I wanted to call this record Led Zeppelin II 2. I still kind of wish I had. The only thing is, that title doesn’t mean anything. Dracula, though? Dracula means something. It’s weird to say that a comedy album is about something, because most of us aren't used to thinking about comedy albums that way. But this album is about something. It’s about monsters and pain and darkness and love and time and fear.
In college, I worked at a 24 hour convenience store. One day, a man dressed in a ragged, grungy windbreaker and dusty stonewashed jeans came in to buy a cup of coffee. As I rang him up, he told me that I had The Fear.
"I can see it in your eyes,” he said. “You have The Fear.”
Then, without another word, he revealed his true form as a cursed prince and disappeared in a cloud of smoke, as if a centuries-long spell had been broken. I'm haunted by that moment often, usually in my darkest times, and its mystery gnaws at me. I assume that’s how he freed himself of his curse: by spreading it to me.
I recorded this album on the 7th anniversary of the first time I tried stand up. My first set (if you could call it that) was at the open mic at Grumpy’s in downtown Minneapolis, an indomitable place if ever there was one (until it was demolished because Minneapolis needs more condos!). In fact, the incident described in ‘An Orgy of Despair’ (track 2) happened at Grumpy’s, just a few weeks before the album recording. Doing comedy there every Wednesday helped me in ways I can’t quite articulate. I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself a comedian until I could win-over that crowd at Grumpy’s, as indifferent and obstinate as they were. I met people I love there, I had some of the worst nights of my life there. And on that tiny, dumb stage, I overcame my fear. It’s hard not to when you’ve got a sea of unimpressed, unblinking faces staring at you while you pour out the most intimate parts of yourself. At least, if you’re doing it right, anyway. Now, I’m not afraid of anything except sharks and loving the wrong kind of woman (see track 3).
This material may be uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable with some of it, you can hear it in my voice. It covers a wide gamut of things I reckon with every day. It’s important to acknowledge the parts of yourself that scare you. We live our lives in conflict: with what we want from others, with what we want from ourselves, with what we are. Stand up is one of my most beloved things and it has also brought me some of my deepest heartbreaks. It’s eternal love, it’s sharp teeth in the darkness. It’s the power to ensorcel an audience. It’s the thing you want to give yourself over to but you know it will take everything you have if you let it. It’s The Fear. That’s what Dracula is about.
By the way, if you’re reading this, you have The Fear, too. Or, to quote a long lost friend: now you got what I got. Whew, now *I’m* free of the curse. Damn, I should have done that years ago.
Anyway, Led Zeppelin II 2. I’ll probably use it for my next album so don’t steal it! I mean it!
-Andrew Cahak, Minneapolis, MN December 2018
Recorded at Minnehaha Recording Company, Minneapolis, MN on April 28th, 2018
Mike Linden mastered the ceremony
Adam Quesnell warmed up the audience
Music by Zac Naughton
Engineered and mastered by Tony Williamette
Edited & Mixed by Adam Kokontis
Cover photo by Leland Meiners
Design by Andrew Cahak for ILLWILL
Legal counsel: Mitch Billings, Esq.
Produced by Andrew Cahak & Adam Kokontis c/o Industrico Inc. for Math Lab
This is Math Lab 005.
Thanks to you (probably [but not definitely]), Mike Linden, Steven Montenegro, Adam Kokontis, Zac Naughton, Luke Meyer, Mike Schulte (and Molly [& Charles]), Brian Jones, Katrina Benning, Kevin Koppes, Grant Jackson & Rosie Math, The Iowa Hawkeyes, pretty much all of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and a good chunk of Minneapolis, Matt Kohr, Courtney Baka, Patrick Ryan Bauer, Chris Maddock, Adam Quesnell, Cornelius Allegrezza, Chad Martin, Jeff Pfoser, Zach Coulter, Chris Knutson, Courtney McClean, Anna Weggel, Sam (Veldie) Papke, The Tall Boys, Micah Walsh, Nick Piontek, Mike O’Keefe, Amber Preston, Rana May, Eliot Rahal, Robert Baril, Henry Fuguitt, Trish Cook, James Wells, Benny Quash, John Conroy, Matt Fugate, Andy Brynildson and the MNCS crew, Cullen Ryan and Jordan Duroe (and everyone at Clear Water Comedy), Stevie Hottman, Laura Westley-Williams, Katie Sisneros, Tim Anderson, Dan Linden, Swiss, Peter Vader, Jonathan Meachum, Brenda Peters, Ian Fishman, Lauren Schwein, Logan Baker, Leland Meiners, Christina Bornstein, Ed Bornstein, Bob & Kim Gudenkauf, Scott & Chasity Brimeyer, Dan & Joy Meter, Mason & Krystle Moline, Curt Readel, Bradley Adita, Bryan Ische, Tom Loftus, Noah Paster, Steve Yasgar, Martin Devaney, Ian Rans, Becky Rothmeier, Meghan Crawley, everyone who contributed on IndieGoGo, Leo Kokontis, Squishi, Claudia Holt, The Cahaks, The Ostermans (and all of Minerva’s Mafia), Abi (& John) and Patty.
Dedicated to Minerva Osterman. Sorry for being so crass, Grandma.
In memory of Matt Davis, Kate Urquhart, Bill Young, and Gus Lynch.
I could not have made this without my mom, Patty, and my sister, Abi. Their support means everything to me. Adam Kokontis is a miracle worker and I'm so so lucky to have had him as a collaborator for almost 20 years; Mike, Steven Montenegro and Koko were critical in helping me getting my head wrapped around this junk; Zac Naughton has been making music that inspires me since we met in high school and he wrote the perfect intro for this album; Tony Williamette made this dream a reality; Adam Quesnell is a great comic and super supportive friend and I'm so honored that he opened this show for me; Jeff Pfoser has been like a big brother to me since the first week I started doing comedy. I'd say he's like a father but he already has, like, six fucking kids; Maddoo, P-Bau and Corey Adam all gave me excellent advice and helpful tags and I'm grateful to know them; Will Roberts, Sean Hogan, Sam Wilbur, and Tommy Rehbein for reinterpreting my jokes into cool things; Tom Loftus at Modern Radio offered some great advice (and he puts out killer records); So many people contributed to the IndieGoGo campaign to press this record and thanks to The Sklar Brothers, Greg Proops, Derek Sheen, Jonah Matranga, James Adomian, Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy, and Lazerbeak for being sweethearts.
Musical artists that influenced and/or motivated me to make this album: Slow Mass, Protomartyr, Brian Jones, Zac Naughton, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Autolux, St. Vincent, French Kicks, Mogwai, Sonic Youth, Galaxie 500, The Plastic Constellations, Lifter Puller, Jawbreaker, Doomtree, Ten Grand, Signal To Trust, Shiner, The Life & Times, Battles, Isis, Aereogramme, DJ Shadow, Unkle, Quicksand, Shame, Nothing, Ela, Foul Tip, Torres, Future Islands, and Etta James. Seek out their work.
Read Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Read Lydia Davis. Read John Berryman. Read Gertrude Stein. Read Franz Kafka. Read John Berger. Read John Gardener.
Dahmer’s victim, Konerak Sinthasomphone, was 14, not 16. My apologies to his family. Also, I don’t believe in Genghis Khan is in Heaven (and I know that his name is not actually pronounced that way), in fact I think maybe the only people who are actually in Heaven are my grandma and probably Freddie Mercury (and maybe Prince). I don’t think all Christians are bullies, but I for sure think a lot of them are bad at being Christ-like. There are probably more things on here that need corrections. Please forgive me for overlooking them.