Welcome to gizburgduck.com!

And now, the news.

It’s that time again. The time when I stop and think “I haven’t posted on the Gizburg鴨 blog in almost two months.”

So.. um.. news. Well….
We have a big show coming up on April 19 in Farmington. The first annual Notes 4 Hope show, benefiting To Write Love On Her Arms. NINETEEN bands for five dollars! It’s one hell of a bargain. We play at 8:45pm. More info: http://goo.gl/nJYUtF

In other news…
I haven’t told many people about this yet, because I’ve said it like 5 times over the past few years, and not once has it panned out, but we hopefully will have a new guitarist with us on the 19th. He’s came to more than one practice, so we’re already doing better than before. And he seems to be pretty excited and into the idea. So hopefully it’s totally for real this time. We’ve got a new 鴨. His name is James.

And that’s all I have for now. See you in another couple months.

ギズバグ鴨

To those who regularly keep close tabs on what Gizburg Duck is up to, you might have noticed we’ve been under the radar for a few months. You might have also noticed the not-so-subtle replacements around the web of “Gizburg Duck” with “Gizburg鴨”.

Around the end of 2013, we played a couple of really bad shows, we had a handful of problems that prevented us from practicing regularly, and our planned CD release didn’t really work out. All of these things kinda led to the decision to take a month or three off from playing shows, and just work on getting things together.

We’ve tossed around the idea of changing the band name for a while, but never really taken it seriously. The name Gizburg Duck has been such a serious part of our life for a long time and it’s hard to let go of. People say they don’t like it because it doesn’t mean anything, but to that I ask how many other band names really mean something? Probably less than 50%.

However, we finally realized that the “duck” conveys silly and whimsy, which kinda fit us 14 years ago, but we’re a lot more serious of a band now.

But I still hate to give up on a name we’ve held on to for over a decade. So we’re compromising by writing the duck in Japanese.

We realize that most people aren’t going to know how to pronounce 鴨 (the Japanese word is “kamo”, by the way), and they certainly won’t know how to type it, so it’s just going to result in everyone just calling us Gizburg. But that’s what a lot of people already call us anyway.
So we’re not really changing the name, and we’re not really changing what most people call us. We’re just making it not look so silly when people see it written.

So anyway, we’re ready to start playing shows again and we have re-imagined name and image. The CD still might be another month or three, but I think people are really going to like it when they hear it. We’re ready to start 2014!!

And we’re starting it with this: http://on.fb.me/1k9oxOB

Be there!

Gizburg Suck

I’ve had a slightly humbling experience recently. Someone was telling me about a conversation they were having with someone else about me and the band I’m in. Person 1 said they didn’t think our band was that good, and person 2 said “well at least he’s not in Gizburg Duck.” When 1 told 2 that I was, 2 proceeded to laugh for ten minutes.

I didn’t quite realize we were that freaking infamous, but I do realize we’re not the most skilled, the most talented, the most creative, or the most impressive band out there. We’re not for everyone, and I’m okay with that. Still it’s a little disheartening to know that how much we suck is such a widely circulated joke.

I think the problem is that I put practically everything we do online. We have some good shows and some bad shows, and some good recordings and some bad recordings. That’s just the nature of being in a band. But I have a tendency to put good and bad alike online for all to see. For instance, pretty much all we have on our YouTube channel at the moment is crap.

So I really need to change that. I’m going to take down all the crap we have online and replace it with the awesomeness that’s on The Way.

Because there is a lot of awesomeness on The Way. It’ll be another few weeks before I get all the details of our CD release show worked out, so everyone can finally hear it. It very likely won’t be any earlier than January. But it is finished, and it is awesome!

But in the meantime, we’re playing a Stefanko Productions show on December 14. It’s a Christmas For Kids toy drive hosted by A Moment In Time Photography, and it’ll be in the Potosi Middle School gym. And also, we may have a surprise in store for that show: the fourth member that I’ve been wanting to get forever. More details soon!

Shaun Gibson

In loving memory of Shaun Gibson, July 30, 1984 — October 11, 2013

Upcoming Shows

It’s been a while since I posted here. Mainly because I’ve been preoccupied with recording The Way. We wanted to have it ready by our show on November 9th, and we’re really cutting it close, but I think we’re on schedule. (Although I somehow doubt my plans to re-record Building the Dream will happen before then.)

Anyway, there are some major updates that you need to know. Well, one that you need to know and one that you should already know, but I’ll rehash it anyway.

We’re celebrating 13 years as a band with Birthday Show 13 at All Occasions Hall in Park Hills on November 9th. Joining us will be A Life Less Gray, Capuchin Punks, and Otis Wheels. And what birthday would be complete without presents? Admission to the event will be one toy, which will be donated to Toys for Tots in St. Louis. I’m still waiting on some of the details from TfT, so if there’s anything you need to know about what kind of toys are and aren’t acceptable, I’ll pass that along as the info becomes available.

The other thing is another show we’re playing on October 20th, also at All Occasions Hall in Park Hills. It’s called Battlegrounds 1, and it’s being put on by Stefanko Productions. I’m not going to promote this show very heavily, because there are already plenty of other bands doing that, and I don’t want to confuse people with two shows so close together at the same location. However, Battlegrounds is not a free show, and Stefanko Productions has asked that all the bands sell a minimum number of tickets. We usually really don’t like when show promoters do that, partially because we have such a hard time getting a definite yes from people when we ask them to come to our shows, but also because it seems like such a greed tactic. Like so much of the professional music industry, it shifts the focus from who can play the best music to who can make the most money. However, in this particular instance, the money is going somewhere other than the promoter’s pocket. As suggested by the event name, the band will be competing against each other. The audience will vote on the best band, and the winners get the profits from ticket sales. I kinda like that idea, so we’re sticking with it. Even though we’re certainly not counting on winning anything.
But again, we’re not trying very hard to promote this show. The other show on November 9th is really the one we want people to come to. If I have to cover the tickets we don’t sell out of my pocket, I’ll be okay with that, but we could really use the help of all the people who come to shows to see Gizburg Duck

Movements of Tanhyre and themes of the Other Realms

Travis Tucker, our “founding father” playing a song he wrote for the band many fortnights ago, very extended and very mixed with other things. His version of the song and our version that we play without him have evolved in two very different paths, but our version will be on The Way. It’s not quite as impressive (or as long) as his.

The Way

I have just over two months to finish putting this together. It’s going to be close, but I’m going to make it. It’s time to finally unveil the official album artwork:

“Will Rock For Food” is going to be huge.

I know I’ve said this three times now in the past few months about three different shows, but the show tomorrow will be the first show we’ve done in about 2 years. The other two shows had virtually no turnout, and very problematic circumstances that led to weak performances. But tomorrow will be just like the old days. And from what I can tell, it has the potential to be the biggest show we’ve ever played. I’ve never put together a DIY show that had this many people involved and enthusiastic about making it an awesome night. I’ve had people I don’t even know see me and tell me they were exited for the show. If the turnout is even half as big as the hype, it will still be one rockin’ evening.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here: http://t.co/T0uceTfXwG. It’s a food drive, so don’t forget a couple cans.

By the way, not to be sellouts or anything, but we have a couple shirt designs we’re going to be trying to sell. We’ll also have stickers and CDs. We’re out of physical copies of Building the Dream, and the Way isn’t quite finished yet, but I’m putting together sampler discs with a couple songs from each album along with a few of our covers, as a bonus.

Where “Gizburg Duck” came from.

One could probably guess that with a band name like Gizburg Duck, we get asked what it means a lot. We rarely tell the whole story of how we came up with the idea, because it’s a long and very pointless story. Sometimes we’ll tell just a few of the key elements. Sometimes we’ll completely make something up. Usually I just say “It’s just some words we invented. It doesn’t mean anything.”

But it occurs to me that I can get more people to visit our site by telling the story here. When someone asks “How did you guys come up with the name Gizburg Duck?” I can just reply “Go to gizburgduck.com. The answer’s there.”

So here it is. The complete story with nothing left out.

When I was in middle school, my mom introduced me to Abbott and Costello, and I loved it. One of my favorite films of theirs, Little Giant, contains a scene where Costello is applying for a job as a door-to-door salesman for the Hercules Vacuum Cleaner company, but Abbott, playing the manager of the company, mistakenly believes he is auditioning for the roll of Hercules for one of their ads. After he instructs a confused Costello to take off his clothes, the following dialog ensues:

Abbott: “You certainly don’t look like Hercules to me.”
Costello: “Who wants to look like a vacuum cleaner?”
Abbott: “Who’s talking about a vacuum cleaner? I’m talking about Hercules, a man. Surely you’ve heard of Hercules.”
Costello: “What’s his last name?”
Abbott: “What?”
Costello: “His last name. Like Hercules Brown, Hercules Gizburg… Everybody’s got a last name.”

In retrospect, having seen the movie about 100 times by now, I think he actually said “Ginsburg”, which is a somewhat common last name. But when I first saw the movie, I’d never heard the name Ginsburg. And with Costello’s funny voice and strong New York accent, Gizburg is what I heard, and what I stuck with.

So later, in my earlier years of high school, out of being a huge nerd, I spent a lot of my time writing sci-fi/fantasy stories for an imaginary planet I made up. I used a lot of obscure pop culture references for names in these stories, not to be trendy, but because I wanted to use words that sounded weird and cool and alien. The name of the planet was Mvemjsnup (bonus points to anyone who knows this reference (hint: it’s from a 90s sitcom)) and the ruler of the planet was King Charles Gizburg VIII. Also out of being a huge nerd, I liked to fantasize that I was this king, and I did not keep this fantasy a secret. Many of my friends called me King Charles Gizburg VIII, or usually, King Chuck for short. It was a pretty big thing with me throughout most of high school. (I have more that I’d like to say about King Charles and Mvemjsnup in another post sometime.)

Okay, so then around my senior year, I met Travis Tucker. Travis and I were both very much “march to your own drum” types. We both really got a kick out of doing bizarre and unusual things just to get a “what the hell is wrong with you” reaction from people. From bringing toys to school, to making a wallet chain out of a string of gummy bears, to getting duck taped to the wall, we were constantly getting thrown in ISS for the stupidest things. And it was a LOT of fun. Anyway, one day I brought a rubber ducky to school to squeak at people in the hall, and on the same day, Travis brought one of those flat tipped felt calligraphy pens to do all his school work with. I don’t really know how, but somehow Travis ended up with my rubber ducky, and he had it in one of his classes while was wasting time playing around with the calligraphy pen. He was intrigued by the sideways-eyeglasses style lowercase G that’s in a lot of serif fonts, so he was writing down a lot of G words, one of which was Gizburg, which he knew from my Mvemjsnup stories. He was also wrote whatever other words popped into his head, and with the rubber ducky sitting on the desk, “duck” ended up being one of the random words. This particular day, by the way, also just so happened to be the day Travis and I first talked about putting together a band to play at the county talent show. So when he got done writing all these random words, he looked down and saw “Gizburg” and “Duck” next to each other. And it struck him as a perfect band name. So a few days later, that was the group name I wrote on the application for the talent show, and shortly thereafter, we played a show under the name Gizburg Duck.

The rest is history.

The people who got us where we are

When I put together the liner notes for Building the Dream, I made a little bit of a mistake. I wanted to include a special thank you for the people who most helped the band become what it is; namely the band’s former members. I also wanted to acknowledge the fact that everyone who’s ever played music with us has been and continues to be an influence on the way we sound. But the way I worded it wasn’t quite as clear as it should have been. It said “All songs written by some combination of the following people:” and then went on to list everyone who’s ever played music with us, alphabetically. Technically, this would have been a true statement no matter who I listed after the colon, as long as the people who did actually write the songs were part of the list. But that’s not how some have interpreted it. When I applied for a copyright on the album, the guy at the copyright office called me on it. He asked why the application listed three guys, when the liner notes listed ten authors. I explained the situation and he was cool with it. But just recently, I was looking at different sites that had Building the Dream for sale (there’s like 20 of them) and I found a few that had all ten names listed after every song as “composers”.

Now, there a couple of different ways to define “writing a song”. I think the most commonly used idea is the person who writes the lyrics and comes up with the main chord progressions is the writer. By that definition, I am the sole author of almost all of Building the Dream. However, I usually give it a bit broader scope. Maybe not every single drum hit and every string pluck and every tone that comes through the speakers counts, but overall the song is crafted by more than just the guy who writes the lyrics and the guitar part.

The copyright does only list Josh, Leif, and myself in spite of the fact that other people did contribute significant portions to some of the songs. I kinda figured Building the Dream wasn’t ever going to make enough (if any) money for it to matter, and it would have been more of a hassle and more expensive to figure out who wrote what, track down everyone to get signatures, and have to file a separate application for each song. As it is, one copyright covers the album as a whole, which cost me $30, instead of $400.

But, in an effort to show the acknowledgment and appreciation that I originally intended to show, here is a detailed account of how all ten of those people have helped Gizburg Duck become so awesome:

Travis Tucker is really the most important name on this list. Mainly because it was him that first said “Hey! Let’s start a band!” And in the five years he was a part of Gizburg Duck, he helped create a lot of the music we still play today. On Building the Dream he wrote the funk-inspired guitar riff in Shelby along with the concept for the lyrics, he wrote all of the lyrics and and most of the guitar part to Shockwave, he came up with the original versions of RPM and Ivory Tower (both of which sounded nothing like how we play them today), and he wrote Roll Away and Turkish Delight, but after he left I had no idea what his lyrics were, so they both got completely new lyrics.

Shaun Gibson is another important name on this list. He joined Gizburg Duck when Josh did, immediately following our first show, and like Josh, he didn’t know a thing about playing his instrument. But this lack of knowledge of the “right” way to play opened the doors to a lot of cool ideas that really worked. It was primarily Shaun that got us off the track of Travis’ and my original idea for the band (basically a They Might Be Giants cover band) and on the track of becoming an actual rock band. His biggest contribution to Building the Dream is the iconic bass line to Shockwave. He also contributed a lot to the reshaping of RPM.

Sarah McCoy was actually onstage with us at the first show. She didn’t play anything, but she hit the distortion on my amp for me, because I didn’t have a footswich at the time. She didn’t actually contribute anything specific used in Building the Dream (other than, like Shaun, a large influence on the general feel of the band), but she did have a very memorable stint as the singer. The second time we played at the county talent show, she sang a song called Infirm. We don’t play the song anymore, mainly because I don’t remember most of it, since I played drums at that show instead of guitar, but someday, we may get it figured out again.

Just like Leif did in 2009, Syrhea Conaway in 2005 rescued the band from oblivion just as Josh and I were about to give up on Gizburg Duck. She helped us get our first taste of playing real gigs as a real rock band. The year we spent in St. Louis was awesome and we couldn’t have done it without her. Although she did come up with a lot of original material on the bass, and quite a bit of it is the same stuff Leif plays, I think they more or less came up with it independently. They both are great bassists, and actually have very similar styles.

It may be an exaggeration to say Danny Warren was ever in the band, because he never played any shows or recorded any material. But we had a lot of fun with him while we were trying to bring him into the band, so it’s an exaggeration I’m happy to make. He did help us make a pretty awesome and hilarious music video for RPM, so that has to count for something. He contributed to the general feel of Building the Dream the same manner Shaun and Syrhea did, but with an opposite effect. He helped us reclaim some of the geekiness that we toughened out in all of our “becoming a real band” efforts. And I’m glad we have a little of it back.

It’s definitely an exaggeration to say Mike Henson and Nick French were ever in the band. They never really considered themselves members. They were just doing Travis and I a favor by playing with us on our first show. But they were onstage under the name Gizburg Duck. So I’ve always said they were the first members. And although they certainly never contributed anything to the band musically, if it wasn’t for them, there might never have been a band. So whether they agree with it or not, I will continue to tout them as founders of the band.

While I’m on a roll, I might as well continue with the other three names on the list: the current members of Gizburg Duck.

As mentioned above, Shaun started us on the path to becoming a real rock band, and Syrhea gave us a sample of what being a real band was like. But I don’t think we achieved that elusive “real” status until Leif Mathis joined the band. Since he’s been with us, we’ve published a full length album, we’ve practically tripled our show frequency as well as our song repertoire, gained new fans literally around the world, and most importantly, we’ve gotten really good at what we do. He’s been with the band for close to 5 years now, which means he’s just about to surpass Travis as having the third longest tenure, after me and Josh. He’s become as much a part of the core of Gizburg Duck as Josh and I, and I can’t imagine we’d ever be able to go on being awesome without him.

As for Josh Litton, even though he wasn’t onstage at the first Gizburg Duck show, he really is a founding member. Before he and Shaun joined, Gizburg Duck was just an idea Travis and I had. One that Mike and Nick helped us pretend was real, but when Josh, Shaun, and Sarah joined, that’s really when the band was founded. Over the years, it’s really been his unique sense of humor and his self-taught, independent-of-what-anyone-else-is-doing drumming style (and his ability to keep my hair-brained ideas grounded in reality) that have created the uniqueness that has made Gizburg Duck so great. Somewhere along the years someone gave him “Gizburg” as a nickname, and I really think it fits, as I really consider him to be the heart and soul of the band. Without him, it just wouldn’t be Gizburg Duck.

And then there’s me. I sing and play guitar, and I write a lot of the lyrics. I’m also the guy who invented the word Gizburg. And that’s a story I want to tell sometime soon in another blog post. Other than that, I can’t quite think of as much to say about myself as I had to say about everyone else. If you want the real scoop, I guess you’ll have to ask Josh or Leif.