Ted Parks on "Halloween Monster Blues"
Tell us about yourself and your music
I’m an orthopedic surgeon, so I spend a lot of hours working with my team in the OR. My assistants, nurses and anesthesiologist and I all love old-style country music. We’ve listened to it nonstop for years while we work, and it got to the point where I found myself singing a lot of Johnny Cash, Junior Brown and Alan Jackson in the shower. I’ve played guitar (casually) for years, so it wasn’t that big of a leap to form a band two years ago and start playing in dive bars around town out here in Colorado. We have a regular gig on the third Tuesday of every month (only the best bands play on Tuesdays!) and we’ll throw in an additional show now and then. We were horrible at first, we’re better now. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time. I’ll never look to music for a career, I’ve got one of those that I love already. We just play for fun, and we have a blast.
Talk to us more about your latest release
My latest (and only) release came as the result of a call from my bass player last October. It turned out that we were going to play a few days before Halloween, and he asked me if I could find a country Halloween song for our playlist. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t come up with anything good, so I wrote one and we played it. It was well-received, and, that night as we were breaking all our equipment down after the show, a guy came up to me and said that he had been a DJ at a country radio station and that, on Halloween, DJs are desperate for Halloween themed songs. He felt that, if we spent the time and money to record the song well, it could get radio time…at least on that one day of the year. So we did, and this release is the result.
What inspired you to write this release?
As mentioned above, it was the great feedback our silly little cover band received when we played the song around Halloween time last year. I’ve spent a lot of time writing a lot of songs – all junk – but I really like this one and a lot of other folks do too. I started thinking about songs like “Monster Mash” and realized that, although the song is really only relevant once a year, it could potentially live on forever (Bobby Pickett wrote and released this song in 1962, and you still hear it every year).
Describe the writing and recording process
Writing this song was the easiest thing I’ve ever done! I’ve spent hours and hours writing nothing but junk…this one took less than a half-hour! I knew I wanted to record it, but sort of put it out of my mind for a while, figuring I’d never figure out how to do it and do it well. Then, I ran into an old high school buddy who played me a children’s song he’d recorded for a project he was doing. It was fantastic. The arrangement and mix were perfect. I shared with him my Halloween song, and he invited me out to Santa Cruz, California to record it in the studio he used. We cut it in about four hours, me singing and playing on the studio’s delicious ’64 Telecaster along with a studio drummer and stand up bass player. The producer had connections in Nashville, and we sent the track to musicians out there. Some of the steel, piano, and fiddle parts were added by these musicians, who emailed us their contributions to the song. We also gathered more tracks from friends whom we knew who were good players. The fun part was cutting and pasting all these together to make this song. Then I spent 40 hours on Shutterstock, iMovie, and a few animation apps to make the YouTube video. What a blast!
Any plans to hit the road?
If I spend any more time or money on this dorky song, I’ll be hitting the road, alright. My wife will kick me out of our house! She’s been very patient with me starting the band, and doing the song, and buying gear, etc, but I think she’s had enough.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
In my unique situation, it all comes down to whether the song is really as good as I believe it is or not If the song is as good as I think it is, it will, eventually, find it’s way onto the radio every October.
Who have you been listening to lately?
Jr Brown, Johnny Cash, Sturgill Simpson, Don Williams, Albert Lee, Alan Jackson
Who are your biggest influences?
Definitely Jr Brown and Johnny Cash.
Tell us about your passions
I love working on cars. I designed and built the sports car I drive every day (see website and podcast below). I also invented a video game interface called GameBike that was one of the first interactive gaming devices. It led to the development of devices like the Peloton trainer.
What else is happening next in your world?
I finished writing a textbook on Orthopedic surgery for McGraw-Hill publishing last year. I’ll be doing a lot of traveling and lecturing to promote the book this year and next.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Ted Parks and the Busted Bones
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