From The Desk Of The Orange Peels: The Kindie-Rock Star Alison Faith Levy

OrangePeelsLogoAs any fan of the Food Network knows, a few scrapes from an orange peel adds zest to a dish. San Francisco Bay Area indie-popsters the Orange Peels, according to master chef Allen Clapp, reinvented themselves by inviting more cooks into the kitchen. The result, Sun Moon (Minty Fresh), is a fully collaborative and very tasty effort. Last summer, Peels bassist (and Clapp’s wife) Jill Pries asked the other two band members—guitarist John Moremen and drummer Gabriel Coan—to drop by their Sunnyvale, Calif., home/studio. “It didn’t mean I was happy about it,” says Clapp, grown used to demoing the band’s material before presenting it to the others. “I told her I didn’t have any songs ready.” Clapp will also be guest editing all week. Read our new Orange Peels feature.


Clapp: I got a call from Alison Faith Levy in the fall of 2011 regarding me producing an album of new tunes for her. Unlike the moody, arty rock records she’d been making on her own over the previous decade, this was going to be a kids’ album. It made sense: Alison was a lead member of the kindie-rock phenomenon known as the Sippy Cups: a psychedelic, theatrical roadshow dream for parents and kids during the 2000s.

I have to admit, I was fascinated. My wife, Jill Pries, is the director and teacher at a Montessori pre-school and kindergarten. I worked there as a teacher aid for a year when the Orange Peels had just put our first album out, and the kids had really inspired me. So much so, that I wrote a song about the whole experience, “Big Bright Shiny Yellow Sun,” on my second solo album, Available Light in 2002.

So Alison came to the first session with all sorts of ideas, all manner of cool references, and no band. It became clear fairly quickly that we were going to make this record ourselves and play all the instruments. I loved that! Each session would begin with talking about music we loved, and evolve into making music that we loved. We found common ground in Godspell and Carole King, not to mention the Flaming Lips and Sir Elton.

Renowned music critic Greil Marcus compared our extended version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to the Phil Spector wall of sound. That makes a producer fairly happy.

After wrapping sessions, she asked me and some friends from Mystery Lawn to join her band. All I can say is, playing for kids and families is great fun, And you get home well before 2 a.m. (more like 2 p.m. really, and usually with a good chunk of change in your pocket).

Alison Faith Levy’s take on “Itsy Bitsy Spider” after the jump.