I'm Assuming You're All In Bands

by Tris McCall & The New Jack Trippers

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With the exception of one track, *I'm Assuming You're All In Bands: Tris McCall In Brooklyn* was recorded live at Grisly Labs in Jersey City and later mixed by Mike Flannery at his house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The conditions of its production mean that synthesizer mistakes and flat notes abound. What makes it an outlier in this group of albums, though, is its nasty tone. Where *Bottles* is blithe and *Shootout* is focused, *I'm Assuming You're All In Bands* is angry and chaotic, and propelled by a person (me) who could not have been very much fun to be around. If you were there, I'm sorry. If you weren't, this probably isn't the best place to start with Tris McCall.

Yet I really like it, and I don't want to dissuade you from hearing it. Rough as it is, I think it's good historical fiction. The turn-of-the-millennium Williamsburg I'm describing here is now a distant memory, and most of the people I knew who were involved in that scene have moved elsewhere. But even during the freewheeling era, I felt that we were trapped in a realtor's portfolio, and that the squeeze was getting tighter with each gig. I further suspected that many of us were being encouraged to become professional drunks and drug addicts in order to provide the zany local color that the city planners and marketers were counting on. So call this a protest album and forgive its sins -- because when I holler about my love for Brooklyn at the end of "Remember The Nineties", I'm not being facetious. I really do; enough to dedicate a thirteen-track harpsichord-rock meltdown to it.

Try these: "An Ass Of U And Me," "Nobody Wants Your Shit," "An American Tourist In Brooklyn"


released December 10, 2015

Some of the musicians involved in the project:

Drums: Robin Van Maarth
Bass: Sasha Alcott
Electric violin: Karen Meehan
Organ: Marisol Fuentes
Singing: Regan Solmo and Rachel Fishman
Harpsichord, synthesizer, and lead vocals: Tris McCall




Tris McCall Jersey City, New Jersey

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Track Name: The Clean Version
Can I get some more ambivalence in the monitors please? I blab into mikes -- it's a social disease. Now I sit here as the house band at Dorothy Parker's prom. There's no easy way out, mom. It's like Vietnam. If breaking strings seems somehow ennobling, take a wrong turn onto Roebling. Can we cut through the machismo with these drums, guitars, and gizmos? (There's no F in kids) I don't want to hear it tonight. (There's no I in team) I'll make it all up tonight. All the rage and flimsy veneer and we bring out the clean version for our folks to hear.

Can I get some more defensiveness in the monitors please? I'm not going to hide my Jacobite sympathies. We got picked on, laughed at, kicked around -- we've got something to prove. We're gonna hang in these halls until we hang in the Louvre. Make machines to throw a wrench in, cap in hand, begging your attention. Mini-mags, start-ups, and reruns, scraping out the bottom of the trust fund. (The money's running out) Maybe we get one more chance tonight. (The landlord's on the phone) We're down to far to get it right. Sgt. Rock forgot how to steer. We bring out the clean version for the label folks to hear.

The clean version is always filthy.
Track Name: An American Tourist In Brooklyn
Hate hanging posters, but it's one of the things you've got to do when you're in a group. We've got no copy shop on Palisade, so it's down the steps, into Hoboken, here again, two quarters in the machine and all the prints you need. On to the PATH train, they're taking turns with civil rights and getting pizza grease all over their bikes. Got off on 14th to switch to the L and the girl between cars has a record to sell. She says "listen to the demo 'coz the voice sounds sweet. I've got peanuts to eat since the middle of the week. For the change in your pocket, I will write you a sonnet." She's got a bag with the Trade Center on it. First stop in Brooklyn, she gets off with, and trading blows by the transistors boys are taking the fifth. They've got artists in the street tracing caricatures -- character actors from an HBO freak show and getting dumb with some folks I know.

Here on North 4th, there's a public posterboard, but it's covered to overflow with announcement for other shows. No white in sight -- the kids are all tight. "Who found a lost dog?" "Sublets -- sunny room for rent." "Studio apartment with an oxygen tent." "Bassist wanted -- come and see our practice space on Kent." "Extension 217 for pro band photography." I could tear down fifteen minute's worth and barely make a dent. I'm strongly disinclined to put posters over posters: some residual sense of chivalry from a past incarnation. Hey, there's Emily and Eli from the pirate station. Dos Santos is at the thrift store getting money for some junk he wore and Maria is playing air guitar hanging out the door. Jim here is my bud. He works at HUD. He's hanging up posters for his brother's band. He slaps my hand and lends me wheat paste, strafes a trash can and laughs in my face. He says, and I quote, "you can stand your ground, but these white lies make the world go round." But I don't believe him.

I remember back in college Professor ____________ described primitive cultures and their drive toward branding. They put the totem of the tribe on rocks and stumps, emblazoned and refined, and I am reminded of Lot 49. Full phantasmagoria of graphic design: insignias on lampposts, Nike swoosh earrings, fifty year old shopkeeper with Arcade Fire t-shirt. Robbie's got icon tattoos, and so do you -- designed by a pro on Adobe Illustrator. Superkaleidoscopic photoshopped images, a bag full of fliers and a Starbucks cup. Jimmy's got nerve to walk out of the Verb and drop a stack of pink swag right onto the curb. Thrift store selling prehistoric rocks in marijuana haze, and it's not photos for publicity or the mark of the beast but the sequel to felicity. I made my amends, said goodbye to my friends, held the closing doors open and I'm on the L again.

Back on Washington Street, they keep the jambalaya warm. Posters up for some political reform. I've got a full bag of prints rolled up in my jacket. It seems I'm not cut out for this self-publicizing racket. I want it but I don't, I will but then I won't -- part of it all but still miles apart. But I left my mixed emotions at the Minimall, and if I can't speak clearly, I'll say nothing at all.
Track Name: Colonial Williamsburg
There's a place not too far. You can travel there by car. It's a freaky live-in theme park and a town. Walk down the street and stare at the uniforms they wear and the funny way they talk and move around. It's Colonial Williamsburg, and it's all a show. It'll teach you some hard lessons -- it's real educational. In Colonial Williamsburg, the speeches never stop. You'll get your sense of history. It's totally under the top. In our friendly neighborhood, we'll put it to Bedford for good.

There's hardly a trace of the stuff that got displaced. Yes they've done a super job with the renovation. And as you calculate the odds of maintaining these facades, you'll forget you're walking through a simulation. But in Colonial Williamsburg, nothing's real -- not the pretend occupations or the way they say they feel. You'll meet a man who'll claim to be the seventh earl of Kent, and as he leads the tour from the bar to the store you'll wonder where your money went.

Oh the battle re-enactments are really worth the trip. You might start to cry when they fall and die after shooting from the hip. And everywhere there's music and papers being signed, but to live there is insanity -- you'd lose your fucking mind.

You might hear them sing how they'll overthrow the king, and fight for independence, and set the castle walls on fire. Don't get suckered in, my friend. They're just playing pretend and biding time until they join the evil empire. In Colonial Williamsburg, the joke's on you, by these greasepaint revolutionaries assessing revenue. It's a fantastic plastic plank -- the land of make-believe. We'll fife and drum until we all get numb and we bow our heads and heave.
Track Name: The Werewolf Of Bretton Woods
I put a new guitar on the only credit card I hadn't maxed and now I'm walking down to practice the rhythm parts. No job, no home, no heart. Got an hour to kill. Cherry-picked trash hill and a rubbished amp. Watching cars roll off the ramp while the sun sinks low and throws the shadow of the sugar factory across the BQE. Rays bleed through doors of the bars by the shipyard.

I've got a record deal and all the records I can steal from the midnight show on indiepirate radio. Behind the fire sign Emily and Eli are broadcasting live between bites of pad thai. Helicopters turn their searchlights on kids smoking junk in the building sites, and everybody scurries over tractor treads and teddy bear heads. Tomorrow the cranes put the clubhouse to bed.

I've got a show to do. Guess you've got one too. Strike a chord as they nail boards over sheetrock and blue glass. Finger-traced blueprints say here is the car park, here is the internet cafe. I am the werewolf without wherewithal. All ways, no means, manufacturing daydreams. Rain coming down. Nothing but a summer storm.

I put a new guitar on the only credit card that's from Citigroup. I can see their HQ across the Newtown Creek. I've been to Eagle Street. There's a new Duane Reade superstore opening next door to the Polish specialty shop. Hot pierogi and a transit cop. And everybody wants to check out everybody coming out the subway stop. Pop records in a bag and Magnet and Creem. Mr. Contractor, build me a dream. A new continent of earth and fire.
Track Name: Not Another Song About You
This is not another song about you. I sit in a bar and hear songs about you. I'm playing guitar on songs about you. Indie records, strangers and friends -- the commentary never ends. There is no escaping songs about you. The sidewalks are littered with songs about you. Angry, embittered songs about you. Emocore, neo-prog -- this old horse has been flogged. It's not like I don't understand it. You're blameless and underhanded. You're not Caesar, you're not the Pope. This obsession sweating the city is a big joke.

This has turned into another song about you. But I won't sing it anymore -- not until you own up to purely outrageous songs about you, sexist salacious songs about you, hardcore melodic songs about you, new wave robotic songs about you, homoerotic songs about you, completely psychotic songs about you. Enough.
Track Name: An Ass Of U And Me
Holly's walking around in a tube top. Sixty-two degrees. She's got a twelve-string. Half an hour late to the soundcheck. Police state ring around the practice space. The whole damn block's been bought by the state! Back at the apartment six kids crammed into one suite with last week's dishes in the sink and a cellphone's ringing atop a bottle of scotch. One day you're hitting and the next you're not. Leave a message but make no plans. I'm assuming you're all in bands. Make it happen to the one hand clapping and the sound of the trees keep falling in the woods.

Jimmy tears his hair out. The hot club won't return his phone calls. He's been trying all since last fall. But the honcho gave a show to his little bro. Now he rolls down Grand saying whattya know? But the day before the big gig, bigwig carrying a clipboard shuts the metal doors to the bar. Now the kid's heart's breaking, it's another lost weekend, and Jimmy and his brother still aren't speaking. Get the long knives out of your hands.

All you gigbag-having, setlist-grabbing, hanging in the alleyway, courting a stabbing, you big egotism, Holland Tunnel vision, no job skills by conscious decision, green like Kermit studio hermit, trying to run a business but the city took the permit. Tucking in the geekiness, assuming that's a weakness, an ass of U and me still runs in the Preakness. I've been riding around in a taxi, ass snapping pictures out the backseat, trying to make time, but I'm sentenced to a syntax line by line. Gonna make them read you until they break the spine. What the fuck is that?

Hold out as long as you can. I'm assuming you're all in bands. Pedal into patch bay, distortion to delay -- this type of shit happens every day.
Track Name: Nobody Wants Your Shit
You're too chickenshit to leave your bag for a minute? There's nothing but chewing gum and fliers in it. We come to the club and we chill in peace, but you're standing around acting like you're gonna get fleeced. This is Leila Lounge, baby, not the den of the beast. Nobody wants your shit.

Griping about Time Out dissing your show? Man, that review came out two years ago. You stole the D string off of Bobby's bass, you scribbled on the posters in the practice space. Someone's gonna come and crack your face. Nobody wants you.

What's that sighing at the merchandise table? Go hang yourself with a quarter-inch cable. Your precious collection of licks and cheap thrills sitting in boxes on the windowsills. Back up the truck and take it all to Fresh Kills. Nobody wants you.
Track Name: The Hymn Against The Whiskey
If I could, I'd pour every bottle of whiskey in the world down the drain. I'd spend every waking hour wasting all the wine that wasted mine. And it doesn't help to see you cry, but I really have to ask you why, because I don't care about what normal people do. I don't like what it does to you.

I'd like to make myself comfortable in here, but this room is filled with walking ads for whiskey and beer. It doesn't help to elevate your soul, and it doesn't have a damned thing to do with rock and roll. I know you think that I'm a square, but I wouldn't say a thing if I didn't care.
Track Name: Ash Street Ascension
A girl made of smoke ducking shots in the alley on Manhattan Avenue past the slate grey warehouse to practice elevation where there's nobody there to laugh at you. Whitney Farrell, age 24, pushes hard as she can against the tarmac floor. Fingers spread to gain elevation and then it begins as the ground beneath her spins. Drifting high above Greenpoint. Skins up into the sky. We're all waiting to see you fly.

All preparation for this day is now over as you let your friends in on your flight. No more pretending that those late-night visits to Pulaski Bridge were just the call of the night. A heart-shaped bruise from where she landed on a slag metal pile that shines like ice. After the plummet, gain elevation like Amelia shrouded in sight. All flight needs sacrifice. But every failure makes her practice it twice, and twice as high. We're all waiting to see you fly. We all believe in you. C'mon, now, try. Don't be afraid anymore. Brooklyn girls don't cry.
Track Name: Princeton Can Use A Man Like Joel
A Frank Hague speaks on dusky, dusky streets to men in slacks and broken backs. They want the corn on the cob and a government job, but that's not what I want. I wanna make brandy balls.

A silicon boob is always in the news. I try to block it out, but it busts on through. Roll up that diploma, and get down on your knees. I'll show you something you can do with that master's degree. People can think whatever they want to in their dirty minds. I know I think whatever I want to in mine.
Track Name: Remember The 90s
Tried to drop you a note, but my pen wouldn't write, so I called your best friend and I flirted out of spite. She was home getting dressed, half alarmed, half impressed with my plight. I said goodnight and went out instead. And the songs in my head play at ten RPM. Watching girls hand in hand on Metropolitan. And the dust in my throat cracking "If you want me just say so, but don't expect me to know if there's anyplace you'd rather go when the party's over on indie radio." There's always a show on all night radio. Is it all getting old? The party's over.

Been employed off and on since the age of 21 taking orders, taking bets, taking shit. No one gets when it ends just like that you get tossed out of your flat. Putting posters up at the G train station yeah? And the songs in my head were all penned by my friends. It never ends, it just descends. I'm in love with them. I'll preserve in escrow and remember why we all came so to the edge of the cliff, dancing and wondering if the party's over a million pop hits ago. We're the last ones to know.

All night. I love Brooklyn.
Track Name: You Got Me
If you ever wonder what makes me so cool -- my cynical, urbane demeanor -- I got it out in Crosswicks strawberry picking with my cordless vacuum cleaner. So why do want to go and hide that credit card bill and your membership to Equinox? Crunch all you want but if you want to move a muscle, you'd better get down to the loading docks. You got me. That's all you ever wanted. So why'd you want to be someone else?

What's that paste you got on your face? I thought your vision was getting clearer. I'm tired of always playing second banana, baby, to your little pocket mirror. Well, that's no way to say goodbye to misinterpretation. I'm gonna lose my faith in mankind. Everything sucks when you remember it correctly. Better pour another glass of wine. It can't slow down, it won't slow down. Stop the car atop the divider by the chemical refinery and dance beneath the flame.

Imagine the dismay in my chest of drawers when you said you loved me for my smarts! I admit that I expected something more romantic when you put a quarter in the go-carts. We were young and tough on the mean streets of Beach Haven. We could have been rock and roll kings! I never should have swiped my motorcycle jacket for that copy of "The Lord Of The Rings".
Track Name: (Crowd Noise)
Track Name: Lucky 13
When you're driving in your car or you look out the window beside your room and you watch the streets slide by. Past the trees go trucks and trains on a ribbon in the sky. Lights suspended in the wind. As they soar above the town heading for the big light. Hudson County by the coast -- of all the places in New Jersey, it's the one I love the most. I would take you there if you would understand that I've bartered away my life. I'm looking for a sign. Things just haven't gone the way I planned. You can tell me by the sand in my eyes.

I got my hair down in my eyes and I'm talking to someone I hardly know. on the street by the record shop. Passersby walk two by two. These bricks rewritten overnight. Each story seldom ever true and my body fades away and I'm going back home.