It's A Trap – Primer

It’s A Trap is an album about love in a time of war.  Lovers’ stories unfold in a military context (“Holy Moses,” “Back in the Fire”).  Caught up in a faceless conflict that is too big to fully comprehend but ever-present and immediate, we respond the only way we can manage; with small, personal gestures.

The record’s sound is a combination of traditional rock elements (electric guitar, verses, bridges, and choruses) and unusual substitutions (digital drums, slightly warped or incomplete pop song structure).  Sonic inspiration came from Kanye West (rhythm & drum voicing) and John Vanderslice (weird sounds integrated naturally), to keep up Sally Ride’s practice of not having a drummer.

Lyrically, these stories are some of the truest I’ve ever told.  Politically, I am tackled by the largest issue of our time (war – specifically, the Iraq War) and some of the related sub-issues (the “unitary executive,” domestic spying, net neutrality) that have haunted me this year.  Emotionally, I’ve never cut so deep in to my own heart, and I don’t know how I feel about releasing these songs – except that, to continue to be myself, I can do no other thing.  Sometimes the lyrics feel entirely too true to be singing – the joy of rock’n’roll bashing against my tiny keyboard’s stoopid drum sounds keep things in a kind of barely-hanging-on perspective for me.


Cory Sez: Howie said it all concerning what the record’s about; I’d just like to add that I was extremely honored to be able to take part in this second Sally Ride record.  I feel like our co-writing and especially co-recording processes have improved exponentially over the past 5 or 6 years or however long we’ve known each other.  Since it’s just been 3 or 4 projects that I’ve worked on with Howie where he’s the main boss guy, I’m finally able to listen to a demo or whatever and think to myself, “yeah, this would work really well and I bet Howie would like it!”  Just like Howie knows that if he puts piano and weird BGVs on my stuff, I’ll be happy :)  What else… Oh yeah.  This album WAILS.  Pump your fists!  Speak up!  Sing like you mean it!

“Lookers” – “In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, permitting the government to conduct electronic surveillance on citizens in the United States if it first gets a warrant from the FISA court, which exists for that reason only. The FISA court rarely has denied such a request.  But the NSA has repeatedly conducted such surveillance without going to the FISA court for warrants. Every forty-five days, President Bush has been issuing Executive Orders saying that it is within his authority to bypass the FISA court. And he says he’ll keep doing so.”  (Brian Gilmore, “A Conservative for Impeachment“).  “Don’t look back at us!” expresses, in negative, the solution to the surveillance society; that We the People supervise the watchers, and watch back with our own cameras (concept from David Brin).

“Cause 2 B Uneasy” – So, I (Cory) write songs way differently than Howie.  When Howie writes songs, he’ll get a muse or an idea and just crank songs out until his inspiration is exhausted.  Although it’s a lot of effort, it’s a very natural lighting-strike process for him.  When I write songs, I have to conciously schedule that “Today after work, I’m going to make some coffee or drink a beer and write a song.”  I almost never pick up my guitar for fun, because just playing guitar by itself isn’t very fun for me; it has to be in the context of a song.  I can’t doodle.  So when I wrote “Cause 2 B Uneasy,” I consciously tried to write a Sally Ride tune.  I was also consistenly trying to rip off Spoon at that point.  Finally, the title comes from a chaper in C.S. Lewis’ book, “Mere Christianity.”  I just thought it sounded cool. 

“Holy Moses” – I had thought Sally Ride was a one-off band after Don’t Let Them Take Us ALIVE! but “Holy Moses” didn’t make any sense for months, until I realized that SR wasn’t finished.

Cory Sez: “Well my dear, what can I say?  Our misunderstandings cause real pain” is one of my favorite lines from any song, ever.

“Baby Bells on the Warpath for Profit” – I (Cory) was not so sure what to think of this song at first, because it’s so weird and kind of dark and this and that until the end, but this turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the record.  And listen to our f*cking guitars coming out of the breakdown thingy!  It wails!  WAOOOOOOOOOOAARRRRR!!!!!!

“Just Observing” – There’s a part of me that’s very cold, looking at my interactions with others as a doctor to a patient.  It’s unsettling, to say the least.  It’s not included in the song, but that metaphor also contains the possibility of real warmth (think Patch Adams).

Cory Sez: “Just Observing” was my favorite song when I first heard the demo versions of the record, and I still really like it, but it’s taken on a much darker tone for me.  Howie can get a little doctory with me, especially when he tries to “examine” me while he has his big long white coat on.  “Owie!” I say, but there’s always more pressure.  I probably expect Howie to edit this part because it’s inappropriate and has nothing to do with the song, and plus, it might even detract from the seriousness of the song, but I’m having a good time writing this.  Boner-Party Weiner-Sex.  There.  I said it.  Happy???

“Loose Lips Sink Ships” – The best-laid plans of mice and men…

“David S. Addington and Your Democracy” – Addington is VP Cheney’s chief legal advisor, and comes up with the legal justifications for all kinds of unconstitutional, unethical, and just plan ineffective policies Bush/Cheney decide they want.  He’s not very well-known, because when people find out about him they tend not to like what he does.  Now you know (and knowing’s half the battle).

Cory Sez: Knowing IS half the battle.  And I didn’t know about Addington until recently.  He’s a d-bag!  He had his morals removed at birth.  I hear they are in a jar in the Oval Office, right next to the White House copy of “Future Love/Sex Sounds.”

“New Slow Sea” – Actually named before lyrics were written, it was the last song completed for It’s A Trap (“New”), is relatively mellow (“Slow”), and is in the key of C.

Cory Sez: This is my favorite tune off of the record, because I love sweet melodies and sad songs, and any well-written break-up song always snags me.  If you can do it well and without sound like you’re bitching, I’ll love it.  Howie knocked this m-effer out of the park.

“We the People” – America is built on public infrastructure, education, and the freedoms in our Constitution.  The economic elites who do not recognize the value of a level playing field, and the religious elites who would turn our free nation into a theocracy, are a serious danger to your children and mine.  But they can only win if we sit back and let them.  Our grandfathers and grandmothers, since independence, have managed to keep them in check and at this decisive hour we’re entering, I hope we will too.

Cory Sez: I loved yelling during this song.  YES THIS IS A CALL TO F*CKING ARMS!  WE’RE SERIOUS, GOD DAMN IT!!!!!

“Back in the Fire” – A sharpshooter falls for his target.

Cory Sex: Joel’s little blues vocal makes me smile every time.  Too much soul for his little body.  Also, the ending of this song (like with “The Last Song” off of DLTTUA!) always gives me goosebumps and chills.  I love everybody singing together.  So much hope.

It's A Trap – Unfinished Business

It is into this broken political situation that we will release Sally Ride’s It’s A Trap this week.  Our quarrel is with those who believe in and have created the “unitary executive,” a philosophy of unlimited Presidential power in the name of national security.  We join a longer history of average men and women singing and shouting against fear, secrecy, and injustice.  Through George W. Bush embraces the “unitary executive” and has harmed human and American interests through his actions under this philosophy, we will not pick a particular fight with him except as he is the current face of a deeper danger – monarchy, and its attendant feudalism.

Today’s Times editorial is a brief and clear background to the various problems associated with the “unitary executive” that It’s A Trap addresses, including domestic spying, legal justification of torture and definition of “illegal enemy combatants,” and incompetent stewardship of our shared resources.

“Unfinished Business,” New York Times Editorial, December 17, 2006.
Some recent images from George W. Bush’s war on terror:- Jose Padilla, the supposed dirty bomber, submitting while guards blindfolded him and covered his ears for a walk from his cell to a dentist’s chair. 

– Government lawyers arguing that a prisoner could not testify that he was tortured by American agents, because their brutality was a secret.

– A judge dismissing another prisoner’s challenge to his detention, after a new law stripped basic rights from those Mr. Bush has designated “illegal enemy combatants.”

– The White House scorning lawmakers’ attempts to rein in Mr. Bush’s illegal domestic spying.

This is the legacy of a Republican Congress that enabled the president’s imperial visions of his authority. It leaves the new Democratic majority with much urgent, unfinished business to restore due process, civil liberties and the balance of powers.

Military Tribunals

In the heat of the midterm campaign, Congress was stampeded into establishing military courts for suspected terrorists. The measure improved on Mr. Bush’s own kangaroo courts, which were struck down by the Supreme Court. But the bill over all was a national disgrace.

Among the many things that Congress needs to fix are the bill’s broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant,” which could subject legal United States residents to summary imprisonment; its repudiation of the Geneva Conventions to allow the president to decide what prisoner abuse he will permit; its denial of the basic right of appeal to any noncitizen designated as an “illegal enemy combatant”; and its stripping of the powers of federal courts. The law is also far too lax on the use of coerced evidence and secret evidence. The definition of torture should be changed to reflect civilized norms.

We were greatly encouraged last week when Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who will head the Judiciary Committee, said fixing this bill would be a priority for his panel.

The C.I.A. Prisons

At the insistence of Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Military Commissions Act gave legal cover to the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret illegal prisons, which house foreign citizens who are often abducted off the streets of their hometowns and brutalized. Congress should at minimum bring these prisons under the rule of law, and make sure that C.I.A. interrogators are given clear instructions comporting with American values. Ideally, Congress would investigate and decide whether this operation has any national security value, and if it doesn’t, immediately close the prisons down.

Domestic Spying

Mr. Bush personally authorized the National Security Agency to ignore federal law and eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mail between the United States and other countries without a warrant. Republican lawmakers have introduced bills that would legalize the program after the fact. The only remotely sensible measure is from Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who has proposed forcing the eavesdropping back under the 1978 surveillance law and giving the administration a bit more flexibility to do electronic surveillance.

But we agree with Senator John Rockefeller IV, the incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who says more needs to be known about the program before enacting new laws. The administration has stymied Congressional efforts to look into the spying operation, refusing even to turn over the presidential order creating it.

The Intelligence on Iraq

Nearly two and a half years ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported on the nation’s spy agencies’ prewar failure to figure out that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and promised to deliver a report on whether Mr. Bush and his team pressured the agencies to cherry-pick or hype evidence — or lied outright to Americans.

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican head of the intelligence panel, dragged out the second phase of the report, with the aim of killing it. We hope Mr. Rockefeller finishes the job.

That will require heavy lifting on the most important section, comparing the statements of administration officials to what they knew about the intelligence. Mr. Roberts insisted that it cover every public statement by any administration official or member of Congress dating back to 1991. What President Bill Clinton or Senator Hillary Clinton said about Iraq is irrelevant. What matters is what was said by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney — who ordered the invasion of Iraq — and by their aides. We hope Mr. Rockefeller’s committee will sift through the hundreds of statements collected so far and focus on the ones that matter.

Unhappily, this is not an exhaustive list and there will be big fights over many of these issues. But it is not too late to take action. The midterm elections prove that despite all the posturing and fearmongering, the American public has not been blinded or deafened to what this country stands for and the need for truth.

It's A Trap – Lyrics

Sally Ride – It’s A Trap
Lyrics by C. Howie Howard, “Cause 2 B Uneasy” by Cory Kibler. Thanks for providing attribution & a link when you quote/copy/cite!


You’re bugged; we’re listening
You don’t quite know
We’d like to keep this calm
Don’t fret; we’re the Lookers
We’re NSA
Trust us. We’ll find the needles
In your email. “Just looking!”

By holy God, don’t you dare look back at us!
Don’t look, don’t breathe

By hell and heaven, don’t you dare look back at us!
Don’t look, don’t breathe, don’t think, don’t speak, don’t breathe!
Don’t look!

“Cause 2 B Uneasy”

Your face was a light
On a coast of new hope
‘Cause back then you had said
I could use you to cope
In the night of my day ’cause I lost my way and
The ship needed light from your heart just to guide me home

But your light it went out and
You were not about to come down on the rocks,
Raise your arms up and shout to make sure I was safe
I was fine, I’m OK
You were tired and afraid so your light it gave way to the dark, well uh-huh

Hey, I got something to say,
So won’t you please believe me?
Baby, I think we both have some cause to be uneasy
When the only thing I’ll ever love gets up, turns the lights out and leaves me
When I’m fast asleep I think we’ve cause to be uneasy

Your heart is a ghost, a cloud of smoke, a cost, a dream, a whisper, a scream, a warmth, a pain,
In the night it’s a flame that burned out in the black,
Only love turned to ash

Hey, I’ve got something to say…
You’re the only thing I’ve ever loved

“Holy Moses”

When you broke into free-fall, ‘fore I had steeled myself to hear you scream out,
“That is not what I’m asking!”
Well, my dear, what can I say?
Our misunderstandings cause real pain

Army ‘chutes over Navy seas
Separation came easy, and
I thought (so it seemed) from the outside these waters supported me
But no one claimed we could jump from love,
End up within a thousand miles of Abilene

The sky is empty; I’m trying to see you apart from the sea
But we both saw we were coming unzipped at the seams, well ahead of our splash landing

I can’t swim, but I do float
You? I don’t even want to know
What happens underwater stays there if you get home
So, holy Moses, where are you now?
If this man ever needed some dry land, he’s making his sound; “Holy Moses, come on, save me, don’t watch me drown!”

“Baby Bells on the Warpath for Profit”

Sit down, son, check this deft maneuver
The cutest thing you’ve ever seen
Let’s put our hand into your pocket
Let’s see if we can make you sing
We wouldn’t say this is dishonest
We just can’t leave it up to you
Who calls our lobbying intrusive?
We “want” a neutral ‘net-web too!

Yeah, we’re coming (paying, scheming, praying…)
Yes, it’s true.
No; we’re faking! We’re with you!
(Really, the Congress sold you out!)

We’re gon’ a-storm the gate and hold it;
We Baby Bells and Company
Give us a corner on the market,
Don’t make us practice what we preach

Yeah, we’re coming…

We claim the title on your ground; we’re taking over.

“Just Observing”

I burned a knot instead of pulling
Stemmed the flow from ends of ropes
I never said (I couldn’t say)
You shouldn’t ask what’s in my blood

Your science taken apart, your heart examined
Laid out to light in harshest blue
I am not a judge, I’m just observing, but
You won’t last my loving view

You’re on your own,
So take some time; something good will come of us
(It won’t be you)
But never mind
Crippled child of broken trust

“Loose Lips Sink Ships”

Whisper; I have something to share
I imagine a thousand disasters
Stay back! You don’t want to hear what I’m thinking
It’s a terrible start
You could have an accident
Your magazine isn’t up to code
Selfish; I’m a gene machine; I’m in orbit
You fall in love with who’s close

Please take your leave – we’ll sail and sink
I slipped; I warned their fleet

Broadsides. Prints and images. Little pieces
That’s what’s left of us after our
Misadventurous flirt with intrigue
This whisper started a wave
Flattened the shore where we lay

And I wanted to make believe their arms were on our side
I thought the war could end, we’d go home
I’d live in your eyes
How did I end up in my own trap???

Please take your leave…

“David S. Addington and Your Democracy”

Lawman don’t care for the Constitution
He thinks he’s a righteous force, and
I don’t care what I’m doing to you
Leaving without a sound, without a word
Lawman’s paradigm made this war seem right, and I’m off

Hey, this city sleeps until the alarm
We’ll come back in our time

Lord, there’s a crisis in our city
Barmy Lawman brought the Marshall to town
Love, we’re alone and fighting a coterie
Now, friends, we take the Lawman down
His “New Paradigm” made this war seem right, and we’re off


“We’ll wake up in our own sweet time
Nothing wrong with hands over our eyes
This hasn’t been on TV! It’s too early, we’re asleep!”

“New Slow Sea”

It’s been so long, it’s good to see you home
I’ve missed those arms, been restless in my bones
Walked up and kissed me
For a second I was whole
My anima, my ex. I woke alone

Baby, we never learn

Asked I a thousand times; you never said
What moved you on, who keeps you from my bed
Did you discover I’m a broken man? Or worse?
You breathe the irony so deep it burns

Someday we’ll lay in our dreams (saved for the kids’ return)
Sail upon a new slow sea (showing the same concern)

“We the People”

We all cruise along the Interstate
We’ve all been through Mrs. Quinn’s class
We’re all living like this dream our fathers bled is gon’ a-last
Watch me dive into the roses
Love, I’ll set one in the sky
But now the darkness come, singing “War + Freedom!” and we are blind

There’s a few who would be kings and lords,
High priests of the red, white & blue
There’s a People who won’t stand for it
My kids will have a country too

I don’t put my faith in the President
And I don’t trust in CEOs
Give me space to live and love as I believe, give me soul
Lady Liberty, you’re sleeping
Medicated to the gills
Wake up! And hold ol’ Sam’s feet to the fire!

There’s a few…

Yes! This is an accusation!
Yes, this is a call to arms!
They don’t deserve the Oval Office!
Yes! This is a call to f*cking arms!

“Back in the Fire”

There I was in confession, asking grace for sin of war
Fighting battles of love with faith that I can win by force
You know it’s ammunition that I’m looking for

I’ll see you again, one more time
The way you move in my sights
Speak some truth, let me lie, I’ll be here awhile

By a death that is hot as hell and lying in the mud
That’s how I found you, darling,
Don’t you see that’s good enough?
See the fog of combat left you in my blood?

I’ll see you again…

There’s no need to be single; there’s no need to be fair
There’s no need to crawl back in the fire

And like a foxhole believer,
You get your hope where you can
I’ll take you out

There’s no need to be honest; there’s no need to be scared

There’s no need to crawl back in the fire

Streaming and meta-news

Hit the music section and enjoy the new streaming capability for all MFR releases.  These changes will propegate through to our MySpace page over the next week or so.  We’ll also be updating each release with more detailed album credits.

In the back of my mind is still a revitalized “MR|signal” which would be a flash-based audio player that randomly shuffled songs from our entire catalog together.  It’s been on the shelf for six months or so; if anyone has tips about anything new, I’d love to hear about it.

News has been kind of sparse; with the new WordPress-based site design, I’m finding that most of what I want to say is on the [blog], and new releases are pretty obvious without making mention on this little out-of-the-way news page.  It mostly covers website-related news and events relating to the community as a whole (such as adding a new artist to MFR, etc.).  That’s the word on that.

XMAS is out, but I’m holding back on email/MySpace until gets the low-fi and streaming files squared away.  Merry Christmas, -h