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Secret Secretaries / Blog

Painting By Numbers (Through Closed Eyes)

The completion of our second album Through Closed Eyes was like watching the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle falling back into place on the table in reverse slow-motion. After Veronica Lake, our trusty old 1991 Dodge Ram Wagon took us up to Seattle and brought us back down the coast to SF all in one piece, the Secs came off our first Summer tour burning with new inspiration, friendships and perspectives. Many of the songs on Through Closed Eyes were written while on the road; some during bouts of home-sickness for the homeless multicultural inhabitants beneath the fog-shrouded skyline of our beloved Test Tube City, most were written during the excitement and mystery of going to new places and meeting new folks. The Kerouac-ian cliches of being on the road never lose their magic: Tearing down freeways at 90 mph in the middle of the night, the sky in it's starry infinitude, untarnished by the lights of civilization and vast as the slowly spiraling arms of galaxies and distant planets speaking in secret strobing alien codes. Walking into truck stops in the middle of nowhere, the locals wearing quizzical expressions, perhaps trying to decide whether these outsiders with weird haircuts are on drugs or trying to use their public restrooms for unspeakable purposes. Being on the road really teaches you to appreciate small kindnesses: the family and friends who put us up and fed us along the way; new friends, like Kai in Olympia, who let complete strangers crash on his floor after our last-minute show at Le Voyeur. Though this new batch of songs have the trace smells of exhaust and pavement on them, they owe more to little moments hanging out with friends fingerprinted on our memories just before we left town. As the new songs came together, I kept thinking of our friend Molly and her amazing watercolor artwork. Molly has an affliction which has caused total blindness in one of her eyes and increasing blindness in the other. Doctors expect her condition to worsen until she loses sight completely. In spite of this, Molly has created some of the most beautiful artwork we've come across. Even more amazingly, Molly began painting one-eyed figures long before her condition started affecting her sight. "There are no coincidences in life," J.G. Ballard wrote in The Atrocity Exhibition. While we didn't set out to write a concept album, it seems appropriate that the desolation and mania throughout this record echos our first album, Birthmarked, in it's accidental cohesiveness of and inspiration. Birthmarked was about new beginnings and possibilities. Stellar and I see Through Closed Eyes as a continuance of those themes but with the confidence that comes from knowing what we want. It's about trying to see the world as a pretty place even though you know there are monsters in the closet at night and babies crying in nurse's bloody arms, getting through it all even when the deck seems to be stacked completely against them. Sadly, we've parted ways with Shye, but she'll always be our muse and good friend. We know she'll continue writing beautiful words, singing the praises of vanished German philosophers and we can't wait to see the fruits of her creativity. Keep your eyes open for her first book. The proof edition knocked us out of our throx! If you haven't met our new members, Trav and Ella yet (bass and rhythm guitar, respectively), I don't want to waste any more time here other than to say that this is the band and these are the sounds I always dreamed of being a part and creating as a wide-eyed 14 year old alternative/punk/metal/indie rocker boy who rushed home after school to learn another Nirvana or Beatles song on guitar. I hope you, dear co-conspirator, will join us in celebration with new friends, old friends and maybe a surprise guest or two (or three) on our new album. 3 Nic

Poetry Is Dead

If you've ever been to the 16th & Mission BART station entrance on a Thursday night sometime between 10pm and midnight, chances are you've bared witness to some of San Francisco's best and brightest practitioners of spoken word performance and collaboration without knowing it. If you haven't yet witnessed this phenomena, perhaps that's because The Corner of 16th & Mission is not advertised in the entertainment section of any of The City's newspapers or maybe it's because the poets and musicians who perform there do it without the corruptive influence of capitalistic gain, simply for the pure joy of expressing their creativity to an always supportive audience of peers. The Corner is often mistaken as "that slam poetry thing on Thursdays" but while there are some great poets from the slam scene who regularly perform there, it is NOT slam poetry. There is no competition or scoring, quite the opposite. Performers standing in the chalk Circle (The Corner's de facto stage) often find themselves accompanied by spontaneous bongo beats, guitar strums, and "hell yeahs!", collaborating with others in completely unexpected ways, feeding off each other's energy. It is a temporal performance venue unlike any other where for two hours a week, hundreds gather together purely for the sake of listening to and hearing each other without the communicative muzzles of digital culture, something in which so many of us seem to find ourselves now so deeply, frustratively immersed. When Charlie Getter and his poet/musician/artist buddies dubbed themselves the Collective Arts Insurgency in 2004 and began hitting the Mission District, filling it's drug, prostitution, and crime-ladden streets with poetry and music, there were probably many detractors. Some probably thought them completely nuts for wanting to speak poems to bums, crazies, crack heads, and commuters frantically racing towards their next stop, their next dollar, their TVs and PCs--too busy dying to notice the flowers in the gutter. One must seriously doubt that Charlie and co. knew then that five years later, The Secret Secretaries, a small group of friends united and inspired by the artistic community ever-spawning at The Corner would grow from casual, just-for-fun poetry/music collaborations into a gigging rawknroll band. One must equally doubt that the C.A.I. were cognizant of the fact that nearly seven years later, that little band would be gearing up to release a collection of songs called "Poetry Is Dead" with words written by some (but far from all) of the greatest poets in San Francisco's underground lit scene. "Poetry Is Dead" is a love letter back to all the dreamers at the Corner spilled their naked gory guts through the glory of words and music to the all ghosts of the street who came before.

Human Condition(ing)

I am fuckingsuckingcummingpissingshitting food, drug and drink all consuming vomitingcoughingspitting death machine

I am parasitic cathedral My skin, a galactic blanket of viral microbes Spiraling endlessly through a cosmos of atrophy I am salt of the earth

I am dirt My smokestack phallus factories spew forth the demon semen seed of my dis-ease

I relieve my black rains into the toilet bowls of untold Bikini Atols and stick sticky whiskey fingers to back of throat choking out  Alamagordo, New Mexico upon the altars of every linoleum throne from here to Hiroshima and out into the ozone

I devour rain forests whole until there's nothing left but holes in the soil, Erecting Disneylands and McDonalds in their place I am laughing face of mouse and clown

I am town drunk thief in the night sucking usurper suckling barrel upon barrel of black gold from bleeding nipple of the Nazarene until too drunk to think, drink another, or brush my teeth anymore sucking the bittersweet tear streak of seeping poppy

I am bruised trackmark haloes on the arms of seven billion and three jonesing junkies My spittle the affliction of your conditioning

I am CIA Manchurian Candidate thrusting jet planes into dildo and erection private collections in the prehistoric museums of your rotting intestines

I am sick A pit of bodies burnt beyond recognition In the ditches of Serbia, Germany, Abu Graib Apache pilot playing Halo with real people through nightscope in Baghdad

I am sick in bed waking to the agonized moans of the walking dead sick in head from seeing red splashed upon newspaper stand every single mourning

So we fuck and get fucked up and cum and piss and shit and drink and drug and eat everything in sight when high because this place this black hole is home and your cellphones, computer circuitry and programming, your TV screens mean about as much to us here as hair conditioner

I am sick but I take comfort in knowing that your social conditioning is as sick as me And it'll take something stronger than chalk tablets and tofu enemas to make me well again

So I will continue laying waste to this scorched earth until you can taste my sickness in the dirt until I find a cure

Nic Burrose SF 2011

San Francisco Is (Still) Burning

Co-conspirators: The Secret Secretaries, as new and naive a band as we may be, are proud to imagine ourselves added as even a brief side note to the pages of San Francisco's music history, a tradition we hope to continue Saturday Nov. 27 at Cafe du Nord. Along with our friends Fox & Woman, Tokyo Raid and Nectarine Pie, we feel like we are riding a wave of magma beneath the tectonic plates of The City that is slowly solidifying and forming into a new local music scene. In the dollhouse that is our family, Fox and Woman are The Secret Secretaries' siamese twin sister sibling. Classifying them as a folk group upon seeing their organic stripped-to-the-bone 4 girls and a guy stage set-up (violin, ukulele, acoustic guitar, percussion) would be an obvious choice for the uninitiated. But Fox & Woman defy simple classification. Strains of The Mars Volta's unusual time signatures and strange yet oddly familiar melodies drift through Andrew Paul Nelson's songwriting and uke work. Singer Jess Silva's haunting voice creeps into the darkest corners of your skull and echo there like the disembodied love child of Emylou Harris and Karen O. Violinist Emily Haltom's harmony vocals float like angelic clouds above Jess Silva's forest fire melodies, her sparse, tasteful horsehair bows and plucks falling like raindrops on Andrew's rhythmic foundations. Guitarist Julie Indelicato, a solo performer in her own right, is just as difficult to put in a box and label as the band itself. Part Ani DiFranco, part Dresden Dolls, part Tina Turner, Julie is all San Francisco, a true one of a kind talent. Drummer Jen Norero lays down a pavement of beats under them all with drum fills poking through the concrete like little flowers groping for the sun. Their lyrics are smart, heartfelt, truly poetic and they too are on a Mission: "if you're not on fire what are you doing here?" There is something more that truly sets them apart from experimental groups like The Dirty Projectors and folk punks like Little Teeth, a natural heaviness that comes without extreme volume or stage antics. You'll just have to see what that is yourself... We haven't yet played shows with Tokyo Raid or Nectarine Pie but we've heard them play and they are awesome! But more importantly to us, they are humble, nice people. Tokyo Raid are everything that is sonically cool about garage rock. Kinda like a car crash between the MC5 and post-millennial New York art-punk. Our buddies Nectarine Pie built a psychelic time machine in a sweaty, pot smoke-choked basement club in 1968, set the controls for 'Sometime In The Future...', and pressed a red button... and here they are now... get ready... Our Mission is to destroy the Evil Forces of Snobbery and Hate that have kept San Francisco bands in bondage for all too long. It's all or nothing now. You're either with us or against us in this. There is no gray area here! We are unashamed to be legends in our own little minds and we want everyone to love us (Icky Jared, rednecks, politicians, religious nuts and those who are generally assholes excluded) but we need your help! This is an S.O.S. signal to not just SF bands and venues but all Dreamers. The Age of "This Sucks But What Can I Do About It?" is the corpse of a dead horse. SAN FRANCISCO IS BURNING.

The Next Step

Co-conspirators: Thank you all for giving our first album so much love! As most of you know, We've been playing live shows for just a few months now But we can't thank you enough for coming out to see us And supporting our little band In this little fishbowl we call San Francisco. We think it's time to move on To the Next Step in our Mission plan...

We want everyone to love us (what band doesn't? G.G. Allin doesn't count...) But we don't expect or desire to become Part of the Rich And Famous American Dream Machine, We just want to make enough ends To make friends with new faces and see new places. We want to corroborate with new collaborators and co-conspirators To continue fighting The Good Fight Against the Cold Corruption of the Fun Police And the Armies of Hate and Stupidity. But we NEED you now more than ever To help us grow big n strong!

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: SPREAD THE VIRUS! The Secret Secretaries want to become infectious. Which means we want to tear open our drum skins And play our broken heart strings To those who don't yet know how we bring it... Tell your friends about us! Let's get real here. We don't care how punk you think you are, No one starts a band to avoid popularity, notoriety or making money And self-promotion ain't easy. We're not ashamed to to tell you That we want YOU/THEM To not just "LIKE" us here on Reverb Nation and on Facebook But LOVE us by hitting the "BECOME A FAN" tab and buy our album! We NEED YOU/THEM to help us book gigs! And if you think we suck, That's okay, but TELL people we suck! We're on a Mission so suck on this...

We're all in the same sinking ship But there's land on the horizon And we can get there together If we all put our backs to the wind and fucking ROW! We need to bring the San Francisco Music Scene Back to it's rightful place at the top o' the heap. Bands, we need to put our foolish snobbery aside And realize that we can't do this without each other! The time is right now, the tide is high!

If you're in a band, we want to play with you! If you're a poet, we want to spit with you! If you're a venue, we want you to book us! If you don't know us, we want to know you!

Because, can't you see? WE ARE NOT JUST ANOTHER BAND TRYING TO GET LAID AND PAID, WE ARE ON A MISSION. We will be making music and writing words until the day we die. But we are young and don't plan on ever dying anyway! Because these are indeed strange times, my dear co-conspiratorial friends, When the Great Lie of Digital Life Looms like a mushroom cloud inside our digital minds, Threatening to destroy the flora and fauna Of our beating hearts and fluttering eyes. But we will continue Fighting The Good Fight, Transforming The Lords of Flies into swirling mists of Butterflies.

The Next Step is clear: WEAR YOUR HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE AND SPREAD THE VIRUS OF OUR LOVE

"LIKE" us here on reverbnation and tell your friends to do the same. Somehow we made it into the top 100 bay area bands with the least number of "fans" of any other band on reverbnation and we know that we can get even further if you guys tell people to "BECOME A FAN" and "LIKE" us! Easy!

Also, we want everyone on the planet to hear our music but nothing's free. If you can, please download tracks here or buy our album at thesecretsecretaries.bandcamp.com. You can also order CDs and shirts from us (using PayPal) by emailing us right here on Reverb Nation or Myspace.com/thesecretsecretaries and letting us know what you want. It's simple: if you like us, "LIKE" us and "Become A Fan" and we'll love you in return! Thank you all again, loves. We can't wait to see you, wherever you may be.

3 (the secret secretaries)

In The Can

our debut album "birthmark(ed)" is finally ready for release. we recorded 12 songs in two days. instrumental tracks recorded by alexi alexaeiff on saturday 8/14 at lennon studios, vocals recorded the next day at studio c. we were honored to work with alexi who sped us through the process and kept what could have potentially been an arduous task fun and interesting. the guy's a serious audio genius but our studio time with him felt like it was more of a party than a recording session. the first hundred copies of "birthmark(ed)" will include limited edition poetry chapbooks with our lyrics and additional poems written by the three of us. as much as we love san francisco, we're foaming at the bit to get out on the road and make new friends. 3 nic and the girls ;