Archive for the ‘jukebox of the dead’ Category

JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD X “FAME” podcast – Episode 1: Neverland

September 23, 2009

Aficionados, after along hiatus, we are pleased to announce the triumphant return of the Detholz! blog – and the first incarnation of the JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD HALLOWEEN PODCAST!

Detholz! are pleased to announce the 10th Anniversary Halloween Jukebox of the Dead cover show has been confirmed. Buy tickets early and often as this show usually sells out. And, for all of you younger, sprightlier Detholz! fans, the show is 18 and up!

DETHOLZ! present:
October 31, 2009
Lincoln Hall
2424 Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
Tickets available soon at


After 10 years of picking through the candied detritus of pop music’s underside at Halloween – and after 13 years almost to the day as a band – Detholz! have been locked away in recent months, chewing on our thumbnails, reflecting on the fleeting nature of mortality, the preservation of our legacy and, most importantly, the liberal application of exfoliating lotions.

To that end, I had occasion this week to visit my Los Angeles offices (don’t ask) for a very special Tuesday appointment.  The meeting, as it turned it out, went very poorly.  Extremely so.

In fact, I barely escaped alive.  But I did escape.  And was… transformed.

I kept a verbal record of this experience on my dictaphone for my secretary, Jean, that I am posting here for all the world to hear.  And, on Halloween, we shall emerge from our chrysalis for all the world to see:






Click here for FAME EPISODE 1 : Neverland


Countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX : “Scarface (Push It to the Limit)”

October 7, 2008

Welcome back to the new, improved Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Mark II!  I’m no longer going to list episodes in Roman numerals– the math was starting to get too challenging for my pea-brain.

Thanks to all of you who have taken up the gauntlet of the DETHOLZ! BLOG ROLL-UP! (see below for rules) You will be the first to receive piping hot advance copies of Detholz! second album of deconstructed pop songs direct from the dentist’s office : Jukebox of the Dead II : You : The Power of You.

Three cheers to those of you who dove immediately into the fray, swords swinging!  Here are the links to our winners’ blogs thus far:

The Roll-Up is far from over, however.  Seize this opportunity to gird up your blog battle-ax and take your place among the greats in Detholz! Cyber-Valhalla — see the Blogroll to the right for these newly added champions!

As we progress into the second week of the Countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX (if you’re new, see previous post for explanation), I give you the heart and soul of this year’s show :


Penned by the Italian master of 80’s montage music, Giorgio Moroder, and originally performed by one-hit wonder, Paul Engemann, for the Brian DePalma classic, Scarface, it is my personal favorite in the “80’s montage” genre. In fact, the entire score to Scarface is, in my estimation, the quintessential 80’s synth score.

(I should say Engemann was a TWO-hit wonder : he scored a Top Ten hit with the single “Room to Move” from the Dan Aykroyd movie My Stepmother Is an Alien.)

This year’s Halloween show will hinge upon an unholy obsession with physical fitness, and I thought this song captured some of the melancholy associated with bad body image. It was arranged in a pretty straightforward way, though in rehearsal we have decided to reorchestrate it somewhat…. I won’t spoil the surprise, however!

QUESTION: What is your favorite movie montage song? Doesn’t have to be 80’s. Send me a comment below and I’ll consider adding your favorite to the list of new Detholz! covers this year! Help, folks, I need song ideas!

Tune in next week for next installment of the Covers Countdown! See below for details on the Halloween Blog Roll-Up:


To receive an advance copy of You: the Power of You, simply follow these steps:

1. Get a blog.  If you have one, skip this step.  Ha.

2. Write a Detholz!-related blog.  Whether it’s about a show, a song, or how much you want to see Karl Doerfer (DH! guitarist) prance around in a Laura Bush costume, any and all is fair game as long as it’s Detholz!-related.

3. Put the following text somewhere in your post:

Jukebox of the Dead IX
“Detholz! FLEX!”
w/special guests Aleks and the Drummer & Hood Internet
Friday, October 31, 2008
Empty Bottle
1035 N Western Avenue
Chicago, IL
Buy tickets at

3. Post a link to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog in your blog roll.

4. Send the link to misterb at detholz dot com.

If you carefully follow these steps to the letter, here’s what you get:

1. An advance copy of “You: the Power of You” in its entirety

2. One other downloadable Detholz! record of your choosing

3. A link to your blog posted on the Detholz! blogroll

4. The satisfaction that only BLOG can provide

New Detholz video – “Imagine” from “Jukebox of the Dead VIII” @ Empty Bottle, 10-31-07

January 10, 2008

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XXI! Sorry for the late posting today, ladies and gentles.

This week, a special video installment featuring another sneak preview from the upcoming live Detholz! “Jukebox of the Dead VIII” DVD, filmed and edited by the Grand Vizier of Maplewood himself, Mr. Steve Niketopoulos at Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL, USA. (Newcomers: for an explanation of the annual “Jukebox of the Dead” Halloween show, scroll back to our October blogs for free mp3’s and commentary!)

Click here to view: IMAGINE

Audio quality is a little lo-fi, but it will repaired for the final product. Just a taste of the good video to come…

Tune in next Wednesday for a brand new Detholz! track!

Jukebox of the Dead VIII Recap – “Prelude” & “You: the Power of You”

November 7, 2007

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog Episode XV!

Thanks to all who made it to the Detholz! 8th Annual “Jukebox of the Dead” Halloween shows last week. It was, by far, the best year yet. In Chicago, especial propers to Zen Master Lord of the Yum-Yum and the amazing Mucca Pazza marching band, which may be the New Greatest Show on Earth!

To finally cap off Detholz! Halloween proceedings– and for those who could not attend– we proudly present 2 tracks this week to give you the gist:

Jukebox of the Dead VIII Prelude

You: the Power of You

To get the full effect, these tracks should be listened to in sequence.

The Prelude was used under video of the disembodied head of Mister M (James “Jamesie” Mitchell), saying things like “YOU are the Chariot! Arise, YOU! Celebrate, YOU! YOU are the lighting! YOU are the one who can turn IF into BECAUSE!” etc. Given the chaos of the evening, it was tough to hear in the club.

A few musical asides about the Prelude:

1. It is in the dominant key of “You: the Power of You” (“U:PU” for short) — an old “Circle of 5th’s” trick to prepare you for the payoff at the beginning of “U:PU.”

2. It incorporates strains from both “U:PU” and Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” the pretension of which I found endlessly amusing– esp. coupled with the video of Jamesie.

“U:PU” is a mashup of three components:

1. Olivia Newton-John’s / ELO’s “Xanadu” (I took a few liberties with the harmony to “Holzify”it.)

2. Jane Fonda’s step aerobics soundtrack

3. Rush’s “Xanadu”

A challenging set of components to combine, but interspersed with some campy double-talk and guitar lixx ala “Miami Vice,” I think it works. A definitive junket into Meta-Music Land… but hey, it’s Halloween!

Tune in next week where we’ll return to “The Way It Was,” or– to quote the great U.S. President, Warren Harding– “Back to Normalcy!” [sic]

JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD VIII – V.I. “John” Lenin’s “Imagine”

October 31, 2007

Greetings, super-tanned and baggy-eyed spirits of the underworld, and welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog Episode XIV!

Today marks the 8th Anniversary of the Detholz! Halloween Spectacular, “Jukebox of the Dead,” and the final performance of this year’s installment: JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD VIII, “Xanadu!” takes place TONIGHT, OCTOBER 31st @ EMPTY BOTTLE in CHICAGO w/Mucca Pazza & Lord of the Yum-Yum.

We understand as of 2 PM that the show is sold out, but perhaps if you call the refined and professional staff at Empty Bottle, you can pawn off a certain undesirable item to gain entry… like your BODY, or perhaps your SOUL?

To celebrate this, Detholz!’z favorite pagan Hallmark holiday, we offer you a preview of tonight’s closer: a re-working of “John” Lenin’s “Imagine.” A little blasphemy never hurt nobody.

This is an older demo, recorded before I really knew what I was doing, so the quality isn’t spectacular. But now that you’re without a BODY or SOUL, does it really matter in the long run? Can you really hear it, anyway?

So, see you tonight… and for those of you out there in TV Land who won’t be able to make it, we wish you a safe and pleasantly plump All Hallow’s Eve!

See you next Wednesday for the recap… and for more “original” Halloween selections…

Jukebox of the Dead Countdown III – “Faith” (live) & “Something About You”

October 24, 2007

Greetings, ye greased goblins & gorgeous ghost hosts! Welcome to Episode (Lucky) XIII of the Detholz! Mp3 Blog, the third in our countdown to the 8th Annual Jukebox of the Dead Halloween Spectacular!

In this spirit of this season of giving (and taking), another two-fer today of previously unreleased Detholz! covers. A trick and a treat.

1. TRICK: “Faith” by George Michael (live version)

A number of versions of this cover have been recorded over the years, though there was never a proper demo for the completed arrangement. Jonny (Detholz! keyboardist – visit his songwriting blog at!) originally tackled arranging “Faith,” and elements of his original arrangement can still be heard here. After he submitted it, we took his initial idea and ran with it as a group. Of all the covers, this one really went through the Detholz! ringer. The finished product sounds much different than the initial versions.

This version was recorded live for a radio broadcast 2 or 3 years ago, and was a regular part of the Detholz! diet at that time. We played this at most of the shows we did with Wilco on their “Ghost is Born” tour in 2005 to some accolades… and more than a few Bronx cheers. It ain’t exactly easy listening.

At the time we recorded “Cast Out Devils,” we considered including “Faith,” and a complete studio version was tracked. After some “mass debating,”however, we decided against including it for various reasons– the primary reason was that it seemed a little heavy-handed in the context of the other material. It subsequently remains in the VORTECS Corporation vaults to this day, and has never been properly mixed.

2. TREAT: “Something About You” by Level 42

Originally intended for Jukebox of the Dead VII last year, this is a home demo I recorded last summer. I hoped to kill 2 birds with one stone: write another Jukebox of the Dead cover for 2006 & complete a submission for a wedding compilation released by Lujo Records, Baby Teeth‘s DC-based label. (Baby Teeth is my “other” band– click the link for the BT Mp3 blog). The compilation was released to celebrate the wedding of our friends, Erik and Jocelyn (Lujo Records owners), so this arrangement is appropriately luvvie-duvvie. Interestingly enough, Erik and Joce decided to include “Invisible Touch” instead. (see last week’s post)

When Halloween came around last year, the band worked on this cover during a rehearsal and decided it was simply too tame. It was subsequently shelved, and will probably never see the light of day.

This is a rare case in Jukebox-land where I really *love* the source material; “Something About You” is a good, old-fashioned Eurovision-worthy song for that lonely junior higher at the roller rink.

Oh, and for you Detholz! ueber-geeks, there’s yet another narcissistic self-reference. Can you spot it? Where’s Waldo?

Ueber-geek or no, tune in next week for the “Final Countdown” to Halloween and Jukebox of the Dead VIII!

For those of you in Indiana and DeKalb… beware. Detholz! draweth nigh…THIS WEEK:


Friday, October 26
Zanies Too
Indianapolis IN
w/Creepin’ Charley & the Boneyard Orchestra

Saturday, October 27
The House
Dekalb IL

Wednesday, October 31 HALLOWEEN
Ye Aulde Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL
w/ the Mucca Pazza Marching Band & the amazing Lord of the Yum-Yum

Detholz! “Jukebox of the Dead” Halloween cover I – “Conga” by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine

October 3, 2007

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog XI, and welcome to the Detholz! season of Advent!

Advent, you ask? Yes, my child. Let us light the first candle today– All Hallow’s Eve draweth nigh!

For those of you who are not as familiar with Detholz! lore, every year on Halloween for the past 8 years we have staged what we call “The Jukebox of the Dead,” featuring deconstructions of soft rock and adult contemporary hits: “the songs you love to hate to love.” Every week in October, we will post an unreleased Detholz! cover from years past and count down to Halloween!

This week’s track is “Conga” by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

Preparations for this year’s “Jukebox of the Dead” have begun: Detholz! present “Jukebox of the Dead VIII: Xanadu!”

Mark your calendars for 3 manifestations of “Xanadu!”:

Friday, October 26
Zanies Too
Indianapolis IN
w/Creepin’ Charley

Saturday, October 27
The House
Dekalb IL

Wednesday, October 31 HALLOWEEN
Ye Aulde Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL
w/ the Mucca Pazza Marching Band & the amazing Lord of the Yum-Yum

Somehow prattling on about our compositional approach to deconstructing “Conga” strikes me as ridiculous. Also, I feel that I would be spilling trade secrets, like publishing the formula for New Coke or something. So, simply sit back, relax….and conga.

Tune in next week for another unreleased Detholz! cover!

Detholz! demo – “Catherine Zeta-Jones”

August 1, 2007

Welcome to the Detholz! mp3 blog’s second installment! All of these blog postings are in two parts:

1. Song Concept for “lyrics” people, and
2. Song Composition for “music” people.

Feel free to skip around!


This week, a Detholz! demo presented in earnest for the next record: “Catherine Zeta-Jones” (I seem to be mired in Hollywood these days… well, who isn’t?)

In this case, ol’ Cath is incidental to the subject matter. As I mentioned last week, all of the songs on the new record deal with different aspects of betrayal. This song is about the sad case of American traitor, Robert Hanssen, an FBI employee who sold secrets to the Soviets for over 15 years. He holds the distinction of being the worst (the best?) spy in American history.

My interest in his story was piqued initially by Billy Ray’s recent film “Breach,” which I watched in the back of the Baby Teeth tour van a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I don’t think the film does justice to the real Hanssen, as it presents him as a frustrated “super-spy” (though Chris Cooper’s performance in the role is exceptional). The truth is, Hanssen was a mediocre FBI agent that rose in the ranks primarily because the Bureau didn’t really know what to do with him. He was a textbook headcase, which is unusual for an FBI employee given their rigorous screening process.

Hanssen had undeniable technical skill and a superior memory. Unfortunately, these talents were overshadowed by a seeming inability to deal with people. He wore black suits daily, never smiled, and was referred to by his subordinates at the FBI as “Dr. Death.” At one point, he physically manhandled a female FBI support employee who refused to stay in a meeting and he was simply “brushed under the rug.” The Bureau didn’t fire him, they simply took him out of a supervisory role and transferred him to a solitary technical job. (Heh, sounds like a naughty priest. Ironic since Hanssen was a fanatic Catholic and a member of Opus Dei…)

[Sorry for the history lesson. I mean, hey, this is a music blog, right? To read the full account of Hanssen’s fascinating 20+ -year career in the FBI– incl. his espionage activities– the Dept. of Justice has posted an unclassified synopsis here. The USA Today article published at the time of his arrest is also available online here.]

History lessons aside, what struck me after reading this stuff was how Hanssen’s fantasy life consumed — and ultimately destroyed — him. THAT’S what this song is about: betrayal of self by fantasy. In Hanssen’s case, LAYERS upon LAYERS of fantasy.

Lyrically, this plays out a couple of ways:

1. Hanssen was obsessed with porn, and had an unhealthy fixation on Catherine Zeta-Jones. Evidently he’d carry around copies of Zeta-Jones movies in his briefcase (“Entrapment,” ironically). He would also regularly post sexual fantasies in graphic detail on the web– even using his wife’s real name. Additionally, he would secretly videotape he and his wife having sex, and then watch the tapes with a childhood friend. *shudder*

2. He was a fanatic Catholic, would attend Mass at least once a day, and was a supernumerary member of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei sect– mostly at his wife’s prompting. She caught him writing a letter to one of his Soviet contacts in the early 80’s, and insisted that he confess immediately to a priest. (!!)

These points are borne out in the second verse:

“I ate a bitter scroll
[a reference to Revelation 10:10, where the apostle John ingests the prophetic word of God, which is “bitter in his stomach”]
Inside my spider’s hole
I had my wife, the Blessed Virgin,
[an image that combines his wife with his Catholicism]

And whispered lies to her in Russian

And she’s on the screen
For the world to see
And now she’s Catherine Zeta-Jones
and I’m Catherine Zeta-Jones
[The idea that once his wife is on a TV screen, she transforms into his fantasy woman, and he likewise transforms into a fantasy of himself.]

And I bait the Bear
With locks of her hair”
[His fantasy of himself as “moral beyond morality” enables him to “bait the Bear,” the Bear doubling as a symbol for the Soviet regime and his imminent capture.]

The lyrical linchpin of the song, of course, is the repetition of “Touch me like that / Don’t touch me like that,” which refers to the dichotomy between fantasy and reality: “I WANT this thing / I cannot HAVE this thing.” Or, more rightly, “I WANT this thing / This thing does not EXIST.”

A quote from one of Hanssen’s last letters to his Soviet handlers sums this up well. When asked why he was betraying his country, he answers:

“Conclusion: One might propose that I am either insanely brave or quite insane. I’d answer neither. I’d say, insanely loyal. Take your pick. There is insanity in all the answers.”

The “insanely loyal” Hanssen is now serving a life sentence in a supermax federal penitentiary in Colorado and spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.


Musically, the arrangement started with the opening bass line. [Well, I say “bass line,” but I’ve purposely NOT used a bass in recording recent demos as a personal challenge. Bass is the instrument on which I’m most comfortable, so it’s easy for me to fall in a creative rut if I overuse it. I think it’s important in songwriting to be uncomfortable sometimes, at least for me! What you’re hearing here is a guitar with fuzz and an octave effect using Native Instruments excellent “Guitar Rig” plugin.]

Second, the drum part! I wanted to keep the groove interesting– it would have perhaps been easier just to do a “4 on the floor” kind of part, but I wanted this song to have a jerky, fractured feel since it’s about a man splitting in half. The bass line bounces up and down off of an open G, and the drum part emphasizes the beats where said bass line hits those G’s, all on off-beats:

one-AND-two- AND-three-four-AND / one-two-AND-three-four

Though the bass line changes in the verse, this rhythmic pattern does not.

Thirdly, that ridiculous descending saxophone/guitar line which, as Jonny astutely pointed out in rehearsal, is in Dorian mode. Lately, just to keep things interesting for myself, I’ve been including at least one element that makes me laugh. The sax part is that element. You may notice that the pitch is horribly flat– when I tuned it up, it didn’t sound as good. Sometimes, for color, it works to leave instruments out of tune. Listen to some of those old Velvet Underground recordings and you’ll see what I mean.

The verse is antiphonal– call and response, i.e. bit of melody, answered by “Ze-Ze…Zeta-Jones!” This is a verse form I use ALL of the time (cf. verse of “IMA Believer,” “Club Oslo,” and others from “Cast Out Devils” – songs available for $0.89 download at or on our MySpace page). I was reminded of the effectiveness of this songwriting device while listening to the The Angels’ song, “My Boyfriend’s Back” on oldies radio. What a great, catchy song! I directly attempted to copy that technique here.

The chorus continues my experimentation with “4-notes-or-less” chorus, and just as in “Tammy” (from last week), the chorus melody consist of just two notes, a perfect fifth apart.

The final element I’ll call attention to occurs during the break before the “out chorus.” There is a 4-note melody (in theoretical terms, a musical “motive”) in the synth that comes from “Death to the Traitor”– a song that is the centerpiece of the new record– and that “Traitor” motive occurs in almost every new song we’re doing. It is a sort of “cantus firmus” that holds this entire album together (though for you music nerds, it doesn’t technically function as a cantus firmus). I love albums that tell stories, and this spooky little “Traitor motive” is included as a reminder that someone, somewhere in the song, is being betrayed.

Listen for it again at the tail end of the song!

So-called “motivic composition”– esp. in larger pieces– is near and dear to my heart. I’ve done it before, most notably in a 45-minute electronic work I did in collaboration with big James (aka “Mister M”) in our side project, “Surrounded by Monarchs.” Look for movements from that piece on this blog in the near future.

As always, your comments and criticisms are welcome! We’ve started rehearsing this, but the jury’s still out. Should Catherine stay…or GO?

Tune in next Wednesday for the 3rd installment of the Detholz! Mp3 Blog… collect them all!

Thanks for tuning in!

Your pals,
Jim C. & Detholz!

Welcome, weary traveler…

July 24, 2007

…to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog!

Detholz! is a Chicago-based musical ensemble that has encompassed more than just its music– an entire community of musicians and artists can be traced back to Detholz! over its 11-year history, and the now-famous (infamous?) house where the band still rehearses and resides, MAPLEWOOD, in the North Center neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.

This blog is a repository for the music and art of the Detholz! and Maplewood community. Here, you will find not only new projects, brainchildren, and side projects of Detholz!, but of their colleagues and associates as well, UPDATED EVERY WEDNESDAY! Tune in every week for free music and/or art with commentary by the musician/artist. Please comment, vote and review what you hear and see– this blog will serve to help Detholz! construct their next record!

Thank you for visiting, and let us know of your love, hate, admiration, disdain or any other appropriate adjective. We’d love to hear from you!

Your pals,