As Smart As We Are

One Ring Zero

As Smart As We Are – The Author Project. Now with a bonus DVD!
A complete album of mysterious pop songs with lyrics by Jonathan Ames, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Clay McLeod Chapman, Dave Eggers, Amy Fusselman, Neil Gaiman, Myla Goldberg, Ben Greenman, Daniel Handler, A.M. Homes, Denis Johnson, Lawrence Krauser, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Aaron Naparstek, and Darin Strauss

Imagine the finest anthology of writing possible, and then imagine that writing put to music… You’re imagining As Smart As We Are – The Author Project (the title of which comes from the opening line from the final track, “Water,” by Jonathan Lethem). Many of North America’s bestselling and prize-winning authors, have contributed original lyrics (and in some cases their musical skills) to this CD of music by Brooklyn lit-rock band One Ring Zero.

The project began when Michael Hearst of the band One Ring Zero, soon after moving to Manhattan in 2001, sought out a small store he’d heard about that was founded by Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The band was invited to perform at McSweeney’s events and soon met Rick Moody, who invited them to perform and collaborate with him. Thus began a cascade of authors offering to write lyrics for the band. Winners of the Booker Prize, MacArthur Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award lined up to provide their lyric-writing services to the project. Said Neil Gaiman of the project, “I liked the kind of lineup he [Hearst] was putting together. It was sufficiently odd enough to be interesting. It’ll be a great Trivial Pursuit question someday: What does Margaret Atwood have in common with, say, Daniel Handler? It was something like a sort of cabaret version of They Might Be Giants. It’s literate. Genuinely funny. And it’s odd. It feels like being in a very cool author anthology.”

The CD is being re-released with a companion DVD: Addendum – a collection of videos made by the general public.
In the fall of 2004, the following was posted on the One Ring Zero website: “Dear filmmakers, One Ring Zero plans to release a DVD in the next six to eight months consisting of various music videos. The project is open to the general public. There are no specific rules. It can be shot on super eight, 35mm, DV, anything . . . and we don’t need to be in it. You can use any song from any of our albums, so long as it hasn’t already been taken.”

Much to One Ring Zero’s surprise, by the time the deadline rolled around, twenty videos had arrived featuring a variety of styles, techniques, and interpretations by several amateur and professional directors. Since a majority of the songs were chosen from As Smart As We Are, it seemed to make to sense include it in a re-release package as a pertinent addendum.