he highly prolific artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Wooden Wand, James Jackson Toth has announced the release of not one, but two releases under the name WAND for early 2009. As if that werenâ€™t enough, Toth has also just completed work in the studio with a brand new supergroup of sorts called The Jescos. The new band features Timothy Bracy, formerly of The Mendoza Line along with members of alt-country faves Glossary and We Were The States.
Thurston Mooreâ€™s Ecstatic Peace label has once again signed on with Toth under his new moniker to release Hard Knox or â€œAre You Sure Hank Jr Done It This Way?,â€ a collection of WAND demos and home recordings, on May 26th.
â€œTo quickly address the elephant in the room,â€ Toth explains, â€œcertainly, collections of demos, outtakes and home recordings are mostly bogus, so letâ€™s cut to the chase. In my defense, all of the cuts contained herein are â€˜songsâ€™ in the traditional western sense â€“ my experiments in â€˜surf harmonicaâ€™ and â€˜doom zydecoâ€™ will not be chronicled here, deep and plentiful as those archives may be.â€
Things have been relatively quiet for the notoriously prolific songwriter since the release of last summerâ€™s Waiting In Vain album, but 2009 looks like itâ€™s back to business as usual. On March 31st, Toth will release the first album under the name WAND via Olympiaâ€™s People In A Position To Know Records and his own Mad Monk imprint. This is a limited edition release to set up the pending release of Hard Knox.
Toth further elaborates on Hard Knox thusly:
â€œAll of the songs on this collection have been, at one time or another, considered for inclusion on a Wooden Wand album. As such, they make up about 5% of a towering archive, but I sleep better knowing that I have at least spared you that other 95%.
â€œThe lyrics here bug me in many cases â€“ in some instances the words were used as syllabic placeholders, which is the price you pay for the immediacy and, some would argue, vitality of recording demos of songs the same day you write them. Nowadays, I donâ€™t record as many demos as I used to. But I have a bad memory, so I still occasionally break out the mics and cables and allow the creepy muse – a pest, really – do what it does, and transmit something to me. Iâ€™ve missed many episodes of Mythbusters this way. Youâ€™ve already pardoned the narcissism, now pardon the clichÃ©: I stand behind these songs as â€œsnapshotsâ€ and enjoy them despite their many flaws. I hope you do, too.
â€œEverything here was recorded by me on either a Roland BR-8 digital 8-track or its flashier, more cosmopolitan cousin, the BR-1600, with incalculable assistance from Jexie Lynn, who accompanies me on many of these songs and whose encouragement and creativity allowed many of them to be. Most of the recordings were done at my then-home in beautiful Knoxville, TN between October 2002 and January of 2007, just prior to the retirement of the Wooden Wand name.â€
Onward to the present, Tothâ€™s latest project, The Jescos has completed recording its debut for release later this year. Timothy Bracy, late of The Mendoza Line, and Toth formed the band to pay tribute to their mutual love of classic songwriters and the rock and roll zeitgeist. The band also features Elizabeth Nelson, Bingham Barnes (of alt-country cult faves Glossary), Tyler Coppage (We Were The States) and Brian Lowery. You can read Tothâ€™s hilarious play-by-play / color commentary of the entire recording session on his blog, www.tothtellsthetruth.blogspot.com.
As if this wasnâ€™t enough, Toth is currently writing for his next official full length, a follow-up to 2008â€™s Waiting In Vain, collaborating with famed guitarist / producer Jon Tiven (Alex Chilton / Big Star, BB King, Wilson Pickett, Jim Carroll Band), and performing in a new band called Occult Activity On Campus with Bummer Road / Cherry Blossoms drummer Chris â€œCrittleâ€ Davis, among others.