This Week’s Theme: First of October
The Faux Shows in October were the longest, most researched yet. It wore me out! That is why this month’s Faux Shows may be a little simpler. What better way to start November than with the First of October? My guess is that you aren’t familiar with this band so this week’s show focuses on an overview of their work.
If you’ve read past Faux Shows, you know that I am a fan of joy in music. Sometimes that equates to humor or silliness, but often it is shown simply by the artists enjoying the process and truly having fun making music. One of the most refreshing examples of artists enjoying the music-making process can be found in the recordings of First Of October in 2018, 2019, and 2021. They had to skip 2020, but they are back this year with their third release, and it is the best yet.
This week’s show could include all three of their albums in their entirety (they are not that long), but I’ve thrown in some other music that makes me happy, along with some birthdays and other stuff. Mostly, though, this week’s show is focused on smiling.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show number thirty-six.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
Who are they?
First of October are a band consisting of Rob Scallon and Andrew Huang. Rob Scallon is a YouTuber and multi-instrumentalist from Chicago. He has produced a diverse catalog of music over the last fifteen years, including some viral videos of metal music performed on non-metal instruments, and has a Guinness World Record for longest guitar effect pedalboard (319 pedals, 34 individual pedalboards, and 500 feet of cables). Andrew Huang is a Canadian YouTuber, multi-instrumentalist, and singer/songwriter. He is known for a variety of musical endeavors that involve use of non-instruments and challenges of his musical ability. He has released more than fifty albums and his YouTube channel has over 250 million views and two million subscribers. To be honest, I am not very familiar with either artist on their own. I know them as First of October, a band they formed in 2018.
What are they?
The concept behind the initial First of October recordings was that Scallon and Huang would spend one day in the studio and record ten completed songs. They entered with nothing pre-arranged and wrote, arranged, recorded, and produced ten songs in ten hours. They filmed the project, and then released a short YouTube documentary of the event, along with a streaming version of the completed songs. The end result is not Bach or The Beatles, but that was not the goal. The songs are good, some great, and simply viewing the event is worth the time. The first session was held on October 1, 2018, and thus, their name was determined to be First of October. In 2019, they joined up exactly one year later and did the same thing, with even better results. They skipped 2020, but just completed album number three on October 1, 2021. The third installment is the best video and album yet.
Why do I like it?
As a concept, this endeavor could fail miserably. In my opinion, it works wonderfully for two very basic reasons. First of all, Scallon and Huang are extremely gifted multi-instrumentalists. They trade off drums, guitar, bass, piano, song-writing, lyrics, vocals, and a variety of other instruments with ease. They share a common lyrical aesthetic that focuses on silliness, absurdity, and tales of odd characters, but they can also be very thoughtful (especially Huang, whose new song, “Miracle,” is an incredibly simple yet beautiful song about the birth of his child). Secondly, and most importantly, these projects are a wonderful showcase of the creative process and the joy of making music. The situation is incredibly stressful, yet they find the ability to laugh through it all while maintaining their focus and creativity.
The First Album: Ten Hours
Each record has gotten better, but the first is still great. Some of the basic themes are laid out in the first album. In addition to the basic concept, ten songs in ten hours, this first album is a great introduction to the musical chops of Scallon and Huang. It also shows the humor that you can now expect from all of their albums, as well as the hard rocking energy that Scallon brings to his riffage. The album, on the whole, is not as diverse as the next two, but it is still a solid start. Most importantly, “Don’t Go To My House” introduces everyone’s favorite First of October character, Greg.
“Don’t Go To My House”
“Possible Band Names”
“Things to Do”
The Second Album: Gourmet Ravioli
The second album maintains the energy of the first, but begins to provide more diversity in the songwriting. There is still some excellent riff-mastery, but songs like the inspirational “Climb That Mountain,” the funky “We Didn’t Have Time To Get Lyrics On This One,” and the self-titled explanation of the concept “First of October” show that they are able to do more than just rock. The joy that Scallon and Huang feel in their collaboration is also on display much more on this record. In addition, thankfully, more background on Greg is provided in the song “Thirty-First of October.”
“Climb That Mountain”
“First of October”
“Thirty-First of October”
“We Didn’t Have Time To Get Lyrics On This One”
The Third Album: Gotta Record Everything Good
The third album, Gotta Record Everything Good or G.R.E.G., was recorded with a new technique that led to an even more diverse and improved set of songs. Instead of recording all of the music for the ten songs and then returning to them later to provide vocals and overdubs, Scallon and Huang made the decision to record the drum and guitar tracks, and then, while one member wrote the lyrics, the other member recorded the bass and other overdubs. This not only gave them a little extra time to record overdubs, but, most importantly, it gave them more time to work on the lyrics. There is still the now-expected humor throughout, but the extra time allowed Huang to write a beautiful ballad about the birth of his child, Scallon and Huang to perfect the lyrics for a song about Scallon’s bookmobile-driving mom, and the entire crew to take part in the anthem “Greg!.” Speaking of “Greg!,” this latest song in the now-trilogy about Greg not only provides more background on this enigmatic character, but also led to the anagram album title.
“Feels So Right”
“Grandad’s Dinner Party”
“I Am Not Afraid”
“Trick or Treat”
Artist of the Week: First of October
I thought that was obvious…
Al Hirt “Java”
Steve Martin and The Toot Uncommons “King Tut”
Roger Miller “Do-Wacka-Do”
Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”
Johnny Rivers “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”
Two for “Two”day
Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Twisted”
They Might Be Giants “Doctor Worm” and “I Lost Thursday”
Eight songs from Gotta Record Everything Good by First of October
They Might Be Giants “I Lost Thursday”
Happy Birthday (November 7)
Trumpeter Al Hirt in a member of the Lousiana Music Hall of Fame. He was nominated for twenty-one Grammy Awards, and won with his song “Java” in 1964.
Christopher Knight played Peter on The Brady Bunch. He is also a carpenter and founder of his own furniture brand.
Lorde is a pop star who became famous in 2013 with her song “Royals.”
Joni Mitchell is one of the greatest singer/songwriters in history.
Johnny Rivers is most famous for his song “Secret Agent Man.” He recorded a string of hits in the ’60s and early ’70s.
Judy Tenuta is one of the funniest female comics from the ’80s. Her style is very similar to Emo Philips, Steven Wright, and other ’80s comics who pushed the levels of absurdist humor to its extreme. Her style is very distinctive – brash, zany, and always funny.
3 Chunks of Funk
First of October “We Didn’t Have Time To Get Lyrics On This One”: This is from their second album, Gourmet Ravioli.
Bootsy Collins “Rubber Duckie”: This song by bassist Bootsy Collins is from the album Ahh…The Name is Bootsy, Baby.
Vulfpeck “Funky Duck”: This is from the first full-length album by 21st century funk masters Vulfpeck, Thrill of the Arts.
The Get Down
The first decade of rap music was filled with humorous songs. There were parodies, odd holiday songs, and several artists who focused on humor, such as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. These three tracks from the mid-80s are by artists who were very popular at the time.
Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew (featuring Slick Rick) “The Show”: This song was THE rap song of 1985. You couldn’t go into a high school parking lot and not hear it playing. It samples the Inspector Gadget theme and still works almost forty years later.
The Fat Boys “Human Beat Box”: Doug E. Fresh was a master of beat-boxing, but Fat Boy Darren “Buff Love” Robinson was most likely the first beat-boxer heard by rap fans in the ’80s. This song is from the Fat Boys’ self-titled 1984 debut. It was also impossible to ignore across America’s high school parking lots.
Run-DMC “You Be Illin'”: The rap group who made rap a world-wide phenomenon were masters at producing albums that included social commentary, dj bravado, and humor. This story about a whack dude’s adventures in stupidity is an an old-school rap classic.
Creation, Duplication, Inspiration, and Theft
Lorde “Royals”: This is the breakthrough international hit from Lorde’s 2013 album Pure Heroine.
“Weird Al” Yankovic “Foil”: This is a straight-ahead parody from Yankovic’s 2015 album Mandatory Fun.
First of October “Miracle”: This song was inspired by the birth of Andrew Haung’s child. This is about as inspirational as it gets.
Doug E. Fresh “The Show”: Doug E. Fresh’s classic samples several songs including the “Inspector Gadget Theme,” The Beatles “Michelle” (later removed for copyright issues), “Twist and Shout” by The Isley Brothers, and “Human Beat Box” by Fat Boys.
A Little Jazz
Lester Bowie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are two of my favorite jazz artists. They are great examples of extremely talented musicians who understood the place of joy and humor in music.
Lester Bowie “Miles Davis Meets Donald Duck”
Rahsaan Roland Kirk “Here Comes the Whistleman”
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Judy Tenuta “Mom and My Brother Bosco”: Judy Tenuta began to create her character, the Love Goddess, in the late ’70s and by the time of the ’80s stand-up comedy boom (especially for women) she was able to publish her first novel, headline national comedy tours, and start a career in film and television. Tenuta has always been one to attack social norms, a strength that has kept her relevant for decades. The Love Goddess began as a parody of old vaudeville in an attempt to allow Tenuta to express her ideas about sexuality, feminism, and female empowerment, but has now become an advocate for the LGBTQ community.
I used to watch Judy Tenuta in the ’80s, but have paid very little attention to her for the last thirty years. Going back to her old records and videos this week has been a hilarious blast from the past. Her over-the-top presentation is still as funny now as it was back then.
Thanks for listening (and reading)!
|1||First of October||Feels So Right|
|2||First of October||First of October|
|3||Flight of the Conchords||Robots|
|4||First of October||We Didn’t Have Time To Get Lyrics On This One|
|5||Bootsy Collins||Rubber Duckie|
|8||“Weird Al” Yankovic||Foil|
|9||First of October||Don’t Go To My House|
|10||First of October||Thirty-First of October|
|11||First of October||Greg!|
|12||Run-DMC||You Be Illin’|
|13||Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew (featuring Slick Rick)||The Show|
|14||Fat Boys||Human Beat Box|
|15||They Might Be Giants||I Lost Thursday|
|16||They Might Be Giants||Doctor Worm|
|17||First of October||I Am Not Afraid|
|18||First of October||Coffee! Yeah!|
|20||The Colorblind James Experience||Considering a Move to Memphis|
|21||Tom Waits||Step Right Up|
|22||The Beatles||You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)|
|23||First of October||Grandad’s Dinner Party|
|24||First of October||Ravioli|
|25||Johnny Rivers||Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu|
|26||The Brady Bunch||It’s a Sunshine Day|
|27||Joni Mitchell||Big Yellow Taxi|
|29||Lester Bowie||Miles Davis Meets Donald Duck|
|30||Rahsaan Roland Kirk||Here Comes the Whistleman|
|31||Judy Tenuta||Mom & My Brother Bosco|
|32||First of October||Bookmobile|
|34||First of October||Miracle|
|35||Randy Newman||Political Science|
|36||First of October||Trick or Treat|
|37||First of October||Climb That Mountain!|
|38||First of October||Things to Do|
|39||Frank Zappa||Dancin’ Fool|
|40||Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons||King Tut|
|42||First of October||Apology Melody|
|43||First of October||Possible Band Names|
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