Over the past two decades, Turkington's portrayal of 'America's Funnyman' has taken unexpected turns. Starting in a completely fictional world and gradually merging with our reality, Neil Hamburger has continued to rise to new heights. He has performed live around the world, appeared on television and in films, and even starred as himself in the 2015 film 'Entertainment'. Whether captivating hardcore fans in bars and clubs or surprising unsuspecting audiences in arenas, Neil's enduring character has evolved into a versatile entertainer. In 2008 he ventured into the musical realm with 'Sings Country Winners'. Working with arranger/producer Erik Paparozzi (known for his work with Cat Power, Lizard Music and RuPaul's Drag Race), Turkington's musical obsessions merged seamlessly with Paparozzi's sensibilities. Together they created a rich sound reminiscent of forgotten variety shows and underappreciated pop songs from the golden age of American entertainment, the 1960s and 70s.
Inspired, Turkington and Paparozzi began writing new songs for other voices and assembled a group of singers to perform the 'Seasonal Depression Suite'. This song cycle revolves around various guests trapped in an average chain hotel during the holiday season. They wallow in self-pity, paranoia, relive personal catastrophes, both real and imagined, or simply struggle to use the hotel vending machine. Influenced by artists ranging from Thom Bell to Tommy and the acerbic misery of Trip Advisor reviews, 'Seasonal Depression Suite' adds another satirical critique of America to Turkington's extensive repertoire, which includes projects such as Zip-Code Rapists, Great Phone Calls, Faxed Head, Yellow River Boys, On Cinema at the Cinema and, of course, Neil Hamburger.
Paparozzi and Turkington's musical collaboration draws on the stage musicals, pop vocal albums, film scores, rock concept albums, new wave gems and singer-songwriter epics that have captivated them since childhood. This eclectic mix perfectly supports the fictional hotel guests and their tortured concerns. To bring these characters to life, an exceptional cast has been assembled, including Neil Finn (of Split Enz, Crowded House and Fleetwood Mac), Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow), Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls), Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, acclaimed singer/performance artist Puddles Pity Party, voice actress Natalie Peyser, J. P. Hasson (Pleaseeasaur), enigmatic singer A.J. Lambert (also Frank Sinatra's granddaughter), Paparozzi himself and, of course, Neil Hamburger. Joining the cast are a host of talented musicians including Scarlet Rivera (from Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue), Danny Heifetz (Mr Bungle), Bär McKinnon (Mr Bungle), Prairie Prince (The Tubes), Atom Ellis (Dieselhed), Jason Schimmel (Secret Chiefs 3) and Alex Jules (from The Monkees Band). This international ensemble contributes to the epic scope of 'Seasonal Depression Suite'.
With everyone on board, Turkington and Paparozzi have created a unique masterpiece reminiscent of Sinatra's late-period concept album 'Watertown' mixed with the offbeat comedy of Neil Hamburger. The work delves into the lives of both ordinary and peculiar characters as they navigate from one grievance to another, travelling from place to place, hoping to live while waiting to die.
It's unlikely that another album like 'Seasonal Depression Suite' will be released any time soon, if ever. That's a shame. But instead of dwelling on existential truths, join Gregg Turkington, Erik Paparozzi and a metaphorical cast of thousands on a holiday trip to the heart of American joy and sorrow as they perform 'Seasonal Depression Suite'.