Friday, February 27, 2009

I won't always live not stopping...

I saw Jimmy Eat World last night at the House of Blues in Boston. All I can say is...wow. They are doing 10 shows across the country playing their album Clarity in its entirety. Of course, there was hope that they'd play a few more from different records as well. Surely enough they did. Sweetness, Pain and Work were all amazing but what really struck my emotional chord was the song 23.

This song reminds me of a very significant point in my life, roughly mirroring the themes of my own song Circles, in which I sing about yearning for something more, something bigger in my own life, following my dreams...even if it means walking away from the things I love. 23 almost seems to be the answer or result of my words in Circles...giving a sort of foreshadow to the possible regret someone might feel after making such choices... what realizations they come to when seeing how their actions affect the people closest to them.

"I won't always love these selfish things...I won't always live not stopping.."

Lately I have felt like this. Selfish. Self-centered. Not stopping. I'm always on the move and can barely find time to even take care of myself. Day to day I'm there and over there...never just here. I have talked in previous posts about how I hope to remember this feeling of working on the album..how I wish I was more of a witness to it all than someone right in the middle of it. I know that's ridiculous...but at the same time I feel like I am missing what might be the best part of my life because I'm thinking about it too much. It certainly is a struggle to remain focused so tightly on something and at the same time be aware of everything and everyone around me. I care so much about it all that sometimes it's hard to know where and when to look. Luckily the support around me seems to help with that. I have great friends, simply put.

And so I find solace in the fact, and in 23, that I will not always be like this. Sure, my dreams will always interrupt the stillness of my life, but like I have said many times before: it will keep me going. I just hope that I can learn to stop more along the way. To see it all. And to love you all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Focus is Hocus

What does that mean? I have no idea. haha But it was the message underneath the beer bottle cap that Marcin gave to me when we got the take we wanted for Bicycle on the Ice last night. :) Very exciting. The thing that works great about running through this song about ten times in a row is that my voice takes on a very tired and raspy quality that lends itself perfectly to the mood and emotion of the song. I think people will really like how it sounds in the end. It's less upbeat and "dancable" than the demo (I always found it funny how this song made little kids dance in the audience and that wasn't necessarily the effect I wanted. haha). So this version may be a little different than what some might expect....;) But I trust they'll like it all the same.

Pictures and video up soon!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And this is why I'm so distracted...

.....the shakers!! haha It was pretty difficult keeping time to them for some reason but I guess it came out okay for the first run through of Stand. Marcin is playing around with his melodious bass line and the song is beginning to take on a very interesting quality. I picture bongos and a very simple acoustic lead part.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Recording Photos, February 18, 2009

Here are some photos from the very first recording session at Fat Dave's Place in Weston, MA on Feburary 18, 2009. We worked on Bicycle on the Ice and goofed around a bit as you can see with my silly dramatic piano shot. Photo credit goes to the wonderful Amy Miller, of course!













Monday, February 23, 2009

Piano Melody for Bicycle

Marcin always seems to play the right notes...check it out. Ignore the thumb in the way at the end. haha

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Your heart is filling up and...

..falling back down from the weight of it all.

One day I found an old black & white photo in my dad's collection from when he was a monk in Weston, VT. It was of an old Schwinn bicycle parked so casually in the middle of an iced over pond. I couldn't help but think "hmm, that seems a bit unusual." I mean, I suppose it's not a far off idea to ride a bike on the ice if you can handle it! But it's not usually something you see. Back then I was definitely going through some tough choices; was in a time of my life that didn't seem right, like I wasn't where I was supposed to be. So relating to this strange image and the loner looking bike was easy; we were both so out of place.

" and this is just like waking up, forgetting all the dreams you had."

Have you ever felt like you were doing something that wasn't quite on your own terms? Maybe you cared so much about someone else that you compromised your own desires to make them happy? Or you have this deep, unexplained feeling that whatever decision you make is going to mean something in the end or perhaps turn out better than you could ever expect? Of course, before any of these realizations can be made, a sense of confusion or maybe even depression is inevitable.

But I believe that you need your dreams to keep you going, make you feel alive; the moment you put an anchor on yourself is the moment you stop feeling the possibilities and the excitement of what you could become...and where you could go. The potential is so great in everyone's lives...yours, mine, even those who have given up long ago.

And of course there are some that do give up hope, that let go of their dreams because they're too hard or too frightening. I used to feel that way. I felt like I was just drifting away and everyone was thinking "why?....why are you letting this happen?" I felt static and alone and didn't really think that my life was going to turn out how I had always envisioned it. The fact of the matter is....it never does. Sometimes you just end up somewhere a bit unexpected. But that's okay. You make the best of it. Like the bicycle on the ice, you adapt and wait for the seasons to change; for when the conditions are right to make your move.

And let's not forget love. Even if it's not for yourself or for what you're doing, love can still help you. Sometimes when you feel lost, confused or disappointed with what you've done, the love you have for others can bring you back; make you feel important again...maybe even motivated. If your heart fills up you'll feel less empty. That's just a given.

So...simply fill up your heart. It will end up where it needs to be and you will follow it,...even to places where you didn't quite expect to go or where you might not feel like you belong. Eventually it will all make sense. It did for me...

And this is just like waking up..

Did some work on Bicycle on the Ice at Marcin's on February 19th and here is result. I love the simplicity. Very beautiful. (That's our buddy Scott on the floor. This song made him sad.)

video

Friday, February 20, 2009

Take 12 or so...haha

Here is one of the many takes of Bicycle on the Ice. I think this song is going to take a few times to really get right. After a while I was starting to get more relaxed and into the moment of the song so I think with a few more tries we'll have it.

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Thanks for stopping by...

Here is the first video at the studio! I think I was a little nervous...haha Stumbling over what a metronome is...geez..

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

"This Song's Fun"

Here is a brief snippet of the full band take on Horizons from the Feb. 15th Practice in Weston. Lots of fun!!!

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February 11th,.....no wait....

....this actually WAS the 12th. Marcin was concentrating too much on his idol Victor Wooten... hahah


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February 12th, 2009

Here are some photos from the practice at Marcin's on February 12th. We're dorks.





Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On the Evolution of My Songs

"I'm trying not to have too much control. It's like watching your kids grow up: They're gonna become whatever they want...with a little guidance here and there, of course" -DD

And so it begins...

Today I go into the studio with Marcin to begin recording What To Keep & Let Go.

I remember back in 2003, sitting in my dad's house after graduating college and plucking away at my guitar; the notes that would one day be the verse for the song Stand. Songs like We Are What We Are and Try It On followed but never made the cut; however made room for the birth of Passing Into August, a song that came to me when I was pumping gas in Springfield, VT with my friend Mike. It's fair to say that the remaining 9 songs on the album were penned and created in Massachusetts. This is where I was most heavily inspired, having gone through so many changes both good and bad. Bicycle on the Ice was probably the first to be written, followed by Horizons, In The End and Circles. These songs definitely dealt with relationships and how to accept the change and struggle in each of them, which totally fits with what was going on in my life at the time. My second home in Massachusetts was the birthplace of City Lights & Electric Candle; songs that talk of my ability to get close to love or the failed attempt at it. Hello, Amy was finalized roughly around this time...its theme going hand in hand with these messages. I recall being at my 9-5 and the words for Ask You spilling out of me on my lunch break, sloppily pouring onto a piece of letterhead and revealing so many of my thoughts and emotions about my late mom. Who knew that could all happen while eating a turkey sandwich. Do What You Can was the last song to find its place in the album, talking of a good friend's situation with love and discouragement over moving on from a rough situation. Songs like It's Over When You Go and Shadows Cast by Tall Buildings never made the cut but perhaps they'll surface again someday...

It's amazing to think that after 5 or so years of planning, scrapping, rewriting and replacing What To Keep & Let Go will finally be fully realized. I often wondered if I was just procrastinating with the completion of this project; that I used every excuse in the book to just not get it done. I now believe however that this long period of time was necessary to pick and write the appropriate songs to fit the theme of the album. Every song has its place in a very important time of my life; each event giving way to the next and nestling its way into the corners of my being....what has made me who I am and brought me to where I am today.

And so it begins...starting with Bicycle on the Ice. My plan is to give a brief description of the song meanings as we go. So definitely keep checking for updates as I anticipate quite a bit of them in the next few weeks...Thanks so much for keeping up with this blog and I look forward to sharing the final versions with you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cullen Corley

I wanted to give a plug to the drummer behind What To Keep & Let Go: Cullen Corley.

This dude is awesome and insanely talented. He has put in lots of effort with the songs on the album and I couldn't be more excited about his involvement.

Please check out his music here:

http://www.myspace.com/cullencorley


He has a bunch of shows coming up and I encourage you to go watch him play! I see him every Sunday at practice but I definitely need to make a point to check him out at a show.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I didn't expect you here this soon..

This could very well be the first (and perhaps not the last) very emotional post for me.

Yesterday the guys and I had practice and ran through the usual songs. Everything is sounding great. Chad got his fuzz pedal and the effect is very appropriate for In the End. After we did the usual run through, we started playing around with another song that is very close to my heart: Hello, Amy.

I have been wondering how this song would end up sounding. It's of a faster tempo; pretty catchy and happy sounding, yet has very sad undertones. It actually sounds a lot like a break up song but in fact has nothing to do with a girl named Amy. haha

You see "Amy" is a simple term that can be used to describe my disease called Amyloidosis. When I was diagnosed back in 2007, I was to say the least...surprised. Not surprised really that I had it (there was a 50/50 chance) but more surprised that it was already here. You see my mom was diagnosed well into her 30's and so it was safe to assume that it wouldn't show up for me until around that age. However, she didn't get tested as early as I did so she very well could have had symptoms in her late 20's. Which also means I could be on the same time line as far as the progression goes. Which is kinda scary.

The main difference is that since I know at a younger age, I can actively try and stop "Amy" before she does any serious damage. As many of you know, I'm on a drug trial that could be the very thing that stops the disease in its tracks. So things have looked up A LOT since 2007 when I was blind-sided with the news. I'm actually always very positive about my position and grateful for my outlook on life but at the time I was sad, confused and even a little angry. Hello, Amy is the exploration of these emotions. Ending of course with acceptance.

So needless to say, yesterday's practice was especially moving for me. Running through Hello, Amy with these guys and having them make their mark on such a personal subject was just incredible. Like I said, it hasn't been very clear to me what the direction of this song is, but what came to life sounded right on. Everyone really seems to understand the sensitivity to this particular tune: Marcin commented on how it needs to be very vocally prominent, which I agree with completely. However the music itself is speaking volumes as Chad's guitar almost weeps to the words I am singing. The life and understanding being breathed into this song is going to make it one of my favorites and hopefully a lot of people will be able to relate to it not necessarily on the same level as I do...but with an understanding that life is so fragile...and accepting that is the key to seeing it clearer. Appreciating it all.

"But if you should never leave me, I guess I'll take your hand and say - 'Amy perhaps we're meant to be; suppose it's better of this way'.."

I can't say enough how grateful I feel to be working with these musicians. After yesterday it was very clear to me that this is album is going to special. And maybe someday we can all sit as old men on a porch with whatever futuristic music players we have, listening to it and remembering how it all came together.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Word is Gettin' Around!!

Whoa! Check out these graphics of something quite similar to the imagery in What To Keep & Let Go! They must be gearin' up for the release in their own way! ;)



Of course I'm kidding. The first image is the CD cover for Masters of Reality's 1993 original release of Sunrise on the Sufferbus. Marcin pointed out this cover to me last night at practice saying that it reminded him a lot of what I have done with my own album art. I can assure you I hadn't seen it before last night. haha Had I thrown a bunny into the Bicycle on the Ice song then I might be in trouble. :)

The second image is of course just a pizza box. And now I'm hungry for pizza.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Breedlove Back Baby!

I'm pickin' up my guitar from the shop today. I've had major separation anxiety but my ovation roundback has kept me company pretty much. I don't like how she slips off my lap though when I play so the hefty dreadnaught will be very much welcomed back into my arms!

And then we begin! Recording starts next week! aaaah!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

He's FOREVERINMOTION....

...and he's returning to the east coast.

That's right! My buddy Brendon Thomas, aka, FOREVERINMOTION, is leaving his temporary residence of New Mexico to go back to Vermont today. He is currently working on his third album and I couldn't be more excited for it. I'm ALSO thrilled f0r him to make his mark on What To Keep & Let Go. I have to confirm his involvement once more but as far as I know he's going to play on Ask You.

Keep an eye out for his album due out this year. I believe it's on hold but when released I have no doubt you'll be blown away by its beauty. (not that I have heard any of it but his track record has me convinced already)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Even Writers Forget Their Lines

haha. So we whistle the part! Actually, truth be told I think my voice was just shot. Here are Marcin and I trying to figure out the chorus bass for Circles. I look confused.


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And In The End.......

.....we just laugh. haha Here's a take of In the End (minus Chad's awesome guitar part) that starts and ends with a good chuckle. Amy was playing with a rain stick and it sounded very worldly. Guess you'd have to be there....


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Practice in Weston, Sunday February 8th

Here are the photos from Sunday's practice in Weston. Marcin was rockin' the turtleneck look. I was rockin' the awesome yellow earplugs. And Cullen was simply rockin'!

Photos by Amy Miller











"The Future Needs a Big Kiss..."

I just wanted to remind you all that u2's new album "No Line On The Horizon" will be out in THREE WEEKS from today. :)

That's all. Proceed.

:)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Everything is right here, right now...

I was talking last night to my good friend Amy, who has been a great supporter of this project from the beginning. She also has been the one behind the camera lens for most of the practice sessions which has made the visual side of this blog POSSIBLE! Anyway, we were talking about how things are coming together with these songs and how she feels fortunate to be able to witness the progression, the changes, all of it..I commented on how I was almost envious of where she's standing in all of this; I almost wish I could be the bystander to something evolving right in front of me.

And I guess I am! But the reason I say this isn't because I'm not happy to be actually in the middle of it. It's because I'm finding myself concentrating maybe a little TOO much on every little detail. In the beginning I found myself in childlike awe of the launching of these songs into full band status; how I have spent 5 or so years nursing them with an acoustic treatment and now watching them grow up right in front of me! But now I find myself being so serious about it...always thinking about everything. Nitpicking. Critiquing.

But maybe that's a good thing, who knows. I mean, there has to be some focus I imagine or else these songs could just end up becoming anything they want. But....actually, maybe that is how it should happen. Sometimes I think it's best when things just happen ya know? Fall into place. Whatever you wanna call it. Have you ever noticed when you try TOO hard at something it never tends to work out? or it's never exactly what you're thinking it will be? Sometimes letting go and allowing something to just BE and BECOME is the best thing for its evolution.

So that's what I'm learning. "cuz everything is right here...right now." It has to be. If you live but one step ahead of yourself, you'll end up not knowing where you're standing. You could miss everything.

At the end of our conversation, Amy made me realize just how fortunate I am for being in this moment. These many moments.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And They Both Wore Grey..

Here are some photos from the practice session at Marcin's on February 5th. Even Amy got in on the shoot!










If we have one life, what not make it shine?

Last night seemed like the first time in a while that we worked on any of the material for the album but it went rather well! Marcin and I reviewed City Lights, Horizons and In the End as well as started on Circles, which is what I was hoping for the evening!

Marcin and I had the same idea when it came to this song...especially the very beginning with the mirroring of the riffs, if you will. Here is the video of what we came up with. A little sloppy, a little goofy but you get the idea. (oh, and I really need to work on the vocals for this song; I thought I was going to explode I was so out of breath...)

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scheduling and Guitar Work

So we're definitely in the eye of the hurricane here with the album progress but we'll be reaching the 2nd half very soon...

Tonight I'm planning on meeting with Dave to set up the scheduling for the next three months but with this storm we're getting we might have to make it tomorrow instead. Once the schedule is complete, I will publish it here so anyone who is interested in what songs are currently being worked on will be able to see! It looks as if we'll be working with the more full band stuff first as it is fresh in everyone's minds..This means City Lights, Horizons and In the End will most likely be recorded first, followed by Circles and maybe Passing into August. As the album progresses, we'll be working on more of the acoustic and less involved songs I think...leaving as much room at the of the three months as possible to figure out just what we need to do with the more involved songs that will be layed down earlier. Since I'd like to have the album released on Tuesday, May 26th...we'd almost have to have all the songs finished in the beginning of May to allow for post production work. I wonder if this is possible...

Marcin and I brought our guitars in to the shop on Sunday (I'll post pictures of this event soon) and hopefully they'll be ready for recording in the next week or so.

Almost time!!