Sep 16 2015

Too much information.

Why does a 52 year old man re-release an album he made 21 years ago, especially one whose title song “Weirdo” is about being a freaked out adolescent? I really have to say there is no way I could have done it with out being pushed into it by the guys.

Once upon a time when I was 17 years old people really called me a weirdo and that taunt was usually followed by a punch. Mostly I lied about stuff, played guitar, masturbated, got blacked-out drunk on the weekends, talked to my girlfriend on the phone, drove drunk too fast, stole stuff, vandalized my high school, had my mother write my term papers for me, felt guilty about it all, then masturbated some more. The week before I went to college my dad and I destroyed my Aunt’s vacation cabin in a drunken fist fight. I was 120 pounds he was 220. Earlier that summer I broke my nose driving the family 69 Rambler wagon into a tree.

My yearbook picture from Saint Anthony’s (an all boys catholic school) inspired the song Weirdo. I wrote the song when I was 27 years old and was home from touring and found my 1980 senior high school year book. I looked at my picture, I saw the pain, the terror, the sadness, the hurt, the confusion, the desperation, and it all came hurling in on me so hard, my brain flooded with feelings. I realized then I was a fucking weirdo. Those words came flowing through me. I felt a release. I looked like a weirdo, I was a weirdo, I had never thought about it so clearly before, never really fully owned it. Maybe recovering from alcohol addiction and mental illness gave me the tools to put my life in focus in a way teenage Mike just couldn’t, and maybe that’s what growing up is. Two Mike’s talking to each other in a song. Maybe singing the song will make it ok to be a total outsider, freak, insomniac, manic depressive, narcissistic poet, with delusions of grandeur, and with a powerful self-hatred that tore me up from the inside.
Although I couldn’t wait to sing it for people, when I did, it never really saved me.

21 years later when Patrick (“AKA Tigger”) first came to me and the band about re-releasing Weirdo I said “Fuck that shit nobody gives a shit about Weirdo anymore or ever because Five Eight failed with Weirdo.” That’s how I felt. It sold at best 8000 copies and we didn’t accomplish what we hoped for, to be the next big band out of Athens GA. We didn’t become household names, we weren’t able to make a living at music. The song Weirdo didn’t make it out to everyone in the world who felt as insecure as me. Radiohead came out with a song shortly afterwards way cooler than Weirdo and stole any small flame of hope we had for that lofty goal. We were not a cool indie band. Not with a Jerry Lewis-like crazy front man recovered manic depressive alcoholic fronting an intense Replacements, Fugazi influenced mess.

Weirdo failed, except that we poured every last ounce of our heart and soul into it. We left nothing on the table. We may have swung the bat and struck out then, yet we are still together 21 years later as friends and a band. We still write new music every time we get together. We are not a nostalgia act, rather we are just cleaning up the wreckage of the past. We failed, except that 21 years later we got back together with the original producer David Barbe in his world class mixing room and went back to right a wrong that no one had thought possible, and in doing so had one of the best moments of my musical career—having the whole band, David Barbe and Dave Domizi together in the control room listening to the remastered version of “Hurt You.” I heard the old me talking to the new one, I heard how great it sounded on its own and the memories of why I wrote the song came pouring in. I was so glad we were putting it out there.

Still, the dream feels larger and better than the reality of so many dashed expectations over the years. Sometimes all I have to talk about is the personal hell of deep long term depression, the frustration and terror of being a new father, a bad marriage, a troubled teenager having a hard time with drugs and free floating anxiety, Friendships have helped give me an understanding that my own struggles are the things I know best and I am able to bring them to others via my music with an honesty and stark confessional power (one so honest that it almost makes me cringe with embarrassment). If it wasn’t for the band blasting through the chords and music we wrote and arranged together, it would be a humorless nightmare. Unfortunately with the type of mental illness I suffer from, most of the time I go around thinking I am perfectly normal and sane. It only occurs to me every once in a while that I’m not like most normal folks, like when I catch myself looking at the old artwork for the record and realize for many years I went through a naked performance show thing, a smash my gear on stage thing, a break up the band thing, a broken Marriage thing, a destroyed business thing, a bankruptcy thing, a everybody quits the band and rejoins the band thing (except Dan he never quit), etc.

The reason the Weirdo re-release happened is a combination of passionate chain reaction and serendipity. Doug Rasmussen, a super fan who became Five Eight’s current manager lights a fire under us, then Tigger, having a vision of fixing a past mistake with the mixing and sonic quality of the original Weirdo, writes a long letter about how I took the record that sounded amazing and had it remastered badly, destroying the sound of the record and making it mostly unlistenable. Although that wasn’t exactly the way it happened, having him remember it that way hurt my feelings. I wanted to just dig-my-heels-in, and not deal with what happened, not reopen the old wounds, but sometime later we accidentally found the original masters, and next thing I knew I was calling Barbe and we started the process. Fast forward some and a record company president of an actual indie record company (Chicken Ranch Records-Austin TX) gets behind the idea of a re-release and with Dave Barbe having the same vision/remembrance on the original Weirdo sound quality as Tigger (and me getting out of the way) it happened.

Why listen to Weirdo now? It has 5 new unreleased songs, 4 of them being the most pop sounding tracks I have ever written. It sounds exactly like we sounded back then and it kicks ass. It doesn’t lend itself to easy listening. It takes itself too seriously. It’s earnest not ironic. It is bare knuckles reporting on the mental condition of the singer. Its songs are too long, too real, and speak about the most taboo. The singer has a harsh Long Island accent, nasal and grating. There are hardly any overdubs and there is no autotuning. It is put out by a real indie band that toured the country in a van. The manager was just a friend. There was no time to record the record. We were never really hip or cool and still aren’t. The song “Weirdo” came to me in minutes. Music journalist Lisa Robinson always said that she would have signed Five Eight to a record deal based on that song alone. Walter Yetnikoff loved the Karaoke video and Cracker took us on the road with them. We opened up for REM at the Forty Watt. I have memories of singing Weirdo acapella— like at the Chicago Metro opening for Drunken Boat, the Cat’s Cradle in D.C. opening for Archers of Loaf, the Grand Ballroom in New York City opening for Cracker, and the Greek Amphitheater in Berkeley CA opening for REM on their 2004 world tour.

Five Eight has always been a band for outsiders. With songs like Looking Up, Suit of Sin, A Man is a Pent Up Thing, Depressed All the Time, etc it makes perfect sense that we’ll never speak for everyone unless somehow everyone has the same feelings about themselves as I did about myself. Thankfully sometimes it does seem that way… What a relief for us then to finally put this record out for the right reasons, an album by misfits for misfits.

Ten years ago I was trying to find Sean Dunn, to have him rejoin the band. Then Hurricane Katrina hit.Sean was newly sober, and after the storm looked for his brother for three weeks. The Dunn family was from New Orleans and Five Eight was always deeply linked to the city, between late night parties with Kermit Ruffins eating red beans and rice to opening for Wilco at the Contemporary Arts Center. When I finally talked to Sean he still hadn’t found his brother and his mother was distraught. All of our friends in the music scene in New Orleans (Fred Leblanc, James Hall, Grant Curry) had also left the city. It was crushing to say the least.Fast forward to today and Sean and I are both sober, his brother (who was eventually located) also got sober and has remarried and started a new life. Sean and I write together, and when we do he brings the music and I add the lyrics. One particularly dark song he brought not long ago—a mournful Neil Young meets Led Zeppelin like tune—really moved me. Having no idea what the song was about yet, I kept singing the words “Ha Ha, what a sight to see.”

I ask him what the song was about, and he says it’s called “The Flood.” Instantly memories of Katrina “flooded” back to me. I remembered the phone call, with Sean still raw from Katrina and fighting a heroin addiction. I remember once figuring Sean and his brother were likely both dead, if not from the storm then from their addictions. I remember the city being gone —- like a punch in the stomach. I turned to Sean and said, ” Wow you really want to write about Katrina?”, and he’s says “I actually hadn’t even thought of that.”

I think that we deal with true human tragedy underneath in the soul, the subconscious, in our dreams. We suppress outward expression and keep everything in place with words and euphemisms like “flood”

We can tell stories but really we have to bend to life as it is. The lyrics in the song are from children who witnessed the destruction because they were stuck in the city. They noticed things at face value and much of what they saw is strangely free from a feeling of loss. The loss itself becomes the sublime joy of living through it.

I brought Patterson Hood in to sing with me on The Flood as a duet. I have never done anything like that before. I knew his voice would ring true—but I was thinking he would just sing back up. He came into the studio having never heard the song before and sang it like I wished I could.

So I just re-sang everything to his lead.

We are briefly releasing this track in its present, raw form as our tribute to the great city of New Orleans, as they remember their loss today on August 29th.


It’s the ten year anniversary
Of the long walk with my family
We crawled up where we should not go
Watching the brown water flow into
Ha ha I never thought of it
The water covered up the neighborhoodThe city was never as dark or as still
The stars glowed like a miracle
Lying on the hood of my daddy’s car
We heard the sounds of the helicoptersNever been no refugee
Never dreamt I’d ever see
The school’s gone and the library
The books float out to sea
Ha ha what a sight to see
They’ll be no more bully to bother me
He’s swept away with the old ferry
My best toys scatter in the breeze

This city was never as dark or as still
The stars glowed like a miracle
Lying on the hood of my daddy’s car
We heard the sounds of the helicopters


released 29 August 2015
Sean Dunn: Guitar
Patrick Ferguson: Drums
Patterson Hood: Vocals
Dan Horowitz: Bass
Mike Mantione: Guitar, Vocals
John Neff: Pedal Steel GuitarRecorded and Mixed at Espresso Machine by Mike Albanese
Mastered at Joel Hatstat Audio by Joel August Hatstat
Athens, GA August 2015

David writes,

Here’s where I was at the time……

I was working two sides of one career. On the one hand, I was playing bass in a touring band. On the other, I was a recording engineer. Every time I came home off the road, I might have a day or two before I would go into one of about a dozen or so studios in my Athens-Atlanta circuit in which I working as a free-lance engineer (John Keane’s, Bosstown, Rocketsound, Rock Central, etc) to record another band. I was working with mostly bands in Athens and Atlanta like Seersucker, Fiddlehead, Jack-O-Nuts, Slumberjack, Six String Fever, and Five Eight. Usually, it was make a record, maybe a day off, and then go back out on the road. I had a young family to support and money was not going to earn itself.

The time leading up to making Weirdo was pretty typical for me. In late May, I finished a tour, and went to Atlanta to make a La Brea Stompers record at Bosstown. The last night of tracking, I got home to Athens at 3AM. The next day I was in the car at 6AM to start beach vacation with my pregnant wife and our two tiny children. We got home and I left on a European tour. That took care of June. In July, I mixed the La Brea Stompers record at John Keane’s, which was my home base at the time. Our third baby was born July 30.

In August I started working on Weirdo.

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Hello fans. A lot of excitement around the band as we barrel through winter 2015. The re-release of Weirdo will begin happening in late February/early March; and we will be headed to SXSW and playing several shows in the Midwest and Southeast this spring. Check out the tour page on this site! Below is a primer on the Weirdo re-release as written by our manager Doug Rasmussen. Enjoy and see you at the shows!

–Mike, Dan, Sean, and Tigger

As the release of the Weirdo reissue approaches, the fan/manager in me wrote a few thoughts down I would like to share with y’all. Yes I am pumped and you should be too. Enjoy (Doug Rasmussen).

It wasn’t under the light of Endicott Johnson, but the light of the Capitol Dome in Downtown Madison Wisconsin on April 30 1994 that shone with its usual imposing hue through the fog and upon the unsuspecting patrons entering the music club known as The Chamber. My group of two arrived early to get a table and sit down with a pitcher of beer (remember those?), and to get ourselves primed for singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston who was touring on the heels of critical acclaim and was recording in Madison at Smart Studios.

20-years plus since that spring night in Madison and what can one say–the memory of a weirdo still burns as primal and omnipresent as it does today–so much so I remember the date and month of the show like it was my mother’s birthday. We came to see a pop-singer songwriter, we left having seen something just flat out fucking intense and unbelievable.

To us upper-Midwesterner college students at the time Athens GA meant riding in a Chrysler as big as a whale or losing our religion (two things as suburban children of the 70s/80s we had already done)—not losing our collective minds during a rock show. Who the hell was this angry man interrupting my idle table chatter by yelling at the top of his lungs for us to shut the f**k up and stop talking—and then screaming as he belted out lyrics about a phone call from the all night diner in his mind— standing on the stage, alone, in front of the mic, strumming his guitar, looking well–weird (and crazy). Uncomfortably obsessed (stunned?) we all watched with awe–sucked in like watching a car crash–and then we rocked–hard. I think we saw Freedy later (can’t really remember)–and then we immediately went back to our respective dorm room/flat/whatever in a daze and promptly bought the Weirdo album from B-Side records in downtown Madison the very next day.

Fast forward to 2015 and the same band is still going strong, with the same lineup that blew us away on that Weirdo tour, and re-releasing the record that made us all do a double take and look at this intense fiery rock band from Georgia some 20 years ago. What have we learned in 20-years? We have learned that great rock bands like Five Eight continually find a way to reinvent themselves, create new material and energy, and in so doing remain as relevant now (even more so in this era of overly ironic mustache indie hipster drudgery) as they were then. We have also learned that great rock bands and great records sometimes need to be heard again under a different light (not the capitol dome light), in a different era, a different time—to be reaffirmed and appreciated.

Remixed and remastered from the original tapes by Athens GA wizard/original producer David Barbe, the new Weirdo isn’t so much a look back as it is a look from the present and a look into the band’s future. While the members of Five Eight are in the late 40s and early 50s, their intensity live and creativity in songwriting is as strong as it ever was, and the remaster has done an excellent job of lifting Mike’s guitar/voice, Sean’s guitar, Tigger’s drums, and Dan’s bass enough out of the 1990’s fuzz of the original mix to provide a sense of sonic clarity that replicates the band’s current live sound and focused intense direction. Listening to the remix isn’t so much 1994—its actually more like 2014 or 2015—its an update—its 20 years of strength and longevity, of rocking one’s ass off until you drop, of never quitting, of getting better as musicians and as a band, of lifting the emotional needs and scars of the past, of nurturing the needs of long-time and future fans of one of the greatest pure live rock bands to ever grace the American club scene.

The songs are the same and there are some great reissues included that were inexplicably left off the original record (The Only One for example), but the songs are different too. The remixes are loaded with new energy, new passion, and a new sense of longing for what remains real (20-years later) about heartache, disaffection, emotional disconnectivity, suicidal tendencies, being hurt, and being a WEIRDO.

Is everybody ready to rock….?

-Doug Rasmussen

As we wind up the band’s 25th year we could not be more excited about the future. The Weirdo Remix will be released on Chicken Ranch Records (Austin TX) in 2015 featuring 5 previously un-released tracks and a mix that truly enhances and improves the sound of the original record. Look for it on vinyl and digitally.

We have also been working on our new record and the studio work is mostly complete and we could not be happier with the new material. Look for that in 2015 as well.

In the meantime check out the tour page for newly confirmed shows–with more coming. We will be making it to SXSW this year–and we are looking to add a Nashville TN show April 10th.

Thanks for your continued unwavering support and happy holidays to our fans!

–Mike, Dan, Tigger, Sean