Elvis Costello’s Momofuku Is All About Cup O’ Soup, Jenny Lewis

Elvis Costello’s Momofuku Is All About Cup O’ Soup, Jenny Lewis

A ways back we mentioned Elvis Costello was releasing his new album Momofuku as a vinyl LP and that a unique “digital download code” comes with the package. Turns out, a couple weeks later, there’ll also be a CD. Now, in a bountiful update rightfully titled “ABSO-MOMOFUKU-LY” at his website, Mr. Costello lets us in on all sorts of interesting news about the collection. (Before that, though, can you spot the Jenny Lewisses in the EC collage?) OK, via ElvisCostello.com:

By now, some of you may have heard rumour of an album called Momofuku and wonder what this record is…

Well, the real version is pressed on two pieces of black plastic with a hole in the middle. You may prefer other, more portable, less scratchable, editions that will soon become available for your convenience but this is how it sounds the best: with a needle in a groove, the way the Supreme Being intended it to be…

The absence of much advance notice or information might seem a little strange and perverse but the record was made so quickly that I didn’t even tell myself about it for a couple weeks.

Ever since I hid ten copies of 30:10, – solo home recordings of re-written songs – in the jewel boxes of the “Best Of” collection released in the Spring of ’07 and then waited in vain for one of them to surface, I’d realized that it was time to do things differently…

I don’t think many people believed that 30:10 really existed but if anyone reading this has one in their possession, they had better claim their special prize right away because we will be posting the songs on this site very soon and the offer will expire…

So, what can I tell you about Momofuku?

Number One, on Page One of daft interview questions is, “Why is it called Momofuku?

Well, obviously the title is a tribute to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the Cup Noodle. Like so many things in this world of wonders, all we had to do to make this record was add water.

Now, I understand that there is also a fancy eatery in New York City that has made the same connection with Ando-San. So, just in case anybody is inclined to mistake our record for something edible, we’ve added a disclaimer to the record jacket. I like saying, “record jacket” again.

This record actually came about because of an invitation I received from Jenny Lewis to sing on her upcoming record. Davey Faragher had been playing bass on some of the sessions, so it didn’t seem like too much of a stretch to call Pete Thomas to complete the Imposters’ rhythm section.

It was Jenny’s idea for Pete play alongside his daughter, Tennessee, who plays drums in The Like and the line-up was completed by Ms. Lewis’ beau, Johnathan Rice on guitar and vocals and their pal, “Farmer” Dave Scher on pedal steel and vocals with Jason Lader manning the controls.

So, I went down to Los Angeles for the day and we cut a couple of versions of a song Rice had written for Jenny’s record plus two songs of mine, one of which I wrote on the eve of the session. Some rock and roll music is better if you don’t think too hard on it.

In the absence of a full-time keyboard player, “Farmer” Dave and I split the organ duties, on an old Acetone. I especially liked the vocal harmonies that Jenny, Rice, Davey and “Farmer” Dave cooked up for “Drum & Bone”.

Ms. Lewis sang the entire harmony part of “Go Away” in the vocal booth with me, while the band played in the studio, lead by Rice’s guitar part and the drumming of Thomas, PerĂ© et Fille. That was Take Two. Then we went home…

I’d been telling people that I was done with recording and believed it myself. This record date reminded me that it wasn’t making music in the studio that made me miserable but the nonsense that predictably follows in what we laughingly call the “music business”. So I decided to change it and my mind. That’s what I do.

We booked Sound City Studio in Van Nuys for six days of February and cut the eight new songs that I had written in the weeks following Jenny’s January session.

We also recorded “Song With Rose”, the lyrics of which I wrote with Rosanne Cash and “Pardon Me, Madam, My Name Is Eve” a title that was given to me by Loretta Lynn, while we were writing some songs together, late last year. I had first played these two songs an autumnal tour, opening up for Bob Dylan, although I think they sound a little different now.

I called Steve Nieve in from Paris and asked our friend, David Hildalgo to add little guitar to “Flutter & Wow”. He also played viola and then added Hildalguera to “My Three Sons”.

Tennessee Thomas played alongside her Dad for two more cuts, including “Stella Hurt” – which is a true story – but then she had to leave for the mixing of The Like’s great new album. Look out for that, sometime soon.

The Imposters and I recorded a number of songs as a quartet, including “American Gangster Time”, “Mr. Feathers” and “Pardon Me, Madam, My Name Is Eve” and “Harry Worth” which is not actually about the beloved English television funnyman but a true story nonetheless.

Jenny, Rice, “Farmer” Dave and their pal, the guitarist, Jonathan Wilson came back in for a couple more days and to add their voices to the new songs. We had a ball making up the parts for the vocal “supergroup” to which everyone contributed.

The live band for “Turpentine” and “Song For Rose” got up to nonet. That was a fine old noise.

For those who like to know these things, we recorded exclusively to tape, completing and mixing each song before moving on to the next. The entire record took a week to record and mix.

The music has been pressed on four sides of vinyl for volume and clarity although the album was originally sequenced with six tracks a-side.

Jason Lader not only recorded and mixed the record; he also managed to document the sessions with his camera.

Coco Shinomiya put these shots together in a gatefold sleeve design, so you have something to hold in your hands while listening to the music, especially if you don’t currently have a sweetheart or swell of your own.

Every record has its own method. This was the one for these songs.

Thank you for sharing, Elvis. What’s this 30:10? Has anyone ever seen it? If so, up immediately!

Momofuku is available now via Lost Highway. The CD version is available 5/6, also via Lost Highway.

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