Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chocolate Kiss - The Studio Recordings

Here are the albums for download:

Chocolate Kiss ended on July 4, 2002 when Bob Medina, one of our two rhythm guitarists moved away to San Diego and started a new life. He is now moving to Alexandria (that's Egypt, not Virginia) and decided to pay his Atlanta friends a visit. I thought we might get together and run through some of the old songs for fun, but a show was somehow approved by our gracious friends at the E.A.R.L. to have the Chocokiss play again in a live setting. So now, almost exactly seven years after our last show we have a show, this time with Gold Standard, which is Lee Corum's new band (The Strange Death of Silas Deene, Chapterhall, Some Soviet Station, Copa Vance, Home of the Wildcats, Lay Down Mains, etc.), as well as Small Reactions, who are a like-minded local band to complete the set. Since all of our albums are either in a dollar bin somewhere or in a landfill, I thought it would be good to post all of our recorded music in one place for those that might be interested.

Album One: Onethrutwelve (1998)

I already have written an overview of this album in a previous post, but these were the first twelve songs we wrote as a quartet (guitar/guitar/drums/vocals, shun the bass), and recorded them with Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead, Bright Eyes) at Chase Park Transduction in Athens.

Album Two: Les Boom Boom (1999)

This was recorded in early 1999 by Ed Rawls at the Living Room studio, which was called Red Lab at the time. I remember writing these songs in my parent's basement before I graduated from college and was able to get a "normal" job outside of the movie theater. Bob did all of the artwork for this release, using woodcuts which would become a fixture of his artwork for the next several years and making a different design for each song, as you will see below. The name "Les Boom Boom" has no meaning, we are just attracted to nonsensical phrases and this one clicked. The first album is also called the Orange album, and then this is called the Blue album.
Here is the rest of the artwork:

Kip made some promotional posters for the release, which was our first on Moodswing Records including Kip Thomas as a contributor to the label:

Album Three: Set Yourself On Fire (2001)

Also known as "The Red Album", this was our attempt at making a real studio album, but in the end it suffered from some fundamental flaws and was not so well received out there in the scene. It was recorded with Brooks Meeks from The Close at his new studio in the West End warehouses, and were basically his guinea pigs so he could get the studio set up and work out all the bugs. We had complete freedom to take as long as we wanted getting the recording perfect, and in the process we overanalyzed and took out all of the sharp edges that make recordings exciting and interesting (at least in my opinion). Our takes are as perfect as they could have been given our musical ability at the time, and we spent endless hours mixing, remixing and remixing everything, and the album suffered from this obsessive approach. It was also the most "low-fi" studio we had recorded in, as it was essentially Brooks' home studio, but the recording was free so how can you complain? I still love the album, as I love all our albums, but I think the end result would have been better had we taken an approach like we did for the next album, No Funeral. Once again, the name Set Yourself On Fire has no meaning, but was just a funny phrase we liked when thinking of names. Also, we had so many problems with figuring out how to sequence the songs for this album, so in the end we just put them in the order they were written by the band. So if you listen to the album, you can hear the band make their way through a year's worth of writing songs, including our cover of The Logical Song as an extra treat. Reviewers of the album thought the cover song was essentially meaningless, as we did not change the arrangement or tone of the song, but I have been a fan of the Breakfast in America album for years, and Magnolia had been released the year before, which really sealed the deal for us as a cover song. And we like the song itself as it is, so why make some sort of lame pop punk version or try to change what we like about it?

Here is the artwork for the album, which had a cover done by the amazing Rich Jacobs, who is a friend of Bob and has done album covers for The Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot, etc. Bob did the inside drawings, such as the duck on fire and the fire extinguisher on fire, still makes me laugh:

Kip also made a promotional poster for this album:

Album Four: No Funeral (2002)

This was our last album, the Green album, which sounds most like a "real" band than any of our previous releases. We recruited Matt's old friend Cade Lewis, who played with Matt in Venosity back in high school to be our bassplayer, and he fit right in with the band musically and personally. I wish we had him from the beginning, as by the time Cade joined us, we were already starting to wind down as a band and Bob was beginning his descent into insanity which resulted in his move to San Diego. I got the name "No Funeral" from an episode of the Simpsons where Moe the bartender is about to commit suicide by sticking his head in an oven, and on his back is a piece of paper with the words "No Funeral" written, and I thought it was a good name for a band's final album. We recorded the album at Zero Return Studios with another friend of Bob's named Steve Revitt, who has produced albums by The Liars, Jon Spencer, Black Dice and was an engineer on the Beastie Boys "Hello Nasty" album as well as Tito Puente albums and countless others. We did essentially the opposite of what was done on the Red Album, and just recorded the album in two days and gave him the tapes to manipulate and mix at his own studio in NY. He really produced the album, completely manipulating tracks and even deleting some parts just to make it sound the way he wanted. I might not have agreed with all of his changes, but I think the end result was our best album overall, and would recommend this approach to anyone out there. If you want to make an interesting album, just give someone with good taste the basic tracks and let him run with it.

Bob Medina did the artwork in woodcuts the same as Les Boom Boom, but started to introduce his Day of the Dead style, which he still works in today:


  1. I'm really bummed I'm not going to be able to make it to this show. I'm leaving Friday to go out of town for a coupl'a weeks, and I've got a busy week leading up to it. Whattabummer.

  2. i keep seeing the flyers and thinking it says small erections, and then i giggle.

  3. James, I forget how prolific you guys were. That's a lot of music. I'm envious. And I think a name change to Small Erections is in order for that band. I must bring it up at the show.

  4. Thanks Lee - I'll trade you four Chocokiss CDs for one Lay Down Mains CD at the show.

  5. photos from tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sassyassy/sets/72157621207992544

    thanks for the show, guys. it was awesome. sorry the pics are kinda artsy-fartsy... i didn't want to use a flash.

  6. You guys were great! I love watching Kip play drums. Thanks for having us.

  7. Thanks Lee - I like the new drumkit by the way. I was thinking last night that Gold Standard is your first purely instrumental band, as I remember even Copa Vance having some occasional vocals. Interesting.

  8. thanks lee for playing and thanks rebecca for coming out and taking the photos. i had a great time doing the show, and it all came together so quickly that i'm a little sad it's over.

    i really love those songs, it was the best thing i've ever been a part of making music. and as a singer & lyricist, it was the best i could do. james made it easy for me, he always had great material to put the vocals and lyrics to. and bob too. kip's drumming was great in chocolate kiss too... he had to get used to playing a different style when he joined the band and his drumming added so much depth to the songs. i wish we would have gotten cade earlier too... it was awesome to have such a great bassist in the band who was right on the same page.

    chocolate kiss was never about getting the broad stamp of approval, which was definately different from my earlier bands. it became about believing solely in what you were doing and tuning everything else out. i think that made it very gratifying for me in the end. anyway, it's been a nice trip down memory lane for me the past couple of weeks.

  9. hey guys. Just heard of you tonight. your song Saturday Nite Party was on a BMX doco on TV. awesome stuff. looked you up online and found this site. halfway through the first album. genius. wish i'd heard of you guys earlier. would have been exciting to see you play. would have been great with buffalo tom. Aaron from Melbourne (Australia not florida)

  10. Hey! I'm an aussie too and just heard that song on the same BMX show. So catchy!! Looking forward to hearing more, cheers on the free downloads!!