Living Backwards in Time

July 31st, 2020 by tim

We’ve got another set of new/old songs for August’s First Friday event on Bandcamp. It won’t be out till Friday, but you can hear “Pong” right now on BrooklynVegan.

But we’ve also got a more momentous announcement: we’ve been having so much fun recording again, and have found the process of writing one or two new ones for each old one we revisit so inspiring, that we’ve decided to record a complete album that way.

Yup: we’re working on our first album of new material in almost a quarter of a century. It’s tentatively titled Last Century, because half the songs were written in the literal last century, and half the songs are being written in this, which sometimes feels as though it might be humanity’s last.

You can hear the latest fruits of that approach on August 7, when we release “Pong,” a brand new song, backed with the long-overdue studio version of “Hey Merlin!,” a tune we demoed for Cereal Killers but never officially recorded (though the original, live-to-two-track demo has surfaced on the fan-club only single Dr. Seuss is Dead, as well as the Gods and Sods compilation.

We’ve set up an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund the recording, so if you want to pre-order a copy of the album before it officially exists, you can do so there for $10, or you can contribute even more in exchange for various perks.

New Much Joy

July 3rd, 2020 by tim

As bored as everybody else while self-isolating in June, Too Much Joy decided to see if they could complete a couple of songs in time for the next Bandcamp First Friday.

The result is New Memories, a 3-track EP. New Memories parts 1 and 2 were written and recorded June, 2020. Snow Day was written in the early ’90s, but never recorded till now.

Sandy and Tommy laid down the rhythm tracks at Riverworks, with the patient assistance of Matt Noble. Bill added his parts in his home studio, Jay recorded his with the help of his son Leo at home in Los Angeles, and Tim added his vocals at Anu Kirk’s home in San Francisco.

TMJ Rarities

June 5th, 2020 by tim

Bandcamp has been waiving their commission on the first Friday of every month, so TMJ is celebrating by making some rarities more widely available. Go to our bandcamp page to get the following goodies:

  • Dr. Seuss is Dead, a fan club 7″ from 1994 with three songs we promised we’d never make available in any other medium. Oops.
  • Mystery Limousine, a song we wrote in the early-’90s but never recorded until the aughts, originally released as a free download in Christmas, 2009 on this site
  • The Lost Album, which is all the songs we wrote after Mutiny but before Sandy left the band. Most of them came out on Gods and Sods or the Crack reissue, but it includes Sandy’s original bass and vocal parts on 5 songs that came out in slightly different versions on …finally, all sequenced as they might have been if it hadn’t taken us four fucking years to get another record deal.

Oh, looks like Topspin media, the company we used to power all the free streaming on this site, has gone out of business. So there are now just empty spaces next to all the old albums, and in a lot of random posts that used to have media players attached. Bummer. It’s gonna take us a while to swap them all out using some other solution, so please bear with us in the meantime.

A Brand New Old Song

March 18th, 2019 by tim

A couple months ago, Sandy was lamenting that the band had never really done justice to “Death Ray Machine,” a song we’d only ever recorded live to two track. Since Tim was going to be passing through NYC the following week, we decided to book some time in a studio and see if we could bang out a version that had the same energy as that live recording, but could finally be mixed properly.

So that’s what we did. Matt Noble recorded the basic tracks in New York, Johannes Luley captured some more in Los Angeles, and, since we were harking back to olden times, our pal Michael James, who produced Son of Sam I Am, mixed everything together with his customary aplomb (you can follow his exploits on social media using the very descriptive hashtag, #MichaelJamesProducer).

You can hear how it came out below (you can also buy it at Bandcamp, if you’d like to help us pay Michael James what he deserves, and/or persuade us we should do more of this type of thing).

We’re so pleased with the results, we’ve been discussing what other songs we wrote but failed to record might benefit from a similar treatment. Here are four contenders. If you have a preference, let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

New(ish) Too Much Joy!

November 10th, 2018 by tim

While TMJ never really broke up, it’s become pretty rare for them to perform or record. And the most recent three songs they recorded have been a bit hard to acquire, as they were intended as part of Record Store Day releases and/or have only been available on vinyl.

But it’s almost Christmastime, so as a gift to fans we’re making them all available to stream for free here and now. If you want to give yourself a gift, you can also purchase digital downloads of the tunes. Or, if you’re some kind of Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire, who owns a mansion and a yacht and a turntable, you can buy the Deluxe Package, which includes a 7″ single with two of the songs on colored vinyl (you can still buy the Deluxe Package even if you don’t possess a turntable with which to play it, as the single is a lovely physical object that rewards you just for gazing upon it).

The songs are:

“We Are The Clash,” a cover of what might be the worst Clash song ever, but which the band had to do when they heard Crooked Beat were putting out a tribute to Cut The Crap (which was definitely the Clash’s worst LP ever), because We Are The Clash was one of the titles briefly considered but quickly rejected for what ultimately became Cereal Killers.

“We Are Not The Clash,” a song TMJ wrote in the studio two years ago while banging out the cover song above.

“Trash City,” a cover of one of the first (and best) Joe Strummer solo tunes, which TMJ recorded for a follow-up Record Store Day tribute LP released by Crooked Beat.

If you’d like to own the songs, head on over to Bandcamp.

We Are Not the Clash (or are we?)

February 28th, 2018 by tim

Two Februaries ago, Bill, Jay, Sandy, Tim, and Tommy spent a night at The Loft, the recording studio in Bronxville, NY where Too Much Joy first started recording. We were there to bash out a cover of “We Are The Clash” for a tribute album to Cut the Crap, the Clash’s worst record, which came out on Record Store Day, 2017. Four bottles of wine later, we’d not only finished the Clash tune, but had written and recorded a new, more realistic one: “We Are Not the Clash.”

We always figured they belonged together, and thanks to Matt Flood’s Asbestos Records, now they are, on a 7″ single with very fitting cover art. You can order it now from Asbestos for just six semolians.

What I Learned in Jail

April 22nd, 2017 by tim


2 Live CrewThe following is a presentation Tim gave at this year’s Pop Conference, about Too Much Joy’s brief moment of playing protest music, and what that taught him about the skepticism that so often greets artists who take political stands. It’s long, but he still left lots of stuff out.
Read the rest of this entry »

We Are The Clash

March 7th, 2017 by tim


RecuttingTheCrap_LPback

For Record Store Day this year (April 22nd), Crooked Beat is putting out a tribute to the final Clash LP, Cut the Crap. It’s not the band’s best record, but it did boast “This is England,” and also “We Are The Clash,” a title so funny that Too Much Joy almost stole it for what eventually became Cereal Killers. When we found out about the project, we asked if anyone had taken that one yet, and when the label said no and asked if we wanted to participate, we said, “Fuck yeah.”

So there will be a “new” Too Much Joy song out in the world on Record Store Day. We recorded it last year at The Loft in Bronxville (same place all the songs on Green Eggs and Crack were done) in a quick one night session, aided by the inimitable Al Hemberger and five bottles of Rioja (one for each band member, as both Bill Wittman and Sandy Smallens joined in). We were having so much fun we also wrote and recorded a companion piece on the spot. That one’s called “We Aren’t The Clash,” and we’re in the process of figuring out the best way to get that one out into the world, too.

More details on the full tribute album, titled Recutting the Crap, on Crooked Beats’ Facebook page:

Song of the Week: Theme Song

December 1st, 2013 by tim

A lot of Too Much Joy lyrics were written separately from the music, and then either given to Jay and/or Sandy to see what chords and melodies they’d come up with, or recited straight from my notebook of possibilities as the full band worked on some new riff during rehearsals.

“Theme Song” was scribbled on a page before being handed to Jay, and I remember being disappointed when he played me the music he’d written, as I’d been hearing something fast, anthemic and Mekons-y in my head. “Trust me, this is better,” he said. If only he’d always been so right.

We recorded it at the tail end of the Cereal Killers sessions – after we were supposedly finished tracking, in fact, because Ed Thacker was mixing what was supposed to be the completed album in a separate room. Tommy had gone home months earlier, so there are no drums per se on the album version – the percussion you hear is Mr. Mister’s Pat Mastoletto hand-thumping on some two-inch tape boxes and various other implements.

The studio version is fine, but I don’t think anyone realized just what we hath wrought until we started playing it live. As Jay foresaw, the chorus lyrics lend themselves to drunken swaying, and the tempo he insisted on was perfect for deliriously exhausted audiences to slur along to – so perfect, in fact, that most nights the crowd would keep singing it for at least five minutes after we left the stage. The tune very quickly secured itself a place of honor at the end of most every show, and it never seemed right to repeat the same spoken bit before the final chorus rounds, so I did my best to come up with a new, site-specific spiel every goddamned time we played it. If you saw us more than a few times, you may have heard me repeat myself once or twice, but I think at least 90% of those spiels were one-time-only affairs.

I don’t know if this is the best song Too Much Joy ever wrote, but it is definitely the most Too Much Joy song we ever wrote, and it figures in several of my favorite-ever onstage memories. One time, at TT the Bear’s in Cambridge, we led the crowd on a parade during the song, straight out of the club, down the street to a different club called the Middle East, down the stairs inside that club to the bewilderment of the audience who’d gathered to watch whatever band was onstage, then back up and into TT’s. And the last ever time we played, at the Knitting Factory in 2007, we passed out several hundred mini-tambourines so the audience could play as well as sing along. I don’t think the sound of all those teeny tiny shaking cymbals will ever be equalled in my mind, and the one silver lining to the fact that we didn’t manage to arrange any shows to celebrate the pending Cereal Killers re-release is that I highly doubt we could have topped that noise.

Cereal Killers Vinyl Re-Issue

October 26th, 2013 by tim

The most excellent Side One Dummy Records will be releasing a limited edition, colored-vinyl version of Too Much Joy’s 1991 “hit” album, Cereal Killers.

tmj_bundleblueandyellowYou can purchase it in blue or yellow vinyl plus a T-Shirt, or both blue and yellow if you can’t decide which color is prettiest, or both with the T-Shirt celebrating its vinyl-ness (the album didn’t originally come out on vinyl, unless you lived in Germany, in which case you got a version which bizarrely included “That’s a Lie” from Son of Sam I Am. But even if you were a German TMJ fan with a turntable in 1991, you could not get the album in pretty blue and/or yellow translucent vinyl, sequenced as the band intended. So you still need to buy this).

The album comes with brand-new liner notes about the recording process, and why the album title and cover art are so terrible, written by Tim with surprisingly few band-mandated edits.

We are excited by all this. We think you should be, too.

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