in the fall of 2011 regarding me producing an album of new tunes for
her. Unlike the moody, arty rock records she’d been making on her own
over the previous decade, this was going to be a kids’ album. It made
sense: Alison was a lead member of the kindie-rock phenomenon known as
the Sippy Cups: a psychedelic, theatrical roadshow dream for parents and
kids during the 2000s.
I have to admit, I was fascinated. My wife, Jill Pries, is the
director and teacher at a Montessori pre-school and kindergarten. I
worked there as a teacher aid for a year when the Orange Peels had just
put our first album out, and the kids had really inspired me. So much
so, that I wrote a song about the whole experience, “Big Bright Shiny Yellow Sun,” on my second solo album, Available Light in 2002.
So Alison came to the first session with all sorts of ideas, all
manner of cool references, and no band. It became clear fairly quickly
that we were going to make this record ourselves and play all the music we loved, and evolve into making music that we loved. We found
common ground in Godspell and Carole King, not to mention the Flaming Lips and Sir Elton.
Renowned music critic Greil Marcus compared our extended version of
“Itsy Bitsy Spider” to the Phil Spector wall of sound. That makes a
producer fairly happy.
After wrapping sessions, she asked me and some friends from Mystery
Lawn to join her band. All I can say is, playing for kids and families
is great fun, And you get home well before 2 a.m. (more like 2 p.m. really, and usually with a good chunk of change in your pocket).