#30 – “Town To Town” (Hello The Band; 1993)

Hello The Band EP
L.K.: HELLO THE BAND! I first heard this song less than a year ago because I had absolutely no idea where to get ahold of the Hello the Band EP.
A.S.: And then I believe you sent it to me and then I first heard it.
L.K.: It’s the sort of thing that has to be shared between fans because there is literally nowhere you can buy it. The Hello CD of the Month Club was exactly what it sounds like: a CD-of-the-month club.
A.S.: And this among was the first releases of that Club, and the only release by Hello The Band, which consisted of Joshua Fried and uh… Rolf Conant.
L.K.: One of the absolute dumbest musician pseudonyms… and therefore, one of my favorites.
A.S.: Yeah, few pseudonyms beat out Rolf Conant.  The only ones I can think of that are better are the guys in The Dukes of Stratosphear and The Emotional Toothpaste.
L.K.: Don’t forget Blind Willie Dunn and his Gin Bottle Four! Old-school! Nothing can ever beat “The Emotional Toothpaste” though… but Sir John Johns and E.I.E.I. Owen come close. But yeah, “Rolf Conant.” No idea where Flans pulled that name from. Conant is his middle name, but Rolf? Seriously? Are people even named that anymore? Even in Germany?
A.S.: Probably a Muppet reference.
L.K.: “Rolf Conant” dates back to at least 1985, when Flansburgh and Bill Krauss made a fake art review magazine together: the infamous “Art In Context”.
A.S.: Right, I remember hearing about that at some point.
L.K.: Big quote from Bill Krauss here: “Flansburgh and I, in a spirit of just having fun, created an eight-page magazine called ‘Art in Context’, which we did mostly on my early Macintosh in ’85.  Flansburgh did paste-up and stuff, and we created a really pretentious art magazine.  We did it all under pseudonyms, although my name and address is in it as something to find.   All of the names were made up.  There’s ‘Klaus Novek Osterhog’– we figured it was German expatriates in New York, so the editors were ‘Luftholm R. Auftika’ and ‘Klaus Novek Osterhog’.  The publisher was ‘Ingrid Renfield’.  They had two foreign bureaus– one in Berlin and one in Los Angeles– that was foreign to New York– and the two interns were the sort of WASP preppies, ‘Hutchinson Connelly IV’ and ‘Francis Beef’.” Whole lotta fake names going on there, so I’m guessing that was Rolf’s first appearance in any official capacity. For more reading on that subject, I will direct you to this interview.
A.S.: Francis Beef.  If only they’d kept on with that one.
L.K.: I know, I love Francis Beef.
A.S.: Really though, those are some serious Tim And Eric-caliber names. Not too far off from Bilb Ono or Joshua Beard. But anyway, this song.
L.K.: Yeah, this song. Wait, a little more background info on the Hello Club for a minute, just to explain why this was so hard to find.
A.S.: Okay. You are the Hello expert between the two of us, so I defer to you.
L.K.: It existed from 1993 to 1996, they pressed about 10 EPs a year, and they only made as many EPs as there were subscribers to the club, so everything was made in seriously limited quantities. Also the performers retained all their recording rights and everything, which is why it’s been entirely up to the original artists themselves whether any of it ever got released elsewhere or not. At some point there were a bunch of complete sets of Hello EPs sitting at TMBG’s warehouse, but there aren’t anymore, so the only place to find stuff is eBay, and it’s generally severely overpriced. I just shelled out $18 for one of the Brian Dewan EPs a couple of weeks ago, and that’s the lowest I’ve ever seen one go for. For bigger-name artists like Andy Partridge, $30+ is the going price for a CD with only 4 or 5 songs on it. So THAT’s why this stuff is so hard to find, in a nutshell.

[At this point, we are interrupted for about 28 hours, during which A.S. brings his Satan-worshipping housemate across town to buy a bicycle, L.K. does a radio show, L.K. and A.S. take a day trip to Thomas Edison’s birthplace, and the Super Bowl happens, during which The Giants earn their namesake.]

A.S.: So, this song. I feel like it really anticipates a lot of the electronic, post-production stuff that Flansburgh would explore in Mono Puff, and then TMBG in Mink Car.
L.K.: Yeah, this is definitely Flans exploring his nutso drum programming side through the Rolf Conant persona.
A.S.: With the surely helpful aid of Joshua Fried.
L.K.: Yep, although the two of them basically reversed their normal roles. “Rave producer/DJ”… That would have to be one weird rave/dance party for this song to be played at it, but stylistically it would fit in more there than at a rock show.
A.S.: I could see it go either way.  You’re right, you’d have to be a bit off to ever play anything TMBG-related at a rave, but it would work. (Said like I go to raves all the time.)
L.K.: I would know even less than you do.
A.S.: I also believe this is Robin Goldwasser’s first appearance on anything TMBG-related too.
L.K.: Yeah, as far as I know, it is. Wonder how she wound up on this record, let alone how she and Flans met in the first place…
A.S.: According to the wiki, she’s in “The Guitar” video, so maybe they hit it off there.
L.K.: Well, the people in that video were already their friends, so it must’ve predated that. Regardless, I think Ms. Goldwasser was actually on another Hello EP with another band too. Totally unrelated, but I am just now looking up these Tom Vu ads that inspired this song… wow.
A.S.: I was doing the exact same thing. “Get off your butt and do it!” Yeah, I want to think like Tom Vu too, assuming it’d get me on a yacht surrounded by women.
L.K.: But will he make your mind an institute of super-thinking?
A.S.: Maybe?  If that super thinking leads me to millions of dollars; that’s what he keeps telling me he’ll do in these damn infomercials.
L.K.: You know, I have no idea what the chorus of this song is about though. The actual “town to town” part of “Town to Town”. I guess it’s just about stuff moving, but I’m not sure what it has to do with Tom Vu in the rest of the song.
A.S.: It definitely seems like two different songs merged into one. I always hear the “houses moving from town to town” line as a reference to “Houses In Motion” by Talking Heads, but that might be a bit of a stretch. Both songs have a pretty nervy feel about them, though.
L.K.: The songs themselves don’t sound that alike though.
A.S.: Nah.
L.K.: I never really know what to say about this song because I feel like you just have to listen to it.
A.S.: It has a tremendous, weird energy about it; I love this song.
L.K.: It does. It has this dance music sort of feel, but then the song itself is totally nuts. I really wish I’d managed to get my hands on a copy of this before last summer.
A.S.: This is Conant/Fried’s interpretation of dance-rock, and it succeeds on both counts, although not in any way most people would think so.
L.K.: Maybe TMBG could sell it on their website or put it in a podcast or something so that more people could have a chance to hear it (hint hint).
One Response to “#30 – “Town To Town” (Hello The Band; 1993)”
  1. Nathan says:

    I know Robin is listed as part of the ground crew for John Henry, although I guess that was after the video for “The Guitar.”

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