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Published: 2002/10/23
by Andy Miller

Featured Column: Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique Music Is Big Business

[Editor's note: this month we are featuring the contibution of our latest columnist, The Big Wu's bass player, Padre Pienbique (aka Andy Miller). It should be worth checking out each month for the photos alone.]

Last week I was really focused on organizing my CD collection by
alphabetical order of Executive Producers credited- or some other useless
task- when the phone rings. I pick it up and it’s Jon Schwartz from Relix
Magazine. He asks me if I want to be a monthly hack columnist (read:
illiterate bass player, not employable writer) for I tell him
I’m busy; my socks are in the dryer, I’m late for a sushi date, Stamp Day is
right around the corner. You get the picture.

Now, I don’t know if you know Jon Schwartz, but he’s a tough cookie. A real
East Coast hard case who can bury a promising career just because he ran out
of Pringles. Not the kind of guy to just take "No" for an answer just
because some jerk from Minnesota thinks he wants to pull dandelions from the

To accentuate his argument, he nudges the possibility that I’ll never work
in New York again, let alone be allowed to go to the bathroom unless I sit
my ass down and pound out yellow journalism for Jambands. I’m starting to
get a little frightened, he senses this, and before I know it, he’s telling
me it won’t be so bad. "Hey, do a good job and maybe we’ll put you on the
cover of Relix. Really. Just think, I can retract that Jack Chester review
of The Wu’s Spring Reverb CD that said your singing sounds like the producer
peed in the shallow end of the creative sandbox. Play ball Padre, and I can
make it all go away!"

Tempting as this is, I am compelled to resist. I counter, "What would I
write about? What noble reader wants to be subjected to the
writings of a Swede-Lutheran from the Mid-West?" Come on folks, where am I
going to dig up the kind of titillating inside dope that is so appealingly
produced E! Hollywood? Schwartz tells me to shut up and get on with the
column or he’ll take away my allowance so can’t go to the movies on Friday.

So here it is, presents "Really True Confessions with Padre
Pienbique"! Monthly installments are to include inside scoops and backstage
follies from the scene, suspect recipes from the family archives, and last
but not least, incriminating photographs of people being converted to Old
Style beer. (For those of you who don’t live in what Jon Schwartz
affectionately calls "fly over country", a/k/a the Midwest, Old Style beer
is the equivalent of Gennesse and Rainer brews on the East and West coasts
respectively. Cheap, but goooood. And like revenge, they’re all best served

Anyhoo- since the band has struck out as a four piece, we have enjoyed the
company of many fine guests on stage. Dean MacGraw joined us for a cancer
benefit for the Michael Houser Foundation, Stein Malvey lent his six-string
charm and comedy at a couple Minnesota shows, and Warren Bose of the All
Mighty Senators sat in with us at Fletcher’s in Baltimore, MD. Being one of
my favorite guitarists (coincidentally from one of favorite bands), Warren
gave it the old college try and ripped it up.

During the post-show cocktail hour, Warren bestowed upon me an advance copy
of the Senator’s new studio CD "Music Is Big Business." As we can all safely
guess, it rips, it grooves, it slams, rocks, funks, dunks and I’m out of
beer, hold on.. Oh right, it’s the album Chile Peppers couldn’t make these
days because it doesn’t contain any milquetoast pop hits. Instead, AMS
drummer/singer Landis Expandis (you can call him Kool-Aid) quite happily
sings that "Music is big business, No it’s NOT!" on the title cut while
groovin’ to SCI’s Kyle Hollingsworth’s B-3 organ. Right-O, Landis. Given the
sub-McDonald’s money musicians actually make while doing what they love (the
delightful and talented Mr. Hollingsworth excluded), music isn’t big
business, unless its song writing is as fake as the set of tits singing it.
But it is big fun when it rocks as well as AMS.

Everyone’s favorite alcholiday, Halloween, is coming up. The scene always
gets a little bit of extra fun around special events as bands quite often
pull out unexpected covers, retired originals and other odds-n-sods for the
shows. This year the Wu is fortunate enough to celebrate in Madison, WI with
a two-night stand at the Barrymore Theater. Madison has a certain flavor
about it. The whole town is littered with students of every stripe, but I’m
not sure I’ve seen any of the university’s professors; it’s as if the killer
is waiting at the scene of the crime, but the body fled. Not to mention the
crowd tends to get a little, umm, creative. I think it’s something about the
costumes. Personally, running about town with a disguise brings something
out in me. Like a masked avenger for inappropriate social graces, leaving a
wake of empty cocktail glasses, unpaid bar tabs and decent folks scratching
their heads wondering "Who was that masked lush?" Funny to think that
there’s a special day for this, I usually call it "Tuesday Night".

Autumn is homecoming season, and Homecoming 2002 at the State Theater in
Minneapolis on November 2nd will be fun. We will be releasing our new CD
Spring Reverb (yes, with the real artwork, lyrics, photos, etc.) just in
time for, well, late fall. If you are so inclined to join us at the State
Theater, feel free to be the first to pick up your copy for just $10, as a
thank you and apology for making you wait so long.

Now, we would have had the record in stores nation wide last May, except
that we encountered every conceivable obstacle one can imagine. Never mind
that we wrote the songs, recorded them with our own hands, and paid for
pressing ourselves. Among reasons for the delay of Spring Reverb, include,
but are not limited to: The honorable and efficient New York court system
that took a mere two-and-a-half years to decide that we can buy our own
albums back for a paltry $10k, A well-intentioned but utterly hopeless
bankrupt record company president who seemed to relish holding our careers
hostage in order to accommodate his recalcitrant demands that we continue to
make CDs for a record company that doesn’t exist, and, lest I forget, An
enjoyable series of legal hearings that DIDN’T award over a thousand live
recordings to the artists who performed them, but to a morally dubious
bankruptcy estate that plans to extort from said artists princely sums of
filthy lucre so they may control material that should already be theirs.
When Warren Zevon wrote "Lawyers, Guns, and Money", he wasn’t singing an ode
to Hunter S. Thompson, he was explaining what it took to get his royalties
from "Werewolves Of London". I guess you are wrong Landis, music IS big
business for lawyers, tone deaf men with big pockets, and if I have to jump
through another set of fucking hoops like this again, gunsmiths.

So, Huzzzah! Look for Spring Reverb at the State Theatre, order it on, or at a record store near you in November. Amen!

Okay- Since this is Real True Confessions, not Big-Made-Up Slanders, I’ll
fess up: Jon Schwartz is a nice guy, and hasn’t ever shown any notable
Pringles-related withdrawal symptoms than the average New Yorker. (Although
he left me several taunts on my cell phone from the Meadowlands during the
Jets-Vikings game. Way to kick a man when he’s down, O pal of mine.) In
addition, Relix Magazine hasn’t offered to give us the cover story, no
matter how much sucking up I do, let alone retract any review of my
caterwauling vocals. And as promised, this month’s Old Style Zealot is
Ginger, the legendary stage manager at the Vic Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

Cheers! Padre Pienbique

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