"Birds of Paradise" takes flight
According to its author (Johnnie Newman), They Set You Up is a mostly jazz-free answer to Steely Dan's The Royal Scam. If the Eagles' Hotel California and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours had a three-way with Michael Jackson's Off The Wall while watching The Breakfast Club - then They Set You Up would be the resulting bastard lovechild. " In other words, it's perfect for weddings and bar mitzvahs."
Johnnie Newman is a singer, songwriter, rocker and, believe it or not, a one time writer of soap opera. Soaps must be in his blood since his parents met on the CBS daytime serial Guiding Light in the early 70's. Newman was born in NYC and caught music fever as a young kid. After experimenting with every kind of a variety of musical directions he has settled on a decisively skewed-pop position and a uniquely melodic one at that.
In college, Johnnie began his mutually beneficial kinship with the technically illegal substance known throughout the world as marijuana. Music composition soon followed. Whole days were subsequently lost, unsentimental drum beats were found.... Johnnie began writing Aphex Twin inspired electronic madrigals. These first homemade records, the majority of which were instrumental, resembled a thudding attempt at sonic profundity.
A year or two later, Johnnie had secured a precarious writing contract with the NBC soap opera Days Of Our Lives. With a new but fickle reservoir of spendable cash, Johnnie bought a homemade recording rig and began his songwriting career in earnest, under the clunky moniker Jack Studio. A hundred lo-fi songs followed and Johnnie met an unctuous music manager who introduced him to prodigious music producer and unforgiving hedonist Oliver Goldstein, of Ima Robot fame. Within an hour, Goldstein and Newman were writing songs in a dizzying haze of acute pharmaceutical psychosis. Inspired by a Quixotic fit of grand delusion, they decided to start a band. They called the band Tarzana. DJ Lethal of House of Pain soon joined, but the group dissembled after five shows due to a general lack of courage. Johnnie, licking his wounds on a summer family vacation - aboard a Mediterranean cruise liner which should have been called the Sycophant of the Seas - managed to find a quiet and rarely-frequented room replete with decades-old board games and a Yamaha grand piano. The room was called Cloud 9. It was here, amidst six cubic tons of banana daiquiris, floating blackjack tables and belly-flop contests, that Johnnie would write the bulk of the songs for his proper debut EP They Set You Up.