The Beatles—what a bunch of slackers. In eight years, the Fab Four released just 10 hours of recorded studio music. The Clash released only seven hours in six years. Now a local indie-pop band has put those layabouts to shame. Since January of 2004, Army Defense has released 25 hours of original music. To be fair, the late, great schizophrenic Chicago rock singer Wesley Willis might well have recorded twice that amount during his ten-year career—but his songs were more or less musically interchangeable. The five members of Army Defense, by contrast, write melodies unique to each tune, and at least one out of every couple hundred is pretty good. The quintet's latest and 20th album, 77 World Tour
, contains 10 CDs and 191 songs, each titled after a different country—though the lyrical connections can seem tenuous (visit www.armydefense.com
to listen to the band's music). "We sent the idea of the album to Guinness [World Records Limited], and they sent back a form letter saying they reject our attempt to break a record," says Dave Lehnen, who records the band in his Golden Valley home. "From their point of view, I guess anyone could record 10 hours of silence and call that an album. But every one of these was a pop song." Local rocker Mark Mallman was similarly rebuffed by Guinness for attempting to claim that his 52.4-hour song "Marathon 2" (complete with lyrics book) was the longest song ever performed.
AD's next project is an album containing a track for every work of Shakespeare, tentatively titled Stratocaster Upon Avon (it's about a quarter finished). Previous themes have included U.S. presidents, movies, "our previous jobs," video games, "places we've lived," etc. The band has never performed live together, but hasn't ruled out the possibility. "We've toyed with the idea of acoustic shows once in a while," says Lehnen. "We could play the World album over ten weeks, in ten shows." Or they could get Mallman to perform their entire catalogue thus far live in one sitting.
*when measured in hours of studio music released to the public