. . . UPDATES . . .

2008-05-27
ALBUM RELEASED!! SPREAD THE WORD!

2007-12-25
Finally, NBRS has a safe-haven from the spam-infested porn-infected hornet's nest of advertising that is myspace. Let's get to some news:

Item #1: We have a website (obviously)! Feel free to let us know what you think.

Item #2: Last week, the final master of our album was sent off to be pressed! We expect these to be available for purchase in late March! Also, we're releasing .mp3s of the album for FREE in the music section. Go creative commons!

Item #3: As you might've heard, we're releasing the album with a video DVD of our powerpoint presentations. Check out the STORE for more info.

Above is our debut album- the product of many years of hard, hyper-detailed work. And yes, we're offering it as a FREE download. Why? We'd like nothing better than for as many people as possible to hear our work. And if you really like it, you can head over to the store where you can purchase a pressed copy that comes with a video DVD of our powerpoints for a very reasonable fee.

We admire other artists who share their work freely and choose to bypass the unsavory & corrupt business side of the entertainment industry, and are proud to support the ideal of creative commons.

Nuclear Biologist Rocket Surgeons are:


Carson Hooley - Drums
Eric Hyman - Bass Guitar
Jason Jackson - Vocals
Les Ohlhauser - Guitars, Vocals
Carl Sondrol - Keyboards, PowerPoint™, Vocals, Accordion

Music


Tracks 1, 3, 5 by Les Ohlhauser and Carl Sondrol
Tracks 2, 4 by Carl Sondrol
All music tweaked in rehearsal by entire band

Words


Track 1 by Donald B. McCormick, Ph.D. and Richard S. Rivlin, M.D.
Tracks 2, 3, 5 arranged/compiled by Les Ohlhauser and Carl Sondrol
Track 4 by Wikipedia® (as of 2007)

Produced, Engineered and Mastered by Carl Sondrol

Album art by Raphael Del Rio

NBRS would like to thank: Max Crowe (for much recording/engineering wisdom), Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, Carl Sagan, Fred Rogers, John Zorn, Carl Stalling, Astor Piazzolla, Björk, David Fishel, Ryan Miller, Mike Pickett, computers, coffee, the Italian Language, our friends and families, and everyone.

Creative Commons Logo

About This Album / This Band / A List of Inane Details

by Carl Sondrol

This project began many years ago (2003) back in Iowa City- I was studying music and computers and math and Les (aka Professor Riffs) was thrashing severely. We met playing together in a Zappa-esque group called Genital Hercules, led by our talented friend Max Crowe. After discovering our similar yet complementary musical tastes it wasn't too long before Les began putting the hard sell on starting our own band. After some persuading I agreed, and we set out to make music we found interesting and entertaining. We began writing bits and bits of music, notating everything with a combination of staff paper, margin scribbling, and minidisc recordings- most of these would be linked together and constructed into actual songs much later, so detailed notes were an essential part of the process.

After a while we'd created a decent number of bits and I had nearly finished writing what later came to be known as Teoria Delle Stringhe (our piazolla-inspired piece)- then Riffs moved ahead to Chicago, as was planned. I followed in about 6 months, at which point we regrouped and resumed the composition of little musical fragments- the first bunch of which were to become An Introduction to Processive Biomolecular Motors. Compliance Failures followed not too long after- I originally wrote it for a sketch comedy series that never came to be. It was fairly straightforward to arrange for the group.

Due to our mutual interest in all things science we decided early on to dedicate all our subject matter to said things. I'm not sure when the idea of having all this music be accompanied by Powerpoint™ presentations hit me, but it was a perfect fit for the music-science framework we were working in. Thanks to some massive geekiness, I was able to write a program to control powerpoint presentations via an extra sustain pedal hooked into my synth. I spent countless hours (usually during lunch breaks at work) assembling what I hope are some of the most complicated and nonsensical powerpoints this world will ever see.

By then we'd gotten far enough along to begin to think about forming a live band to play all this music. Fortunately we already had the most versatile, insane drummer we could ask for in Carson, another GH bandmate. But finding a suitable bass player would prove to be quite the challenge. We initially began training Les' old roommate from IA, Tom, who was coming along nicely with the music, until in an absolutely bizarre act of nature a bathtub came crashing through his ceiling and forced him to move out of his apartment, and thus Chicago. For a while, he even commuted from Iowa to Chicago once a week for rehearsals. After his truck got smashed up in circumstances I can't remember we were back to square one. After auditioning a few more bass players we eventually stumbled upon the grizzled, ambitious and extremely talented Eric Hyman, who turned out to be an excellent match. A solid bass player versed in many styles, who we also immediately hit it off with on a personal level.

We rehearsed with this lineup for quite some time, once or twice a week to nail down all the details. Les and I had also written Riboflavin by this time, using this entire article as the lyrics. We decided to take turns writing the music, meaning: I wrote the music for the first paragraph, sent the mp3 to Les, he wrote the next paragraph, sent back to me, etc until the entire article was one massive song. Writing Onomatopoeias Researched! was also a lot of fun. One day Les IM'd me with a website containing all the batman onomatopoeia screenshots and there was no question what had to be done. We ordered them by frequency and thus had lyrics for a new song. This song was probably our fastest-written collaboration. In the course of 3 or 4 sessions we had worked through the list in order, composing all the music from top to bottom.

Just as we thought we couldn't possibly teach this horribly detailed and confusing set of music to one more person, it dawned on us to invite our classically-trained, operatic, stage-presence-exuding good friend Jason Jackson (who I had played with in The Election and another project) to sing for the band. Bringing Jason in completely changed NBRS- not only did he learn all the music in no time, but he gave it a much greater sense of completion. Riffs and I were the "singers" beforehand, but mostly out of necessity... finding a gem like Jason (who is as serious about singing as we are about our respective instruments) was really the final step towards completing the band.

We played a number of shows in Chicago and our songs became more and more polished. The next obvious step was to make some recordings. Les and I told the band we'd be making a "quick demo" by recording all the instruments together (minus vocals) live at our rehearsal space, and then overdub Jason later. After a few sessions (and plenty of technical difficulty), we had what we needed. Only later did it become obvious that we had recorded an album rather than a demo, since the tracks totalled over 30 minutes and I had taken much care to make the recordings as high-quality as possible (thanks to Max for much engineering advice and equipment). These live sessions were finished back in December of 2006.

Over the course of the next month or so, Les over-dubbed another track or two of guitar (since we only had one mic on his amp in the live session) to beef up the sound a bit, as well as MIDI guitar parts (which he plays through my synth) and his vocals. The band hit a pretty major setback when Les announced he'd be moving back to Iowa in April. He had very good reasons (none band-related), but we were all very sad to see him go. I knew I would finish the album but hadn't the foggiest idea how to replace him until Max stepped up in a huge way and learned all the guitar parts over the course of a handful of brain-dump sessions before Les left and 2.5 rehearsals. I suppose I wasn't really surprised as Max has a habit of learning and memorizing the guitar parts of every album he listens to. He played his first (and thus far only, unfortunately) gig with us downtown in a near-flawless performance. A great stroke of luck for the band.

Meanwhile, Jason absolutely plowed through his lead vocals for the album in a handful of recording sessions. A one-take performer through and through. I recorded my vocals at a much more... leisurely pace. I continued to mix the album and then Eric skipped town for Indiana! Arg. Another big loss for the band. The CD progressed, even if our lineup was dissolving.

The MASSIVE stretch of time between then and now (December 2007), in typical NBRS fashion, had several long gaps of little album progress, when I got swamped with other projects (recording a musical, scoring a feature film, doing sound for a haunted house, etc.) But all free time was spent mixing and eventually mastering the album. By December I was pretty happy with how things were sounding. Figuring out how to capture the powerpoints to video was a beast... but it eventually worked out. We did something special for the Onomatopoeias Researched! video thanks to some greenscreen work by my friend Ryan Miller and compositing by my other friend David Fishel (of Davey Dance Blog fame).

And here we are. Many years since the initial spark of an idea, we've put in countless hours of effort- nearly to the point of brain liquification- but stepping back and examining what we've produced, we're very proud of it and hope that some shamelessly geeky listeners will enjoy this album half as much as we enjoyed making it.

We're on hiatus for the time being (as we're still out a bassist and also a Carson, who got quite busy going back to drum school) but stay tuned here for future updates. And please do let us know if you have any feedback about the album!

-Carl
Keyboards/Powerpoint™/Vocals
December 30th, 2007