There are few visual artists working today who could bring together nearly 40 of indie rock’s most vibrant figures for anything, never mind a compilation of exclusive tracks crafted from darkly cartoonish doodles. Yet, with the help of his label, Tomlab, designer/illustrator David Shrigley managed to do just that for the upcoming reissue of his songbook Worried Noodles. Originally released two years ago as an LP-sized book of Shrigley’s odd, Daniel Johnston-esque markered musings, Noodles sold out its first run within six months of publication. Its fast fans–including Grizzly Bear, Franz Ferdinand, and even David Byrne–came out in droves to show their support, and have since put his scrawled lyrics to original music for the book/double-CD set’s reissue. We asked a handful of the disc’s contributors to tell us about the experience of bringing Shrigley’s pages to life.
The Dead Science’s Sam Mickens on “Once I Found a Diamond”
The lyrics for the song were some of the most bluntly emotional in the collection, which made it appealing. Though it was one of the least metered, traditionally “lyrical” of the songs, the brevity of the text left a lot of space for instrumental emotional exposition. We made and recorded the whole song in one night at our local experimental-music hall, Seattle’s Gallery 1412, working in a largely impulsive and instinctual way, starting with a prepared piano part [and moving] out through the layers of composition. Our hope was that it would end up possessed [with] the underwater-feeling sadness that the text initially sparked in us.
The Curtains’ Chris Cohen on “Show Me The Way Things Work”
I went through and tried to sing the whole book. This one has words that just sounded good to me to sing. Plus it doesn’t have anything too sensational in it–I’m kind of a prude. This song, to me, is funny but actually sincere. I pictured a “violent rage” sound, one that was quiet and depressing. The song was refined while on solitary nature walks, singing into my phone.
Tussle’s Jonathan Holland and Nathan Burazer on “A Clash Of Heads” (featuring David Shrigley)
We collectively chose a handful of different samples from [Shrigley’s spoken-word] readings. Nathan plugged the samples in with a sequence that was semi-written on his Korg Electribe sampler. Then we would just start playing along with that sequence, and a song began to evolve. We then went into San Francisco’s Different Fur studio to record the basic idea with our friend Brian Hock (a.k.a. C.L.A.W.S.), and then we left it in his hands while we went on a seven-week tour. Using Logic, he banged it into shape in less than two weeks and sent us the mixes via email.
Yacht’s Jona Bechtolt on “I Saw You”
I don’t know what to tell you. This was kind of an autopilot deal for me. Money means music, you know? Yes, I read the book and looked at most of the pictures. They’re pretty funny-looking. Kind of dumb, I guess. Later, [my road manager] Gus and I got blazed on Sobe and Pepsi. You ever danced on that side? The wild one where you don’t know how to stop? Obviously, judgments were blurred, boundaries were obliterated, mistakes were made, and a track was recorded.