Carlock: Hanukkah Moose gets theme song

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 14, 2012

Gary Cambra is a talented mofo. The first time we made music together he was a member of the Tubes and I was co-producing the album “Tubes World Tour 2001” with Greg Ladanyi and David Foster. The album was a collection of live tracks recorded at a theater in Anaheim, Calif., with two new studio tracks, “Loveline” and “Digi-Doll.”

A Day In The Life

By Dave Carlock

The studio tracks were the most fun part, and it put Gary and I side by side as he and I worked on arrangements and overdubs together for a couple days. On Digi-Doll, Gary played guitar and keys, and I added in bass and samples over Prairie Prince’s drumming and Fee’s great voice.

I’ll never forget, as we worked, watching Gary’s keyboard chops spilling out Mellotron flute parts in odd harmonizations over and over. What I noticed right away was Gary would play an amazing part and immediately abandon it. He just kept on creating endlessly. I realized he was the type of artist I didn’t have to inspire or push as a producer.

I just simply had to stay finely tuned, record everything and then stop him when he hit something before he abandoned it for something else. He laughed when I pointed this out about him — apparently he knew this about himself.

I asked him, “How do you think to create these crazy lines?!” At which point, he started talking in theory to me, it all made sense, but making the hands do that was a sign this guy had clearly explored the next plane. I think he liked that I got and appreciated what he did, and we had a lot of fun.

Since that record, I’ve mixed other full-length albums he’s produced for artists Jeff Cameron and Trent Smith as well as half a solo record for Gary, which has some standout tracks on it like “Scarecrow” and “One for the Angels.” In addition to keys, Gary’s a great rock guitarist and his leads always get me excited, either through melodic integrity or speed and guts. I always love to get calls to help on his projects.
Last week he called again, in a hurry, about a song about a moose.

“What’s it called? Did you say Spruce Goose? What?!” I asked, frowning at my speaker phone as his line was dropping out.

“Bruce Bruce,” he replied.

“Bruce Bruce?” I said, trying to follow along.

“Yes, Bruce Bruce The Hanukkah Moose,” he said. “I can send you tracks through Dropbox tonight, and you can check it out. We need to get this up to iTunes right away and websites will be live shortly.”
So I checked it out and jumped in. Gary had collaborated on the song with L.A. comedian Bob Rubin, affectionately known as “Rube” by his fans. Rube may be best known for his appearance as mafioso Gorgeous George in the film “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.” Gary filled me in that Bruce The Hanukkah Moose was one of Rube’s creations from his comedy show in the ’80s and the two had finally given him a theme song.

As you might expect, Bruce is not a run-of-the-mill moose. His antlers light up as a menorrah. He wears a smoking jacket and an ascot. He has “floating showgirls,” though I’m not sure how or why they float. He also has a gambling problem with his dreidel, losing chocolate coins and serious cash in the process. Pay attention: There are important Hanukkah lessons to be learned here.

The track was a lot of fun and its spirit made me think of a heavier version of well-known comedy hits, such as “King Tut” or “Disco Duck.” I mixed the track to strongly feature Gary’s big guitars and Tubes drummer Trey Sabatelli’s big drums in fitting homage to Bruce’s swagger. Typical in Gary’s productions, there’s some tasty George Harrison influence heard in the lead playing. Big-group, jazzy-harmony chorus vocals act as cleverly stylized counterpoint to the song’s Blue Oyster Cult-style power chords. Think: “1960s radio station call letter” vocal harmonies. Really interesting contrasts are one of the things Gary’s always to great effect.

The song is featured now as a bonus single on Rube’s new comedy album and plans to promote it with a proper video for Hanukkah 2013 are in the works. So during future holiday seasons, if you can’t get “That Moose Is Loose” out of your head, you know who to thank: The Rube, two Tubes and this dude — via iTunes.

A Freilichen Chanukah!

Dave Carlock is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment business whose work as a recording engineer and producer, touring musician, and songwriter made him Googleable. His continuing work as an Independent Content Creator of Sound and Image has earned him a Grammy Award certificate and two Platinum Record Awards.