The Rise and Fall of The Christian Pirate Puppets


It saddens me to report that everyone's fourth favorite Toby Goodshank side-project, The Christian Pirate Puppets, is going on an hiatus of undetermined length. Yes, my friends, Camelot is no more.

Peter "The Handsome One" Speer been accepted to Grad School in Chicago, and ha has accepted their acceptance. I, for my part, have accepted that this is the end of an era. I'm sure he'll have a delightful time studying in the city of big shoulders. It'll be a wonderful opportunity to study all things Chicago has to offer that New York does not; hot dogs with entire tomatoes on them, pizzas as thick and flavorful as basketballs (Chicagoans love foods to be ill-designed for human mouths). But no more will I be able to harmlessly flirt with Pete's wife. Never again will I run down the four flights of my apartment building; giddy with excitement to find out whether or not Pete has a mustache this time. And no more will his gameshow-contestant-like laugh reverberate between the walls of my living room, unless I play one of the many recordings I have of him laughing, and even then it will sound oddly tinny on the tiny computer speakers I have in my living room. I think, everything will sound oddly tinny. At least for a while. My first band is breaking up. Or going on an hiatus of undetermined length.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Christian Pirate Puppets were formed back know, I honestly can't remember. It was definitely a post-9/11 world, though. At the time, it was just Toby Goodshank and me, Chris Andersen. I had known Toby in high school, but unlike everybody else who knows Toby from high school, I knew him from a different high school. A better high school.

I knew him under a different name.

We had reconnected after I had moved to New York and I had seen him perform. While I admired his skill, I grew jealous of the attention paid him which I felt was my due. Fusing those two instincts, I pressganged him into my service. Toby and/or I came up with the idea that I would read short fiction written by teenagers that I found on the internet, while he would improvise on the accoustic guitar. This tactic really highlit our two complimentary strengths; his virtuosic guitar playing and my narcissistic incompetence.

We recorded our first album, White Manlike Structure, in the winter, that much I recall. We had convened in the loft apartment he shared with The Baby Skins (who may or may have not been Baby Skins at the time (I think not, I think later I learned they got their name from admiring a container of hot and sour soup)). Toby proceeded to ply me with 22 ounce bottles of Ballentines; oh, how it flowed, and we would rehearse a song once or twice before recording it to Toby's mini-disc player. I was self concious during that recording their that evening. My part involved a lot of yelling at the top of my lungs, and I was sure that Crystal had to work in the morning. The last time we saw eachother, she confessed to having listened to The Wizard's Savior (a track off that album, obvi) on the car trip out to New York, so I get the impression that she holds no grudge against the album. Still, sometimes I wonder...should I have let her get her sleep?

We took the tracks to Major Matt soon after (that might have been the first time I met the man) and had him remaster the recordings. He tried his darndest, poor lad, but even a man of his considerable skills couldn't convert this into anything remotely listenable. Undaunted, we booked a show or two, until it became apparent that screaming out poorly written short stories for a half an hour straight was not the best way to entertain an audience. One friend of mine described it as "indebted to the theater of spite".

Still, when all else fails, fresh tactics. We began work on our sophmore album, Unpruded. This time, songs. However, we would keep in touch with our roots and continue to attempt the co-opt the aesthetics of outsider artists (which is a great excuse to sound like you suck). We conscripted a casual aquaintance of mine, Mr. Peter Speer, to take over keyboards. I tried playing the keyboard one or two times myself, but, in spite of years of piano lessons as a boy, I was unable to sing and play at the same time. That shit is impossible and it always in some way blows my mind when I see people do it. They make it look so easy, like any idiot could do it. Let me tell you, I am the idiot that could not.

But Pete brought more than mere competence to the table. Pete's "up-for-anything"-attitude-style attitude made him a perfect compliment. Also, he knew how to transfer tapes we made on my four track to the computer. That was crazy helpful. With Pete we recorded at least five albums that I know of and probably played just as many shows to just as many fans. Always good times, magical times.

I remember so many memories. Mostly being drunk. Laughing at other bands that worked hard to be good; not other bands, not specific bands, just bands in general, conceptually.

Now who's the joke?