by Brother Mark Treehouse
Brother Mark Treehouse (aka Mark Trehus) recently produced a CD EP remake of “Masters of War” featuring Dillinger “Dylanger” Four and Atmosphere that will be hitting Twin Cities music stores today, just six days before arguably the most important presidential election of our time. We asked him why he was getting into the production side of music rather than sticking with his retail gig (Treehouse Records, 26th and Lyndale). He wrote the following:
How it came about: Record shop b.s. turns into pipedream turns into reality. I told my manager (Dan Cote) as the ships were heading toward Iraq a year and a half ago that somebody should do a rock update of the Dylan tune “masters of war,” as its message still seemed entirely too appropriate some 40 years down the road from its original conception. He suggested I do it myself, with [legendary local punk band] Dillinger Four backing me up.
I joked that “Yeah, I should do that,” and have Atmosphere do a
remix for the other side, and we could send all the profits from the sales of
the record to benefit the children in Iraq who were about to be orphaned under
the false pretense of a war on terrorism. Half an hour later Paddy [Costello,
the bass player] from d4 walks in to my record store, we tell him of our plan,
not really expecting that he’d take it seriously—hell, I don’t
even remember if I even took the plan seriously (although I certainly took the
anti-war outrage that I felt VERY seriously!). Two days later paddy tells me
that he’s proposed the idea to the band, and they are down with it, and
he wants to know when we can record! “WHAT? You thought I was serious?
Well then, I guess I was! Let’s go!”
... one thing led to another. Slug agreed to try his hand at fooling around
with the d4 rock riffs as an experiment. Two weeks or so later he handed me
his mixes and “reinterpretation” of the Dylan lyrics, and they blew
my mind to bits. So fantastic was Atmosphere’s contribution, in fact,
that I spent the next year or so sporadically fucking around with my vocals,
bringing up other people in the mix and adding additional vocalists to hide
the fact that I had no talent whatsoever. I had, after all, never even TRIED
to sing or even yell words into a microphone, and here I was in the studio with
relatively seasoned “professionals!” I drove my poor engineer Stefan
Kren—who was working for free, like everybody else—to the edge of
his patience! Finally, after much procrastination and an unshakable bout of
self-doubt regarding my inadequacies as a viable “vocalist,” I was
finally satisfied that I had something I could live with for posterity—thanks
in no small part to the musicians and engineer that I was blessed enough to
work with. They covered up my sorry inadequacies pretty damn well! Things got
completed because I HAD to complete them. This was, after all, not about ME
but about people’s LIVES.
What I think is cool about the whole deal is that it is a blending of voices
from different musical camps. These camps have come together to express unity
and a common outrage at the pro-war policies of our administration. d4 are in
essence punk rockers, as are guest vocalists arzu and travis. Atmosphere are
rappers. Curtiss A is an old school R&B/rock ‘n’ roll shouter.
Stefan Kren, who recorded the project, is a middle-aged hippie scientist with
a great recording studio and one hell of a collection of Grateful Dead tapes.
Me, I’m a record-collectin’ nerd who simultaneously fulfilled every
record collectin’ nerd’s secret fantasy of making their OWN RECORD
while more importantly trying to actually do some GOOD in this crazy old world
instead of sitting around bitching and complaining like I’ve done for
most of the past 49 1/2 years of my life.
feel that this is the most crucial election of our lifetimes, and I wanted to
make a political statement available before November 2nd. Nobody involved is
making a single penny off of their hard work. All profits are donated to a cause
that promotes peace and healing and empowerment to people who have been brutalized
by Bush’s war. This project is ALL about the politics of peace, and there
can be no separation of the music from those politics. Even if a person doesn’t
particularly dig punk rock and/or rap music, we still hope that they will buy
10 or so, and hand them out to people who might enjoy one or both of these types
of music. THE CAUSE is what it’s all about.
At the end of the day, it is our deeds as human beings and our compassion and
generosity for our fellow man that truly matter. It is not what we own or what
we can take from others. Jesus had that one down, but I think Bush and Ashcroft’s
self-congratulatory biblical misinterpretations seem to have overlooked that
basic tenet. And what was that thing about “turning the other cheek?”
I think they missed that one as well ...
I would proudly sacrifice my life if it could somehow get George Bush out of
office. After all, he has sacrificed over a thousand of our young men and women’s
lives in Iraq alone (not to mention the 8,000 plus Americans that have been
disabled there, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis that have been killed or
maimed in the interest of corporate profits), driven our economy into the toilet
and sold out our future for the benefit of the richest 1 percent of the population,
all the while making the world a much more dangerous place in which to live.
Why is this guy even being CONSIDERED for a second term? What is wrong with
us as a nation that we might re-elect this nasty, corrupt regime? Have we become
so absorbed by selfishness and our own inhumanity to our fellow man that this
is what it has come to?
There are SO many beautiful things in this world. There are SO many beautiful
things about America. My heart aches for a return to sanity. I plead with anyone
whose hearts still beat to the rhythm of love and compassion to go out on November
2nd and do everything that you can to get George W. Bush out of office. I beg
of you to save our country, our world. It’s not too late, but soon it
[The Masters of War CD EP is available at many independent record stores.
Check it out. It is intense and proceeds go to the Iraqi children.] ||