The new Murderers of Love album features characters that would be at home “on a Tom Waits album.”
Based in Carlsbad, Americana band Murderers of Love features singer-songwriter and graphic designer Jaimie Muehlhausen, a one-time open mic host at Drowsy Maggie’s (which helped launch Steve Poltz and Jewel). His new five-song EP Motel is based on the short stories of guitar maker Creston Lea (Creston Guitars), author of the book Wild Punch. “To be honest, I’m not a big reader, but I got into the characters and unresolved story lines in much the way I would envision some of the characters on a Tom Waits album. Just slices of some characters’ lives.”
Muehlhausen got the opportunity to meet the author when Fretboard Journal held a summit at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. “We ended up hitting it off and became friends. He shares workspace with another guitar maker, Adam Buchwald of Circle Strings, and I ended up helping him launch a new brand of guitars called Iris Guitars.”
Photograph by Western Doughty
“Quite a few years after I had initially read Wild Punch, I picked it up again and was inspired to write ‘Fearless Warriors,’ the first song that was included on the album. It seemed like a good idea for a concept album, and so I asked Creston for permission to carry on. He was flattered and gave his blessing. And the other songs came pretty quickly from that point. Creston has been kind enough to autograph some of the booklets that come with the album and has been very supportive of the whole project.”
In the late ‘90s, Muehlhausen served as lead singer and guitarist in the bands Angel.House and the Deadlites before taking a break from music to concentrate on his career as creative director for Tony Hawk Inc. and his own Vibrosonic Design Studio. "I've been the creative director for Tony Hawk for 17 years. I'm still there and also do art direction for the Tony Hawk Foundation. I basically do everything you can imagine as a one-person art department. Website, tour marketing, logos and branding, merch, copy writing, asset management, all sorts of graphic design including some skateboard graphics."
Around three years ago, he cut back his office work to two days a week to instead concentrate on Vibrosonic, doing freelance projects for a variety of clients. "I really try to do as much work in the guitar and music world, including Iris Guitars, MJ Franks Guitars, Taylor Guitars, Calton Cases, occasional work for the Fretboard Journal, and even a few effects pedal companies. But I've also done work for Airstream, Slim Jim, Playboy merchandise, ESPN, and tons of work in the action sports industry for snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding companies."
He released his 11-song album, The Murderers of Love, in 2017. You can catch his act at the Partake gastropub in Vista on Saturday, December 21. “After the first of the year, I’ll be playing a weekly gig there. I love playing at a venue like that because it's so conducive to playing original music and mixing in some great covers, inviting guest musicians to join and make the music new and interesting, interacting with the crowd and just genuinely having a good time. I love building a rapport with the audience as the night goes by and being able to tell a short story about a song or explain the characters in the story and make it an enjoyable interaction."
- Saturday, December 21, 2019, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
721 South Santa Fe,
For the new album Motel, "I would describe the music as Americana singer/songwriter. There's a touch of blues and a even a pop sensibility to some arrangements on the previous album. I would say there's a country influence, but people get the wrong idea and think of Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan rather than something simpler like a Jeffrey Foucault or Jason Isbell."
Motel was recorded with bassist and producer Alan Deremo, who has toured and recorded with John Denver, Dave Alvin, Vince Gill, Belinda Carlisle, and Men at Work. It features David Gilmour’s drummer Steve DiStanislao, Spirit keyboardist Scott Monahan, and Michael Ramos (BoDeans) plays accordion on the title track. Local contributors include Kenny Loggins’ longtime keyboardist and musical director Steve Wood (adding accordion to one song), and Tim Godwin, head of A&R for Taylor Guitars and a former touring musician (Laura Branigan, America) who added a few guitar parts.
Unlike many contemporary albums with a lot of guest stars, most of the contributing musicians recorded their parts in-person rather then swapping files. "We recorded directly at Alan's project studio locally and pretty much everything was done there except the drums were tracked at Steve DiStanislao's home studio, which we went up for and tracked with him, and Michael Ramos' accordion parts were done at his commercial studio in Austin, TX and he sent them to us. Oh, and I believe Steve Wood did his parts in his local studio and sent them over. Everyone else came to Alan's and did their parts."
So how does a relatively unknown San Diegan land top-shelf talent such as Michael Ramos, known for working with headliners such as John Mellencamp and Robert Plant? Having an Instagram account and approximately one utility payment helps. “I asked what it would take to get him to record a tune and he said ‘I don’t know, is $150 okay?’ We sent him the tracks and, a couple of days later, he sent us back some options, and they were perfect. He’s on the title track, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”