It’s Spring Again

Rain clouds and the brilliant greens.  The sky seems bluer.  We crawl out of our houses like we’ve been hibernating.  We stretch our arms, breath in the air and begin those outdoor activities.  We open our windows.  All of the windows.  So much that was dormant is now alive again.


The days get longer. It may be my favorite part of the spring.  Even with the loss of an hour on Daylight Savings, I’ll take the later light.  More can be done.  More seems possible.


These are the best days to play hooky from work.  Stay in school kids!


This is the time of year when writing songs in the windowless cellar of the Bunker is less than ideal.  I’ll happily take my acoustic outside and write under a tree.


Years ago, one of my favorite spots was at Lake Harriet across the parkway from the Band shell. There is a trolley bridge and if you sit under it, there are pretty good acoustics.  I also like to go down to Hidden Falls off of East River Road and sit by the Mighty Mississippi. Seriously though, there are tons of beautiful places around here.  You can get the trails and the water and the acoustics of your winter dreams.


I’ll rarely pass up the opportunity to sit on the stool on my patio and strum away an afternoon.


The Bunker sounds like muffled metal bands most of the time. And it smells, not terrible, but not fresh.  Spray some fabreeze or light a fragrant candle, but it’s still the Bunker.  Writing in the Bunker is always the same, be it October or April.


The outdoors awakens my senses. The sounds of spring are all around.  I hear the birds chirping, neighbor dogs, the old man with the leaf blower, school busses and children scattering into the neighborhood, a siren or two.  There could be a frog or crickets, or even the bubbling from the little water feature in the backyard four houses down.  The freeway is always rushing by and the list goes on.  Sometimes I close my eyes and pay attention to what I hear.  Try it when it rains and see if you can tell which gutters work the best.  The smells of spring are long anticipated.  After being in the stale environment of winter and in our sealed living spaces for months, spring is literally a breath of fresh air.  Everything rushes in: the cut grass, the sweet blossoms, the BBQ’s and bonfires.  I mean, strawberries are going to be ripe for picking in a couple months.


I wonder how this Northern spring awakening plays a part in song writing and creativity in general. Everything is sprouting and budding and ready to bloom.  So much change is happening quickly.  There is an energy.  And if we look at it in a personal cyclical sort of way, we have the opportunity to see everything brand new, and at the same time, be conscious of the world’s renewal.  And maybe, to see how intricately linked we are to the natural world.


“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” – Harriet Ann Jacobs

Making A Video

On February 25, 2017 we shot a video for Sweet Desperation at Lake Nokomis.


I went down to Nokomis a week prior to scout the location. I’d been to the beach before.  A good portion of the video would be filmed there.  It was the bookends.  The question was: what else was around the lake that would be great to film? What did the landscape offer? Ok. There were a number of things up in the air.  I cruised around the lake, noticed the bridges crossing the creek.  Then I saw the hill and the lifeguard stand.  I didn’t even get out of my car.  I just made another loop around the lake.  It was enough to know how we could use the landscape in the video.  Seeing the location also helped define the idea of the video and gave us an idea of what shots we’d need to grab (which is a great idea when shooting a video).


We shot a video with Tyler 2 years ago for Annie’s Piano and we went into it with minimal planning.  Tyler was great.  He showed up with his buddy and a couple cameras and we made it up as we went.  Corey scouted a location and we had a white sheet.  As a side note, we did knock on the door of the house with the weeping willow at the end of that video.  For our next video, we wanted to have more of a plan.


The idea was a low budget/no budget production. We had the thought of going to a snow covered beach, throwing down our beach towels and genuinely trying to enjoy a bitterly cold situation.  The imagery fit the song.  We would add in clips of the band walking both forwards and backwards that seem to, maybe, get nowhere.  And obviously we would be trudging through a foot of snow.  I think we succeeded in many ways.  We just couldn’t get it to snow.


The week leading up to the shoot there wasn’t much snow on the ground. Lake Nokomis was still mainly frozen over.  It was smack in the middle of an unusually mild February in Minnesota and the weather personas were calling for 6-12 inches by Friday, the day before the shoot.  All week I listened as the forecasts ebbed and flowed.  Snow would have been great for the video. That’s a big reason we wanted to shoot the video in February.  We thought there was a good chance there would be snow on the ground.  Well, Saturday rolled around and not a flake.  In fact, the sky was a vibrant blue the morning we met up to shoot the video.  Dead brown grass was clumped to the frozen earth.  But no snow.  It was cold, however, and that would have to do.


The morning of the shoot we met up at the Bunker and prepared to be outside for a few hours. We checked all of our props: beach towels, party cups, tiny umbrellas and cooler and we headed to Nokomis.  We parked on the street across from the pay lot by the beach and we hauled all of our gear down to the lake.  I was playing director and learning on the fly.  Tyler was showing me shots and angles and I was trying to get everyone in frame.


By the time we got to Nokomis at 11 a.m., it was 22 degrees out with clear blue skies. It was crisp and the wind off the lake was biting.  Liz didn’t dress for the cold, but she borrowed snow pants.  Shane didn’t wear a hat and figured he’d just tough it out.  I thought it was a wardrobe choice.  Our first focus was the beach scene and after we hit all the shots we walked down to the bridges and found our near and far camera spots.  We walked across bridges.  Then we marched back to our cars and parked them closer to the hill.  A week later Corey would tell me he got a ticket for expired tabs.  Looking back, that’s the biggest expense we had in the production of this video.


We continued on. But before we could shoot, we had to do some trash cleanup.  Wrappers and plastic bags and beer cans were strewn about the landscape.  We carried the bag with us and picked up bits of winter garbage.  We climbed up and down the hill.  I may or may not have actually hugged a tree.


The final location was the lifeguard stand. We were going for a band shot, a singer shot and the montage clips of screaming and, I suppose, what I dubbed the “tantrums.”  I thought it would be a great idea for everybody to do them.  But as it turns out, only Corey and Beau were even down with attempting something called a “tantrum” on video.  In retrospect, I should have called it something else, maybe a “frustration dance.”  Either way, this location held the climax of the video.  It was a ton of fun to shoot and I think it turned out smashingly.


A couple weeks later Tyler invited Corey and me over to edit the video, we expressed our vision and Tyler worked the controls. It was quite an experience to see him work his magic.  He was understanding of our ideas and added his expertise at every turn in the project.


We hope you like the video.


“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with finer spirit of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”  – Woodrow Wilson

Hotdish Army

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Last summer we recorded an album.

We decided to get out of town and track a few songs in New Ulm, MN. We knew the owner/engineer of 27 Years Studio through a friend and we went all in.  The idea was to get away from the hustle and hassle of our everyday lives.  So we opted for weekend road trips and the opportunity for the band to record in a legitimate studio.

First, I’d like to say something about audio engineers. These are the people who are sitting behind the console, turning the knobs, setting up the microphones and who – at the end of the day – have the ability, if not responsibility, to assess a musician’s performance in the moment.  An engineer can encourage a stronger take or a more unique performance in the studio.  They recognize the artist’s vision and they bring their own esthetic.  It’s a balance.  A good audio engineer understands this balance.  Lantz, the owner/engineer of 27 Years Studio, understands this balance.  Lantz helped us define and clarify our ideas for the songs on this album.  He also howled with us on the beginning of Ragtag Rag.  It was truly a memorable experience through and through.

27 Years Studio is in the basement of an old mansion in New Ulm. The house is full of hand carved and unique objects.  It could be a museum of the bizarre.  We brought our gear in through the cellar doors before each session.  Drums and saxophones were tracked in the room where Dutch Hartel, a previous owner of the house, shot himself with a shotgun.  There was a mystique about the house and the journey from the Twin Cities held a certain air of adventure.  As a band, we tried to hold onto the sacredness of the moment.  Each session held its own energy.  The house, the trips, the engineer guy, the musicians I get to make music with, everything came together to make the whole process of recording Hotdish Army an unforgettable experience.

I took six trips down to New Ulm and we spent seven days in the studio. On the first trek, I went down with Corey and Shane.  We recorded acoustic guitars, bass, keys/synths, looped drums and scratch vocals for all seven songs.  It was important for us on this first trip to explore New Ulm a bit.  So we went down to the main street and checked out all 3 bars, August Schell’s on tap, of course.  Dave made the next trip down.  He recorded electric guitars.  I will never forget stepping outside with Dave for some fresh air to find that he had a flat tire.  Talk about a damper to a day of recording.  Hey, he changed the flat and tracked all of his guitar parts, all in a day’s work.  Beau made the next voyage and recorded all of the live drum tracks.  He was the most professional of us all, like he’s done this before or something.  Then Drew made the jaunt all the way from Madison to record saxophones on five songs.  Drew was our everyday sax player until he moved to Madison in the fall of ’15.  For me, to have him come out and be a part of this album was icing on the cake, a perfect storm and it’s always an honor to be able to collaborate with him.  Liz and I then made the drive to New Ulm at dusk, sun sliding under rolling hills.  We recorded the bulk of the vocals that weekend in the cool cellar of the old mansion.  I made one more trip with Liz, Corey and Dave and we finished tracking all of the vocals.  The last element completed was for, Conrad, a New Ulm native and good friend, to lay down cello on three tracks.  The last cello swell was tracked three months after Corey, Shane and I made the first trip to New Ulm and we laid down the first chords in 27 Years Studio.

Listen here:

“Before this distinguished assembly and the world, the bells today proclaim the joyous tidings of the completion of this quietly soaring tower.” – Earl Warren


Hello. Welcome.  The inaugural post.

I’m excited to begin. I’ve wanted to write a blog for a while now.  So, yes!  Going to roll with this early energy and see if I can’t get a post up every Sunday/Monday.


The name. Bunker Fuzz.  Well, I’d been considering another name but it wasn’t available.  That’s how it goes sometimes.  I had to choose something else and I was looking for a name that was about my band and could also tangent in any direction. Now, the band I’m in rehearses in a space we call The Bunker, so it seemed like an appropriate blog name for the backstage buzz and all the behind the band stuff that sometimes isn’t even “band” stuff, it’s just people stuff.


The Band. King Fish Crow.  I play acoustic guitar and my sister, Liz, and I sing.  Corey B. Toth and David Brown sing too.  Corey plays keys and synths and David plays electric guitar.  The rhythm section is Shane Peckham on bass and Beau Larson on drums.  Before Beau and Shane we were much more subdued folk.  These days we take elements from a variety of influences.


We recorded The Mercy Tree in Corey’s basement in 2014.  But that was before Shane and Beau and even David were in the band.  On December 20, 2016 we released Hotdish Army which we recorded at 27 Years Studio in New Ulm, MN.  It’s our first ever studio recording and a great representation of what were up to these days.  Give them a listen at


Thank you.

Firsts are fun. Now to go back again and again.

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits.  There are only plateaus and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”  – Bruce Lee


Keep Reaching,