SPIKE PRIGGEN – ‘Stars After Stars After Stars’
Spike Priggen's debut solo album The Very Thing You Treasure was
widely acknowledged by discerning critics and adventurous fans as one
of 2001's below-the-radar gems. A finely-crafted, personally-charged
collection of raw yet melodic guitar rock, the album established the
New York-based singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist as
both an unmistakable original and a diligent student of popular-music
tradition. It even got a little mainstream action with the Priggen tune "Every Broken Heart"
appearing in an episode of TV's Felicity and his song "Outtasight" appearing
in the first-ever iPod TV commercial.
On the new Stars After Stars After Stars, Priggen takes his lifelong
musical obsession a step further, delivering customized readings of 11
songs by other artists. In the playfully passionate tradition of such
classic covers-based albums as David Bowie's Pin-Ups and John Lennon's
Rock 'n' Roll, Stars After Stars After Stars explores a combination of
classics and obscurities as a vehicle for the artist's own deeply personal vision.
"A lot of people might think it's weird for a songwriter's second album
to be all other people's songs," Priggen acknowledges. "But a lot of
the artists I really admire were known as great songwriters and equally as great interpreters of other people's songs."
Stars After Stars After Stars—which borrows its name from the
legendary "J and H Productions" underground tape—finds Priggen
tackling an assortment of tunes originally recorded by the likes of
The Ramones, Big Star, Alice Cooper and the Zombies, as well as such
lesser-known but no less notable acts as the Pontiac Brothers, the
Jacobites and Hot Bodies, local legends from Priggen's hometown of New
Haven, Connecticut. Although written by others, the artist imbues the
songs with the same sense of sonic adventure and emotional commitment that he has applied to his own compositions.
The self-produced album was recorded with an array of vintage gear and
a musical cast that includes Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, a
longtime Priggen pal who plays on six of the album's songs and whose
last non-Cheap Trick studio credit was with John Lennon. Stars After
Stars After Stars also features a virtual Who's Who of the NYC music
scene, including guitarists Ivan Julian (Voidoids/Matthew Sweet), Mark
Spencer (Blood Oranges/Jay Farrar), Jon Graboff (Beat Rodeo/Laura
Cantrell), bassists Danny Weinkauf (They Might Be Giants/Fountains of
Wayne) and Scott Yoder (Kevin Salem/Amy Rigby), drummer Brian Doherty
(They Might Be Giants/XTC), keyboardist C.P. Roth (Ozzy Osbourne) and mixer/engineer Adam Lasus (Clem Snide/Helium).
Although Stars After Stars After Stars is Spike (nee Michael)
Priggen's second full-length release under his own name, his lengthy
musical resume encompasses numerous highly-regarded bands and notable
recording projects. Growing up, Priggen was imprinted early in life
by the energy and attitude of the original New York/London punk/new
wave explosion as well as the hard-edged power-pop of Cheap Trick, Big
Star and the Dwight Twilley Band. By his early teens, he'd already
been swept into New Haven's thriving underground scene, where played
in a series of bands with such future notables as Miracle Legion
founders Mark Mulcahy and Ray Neal, Dumptruck co-founder Kirk Swan and
noted producer/sideman Jon Brion.
Moving to New York to study photography at the School of Visual Arts,
Priggen worked at the legendary club Danceteria and formed a
minimalist pop outfit, the Blue Period, with fellow Danceteria
employees Nicole Willis (subsequently lead singer of Repercussions)
and Dmitry Brill (later DJ Dmitry of Deee-Lite). That group
eventually evolved into the Hello Strangers, an eclectic and
ever-mutating Priggen-led ensemble whose lineup would play host to a
virtual who's-who of alt-rock royalty, including members of Miracle
Legion, the Blood Oranges, Beat Rodeo, the Individuals, the Wygals,
Pulsallama, the Go-Betweens, Yo La Tengo, Dumptruck and Blonde
Redhead. The 1987 edition of the Hello Strangers released a
well-received album, Goodbye, on the independent Incas label.
In 1985, Priggen moved to Boston, where he served two non-consecutive
stints as bassist in the seminal Beantown combo Dumptruck; that period
is chronicled on the archival live disc of the 2001 Dumptuck release,
Lemmings Travel To The Sea. Subsequently returning to New Haven and
eventually to New York, he re-launched the Hello Strangers while
lending his instrumental talents to a variety of ensembles, including
the Liquor Giants, the Pussywillows, the Schramms, Big Louise, the
Caroline Know and the Streams. He also launched an independent label,
#1 Records, to release singles by several of those bands, and began
dabbling in behind-the-scenes studio work, producing and/or
engineering records by the Mad Scene, the Caroline Know and Containe.
During an extended busking jaunt through Europe, Priggen played gigs
in London and Scotland, and played and sang on an Edwyn
Collins-produced album by former Orange Juice/Aztec Camera member
Upon returning to New York ‘The Very Thing That You Treasure's’ birth cycle was complicated by a series of interruptions, first a serious auto accident that sidelined Priggen for several months, and then a
mysterious voice ailment that kept him from singing for several more.
While recovering, Priggen (using the pseudonym Patrick Prophette) took
on his first film-soundtrack assignment, composing music for the
acclaimed indie film Chutney Popcorn in collaboration with longtime
cohort Adam Lasus.
Having re-explored his roots with Stars After Stars After Stars,
Priggen is now eager to get back to recording his own material. "I
think I'm taking things a step further," he says of his next album of
originals, "with bigger arrangements and some different kinds of songs
than I've done on record before."
But, he adds, "After my next album of originals, I might just make
another covers album."
Street date: March 29th, 2005 on Volare Records
For more information please contact Robert Vickers at (212) 674 3541 or [email protected] or www.spikepriggen.com