The Birthday Boys

Also known as "2 guys, a bass, a keyboard, enough talent to be willing to record (but not much more than that), a tape recorder (actually a 4-track, I think on some of them) and enough patience to give each song exactly one take."

A few notes. These tracks were taken from audio tapes originally recorded while I was in high school in the early 1990s under less than optimal conditions. Then, for about 20 years they lived in a big rubbermade container in my basement until August 25th 2013 when I found an old walkman I "borrowed" from my friend (Matt Julich) somewhere around 1998 (never returned) and realized I actually had the equipment to record these to digital format.

This is the result, for what it's worth

I'm not an audio tech, I just used Windows Sound Recorder and the Mic input to record them, so the recordings aren't very good. Seems to me, though, that's doing justice to the generally shoddy quality of the originals. The only techy thing I did was to convert the WMA formats into MP3 the HTML5 player could play them. The downloadable versions are in the original WMA format though.

We borrowed our friend Frank Torres' drum machine on a few of these tracks, you can really tell the difference on those. I think I programmed it most of the time because I used it to knock out a bass line, but Justin did some too. In general, we started with the crappiest of equipment and found ways to come into better equipment over time. You can really tell the varying quality of music for sure based on the quality of equipment we had on hand when the song was made.

To Ben Gibbard, (since you'll never, ever see this now that you're all famous now) - sorry we didn't do a show with your band when you asked me... but really, it would have been embarrasing... you know... for you - didn't want to show you up, you know... I wonder if you still have the tape you borrowed in 1993? I *KNOW* you still have my old Fred and the Burkhardts tape, you thieveing bastard.

The Birthday Boys are (er... were):

  • Michael Langford (bass and electric guitar, drum programming, vocals, keyboards)
  • Justin Rice (keyboards, vocals, drum programming)

Click a track below to show the player control for that track - or right click and Save As to download. Only modern browers work on, I'm using the HTML5 audio standard as a player. That means throwback browsers (like Internet Explorer 8 or older, for example) are out of luck. You'll have to download each file manually. The web has moved on - your browser hasn't... sorry. Oh, also, if you for some reason use Opera, you're also out of luck because it hasn't implemented MP3 in it's HTML5 audio element. If you are having trouble, just go download the lastest version of Chrome and stop wasting time with crappy browsers.

Oh, some of them have a long lead-in of silence, just be patient.

TODO: Scan the pile of old photographs I have in a box showing us in action...

Too much awesomeness? Yeah. I get it. Click below to load the "Best Of" playlist. This will overwrite any playlist you might already have set up (but it won't overwrite anything you've saved)! Scroll down for notes on specific tracks.

Playlist

You can play them one at a time by clicking the song title below, OR you can check the boxes of the ones you want to hear and clicking this button:

Start Playlist Rest Playlist | Save Playlist Load Playlist | Load "Best Of" Playlist

Note on the playlist system - it's not the smartest playback tool. It plays each selected song, in the order you checked the boxes and plays the next song (defined by the order you picked them, NOT the name of the song) when the current one finishes. You can skip to the next one by dragging the progress bar to the end of the song, but there's no way to go back to a previous song. You can redo your playlist by unchecking all the boxes and checking them again in the order you want the songs to play. This is just here for convienience and really, this was a proof of concept application I wrote for something I was working on at work... Also, you can add more songs to the end of the list on the fly by checking their boxes, but if you uncheck any boxes while the play process is underway, craziness may ensue. You can clear your current list (it's listed over on the left) with the reset button. If set up a list, you can save it to your browser's localStorage by clicking Save and then reload it by clicking Load.

Birthday Boys (1992-1994):

Tristaline

This was the first of our "music" - done as a birthday present for our friend Tristaline Hall

Unfortunatly, I can't find that tape. Hopefully it turns up! It's packed so full of awesome, you might pee yourself.

  1. ?

selftitled

The majority of these tracks were recorded in my bedroom. A few were done at Josh Doehne's house or at Justin's but mostly mine while my mom tried hard not to beat us with a stick for making so much noise.

  1. Occupy the World (lyrics: Justin Rice)
  2. Painted Faces (lyrics: Michael Langford)
  3. Liar (lyrics: Michael Langford)
  4. Reality (lyrics: Michael Langford)
  5. Dark Heart (lyrics: Michael Langford) As it happens, this is was the first song we did after Tristaline. It was sort of our reality check, as it were: can we do this for the sake of doing it? Guess the answer was yes.
  6. The Problem for Today (lyrics: Justin Rice)
  7. I'm Not Cool (lyrics: Michael Langford, guest vocals/guitar - Paul Zimmerman) So, to really get this song, you'd have to understand Olympic High School a bit. I didn't spend much time with the Jocks, or the Gangbanger, or the Rockers, but I was friends with most of the Punks and Skaters, nearly all of whom were Straightedge Vegans, and tended to let you know it. This song is a response to all that.
  8. Alice (lyrics: Michael Langford) This was, erm, a book report... technically. Also, I think it was written with the Tristaline songs, but not included with them since it was for a report - we threw it in here just to include it)
  9. Television Nightmares (lyrics: Michael Langford) The Unsolved Mysteries was TOTAL luck, we just flipped the TV on and that's just what happened to be on. Crazy, huh?)
  10. Faded Pictures (lyrics: Michael Langford) As I recall, this song was about a girl I met up in Alaska. I know. Mushy...
  11. Sugar River (lyrics: Justin Rice - this song is really weird...)
  12. The Game Is Tied (lyrics: Justin Rice)
  13. Skyward (lyrics: don't remember, sounds like one of mine though) BTW, that little bass solo happened because the keyboard came unpluged and I had to fill while justin got it plugged in and restarted the drums. Like I say, one take. Still, from a musical perspective, this is probably the best put together song on this album.

interruption

We got a little crazy on this one. We got access to the Olympic High School recording studio, so we have a couple high end keyboards, an 8-track recorder, and a mixer. Much higher quality and sorta makes up for our overall lack of talent. Also different here is that many of these tracks show me playing keyboards along with Justin. This was done after I'd gone to college and was back home on summer break (hence the name "interruption", so a lot of the lyrics I wrote were influenced by people or experiences I was having my freshman year in college.

* Not all of these were done in the studio, by the way... you can tell the difference

  1. Hypocritical (Lyrics: Michael Langford) This song always struck me as a funny little dichotomy. It's peppy and fun, but about how much of a jackass whoever it was I was pissed at was. Makes me think of smiling at someone and slaping them in the face. Also, no bass guitar, I was playing the bassline on the keyboard.
  2. Interested In Me (Lyrics: Justin Rice). One of my favorite song we did. No bass on this one, I was playing the baseline keyboards, which Justin was singing and dealing with the other keyboard parts.
  3. The Minutes that Count (Lyrics: Justin Rice).
  4. What I Want to Say (Lyrics: Michael Langford) This was a funny turnabout. I was playing guitar (was Josh's white fender strat I think) and Josh Doehne on my bass. No keyboards on this one either.. very punk.
  5. Spell (Lyrics: Justin Rice) Listening to this song, I'm reminded of how brutal I was to my poor fingers. Playing sliding chords on a bass is sorta like taking sand paper to your fingers.
  6. Old Times (Lyrics: Michael Langford)
  7. Leap of Faith (Lyrics: Michael Langford)
  8. Journey (Lyrics by: Michael Langford)
  9. Knight (Lyrics by: Justin Rice) - gotta love distortion effects on a bass! I believe there is also a guitar part here too, if so, that was probably Josh Doehne.
  10. Fact and Opinion (Lyrics by: Justin Rice)
  11. Mirror Images (Lyrics by: Michael Langford) This one is a bit interesting in that I was playing chords on the bass pretty much the whole time. That and the fairly x-filesy keyboards give this song a very unique sound
  12. Take the Time (Lyrics by: Justin Rice) This is, easily, the best song we ever did. Josh Doehne was a guest producer on this one. This was also, I think, the only song Justin and I actually wrote together (other than the Tristaline songs, that is), though the original lyrics were Justin's and the final lyrics we're substantially the same - but this one we took a lot more time tailoring lyrics and music to produce a track that had some good coherance, which didn't really happen before except by accident. There was no bass on this one, I was playing the "bass" keyboard and that constant piston sound (no, that wasn't a digital loop, it was manually played in real-time. digial looping... hahaha), Justin played the melody and sang. I actually don't recall who dealt with the drums on this one, I think it was Justin.

instrumental

These are a few music-only tracks we made when we ran out of lyrics to use. not sure exactly when they were made. I think, maybe, toward the end the summer in 1995.

  1. Funky
  2. Funky (Version 2) (i guess since we made the first one up as we went along, we decided to give it another try?)
  3. Ethereal
  4. Take 99
  5. Take 99 and One
  6. Take 99 and Two (we musta really liked do this one. I seem to recall it made my fingers bleed)
  7. WhatayaWannaPlay (we were, literally, just making crap up as we went along... which is mostly how we did things anyway, but this happened to record us doing it...)
  8. Last (I think this was the last thing we ever recorded)

goof (1993 or so):

This was some really silly stuff I did with Justin's cousin Keegan along with Josh Doehne and Justin.

I've decided not to make these public... if you *really* want to hear them, let me know, but unless you were present when they were recorded, you'll probably never hear them. Ever.

  1. Stay At Home
  2. Scream
  3. Boy