[story]
[transcript]
[about]
[audio]
[future]

[STAR COMMAND ARCHIVE JA307020]
(sealed under the terms of order #990-J25)

LINER NOTES

THE STORY THUS FAR
LINER NOTES PROPER
TECHNICAL NOTES
ABOUT US
THE STORY THUS FAR:

Ben Beckstrom and Peter A. Peterson II were college roomates and musical cohorts starting in early 1996 at North Park University in Chicago, IL.

"Last Transmission" was recorded in 6 short hours on December 11th, 1997, in the basement of Hanson Hall at North Park. It consists of four "preexisting originals," Biologically Impossible, Let Me Be Your Chachi, Love Song for Boba Fett, and Blackout on the Starbase.. Four songs were written specifically for the "opera," i Two Girls is Better than None, Captain Caligula, Down-home, Cosmic Earthling Barbecue, and the Overture. One song was written by Waylon Jennings (Just the Good Ol' Boys).

"Last Transmission" was one of those "sometime we should do [this]" kind of endeavours, where plans and ideas are tossed around with little fruition. Ben and I had played the preexising songs quite a bit while He was still a student at North Park, but by 1997 Ben had left North Park for another school.

It was during a visit in December when we decided to throw Starbase together in one night. We recorded Starbase on a four-track from about 9:00 until 3:00AM, drafting friends to give us moral (and musical) support. After recorded was over, I crawled to a semester final. I kept falling asleep on the page, hearing Starbase's music rolling around in my head.

The tapes were mixed down over Christmas Break that year, but only a handful of copies were distributed to family and friends. Those copies found their way as copies of copies to friends of friends of friends. It just seemed like it made sense to put this up on the web, especially since we have plans to resurrect "the show" and give it a little more professional treatment. -- Peter A. Peterson II


SONGS, INFORMATION, CREDITS:

1. OVERTURE -- (Beckstrom, Peterson)

Ben and I arranged the Overture just before recording it. Both of us played guitar. I played piano as an overdub.

2. JUST THE GOOD OL' BOYS -- (Waylon Jennings)

If you ever watched The Dukes of Hazzard, you know this tune. Ben and I played it often before Ben left North Park. When we thought about doing Starbase, this song just seemed to fit. I was supposed to have a kazoo, but we were fresh out of kazoos, so I just buzzed the solo on my lips. This was always a crowd pleaser when Pete and I would play guitar in the Java Haus (a make-shift coffee shop in our dormitory's basement). You could tell that if Boss Hog so much as set foot in that joint, all them rebs would jump his chubby bones and give him what fer.

3. TWO GIRLS IS BETTER THAN ONE -- (Beckstrom, Peterson)

This song was written the day before (or was it night of) the recording. It was supposed to be sung from the girls' point of view. I remember that's why we made the melody so high. Of course that isn't clear -- but the vocal strain I think adds to the humor. The "quiet" part at the beginning was originally recorded on a Sony microcassette recorder and then put in as the beginning of the song. Our good friend Tina (Campain) Norland played violin for us on a whim, and I made up the recorder part.

A clever listener will notice that after the solos, the vocals come back, but alternate between quiet and loud. This might sound like some kind of "production effect," but really, it was me trying to cover for the fact that we recorded over the vocals with the violin and recorder. The "quiet voices" after the solo section are actually coming from Ben's guitar mic. This tune is one of my favorites in the entire opera. Not only does it have a really catchy melody, but it references "runabouts".

4. BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE -- (Beckstrom, Peterson)

Ben and I wrote this song on the Brown Line "El" in Chicago after having spent some awkward time downtown with two girls we were interested in. I'll never forget "The United States of America" and "Cool Guy," as they taught me that you didn't have to be as fantastic as me (ha!) to win the affections of the girl I wanted to date. I'm not sure that Biologically Impossible came out of that frustration, but I remember coming up with the rhymes and specifically the line "linguistically ridiculous" while sitting in those fiberglass El seats. This song is 190% fun. Whenever Pete and I play together, this is always the first song we play. It's like a party in your hands. The period this song was written was particularly unusual for me, because for the first time in my life I had to choose between two girls who were interested in me. Consequently, this song is about no one in particular. Both girls turned out to be royal pains in the butt.

5. LET ME BE YOUR CHACHI -- (Beckstrom)

This was a song that Ben had written but that we performed together often. I think it's probably the wittiest song in the opera. Putting "Scott Baio" and "Charles in Charge" was conceived while we were practicing to record. This song, like "Two Girls," didn't know when to quit. Next time around, we'll actually figure out in advance how the songs end. I remember writing this song in the Burgh hall showers. I had brought my harmonica into the shower with me for some reason and just started playing a riff. I only had a key of C harmonica, so the song is naturally in C. After a short shower-time ho-down, I started singing. Because my interpretation of modern relationships is so heavily rooted in television, "Let Me Be your ChaChi" is what came out.

6. CAPTAIN CALIGULA -- (Beckstrom, Peterson)

This song was also written specifically for the opera, in order to introduce us to the villain. I sang the low vocal and Ben sang the upper one. In the mixing process, I tuned it down another step-and-a-half or so. I can't really sing that low.

At the time, this song was one of my least favorites -- a filler piece. But in retrospect, I like the potential it has, the rhythym of the break, and the dark comedy that fills it. But mostly, I really love Ben's lead work. It may have been borne out of not knowing what to do, but I think it's perfect. As far as I have seen, no where else in pop music is there a reference to "astronaut ice cream". This is a tragedy that cripples our nation. Perhaps the greatest thing this rock opera will give the world is a pop song with the consecutive words "astronaut ice cream".

7. LOVE SONG FOR BOBA FETT -- (Beckstrom)

Like "Let me be your Chachi," this is one of those songs that Ben wrote, and I played often with him. I made up the little guitar solo-ey type stuff, and we but the "sith lord" section on last minute. Also, this song has performance choreography -- on the "did you see him" section, we rock our guitar necks in sync like it's 1983!

Haha, also, he sings the "sith lord" part by himself -- I'm doing the Darth Vader noises in the boackground.

This song has been around. It was first constructed at the tender age of nineteen, when the thought of going home for the summer and seeing girls from high school seemed really masochistic. It survived my band Dirby, or Disease Infested Rats that Bite You (self proclaimed Lords of Sci-Fi rock) There was a rivalry in my home town between this really crappy punk-core band who had a song called "Boba Fett Warrior" and us. Just for the record, Love Song for Boba Fett came WAY first. In it's final, and most appropriate incarnation, Pete and I played it, adding the sith lord verse and the cool solo-ma-bob.

8. DOWN-HOME, COSMIC EARTHLING BARBECUE -- (Beckstrom, Peterson)

Like "Captain Caligula," our bad guys needed to be introduced. Of course, since this is a "loosely constructed rock opera," they're introduced, they murder everyone, and then they happily scat afterwards. This is the last song that we made up specifically for the opera. I particularly like the way that it shifts points of view, and then "both voices" sing at the end -- just like a real opera! Almost.

But seriously, this has one of my all-time favorite lines:

But they were no match for us, 'cuz we've got a hundred arms and ten eyes!
I also really like the piano solo, but I'm biased.

9. BLACKOUT ON THE STARBASE -- (Beckstrom)

This was always one of my favorite songs of Ben's, and I used to make him play it with me all the time -- to Ben's annoyance, I think. But hey, can I be blamed?

We threw a key change in because opera's have key changes. I think that might get cut next time around.

--Peter A. Peterson II
February 27, 2001


TECHNICAL NOTES

"Last Transmission" was recorded in a small practice room on December 11th, 1997 with a Tascam Portastudio 424 mkII in six hours, to CrO2 cassette master. There are two 90 minute cassette masters that were mixed down over Christmas to another CrO2 master. That master was copied, and anyone that has a copy has a cassette copy of this master. I left that master in my car and the case melted so the cassette was extremely warped. I found it while cleaning my room and decided I'd try putting the tape in another cassette. Voila! Ben and I had been planning on remixing Starbase and then rerecording it for some time, but we were going to have to use one of these "second generation" copies for the web (because I wasn't mixing it down again just for this!). But the cassette swap worked great. I copied from cassette to MiniDisc, and then from MiniDisc into the computer with the Gnome recorder. These last two generations were digital (with an analog transfer), so there wasn't much quality loss. You're basically hearing the cassette master, complete with tape hiss. bladeenc and oggenc were used to encode the sound files.

We used three SM58 microphones (maybe one of those was an SM57, actually) for the recording, two for vocals and one for Ben's guitar. My guitar has a pickup, so it went direct into the board. (Unfortunately I didn't have a preamp for it at the time). At any rate, it should become clear upon listening which guitar is acoustically recorded and which was direct. (Hint: the direct one has a "cleaner" sound.)

We didn't "bounce" any tracks, that is, there are only four channels at any given time. Most of the time that means, obviously, two guitars ans two vocal tracks. But when there isn't any singing, we threw in solos. Our friend Tina (Campain) Norland played violin. I played recorder, and the piano, which was actually an upright Steinway, but you'd never be able to tell here.

I mixed the whole shebang down to a Yamaha cassette deck a few weeks later. The levels are so wild that I had to "mix on the fly" almost every song, which meant for several bum takes. And I've never been that good on the board.

All in all, it was a thrown-together endeavour, with cheap equipment, on a cassette-based four-track, mixed down to cassette, and baked in my car. But somehow, that haste lent itself some life and some vitality. In my musical recording experience, whenever we've let go of "perfection" and just strove for a good time and a great take, the mistakes get washed away in the spirit.

Another thing that works well for Starbase is that since there's just two guys and guitars, it doesn't get overwhelming or too busy. That's going to be a challenge the next time around. The producer Daniel Lanois spends time on projects "delayering," which is the process of taking out tracks and things that aren't important -- our technology today allows us to do whatever we want, and sometimes that's not a good thing. Balancing between what you could do and what's worth doing is sometimes tough.

But this recording is not about (nor has it ever been about) studio recording or professional whatchamahoozit. It's just fun.


ABOUT US

Bo Calrissian
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asld kfal sdkf alsdfaodsfija dslfkaj dlajs lasdj fowahe flasdhf l asdlh asldhlksa lkf asdllhasd fka sdlk!

Luke Calrissian
Peter A. Peterson II was born in the tiny Village of Poplar in northern Wisconsin (pop. 516). He's been a musician and geek since about age 5, when his dad started to bring TRS-80 III computers home from the school district.

He was a Bachelor of Music Ed major at North Park University in Chicago, IL. He now works for North Park in their Computer Services department, and sings in a church on the weekends. He is in another band, redvinegar, the CEO of Tastytronic Industries, the Illustrious President of UFO Chicago and a developer on the free-software zen simulation, robotfindskitten.

Contact him at pedro@flynn.zork.net or visit the irc channel #tron on us.slashnet.org.

[(c) 1997, 2001 Flynn Records. All Rights Reserved.]
Last Updated: 02.28.2001 by tobor@tastytronic.net