The Title Trackers
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The Title Trackers

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Los Angeles, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
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"Thanks to These Guys, The Joshua Tree and Who's Next Now Have Title Tracks"

Andy Hill and David Tokaji were so jazzed about going to see The Rolling Stones’ 2006 Dodger Stadium show, the anticipation grew beyond guessing whether or not the band would perform “Dead Flowers.” Or “Tumbling Dice.” Or any other Stones song in existence. “It reached such a pitch that we were saying, like, ‘Wouldn’t it have been rad if they’d written a title track for Exile on Main St.?” Tokaji says. “Or if they’d written a title track for Tattoo You?”

And that’s how The Title Trackers started. The clever parody project involves longtime Los Angeles musicians Hill, Tokaji and Russell Wiener writing and recording title tracks to classic albums that do not have title tracks. The Stones ode “Living on Exile on Main Street” was the first tune they penned. The Title Trackers song captures the blues-pop panache, sweaty horn lines and background vocals that are the essence of Exile on Main St., The Stones’ 1972 masterwork LP.

“These two had this kind of running gag with non-existent title tracks for a long time and I started getting in on it, too,” Weiner says. “And at a certain point I’m like, ‘This is a pretty good idea. We might actually want to record something.’”

On March 10, The Title Trackers will release their first album, Lost Title Tracks. The LP’s 10 cuts include parodies of Tom Petty (“Full Moon Fever Gone to Our Heads”), The Doors (“Checking in to the Morrison Hotel”), U2 (“Chopping Down the Joshua Tree”) and Johnny Cash (the winkingly titled “Doomed to Live at San Quentin”).

Hill, Tokaji and Wiener — or Tracker Andy, Tracker Dave and Tracker Russ, as they like to be called — do a nifty job rendering aural details. On The Doors cut, for example, besides Hill’s solid Jim Morrison-isms, they used an Gibson SG-centered guitar rig similar to Robbie Krieger’s. They even enlisted Ty Dennis, from the reformed Doors project The Doors of the 21st Century, to play drums. The Title Trackers tune “Throwing Stones at Glass Houses” actually features longtime Billy Joel saxophonist Richie Cannata, whom they reached out to via Facebook.

Wiener says, “The truth is even without all the technical stuff it’s just all in our blood and when we sit down to record this stuff or even rehearse it, it already kind of sounds right. We already know what some of these guys would do on bass or guitar.”

Hill, Tokaji and Wiener also perform together in the L.A. jangle-rock combo Dry September. In Title Trackers, they share vocal, guitar and bass tasks, with Wiener engineering and producing recording at his Silver Lake studio.

Not everything cut for Lost Title Tracks stuck. An attempt to do faux Fleetwood Mac based on Rumors hit the cutting-room floor.

On March 14, The Title Trackers will embark on their “Rolling Tracker Revue,” a one-day “concert tour” of local record stories, including Amoeba, Vacation Vinyl and Rockaway Records.

“We looked at the vibe and identity of each store [to] figure what would be the best match for each one,” Tokaji says. “Vacation Vinyl is one of the hardest to pin down, so we decided to do Johnny Cash there because everybody is down with Johnny Cash, whether you’re into goth, metal or whatever.”

Some “Rolling Tracker Revue” stops will involve minor costuming. (An Edge skull cap, perhaps?) Each mini-set will involve three songs: an actual title track by the artist being parodied, a Lost Title Track tune and a “wildcard,” such as “Johnny Cash” covering something from Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All.

“None of us ever really considered forming a tribute band, though they're fun to see,” Hill says. “A writer can't help but want to write, and this was an amazing project for three writers with many of the same influences. None of us could have made this album on our own; we needed the blend of influences, voices and abilities.”

The Title Trackers have much respect for parody-tune icon Weird Al, but “what we do is fairly different,” Tokaji says. “For one thing, his lyrics rarely relate to the actual band. For example ‘Lola’ becomes ‘Yoda,’ because it's a convenient rhyme at the right time in pop culture.”

The group is releasing Lost Title Tracks on vinyl, with each copy also including a CD version of the disc. A proper album release show is set for March 29 at the Satellite.

The Title Trackers are already lining up parody possibilities for a follow-up. Songs inspired by title-track-less classics such as Abbey Road and License to Ill are high on the list. Tokaji says, “We’re not proprietary about what we’re doing. These titles are so good that they really inspired music we would have never thought of. And we want other people to feel that.” - LA Weekly


"The greatest songs that never were"

Why didn’t someone think of this before? Record an album filled with the title tracks from some of the greatest rock and pop albums of all time, including “Exile on Main Street,” “The Joshua Tree,” “Combat Rock” and “Blood on the Tracks.”

Of course, none of those albums actually features a song of the same name as the record's title, but that technicality that didn't stop the Title Trackers, an ad hoc band of L.A. musicians who are about to release “The Title Trackers’ Lost Title Tracks” on Tuesday.

“So many of our favorite albums have such evocative titles but no song with that title,” Title Trackers co-founder Andy Hill said in a statement on the album. “So we asked ourselves, what might a song called ‘Exile on Main Street’ have sounded like had the Stones recorded it--and how can we put our own imprint on the song by amping up The Stones’ sound, attitude, and all the quirks we love?”

That’s what makes the “Lost Title Tracks” album so much fun. Each song is done in the style of the artists, which also includes Tom Petty (“Full Moon Fever”), Billy Joel (“Glass Houses”), Bruce Springsteen (“Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”), Johnny Cash (“Live at San Quentin”) and the Who (“Who’s Next”).

The Title Trackers dreamed up original songs riffing on those each of those titles, results including the likes of “Checking Into the Morrison Hotel” (see the accompanying video, which is appropriately moody and Jim Morrison-esque) “Chopping Down the Joshua Tree” and “Got Our Slingshot and Our Combat Rock.”

Raw guitar licks and raucous drumbeat open “Living in Exile on Main Street,” and a breathy rocker’s whisper charts the journey down Jersey backstreets and boardwalks in “The Trackers Send Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”

The players insist it’s all about affection, not affectation.

“Each of our singing voices was influenced by these artists,” said David Tokaji, co-founder of the group with Hill and Russell Wiener. “So we were able to maintain our own personality while creating recognizable parody. It’s not about impersonation – we’re creating songs in both their image and our own.”

The Title Trackers, an ad hoc band of L.A. musicians, plays Bruce Springsteen's 'Born To Run' in conjunction with the March 10 release of their album 'Lost Title Tracks,' consisting of title songs that never existed.

In conjunction with Tuesday’s album release, the Title Trackers will embark on a one-day Title Trackers Revue tour of L.A.-area record stores Saturday, starting at Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

The group is slated for a full-on performance at the Satellite in Silver Lake on March 29.

They’ve already garnered an impressive testimonial from inside the rock music world:

“I think the songs are really good and I think the concept is brilliant,” musician-producer Alan Parsons said. “ ‘Exile’ is unmistakably Stones. Hats off to you."

As a bonus, the trio has created a video for a heartfelt version of Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” a song that didn’t qualify for the album because it actually exists. The video, featuring a relay race in which a guitar rather than a baton is handed from runner to runner, has collected more than 4,600 views on YouTube. - LA Times


"Meet the Title Trackers, the Band Adding Missing Title Tracks to Classic Rock Records Read More: Meet the Title Trackers, the Band Adding Missing Title Tracks to Classic Rock Records | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/title-trackers-band/?trackback=tsmclip"

Have you ever wondered why the Rolling Stones never bothered writing a title track for Exile on Main St.? Or Tom Petty never released a song called Full Moon Fever? Or why U2‘s The Joshua Tree doesn’t have a “Joshua Tree” somewhere in its running order?

The Title Trackers are here to fill in those gaps. An L.A.-based trio on a mission to bring the world “the greatest songs never written,” the band describes its sound as “a stylistic parody,” but while they might be slightly tongue-in-cheek, their efforts are often uncannily on the nose — as evidenced by their new album, Lost Title Tracks, a 10-song set that includes each of the songs mentioned above as well as many others.

“The concept of the album existed years before we actually decided to do it,” band member Russell Wiener tells Ultimate Classic Rock. Inspired by plans to attend a 2006 Rolling Stones show, one of the Trackers, David Tokaji, decided to torment his ticketless friend Andy Hill “by leaving voicemails for him in which he sung ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Start Me Up,’ etc.,” says Wiener. “Then he decided to up the ante by making up choruses for non-existent title tracks like ‘Exile on Main Street’ and ‘Tattoo You.'”

Hill, not realizing the fake Stones songs didn’t exist, played along because he didn’t want to make himself appear less of a fan, and Tokaji kept the gag going — until Wiener got wind of it and decided it might be more than a joke.

Eventually, the trio entered the studio with a full band to record “Exile on Main Street,” and Wiener says they knew right away they were on to something. “The results challenged us to rethink our enterprise,” he says. “It was funny, but it was also a reflection of all the things we love about the Stones. The song didn’t perfectly reflect the Stones; it sounded like them, and it sounded like us. It reflected their influence on us, and all the idiosyncrasies we love about them.”

Thus inspired, the Trackers set about penning a full album of “lost” title tracks, starting with their own “Joshua Tree” (as Wiener puts it, “making sure to include plenty of biblical references, Africa references and other key Bono-isms”) before moving on to a list that grew to include Billy Joel‘s Glass Houses, Bruce Springsteen‘s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., the Who‘s Who’s Next and the Doors‘ Morrison Hotel, among others.

“A lot of what we try to do is be ‘method actors,’ to get into the right frame of mind,” explains Wiener. “Whereas for ‘Exile’ we tracked the song in a funky rehearsal room, flailing ourselves around and drinking as we recorded, for ‘Joshua Tree’ we set a different scene – a dark room, using flashlights to simulate stage lights, as Dave donned sunglasses and emoted every syllable as he skulked around the studio, gesturing like a preacher, standing on chairs, pretending to climb the Joshua Tree. We tried to picture how we’d play each song onstage, and set that scene in the studio.” - Ultimate Classic Rock


"Watch The Title Trackers' New U2-Inspired Video, "Chopping Down the Joshua Tree" (PREMIERE)"

We've been fans for awhile of L.A. band The Title Trackers and their simple but ingenious premise: What if, instead of just being a conventional cover band, you created "lost title tracks" for classic albums that didn't have one? So the Trackers' repertoire includes Billy Joel's "Glass Houses," The Doors' "Morrison Hotel" and, of course, U2's "The Joshua Tree," all performed in the style (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) of the original artists. Brilliant!

Now, the Trackers — Russell Wiener, David Tokaji and Andy Hill — have taken their love for one of those original artists one step further, creating a video for their "lost" U2 title track, whose full title is "Chopping Down the Joshua Tree." But not just any video — a video shot on location in the middle of the desert, at the exact spot where Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. posed for their now-iconic Joshua Tree gatefold photo.

How did they find the exact spot, you ask? Thanks to a guy named Ernie Navarre, the location has long been known among U2 superfans. Navarre spent years exploring the desert until he found the vista that matched the photo (which is actually in Death Valley, not Joshua Tree National Park), then commemorated the site by installing a plaque. (Navarre deserves a whole article unto himself — and we'll post one later this week.)

The Title Trackers' threw a premiere party for the video on Saturday, Jan. 16, then kindly agreed to let L.A. Weekly premiere it online today. Maybe it'll inspire you to make your own desert pilgrimage. Or at least crank up your copy of The Joshua Tree and bust out your own best Bono impersonation. - LA Weekly


"Band Covers 'Born to Run' While Actually Running"

By Kit Fox

Some weird thoughts can spin through your mind during a long run. Runner David Tokaji’s endorphins had a carnival in his brain on the trail during one particular long run—creating an idea so ludicrous it forced him to slow down because he couldn’t stop laughing.

That’s exactly how the perfect mix of running and rock and roll came to fruition. Tokaji decided that his band, called The Title Trackers, had to cover Bruce Springsteen’s classic song "Born to Run"—while actually running.

Following through on Tokaji's epiphany wasn’t so simple. Along with band members Andy Hill and Russ Wiener, The Title Trackers arrived at the North Torrance High School track in Southern California hoping the place would be deserted. Unfortunately, about 60 spectators filled the stands while 22 semi-professional soccer players stood on the field, gawking at the band’s skin-tight singlets, 70’s-style headbands, and black acoustic guitar.

But like any real Boss, they started running, then strumming, then huffing out their best Bruce Springsteen impression.


“The idea occurred to me during a training run, and the potential for absurdity and humiliation was so high we couldn’t pass up on it,” Tokaji told Runner's World Newswire.

The group wanted to promote their new album, The Lost Title Tracks, and this seemed to be an idea perfect for them. As a type of parody band, their mission is to compose missing title tracks of classic albums. While many rock albums like Born to Run have a song with the same name, some don’t have a single to go along with the album—like the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St.

So Tokaji, Hill, and Wiener wrote those songs instead, creating an album featuring satire title tracks mimicking artists like U2 and The Who.

Their affinity for those title tracks brought them to a real track two weeks ago, hoping the stunt could generate buzz for the March 14 release of their debut album. “We thought this would be more interesting than us playing in our living room,” Tokaji said. “There’s also a real connection to running and rock music; it’s about physical release and liberation and pushing beyond what’s rational.”

The trio discovered that combining the two disciplines isn’t easy. Tokaji actually tore his calf muscle around the first turn, jumping while he belted “Whoaaa, baby this town rips the bones from your back.” The five-time marathoner was able to finish filming, but he had to take a running hiatus after the shoot.

Hill estimated they ran about a mile while filming, which took three takes to get right. “We weren’t really setting a strong pace,” Hill said.

But by far the most difficult part was getting over the fear of a surprise audience—the unwitting spectators trying to decipher what was going on during a regular Sunday afternoon.

“I can’t remember a time I had to summon up more courage to perform than that moment,” Tokaji, a veteran musician, said.

Although the canon for rock songs and running is large—with hits like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne—the band has no plans for a sequel at this time. Tokaji did express interest when it was suggested they cover the entire Born to Run album while finishing a marathon. His band mates—who only run occasionally—quickly balked.

“You have to be in completely different shape to run than to perform on stage,” Hill said. - Runner's World


"Producer Crosstalk: The Title Trackers"

MAY 14, 2015
BY ROB PUTNAM

The members of Los Angeles-based the Title Trackers––David Tokaji, Russell Wiener, Andy Hill (all possess a production background)—have years of experience with bands. In 2006, Wiener and Hill had tickets to see the Rolling Stones. They fell into a game of leaving voicemails with each other joking about songs they hoped the band would play. The list grew to include numbers such as the title track from Exile on Main St., which, of course, doesn’t exist. What if it did?

Cut to March 10: the band self-released Lost Title Tracks, a collection of satirical tracks for Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, the Stones’ Exile on Main St. and Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Each original song is crafted in the style of the artist(s) that inspired it. Since this is satire or parody, no special licenses or permissions are required.

“We did ‘Living in Exile on Main Street’ to see what we could come up with,” Wiener recalls. “We did a decent job capturing and satirizing what we admire about [the Stones]: their attitude and their idiosyncrasies.”

Creating non-existent title tracks isn’t simple. “What makes this art and not science,” Tokaji asserts, “is that you have to exaggerate certain elements of the sound; identify all of its CrosstalkARTcomplexities and figure out which parts to escalate. What comes across isn’t just pure imitation. It’s meta-imitation––what we call ‘parody’ or ‘satire.’”

To recreate a record’s unique character, the physical recording had to be given due consideration. “For ‘Exile,’ we recorded guitars, drums and a scratch vocal live,” Wiener explains. “Glyn Johns, the original engineer on Exile on Main St., has a famous minimal mic technique for drums. I looked it up, did it and it sounded great. We didn’t have any EQs or outboard gear. It was all straight into the computer.”

“We were wary of overcomplicating it,” Hill adds. “Since the original albums were recorded, technology has advanced. You can get into a rabbit hole of problems. We found that performing songs live with simple gear and miking techniques while driving the performance aspect [was key].”

Vintage amps and guitars were utilized on a few songs: “Checking In To The Morrison Hotel” and “Who’s Next: A Meta-Rock Opera.” For the remainder, the band went with what was handy. “On ‘Exile’—a Squier Bullet plugged into a Dutch amp,” Hill recollects. “That’s not what Keith [Richards] used, but it sounded right. If it hadn’t, we would have made it better.”

“On ‘Who’s Next,’ we used a Gretsch 6120 into a vintage Fender Bandmaster,” Wiener adds. “After doing it, it sounded no more like [Pete] Townshend than my own gear. No one’s going to say it doesn’t sound like him because the tone is wrong. It would be because of the playing.”

Lost Title Tracks released on the group’s label, The Title Trackers, LLC. The band is already exploring ideas for a follow-up, including tracks for artists such as Bob Marley and the Go-Go’s. They would also like to expand into other genres. “We can imagine a rap or country album, none of which we write,” Wiener says. “We could produce it or be the label.”

The band may have pioneered an entirely new genre. - Music Connection


Discography

The Title Trackers Present Lost Title Tracks (2015, full album, vinyl, CD, iTunes): http://www.thetitletrackers.com/music 

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Bio

The Title Trackers create and perform ALL-ORIGINAL songs that celebrate and satirize rock legends past and present. 

You've probably never given much thought to the fact that some albums have a title track (Born to Run, Let It Be), while others don’t (Exile on Main Street, The Joshua Tree). 

Well, The Title Trackers DID notice – and they decided to do something about it by writing and recording the title tracks that their rock heroes didn't. They call these songs LOST Title Tracks.

Exile on Main Street. The Joshua Tree. Morrison Hotel. Who’s Next. Blood on the Tracks. These are just some of the albums for which The Trackers have created title tracks.

In their live show, The Title Trackers bring this rock n’ roll carnival to the stage. Jim Morrison staggers through the audience. Bono preaches to the masses. Johnny Cash riles up the prisoners of San Quentin (aka, the audience). Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel vie for the East Coast crown. At times comic, at times poignant, this interactive show blends rock concert, satire, and theater to deliver these all-original rock anthems. 


Band Members