Saturday, January 27, 2007

First came Eric Clapton, now the Gun Nose guy...

From North County Times:

Escondido artist-songwriter gets the 'Neo-Conservative Blues'
By: JOEL D. AMOS - For the North County Times

The "blues" found its way to Tom Carroll on Election Day 2006. The Escondido computer gaming wizard witnessed the Democratic Party take control of Congress and was moved to capture the sorrow of those who lost power."The conservative movement and the far right were extremely unhappy. I felt for them so much I had to be satirical and write a song about how bad they were feeling," Carroll said. The "Neo-Conservative Blues" came to him as voting returns scrolled across his TV screen. "I just had it with my government's public policies and the November elections were in a lot of ways a turning point. I was possessed to write that quirky little song."

Carroll's history in San Diego runs deep. Carroll Canyon is named for his great-grandfather. But it was his time at Claremont McKenna University in Los Angeles that sent Carroll's creative ball rolling.

"They gave me a broad education that has stood me well as I do a lot of different things," Carroll said. Currently, as a 3-D environment artist with Rock Star San Diego software company, Carroll creates games and interactive programming titles. He believes each of his vocational steps has sharpened his focus."I've had some completely different professions, but they are all related in that you have to pick a subject very quickly, decipher it and be able to spew it back in numerous forms. The mental gymnastics behind that is pretty amazing," he said.

Mutual friends introduced Carroll to Mark DeCerbo, curious to see what might arise artistically between the two. "It's funny," DeCerbo said. "We came together because of music and art. We are not on the same page politically."

The singer-songwriter, whose band Rockola has played around San Diego for years, felt the sentiment of the song and was also moved by history unfolding and by Carroll's tribute.

"It doesn't really matter what end of the political spectrum the creativity comes from, we have a mutual respect for what each of us can do," DeCerbo said. "I'm more conservative than he is and I can appreciate the message and I get a kick out of the lyrics."

The pair's first collaboration is "Neo-Conservative Blues" and its accompanying graphic ---- the character Gun Nose. After watching the in-flight TV news on a trip to Scotland, Carroll found himself doodling."I noticed the perception of the U.S., particularly in Europe, and it wasn't really very good," he said. "These things upset me and it translated out into this one sketch. With a gun for a nose, a bomb for a chin, he is a real lethal character."

After attaching Carroll's Gun Nose character to the song, DeCerbo uploaded their work on, an animation-driven site, and the "blues" began to beat.

"It immediately became something that people were gravitating toward," Carroll said. "A viral thing, it just kind of grew."Twenty-four hours after the initial posting, they had received 1,000 visitors. Onto something, DeCerbo uploaded the song to singer Neil Young's Web site "Living With War," which includes a Top 1,200 protest-centric songs.

Carroll checked in a few days later. "I couldn't believe it, we made the list. It popped up at No. 1,110, and I e-mailed Mark right away," Carroll said.

In the last three weeks, the song has shot as high as No. 67 and currently sits at No. 81. "I am so completely excited about it," Carroll said.

In Young's countdown of war-themed songs, Carroll and DeCerbo share space with Bob Dylan; Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale; and Crosby, Stills and Nash ---- and the local duo's song currently ranks higher."Just being on the list is great for me," Carroll said. "For two people who had little or no expectations, this is a gas."

The protest songs that permeated FM radio in the 1960s have found a home in 2007. "With the Internet, there is a reaction a lot more quickly than FM radio ever could," Carroll said. "Look at the power ---- look at Gun Nose ---- you can't sit on the fence. You either like him or you don't. I thought he was a very appropriate symbol. In the first stanza of 'Neo-Conservative Blues,' it says, 'I got a gun for a nose.' That's putting the card right out there."

On the Net:
to access "Neo Conservative Blues."


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