Friday, April 30, 2010

And It's May...

My favorite month is here.

As some of you might know, May signifies a lot for me....birth, death and hope all wrapped up into a 31 day period. It's no secret to a lot of you that May is the month my mom passed away. This year will be 13 years on the 26th. My does time pass. It's not depressing to me. It's more a time that I remember her the most; when the buds come out on the trees and the morning dew gives way to bird calls in the glowing forests; when hummingbirds come back everyday and the silence is so loud you can't help but hear every memory.

In honor of this month and of my mom, I am posting May, the song I wrote for her back in college and was recorded with Chad Macomber on our collaborative album, Detour. I revisited the song last year for a re-release on the Ask You single, performing a more intimate, acoustic version and you can hear it here. The song will be available on my myspace, reverbnation as well as on the side bar of this blog later this weekend.

As we approach the anniversary of my mom's passing, I will be working to fundraise a bit for Amyloidosis research by selling the remaining copies of my Ask You single which includes this version of May. Look for more details soon.

Passing Into August Passes Away...

...but leaves behind its melody, instrumentation and structure.

In light of all these changes and revisions, Passing Into August has been completely re-written. For personal reasons, album flow and thematic relevance, PIA has gone intentionally MIA and left room for a completely different story and set of lyrics. The new song is called Intermission and its placement on the record from my recent track re-order (after Circles) is perfect. Intermission has more meaning to me than PIA does; not to say that PIA didn't tell a good story but all along this song has never seemed to fit, nor did it ever really make me excited. Intermission's lyrics even seem to fit better into the whimsical piano mold left behind by PIA, serving as not only an integral part of the theme but as the actual "break" between the first and last half of the record. What To Keep & Let Go has revealed itself to me in recent months as a sort of two act play with a very defined first half and second half; there are even two distinct climaxes of the record- Circles (track 6) and Ask You (track 11). Both of which hold a lot of central themes of "letting go".

Intermission is the missing piece of this 7 year long puzzle where Passing Into August was sort of a stepping stone towards it. I'll never forget what Passing Into August meant to me and what it may have meant to you as well. I am sure at the very least a part of the song will show up again in the future. Some of the lyrics are strong and noteworthy to my life but this may have just not been the right time for the message to manifest. As the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh would say: "the conditions simply aren't right".

R.I.P, P.I.A. Thanks for carrying me through to this point. You have played a very important role in deciding what to keep...and what to let go.

Look for the newly added Intermission on the track list as well as lyrics in coming weeks.

Even in the end, there's room for change.

Throughout this album project, there have been a few kinks and holes in certain songs, lyrically speaking, that have required some attention. In some circumstances, even structural work was needed and thanks to the help of the guys in the band, that has long since been attended to. Now, in the remaining weeks of recording, I find myself still at the point of revising lyrics and making sure I am saying exactly what I want to say. With half these songs written a little over 5 years ago, it makes sense that some things might call for a revision depending on a change in viewpoint, relevance or personal meaning to me. Usually I like to leave the songs alone as they show history of inner growth and change in my life. But in some cases, the lyrics simply just don't make sense...as if they never truly found a place within the theme. I may have simply rushed the words in the early stage of writing these songs.


So not even an hour before I was scheduled to sing In The End at Dave's place on Tuesday, I was sitting on the couch finishing up an all-day rework of certain parts of the lyrics so that the whole thing flowed better and made more sense to me. At one point, I even had to tell Dave I needed a few more minutes to get something solid written up. He went back to his house to feed the cats while I finished up work on the chorus. haha Fifteen or so minutes later, I penned the finished words to the song and am very pleased with the changes.

Thanks, Dave, for your patience in all my crazy re-writes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Angela Came Down To Back Up

....and then back...up? haha

On April 26th, I reunited with my old friend, Angela, as she arrived in Weston from Vermont to back me up on Stand. It was great to catch up and give her a run through of the studio space where she'd be adding the very first back-up vocals to the record. After a brief introduction of ideas and hashing out our goals for the singing parts with Dave, Angela hit the recording room, did some warm up runs and managed to get her parts sung in time to meet a friend for dinner in the city!

Thanks again, Angela, for making the journey down to MA to lend your vocals! Much appreciated :)

Check out pictures of Angela's session.







Monday, April 26, 2010

Rollin' Up Our Sleeves, Gettin' Down To Work!

And Dave did just that! As I finished up my singing on Sunday for Hello, Amy, I walked out to the console room to see that Dave had his sleeves rolled up from the warmth of the studio. Or perhaps it was 'cos he was gettin' down and dirty for our long day or recording!

Back and fresh (but a tad jet lagged) from Costa Rica, Dave was gracious enough to invite me in on a relaxing Sunday to get some serious work done to make up for a little loss time. And with two additional studio days to follow, this was indeed gracious. We started at 12:30 and after a brief experimentation session of restructuring If Not Now, Then When (more to come on that soon) we got right into vocals. Thankfully my vocal practicing and car-ride-up-warm up has paid off as I was able to get through my sessions comfortably and with a lot more control than I used to have. At a few points I even managed to widen my girlfriend's eyes during some belting parts at the end of the song. The thumbs up in my peripheral vision were enough to keep me confident throughout :)

In about 5 and a half hours, with deck breaks for fresh air, tea drinking and lyric writing, we managed to get down Hello, Amy, Horizons and If Not Now, Then When. Not bad considering it takes roughly an entire normal session to get down one song. Today, Angela comes in for back-ups on Stand and tomorrow we will continue with the final two songs for me to sing- In The End and Passing Into August.

Thanks to Dave and Melissa for an afternoon of studio time!

Photos by Melissa Xenakis






Lyrics: Bicycle On The Ice

And this is just like waking up, forgetting all the dreams you had
trying your best to write them down on paper
while they're still clear inside your head. Please try not to forget.

The country hills loved you at twenty-five, 'cos they knew what you'd become
now the city walls keep you inside
from everything you grew to love and all the things you would become.

And they're all watching you from the ground as you drift away
but you're heart is filling up and falling back down from the weight of it all.

And the bicycle on the ice feels the same way that you do
it needs no one to say it's out of place
sometimes it's better just to move to where they can't find you.

And they're all watching you from the ground as you drift away
but you're heart is filling up and falling back down from the weight...

'cos you knew that this could happen, your love would want to stay
now you know I'll be okay, now you know I'll be okay.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Angela Paladino

On Monday, April 26th we will have the pleasure of welcoming Angela Paladino to the studio as our first back up vocalist on What To Keep & Let Go. Angela, an old friend from Vermont, is a singer songwriter who came right to mind in our search for the female backups on Stand. From what I have heard of her music, her sound is organic and folksy with a voice that is warm and honest. Her style will lend itself perfectly to the earthy feel of Stand, helping to soften the overall tone and to breathe new life into the story and characters it speaks of. And the fact that both Angela and Stand have roots in Vermont makes it that much more appropriate.

Look for photo and video updates on Angela's visit to the studio next week! We're excited to welcome her onto the What To Keep & Let Go roster of talent!

Singing In The Rain

The forecast for Sunday is rain and what a better way to spend a soggy day than to sing songs in a studio in the woods! Yes, Dave returns from his Costa Rican vacation this weekend and it's our plan to get as much done on the to-do list as possible. I have been spending the week doing vocal exercises and practicing Horizons and In The End to a demo CD in the car on my drives and things are sounding pretty good. With a whole day planned for recording, I think it's more than possible to get these vocals done, as well as tackling Passing Into August, If Not Now, Then When and Hello, Amy. That's a whole lot of singing in one day but I think if I take care of my throat from now until Sunday and bring a monster pack of tea, I should be fine. It'd be very good to get all the vocals done Sunday as we can then move on to back-vocals and final string/piano arrangements for most songs. We have a small amount of bass guitar work and acoustic guitar work to be done as well on some songs. According to Dave, however, we'll be able to work a lot in the next couple of weeks.

Ready for some serious updates? I am!! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You Are Here

On my lunch break today I took a few moments to pause my reading of Thich Nhat Hanh's "You Are Here" to reflect on the relationship between this Buddhist monk's message with that of what I'm trying to portray in the song Circles as well as my own life as a whole.

video

Let's Give Some Love To Myspace

With Facebook taking over our computer screens every second of every day, it's no wonder that some of us have forgotten about Myspace. Okay...for good reason. haha I myself canceled my personal Myspace page a while back due to boredom and a lack of user options and functionality but I did, however, leave up my music Myspace page in hopes to further promote the album to the folks still over on that side of the tracks. Let's face it, Myspace became the front seat contender to showcasing bands and songs; with their savvy music player that now houses 10 of your songs at once and all sorts of features for bands, it's the ultimate choice! I enjoy my music Page on Facebook but I remain loyal to my Myspace music page. I have since updated some of my stats, added a few photos (yes, I could afford to update that again) and thrown up my favorite bands as top friends! Weeee-doggie!

But there's more to do: add you! So if you haven't yet canceled your Myspace account and feel like updating the "Last login: March 5, 2008" status on your account, please head on over and add me. You won't be disappointed. Okay, you might. But later down the road I'll have all the songs up, some new photos posted, perhaps a linked blog and a nifty header of that dang bicycle we have been staring at for more than a year now. haha Stamp. Stamp.

And don't forget, I AM on Facebook too.

Lyrics: Stand

You simplify your fate waiting for your train to come.
You're making friends with doubt and shaking hands with everyone.
Now you're taking what is given to you, playing back your lover's song.
And it's the only chance of leaving yourself, leave before I'm gone...

and all we need is reassurance, some sort of sign that things will be alright
but there's just too much that's riding on this and so much still out of sight.

And this is why I'm so distracted and now you won't understand
that this is my way of dealing and this is how I'm going to stand on my own, on my own.

You're leaving on that train heading towards the biggest dream.
Kissing lips of ambition, rubbing off on everything.
Now you head out before morning light
So you wouldn't have to say goodbye.

and all we need is reassurance, some sort of sign that things will be alright
but there's just too much that's riding on this and so much still out of sight.

And this is why I'm so distracted and now you won't understand
that this is my way of dealing and this is how I'm going to stand on my own, on my own.

You wait for a sign from me but you cannot see when you're blind to everything we tried to be.

Red lights are on your face again and you're not going anywhere, you fear what's ahead.
And they're all moving on but you don't know the way.
So you simplify your fate so I can stand right here.

So I can stand, stand right here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Album Facts on Day of Tax!

I got my taxes done really early this year so on April 15th the only worry I had was what to talk about in this video update! Unfortunately, not a whole lot going on right now but look for that to change after Dave returns from vacation. Wee--doggy!

video

What To....Stamp?

I ordered a Bicycle on the Ice stamp last week and it arrived a few days later! Since then I have been stamping everything from paper to my face. Just kidding. But there's no limit to what I can plaster this iconic album art all over in hopes to generate some buzz! I suppose it might not be a good idea to litter the walls of grocery stores or friends' houses with a sketchy bike, but who says I can't at least stamp up a few envelopes when sending out CD's? eh?

This is gonna be fun.

And now I'll plug the company that made the stamp. Check 'em out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Horizons Lyrics Revision

It seems like I'm always revising something. Look for the change in bold.

Horizons

I'm changing both my headlights and hoping for a brighter life.
There's nothing like the darkest time to bring out what you have inside.

The road ahead is hard enough and I don't want to die so young.
So light the way and patronize but only if we can survive.

And we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

I'm blaming both my tired eyes for failing me to recognize
that things are not quite how they were before the motion and the blur.

But we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

And I would never lose you on this long highway of life.
'Cos though we're moving at a different pace we don't have to say goodbye.

So we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

While Dave's Away, I Will Play...

....piano parts, strings sections and whatever other filler stuff we need to figure out for these songs!

Tomorrow, Dave goes on vacation and so we won't be in the studio again until sometime after he returns (most like Sunday the 25th for a full day session). So white he deservedly travels the world (I forgot where he's going), I will prepare at home on my M-audio keyboard and Garageband to better hone in on some string arrangement sections for Circles as well as some possible lead guitar work on If Not Now, Then When? Not to mention there is plenty of vocal practice to be done on my commutes.

Who knows, maybe this is a good opportunity to get some more visual work done such as that looming website plan I've been talking about for ages now??

I'll be posting to the blog regularly in the next couple of weeks so keep checking back! Thanks guys!

Considering Track Re-order

Today I'm listening through the What To Keep & Let Go track list and I am starting to realize that due to structural reasons, flow, transition and energy I might switch some stuff around. It's not definite but it may involve putting Passing Into August on the last half of the album to keep the energy up a bit after Circles and moving If Not Now, Then When? or Electric Candle into the first half. Stand may be moved to the 2nd spot on the list.

Still listening through and a lot will depend on what happens in the final stages and what we do with some of the straggler songs. We'll see! Keep back for updates on that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poster 4: "Where Do You Belong?"

Over the course of the What To Keep & Let Go project, I have released three teaser posters; all of which have been studio inspired. Tonight, I am revealing the first official album poster which features the art you have seen all along in the blog header. The release dates on the posters have all been different as it has changed several times due to delays. Since the actual release date is still to be determined, this poster simply states a "Summer 2010" release. Look for the final poster in the coming months to feature the precise release date.

Enjoy!

128!

Another random moment. haha

If you can't quite make out what is happening, I finished Marcin's sequence of numbers stringing from 8...16...32....64.... with an ill placed 128 outburst only to be confronted with confused Marcin' haha. Hey it "was the next one..." haha

video

Bobble Head Dylan

Nothin' like a late night head-jam to Passing Into August. haha Check out my synchronized "bobble-head" like moves to the piano parts Marcin laid down for the song. I'll definitely miss these random moments caught on video!

video

Pullin' Some Strings on In The End

One of Marcin's tasks during his last recording session was to come up with a simple arrangement for the lead-in to In the End. It wasn't long after we started that he got down a track or two of what will be a nice transition into the rather dark, stand-alone song.

video

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marcin's Final Recording Day

On March 30th, Mr. Marcin Kuc entered the studio for the last time to record this piano parts for Passing Into August and to lay down some string arrangements for In The End. This is not to say, of course, that we won't be seeing him again during our final days of production! It'd be great to have him pop in every once in while to jive with our mixing process. I will certainly miss playing along side him and recording at the same time as we faced each other in the studio, finishing off sessions with a listen through of what we had done, giving each other feed back and preparing for the next session at his place. Did I say how much I'll miss that?

Thanks, Marcin, for all your hard work, advice, support, dedication and friendship throughout this all. We'll record again someday and perhaps run that guitar shop together, eh?!

Photos by Melissa Xenakis


















Lyrics: Passing Into August

I'm passing into August and you're still on my mind
and I'm having trouble seeing you through the blurriness of time

I'm trying to be honest, tired of lying to myself
you used to tell me everything and now there's no one here to help

And I'm left all alone, open for interpretation
and I fear that I won't mean the same again.

So if you had the chance to rearrange the days
would you exchange tomorrow for today to stay here with me?

I'm passing into August, somehow it's easy to forget
every moment that was made to last; they all faded out instead.

So if you had the chance to rearrange the days
would you exchange tomorrow for today to stay here with me?

with me, you'll see it'll all make sense again
until then hold onto everything you can.

And if you had the chance to rearrange the days
would you exchange tomorrow for today to stay here with me?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lyrics: Horizons

I'm changing both my headlights and hoping for a brighter life.
There's nothing like the darkest time to bring out what you have inside.

The road ahead is hard enough and I don't want to die so young.
So light the way and patronize but only if we can survive.

And we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

I'm blaming both my tired eyes for failing me to recognize
that things are not quite how they were before the motion and the blur.

But we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

And I would never pass you on this yellow, dotted line.
Because though we're moving at a different pace we don't have to say goodbye.

And we will chase horizons until we meet the sky and ground at intersection.
Oh, what a beautiful sight as we enjoy the ride.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Weston Monster Returns!!!

Amidst all the excitement of the Hello, Amy live performance day on March 20th, I completely forgot to mention to you all that we had our very first encounter with The Weston Monster again after so many months of its winter hiatus! It was not until I got Marcin's pictures the other day that I realized we had spotted it up on a tree during our sunny lunch on the deck. The beast seemed to have been waving in excitement; either that or it was toying with us as if to say "I'm back you fools!" haha Somehow this creature doesn't seem as much of a threat on sunny and beautiful days like this one but nonetheless we were shocked to have seen it again. With only about 10 weeks left of studio time, I wonder what we're in for....

Check out the shot taken by Marcin. Thankfully he was quick to get it before The Weston Monster scurried away shortly after.

April Fooled?

haha Sorry, I just had to do it. For those of you who were tricked into my panicked alert yesterday about losing all of the What To Keep & Let Go files, I'm truly sorry...it was just a prank :) haha Rest assured that the files are all intact and a year and a half of work on this project has NOT been lost. I don't believe I would have even had the strength or mental stability to write that post about it anyways. haha There was a better chance of you reading in the paper that a local musician lost his mind due to the loss of an entire year of work. haha

I did, however, make sure that Dave does in fact back up his files regularly after I posted that somewhat "don't jinx it" post. haha Imagine? No wait..don't.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chad Macomber's Album Inspired By Mysterious Poet

Chad Macomber has been mentioned many a time in this blog. Not only has he provided his talents on a handful of What To Keep & Let Go songs this past year, but he also has been a long time friend of mine and our musical collaborations go way back. A name you might NOT have heard, however, is Mr. Cam Debarcho, a mysterious poet whose work is behind the inspiration of Chad's upcoming third album, The Diary of Mr. Cam Debarcho. From what I gather, (and it's been tough to get my head around this), Chad asked for Cam's book of poems after being inspired by his work and Cam instructed him to publish his writings as well as put music to his entries, a very new and interesting approach to Chad's projects. I'm excited to see what this collaboration will bring to not only Chad's musical style but also to his voice and what he has to share with the world. No one knows very much about Cam but I have a feeling that at the end of this project, they will. His origin, story and relationship with Chad is certainly intriguing and I'm eager to see what comes from this interesting partnership. Having a long history of partnering up with Chad myself, I tip my hat to Cam (where ever you are) and congratulate him on a fine choice in a musician to bring your story and words to life. They're in good hands.

For more on Cam's Diary and Chad's upcoming album, click here.

Tragic News....

****WHAT TO KEEP & LET GO FILES LOST!!!*****

I am in shock...have NO idea how to even comprehend this....

I was informed late last night that Dave's power cut out in his studio due to some flooding he had in his basement from all this stupid rain and ALL of his files were lost!! He tried to restore the computer after it came back on but it was too late.......He does have sold old files he had backed up a a while back but they're no where NEAR the completed versions that we had....

I just have no idea what we're going to do about this....There's no way we can get it all off the ground again in such a short time. I am in shock.... I'll write more soon with updates about this. Hopefully we can figure this out but as of now it seems like the project is lost completely....:/