OK, So It’s a New Record

By JoCo May 25, 2010

That’s what I’m working on. There’s at least one exciting detail I can’t talk about yet, but I can say a few things now. I’m currently writing a bunch of new songs and rehearsing them with a band. I intend to debut (or, “publicly screw up”) these new songs with this band, probably using an electric guitar, at a couple of shows in July:

Iron Horse – Northampton, MA
Thursday July 22 at 7 PM
Tickets: http://bit.ly/bs6VNn

Somerville Theater – Somerville, MA
Friday July 23 at 7:30 PM
Tickets: http://bit.ly/cFaSw4

And after that I’ll head back to NYC to write some more and rehearse some more. At some point after that we’ll go into an actual studio and record all my fantastic new songs with talented musicians using high quality audio equipment. Fully licensed audio professionals will record and mix everything. Might put a couple of old ones on there too, maybe a couple from The Aftermath, maybe a couple of deep tracks from the back catalog. But really, mostly new songs, I’m serious this time. I already have at least four that you haven’t heard, and one of them is about mustaches, so that’s good.

As you can imagine, I’m excited but mostly scared about all of this. Here are a few reasons why (I swear I am not fishing for compliments or encouragement – I’m fully invested in this plan and am going to do it no matter what you think, and even if it’s a TERRIBLE DISASTER):

Why The New Project Frightens Jonathan Coulton

1. I barely know anything about playing the electric guitar. For instance, what is an “amplifier?”
2. I’m not sure I can write good songs anymore, and suspect that my best work is behind me.
3. I’m not used to spending money on talented musicians, high quality recording equipment, and fully licensed audio professionals.
4. I fear collaboration with other musicians who might be more talented than me.
5. I’m afraid that even a small change in direction is going to disappoint some fans.
6. I’m worried that even a small change in direction is going to make some aspect of my business not work anymore and that I will have to get a real job.
7. Like most rational humans, I’m pretty sure that I am basically a fraud, and that this move will finally expose my fraudulence for all the world to see.
8. This probably will involve a label and some other new business things that are new to me, I don’t even know what to say about that.
9. Change. Mediocrity. Backlash. Bad reviews. Effort. Internet comments. Mistakes. Regret. Robots.
10. Number 10 is secret.

So, back to work. Mustaches, that’s funny, right?


THP says

Second link no work!


Brandon says

Some folks probably will be disappointed, but that doesn't make what you're doing wrong. Wish I lived in MA so that I could hear some of the new material. I'm sure everything will turn out great and I can't wait to hear the new stuff.

Bram says

I'm sure that whatever you do with this album, even if it's different from your previous work, most of your fans will certainly love it, and so will I. Fear in new undertakings is completely natural and you should just try to do your best, no matter what might happen. Good luck and godspeed, JoCo.

Travis says

Mustaches, funny? Yes.

Adam says

I believe in you!

Kerrin says

If you don't evolve you are a dinosaur, and we all know what happened to them...a meteor wiped them out, but I digress.

Whoo, new songs! How can that ever disappoint....well except Drive ;)

SquareWheel says

...A label?

JonathanL says

If you weren't scared, I might not be as interested. Go boldly.

Ed says

If COULTRON at the PAX East show is any indication, then I'm definitely looking forward to this new album. Good luck!

CharlesP says

I think #4 is a pretty harsh (though accurate :D) view of Paul & Storm

Adam says

Why a label?? They're just a bunch of money grabbing crooks. You've already proven you don't need one, so why sell-out now?

GaryJ says

You're going to end up on the Today Show. You and I both know this. Better prepare now.

Adam L. L. Town says


Electric? JUDAS!

Sandman says

Who switched our Coulton with the one from the alternate universe? Coultonate is that you?

Alex Robinson says

I'm very glad to hear about the new material. Your concerns are all valid. In all probability everyone reading this on your website will be bringing fruits and vegeatables in various states of decay to hurl at your flop-sweating self next time you play.
Since that is the case, you might as well try and have as much fun recording and playing in the studio as you can. Tap into what made you like playing and performing to begin with. Screw the critics. A turtle can only survive by sticking its neck out. As you record the next kick-ass tune, your mantra should be "Fuck it. If they don't like it, my next album will feature '(I'm Still a) Code Monkey' and 'Second of May' but in the meantime MAKE FUCKING WAY FOR JO CO!"

Mike says

Best of luck, Jonathan! I'll be at the Somerville Theater show.

Carriep says

"There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction."

John F. Kennedy

ejk says

The internet cow that poops money will save you.

Feed the cow. Trust the cow. Love the cow.

Haplo says

It is amazing that you are a performer who lays it all out for us this way. Thank you for sharing your fears with us. I, for one, look forward to the new material (and thank you for choosing MA to debut it!) and will be counting down the next two months until I get to hear it. :)

rob says

Electric? Have you learned nothing from Bob Dylan? It's probably even going to be a Strat isn't it? Not even a respectable Les Paul!
But I guess, as Sheryl Crow said "Change will do you good". And really, I can't wait to see what you put together!

Caitlin says

Wooooo! I'm excited! And if the album is mediocre (or even bad) you're fanbase is crazy enough about you that it'll take a while for us to figure it out. You can always throw in a few Lady Gaga and/or rap covers, but that's so Glee. I don't think you'll need to resort to that... And I hope you're not a huge Glee fan...

Evan says

"Mustaches, funny? Yes."

And especially, if you have a quarter, the Rideable variety. 'Cause that NEVER gets old.

There's Thunder Outside says

Label? Nooooooo!!!! At the very least, do us all the favor of making sure it's a label that is not, nor never will be a member of the RIAA! Don't support the child and grandma suing pieces of crap! Besides, if your next CD is a RIAA CD, it will make it really really hard to maintain my boycott of all things RIAA!

Jonathan Strickland says

I think the Song Fu competitions show that you're still more than capable of writing great songs -- Blue Sunny Day is wonderful. And don't worry, if Bob Dylan could do it. . . uh. . . do you happen to be on good terms with The Band?

And I can help you with amplifiers, because HowStuffWorks.com loves you!


LizaLS says

The amazing thing about music is that it's not about us, your fans - it's about you as an artist. I appreciate the bawls it takes to put all of your hopes and fears out there and to give us the heads up that something new is on the way, but at the end of the day, it's us following you. Looking forward to the new stuff, still loving the old stuff. Carry on!


Melodie says

I find this strangely inspiring because, although you've already proven yourself to be talented at what you do, you have exactly the same fears that I do. I suppose that means my fears are possibly irrational, too. Also: you are still human. That's so awesome. Either that, or you're doing an excellent job of acting human as a PR stunt, but I'm going to assume it's the former.

Looking forward to the new material, whatever it may be! If it goes well, maybe we'll get some of it at PAX Prime? :) Fingers crossed!

Adam L. L. Town says

JoCo is so indie, he won't even sign to 4AD - it'll be 3AD at the very most.

Brendan Martin says

Crazy! The "Why The New Project Frightens Jonathan Coulton" is the exact list of "Why JoCo's New Project Excites Brendan Martin."

... I keep a lot of weird lists, OK?!

Can't wait to hear it!

Jo says

Your music is the soundtrack to my life. Thank you so much for cheering me up on grey days and making me smile when I feel down.
Cant wait to hear your new songs!

Tracy says

To elaborate on something I just said on Twitter ... I like to think of No. 4 as an asset. I've been taking swing and lindy hop dance classes. I have very little dance experience, and almost no experience in partnered dance, and it's become obvious that the best way to learn is to go out and dance with people who have more skill, talent and practice than I do. I've learned at least as much from dancing with people who are better than I am as I have from class and practice. As a writer, I feel the same way about being edited by people who are better than me.

... Of course, both of those things are kind of terrifying.

Rosalind says

I'm sure you will be awesome ... and just to prove it me and my husband are totally planning to be there!! I cannot wait for the show!!

jules says

I always try to work with musicians who are better than me. It makes me sounds good and challenges me.

Looking forward to the new record!! Glad you are writing again. :)

Rebecca says

It really seems like every artist feels this way. I feel this way, my friends feel this way, you feel this way. It's normal, and it's ok. But, do your art, have fun, and it will be awesome. I promise!

Nathaniel Salzman says


Thanks for reaching out with even your fears about doing new things. That takes not just humility but honesty and I for one really appreciate that. This sounds like an appropriately scary list of stuff, but that's what makes it awesome. That's why you've GOT to move forward with it.

More than that, it sounds to me like you're just being true to what you want to do. Hasn't that been the key to your success thus far? Nobody else but you could have written the amazing, buoyant, strangely sad yet happy music that you've given the world so far. You've done something really extraordinary already in quitting your day job to pursue music — and oddly geeky music at that. Who does that? Who takes that kind of risk? JoCo, that's who! Looking back at what you've already accomplished, I say take heart. You can do this!

Aren't you the one who wrote this?

"Don't live another day unless you make it count
There's someone else that you're supposed to be
Something deep inside of you that still wants out
And shame on you if you don't set it free"

Hang in there, JoCo. Be bold. Stay awesome.


Sean says

Re: mustaches

Sounds like a new hit single, if I've ever heard one. Which I have.

Honestly, I think you just need to write 30 new songs, many of which will probably not be incredibly fun, catchy, or popular. Can't expect to capture lightning in a bottle every time, but I guarantee some of them will be worth sharing with your adoring fans. Good luck, sir!

BCnSTL says

RE: #7 - Oh, thank FSM! I thought it was just me!

TomR. says


I'm eagerly looking forward to the new music as well, this is exciting news. I thought I'd take the time to address some of the concerns you listed so that you'll feel better about sticking your turtle dinosaur out and asking passersby to ruv it rong time.

1. Don't worry, that's what guitar techs are for.
2. It didn't stop Sting, the man who popularized lutes for the 21st. Century.
3. Well, you can't just roll in it like Scrooge McDuck all the time, so live a little. Call it an experiment. That's kinda sciencey. Have some cake.
4. Add them to the writing credits only if they can generate 500,000 tweets about the new album. That'll keep those bloodsuckers in line.
5. And their cries of hurt and anger will only drive more publicity about your 'new direction.' Win-win.
6. Have you tried the four hour workweek book?
7. Ssssh! You'll blow it for the rest of us! Just be cool, man.
8. See answer to #6. It worked for Tim Ferriswheel.
9. Four quarters. Lindsey Lohan. Iron Man villian. Rob Schnieder. Somewhat overrated (look at Hodgman). Turn off comments. Scrambled eggs. Too much cake. Are always cool.
10. Which is what you should've done with #8.

Best of luck, we're all rooting for you in our own silly ways. Let us know when pre-orders are available!

David M says

I personally think John Henry is one of TMBG's finest records. Make of that what you will.

Also, if your work keeps you interested, you're fans will probably go along for the ride.

Kathleen says

I'm unspeakably sad that your Somerville date is the Friday I'll be at ComicCon, but I know that you'll rock the joint. I admire your courage in stretching yourself and think that being worried is a sign you're doing the right thing. Let us know when we can buy things!

Leisa says

For some artists, it's "Something new? Bleah. Gimme the classics." For other artists, it's "Something new? Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy! Yippee-doo! Can't wait! Lemme hear it!"

You're in the second category. Can't wait! Ohboyohboyohboy!

MeeMeesiko says

Hey man. Music is music. You make it, and we will listen to it. No matter what you make, no matter what songs you put out, there will be those of us that do not like it, no matter how little you "change direction."

But we can not expect you to write the same old "Code Monkey" and "RE: Your Brains" over and over again. In fact, I'd much rather have it that you put a twist on your new work. And no matter what happens, know for sure that most of us will be listening to it with open ears.

You have a special place in our musical tastes because you appeal to a wide variety of people and sounds, and we know that you've got it in you to make some awesome music. And you will do what you do. You will make music. And that is why we f***ing love you, because you do what you want.

And I don't think any of us believe that your "best is behind you." You rock, therefore you are. Let the music do what it wants, and then do what you want with it and it will be much better than you expect it to be. ^_^

So even if you aren't fishing for encouragement, you're going to get some, damnit. :D

Sara says

It takes a valiant effort to neither compliment nor encourage in the face of your charming insecurity, but I will do my best.

Even in your announcement of exciting new things, you tease us with hints of yet more to come. Like keeping us on our toes, I see?

The only disappointing thing about this news is that it will be so very long before I'll have a chance to see the New Electric JoCo Show. Can you promise to be at PAX Prime with some of this fabled new material? That will go a long way in soothing *my* fears about all this newfangled change.

Jeff says

Those are all very good points. You should quit now. I mean, why risk it?

Bezzmer says

I don't care what the finished project looks or sounds like. I've been a fan forever because what you've done inspires me to reach for the snow-capped lofty heights. I support you no matter what.

Tad says

I would echo the following thoughts that have already been expressed above:

You don't need a label. You already proved that you can reach an audience, you've already established your business model (the pooping internet cow), and we're here promoting the heck out of you in every way we can think of (right, fellow audience?).

You write good. Gooder than me do. My 49-year-old co-worker (who is Tom Cruise Crazy), my 13-year-old Twilight fan, and my 10- & 9-year-old zombie fans ALL like your music. Keep writing songs that YOU like, and we'll keep listening to them.

Playing with a band is fun. I think you'll enjoy it. If not, you'll go back to D.I.Y. without my advice. :)

Have Fun, JoCo. No pressure!

Dr. Martin says

Full band! Yay! This is what I suspected/hoped for! Count me as one of the fans who is excited about being able to rock out a bit more; no disappointment at all from these quarters.

Ronnie says

You worry to much! I'm sure it'll be great. I'm looking forward to it and even if it turns out not to be that good I'll still be a big fan and continue to buy and support your music.

Scott says

Worry not! I'm sure your new tunage will be every bit as timeless as the wonderful opii of Rudolf "Rudy" Friml's!

My condolences, however, for having to hire a drummer.

Joey P. says

JoCo I'm pretty sure as long as you still have creative control over the lyrical work it'll be absolutely great. Not too long ago I actually told my friend that I thought you would be gathering a band to perform with soon. I'm fairly certain it will just amplify the JoCo experience rather than hinder it.

Christy says

If you enjoy making it, we'll enjoy listening to it! Can't wait to hear it!

Brad says

Jonathan Coulton is a sell out. What is this crap? Electric guitar? Backing band with real musicians? Professional studio? Way to sell your soul to The Man. He should have quit when you wrote Code Monkey so that you went out on a high note. Everything has been down hill since then instead of selling out. This isn't the JoCo I know.

There, all the criticism and complaints are out. The storm has been weathered. Now stop worrying, get back to work, and get your Steve Jobs on. You don't worry or care about what we think now. Just make something kick ass, like you always have, and we'll come. Plus, I thought you got into it for the groupies and not the music. =)

Alora says

I am absolutely sure that this can only be awesome, and I will see you at the Somerville show!

Ana says

Jonathan - thanks for sharing your fears. Some of them are very valid. I mean, doing anything different or unusual is challenging. There's so many new things you have to learn, and it's a shock after you've grown so used to something.

For one thing, I can almost promise you you're not a fraud. You make music that I like, that I think is good, and you've done so consistently. You're an awesome and hilarious person who I also feel like I can relate to (which is so good if you're a performer) and you make me happy. Even if you have ulterior motives or something, the facts that I enjoy myself at your shows and you make music that I continue to go back and keep listening to are what count to me. Even if you don't think you're that good, you're one of my favourite artists for a reason. It's no accident. There logically has to be something about you that's good. And I'm not just saying that. I'm an anonymous person on the internet, for Christ sakes! If I hated you, I'd tell you so without feeling remorse.
And don't compare yourself to other musicians. Even if they're better than you (and you'll meet a lot of people who are, that's how life is) you're different to them. You're unique, each person is. Apples and oranges. There may be people who play the guitar better than you but many of them don't interest me like you do.

Now, about thinking that your best work is behind you, and you might start to go in a direction that fans won't like? First of all, stop worrying about pleasing everyone. You're kind of buddy-buddy with TMBG now, right? Like, half their fans deserted them when they made John Henry, their first album with the full band. A lot of people who liked their earlier sound as a duo with a drum machine didn't care for the rock band stuff and the horns. But you know what? The Johns were really happy with the music they were making. They made music first for themselves. They didn't try to cater to anyone else. People stood outside their shows and protested even, but that didn't stop them from continuing to do what they wanted. To this day, if you go to their page on last.fm there are people talking about how their new albums suck and they're no good anymore. But they continue to change and grow as musicians because it's just healthy to do that. And they've made many new fans, like me, who greatly prefer their newer albums to their older ones. Point is, do what seems natural and interesting and fun to you. If you make your music artfully (like you do), there's bound to be people who'll like you, even though there's bound to be some who don't, and that's ok.

About thinking your best work is behind you... Really, you can only grow as a person and get better with practice. People aren't pots that hold idea-juice, and when it's all ladled out they're empty for good. People make ideas. You are more like a tree, filled with idea-sap. You make more all the time, there's no limit. Of course, you need the water and sunlight of experiences to keep making ideas. But even if it was a bad year and there was a drought, maybe next year will be better. Ugh, sorry this metaphor is so obnoxious.

Anyways, hope things are well with you. Your music has meant os much to mr, and I'm really looking forward to the new album! :D

Deb says

I understand your fears. You will do well.

Cotterpin says

I wish I could tell you it will all work out great, but no one knows that. It's more important that you know that what you've done so far has been awesome, trust your instincts and do what you believe in. I look forward to more awesomeness! If you need some encouragement I'd recommend listening to this song:

Muir L says

Dude, if I lived on the east coast i would totally work for free! I play the drums and know pretty much most of your "famous" songs.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to experiencing your new stuff. I think it's healthy to try new things; otherwise you'll forever be known as the JoCo who only did that thing-a-week thing. Now you'll be known as that cool JoCo guy who reinvented himself and made a ton of internets!

good luck

Patrick N says

Song monkey get up, grow mustache
Song monkey go to job
Song monkey make boring album
Disapoint manager Rob

Rob say Song Monkey very amplified
But new direction stink
New stuff too different from the older stuff
What do Song Monkey think?

Song Monkey think "Maybe manager want to write G-D Sad Ninja song himself"
....and so on

JoCo says

@Patrick: You're hired.

DeAndre says

Easy peasy. You ARE a fraud. You exposed that to us long ago. We don't care. We're all frauds to some extent, great or small. You are a great fraud. You are loved for all your fraudulence and were it not for the honesty in facing it, you would be a crappy artist.
Fortunately, you are an amazingly talented person who is able to call yourself on your foibles. That is what makes your fraud popular and successful. Keep doing it the way you want; label or no, electric or acoustic, alone or with others. You will win. We, all the other frauds, will help you.

Tim says

Good post Ana. Your last name isn't Ng, by change, is it?

BR says

Wouldn't mind hearing some words about whether a label means that these new songs won't be Creative Commons licensed. That's the only thing that might scare me about this.

Robin says

-hugs- I'm sure you'll be awesome!! And we'll all still love you no matter what.

Like everyone said, being scared is normal. Just don't let it control you.

GOD says



Stephen S. says

I love you JoCo!!!

rozwarren says

What excellent news! See you in Sommerville. It'll be JoCo show number 18 for me. Can't wait.

Blue says

So... it's a train and a bus to get into Northhampton, isn't it?

Because HOW FRIGGIN' AWESOME to be the test audience for NEW MUSIC :) :) :) :) :)

Copland says

I live RIGHT by the Iron Horse, but I'll be in Denmark when you're playing this. AUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHH
I also missed you the first time that you played there. PLAY THERE AGAIN!!!
If you're ready to change your music, the fans are ready to adapt to it.
As for #4...
Musicians more talented than you? What is this silly talk?

Dr Grouchy says

I think I speak for everyone here that we are 100% behind you until the shit hits the fan and then you are on your own.

Should this be a huge success, we will all claim credit for supporting you.

Should this be a MASSIVE FAIL, we will all turn on you like rabid dogs a la Facebook privacy issue - no doubt giving you high profile on Wired.com.

Just wanted to set expectations.


Ryann says

JoCo,I highly doubt that ANY of us will be disappointed with your work.Good luck :D.

Secundus says

You will, as always, amaze and delight the internet masses with your crazy string-plucking and lyrical hilarity. I'm sure that nothing you produce will cause us to stop supporting you. Genius tends not to fade completely, and really can't be faked for longer than five minutes, so don't worry either way.

And hey, if I'm wrong, and the new stuff does suck, we'll always have the old songs. :p

George says

There is no reason why I would not love this. I'm positive you will execute this new endeavor as gracefully as possible and with amazing results.

Even if you don't think so. That's what a fan is, right?

Spencer says


Session Musicians? Come on......


And, a label. Contract, contracts and MORE CONTRACTS.

I like the Creative Common, small fanned Coulton.

God bless you on your endeavors.

Ken says

Although I'm wicked excited about a new show this year (missed PAX East), I'm sad that I will be robbed of my Paul & Storm fix. Anyways see you in Somerville. I'm sure your new stuff isn't nearly as bad as you think it is.

Foxlord says

Joco, yer music is absolutely amazing! I cannot wait to hear what new stuff yer working on :)
BTW, how are the Rock Band Network songs coming along? ^.^
And you should think about coming to Vegas one of these days ^.^

VT says

Hey, for once Peppy's old quote is appropriate!

"Never give up! Trust your instincts!"

Angelastic says

Ooh, a concept album?

It just so happens I bought several fake mustaches during my recent trip to New Zealand (I couldn't find any here!) so it's nice to know I might be able to use them in a music video or in the audience of a concert. I wish I'd bought more, now.

enormus says

Changes in direction? Does this mean no more love songs?

MaryC3D says

You are hugely talented. BE FEARLESS. Explore new directions. You will *not* disappoint us. We love you.

MitchO says

Two years ago on my birthday, you released Space Doggity and it became my favorite Coulton song and the best present I received that year. Now you're announcing an album and some concerts right before my birthday again. If you want to find a place in NYC (or even NJ) to perform on Sunday, July 25th, it would work out well for me. Just sayin' ... :)

Mark Knapik says

"8. This probably will involve a label and some other new business things that are new to me, I don’t even know what to say about that."

This is the only one that frightens me.

I'll see you in Toronto, on Sunday.

Mike says

I'm with you all the way, JoCo, but please assure us.... you're not abandoning Creative Commons... right?

Rich says

1. I barely know anything about playing the electric guitar. For instance, what is an “amplifier?”

It's a combination of an amp and a plifier. It makes things both more amped and more plify.

2. I’m not sure I can write good songs anymore, and suspect that my best work is behind me.

That never stopped the Beatles. Or the Stones. Or Van Halen. Or a bajillion others. Besides, you were never sure you could write good songs in the first place, and you only became confident in them after everyone confirmed that they're good. Except for the ones that aren't.

3. I’m not used to spending money on talented musicians, high quality recording equipment, and fully licensed audio professionals.

I think this is a bad move. You should just stick with Paul and Storm. ;)

4. I fear collaboration with other musicians who might be more talented than me.

Maybe not Paul and Storm, then. ;)

5. I’m afraid that even a small change in direction is going to disappoint some fans.

Is "nowhere" a direction? 'Cause that's the other choice.

6. I’m worried that even a small change in direction is going to make some aspect of my business not work anymore and that I will have to get a real job.

See #5

7. Like most rational humans, I’m pretty sure that I am basically a fraud, and that this move will finally expose my fraudulence for all the world to see.

Don't worry, people are suckers. They'll never catch on.

8. This probably will involve a label and some other new business things that are new to me, I don’t even know what to say about that.

Labels are bad. I learned that in the sensitivity training my company sent me to.

9. Change. Mediocrity. Backlash. Bad reviews. Effort. Internet comments. Mistakes. Regret. Robots.

I'm in favor of some of these.

10. Number 10 is secret.

Ohhh, come on, pleeeeeeease tell us. Just us, your closest friends that you've never met. We promise not to tell anyone.

Mil says

I feel a bit silly saying this, as you no doubt know what you're doing, but: although it may not be the most immediately frightening bit, the riskiest part of the whole thing is probably signing a contract with a label, if that's what you're planning to do. The potential harm if things do go wrong there is almost certainly much higher than with anything else.

Natonstan says

I'm pleased for you JoCo but please don't sell out to a label I fear that is the worst thing you could do, also electric guitar isn't all that different you'll be fine!

Samuel Abram says

“8. This probably will involve a label and some other new business things that are new to me, I don’t even know what to say about that.”

This is the only one that frightens me.


Samuel Abram says

More to the point, take a lesson from your PAX-mates (and fellow Brooklynites) Anamanaguchi: They signed onto a label (fortunately without signing away their rights), and since the label mismanaged the selling of their albums, Anamanaguchi is now through with the label (which now no longer exists). Now, Anamanaguchi has gone CC BY-NC-ND.

I'm just saying, Labels are a mistake, even if you're a band. Don't do it.

colin stelly says

C'mon dont be afraid!----Change is inevitable!........except from vending machines... okay sorry that was stupid

Marisa says

Actually,I've been thinking it would be awesome if you didn't always have to play acoustic-only versions of your songs.For some of them,like The Future Soon,I prefer the acoustic versions,but I've always thought it would be awesome to hear the electric guitar solo in Re Your Brains live.

Honestly,I like your DIY approach,but if you can balance maximizing creative output with keeping yourself independent of others for business and maintaining the"this guy is a rockstar who mixes albums on his Mac"image,you'll do fine.(Because the DIY thing is important to your image!)

And you seem to have people confused about what you mean by a record label.Is this something you've started yourself,some indie label,or what?

On Number 2,I feel like you're awesome enough that you can just take mundane,everday things,like a baby in a stroller,and make them really awesome fairly easily(at least you make it look easy!).You write about everyday mundane stuff,but with your own style,and it somehow turns out golden.You seem to be able to make music I like without breaking a sweat.Just keep writing as you do,and your fans will keep listening.

One final note:some quote I read somewhere said that if you're not nervous about what you're doing,you're doing it wrong.So take this as a good sign.:-)

Luke M says


This is great news, go for it, I am very excited yet managing my expectations so as not to make you needlessly self-conscious!

(Your friend who played the shredding solo on "De-evolving" might sit in, just a suggestion)

(Also, you do your best work when you're afraid of fucking up big time. I think it's an artist thing.)

1. I barely know anything about playing the electric guitar.

It's like acoustic, but the strings are way lighter and the action is much more forgiving. Anyone who can play to audiences on an acoustic will shred on an electric. Plus there are lots of fun effects to mess with. Going from electric to acoustic is *much* harder.

2. I’m not sure I can write good songs anymore, and suspect that my best work is behind me.

Is this like when you weren't sure you could write good songs at all, and suspected that you sucked? Because that was wrong.

3. I’m not used to spending money on talented musicians, high quality recording equipment, and fully licensed audio professionals.

Practice until it feels like a band, then record live with minimal overdubs. And don't let the engineers intimidate you.

4. I fear collaboration with other musicians who might be more talented than me.

"Talent" is relative. Mike Campbell is a much better guitar player than Tom Petty. You will notice whose name is on the side of the bus.

5. I’m afraid that even a small change in direction is going to disappoint some fans.

Bullshit. Those hypothetical people are not your fans. We got your back, man. That thinking is how people end up as novelty acts. Cut it out.

6. I’m worried that even a small change in direction is going to make some aspect of my business not work anymore and that I will have to get a real job.

Isn't this the guy who used to fret that he was endangering his barista job by playing songs after work at the coffee house? I think a stab at a professionally produced album with a real band is probably a risk you can afford to take. Next time you see Hodgman, ask him to smack you for me.

7. Like most rational humans, I’m pretty sure that I am basically a fraud, and that this move will finally expose my fraudulence for all the world to see.

We all feel that way. Perhaps you are familiar with the radio essayist Jean Shepherd. He used to say that there wasn't a person alive who, if they were walking down the street and felt the hand of the Law on their shoulder, and a voice saying "OK Mac, let's go," would not go quietly, so sure we all are of our essential phoniness. Jim Morrison was a little fat kid who decided to become the Lizard King. I think you're OK on this front, inasmuch as you are actually very talented. In any case, until they come for you, keep faking it like everyone else.

8. This probably will involve a label and some other new business things that are new to me, I don’t even know what to say about that.

Try to get the self-adhesive kind. I hate licking glue.

9. Change. Mediocrity. Backlash. Bad reviews. Effort. Internet comments. Mistakes. Regret. Robots.


10. Number 10 is secret.

We love you anyway.

Luke M says

One more thought on playing with talented musicians:

You are very lucky to have this opportunity. Find the strengths of your session players and make room for them. This won't just be a "Jonathan Coulton" album; it will be a group creation of you and your collaborators.

This is a *good* thing. Let the players explore and create as partners and you will have a much richer finished product than you could produce on your own. The highlight of the entire "Smoking Monkey" album, to my mind -- and this is an excellent and thoroughly Coulton record -- is the absolutely sick guitar break on "De-evolving." Every cool thing your talented studio musicians bring to the party only strengthens your music.

Be proud and happy that you have created a framework in which good players can co-create. A creative, what's the word... commons, if you will.

In the current issue of "Rolling Stone," Keith Richards says that Mick Taylor is a virtuoso who by rights should still be in the band -- and that is coming from Keith Richards. Take every bit of skill and inspiration your session players have to offer, and use it to make the record better. Make room for their contributions. Incorporate and expand on their ideas. At least for a while, let it be a *band.* And get the result in the can while it's still vibrant and vital.

You've been a one-man show for long enough. My all-time favorite moment in your live shows was at GAMH at the taping of your DVD, when you, Paul and Storm and Kristen were all performing onstage together -- it really showed what your music could be. Bounce some ideas off other people, collaborate, *jam* without a clear goal and see what happens. Loosen up. You are plenty good enough to lead a band, and you have the chance to actually do it, at least for one album. You are remarkably fortunate. Don't fear the other players' skill -- rejoice in it.

And remember to have fun. It's only rock and roll, but I like it.

elliomeg says

Happy to see you dive into the deep end again and sad that I won't get to see these particular screw up sessions.

Requisite cliche (this one helps me): the difference between a rut and a grave is depth.

(Is Excited But Mostly Scared the secret name of the new band?)

Ytaya says

I'm reassured that an internet geek superstar is as insecure about his abilities as I am about mine.

That's a robot with a mustache, right? Robot = funny, mustache = funny, robot + mustache = double funny. The maths doesn't lie.

Marcy says

I know you said you're not fishing for compliments or encouragement, but you've gotten them anyway, and for good reason. The combination of being talented, smart, and a genuinely nice person has created an ocean of fans who will ride along with you. If it sucks we'll tell you. But if past performance is any predictor of future success, your new venture is going to be fantastic. Either it will stretch you in ways that work, or you'll learn something new. Thanks for being human and admitting it.

msage says

Well...God posted what I was going to post...way to go God.

I, for one, look forward to the new material. I'm sure it'll be great.

Even if it stinks...so what? At least you tried. That's pretty cool.

Brother Howe says

I'm glad someone else feels just like I do. It's especially nice when you realize people with more success than you (me I mean) have the same insecurities (I'm a fraud and everyone will find out).
Thanks for sharing,

Marcy says

Also funny: beards. Just sayin.

Zero says

Last I checked, Mr. Co, your entire career was built on a "fuck it, let's go to work and see what happens" model. And look what happened. Of course it's intimidating, it's supposed to be. I mean, Thing A Week was slated to be a catastrophic failure, and it generated 51 fine pieces of music, each of which tended to be better than the last. (51 because apparently Drive doesn't count, but I liked Drive. So there.)

I mean, hell, you're going for it, so it can't be that bad. And I'm glad you're looking for musicians that are better than you; how the hell else are you supposed to learn anything?

Whatever you turn out, it'll most likely rock. So fuck it; go to work and see what happens.

cheris says

Awwww! Hug!
Now go to work.

TDMyers says

Hmmmm, that last one in number 9. Robots. That is the only valid fear there. But even if the Robot council does something rash, Im pretty sure you can still hum to yourself while employed at your new job on Chiron Beta Prime. Does the concentration of helium and methane make humming to oneself sound odd? Do the robot guards hate humming? I dont know, Im a good Truck Monkey who closes my eyes and goes lalalalala when someone asks me to change.
But seriously, this is a good thing. We geeks have money set aside to rain on your bowed head, in the form of album purchases. So get that recording done. And thanks .
ps. ask Herman Lee of Dragonforce for some pointers on both the electric part of the guitar, and on what to do when fans turn on you.

Doug says

C O U L T O N G O E S E L E C T R I C ! ! ! !

(can't believe that joke hasn't been posted yet)

adelheid_p says

As long as you are being true to yourself, you can never go wrong. Experimentation is the key to development. I'm as eager as everyone else is to hear this new album. And remember, WE LOVE YOU!
And this post is one reason why.

As for myself, if this project doesn't fill me with as much joy as your past efforts, I won't abandon you, but will be patient and wait for the next one. You have been consistent enough in the past for me to believe that you aren't a fluke and that your best work is ahead of you. I suspect many here share my sentiments.

Matt says

Don't let working with a label frighten you TOO much. It's all about how good your contract is and how much control you retain. Generally musicians can't get a good contract until they've had at least two successful records, but these days there are lots of labels out there interested in working with independent creators.

You can do a lot with a label as long as they've truly got your back. Access to a label's capital can be huge when it comes to hiring a band, getting good equipment, promoting and scheduling a tour, etc...

They can take a lot off your shoulders and free you up to do the creative side.

That's how it's SUPPOSED to work anyway. They handle the business, you handle the creative. Everybody wins. Unfortunatley most big labels take advantage of their musicians because they don't know shit about business or how to make a good deal for themselves, and even if they do there are a thousand other artists eager to sign the crappiest of contracts devaluing everyone else's work.

So hopefully you got one of the small-to-medium sized labels that actually works for its musicians instead of the other way around.

Travis says

Buck up, little camper. We'll tackle that slope... together!

Mercenaria says

Giant sea monsters, zombies, cyborgs and especially monkeys will all be so happy for you, they have had a wonderful time frolicking in your songs up to this point and what you have created for them will last. (like tweeter's remorse) Even if you don't see any more half-pony half-monkey monsters in the audience, there's always going to be something else, maybe mustachioed cowboys or monocle-wearing gents in absurd (or non-absurd) top hats, flamenco dancers resplendently befeathered or grizzled prospectors with randomly missing and/or gold teeth.

We all grow, and change, heck, even the Architeuthidae start as eggs less than an inch!

ChuckEye says

4. If you only hire musicians who are slightly more talented than you, it will make you look bad. If you hire musicians who are a LOT more talented than you, they'll be so good that they can scale to your level and make you look amazing, because that's their job, and they're great at it.

ZapDevil says

Today is my actual 15th wedding anniversary. As our gift to ourselves, we'll be in seats 1 and 2 in Orchestra Row B in Somerville on the 23rd (WOO HOO!). Our very FIRST Coulton show, and I am ridiculously excited.

JoCo - as far as your trepidations about trying something new go, there's a lot of encouragement and advice in the previous comments that I completely agree with. My favorite advice was ejk's "Feed the cow. Trust the cow. Love the cow." Because, really, it's true. There's another animal analogy about how sharks need to keep moving or they die, right? Are you a shark? Hmmm - maybe it applies to giant quids, too. Whatever, the point is that change is good and testing your limits is good, and if what you are doing is slightly terrifying, it just means you are on the right track.

Does #10 involve accordions?

Another Josh says

Don't worry. If there is one thing that the human race has pretty much proven is that we're all a fraud at detecting frauds. So go right on being a fraud and we'll go on loving your work and declaring it genius.

John says

It really sucks to feel like that, JoCo. I'm glad that I'm not the only one. Hang in there.

Blind Drunk says

Looking forward to it, and even if it blows I will still buy it, basically because every time you come to Philly I get hammered at the show and make an ass of myself, so Karma dictates I still owe you one.

Sus says

*hugs* We love you, and we think you're awesome, and everybody has Teh Fear on occasion. Keep at it! With beer if necessary. Can't wait to hear you rock the electronic thingummy.

christine says

In Richmond, you played all of my favorite songs and I was blown away. So what song was stuck in my head for three days? Mr fucking Fancy Pants.

You have nothing to worry about.

LOLBrandon says

OMG This is going to be AWESOME.

Will the songs still be DRM free and CC licensed?

I think your newer work is some of your best. Always the Moon is just a wonderful love song and Space Doggity makes me cry. Can't wait for the new hit single by JoCo, Mustaches.

Br0dy says

As long as you don't become a children's musician, we're golden.

Good luck!

Alex says

Br0dy, was that a shot at TMBG?

Anyways, I'm looking forward to whatever comes out of this.

M_pony says

Some people didn't like it when Bob Dylan or Neil Young "went electric" either.

Neil Young, Bob Dylan.. that's a fair comparison, isn't it? No pressure.

Stellaluna says

Thanks for being human enough to admit being scared to try... and thanks for stepping up and doing it anyway! Your ability to just see what happens is what started you and your fans down this robot-monkey-zombie path!

Derek says

Omigod! Joco, how could you say your best work is behind you!?!?!?!? It's just starting! I believe in you! Perform in Florida so i can see you! You can do it!!!!!!! Dying to hear the new songs!!! Ideas? How bout a fat kid who gets women? (see thats a joke, cuz they dont!) Haha.

Andrea says

Here we go, JoCo, here we go! *CLAP CLAP!*
Here we go, JoCo, here we go! *CLAP CLAP!*

JoCo JoCo he's our man, if he can't do it no one can!

Ok, I didn't go to many games in high school so those are the only two cheers I know... Anyway. GO YOU!

Monty says

Aww... well, honesty is refreshing. :) Your concerns are understandable. I would feel the same way, and often do every day at work! I'll love your music no matter what. If you sing about poo, I will be singing with you on my drive home from work. If you sing about goiters...I will be thinking to myself how great the word goiter is, and why didn't anyone else think to write a song about goiters before now!?

And to think that didn't involve ANY coercion. I gave those little gems of friendliness freely! :p

Mindy says

Thank you for sharing your jitters. I have confidence that you will be awesome, as per usual.

Mustaches are very funny. Here's a fact from today's Mental_Floss email:
Guinness estimates that in Great Britain alone, 92,749 liters of beer are lost in mustaches and beards each year.

I don't know if that's true or not, but what I really want to know is how they measured it. Also, mustaches are very big in the crafting community right now, so you've got that going for you:

Cheers, mate!

Andrew "T" Coleman says

You didn't get famous being the same as everyone else, or writing the same song over and over. You have always been for change, so the most extreme change in you creates the best music. Go for it!

Andrew "T" Coleman says

"It’s probably even going to be a Strat isn’t it? Not even a respectable Les Paul!"

Gibson is for wimps.

RoadTrip!!!!!! says


These two dates save my summer! Maybe the next three
months won't be an extended "staycation," after all.

I'm totally bringing my tent and pitching it at the nearest state park between the two venues.

As for your reservations, they'd probably be mine too if I were in your position. But, it's exciting that you're trying something new and we'll all
be here to help out with our love, money and honest opinions.

As Tiger Woods says: "Just Do It."

Tim says

This is awesome news, JoCo - and exactly what I thought would be the next logical step in your career. And I've every confidence that you shall succeed. Why? Because you are AWESOME! :-)

Sean L. says

I can't wait for the shows in MA. I'll definitely be there for at least one (if not both) of them.

Dave B says

I'm not sure if you read about the python script that converts any song into it's swing version. someone made a website that auto converts. someone else put 'still alive' into it. I found it here.


Spintown says

Looking forward to the new album. If you didn't fear failure, your album probably wouldn't turn out as good. Use the fear, don't let it use you.

Gina says

You can do iiiiiiiiiit!
Go go go! Yay! <3 <3 <3

Sam says


You are absolutely doing the right thing, whatever it is (decadecimal internet confessions aside) that you are in fact doing. I will call it your own personal Moving to China. So I'll pass on what our friend Susannah Meadows said to me: "You'll never regret going to China, no matter what happens after that." The bigger the change in direction, the more this is true, no matter what China one's talking about. So good luck old man!

Scott says

I am beyond excited to see you play with a full band.

Michael Dubya says

I've been waiting for new JoCo songs for SO long, that even if they're a disaster (they won't be) I'll gobble them up like a starving person. You're my #1 favorite artist, so I'm excited like all hell.

One suggestion- Mix your sad with your funny. You create music gold when you do that. Or just sad. Or funny. They're all good. But the songs you write about the sad, but depressingly funny human condition are the best of the best in my opinion.

One more suggestion- Maybe, I dunno, you could, you know, like, tour your new songs in San Francisco too or something like that. I'd suggest The Great American Music Hall again, just because, no reason in particular or anything. Just to please some of those west coast fans, ya know? Those IMPORTANT WEST COAST FANS. >:(

Jesse Dupont says

You have nothing to fear I love all your music and one day you will take over the world and improve its tech then fly, no, warp to another world and conquer it and make its inhabitants go to another world and conquer it and so on and so forth... I am a loyal fan and will stick with you till the end... like a plasma grenade. lol

JRM says

Yay! New songs! Someday soonish.... maybe.

Is there any way to get them faster? I tried hanging out on your lawn at night... your wife's really not cool. If you had an outhouse, or you just gave me the songs, we wouldn't have these problems. I just need the new JoCo stuff now. That's all I'm asking. Now.

'Francis' Jansen U. says


Don't be afraid of fear, since fear is always around.

Just don't turn into menacing 'modern' music that is 'so today'. Change. For you, and for us. Because I'm pretty sure you hate the 'modern' music that is 'so today'. It scares you. I know it.

Keep doing the thing you love.

And I can't wait to hear your songs on Portal 2. If it's sung by you or not, it'll be great to hear. Since you're one of (or) the best songwriters in this world.

Good luck.

Kate says

I love mustaches.

Chris says

Too late now, you're an archetype: Normal guy with an unsatisfying job trying to do what he really wants to do. If you're afraid that you'll end up as another used-up meme, a one-hit wonder, that's bullsh**. Why? Because you're honest: You've had some hits, a bunch of misses, and you're still worried that you're not doing enough.
And when you're done, you can say that you lived the dream however long you end up doing it. And that, I think, will be however long you want.
You v. Big Bad World: Tie

Jack F says

You think your best work may be behind you? I've got news for you. OF COURSE YOUR BEST WORK IS BEHIND YOU! But did that stop Paul McCartney from forming Wings? Did that stop Billy Joel from writing crappy psedo-classical music? Did that stop Tobey Maguire from doing Spiderman 3? What about George Lucas and Star Wars 1 to 3?

If you want to write "Return to Skullcrusher Mountain - Scarface's Revenge" you go right ahead. We'll buy more live show tickets than ever, pretend we kinda like the new stuff, and spend the rest of our free time blogging about what a tool you've become.

Sean says

Dude, whatever you do will be great. It's awesome that you're trying something new and going further with your music, and I love to see it, since it means I get more to hear!

cuestaluis says

Hope the mustache is not a lie! (horrible pun intended)

I agree with Chris, and say to you: bring it on! Hit us with your mightiest commercialized hammer!

I will personally still listen to your stuff, and wait for you to come to Europe (anywhere, really) I'm willing to travel anywhere my crappy salary can take me to attend your concerts.

So, do not fear (or have you forgotten some tiny green dude's words?), I know there's a lot of others who think like me, we will like your new stuff, or pretend to do so, like Jack F says, anyways, tickets, money, yeah.

Landon says

I've always wanted to drum for you, JoCo. I hate that it seems like I've missed my chance.

I saw you at WorkPlay in Birmingham (which was AWESOME), and I meant to give you my card and tell you about how I would drum for you--anytime, anywhere. But I was a little star-struck when I meant you after the show and forgot. Crap-balls...

Anyway, I think you're a great songwriter and guitar player. I look forward to your "new project." I shall acquire it using some of my money.

Clyde says

Have you seen Woody Allen's Stardust Memories lately? All these people keep coming up to him saying they like his "earlier, funnier movies." Maybe you better not watch it. Unless that's the secret number 10 on the list.

Prestron says

Coulton may just be an "Advanced Genius". We may not understand his change, but he's already proven his talent to us.


Craig says

It'd better be available on vinal, otherwise you are a faux hipster. Not that I own a record player since I am not a hipster, faux or otherwise.

Remember what happened to TMBG? They started playing with an actual band and became even more successful.

Michael Akerman says

Pull the string, and this whole thing's coming down...

No, I'm sure it will be awesome.

bob says

"Like most rational humans, I’m pretty sure that I am basically a fraud, and that this move will finally expose my fraudulence for all the world to see."

And there you are, in my head again. I thought I was the only one who felt that way.

IccinT says

First, I say, "Thank you!". Your music has seen me through some really dark matter. There isn't a single song I don't listen to like an addict. I think you and Joe Q Public have forgotten some of my favorites...CURL, W's DUTY, and DANCE SOTERIOUS JOHNSON DANCE. I'm pretty sure they weren't played on box guitars, at least not once recorded.

No matter what you record or how you record it I know I will love it. We, your fans, love your deliciously twisted brain and your warped perspective of life.

You need to talk to George, something inside of you is fighting to get out...

Eric Ginsberg says

If you have yet to decide on which high quality audio equipment or fully licensed audio professionals you want on your project, I can offer my professional recording studio to you. I'll give you the proverbial "hook up." Drop me a line and we'll work out whatever you need.

Fata Morgana says

Bitch, don't be trippin'

(By which I mean, in my nebbish white girl way: stop worrying about "what ifs" and do your thing, or thang, if you will.)

J/Pen says

Can't wait to see the show at the Iron Horse! I've already gotten time off from work, and I'm ordering my tix as soon as I can get a posse to go! =D

Dan says

I am very very very excited that you'll be playing at the Iron Horse again. It's always a great time, and I'm lucky to live 25 minutes away from such a nice venue.

Veektor says

Hey , I play drums and also the bass , I'll play for free in the meantime...

Jacob says

Totally stoked for you. Labels=more exposure=good idea (not all labels are evil... why do people who hate labels go to big movies? Different? Not really.). They Might Be Giants is on a label. They define not-mainstream for me in many ways. Totally behind you! I love new directions – they give me stuff to think about :-)

Radien says

I'm not going to try to comfort you and assuage your fears, JC, but I AM going to tell the truth:

I'm excited about this. Not because I think it's your big break and you're going to finally be catapulted to stardom (though I DO hope that does happen, why wouldn't I?), but because for awhile I've been thinking of what awesome kinds of stuff could happen if you had a backup band.

That concert I attended with Paul and Storm and Melissa all backing you up confirmed it for me: while Jonathan Coulton ten or twenty times over certainly makes for good digital recordings, it'd be awesome to add a group dynamic to that blend.

I'm running out of valid musical terminology.

Anyway, I can't say what is the wisest thing to do, but this is musically exciting and I don't think you've done anything that I can't fully respect. After all, enormous, depressed cephalopods don't work for free. Monkey's gotta paid!

Deana Patterson says

Without risk there can be no reward, but you know this...you've done this...you've been rewarded. It's going to be ok.

My only advice is please please please don't lose yourself in the fame and fortune that is on the horizon for you. I'm sure your family will keep you grounded but from what I understand (as I have not experienced this in any sort at all, just heard all the popular stories of fame ruining people) it's easy to get lost. That would be a shame. It's nice to see you in a small venue, audience members truly feel a part of the show. There is such a thing as too big. I love Bon Jovi, I've gone to several concerts, and while the put on a great show, I enjoy yours much more. So, don't lose sight of what's important. That's all I have.

Best of luck although you won't need it. You are more talented than you know. Come back to Michigan! (please!!) : )

Dan says

Just wanted to let you know that I, as a fan, am behind you on this. I understand your fears, as I think we all do, as we have all been there before in one way or another. I will continue to listen to your music and support you, as you have brought a lot of musical joy to my life, and I think you deserve something in return for that.

Please persevere and good luck,


Mr. Judgmental says

Dude, nut up and do it.

The V Man says

Terribly late to the game, but I think it'll all be fine. In fact I'll hop on the bandwagon and say it thusly:

Heya Jon, it's Bob from the Label down the hall
Good to see your moustache growin' in
The money's been ok for me, except I hand out contracts now
I really wish you'd sign this thing
I think I speak for all of us, when I say I understand
Why your folk-style resonates, even with no band
But go get amplified; you'll have all our guys screaming...

Martha says

Have you considered working with DFTBA Records? I think you'd fit right in.

Stu says

Before you sign with a label, heed the warnings of Amanda Fucking Palmer.

Circe Link says

Your honesty rules. And like Mom always says "If you don't step on some toes, you're not dancing hard enough."

Muir L says

is number 10 named John? ... Flansburg?

Delta says

@Muir http://bigthink.com/jonathancoulton

The whole interview is good, but skip to 36:40 for the pertinent info (the answer is yes).

SRooker says

There are some great venues in Portland Maine - How do we get you to Portland Maine, I'l buy you - no - I'll make you a lobster rolll (even though Im vegan and they now digust me). You can sleep in our guest house, well more like a garage, but you can crash there...

SRooker says

Other Funny stuff:
hair around the toilet rim - ok - thats more disgusting than funny...
butt cracks. Butt cracks are funny

Kzap says

Learning electric guitar and starting a band, sounds like a midlife-crisis to me.