Secret Emchy Society - Mark's Yard Media Kit
"...a strangely perfect cover..." - Dave Lang
Story behind the album
Since I started playing music in bands my favorite part of the night has always been the post-show music jam. When the wine or bourbon comes out and people just start sharing the songs that mean the most to them at that moment. Or maybe the songs they wrote that they know their pals want to hear. The best part is just all of these musicians, chosen family, coming together and rowdy joyful singing together. It’s our church. It’s our sacred time. When we’re the most real, the most raw, and the most authentically ourselves. I wanted to capture that for this album. Bring the listener into that rare and magical time. Encourage them to sing-along. To enjoy. To cut loose. To just have a little bit of fun.
Stories behind the songs
1. Bears - lyrics Poppy Z Brite, music Rhubarb Whiskey
Bears came about in a hilarious way. I used to spend a fair bit of time on LiveJournal and the internet being what it is I became friends with one of my favorite authors - Poppy Z. Brite. At some point they wrote lyrics to a country song they thought could never actually work. So (with their permission) I took the words and a melody line / basic chord progression to my gothic murdergrass band Rhubarb Whiskey and we woodshedded that song until we landed on a sweetly dark ballad about drinking in Alaska. Fast forward to now - Rhubarb Whiskey is on a 7+ year hiatus and I re-arranged the song into more of a crowd sing-a-long rowdy bit of fun. This take features the Hootenanny Bootleg Kitchen Singers from Victoria, BC.
2. Whiskey Bent - Hank Williams Jr
I love me a good Hank Williams Jr song now and then, and I also love me a good whiskey drinking song - so this seemed like a natural to play during those late night hours when we’re all just looking to sing-a-long and have some fun. Of course when I learned more (and more) about Hank Jr’s conservative ways it felt pretty rad to take one of his songs and queer it up a bit. After all - we all like whiskey and women. So let’s just get along - right?
3. Monkeys in the Zoo - Dave Lang
One of my first times touring up on Vancouver Island I met Dave Lang (of Dave Lang and the Insolent Rabble). I had played a music festival up there, and then the traditional after fest Hootenanny show at Logan’s, and then it was to the Chinatown loft for some after-show fun. My pal J was insistent that Dave play ‘that song’ for me. So in a smoke filled room, when I’d had far too much wine, Dave kicked off a slowly magical performance of this song. We’ve been friends ever since, and this little charmer is one of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard. I had a crush on the song from the moment I heard it and that’s never changed. A special treat - Dave Lang sings back up on this one too. If that’s not a blessing I don’t know what is.
4. Go Get Lost - Carolyn Mark
I recorded my first album up in Victoria in January of 2016. On my first night in town I was playing my crew some of the new songs and my friend Carolyn Mark played me her newest song. I was immediately transfixed. It felt like a missive. Like the advice I had needed to hear my entire life. When I was putting this covers album together I was terrified to ask her if I could use it. She hadn’t even recorded it yet! But when I approached her about it she offered it up, with her blessing, and with her backing vocals recorded down at my house in Oakland in Oct of 2018.
5. I’m Not Drunk - Mack Allen Smith
This was just a straightforward - heard it on SOMA FM’s Boot Liquor radio, fell in love with the song, started playing it at shows moment. Of course we’re not drunk… we’re just drinkin!
6. The Faith - Tolan McNeil
Oh this song. Written by Tolan McNeil - for years I had ONLY heard it at late night sing-a-longs over at The Last Resort in Victoria. When I finally got a hold of his album Give ‘Er I was able to (in a more sober way) listen to it repeatedly and scratch that itchy musical obsession that the song had become. I was (and am) honored when I got his unequivocal permission and encouragement to include this on the album.
7. Santa Cruz - Feral
In 2015 I was on tour with my band Feral and playing some shows with Carolyn Mark in Santa Cruz. When we stayed nearby and drank ALL of the wine that our winemaker pal Nic Calder had brought with him we all got into some … passionate conversations. The next night we played in Sonoma and the first rain in five years hit Northern California and I ran outside to D’mitra & Pascal’s back porch and did a voice recording of this song. That show up in Sonoma was actually the first time I performed solo - and this song would be the last song that Feral wrote together before we disbanded and I officially formed the Secret Emchy Society.
8. Grayson - Tolan McNeil
This song was rescued from a 4am song session at The Last Resort in January of 2017. We had been recording my new album since 11am the night before and things were getting a bit… hilarious. Grayson Walker (accordionist / vocalist of Hearse) was having some fun un-tuning Tolan’s guitar over and over. Out of love and frustration came this little love song to friends.
9. Poncho’s Lament - Tom Waits
This is a cover of an old semi-obscure Tom Waits tune that I fell in love with when I bought an Italian bootleg of his 70’s era songs back in Michigan in the mid-90’s. When coming up with a covers album - I knew this had to be on it.
10. Delia - traditional
Back in the Rhubarb Whiskey days this was one of the few covers we did. So we took the classic Johnny Cash version of this traditional and re-arranged it - turning it more minor, making it darker, and making it far more queer.
11. Rye Whiskey - traditional
I’ve been wanting to cover this song for years. It’s a frequent go to at my local hootenanny and in the ‘warm up’ / ‘cool down’ jam sessions for the bands. But when Mya Byrne joined practice for the yard sessions and we just organically and slightly accidentally ended up singing it - I knew it had to be on the record. <3