Christopher Scott Buck
27 min readDec 24, 2021


Musical Artist: @LanzProjects (Ben Lanz)

Also performs w/The National (active), LNZNDRF (active), Beirut Band (ret.); Sufjan Stevens (ret.) & Big Red Machine & pandemic work: Folklore & Evermore by T. Swift, Million Lands, Serpentine Prison by Matt Berninger, etc.

Album release date: April 13, 2018 (Brassland)

HOFERLANZ II album cover

{There were rumors while Ben was touring with Beirut and The National in 2019 — hello — best yr evr? About some unofficial liner notes, passed around via txt & email, on those long slogs across America & Europe, some thought they were written by his big brother & earliest musical influence, Fritz: they clearly mined his bio right out f/undr nth him, but Frtz was like, not i. But who was close enough to Kyle Resnick’s trumpet to nearly nick it at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco? Someone referring to themselves as like the City’s forester, responsible for overseeing all the trees and plants within the streets of San Francisco? Is that even a thing, like a legit job you get paid for? The same City that has a Dept. of Cannabis? The fabled liner notes to Hofer Lanz II, the words that sustained bands on the run, shared here for the first time…}

Tell Me, Please

Big swing walloping haymaker, word one, song one, at the Rabelaisian sated gut paunch. Heed it well ye Bourgeois. Your excuse is wearing thin. You’re on notice, that you’ve been noticed. A giant primal single syllable entreaty spread into eight uneven choral beats: W-H-Y?! No need to build up to the inquiry, ask it first, unpack it later. Crescendo scratching guitar solo, electrical synapse tally pings the empty room, awaiting a reply. Tell Me, Please. The opening word “why” is a question, the title “tell me, please” a directive. Stay on point and mind the task, Sir. Please. An ironic pleasantry, we ought really, after all, like in Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard, we ought really to celebrate the centenary. It’s not looking good for you. So tell us what you’re gonna’ do. Decadence winds down along with the clock. This isn’t about lost love: tell me how it feels! From the tired folks you steal. Those who pay for every meal. The opening plea has been made.

Tomahawk Chop

An electronic Angel’s horn heralds the dramatic open, post-postmodern morph of old traditions with access to real brass not an issue. This builds for the classic rock guitar strums that sturm & drang by the 11 second mark and the song is off and running. Even with just smart phone audio, you’ll mind-meld with that backing pulse. A hint of the layered sound that is in store throughout the album. With the music speeding ahead, the singer works to keep your feet earth-bound, hold on hold on, and simmer down, simmer down, simmer down, asking for cooler heads to prevail. It’s a surprise then, what comes next lyrically: “And then we’ll punch them in the nose! Face the violence.” The violence we learn, makes no sense, this time. Direct confrontation has been called for when something real was at stake. But these current aggressions will not stand. “Steeped in violence, with violence we built a fence with rotten wood.” For a true peace, we need to use our words, and these arbitrary borders, soon break down. It may feel good to hate, to hurt, but hold on, simmer down, to reveal your real strength. It’s a history steeped in violence, against the indigenous first, and then a free-for-all, for the rest of the world’s resources. The song title not a cultural appropriation, the singer a former New Englander where schools dropped the Native American references years ago. Chieftains, Warriors, King Phillip, his adopted English name, sachem to the Wampanoag people. Metacom became sachem in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta died shortly after the death of their father. The title here could also simply be a reference to the Mel Brooks’ parody of the Robin Hood story (we were just attacking opulence in the first song), in his musical adventure comedy film released in 1993. In summary: punch a fascist. But not in the face (aggressive). In the nose: more insult, less aggro.

P.S: love the sarcasm: “And isn’t it nice, to have everyone around and give them what they want,” (like, the singer is walking out on stage, on tour again, but would probably be just fine making music back home in the studio). A final comment: that opening sound-play for that split second at the start of the song? It’s another foreshadowing of the many sounds that will follow. We hear the other bookend by the close of the song, sonic pulse layer fade-out.

P.P.S. two songs in, and both peppered with several primal, choral calls: the lyrical delivery, the verbal thrusts, will be as wide ranging, varied and layered as the other musical textures.


Always just assumed this musically fun, wide-ranging song was an upbeat tribute to TMBG because that is how the singing begins, “They Might Be Giants” and it is a repeated refrain. My favorite line of poetry on this entire album “up acting flirting minstrels” is a perfect description of TMBG. Maybe they’re from New Zealand, and this is ultimately a tribute to that country? That’s what I’ve always thought these last couple of years. But despite my living in Brooklyn in the 1990s, it shows you how little I knew of the indie music scene of the 1980s in Brooklyn (w/the notable exception of early 80s breakdancing scene). As I wrote within my East Village & Brooklyn nature journals, what I knew of the East Village and Brooklyn in the 90s, was more about its flora and fauna, than its human denizens. I don’t think I ever went into a bar (no money) or music club (no money), but I could tell you in great detail every tree species and where they are located, in Tompkins Square Park and Greenwood Hill Cemetery. I did make pilgrimage to see Allen Ginsberg read his poetry at the Knitting Factory in ’95. Maybe this is a tribute to TMBG, even though they are not from Auckland, New Zealand. They were definitely “up acting” and even I knew their music well by the early 90s, before the internet, and their early DIY approach, a subversive act, and the musician singing here is “left standing on the folding chair,” meaning that he has pursued his own multi-instrumentation approach to creating music — which is a balancing act like no other. But you need to cross-reference this thesis with @lanzproject’s IG feed, the references to this song by @andrewisamerican in December (2020), and the lovely dance scenes from old movies — but still in color. Go check out those posts. @lanzprojects said it best that “@andrewisamerican joined the music with these images and found the inner most soul of the song in a way I never saw until I did. With @900x on all these drums.” Then I go back and listen to the song again, following along with the lyrics on Band Camp. I’ve read the lyrics enough to mine the song, now I’m hitting play, putting the phone down, enjoying the guitar solos, the percussive magic of @900x and just the feel of the song. We want to feel not think. “…Stand up and take your blessings / Count each and every day / To skip a breath is how they make you pay / And I’ll say…oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-ooh, into the shining sun.”

P.S. Still haven’t figured out the Auckland deal, but no matter, singing along anyway

P.P.S. I’ll get back to that breakdancing reference, eventually

In Holland

In Holland. That’s where @lanzprojects’ parents travelled when he and his big brother, my best friend “Ctzn”, stayed with us during those last several weeks of summer before the start of 4th grade. Free-range parenting long ago in the 70s and 80s, when a single working mother of three could tack on two more kids to close-out summer. Day 1 we were ready. But our family had a dalmatian, so the Lnz’ family dog Onyx, had to remain in their home five doors over. We were excited by our daily assignment: visit with and take Onyx for a walk 3X a day. Day 1, morning walk, we did not encounter any squirrels. Onyx, a black lab, had Ctzn by 40 lbs. and two legs. To nobody’s surprise Onyx saw a squirrel during the afternoon walk and dragged Ctzn up the street like Harrison Ford’s stunt double in Raiders of the Lost Ark, his hand caught in the leash until he hit the curb and his hand flung free. A very old New England town, birthplace of Noah Webster (the guy who wrote the Dictionary), the place Mark Twain chose to live with his family, the muse of Pulitzer prize winning poet Wallace Stevens. New England, where Henry David Thoreau lurked somewhere within the curriculum each year. Tree lined, where a squirrel could cross the town without touching down. Until Day 1 of that vacation to Holland. Ctzn had no stunt double, just that faded t-shirt, which was shredded in the first few feet of rough old New England road (truth: the highways near the shore were mixed with sea shells), his stomach shredded by the time Onyx turned towards the curb and Ctzn slammed the curb, the damage done. I helped him back to our house, called my Mom at work and told her that Ctzn had lost most of his stomach, could she come home right away?

My most vivid, first memory of @lanzprojects is him standing, not sitting in his underpants (lyrics), but standing in our bathroom doorway and watching his big brother have his stomach cleaned and cleansed by my Mom with stinging chemicals. Ctzn of course, was howling in total agony. Writhing and absolutely shrieking. Clear as day I see Bn there in our bathroom doorway, having to see his big brother in such an upsetting state. Despite the free-range laissez fair approach to the arrangement, it was the only time I ever recall my Mom yelling at any of my friends for any reason. Imploring Ctzn to sit still while she tried to apply stinging salves across his skinless stomach. It was a very unfortunate situation, a shocking scene. To this day I’ve never been able to get it out of my mind. And this this song comes floating across my memory, and I see @lanzprojects at the doorway, looking in on his brother, horrified, day one of his parent’s three-week cycling vacation (activist travel) across the pond in Holland. We find him singing now of the same place: Standing at your doorway, I can’t find the handle in the shape I’m in / …and I’ll be…

You Drive

Many times we spent long weekends at Ctzn & Bn’s grandparent’s place out of State on a quiet part of the shore. The promotional photo of Beirut Band’s ‘Riptide’? That little row boat with all six bandmates? Photographed right there off the dock of the grandparent’s place. Makes sense right, b/c @lanzprojects is holding the oar (steady hand on the tiller), steering this ship of all-stars with the bright green pants: that was a long weekend I only heard about recently through unnamed sources. But that image always captivated me, that promo image for ‘Riptide’. I had wondered about it. Now I know more about it than most, with the exception of the souls on board. And most of the band had their partners with them, for that extended-play weekend of parties & dinners in the old wood home, where long before, Mr. Lanz would read to us after dinner, from The Hobbit, and I recall being surprised by this touching family routine after dinner, the boys Bn & Ctzn gathering about their father, leaving the old dark wood dining room table to pick up where they had left off the night before in the old living room — Mr. Lanz reading to the boys in his deep but gentle & kind voice and me getting to join though I knew nothing of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or Lord of the Rings: episodic quest, heroism, central themes, Germanic philogy, mythology and fairy tales, influences of. Tolkien’s evolving concept of the world into which he stutter-stepped. The work has never been out of print. Legacy encompassing adaptations for stage, screen, radio, board games, and video games. You Drive. Driving. One weekend us boys wanted to remain in town and not go to the grandparent’s place on the shore: we were watching the Daytona 500 or similar. But to keep things loose Mr. Lnz told us he was a better driver than Mario Andretti & he could prove it on the way. Classic, successful parental redirect! We ran for the car. He had me sit up front, his two sons in back, so I could have the added protection of the shoulder restraint seat belt — just lap belts in back, in those days — sacrifice your children, not your children’s friend — and perhaps that is why my memory of this is so clear, and theirs vague at best: once he really opened things up on the highway to get that Datsun ¾ wagon or somesuch as close to 55 mph as it could, he showed us how he could steer with one foot (yogi-like). We were all cheering and excited. Then he stepped it up further, removed the blue bandana holding back his shock of dark hair and tied it across his eyes (he could see of course, through the tiny holes in the fabric, but the visual was impressive). That’s how you get the kids to forget about watching cars circling existentially around a set circle and to where land joins sea & sky. To this day Ctzn has no memory of this parenting re-direct. In the Lanz photo album there’s photos of us boys on that dock together. “You drive like we’re unstoppable / Headlights drift into impossible / Launch towards any other destiny…”


When @kresnick placed his trumpet on the bar a little too close to my beer, down in the basement of Café du Nord in San Francisco, I was only 95% sure it was Kyle. I tucked my beer in, out of respect. I had just started catching up on all @lanzprojects musical goings-on, prior to heading to that show in September, 2018. In my defense, I had reconnected with Ctzn five years before, enjoying his family summer vacations vicariously through social media. One year it was a cross-country tour of Americana and all its inspiring landforms, the next, baking bread in old-school, Parisian-wear in a Parisian flat. Had no idea at the time that the host family was Hoferlanz! So taken, was I, simply reconnecting with a best friend from my youth. In San Francisco, you lose so many of your friends to Portland. I wrote a poem about Portland, and all the friends it now claims as its own. Like the tempting lover, or sometimes a cold-blooded sniper. The loss of friends in San Francisco to Portland, its’ a thing. None of our politics are in question. The only question: is this a relationship that will be PDX’d? A real undercurrent when meeting people, making friends. Anyone, at any time, could announce it: moving to Portland. But with childhood friends: nothing to fear, wading into a relationship is clear, we already parted long ago. But regarding his pride in Bn’s musical pursuits, Ctzn played it close to the vest, mentioned once or twice a year, in posts, what kid bro was up to. It just didn’t register, what Bn was up to. To summarize: music/Europe. It was always a very musical family. I had Ctzn back again in my life, how could anything possibly get better than that? The rekindled bromance with Ctzn didn’t require any add’l props.

But soon I was wrapping up my final few years of a 20-year musical vow of silence. I had broken up with music, after music repeatedly broke my heart. In high school I had just built up my vinyl collection and then here come CDs. No way I could afford CDs in collage and they had yet to start stacking up in thrift stores. Online music? When the Napster decision was issued and the Circuit Court agreed with the District Court’s threshold determination that Napster users were probably engaging in direct infringement of plaintiffs’ copyrights, I lived two blocks away in SF where I walked by the impressive, growing media scrum with only the vaguest sense in 2001 of the specifics. Music? Pfff. Ipods? Synching? Lord help me, put me out of my misery: I tried, I really did. It just wasn’t accessible — where “was” the music even? I used an ipod for half a year. Each year I resolved to get over the technology and each year the music industry beat me about the temples. I gave up. I did. I threw in the towel on exploring new music. I read books instead. I looked at the trees. I climbed them, I photographed them, I wrote about them. At a certain point, in the end, you need to be able to respect yourself.

Fifteen years after the Napster decision, Ctnz and I were fast friends again on fbook. I was so happy and pleased with this relationship — he couldn’t leave me — we had already left each other decades ago. I suggested he adopt me and my family and join theirs? Why the heck not, I say?! That’s how we do — in San Francisco. And finally, one post of Ctzn’s caught my eye. A West Coast thing coming up. Kid brother. After five years of missing the breadcrumbs Ctzn was dropping, maybe it was the recent ballot initiative legalizing recreational cannabis, or my rage against Trump’s cheapening of language, or my young daughter finally making it into grade school, whatever craziness it was, I clicked the link. What do we have here? Shit, yeah, that’s right, Ctnz’s kid brother, now in Paris? Oh cool, cool. Touring with such-and-such but scheduled his own thing during off days. “Holy crap San Francisco, I’m gonna be at you!” (9.12.18 / IG post) It was time to dig in. Then during my musical research & catchup on Youtube I hear @lanzprojects as an adult for the first time, stating calmly to John Schaefer on Soundcheck at The Greene Space that the trombone was just another form of the didgeridoo. That comment, and that performance w/LNZNDRF floored me. Holy freaking shit, Benjamin has gone and did it. Was always a musical family. Then I finally started watching videos of The National and Beirut Band. I had never heard of them, nor Sufjan. I headed to the basement show at Café du Nord w/a mixed-up jumble of new musical data I was trying to process. Sunday night, during dinner, my wife & daughter looking at me with raised eyebrows when I said I was going out to catch a show: a good guy f/childhood… want to check it out, support the old neighborhood. When we met after the show I had to remind myself that he was technically on a tour with another band — couldn’t even recall which band — I was starting to get over another loss to Portland — this time an entire family with kids our daughter’s age. Poof! Just like that, heading to Portland. No words. But there’s Bn on youtube, the didgeridoo is another form of the trombone??? Are you freaking kidding me??? I too lived in NYC for years, & in Brooklyn. I fled Carroll Gardens in ’96 for here. Music? I love music!

Maybe it was the uptick in records requests f/the public against my urban forestry team — the battering I was taking as SF’s top tree guru — death by a thousand bureaucratic papercuts — responsible for all the plants and trees in the streets of San Francisco, but incredibly privileged retirees making us their passion project. They saw conspiracy everywhere. The ficus trees were splitting apart but we weren’t addressing public safety, we were cutting trees down for the 5G?! I kissed their ring, bended knee, tried to explain that I too used to believe in conspiracy theories until I started working for the local government. I needed a release, I needed to go out, and @lanzprojects was coming to town.

But out of respect, and realizing it was @kresnick, I acted casual and tucked my beer in, away from the horn. He dashed over to say hello to someone, and it was just me sitting there with his instrument. There’s a story here, I thought. Is that the guy who plays with Bn in those groups? I stared into the bell of the trumpet to catch my reflection. A photograph was out of the question, but it crossed my mind. So did stealing the trumpet. I hadn’t even talked to @lanzprojects yet. I could say I never made it, we’ll have to connect next time, ducking out with the horn under my jacket. Play a few days on it, with my own mouthpiece, and then forward the trumpet anonymously ahead to the tour managers at @straightxnarrow with a note of thanks and apology. I don’t recall if I ever did see my reflection in that bell.

You can breakdance to this song. The same with some other songs Bn played there in the basement of Café du Nord. I breakdanced, I did, knowing the connection from breakdancing to Kraftwerk, when you carbon trace the sound to its origins. Of course it stretches back further, to Dada, to Futurism, to a couple of sticks in a local wood. This song rocks. Deep endorphin lather. Dials in the serotonin just so. I shared the floor with @toolowfrontrow — had no clue she was super fan royalty, just saw that it was her birthday and she was the center of a sweet-ass posse of friends. Chill-ass vibes down there in the basement. Two years later I was trying to play Beirut Band horn sections outside her window during the pandemic. But for now, I was still breakdancing, to the music of the kid brother I never had. Cool down of repeated piano notes at the end, to re-center, re-focus. Kind of lost ourselves there for a moment. Ecstatic dance, please do.

125 bpm

Turn it off. Seriously, flip the switch. Then pull this song back up on Youtube (Lanz “125 bpm”) and/or on the Brassland channel. Listen and watch the video created by artist Kevin Gilmore. There. That’s nice. Expand to full screen. Ear buds in. Okay. That’s real nice right there. If I’ve said it once I’ve thought it a hundred times and posted it twice on social media: The National has both a brass and a grass section. The brass, the trumpeter and trombonist, play their instruments using their lungs (and yes, buzzing the lips in subtle ways). See @lanzprojects must watch breathing tutorial (7/31/2020 “Breathing with Ben” on his big brother’s bday “Loving all the questions”) No surprise then, that their elixir of choice, after a show, kicking it on the weekends: red wine. Several members of the band who use their fingers and instinctual rhythms to operate their instruments but rely less on the cardio, enjoy the legal, recreational cannabis. And at least one member of the band enjoys both. Don’t quote me on any of this. This is no secret handshake stuff, this is all publicly available information based on social media posts and a writer’s epiphany. Their supplier of the legal, recreational cannabis is the most sought-after endorsement in the cannabis industry yet to commit to a particular organic product (& likely never will): San Francisco’s Urban Forester (“City Arborist”), A.K.A. “let me handle your trees like I’ve handled mine” and triples as the #unofficialTourArborist. He’s the only one ever photographed wearing @greengloves777’s glasses. For a pretty good reason. Check IG, check all the photos anywhere, anytime. Talk to @grahammacindoe, talk to @maunetnyc. It all makes sense now. Breakdancing, urban forester, San Francisco, proud new owner of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s little red pickup truck (plant trees, fight fascism). Independent operator. Unofficial tour arborist. Think Harvey Keitel’s character in Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’, but with a more laconic disposition, and more knowledgeable about trees (w/no slight intended and much theatrical props to Mr. Keitel, of course — God yes).

The point is that the singer, songwriter, musician of this offering 125 bpm, is of the cardio sort. When on tour you can see him there jogging the trails with @kresnick: on any given day, at any given moment, running through IG while on tour. Trails, sidewalks, canyon paths, or sprinting towards bathrooms below big billboards that say “Urgent Blowout” in full discomforting grimace (see 6/15/2019 post). Touring really can start to resemble boot camp when you squint your eyes and look at it that way. You can also find him on the autobahn, on the brassbus with @zachcondon & #hilaryjeffery three-across with instruments a’blazing (@mouseonmars_official 8/24/2018). Note that Bn is the only one wearing a seat belt. On the riskier side, see the flip-flop riding bike ride to the FLA shore with w/@kresnick having his Titanic (cinematic) moment in his birth state — look Ma’ no hands no feet — a short video (6/18/2019) that’s kept the tour underwriters awake ever since. It’s stressful, sometimes, watching this stuff, when you were born in the insurance capital of the world but it’s also like watching the salmon run, or cheering LeMond in the French Alps. You just really start pulling for this crew.

Beats per minute: BPM. A lot of running taking place throughout a @lanzprojects musical offering. His supplication in this song, and perhaps while on tour, is to be given time to keep marking tempo, musically and physically:

And this is all I’ll ask for

And this is all I’ll get

Free to wander

Time time time time…

Beats per minute. A rock steady state. A portrait of the artist at 125 beats per minute. Cool video, right? Expand that screen and kick back and watch @kevingilmoreart do his thing…

This Is the Time Where

Frenetica. A tour, any tour, on fast forward, compressed into a 60 second time lapse. Can’t fault @lanzprojects if he didn’t wake up at least once a year and find himself in an elevator to another morning radio sesh, momentarily blanking on which band he’s on tour with. It’s a pretty sexy image on the outside, but remember, on the inside it’s total boot camp. And when Hoferlanz subdivided and split their cells, or combined them, or whatever, it all played out live on the BBC Radio 6 Music Room on 9/26/2017. It’s a pretty epic tale at this point, but let’s review it again. He’s in the elevator with his trombone, that should help him figure it out? No. And, hey @kresnick was next to him, so that should help place him with the band he’s touring with? No. Still no. Because K-RES is in the same boat — the same band, both possible bands. All you can do at that point is wait for those elevator does to open and act casual while you take your place and nod a low-key hello to the bandmates. You can almost hear him say “ahhhh of course, these guys” as he takes his place. It’s a perfect portrait of parenting very young kids and then spiking that with a Tour. Pull it up now, The National’s performance of “Nobody Else Will Be There” on Youtube (9/26/17 BBC Radio 6). This Is The Time Where Bn exits the elevator, possibly late, wearing the bright green t-shirt, glasses unaccounted for, and what follows is an incredible gift to us fans. Opens on Bn, not glaring across at Matt but waiting for the start of the song, he’s just trying to catch the blurred-out cue. No glasses, remember? The only other time I have seen him perform without glasses was with Beirut, playing and swaying that huge tuba on stage in Europe somewhere (Berlin Music Festival 2011, see “The Shrew” & “The Gulag Orkestar”). About last night, what happened? Did the band add this gig the night before at the last second — didn’t rap on the door as they scrambled down the hallway so they could cut a few songs at peek morning commute? After this uneasy start to the song, the artists lose themselves in their art, and it is the most soulful connection I’ve ever seen since I read Dharma Bums by Kerouac when Jaffy Ryder meets Sal Paradise. Intimate back and forth. Like, get a room, right? Drone bridge handoff back to Matt, all trombone, pass to Bn, who is going to close it out? Victory clutched right out of the hands of failure, but a professional on tour knows what to do, even without his glasses on, muscle memory, and he just fucking nails this one. He does. The frenetic break-neck pace of touring, slowed down, paused, to bring you this artistry. The touring life isn’t for everyone. That is the best version of that song, anytime, anywhere, hands down. That was a fucking master class, and we’ll email you the invoice, and you’ll gladly pay. The player’s gonna’ play, with or without much sleep.

Song ends with, what is that, a clothes dryer spinning around? A true parenting fable. Fade out or space out to the sound of noise in your midst. In this case, a dryer. Sense of humor: check box emphatically. This is the Time Where captures the frenetic pace of touring life. As Bn said in his Uncontaminated_Sound interview with Rob Lundberg, “touring is not for everyone” (episode 9, 6/8/2020). But for Bn, it’s a rock steady state.

With the Rocket

Heroic song. Grand open. Like, Odysseus finally back home, house cleansed, back in his favorite bed with Penelope, to just take it easy. Germanic Brass. The way I felt while leaving work early, still light out, to cross the Bay Bridge into Oakland to catch Bn once more, this time with The National at the Berkeley Greek Ampitheater on the hill above campus, surrounded by bluegum eucalyptus from Australia, with a view to the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. At that moment I could not name a single song or album by The National. Embarrassing, right, why admit that? Because it makes what follows more meaningful — that my first introduction to @lanzprojects was with him as the lead two nights before in a basement venue leading his own gig, where he shared the bill with Pavo Pavo and The Penny Serfs. Where were you that Sunday night? @toolowfrontrow was there, 20-deep within her crew. Then two nights later, to go to the will call window and pick-up tickets and a backstage pass for after, was to touch greatness for a few hours. I didn’t even know how it all worked, texting Bn to clarify. The wide-eyed urban forester, headed out for once in a long time, but 2nd time in three nights. Parked in town, grabbed a slice and a coke amidst the full hum & hustle of a UC Berkeley autumn evening. Arrived early and stood in that bowl, looking up at the trees and noticed that The Penny Serfs were serving as musical technicians, setting everything up. Very cool to see. The growing crowd, many men with large black glasses, a beard, and I knew enough that it resembled the lead singer whose name I still didn’t know. The show was great. Just one glass of wine finished way before The National took the stage — I felt like Hunter S. Thompson cutting across the great desert — there would be no trips to the bathroom, no missed action. Within the first couple of songs I could see that the lead singer was a natural performer. Highly interactive with the audience — a physical performer. Quick portrait of the rest of the band: two guitarists — brothers, but with the one on the right often slinging guitar over shoulder like a beloved scarf, to play the piano, and the one on the left hitting more of the solos. The bassist looked cool as shit. The drummer, his brother, a longhair like myself, but obscured behind all the tools of his percussive trade. And there, in back left, but elevated jointly on their own shared platform, K-Res & Bn. I don’t know if a fan has ever watched two performers more closely during a concert, than I did that show watching those two sing back up, play the keys or synth board. Every time they brought the brass, loud or soft, I lost my shit. Memorizing lyrics will allow you to appreciate the patina of the brick wall; the brass will allow you to run through it.

During the show cameras from multiple angles were projecting collaged images of the band on a giant back drop. I watched closely for Bn & Kyle, snapping iPhone photos whenever they appeared up there, shouting support. Got some great shots for sure. I was really getting into it. Encircled, watching, listening, seeing people sing along a half second early to show they knew all the lyrics, digging everyone. That’s when I was filled with a sudden panic, a bad vibe, a dark thought, about after the show. I suddenly felt totally ill-prepared to possibly meet this lead singer. He was a true performer. He was wading 50-peple deep into the audience, he was filming himself with the fans’ phones, he was teetering on the uneven speakers, he was lit. What was I to do, just quietly say hello, and that’s that? No, no, this guy was on fire. You can’t do him like that. Such disrespect. “Hello, I’m San Francisco’s Urban Forester, low key mellow as shit type B personality, great show, nice to meet you?” Get the fuck out! I let that ridiculous thought go for another song or two, tried to just relax and dig the show and once I stopped worrying about it, a feathery brilliance alighted on my shoulder: if I happened to meet him I’d suggest that we swap glasses, for a photo. A wave of relief and calm washed over me and soon Kyle & Bn were hitting those high, pure-sound, parting notes in Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. Bn, stepping forward in his mechanic’s jumpsuit. My National baptism was in the books. And if required, I had my low key backup plan.

I got to hang out with Bn again after the show. Asked him if he too had Mr. Graziano for music class in our 4th grade public school, when we got to select our instruments, and in classic, characteristic fashion, Bn claimed not to recall any of those details (?!). Doesn’t remember name of his first music teacher. Turns out there was no need to swap glasses with he -whose-name-I-still-did-not-know, but I did get to meet Bn’s friends from his Brooklyn days who now live in Oakland — made sure to hang with a beer off to the side just take it all in, be cool Ringo, be cool. I saw @distantstation walk by, one of the Dessner’s, just a super chill scene. No need to rewrite how I felt afterwards, walking across the stage and empty ampitheater, see my post on IG (9/28/2018), I can’t improve upon that. The sound of a stage being packed back up after a great show? Far greater than any narcotic ever attempted. Out on the sleepy cobblestone streets of Berkeley I walked half a block with a deer across from me, helping me find my car in Berkeley America. “It’s time I went to sleep. / I’ll be up soon, yes I’ll be up soon.”

Fascist Jock Itch

Eerily dissonant. Art of Noise. Dada, Futurism, Florian, atomic music, organized sound. Story of Dada playing discordant sounds to retired war generals and many cried. A nonsense soundscape of Cabaret Voltaire. A love of baseball as a kid growing up, coach wanted perhaps a more definitive commitment. Big brother watching, hosting a college radio show, wondering what it would be, the Field of Dreams or sonic time keeping? If you play it, they will come, Ray. The answer came in the form of colored hair and another R.E.M. bootleg. But still keeps an eye on the standings, see him there with Beirut before the Stephen Colbert show with ‘Papi’ — the David Ortiz biography found on the green room bookshelf (photo by @youthfukkingcrust 2/7/2019) #gosox!! That one even got a like by @heladonegro. And when asked to explain his plans when setting out in Brooklyn, in the Uncontaminated_Sound podcast, Bn laughs off such talk “There was no plan.”

Lice in My Brain

0–1:40 Bn was asleep upstairs taking a nap when his big brother played “Tusk” for me downstairs, by Fleetwood Mac. It was my first listen to Tusk. “Listen to this,” he said. “You have to listen to this.” We played it over and over through the high-ceilinged house, across the floorboards. Those opening beats, the full throttle release to what sounded like a marching band, it was all so mysterious. Music can do this?! Bn has woken f/the nap, he has a memory, in music, strives to recapture it.

1:40–4:50 the smell of tomato plants and basil. Backyard garden. A pantry, old school fixtures in the kitchen, bread baking, organic, oily peanut butter. Mrs. Lnz’ vocal practice, heard walking by the house, la-la-la-LA-la-la-laaaaa. Parting with Ctzn each day, me with my Bundy trumpet case, he with his clarinet case, first place together on Twin Day (IG 7/27/19). First Woodstock album I ever held, the Lnz family copy, me & Ctzn studying it, the mud, the nudes, the miserable looking conditions (but they don’t look cold?) spoke the magic sounds “Hendrix” and Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar (minds blown), and soon MTV exploded across the land and we debated the artistic merits of Fleetwood Mac and The Go-Go’s.

4:50–6:30 super chill, mellow. 2019 — started the year with Beirut, finished with The National. I wanted to ask the question but held off for months until someone else finally did ask K-RES on IG what they would both do when the two tours started to conflict: his one word answer a perfect response: Cry. But before seeing that IG post, earlier in the year I had pulled up both tour schedules to compare the two, and I swear it almost looked like both bands had coordinated their performances so @lanzprojects & K-Res could be featured in both. I’m kind of embarrassed thinking about that now but two musicians should never, never have to choose between these two bands. Cruel and highly unusual, that is.

6:30–10:14 but for a moment I really thought it might be possible, b/c Bn had dropped zero clues anywhere about the impending tour conflict, no tipping of hand to let us know what would happen, were they going to have to make a choice? And he really is a bit like the oracle, a consummate professional. Loose lips sink ships and he doesn’t run his mouth. Never, not once. I totally understand why other people love collaborating with him and how he has managed all these years to sustain the touring life. Quiet, calm, focused. After listening to all things LANZ, Hoferlanz I & II, LNZNDRF, my musical doors of perception were flung free of the hinges, by the brass sounds of Beirut Band — brass can sound like this?! And I’ll admit to at least one solo night at our cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains 1.5 hr drive south of SF, being high as a kite with newly legalized recreational cannabis and listening to No, No, No and seeing the liner notes in a certain low light, in a flash I thought I had caught on, went laughing across the cabin to close the door inside the bathroom to kill the lights and see if the liner notes were glow in the dark, and I found myself there, in the middle of a redwood forest, rain pouring down outside, a real fire burning in the fireplace, in total darkness in the bathroom, holding Beirut liner notes that were not, in fact, glowing in the dark. The laugh, the mirthful laugh audible outside the cabin as you drone zoom above the cabin, out into the upper canopy disappearing into the mist, loving the music of Beirut, rekindling my long lost love (elementary school trumpet), and the Beirut Tiny Desk concert just taking over my life in such a pleasant way. If you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at?

Peppy finish to the song/album, hopeful, helplessly, hopefully optimistic — projects joy, better times ahead — perhaps a hint that despite a pandemic, other exciting collaborations afoot: Million Lands, Matt Berninger, Folklore & Evermore, A Drift, LNZNDRF II, glimpse of Bn in People/Funkhous documentary, “The End” written by LANZ covered in Deluxe version of Serpentine Prison. I’ve looked for the word in the dictionary, but it does not exist — a near constant state of collaboration & musical exploration. It’s not a word, not in English, it’s a name, the same in all languages: Ben Lanz.


I waded deep into the subterranean sounds in the basement of Café du Nord and from there I have let it carry me where it will, not to return to shore. As I float free & clear, there are still more liner notes to write, more insights to share and stories to relate. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas comes to mind, written by Gertrude Stein. The music never stops, and somebody needs to tell this part of its story…

(Words: San Francisco, 12/2020. Released: 12/2021)



Christopher Scott Buck

Books, Trees, Birds & Brass. San Francisco’s Urban Forester.