The Recording of "A Kustard Kristmas"
David: The basic tracks for "A Kustard Kristmas" were recorded on April 22, 2002 at a studio called Trout on 1st Street and 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The studio is managed by Bryce Goggin, who engineered the record. Bryce has worked with bands such as Pavement, the Breeders, Lemonheads, Phish and Spacehog, and he's known as someone who can get a good live sound in a short amount of time. Only Clem was behind soundproof half-walls; the rest of our amps were lined up, and we played without headphones. We recorded all 16 songs in 10 ½ hours.
We spent the next month recording overdubs, mixing and mastering the record. Kris produced the recordings in his apartment studio, and Joe recorded his keyboard overdubs (as well as some Clem and Eddy percussion parts) at his apartment. I came up with the song order, and Kris set the pace, weaving some songs in and out of each other. Kris wanted a long record (it's about 55 minutes) because he thought most Christmas records are too short. I wanted to make a record that you might consider playing after Christmas is over. I think there are enough musical jokes and references in there to keep you busy, and we hit some solid, funky, rockin' grooves.
Christmas Time Is Here Again
David: The 1967 Beatles Fan Club Christmas Record opened with this song. The flute and sleigh bells at the beginning are my daughters Nina and Elena.
Holly Jolly Christmas/We Are Santa's Elves
David: Taken from the 1964 Rankin and Bass adaptation of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer." The songs are a perfect match, since the middle 8 section of each is nearly identical. Special thanks to Clem for hitting the Sex Pistols bit at the end of the song so perfectly.
Kris: At the annual Emergency! children's ward staff party, Starsky and Hutch show up with a bag of goodies confiscated from the Santa Claus toy store robbers.
Little Saint Nick
David: The first cut on the 1964 Beach Boys Christmas Album. If the Beatles had recorded Little Saint Nick instead of Paperback Writer, it might have sounded like this. Or maybe not.
Santa's Favorite Helper
Joe: Originally titled "Communication From The Planet Claus." You can just call it that if you prefer, I really don't mind. Thanks to Clem for following the rather unpredictable "ARP Random Pattern" clicktrack.
Christmas is Love
Kris: From James Brown's record "Hey America", released Nov. 1970. On the CD "James Brown's Funky Christmas". Great groove.
David: Jeremy tosses some great bass work into this one.
David: The cartoon "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," created in 1966 by Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones, is a perfect 26 minutes of Christmas magic and mayhem. This is the song the Whos sing around the town Christmas tree, and we play it part Led Zeppelin and part Spike Jones. Actually, the connection is simple: Seuss=Zeus=Rock Mythology=Led Zeppelin=Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones=Spike Jones=Chuck Jones.
Rankin and Bass "The Year Without A Santa Claus" 1970.
Joe: Shaft battles the Heatmiser in the cruel, cruel heart of the city.
David: This is my personal favorite on the record.
A Kustard Kristmas
David: This song was part of the regular Kustard Kings instrumental set at live shows, but only revealed itself as a Christmas song when we were planning this record (although Joe M. told me, "I always thought it was a Christmas song." ) For this track, original Kustard Kings bassist, Joe Katz, came back to Brooklyn to record his signature bass line.
I Want An Alien For Christmas
Kris: Fountains of Wayne's 1997 Christmas single, recorded in Liverpool. I played a little guitar on the original, after roaming the Merseyside where Mick and Keith used to busk skiffle as lads.
U Sleigh Me
David: I wanted to write a song to remind you that you could still get coal in your stocking. The cryptic message at the end was suggested by Jeremy.
Snow Globe Symphonette
Joe: What's Christmas without Snow Globes and Harpsichords? Dedicated to two of my keyboard heroes, Lurch and Laurie Partridge.
Christmas Night In Harlem
David: Now known mostly for his melodies running through Bugs Bunny cartoons, Raymond Scott recorded this song in 1934. We first played this at the Raymond Scott Tribute in September 1996. I think Scott's wife and daughter were at the show. Joe M. really spiffed up this version with his keyboard work. It sounds like he ran the song through several of Scott's wacky musical inventions.
Kris: Straight guys used to like Eartha Kitt, too. The original was recorded in NYC on Oct. 5, 1953. Here we do it with a Link Wray twist.
Do They Know It's (Snoopy's) Christmas?
Medley - Band Aid "Feed The World" 1984 / The Royal Guardsmen "Snoopy's Christmas" 1967
Joe: With Joe M. as Paul Young, David as Boy George, Kris as George Michael, and Jeremy as Simon LeBon. The part of Bono was divided up between Clem (vibes) and Eddy (glockenspiel). Snoopy, of course, is everywhere.
Christmas Time Is Here Again - Reprise
David: Christmas is about, among other things, children, and I wanted all of the Kustard Kids to have their say on the record. At the time of the recording, my daughters Elena and Nina were 10, Maya was 5, Kris's son Elias was 6 months and Clem's daughter Esme was 5 months. Kris and I arranged their words and sounds over the music track, and it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the recording process. Maya's farewell speech, recorded separately at my house and overdubbed straight onto the music, fit in perfectly without any Pro-Tools editing, right down to her kisses falling in time with my guitar fill. Now, that was Christmas magic.
Clem: Sounds great.
Kris: I think I've said enough. Maybe too much.