About Robber Zany
I am the Robber of Zany because I like Robbers and I like Zany.
I like robbers because they are smart and because they have guts. They plan something and take action, generally in an inventive and creative way. Without mercy. They never doubt and are sure of what they are doing. Of course they sometimes fall flat on their face. The same, to me, music is thought-through, requires the necessary time and preparation and is then send out to conquer the world. And you hope you will win the hearts and minds of the audience.
I like zany because to me zany is the fuel of life. For optimists, it is easy to find. Life without zany is kind of difficult. Pleasant situations pop up every day. Generally you can grasp them easily but, when missing, you can invent them. Fantasy is the oil of life. So, check-up the fuel and oil level of your zany -engine every day and keep it running.
About the band
So, uhm…. There is no band (gotcha !) There is just me, Robber Zany, supported by studio-musicians who did a great, great job. I explained what I wanted and they play it.
I was lucky to find the right people who could translate my music to their instruments.
For all numbers it was funny to hear them being played by a band. I was used to sing and play these songs on acoustic guitar and to record them on a small multi-tracker but I was not able to fit all arrangements on it.
Most of the arrangements were in my head and some on paper. There were no rehearsals for these songs and it was only in the studio that I for the first time played these songs together with a band.
I used almost every room in the Galaxy Studios so that we could all play together to give it a live feeling. That was real fun!
So, talking only about me, Robber Zany, would not be fair. It’s the great merit of all musicians who participated and therefore I use the name The Robber Zany Band.
I hope that once, if the time is right, there will be a live band (I write this in summer’07)
If there is news about this, I’ll let you know on our weblog.
The musicians on the album are:
Francis Luyten : acoustic, electric, fretless bass
Yvo Heylen : Lead vocal, harmonica, backing vocal
Steven Scheelen : saxophone
Nico Schepers : trumpet
Carlo Mertens : trombone
Philip Kerckhofs : drums, percussion
Frank Michiels : percussion
Patrick Steenaerts : lead and rhythm guitar
Jef Neve : piano, Hammond organ (Jef Neve appears by courtesy of Universal Music Belgium)
Hildegarde Vandenhove : backing vocal, radio voice, Spanish voice
Wanda Pauwels : backing vocal, lead vocal
Els Brouwers : backing vocal
Marc Janssen : accordion
Romme Vosselman : sound recording “ A windy Summer “
Andra Mc Cartney : sound walk recording “ In the Park “
Lodewijk Leenaerts : sound recording shopping Ladies “King of Swank “
Shopping Ladies : Marianne Johnston & Wendy Richardson
Website by Tom Steenhuysen - www.betawave.us
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Filip Heurckmans at Galaxy Studios Mol, Belgium.
About the music
Let’s call it BLEND-music, a mixture of music styles and atmospheres.
Sounds have a feel of rock, pop, jazz, reggae, blues, latin. The music is bright, pleasant to the ear, sensitive, frangible. The lyrics are positive, funny, not provocative. The album is eclectic, cocky but accessible.
The mean thing was to fit all songs collected during the last 15 years on one album. Because all songs have different styles it was not easy to find one sound that could cover all the styles and which could be played by one and the same band.
The solution was using basic instruments like drums, piano, organ, guitar, bass… and to go for a very natural basic sound. We chose to leave out synthesizers, samples, e-stuff, drum- computer etc. which was not always easy.
There is no precise reason for the variety of styles on this album. Driven by the chords and the lyrics, the songs got the style they deserved: “Sexy Nails” is a kind of reggae, ”In the Park” a sort of blues, ”Chop Choy” alludes to jazz, “Ordinary Husband” is a variation on swing, “Today” rather sounds like pop music. There was one condition: they should be accessible. Having several styles on one CD makes listening to it as listening to a radio station. Read more...
Half of the numbers are instrumental. The lyrics of the songs are mostly positive. At the origin of the lyrics are small visual fragments of every-day life, with a touch of fantasy. They are a blend of non-fiction and fiction. There is no red thread linking the songs. They talk about people and things. They are generally cheerful or it is attempted to make them sound cheerful. Songs were allowed the length they deserved: song length was not restricted by radio format.
Mixing, mastering and final sound of the album is created by engineer Filip Heurckmans. He suggested to mix all tracks by ourselves, without a producer, which was a very good idea. This way, we were able to make “our” music with minimal influences of other opinions. From the first moment on I liked his style of working. Thanks man!!
The most ear-catching thing after recording the songs is the clarity of the numbers. Every single track is identifiable and can be tasted, owing to the quality and the sensitivity of the recording.
[please note: MP3 downloads never have the same digitally perfect quality as the originally mastered CD]
About Funny Face
Click on the song titles on the right to find out how it came about or how I feel about it...
MURZIK (2.38 min)
An article in the newspaper on Anna Kournikova, a famous Russian tennis player, was at the origin of the opening song of this CD. Only her best friends were allowed to call her Murzik. Without knowing what Murzik stood for, the word kept resonating in my head, until the day my guitar produced some chords and I felt Murzik was born. Only later, when I got to know that Murzik is Russian for darling and that you can use it as pet name the song started to take its light, playful and frolic atmosphere, of young girls giggling.
IN THE PARK (3.13 min)
An old man is sitting in the park, singing and playing his old blues guitar. He enjoys to sit there. His eyes are laughing and he looks happy. He sings and plays and makes the passers-by smile. He relates about the good things of life. He certainly has felt life’s sharp edges but he is at the age you know they are part of life and he is smilingly silent about them.
KING OF SWANK (3.46 min)
All of a sudden I saw him standing there 'The King of Swank'. What an appearance! Full of pretension! The instant I had enough material to make a song. In a fortnigh everything was written down. Back in the studio, the song rolled out as if it was played before. Funny and catchy.
TODAY (3.24 min)
Today tells the story of a boy who watches passing by a girl on her bike. The girl is blond, beautiful and he starts daydreaming. " Maybe she is from Russia? Would she be in need of help? Could he offer her something?" Hidden behind a screen, he would love to direct her like a puppet or a cybernated girl. He would make her pass by over and over again. Make her come so close that he could admire her face. His virtual thoughts become disturbed when he realises he has fallen in love with her from the moment he saw her. He is too shy to talk about it. In fact, ” Today ” is the day he steps out of his virtual world, gets rid of his shame and bluntly tells her: I love you.
ORDINARY HUSBAND (3.54 min)
Though I'm father now of two children, this song was not written right for me. Years ago, when having children was the last thing in my mind, I could not know I would be one day in a comparable situation. But it is funny for sure. This song is about fighting against the drag of daily life. My “Ordinary husband” tries to make best use of the limited free time he has as a parent and to stay an optimist, which can do wonders. Remain creative, get the best out of it and life will swing.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (2.55 min)
Returning home from work in the early morning or late at night and though being too tired to do anything, I would take my guitar and play just a few easy tunes.
Now and then a chord stayed humming in my head. After 2 years I had the accompaniment of a song I could not grasp. There did not seem to be a matching melody. The number is called ‘From Dusk till Dawn’ referring to the moment of the day it was written. It remained on the shelf till I decided to give it another try just 14 days before the studio recordings. In just a few days a piano melody swayed over the chords. Something that seemed so difficult in the past was now just a piece of cake. Maybe it just needed time to mature as a good bottle of wine.
EVENING HYMN (2.35 min)
Initially ‘From Dusk till Dawn’ was planned to fade out in soft piano tunes. A kind of quiet after a storm. Yet the song started to live its own life and drifted away from the original song. On the album they are together as the day fades into the night. The song deserves a special place on the album. My wife ♥ gave the number its beautiful title.
SPREAD YOUR WINGS part ½ (5.37 min)
This song is about coming out of one’s shell. Do something, try out something, no matter what. The song starts with the guitars giving their best. They start around a theme but then open out, they try, freak, dare, explore … until a voice wants to have her say. Though words should be carefully weighed, she thinks words are a better way to express oneself. But you need guts to express yourself verbally. “So everybody, don’t be shy”, say it, sing it and try to be free. “Don’t wait take your chance” is for the instruments the signal to mix in again. They lure the voice into a rhythmic whirlpool that seems never-ending. They venture, they play a devilish beat, and together they feel free. They are who they are and this “can do no wrong”.
CHOP CHOY (2.39 min)
Steely Dan is one of my favorite bands and I often listened to their music. I bought some song books and started to understand how they arrange their songs. The chords and the melody of Chop-Choy came to life when analysing their music. I don’t know if Chop-Choy has anything of a Steely Dan song, but the idea that I was inspired by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen pleases me.
SEXY NAILS (6.48 min)
Puerto Rico is a place to be. This island is like a pearl in the sun. Special about Puerto Rico are the “Sexy Nails” shops. Women enter and return with works of art on every nail. Back home I started writing a song about a man who is attracted by those sexy nails. He gets himself into a story. Dazzled by the sun, completely stunned, he awakens and sees the woman behind the nails.
A WINDY SUMMER (4.01 min)
In a cozy corner of my living room stood my guitar and stereo rack. All windows of the house were open and allowed a gentle breeze to come in. Just the perfect weather to enjoy a favorite book and a drink in a lazy chair. That’s the atmosphere in which I started “A windy summer”. Chords and melody came whispering in on the wind. The sound was so transparent that it could vanish as it arrived.
ITALIAN GANGSTERS (2.46 min)
These gangsters are dangerous. They are oh so hungry but entered the wrong restaurant. At almost every street corner in Belgium you can find a ” frituur “, a low-budget eating place with French fries and junk-meat. You can pass by almost every moment of the day and enjoy a quick bite. Real Italian gangsters do not eat junk food. They want pasta.
NAKED TREE (5.09 min)
A boy returns home after a rehab. He tries to connect again with his mum, dad, friends. The gap is big, he wants to succeed and he does not want to make false promises. He feels the warmth of friends and family but he knows that he’ll have to realise it by himself. He is like a naked tree. To express that feeling in this song, there is just a lead vocal, without dubs or back-up vocals, who tells his story. At the end, the horns express his loneliness, the tumult of the sounds his turmoil.
Songs & Lyrics
All words and music by FRANS WILLEMS
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
A WINDY SUMMER
Biggest news is happening right now: The launch of the CD "Funny Face". YOU WON’T FIND THIS CD IN A RECORD-SHOP YET !! Distribution is done by Frans Willems (Robber Zany)
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