New Song: “Leia Organa”

Hey all — we’ve got one more song to offer before we stick a fork in 2017. After Princess Leia’ Stolen Death Star Plans was released, we got a lot of questions from folks who liked what they heard. “What about Empire Strikes Back to Abbey Road? Return of the Jedi over Revolver?” Honestly, PLSDSP was as rewarding as it was challenging to create, but we really considered it to be a wonderful, fortunate, singular combination. But, as we said a few times in interviews, we still love The Beatles and Star Wars, so we’d be interested in combining them again if an idea presented itself.

So, a few months ago, Jude presented the idea: “I was thinking…’Lady Madonna’…Leia Organa? Here’s some lyrics that came to mind.” Dan agreed wholeheartedly, and the result — through no coincidence, just in time for The Last Jedi — is a tribute to Leia from ANH through TFA. It’s a short song, so we had to be brief! You can download the MP3 and FLAC files (all our music is downloadable here at no charge) or just enjoy the YouTube video, once again created by the amazing Katrin Auch. It’s all free, so please share if you enjoy.

This year was a huge one for us, and this song feels a bit like an encore. Please accept this as our thank-you for everybody who supported PLSDSP back in May, either through social-media sharing or tip jar contributions. But it’s also our love letter to Carrie Fisher, whom we lost last year around this time and will miss forever. Her bravery as a person and her importance representing a strong female character both had profound effects on us. But she was also known for her wicked sense of humor, both about herself and her place in pop-culture history, so we really hope she would have gotten a kick out of this.

We hope you do too. Thanks for all your support and encouragement in 2017 — from a creative standpoint, it’s been a fantastic year, and we owe it all to you. Enjoy your holiday season and we’ll see you in 2018!

New Song: “Blow it Back to God” (Raiders of the Lost Ark/TMBG)

Last month, Dan was invited to take part in Martin Azevedo’s Raiders of the Lost Ark: A Musical Emergency in Alameda, California. It’s basically a musical potluck: A movie is chosen, everybody picks a scene to turn into a song (original or parody), then everybody shows up and performs it for the first time — no group rehearsal, just making the show in the moment. It’s very loose and pretty cool. But when he found out the topic was Raiders, he immediately said, “Oh, I hope someone takes the scene where Indy is pointing the rocket launcher at the Ark and Belloq says ‘Blow it back to God.’ and does a parody of ‘Kiss Me, Son of God’ by They Might Be Giants.

So, that was that. Dan performed it live with Matt Montgomery and Brian Adam McCune, but we wanted to record it too — and since it was under two minutes, we figured even we could record and release it pretty quickly. So now that you know the context — and why we would choose this one short scene and this one short song — here’s our studio version, once again with a spot-on video from Katrin Auch.

Want the MP3? Here ya go, it’s free.

We chose the Miscellaneous T “alternate version,” which is literally one accordion and two vocal tracks — this is also how TMBG performs it live. After the massive undertaking that was PLSDSP, it was nice to make something this short and simple. As Indiana Jones might never say…we hope you dig it.

It Was 50 Years/One Month Ago Today…

Today is June 1, making it the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper. Giles Martin’s remix of the album is a stunning achievement and you should absolutely pick it up (or at least listen to it on Spotify).

It’s also been one full month since we released Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans — and what a month it’s been! We thought we had created something worthwhile, but we didn’t really know if people would discover it, or if they did, if they would connect with it. We posted the album at 6am on May 1, and the first major press outlet, io9/Gizmodo, wrote it up just 14 hours later. That was way faster than we expected anybody to notice, and the commentary was far more positive than we could have dreamed — press and fans alike started throwing out the kind of overwhelmingly positive adjectives that make us blush.

The next few days were a wonderful rollercoaster of shock and gratitude for us, as more press outlets and geek luminaries weighed in. After a month, we counted close to 100 blogs, sites, and podcasts (that we know of!) that shined a spotlight on the project. Some of our favorite and most flattering comments included:

“The best parody album ever.” — Nerdist

“Surprisingly elegant…the perfect combination of two giants of pop culture.” — Rolling Stone (France)

“Master satirists…lyrical geniuses…this is Weird Al-level parody but even greater in scope. An instant classic.” — The Spectrum (USA Today Network)

“Masterful” — Entertainment Weekly

“Even Darth Vader would be impressed.” — CNET

“The kind of comical mashup the Internet was made for.” — NPR

“A lot of elaborate internet jokes result in a sort of amused chuckle—’Hoo boy, someone had too much time on their hands!’—but Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans transcends this. It’s about as ambitious as such projects get…It’s hard to imagine someone biting off a larger task than this, nor someone chewing as vociferously as Palette-Swap Ninja does here.” — The AV Club

We were also amazed to see the project covered by huge outlets like Empire, Polygon (with an interview!), Slate (which noted the Porkins joke we hid in track 13), IGN, Radio.com/CBSBoingBoing, Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Comicbook.com, The Mary SueUproxx, and of course, Reddit. And the whole time, friends are reaching out to say “I just heard you on my local radio station” or “I was going to send you a link to this album but then I realized you made it!” Meanwhile, we’re just thinking…can this be real? It was all super humbling.

But for all this positivity, there was a high point above all others — one that made our hearts absolutely leap.

Folks, Luke Skywalker liked our jokes about Luke Skywalker. I mean, JMS ain’t nothing to sneeze at, but an actual Star Wars actor — and a huge Beatles fan — making our project his pinned tweet for a day? The Force will be with us, always.

And course, there’s all the “Have you heard this?” posts that you fans created to spread the word. All we wanted was to get this thing out there, and you helped — so sincerely, thank you!.Words can’t adequately express our gratitude for all of this. We did this project because we really thought it was an idea worth exploring, and we committed all our energy to doing the best job we possibly could. Getting the kind of acknowledgement and praise for that effort has really made us feel amazing.

Thank you as well to everybody used our tip jars (we beefed up our website hosting, and it did not crash, so now we can cover that expense!) and the kind soul who tried to create a PLSDSP page on Wikipedia. The rules of that site are understandably strict, and since the band doesn’t have a page already (and nothing was linked to the band’s mention on Dan’s page), there wasn’t much hope of the project itself getting a page — but it’s the thought that counts!

We’ve got a few more stories to tell about the making of the album, so for those of you who really want to know more detail, watch our site — when we get it together, we’ll post it! Until then, sincere thanks for all the support, kind words, and amplification you’ve given us over the last month. It means everything.

Hey look — new website!

As promised, we’re updating our website — rather dramatically. New theme, streamlined sections, better back-end support, all kinds of good stuff. Thanks to Kat for taking the lead on the redesign, and extra thanks to Ian, Will and Matt for the additional tech assistance. Expect that the site may misbehave a bit over the next week or so as things are optimized and configured. There are some significant changes behind the scenes.

Over the last week we also did a final check with a fine-toothed comb, looking for spelling errors (we found some), checking the videos, finalizing URLs and filenames….all that stuff that we don’t want to see posted publicly and suddenly regret because we were stupid and didn’t triple-check. The biggest near-mistake we caught: We forgot the hyphen in our name on the album cover. Four people missed that. You can never be too sure.

Dr. Demento should receive a package next week with a CD of the album (because that’s how you have to submit tracks!) and both digital and printed press kit assets. As you have probably figured out, that means…we’re pretty close!

The album is done

This weekend the final track was mixed, mastered, and approved by all stakeholders. That means that after five years, the music for this project is finally done. We have MP3s all tagged up and ready to go with the final album art; the album credits and lyrics are being designed as a PDF that will come with the download. We are thrilled, as you would guess — we get a mental break after the last five months of pushing hard, and after that, we might start hearing the album the way other people might hear it.

Our friend Rob Smith put on his biz-dev hat and approached some potential partners to make videos for some of the songs, but the DIY spirit that has powered this entire project actually wont the day. Katrin Auch has created videos for all 13 tracks, and they look excellent. So in addition to hearing the album upon release, you can watch it too! (Fun fact: Kat also appears on the album, one of only two guests…)

Now we’re working on pre-launch details. That PDF booklet is being finalized; the website is partially upgraded in case we get a rush of traffic but still needs some configuration; the current topic of discussion is nailing down the final release date. It won’t be long — we want to get it out there ASAP once everything else is in place.

But for about an hour this weekend, we actually relaxed and enjoyed the moment!

PS: Thank you to Todd Gagel, who gave us our first donation. If we could frame PayPal and put it on the wall, we would.