What Is Happening? (TL;DR)

By JoCo April 21, 2010

Hello! If it seems like I’ve disappeared from the internet it’s because I’ve been in prison. Kidding! They have the internet in prison!

First, please note that the following shows are happening:

May 7th-9th
Lake Arrowhead, CA
Pretty sure it’s too late to get tickets to this, but even so: http://www.maxfuncon.com

Thursday May 13 at 8PM
The Hat Factory in Richmond, VA
With Paul and Storm
Tickets: http://bit.ly/9DUbkg

Friday May 14 at 9PM
The Lincoln Theater in Raleigh, NC
With Paul and Storm
Tickets: http://bit.ly/9yGzhH

Saturday May 22 at 8 PM
Sympho’s “Tweetheart”
Church for All Nations in NYC
Sympho is an orchestral concert series run by my friend (and fellow Whiffenpoof!) Paul Haas. Tweetheart is an evening of classical, electronica, and pop songs about love. I’ll be doing one of my songs that he’s arranged for the symphony – it’s going to be really cool I think.
Tickets: http://bit.ly/awryfl

Thursday May 27 at 7:30PM
Just for Laughs in Montreal, QC
With Paul and Storm
Tickets: http://bit.ly/aBraSC
If you think I am not going to do “Re: Your Brains” in French while I am in Quebec, then you are crazy. There are still PLENTY of tickets available, if you know what I mean.

Friday May 28 at 8PM
Gladstone Theater in Ottawa, ON
With Paul and Storm
Tickets: http://bit.ly/92ShRK

Sunday May 30 at 8PM
Enwave Theater in Toronto, ON
With Paul and Storm
Tickets: http://bit.ly/98K68o

And now for the long wordy part in which I talk about me.

Yes, I have been hiding out of late. You may have noticed my last blog update was OVER A MONTH AGO, and I’ve been awfully quiet on the Twitter. And of course I continue to completely ignore Facebook and MySpace, though that’s mostly because I am an old person. This year had a busy start with a lot of touring, all really great shows with some lovely audiences, including the exciting opportunity to open for They Might Be Giants for a few shows. But all that travel time and road food and T-shirt counting tires me out. I have been resting.

As I keep saying in interviews, “Whine whine, success is a terrible burden, etc.” I was as surprised as anyone when Thing a Week started generating audiences and income, and the last few years have been about sorting that out: figuring out how to play live and tour, tweaking the business side of things, counting huge stacks of cash, finding a decent helipad maintenance team, the usual. There hasn’t been a lot of song writing, which is supposedly a large part of my job. I understand now why bands tour for a while and then stop so they can write the next record – it’s very hard to write anywhere near a tour, especially when you’re running everything yourself. Sometimes I feel more like a traveling salesman than a musician.

So I’m going to keep a much lighter tour schedule for a while, and I’m going to really buckle down and make some music. For serious this time. Not even jocoserious, I’m talking SERIOUS serious. In fact, I am currently working on a thrilling super-secret project, and if it comes together I’ll be able to talk about it very soon. I’m slightly terrified about it, which means it’s probably the right thing to do. And it will involve lots of new music and creative stretching and growing, which is something I desperately need if I’m going to stay engaged and satisfied and relevant. Thing a Week was excruciating, but I miss it. I’m ready for The Next Project, and I think I finally know what it is.

So that’s why it’s been quiet around here, and I promise it’s going to get less quiet soon. In the meantime, thanks for your patience and continued support.

P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?


B says

"P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?"

Try a lot of drugs?

I only just signed up for the mailing listing a couple of weeks back and sort of forgot about it, so when "Jonathan Coulton has sent you an email" popped up in the corner of my MSN screen I freaked out a bit =/

Anyway good to hear you're working on something new.

P.S. Will you ever be touring Australia?

Jacob816 says

Dude, The Gladstone is lime 3 blocks from my house, awesome! BTW you spelled Ottawa wrong.

Phil Nelson says

Well, get on it. We aren't getting any younger, and I haven't head a new song about a science monster with feelings in what feels like forever.

B says

Well, I should probably ask - does JoCo ever read/reply to the comments section I would I be better sending him an e-mail?

thorn says

Glad to hear you're getting ready to start on some new stuff. I'm really more of an instrumental synthpop guy than a song-writer, but I frequently find that alcohol helps.

Samuel Abram says

I haven’t head a new song about a science monster with feelings in what feels like forever.

Speak for yourself. I need more songs about monkeys!

Jeff S. says

Sounds like joco needs to resurrect "Thing A Week" :)

Kassidy says

Read and understood. The Next Project sounds interesting, though I wouldn't mind a new "Thing a Week" project cropping up from you either, since I sadly didn't get to experience that as an audience first hand.

Re Writing songs, I'm not really one to be able to give good advice on that, since I am way too prone to falling into sounding too much like what I am listening to at the time, but that in itself is an idea. Take a genre that you'd not normally listen to, perform, or write as a style, and listen only to that with a view to hitting your normal style completely fresh from close ties in to that style, and even incorporate something completely unexpected into your repertoire.

At which point I will stop preaching to the choir, I'm hardly in a place to give tips to you, so I'll get back to my network operations job, and leave the creative stuffs to the expert. ;)

P.S. You Rock, dude. Keep on stretching.

Haplo says

> “P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?”
> Try a lot of drugs?

I hear it's what kept the 70s prolific!

I'm looking forward to the all-JoCo episode of Glee. The special guest star appearance is the big project, yes?

Amanda says

I hear auto-tune is the way to go - doesn't really matter what's behind it.

B says

"I hear auto-tune is the way to go – doesn’t really matter what’s behind it."

Perhaps from the perspective of a robot?

brandon says

man, hearing "does anybody know how to write songs?" from jonathan coulton? the "thing a week" guy?
good to know he's not a robot, as previously believed.

JoCo says

OttAwa. With an A. Crap. Sorry Canadians...

Ben says

Hard to believe no one's yet mentioned this song-writing advice from Paul and Storm (back in the DVN days):


Luther says

"The Next Project" is being Valve's new official musician? You've been in every game since Portal. :) (Except Left 4 Dead)

It will be awesome to hear new stuff from you, and hopefully not to excruciating...

Luther says

Not too excruciating for you I mean... It's not going to be excruciating for us. ;)

Abbytron says

I enjoy you greatly. And desperately wish you could put an ETA on "soon."

David Galloway says

While I know you have lots of fabulous JoCo songs rolling around in your cabasa, maybe there's another great cover song in there as well. Perhaps a slow, introspective Mr. Roboto? A new version of NIN's Closer with your drumbox-Fancypants-thingy?

Laz says

Please, please, please let your Top Secret Next Project be the Tesla/Edison musical co-authored with Scalzi that he teased us with.

Joe Covenant says

All the best with it Jonathan.
Here's hoping *one* of the secret projects is... well... MY secret project !

;' )

DF Lamont says

Two words: Concept Album
I have written songs, though I don't know if I'm particularly good at it.
One thing is just to start writing even if you don't really feel it. Another is to listen to songs you really like and see if you reinvent it. Like rebooting Star Trek. Figure out the elements of what you love about a song and use that.
Another is to think of favourite awesome chord progressions (like Baba O'Riley) and see what you can do to cram them into songs. Sometimes getting technical, that is just trying to write a bridge where you wouldn't using chords you wouldn't usually use but that you know work within a particular key.
From a lyric point of view, because I am a middle-aged father and my insights and stories are mostly about child control, I always need to write from someone else's point of view in a story. That makes it interesting.

Some friends of mine formed a joke band called Strykkur. Kind of like Tenacious D, but before that. They write songs about homebrew beer and being an directionless alcoholic at 23. Funnier than it sounds: http://thewhimsiad.ca/?p=278

Mike Hillyer says

Now what about the other half of Canada?

LSK says

Yay, new songs!

As for songwriting, I hear there's a guy who wrote a song weekly for a year. Maybe you should ask him?

Sushi says

New projects? Thing a Week again? Two Things a Week? Thing a DAY?

(Hey, a bunch of people write 14 songs in February and some do a lot more. I can dream, right?)

Carriep says

We look forward to the new project. It sounds rather cutting-edge. Hope you can announce details soon.

Andy says

Dude, if your new project is Portal 2, it's ok, Valve announced it, we know you're in it, it's going to be awesome!

Brian says

I do! Well, lyrics anyway.... the whole "music writing" part is something else.

Jacob says

Yes, I do know how to write a song.

Does this mean we can hang out and write a song?

MG says

When I saw "super-secret project" my first and greatest hope was that they'd decided to take after Thinkgeek in making the magical into reality.
But I fear "The Love of Tesla and Edison reinterpreted through music, penned by JoCo and JoZi" may never be realized.

Autumnraina says

Go, go, JoCo! Glad to hear you're ready to step up to the next big project!

Marisa says

I AM SO HAPPY TO HEAR THIS.As extensive as your discography already is,I'd replayed it so much that I was really starting to hope for some fresh material.

As to The New Project,I am so excited,and I've been thinking you should just go ahead and do another Thing-a-Week.I find that,as someone who wants to be a fiction writer,I have to be forced to write to actually do so,heh.If I don't have someone expecting me to write something for a grade or whatever every week or so,I only write when I really really want to,and that happens rarely.Sometimes you have to just make yourself put anything down you can,and use whatever inspiration you have to do it.That seems to be what made Thing-a-Week work for you,just writing about crazy random mundane stuff in your own style,and it comes out great.Carry around a little notepad or tape-recorder or what have you and record ideas as you have them,then when it's time to write,pull it out and see what you can do with them.Or do you already do that...?

That said,I'd love to hear a children's album from you.I know you've got a lot of young fans,and your material sometimes isn't...er...appropriate for people under a certain age?(Heh heh,not that we older folks don't love it!^__^;)But yeah,you seem to be generally very kid-friendly in that they like your music,so that could be something.

Also,I feel I should tell you off for being so out-of-touch for the past month or so--I was starting to worry!--but that's not my place and I don't want to sound like a Jewish mother("You never Tweet your followers,and if you don't,how do we know you're okay?You could be dead in a ditch for all we know!",ect.).

Natonstan says

Nice to hear another post from you JoCo, I'm planning on getting back into songwriting after a few years, just ordered some new equipment, maybe we could talk about it sometime if your not too busy

Dr. Martin says

Is the new project a full band? That might just be me reading in something I'd like to see...

Rich says

Hmm...Secret Project... You're obviously going to cover the White album in its entirety. I hope...

crazy diamond says

"P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?"

according to the guy in 101 dalmations, 'melody first, my dear, and then the lyrics!'

(hoping the thought of that cruella deville song will inspire something fun but sinister)

sevinPackage says

I've been awfully quiet as of late, myself.
I have a disc I promised to send Jonathan and Len a very long time ago, which is nearing completion. After that, you can expect another JoCo fan video creation within the next few months. If it turns out the way I think it will, I think it's good enough to premiere at a Coulton concert before it goes up on the YouTubes, if I can swing it with the big guy.

Travis says

(Does anybody know how to write songs?)
Thanks to you ive been making my own songs on accoustic. Your one of my major inspirations! So of course i write songs kinda like yours (not taking anything from your songs) but what i do is i try to find the best chords and put them together and see if they work out and if i like the sound of it i add lyrics to it. so far my friends like me songs even though its about natural disasters (been happening alot lately) and wifes killing there husband and stuff like that. Thank you for being totally awesome! And Thanks for being a good/weird (wierd in the good way) model. I Look forward to hearing your project!

Ricass says

Well it looks like if you ever get stuck for writing songs, there's a dozen or so people who'd be willing to give you their ideas if you'd let them sniff you.

Speaking of which...

Nils says

>P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?

I'm not a musician, but I've heard that all you have to be able to do is rhyme "break my heart" with "never part" and you are on your way.

David Hill says

Why are you skipping over Philly (again)? For all the time you've been in NYC and VA you've only been in Philly once in the last year, I think.

And a good time was had by all (including that one drunk fan who kept yelling 'Soterius Johnson!' over and over to remind other attendees that he is, in fact, aware of your catalog).

Paul Murphy says

Writing songs?

Have you heard Billy Braggs 'The Space race is Over'? surely some inspiration there.
And yes - you proably need to make yourself write a song, they don't fall out of crackers (I hope)

Try putting some random songs on spotify and see what comes up, or go for a walk, visit an aquarium - and stay away from Paul and Storm for a couple of days! - is that even possible?


HoboJoeTheThird says

Oh it's simple to write songs. Just take a dartboard and newspaper and think happy thoughts.

Or you could try some covers to get some insperation. But hey, what do I know?

Brownd says

You already said at GameInformer that you're making music for Portal 2. We know how to Google, you know? XD

I hope it turns out awesome

filkertom says

Maybe. ;)

Secundus says

"How do you write songs?"

It's a really long process, and the final exam has a biochemistry portion.

You probably won't like it.

bob says

RE: P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?


Can we really send you ideas and/or lyrics, and if you like them, you can do something with them?

-- OR --

"MWM Seeking Creative Outlet"

Erin says

This is the best use of jocoserious, like, ever.

John W says

JoCo isn't is obvious..

Since Apple is going to war with Adobe, Google, Microsoft and stealing the ARM processor right out from everyones noses, and cancelled those cool I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ads.. now what would be the polictically incorrect thing to do? Flash in the pan.. Bashing the San.. Drobo where for Art thou?

And there's got to be a Wallstreet song in there somewhere, what with Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone mulling over Wallstreet II.. at least they won't be re-envisioning movies this time.. Wallstreet II 3D what do ya think?

Tron II.. Ironman II.. Avatar II.. Trek XI-II.. is there something wrong with the number one.. whats wrong with 2D

Lot's of luck with the mystery science project II

shadowfirebird says

Mate, if you don't know how to write songs, then who does?

Jeremy says

>And a good time was had by all (including that one drunk fan who kept yelling ‘Soterius Johnson!’ over and over to remind other attendees that he is, in fact, aware of your catalog).<

At least he wasn't yelling Freebird. :) Or interrupting during the intro to a /different song/.

Oh, wait. He was.


If it helps, my kids request the JoCo compliation CD more often than any other CD to listen to in the car. You haven't lived until you hear a sleepy voice from the back seat ask "Can we listen to 'Code Monkey'?" for the millionth time. Rock on, dude.

Ben Sommer says

I know how to write songs. If you want to take a hairpin turn away from geeky irony into biting social satire, and if you need a collaborator, contact me.

ZapDevil says

"I’m slightly terrified about it, which means it’s probably the right thing to do." <----- TRUTH!

Zac says

Looks like my last post got spam filtered. I was just saying that it's weird you haven't mentioned your relationship with topatoco (the merch distribution company). Can't include a link because that's probably what got me filtered, but go to topatoco.com and read the most recent news post.

Donald says

It's time to stretch out into other media.
I'm seeing:

"Re: Your Brains, the Broadway Musical!"

GeGe says

Good luck with your new project. I can’t wait.

Matt Blick says

More songs? - fantastic!

I'm going slowly through thing a week. It would be wonderful if the new ones started up just as I finish (and I'm on 'not about you' so don't dilly dally!).

"Does anybody know how to write songs?"


Sit reverently at the feet of Lennon & McCartney...and then steal their shoes.

Outrider says

Dude, write a duet between a Little sister and her big daddy from Bioshock. It practically writes itself. And its a nice temporary bookend for the portal song before Portal 2 comes out.

Clyde Kaplan says

"OttAwa. With an A. Crap. Sorry Canadians…"

I believe, rather than Canadians, they prefer Ottawatians.

Chimera says

I'm thinking he's been working hard on the music for portal 2.

julie says

Is there any chance at all you might make it out to Bonnaroo? TMBG will be there, and I think I could die happy if I got to see you too. Should I put a request in at Bonnaroo?

papaprinny says

Re: "Does anybody know how to write songs?" In this particular case, you make nebulous allusions to Aperture Science, neat guns, cake, and burning in fires. The rest just flows from that.
Yes, I went to the Musical Guests Panel at PAX East. Super-secret things were said by a certain bushy-bearded man with long hair. It caused the room to lose its shite.

Stephane Desrosiers says

Argh! JoCo's finally coming to Ottawa but I'm going to be on the other side of the world visiting the in-laws!


I hope my fellow Ottawans sell out the show to make it worthwhile for him to come back! :P

Tim says

Yay! I was just wondering yesterday, "Hmmm, been an awful long time since JoCo released any new music. I hope he's OK....." This is good news. All the best on your new venture!

AeroRange says

Re: “Does anybody know how to write songs?”

I don't know. But I think you know how. :D

Mataata says

If its song writing you're wanting to know about, may I suggest something like Plastic Seat Sweat? That song, if counting Carve That Possum, was a freaking 17 minutes of jamming with a bittersweet twang to it. And I loved it.
Oh, and YAY for the new project. Images of Portal 2 come to mind. :D

Jess says

oooh. How about "Thing a Lunar Cycle Segment"? You'd have the waxing song, the waning song, a full moon song clearly about werewolfs, a New Moon song hopefully not about whiny teenage vamps...

Aaron says

I thought I knew how to write songs until I took a few tips from yours. Extravagance and over-technicality were like a crutch I used to mask my lack of structure. If you read this I owe you one!

HeatherB says

We miss you. We love you. Remember, no matter how exciting this "new project" is, WE love you MORE.

HeatherB says

BTW....Bob Dylan has managed to "stay relevant" for the past 30+ years and, as far as I can tell, all he has done during that period of time is jack off and stare at his navel. Not that I'm recommending that route.... Just, that, y'know, sometimes staying relevant is more a matter of perception than doing something new. XO, HB

bobfard says

OMG NEW PROJECT =D!!!! I had a huge smile on my face when I heard you were doing a new project and seriously writing new songs! (cus btw im getting a bit tired of listening to I'm Your Moon a lot, BUT ITS SO AWESOME). You should write more epic/deep/catchy songs! (Maybe a normal song so i can get my friends hooked on you ^_^) You should really make more like Pull the String, I'm Your Moon, When You Go, Octopus, You Ruined Everything, and of course Still Alive!!!!

MatthewS says

Please Please Please come back to Colorado soon! I know the last time both shows didn't sell out but I think that was because people didn't go to both nights in a row like I did. The Soiled Dove is a great place for shows, but they don't advertise well. You should look into playing at our sci fi con held in April every year. That would be a huge crowd of people that appreciate and understand your music.

Rock On! Write On! Right On! bring us more JoColicious music to enjoy!

P.S. Mad Scientists Rule! Zombies Drool! But the JoCo lives forever!

Rose says

Glad to hear you are working on new stuff -- I discovered your music a couple months ago and have been playing the albums nonstop. Love it all, can't wait to see your next project and maybe see you play live!

P.S. It's almost the 1st of May! Woohoo!

Kaethe says

"I’m slightly terrified about it, which means it’s probably the right thing to do."

Crazy, but oh so true!

ZSandmann says

P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?

Manatee Balls

Brett Glass says

If Jon comes back to Denver, he should try Swallow Hill rather than The Soiled Dove. He'd pack it.

As for writing songs: it's like trying to figure out exactly how to move the muscles in your throat when you eat. You'll choke. I have no idea how I write songs; I look back at them afterward and analyze what I did. Or what they did as they spntaneously self-assembled in my brain like viruses inside a cell. ;-)

the ghost says

I wrtite - but must remain anonymous you see?

Christine DiMiceli says

I have just been introduced to your stuff and would like to say "Thank you" Code Monkey is a smiler!

mitch says

See you at the Hat Factory, JoCo.

Al says

Now if you'd said something beforehand, the wife and would have treated you all to very decent Thai food in Portland and you wouldn't have had to eat nasty road food. You gotta learn to use your social media connections... ;)

Autumnraina says

Just wanted to say thank you for the great show in Raleigh, and thank you for playing "I'm Your Moon."

JennBell says

When is it going to get less quiet?

TyanaZai says

Welcome to canada JoCo!
See you tomorrow!

Bethany says

"P.S. Does anybody know how to write songs?"

You could always pull a Dr. Seuss and make up words. Even if we don't know what they mean, we tend to get the gist of them. =]