Caffeine Smile, the New Sound/Attitude and BMP the Outlet

A radical departure from the solo work, Caffeine Smile (the name) was taken from an earlier Midnight Snack sound called Howl. There was a line in there about going to work with the ending “Put on that caffeine smile”. When it came time to choose a new band name, this was an easy choice.

This was STILL before “everything is on the internet” days, so in spite of being a professional technologies, the internet presence and focus for Caffeine Smile was minimal. So let me know if anybody needs a Caffeine Smile CD. Still have a few dozen laying around if you actually have a CD player in your life (haha!).

If you just want to give it a listen, here is Caffeine Smile on Bandcamp.

The band was really just taking off, playing shows, and polishing a record when the opportunity to move to Austin came about. I was actually in 3 bands at the time BMP (metal), Recovery Junkies (covers), and Caffeine Smile. It was necessary to be in multiple bands to have the opportunity to play out once or twice a month in Phoenix. Its just not a great music town.

At one point CS was looking for a possible 4th guitar and although that setting didn’t work out, it launched a collaboration with Ray Hanky, who was MUCH more metal that CS wanted to be.

Blueblood Monkey Project (BMP)

With the FPC history so far behind me, I felt a longing to express myself in that hard rock/heavy metal style again, and Ray was a perfect partner for this. We had a fairly disconnected collaboration style where he would write pretty much an entire song, and I would come in over the top after the fact, write vocals, which he would later record and mix.

I thoroughly enjoyed both bands, and although we only tried a few times to get bandmates together and make a real band of BMP, we continued to collaborate, resulting in a number of songs, also available on Bandcamp.

These songs ended up being a fair documentary of my post-divorce experience with my “rebound” girlfriend (is that a term we use in divorce scenarios? Or just girlfriends?)

The Middle Years,”Sane” Music, Solo Works

Then came Sane. Written in a period of unrest and difficulty in life. “Heart music” to save myself and release the turmoil within. Yes, a bit of melodrama to be sure, but heartfelt!

Sane is 3 albums “worth” of material. If I’m being honest, not all worth listening to, but that is how it is with solo work, am I right? (Way to sell it Chris!!)

If you are sad, depressed, and want to wallow in it, this is great music for those times. Grab some wine and headphones.

Sane – IN

Mostly of these songs were written long after FPC, and at a time when I was yearning for creative release but band-less, listening to too much Radiohead and Grant Lee Buffalo.

Sane – Beyond

These tracks were largely crafted during the long, long slow failure of a marriage.

Sane – Through

The end of the marriage, and the light in front that opens up when one has the courage to enact self-preservation, and move on.

Caffeine Smile is up next, a turning point in sound and direction, and life in general.

A Strong Early Start – Midnight Snack to FPC

I was in a number of bands before Midnight Snack. The first was Frame 313, a sort-of-alternative band of late teens kids trying to sound somewhere between The Cure and REM. We played a few shows. So named because Frame 313 was the frame in the Zapruder film where the bullet first entered Kennedy’s head. I probably shouldn’t tell you that, as it’s objectively an awful reason for the name. But that’s the humor of late teen/young adulthood. Counterculture, loud and rude. FWIW – the name wasn’t my idea. Sheesh, you should have seen our fliers. In any event, it didn’t last.

A few cover bands and miscellaneous recordings later and I met my first music-bestie in life Palmer Saylor. He had posted an ad in a music store asking for a guitar player to jam with who was into ‘Progressive Folk’. I wasn’t looking for a friend or even a fellow musician, but I just had to know what the hell Progressive Folk was – and we shared some of the listed influences.

We eventually went on to form Cloud 15. I was still finding my voice as a songwriter and very much finding my voice as a singer. Although I do have some recordings of those days, I won’t pain you with them, unless you actually really would like to hear, then go head and reach out and I will make them available.

Well Palmer moved away to San Francisco to work on the art career thing (amazingly talented artist) and the band faded.

As far as bands that regularly gigged and recorded, that started with…

First There Was Midnight Snack

Once upon a time, when I was full of the fervor of youthful exclamations, I started an acoustic-driven alternative rock band. You know, back when we used the phrase “Alternative Rock”, before the internet became what it is today and before the concept of “Genre” became all-but-meaningless.

This band was called “Midnight Snack”. Our debut album “Looking Up” was produced by a stellar industry talent Don Weiss at his studio then-in Arizona. Don took this goofy funky little quartet and made music out of their shenanigans. (Thanks Don!).

Our debut single was the same name as the band – Midnight Snack, and although it was never really re-posted online after internet music became a thing, you can find it here: Midnight Snack Song. To be honest, I’m not even sure how it got there! Probably because we printed our cd’s with CDBaby. The cover was done by one my 4 life besties, Palmer Saylor.

Now, this was in the days of MySpace, if you know what that was. Every now and then I get a little tingle to go ahead and make some videos from the songs and post them on youtube, but, its hard to find time for such nostalgia. If you think I should, and want to encourage me, by all means, reach out and just maybe I will!

There is apparently another band out there now called Midnight Snack so if ya google us, that’s what you will likely find. Still, I’ve decided to take advantage of Bandcamp here and put “the original” Midnight Snack out there for posterity.

Then it Became FPC

At some point we got a new bass player, and he loved metal. Our songs gradually got heavier and heavier and before I knew it, I had put down the acoustic guitar and just started singing/screaming into the mic.

Yes, I was the frontman for a metal band. I know. Seems weird from here. But we grow and learn in life in many ways.

FPC was hard rock with a largely socio-political focus. As it turned out, I had a knack for taking social angst and translating into sweeping lyrical commentary on the institutions that control us. Media, government, advertising, banking…etc. I think that is because this seems to be the set of topics that most motivate me enough to scream about so, I suppose it kind of makes sense.

If you are curious about FPC, you can find them on Bandcamp.

The albums come in 2 flavors.

First was “Casualties of Greed“, an album largely about the working class of America and how they are treated by “The System”. This album was engineered by me after being trained in recording audio engineering by Don Weiss. If you only have time for one track, I recommend “Tool“, which rings as loudly today as it did then as an observation on the issues with the profit motive sinew wrapped in and around our elected officials.

After the band had largely dispersed, I was having a hard time letting go, and we had had a bunch of new songs that never really got to be tracked, so I worked with the bass player to track several of them before it was all forgotten to the vagaries of time.

This resulted in “Conspiracy of Greed“, an EP that never made its way onto the CD format.

If you have only time for one track, I recommend Answers. (Yes, profit motive subject matter again).

However I’m pretty fond of Sickened also. And sadly, it also rings so very relevant, now even more than when I authored it.

The core proposition of the ‘Conspiracy of Greed’ album/title is that there is no need for any wild conspiracy theories to explain the world of human suffering we all experience every day and largely try to pretend doesn’t affect us. All you really need to understand it is a rampant unfettered survival instinct for aggregation of resources, in modernity better known as greed. You’ll find this theme winding its way throughout my lyrics and stories.

For posterity I have posted both FPC records on bandcamp.

Early Years

I responded to music deeply from a very early age. I grew up when ’45 vinyl records were a thing. I remember having Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’, and Pink Floyd’s – I think it was a track from The Wall but the internet is telling me I’m wrong and it was ‘One Of My Turns’. Maybe it was a B-Side?

The reason I remember this one so well is because my family were Jehovah’s Witness (at the time) and my mother was so angry when she heard a woman on the record seductively uttering “wanna take a bath?” that she took the record from me, and handed me a copy of The Awake that told me Led Zepplin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was music from the devil.

I still don’t really understand that one. I do know that Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ was played on repeat until it warped after the death of my grandmother when I was 12. I think that record saved a part of my soul (as did Floyd dammit!), and to this day I tear up when I hear that song.


I truly fell in love with music when I got my first walkman at the age of 11. I remember the day very clearly. I put the headphones on. My sister pressed play. “Oh Mickey your so fine, your so fine you blow my mind” began to generate massive pulsations between my ears. My eyes flew open. I looked around the room, fully prepared to be completely reamed, if not spanked, for playing the music so loud.

My sister was smiling. My mother was idly cooking. My father was probably out in the fields or milking the cows. Confused I yanked the headphones off.

“You guys can’t hear that?” I asked, incredulous.

My sister just laughed. I replaced the headphones and learned about Toni Basil.

A theater friend began to teach me guitar in 11th grade, and I’ve been playing music since. I’ll save my trials and tribulations of becoming a singer for another writing, but suffice to say it’s been a long road.

I was in a number of bands from 18 until my early 20’s, but gigs were few and far between, and bands broke up more often than they practiced. Damned musicians egos.

Eventually I met one my 4 besties in life, John Hoover, and Midnight Snack was born.

Brotopia (vs Personal Responsibility)

There are a few ways out of the despair loop. The what?

The despair loop. That completely engaging cyclic thought train that keeps one occupied with no benefit. The wallowing in how things didn’t go the way they ought. The deepening of the dilemma by taking in more negative perspectives that reinforce the one you already hold. The doomscrolling of the newsfeed that feeds you more of what you engage with – and because you engaged with the negative-bias perspectives, you get more of that.

That loop. Ever been there? Me too.

For me the despair is usually related to climate and complete dysfunction of the political apparatus when it comes to dealing with climate issues. Lately my despair has been hijacked a bit by AI and robotics related concern. Take a look at any of the entries under ‘On Climate’ and you’ll see some of the despair on your screen. Nonetheless, optimism > pessimism and of course, optimism is the path to solution-focus. Optimism, however, can get us into trouble too. Pragmatism lies somewhere in the middle.

Dangerous Pessimism

This one is easy. Its the default position for many. See the danger. Shut down. Decry there is no point in trying.

When it comes to climate, this usually looks like “they do it too, so why do anything” (blamists), or, “its too big for me to deal with” (fatalists), or “human presence is too small to affect climate” (denialists), or “well I’m just one person, my changing won’t do anything really” (solipsists).

I’m guilty of at least 2 of these over the course of my life. I’ve been aware of and concerned about climate change since I read about it in my “Weekly Reader” back in 5th grade (i.e. in the late 70’s!).

But not anymore.

Dangerous Optimism

Some think climate change is all just natural cycles and will work itself out eventually, and if humans are not part of that future, so be it. I list this under optimism because they still think it will sort itself regardless, and seem to think that if humanity largely dies out, that’s just how it was supposed to be.

Others think climate change just isn’t really an issue and we’ll all be fine and don’t worry about it. I think this is becoming more rare as more folks are directly affected, or someone they know is directly affected. A friend whose house burned down or was smashed by a tornado or worse, lost a loved one to the ever-more-common weather catastrophes.

The scariest perspective is “technology will save us, so I don’t need to do anything”. Whether you think its AI, Robots, Science and Technology in general – there is a naive, myopic, self-centered rationalization going on that helps you disregard your impact, and the impact of the companies who make/sell/deliver the products that you buy. This perspective I am calling Brotopia. A completely irrational and unjustified reliance on the silicon valley bros to somehow row us out of the ever-deepening swirling vortex of climate hell that we have found ourselves in.


Don’t buy into Brotopia. All of you who think that these billionaires and billionaire-hopefuls have your best interests at heart, have the planets wellbeing in mind – for the love of all that used to be clean air – stop it. Greed leads to power. Power corrupts. You don’t have to look far to find examples of this just about everywhere in American corporations and politics (and abroad but…home is here in the US for me).

Yes I love that Bill Gates wants to do more nuclear stuffs and fusion stuffs, as does Sam Altman and others. Absolutely love it. You can love it too. Even believe it!

But do not believe that this releases you from a duty to yourself, your community, and your world to do your personal utmost to minimize your potentially climate-impacting activities.

The pragmatic person takes action. Action is the antidote to despair. The pragmatist would do everything they could, AND remain hopeful/optimistic that it matters. The pragmatic person would recycle even though the latest news tries to convince them its pointless. The pragmatic person would drive an electric car even though the news says they don’t fare well in deep cold. The pragmatic person would write and call their congress-person and lobby for legislation that moves the needle on the problem. And more…

So don’t be pessimistic. Be cautious with your optimism. Be pragmatic.

Above all, let go of the magical thinking. Don’t rely on those who profit from fear-pandering to save us all and usher in a new era of climate wellness. It’s really not in their best interests.

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