Bradley's Almanac

[Live MP3s] James Kochalka Superstar in Cambridge – October 2006

Posted on January 8, 2008 at 11:41 am | 1 Comment

I believe it’s safe to say that there’s no creative career out there quite like the one that James Kochalka has fashioned for himself. I can’t think of another artist/writer who jumps back and forth so easily between vulgarity and innocence, between the mundane and magical. For isntance, his 2007 brought us not only the charming children’s story “Squirrelly Gray” from Random House, but the 4th issue of the curse-laden, oversexed Top Shelf comic “Super F*ckers”. Even within his daily drawn diary, online at American Elf, (which also gets collected every couple years by Top Shelf), he jumps between strips that make you go “hmmm” to ones that make you go “wow”. And the occasional one that makes you go “ouch.” But for James, it’s just his life, all part of what makes up his Burlington, Vermont-based world.

And even if you did find another creator who expresses both the grand and the gross so easily, you’d have to ask yourself: “Do they rock?” Because, every once in awhile, James Kochalka does. When not in front of his drawing board, or being a husband and dad, you’ll find him fronting his band James Kochalka Superstar, which he’s been doing for well over a decade. And for years before that, he lead the University of VT-spawned casio/sax combo Jazzin’ Hell. The guy was probably doing leg-kicks before Robert Pollard was, and at any James show, there’s always a chance you’ll get some full frontal. Like it or not. While he’s singing about rainbows, out-of-control ballerinas, or pee.

So in honor of the fresh redesign of his American Elf diary site, which now freely offers every single daily strip he’s done since 2002, I’ve decided to finally share up a rockin’ set that he played with his band here in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2006. This particular version of James Kochalka Superstar was a little different, as regular members Jason Cooley and Creston Lea were joined by the ace fill-in rhythm section of drummer Neil Cleary (of, um, Neil Cleary) and bassist Herb van der Poll (from the Jazz Guys), and for a couple songs, totally unprepared guests. So feel free to blame any looseness on them.

Here’s the set, with some info on James’ future musical and artistic plans below…

James Kochalka Superstar

Live at the Middle East Upstairs
in Cambridge, MA
on Saturday, October 28th, 2006

01. Smell Ya Later / Magic Finger
02. Cocaine
03. Fascist Bikes
04. God / Wash Your Ass
05. Why Is The Sky Blue?
06. Rainbow Love
07. Britney’s Silver Can
08. Breaking Stuff
09. Open Mic Night Improv
10. Hockey Monkey
11. Albert’s My Friend
12. Ben the Stupid Brontosaurus
13. Twinkle Twinkle Ringo Starr
14. Monkey Vs. Robot


(yes, this guest drummer may look familiar. there goes my objectivity.)

Record label Rykodisc wasn’t up to the challenge of making money off of James’ music, despite “Hockey Monkey” becoming the theme of Fox TV show “The Loop”, and the song “Britney’s Silver Can” being one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Songs of 2006, so they ended up dropping JKS after releasing the “Our Most Beloved” compilation in ’05 and the “Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly” full-lengther in ’06.

Ryko’s marketing of JKS was likely made more difficult given the fact the band isn’t able to tour all that much, but James will still be making much more music in 2008. He says…

“I’m hoping to record two new albums. One rock, and the other gameboy style. It’s just a dream at this point though, and they will probably be self-released.”

Until that dream becomes reality, subscribers to the American Elf site can listen to in-progress and unreleased songs that James shares up, and those subscribers also get bonus strips and other random goodness. Well worth a measly couple bucks a month.

Speaking measly dollars, Top Shelf is having a ridiculous sale on some of James’ finest work: Those big collected editions of American Elf strips. The price of Book 1 (which gathers 5 full years of strips) has been cut in half, and so has Book 2 (2 more years worth). Me, I sprung for the deluxe hardcover of Book 1 awhile back (and there are still some of that swanky limited edition available), and used this sale to put Book 2 alongside it on my shelves. Book 3 will appear on shelves this year, and can be pre-ordered here.

Also ahead for James in 2008 is the release of the first two books of his new Johnny Boo series of all ages graphic novels, which can both be pre-ordered as well. Volume 1 ships in June from Top Shelf, with Volume 2 later in the year. Head here for a preview.

Some Kochalka-quality links…

  • American Elf, his Wikipedia entry, his Top Shelf Comix page, the American Elf forum, the JKS band page, Rykodisc page, and the Kochalkaholic fan site.
  • Additional Audio: Apart from subscribing to American Elf and getting some Mp3s, you can still order JKS discs from Ryko here. Stream “Hockey Monkeyhere, where you can also find iTunes links, or at a fan-created MySpace page.

    And here’s a little somethin’ extra that would’ve been more timely if I’d actually gotten this post finished in December like I planned, but what the hell, you can save it for next Christmas. It’s a holiday classic from James’ old band, Jazzin’ Hell

    Mp3: Jazzin’ Hell – “Sleigh Ride To Heck

    I’d offer you even more pointers to some Jazzin’ Hell songs, but someone needs to fix a few broken links (considering this a little poke).

  • Video: A Kochlka YouTube search turns up plenty of James videos, live footage, and interviews. I shared up a very old clip of the JKS experience performing live in 1994 during my short time behind the kit, and hopefully will share more songs from that tape eventually.
  • Photos: Check out the full Kochalka Flickr tag search, which will turn up lots of James’ artwork along with some live shots.
  • In honor of the American Elf strip archives being made freely available for all last month as part of the site redesign, Wizard Magazine interviewed James about it, and they also talked about his unreleased “Dragon Puncher” book, which lacks a publisher. I need to see that sucker just based on the title alone.
  • Listen to any and all ‘Nac-hosted Mp3s at the Hype Machine.
  • the fine print… If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the ‘nac faq). Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.

    Comments

    One Response to “[Live MP3s] James Kochalka Superstar in Cambridge – October 2006”

    1. Josel Nicolas
      February 25th, 2016 @ 3:07 pm

      OH MY GOD. Thanks for putting this set back up online. It’s my favorite live thing ever. 🙂

    Leave a Reply





  • About the ‘Nac

    This is Bradley's Almanac. I'm your host, Brad. Barely holding it together since February 2000.

    "I love this song. It's so true. I wish this song was a whole day long. Man, I would have the best day that day."
    - The Kids In The Hall
  • Almanac Archives

  • Boston-Area Action

    Tuesday, November 21st
    Squeeze
    @ the Wilbur


    Tuesday, November 21st
    American Football
    Pure Bathing Culture
    Land of Talk
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, November 26th
    Cut Copy
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, November 30th
    Hallelujah the Hills
    Bong Wish
    Blau Blau
    @ The Middle East Up


    Thursday, November 30th
    St. Vincent
    @ House of Blues


    Thursday, November 30th
    Beach Slang
    Dave Hause & The Mermaid
    The Homeless Gospel Choir
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, December 1st
    Maximo Park
    Ava Luna
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, December 1st
    Dream Syndicate
    The Richard Lloyd Group
    @ the ONCE  Ballroom


    Saturday, December 2nd
    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
    Outer Spaces
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, December 2nd
    Jolie Holland &
    Samantha Parton
    (of The Be Good Tanyas)
    @ Great Scott


    Sunday, December 3rd
    Do Make Say Think
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, December 5th
    Jake Bugg
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, December 6th
    Hiss Golden Messenger
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, December 7th
    Mogwai
    Xander Harris
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, December 7th
    The Bouncing Souls
    TSOL
    Rebuilder
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, December 7th
    Morrissey
    @ the Orpheum


    Friday, December 8th
    Converge
    Pile
    Give
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, December 8th
    Pinegrove
    Saintseneca
    Adult Mom
    @ the Royale


    Friday, December 8th
    LCD Soundsystem
    @ Agganis Arena


    Sunday, December 10th
    Reverend Horton Heat
    & Junior Brown with
    The Blasters & Big Sandy
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, December 12th
    Creaturos
    Rye Pines
    Sun Voyager
    Zip-Tie Handcuffs
    @ Great Scott


    Tuesday, December 12th
    The Dear Hunter
    The Family Crest
    Vavá
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, December 14th
    Matt Pond PA
    Ricky Lewis
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, December 16th
    Bent Shapes (farewell show),
    Laika's Orbit, & Beware the
    Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, December 18th
    Unsane
    Big Brave
    Child Bite
    Hepatagua
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, December 21st
    Ceremony
    Nothing
    @ Sonia


    Friday, December 22nd
    Love Love & Friends Xmas Show!
    with special guests Rick Berlin,
    Field Day, Bob Kendall,
    Anna Rae/Hemway, & Martha Marin
    @ the Midway Cafe


    Thursday, December 28th
    Cymbals Eat Guitars
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday & Sunday
    December 30th & 31st
    Deer Tick
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, January 6th
    Fur Purse (LP Release Party!)
    with Whore Paint,
    Shepherdess, and Sister
    @ the Midway Cafe


    Saturday, January 13th
    ONE NIGHT BAND
    40 musicians form 8 new
    bands & perform that night
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, January 13th
    Lana Del Rey
    Jhene Aiko
    @ TD Garden


    Saturday, January 13th
    Wildhoney
    Horse Jumper of Love
    Mini Dresses
    Strange Passage
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, January 13th
    Camper Van Beethoven
    Cracker
    @ the Middle East Downstairs


    Sunday, January 21st
    Tennis
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, January 24th
    Sleigh Bells
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, January 24th
    Destroyer
    Mega Bog
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, January 26th
    The Posies
    @ City Winery Boston


    Wednesday, January 31st
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
    Night Beats
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, February 3rd
    Steve Earle
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, February 9th
    Girlpool
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, February 10th
    Weakened Friends
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, February 16th
    Steve Earle
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, February 16th
    Robert Plant
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, February 17th
    Porches
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, February 17th
    Noel Gallagher’s
    High Flying Birds
    @ the Boston Opera House


    Sunday, February 18th
    X Ambassadors
    Now, Now
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, February 21st
    Frightened Rabbit
    Wintersleep
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, March 6th
    Jessica Lea Mayfield
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, March 8th
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, March 8th
    Tune-Yards
    @ the Royale


    Friday, March 9th
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    @ Sanders Theatre, Harvard


    Friday, March 9th
    OMD
    @ the House of Blues


    Saturday, March 10th
    Nada Surf celebrating the 15th
    anniversary of their "Let Go" LP
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, March 23rd
    Glen Hansard
    @ House of Blues Boston


    Saturday, March 31st
    S. Carey
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, April 7th
    Ought
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, April 10th
    Franz Ferdinand
    @ House of Blues Boston


    Sunday, April 22nd
    The Darkness
    @ the Royale


    Friday, April 27th
    They Might Be Giants
    @ the House of Blues


    Saturday, April 28th
    Peter Hook & the Light
    performing both of the
    "Substance" collections by
    Joy Division & New Order
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, May 18th
    The Fratellis
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, July 17th
    Weezer
    Pixies
    @ Xfinity Center


    July 21st & 22nd
    Foo Fighters
    @ Fenway Park