A while back I wrote a piece about the making of “Labor Days“. Pretty much the most known album I’ve ever been a part of. Continuing with that idea, let’s take a look at the least known project I’ve ever been a part of. Of course, I’m speaking of the album “Let’s get serious” By The Party Fun Action Committee. For those who don’t know, that is a comedy/parody album that Definitive Jux records released in late 2003.
Because this album is long out of print , I have no problems hitting you with a link to download it for free:
Besides, assuming most of you have no clue what I’m talking about (in reference to this album), this will be a great help.
This album was the making of Jeremy Gibson AKA Jer AKA Sir Jarlsberg and myself. It was basically a collection of songs making fun of people and/or genre’s that were popular in that era. It may seem dated now, but it was pretty on point when we initially made it. So, let’s get serious and look into the making of “Let’s get serious”.
The group name
Before making humorous music together, Jer and I we part of an ensemble cast on a public access show on MNN (manhattan neighborhood networks). The shows was basically all my friends fucking around, making skits and doing voice overs of other tv shows. It was childish and offensive but it also was awesome. It’s a shame/gift that the internet wasn’t around back then like it is now, cause there are no clips of any of that shit online.
Anyway, In one of the skits, we played a break dancing team. At the time, one of the characters was wearing a Phat Farm shirt that read “PFAC”. Not 100% sure what that actually stood for (Probably some shit like “Phat Farm activity clothing”) but we came up with “Party Fun Action COmmittee” as our break dancing crews name in this movie based on those letters. About 5 years later, we were stuck trying to figure out what to name our group and that name jumped out at us. It made perfect sense.
The early years
Initially, Jer and I just made these funny songs for our own enjoyment. In fact, the majority of that album was recorded long before it was ever released. The song “Back n Da Dayz” was originally recorded around 95. That was the first song we made. Around that time, we made another song called “The dunz” featuring Aesop. It never came out cause , by the time we were releasing the album, the “dun” era of rap had already been over for like 5 years. However, recently, someone got it and posted it up on youtube. So ,here’s that:
That shit is maaaaaaad dated so forgive us but, at the time, we thought it was pretty funny. Pardon the quality as it was recorded on cassette 4-track in my moms house.
Anyway, those were our first two songs and we eventually started throwing some more together. Most of those earlier songs were not featured on the album cause they were too offensive or didn’t fit the concept. I’ll get to those later.
How we got signed to Def Jux
We never made these songs thinking anyone but our friends would hear them. It was just some shit we did for fun. Around 2002, we had about 6 or 7 completed songs. By that time, Aesop was blowing up and I was pretty familiar with the Jux dudes. I believe one day , El-P was at my crib and I played him a few of the songs just for fun. I’m not 100% if he said it there on the spot but he was like “Yo, I’ll put this shit out.”
We were pretty shocked at that offer and jumped all over it. Granted not a single penny was made from this album (by us or Jux) but it was totally worth it just to get this released at all. In a strange way, I’ve always felt partially responsible for the eventual Def Jux Backlash. PFAC was the first album they put out that, not only got panned by fans and critics alike, but that strayed from the Jux aesthetic that had made them so popular. Soon after our album dropped, I noticed more angry Jux fans. Especially people wondering why the fuck they put out a comedy record. but you know what? fuck those people.
Making the album
After we knew someone was gonna put it out, Jer and I focused and started making the rest of the album. Instead of just making random songs about whatever, we started targeting things. R-Kelly’s pissing scandal had just happened , as well as our basic take on the rap of the era. We wanted to spread the hate as widely as possible. Not just dissing the mainstream but the underground as well. Once we had all the songs recorded (I’ll get to a rundown of those in a future post) we had to tie it all together. So, we came up with the idea of being two dipshits from a record label that were going through demo tapes. These two characters were pretty much created on the spot and every word of us talking on the record was improvised. Granted, we certainly edited a lot out but all the skits were off the dome.
We basically went with the “a mountain climber who plays an electric guitar” model that Gza spoke about. From there, it was a free for all.
A common misconception about this record is that I made all the beats. I did do some of them but mostly the short skit beats. Any long song (aside from “beer” and “back in the dayz”) was done by Jer. He was a master at mimicking genre’s. In fact, he nailed the “Rap-rock” one so hard it’s pretty much impossible to listen too. That shit is Amazing/awful…but that was entirely the point.
In my eyes, Jer’s production on that album was the secret star.
Recording/mixing the album
The album was recorded on a digital 8 track. Some were done at my crib and few at Jer’s dads crib. The songs were recorded over such a long period of time, I honestly don’t remember what happened where, for the most part.
The album was mixed by our boy Baby Dayliner, in his kitchen. This may have been the longest process of mixing I’ve ever been through. Not cause anyone was lagging but because we really went into great detail on these songs. I can easily say I’ve never worked more intensely on anything musical than I did this album. An instrumental album is a walk in the park by comparison.
Jer: The slowest man alive
Speaking of lagging…
Jer is one of my oldest friends and , as long as I’ve known him, he’s always been one of those “Always late” guys. As I am an “always early” guy, this proved to be pretty fucking infuriating when trying to mix this album (and otherwise). He would show up HOURS late some days while Baby Dayliner and I were just waiting there like assholes. It got to the point where we’d tell him we’d be starting at 1 pm, but actually plan to meet at 2. in some 6th sense asshole way, he still managed to be late every time, strolling in casually eating a bagel like he did nothing wrong.
Not everything can go on the album…
When the album was done, we handed it in to the label. There were three songs that were going to be an issue. The first was the song “gertrude”. We understood this one being cut as it was the most offensive song ever made. The second, however, bummed us out. It was “Cream dreams”. Sure, this song was us being over the top gay and rapping about gay stuff gayly but it was clearly tongue in cheek and , in our eyes, not a hateful song. A few heads at the label (and on the publicity side) disagreed so we cut it off the album at the last second. They were expecting picket lines and anger…when, in reality, no one ever really heard the album enough to get offended by it. Obviously, I understand their reservations. It was their label and , especially at that time, something like that could have caused problems. It’s too bad cause we had already shot the album cover by the time it was removed and my “fat freddie Mercury” guy in the lower left corner pretty much went to waste.
The last song that got cut was a parody of the Jurassic 5 called “The mesozoic 7”. Basically, there were worries that they wouldn’t be down with the joke and people down with the label were cool with them so, it seemed unnecessary to put it on. I understood that and kept it moving.
The art work and photo shoot
Both Jer and I were pretty clueless as to how records got made and the stages involved. We had to make cover art and we had come up with the idea of a brady bunch like set up where different characters from the album would appear in the boxes. This meant we got to dress up and become these people. We had a costume girl, a make up girl and photographer. This was, in our eyes, some big time shit. We shot the pics in some Williamsburg hovel.
Both Jer and I had a major crush on the costume girl, who turned out to be David Cross’s girlfriend at the time. She was even featured at the passed out girl between the two frat brothers in one of the pics from the inside cover. She was a hot ginger and really funny.
This whole process was actually lots of fun. It was, perhaps, the last time I had fun doing anything remotely close to that cause press photo’s are typically the fucking worst.
Another bright side to all this was that Jer boned the Make up girl a bunch of times. Score one for the team.
After the album was complete, we were treated to get it mastered at the world famous Hit factory. Prior to this, I didn’t even really understand what mastering meant. I assumed it involved wires for some reason. Like it was the final wiring of the albums fibers or something.
We went into this huge studio with a billion gold records hanging on the walls and mastered an album that was subsequently a 50 minute long gay joke. It was pretty insane. The elevator was like a huge boat. Everything was wooden.
The dude who did the mastering a weirdo named “tippy”. Tippy was a nice enough dude but he was really angry and prone to tangents. on more than one occasion, we’d be sitting there trying to listen to a song to master it and he’d stop and rant about something or another. I particularly recall him going off on how to make vinyl and why so and so presses shitty vinyl. Jer, baby Dayliner and myself could not have cared less, did nothing to continue this conversation but he kept at it. I dunno what was up with that. Perhaps he was molested by a crate of records as a child or something. Regardless of all that, I gotta wonder what he must have been thinking when he mastered that record.
I do have a fond memory of him playing us the freshly mastered S.A. Smash record before it had dropped. We listened to that shit almost more than out own record that night.
This went on way too long so I’mma split it up into two parts.
The next installment will be the stories behind the actual songs. Hopefully I’ll get Jer to add something to this all.