In 2005 Jonathan Coulton dropped out of a perfectly good software career to write music on the internet. He embarked upon a bold experiment called Thing a Week, in which he home-recorded and released a new song every week for an entire year, giving them all away for free. Even he thought he was crazy. But while a struggling music industry fell to pieces over filesharing and shifting business models, Jonathan Coulton quietly and independently amassed a small army of techies, nerds, and dedicated superfans who buy his music even though they don’t have to.
Coulton speaks to the outcast in all of us, in the voices of characters we know from our own sad little lives: the awkward, lovelorn mad scientist from “Skullcrusher Mountain,” the powerless wage slave from “Code Monkey,” and the annoying former coworker turned zombie from the anthemic ode to office doublespeak, “Re: Your Brains.” His songs resonate because he transcends what might otherwise be a gimmicky genre of songwriting – behind every misunderstood monster is a human frailty that we recognize all too well.
Luckily for his patient and supportive family, his internet superstar status has led to much real world success. He tours extensively in the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. His song “Code Monkey” was used as the theme for the G4 animated series “Code Monkeys,” and in 2007 he was tapped to write “Still Alive,” the closing song to the award-winning game Portal. That song won the Game Audio Network Guild’s “Best Original Vocal Pop Song” award in 2008, and has been called the greatest video game ending song of all time. If you yourself can’t sing it all the way through, chances are your children can. In 2011 he was asked back to write “Want You Gone,” the closing song for Portal’s long-awaited and critically acclaimed sequel.
Artificial Heart is Coulton’s first album of new material since Thing a Week, and it features an actual kickass band made up of actual kickass musicians, the delicious high production values of a real recording studio, and the talents of guest vocalists and actual famous people Suzanne Vega, John Roderick of The Long Winters, and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. It springs from a brief run opening for They Might Be Giants that ended with member John Flansburgh offering to produce Coulton’s next record – a collaboration that fans of both acts have been waiting for their entire lives, whether they know it or not.
John Roderick is the songwriter and singer/guitarist of The Long Winters, forming the band from a mound of clay back in 2001. Widely acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent artists, credited with resurrecting Seattle’s moribund music scene and bringing new life to the rock genre, John also writes his own press bios. A central figure in the Northwest music community, John nevertheless maintains his outsider status by being both dangerously edgy and completely huggable, in contravention of established Seattle practice. Equally talented at almost any instrument, (except guitar, at which he is even more talented), John has made it nearly impossible for any other musicians to find work in Washington State, effectively playing ALL the music that needs to be played. John is also a widely respected journalist, an extensively quoted author and philosopher, a prima ballerina, a cowboy and an astronaut.