MP3 The Sprinkle Genies - The Class is on Fire
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10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Folk Rock, POP: Quirky
The Sprinkle Genies had fallen on hard times. Almost a decade into their career they had conquered all of NYCâs major clubs, which included some sell-out shows at such venues as the famed Mercury Lounge and frequent appearances at the seminal Sidewalk Café. They received numerous invitations to play downtown art space/loft parties from NYC's activist underground, attended by a healthy cross-section of avant-garde street artists and musicians, bike-messenger politicos, crusty punk squatters, and neo-hippies straight from the sidewalks of âCamp Avenue
A.â There were even invitations to chic gatherings of the genteel Williamsburgh Trust-Fund elite. They'd tracked in all the studios most favored in the music scene: Baby Monster, Waterworks, Bat Cave and Tu Casa, to name a few. They received regular airplay on such uber-hip stations as KFJC in Los Altos, CA, and WFMU in East Orange, NJ.
But now their label, I Know This Guy Records, who had just signed a large distribution deal with Olive Juice Music, had upped the ante, pressuring the Genies to produce a âmasterpieceâ that would funnel money into the new partnership. The journey the band would take in order to achieve their labelâs weighty aspirations would ultimately result in a collection of songs that exploded onto the scene against the backdrop of the nationâs military crisis and economic unrest, capturing a moment in time in razor-sharp detail. The durability of the âSprinklemythâ in the whisperings, dreams, and schemes of generations to come was assured. This is the story of how this curious, insightful, and incendiary collection of aural snapshots came into being.
Through spring to early summer of 2006 the group traveled the East Coast of the âUnitedâ States (in name only, as political tensions with the war in Iraq were tearing the nation apart) in search of a recording space with the correct vibe--from back rooms of dusty country dives in New Hampshire, to posh living rooms in Matawan, NJ, and rustic barns in Ithaca, NY--but to no avail. One day, outside their rehearsal space in NYCâs old-school Lower East Side, the band ran into Jason Stutts (guitarist for The Cutouts), who casually mentioned some tracks he'd been laying down in his own basement apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Soon Jason convinced the band to come by his place to record a rehearsal "just for kicks".
Upon arriving at the studio in late July of 2006, the group discovered that the dank, subterranean space had no windows or AC. (In the treeless Urban jungle that is the NYC Metropolitan Area, temperatures can climb to 120 degrees in the summer.) But the band was determined to try it out and agreed to go on with the rehearsal. The heat inside the room was so intense that after the first track was recorded, everyone raced outside to breathe some fresh air and suck down some ice cold emergency doses of the bandâs most beloved beer, Natural (âNattyâ) Lite. Once their
heat-stroke had abated, they returned to the studio to check the playback. The magic was undeniable. Now, with a place to set up camp, work on the new Sprinkle Genies album could begin.
Word of the project spread like wild fire in NYCâs underground scene. In September, although later the bandâs management was unable to confirm the source of the leak, a rough mix of a song (working title âPepeâ) suddenly turned up in an animated piece posted to YouTube. This
âvideoâ received 10,000 hits a day by word of mouth alone. Soon after, the band passed several rough mixes to Steve Espinola, long-time Genie compatriot and an influential NYC singer/songwriter/piano player well known for his Nicky Hopkinâs-flavored songs of love and death-defying personal confessions. (He is also known for his close association with the legendary pianist/songster Biff Rose and recent work with the once popular Moldy Peaches.) Steve joined the Genies for a casual jam in the studio at the end of November and ended up overdubbing a keyboard track to âPepe.â After running a few mixes past trusted friend and East Village writer Oliver St. Joseph (To Sir, With Shrinkage), Steve was brought on as co-producer.
By now it was winter, and the studio had no heat. Jason, Steve and the Geniesâ breath hung like white clouds in the cold air as they worked to complete the final mixes wearing parkas and gloves; Natty Lites were replaced by shots of Jack Daniels to put fire in the belly.
Meanwhile, expenses at I Know This Guy Records were piling up and the accounting department was in an uproar. The Genies had been running a sizable tab with a local liquor distributor and phone calls to dubious 24-hour âdelivery servicesâ --the bills for which they gleefully passed
along to their product manager. Members of a local bike messenger gang were employed by the band to work as runners, picking up and delivering whatever the band required in order to keep the project going. They also made frequent visits to the I Know This Guy offices, much to the burning chagrin of their beleaguered receptionist Brittany White, who fearfully declined comment when Urban Folk pressed her for details. The label literally begged the band to finish the album quickly in a state-of-the art NY studio, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The Genies loved the sound they were getting; they refused. The album was further delayed when some Genies landed in Brooklyn Hospital after succumbing to frost-bite and nervous exhaustion.
But the ice finally melted. In the spring of 2007, the finished tracks were submitted to Olive Juice music, where CEO Major Matt Mason put the finishing touches on "The Class is on Fire.â Track 1 says it all: les Politique du Nauga are here to stay.
Faun Helle is the author of The History of the NYC Rock from the Velvet Underground to the Sprinkle Genies
in partnership with CDbaby
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