinished Songs

A plague of red-eyed gnats 
Comes down upon me 
Drinks the tears from my eyes 
Sip, sip, sip 
Tiny feet upon my skin 
The rush of wings in the air 
All hope is gone 
For the souls of those unfinished songs 

The wings of a hundred bats 
Bring in darkness and strife 
Whipping up what I’d tamp down 
Cruel, dark, cold 
The ravens come on the wing 
From their perch of despair 
All hope is gone 
For the souls of those unfinished songs 

They hover around my ears 
Black wings beating 
Draining all hope from my heart 
Wishing they’d take to the sky 
I wish them away 
But can’t let them go 
The souls of those unfinished songs

Sage’s Show and Tell: A Chat With Meredith and Melinda Wilder

I met with my good friend Meredith Wilder, who brought along my other good friend (and her very own twin) Melinda Wilder, for show-and-tell time. Then came fun park music plus chatting about various things, including what it’s like when your twin is the other member of your very own brand new duo, called Plain Jane Glory.

How To Sell Songs Online: A Beginner’s Guide to Licensing Cover Songs

So, last time we talked about distributing your music online. But if you’re doing cover songs (like this one here that I did, looky looky, buy buy buy) you gotta make it all legal and shit. So let’s talk licensing!

I’ve talked previously about PROs here, here, and here, and the thing is, if you’re doing a cover song, the songwriter has to get paid. I hadn’t the faintest clue how that mysterious process could take place until I listened to an interview given by (guess what, it’s someone I’ve never mentioned before! and certainly not here on Pyragraph) Pomplamoose’s Nataly Dawn, wherein she says, “People think that all of these things have to be done by geniuses behind huge desks or at the top of skyscrapers, but you can just go online and do it yourself.”

The site you’ll want to visit, in order to do this thing—license your cover song—that could previously only be done by geniuses with expensive furniture, is Or LimeLight. There are doubtless more mechanical license clearing companies out there that I don’t know about.

So, now what? Which licenses am I supposed buy? If you are, like me, doing a purely digital release, you’ll probably want to go for “Interactive Streaming,” and “Digital Downloads (DPDs).”

These categories are pretty self-explanatory. “Interactive Streaming” refers to your YouTube and Spotify-type plays. Your license-facilitating-company will ask you how many times you think your video will be streamed over the next twelve months. Here’s the part where you estimate low, because you’re going to pay a certain percentage of a penny or something for every stream you estimate. If people end up playing your song more than you expected, you can renew your license later.

Oh, and why should you do this? YouTube is plastered with unlicensed cover songs, so why should you bother paying the fees? Everyone and their mother’s cat has covered songs in their bathroom, in their bathrobes, on their ukulele, and posted them to YouTube. Seems like people (YouTube regulators and the copyright holders themselves) are usually pretty lax on all this, but they could still take your video down at any time if, for example, the copyright holder complains.

Onward! You still have one more type of license to pay for. Your “Digital Download” license is for the iTunes-type music store. Again, you’ll want to estimate low on how many you might sell, and you can renew later on if you need to.

And at this point, I’ve got a question for you, intergalactic-hive-mind-interweb-brain. Who polices this whole licensing thang? Is it mainly the copyright holders? Their PROs? Some other strange, mysterious shadow entity? If you know, please enlighten me (like, comment below).

The only thing that (cheap-o me) wants to mention about this whole process is the $15-$16 fee they’ll charge you per type of license, per song. It feels weird paying a bunch o’ fees that significantly outweigh the actual license, i.e. the mulah that’ll eventually make it to the songwriter you’re so in musical love with. I paid over $30 in fees and about $6 or so in licenses. Cognitive dissonance.

On the other hand, I’m happy to know how this process works. I’m finally modeling my music self after Pomplamoose, which I’ve been wanting to do for ever so long. I’m just glad I’ve finally done it. This is just the beginning, friends, just the beginning.

Originally published at Pyragraph.

On Maggots and Music Boxes, Among Other Things

Chickens, maggot-destroyers - Sage Harrington

A few of the heartless creatures that committed unimaginable atrocities against helpless swathes of compost-pile maggots.

Here at the Happy Gland Ranch, things are getting interesting in the compost pile. We’ve been feeding chickens obscenely disgusting (or exceedingly delicious, depending upon whose perspective we’re dealing with) maggots from the compost pile. We draw them out with halves of (sadly) rotten melons (yes, we’ve had more than one of those, recently, sigh), which we think are obscenely disgusting, but the maggots think are exceedingly delicious. Then it’s a simple process of scooping the intensely wriggling, obscenely disgusting, exceedingly delicious maggot-melon-pile out of the metal cage in which the compost lives, at which time the chickens attack each maggot with extreme precision.

I like to sit and imagine their chicken bellies filled with almost-wriggling maggots, don’t you?

Here’s something really cool. If you stick your face next to the compost pile in the dark, quiet evening time, you can hear the delightful wettish wrigglings of about a bajillion quadrillion grubby creatures sliming through dead leaves, our rotten food and their own shit. What a life, what a life.

In other news, I spent the better part of the day, a few days ago, slaving over a hot music box. Something that occurred to me only after said music box arrived in the mail was that I had signed myself up for an extremely tedious task. You gotta take this really long strip of cardstock and punch about a gajillion holes in it, paying attention to the grid printed on the card, knowing about notes (which are, of course, written on the card as being a fifth above the note you actually hear—because of infallible reasons, I am sure), being aware of the meter, and just generally being on top of things, which is sometimes a problem for me.

I used approximately a mile of tape to cover holes that I wish I hadn’t punched. This is interesting because once you apply a certain amount of shiny tape to this cardstock, it won’t feed though the box nicely. It can’t get enough traction. There are also the teensiest tiniest circles of cardstock all over the floor and the piano, and tiny scotch tape circles stuck to my hands. What a life, what a life.

A word to the wise: start off with a song that maybe isn’t in a blues shuffle. Or, know what measures and notes are and how they might appear on the cardstock before you begin. Oh, and definitely do this rather than washing the dishes or investigating that suspicious odor emanating from the fridge.

Thankfully, I found that there is, in fact, an app to cure almost all of my box-related woes. Hurrah! Though I can’t say for certain that this eliminates the need for scotch tape, I wlil say that it makes the experimentation phase much less messy.

In other, other news, we have recently invited yet another creature to reside with us here at the Happy Gland Ranch. This is an exceptionally snuggly four year old cat who has spent some of his time here digging with unabashed exuberance in the kitty litter (provided for his use in a thrift-store baking pan with slighty-too-low sides, sigh). Last evening he went for to explore our vast (aka, teensy) front yard through the window Jared had opened in order to listen in on an exciting argument a couple of our charming neighbors were engaged in. But, really, the cat has spent the majority of his first week here sleeping inside our futon. I believe it is very secluded and cozy in there.

And, in closing, let me share with you something completely different: a way to make phunky musak online, my friends. Yes, it’s everything you’ve been waiting for. An online keyboard you can play with your keyboard. It’s very intuitive to people who actually play the piano. Wait. It’s actually really not intuitive to people who play the piano. I spent an inordinate amount of time the other night composing a story, and by extension, a pretty badass (bad? assinine?) atonal creation.

It made me feel really artsy.

How to Sell Songs Online: A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Distribution

iTunes artwork - Sage Harrington

Look, that’s your album. Over there. On that person’s computer screen. Courtesy of Brett Jordan.

I just released my first digital single (looky, looky! buy buy buy!) and I am very excited. I am so waiting for all that sweet cash to roll in. (Yeah, mostly still waiting.) I had never released a song online until just recently. This was a huge mental hurdle for me; I had no idea how to get it done. Since I figured I couldn’t be the only one wandering through the foggy land of confusion, I wanted to share what I learned. As you’ll notice, both my first and second albums, which exist in physical CD format, also exist on the internet (hence the links). This is because the people who made my CDs have magical powers. Not only do they poke tiny holes in plastic discs that make noise when placed in the correct receptacles, they can also change the pixels—change the internet—by merely thinking their thoughts. 

At least, I think that’s how they do it. Lacking this kind of magical prowess, I had a few questions: What if I wanted to go the Pomplamoose route, and not press any discs? Pomplamoose (a band I love for both their music and their business model) has never pressed a disc. So, how did they do this? They probably used a service like this. I resisted the idea of using a service like this for a long time, being the cheap-o (er, not cheap-o, frugal-o!) that I am. I was willing to do a little extra work to avoid extra costs! Sadly, I learned that a company like iTunes won’t even talk to you about selling your music unless you’ve got 20 albums or more in your repertoire, and even then they make no promises to sell your music.

But lucky for us, a bunch of companies have worked out secret, perhaps dark deals with companies like iTunes, so we indies have an in! Seems like we gotta go with the middleman on this one. Obviously, these middlemen are going to charge you money. Which one will get you the best deal? Ari will tell you. This seems to be the general pattern: Some places take a cut of your sales when you make them. Other places charge an annual fee. Depending on the volume of music you’re selling, one or the other might be a better deal for you. The not-annual-fee variety is definitely the better deal for me, cause at this point I ain’t selling much.

Alternatively, if you didn’t feel like your songs had to be on evvvvery single damn online music platform (although someone like Ari Herstand would say you should) for whatever reason, you could just simply upload your tunes to a site like Bandcamp for no money down at all. This is what Jonathan Mann does. He’s got a really interesting process: He writes a song a day and posts it to YouTube. Seems he uploads every single song to Bandcamp but saves digital distribution for his full albums and EPs.

Musicians like Ari Herstand and Pomplamoose, who, you know, don’t have as giant a raft of music to be selling, seem to have all of their songs available on all platforms. But if you don’t feel like you need your shit on iTunes (like, if it would be prohibitively expensive to pay for digital distribution for each and every one of your 365 songs a year) then don’t. That’s the cool thing about this career. Do what makes sense; you don’t have to waste your time on things that seem like a waste of time. Yay! If you’re only interested in releasing original songs, you can stop reading here. But if you wanna do covers, you’re not done yet.

Next time we’ll talk licensing.

News Roundup: the latest from Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band

I wanted to collect some of our latest videos together in case you’d missed ‘em.

Walking: a new video from the Happy Gland Band

Buy this song on iTunes!

We at the Happy Gland Band are proud to announce the release of our latest blockbuster video hit, Walking. Starring my glue-stick-encrusted hands, construction paper, and the highest quality posterboad known to mankind. Intrigued? Read the “true” story of the video’s creation here.

If I Had You: another new video from the Happy Gland Band

Buy this song online!

We also decided to finally record If I Had You, the prettiest song in our repertoire that was written, interestingly enough, by someone else (three someone elses, rather: James Campbell, Reginald Connelly, and Ted Shapiro, who went collectively by “Irving King,” who is not Irving Berlin—confused yet? I am!) in 1928.

Plus, I been blogging!

I have been blogging about many things lately. I am very proud of myself for writing stuff down and hitting “publish.” I wrote about reading a badass book about racism and buying eyeglasses I don’t need. I wrote about learning some circus skills this summer. As I previously mentioned, I wrote about the “real” behind-the-scenes action of our latest video.

I’m currently writing a blog post about compost-pile maggots and their relationship to chickens, a new cat that has taken up residency in our futon, and a thousand tiny cardstock circles, marking the death of my dreams in this whole make-your-own-music-box-tune charade.

September shows:

Sunday, September 7, 4:30pm, Animales Animados, Tiguex Park, Albuquerque, NM
***This is a circus thing! You should come to it! It’ll be super fun!

Friday, September 12, 7:00pm, Charlie’s Spic and Span, Las Vegas, NM
a Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band show

Sunday, September 14, 11:00-noon, Urban Farm and Harvest Fest at Open Space Visitor’s Center, Albuquerque, NM
a Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band show

Sunday, September 28, 3:00-4:00pm, Old Town Gazebo, Albuquerque, NM
Walkingly yours,