Monday, May 21, 2007

On a lighter note...

I've just fully realized that our album actually comes out tomorrow. That's really exciting. Today, we're filming our first music video, which is a process I had never even thought possible. Watching people film in double time is amazing! The video is for Firecracker, which I've decided is my favorite song on the record, along with Real Live Version (a song written for Judee Sill-it's supposed to sound like that) and Blood Red Blood. Or at least those are the songs whose outcome reached their initial intentions the best...

This Friday we start our tour, which continues for about five weeks, a daunting prospect but fun nonetheless. It's interesting, this process we've been going through recently of having to bring the songs from the record into the live set. It was nice doing a bit of experimenting with sound when making the record, but I suppose the trick is figuring how to give the songs an equal amount of live energy as their counterparts. At least in Austin and New York, we have Tosca on our side and that's never a bad thing!

Hope to see you soon.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Forward Motion

I've just finished working up some new material with the band, something I've been dying to do for a wee while. It's funny how, when you don't have to do something, it seems to come quite easily. The songs are a bit more of a return to some of the more energetic and upbeat categories, similar to what we have released in the past. Well, similar, but slightly evolved, I think. I don't know- it's hard to make these judgements about one's own music, and frankly, why bother? Despite the fact that this process of working up new material has been really fun and gratifying and whatnot, the whole experience has actually given me a greater appreciation for our album that comes out on Tuesday.

Honestly, I hope that anybody who's reading this doesn't think that I sit around listening to my own music all day and patting myself on the back, it's just that working up new material has lead me to once again examine the creative process, and in turn come to grips with the notion that whatever you create should always be an accurate reflection of yourself at the time. Forced enthusiasm is usually transparent.

Sometimes you write a song because you think, as you're writing it, "this is going to be really fun to listen to," or "this has great energy," etc... It's nice to get excited about the parts which you feel will resonate with the audience. And then sometimes you write a song because, as ridiculous as it sounds, you kind of have to. It's cathartic. Perhaps the first method is more enjoyable from the standpoint of a listener, but it just kind of provides a different thing. One is something you almost connect to physically and the other is more of a voice or personality trying to work its way off the tape, desperate to be heard, and when you connect with that it brings a different kind of joy, maybe something that can't accurately be described as pleasure. Does that sound stupid? It's a bit like a bran muffin versus a cupcake. Now, I know there's no way THAT sounded stupid. Note, I am not implying that recordings which contain one quality do not contain the other, but sometimes these qualities are manifested in ways that are not immediately obvious.

Anyway, this is getting quite scattered and vague, but I'll close this by saying that I think it's important to keep moving forward, not to let yourself rest as a musician in one particular place for too long. That way, you can return at any time to your previous creations and think, "that was me at one time," and hopefully be able to mark the ways in which you have evolved, both as a player and a person. One fortunate (or unfortunate) aspect of music is that it is very much a record of yourself, a topographical map of your emotional landscape, and sometimes it takes a little bit of time away before you fully discern your own peaks and valleys.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mint. Yellow. Chocolate. Orange.

Before the entry, here is an mp3 of perhaps the best song I've heard in quite some time. If anybody would like it removed for any reason, just let me know and it will be taken down at once. (Gui Boratto- Beautiful Life).

I used to be really good at being alone. Not to say that I am especially bad at being alone now, but something has definitely changed. Perhaps it has something to do with touring constantly, acquiring more levels of management (upon whom it is easy to become dependent), and thus becoming, in some sick and indirect way, addicted to attention. Or maybe it's none of these things; maybe it's just a part of getting ever so slightly older and reevaluating one's priorities.

Today was a good day, though, even if it was, in its own cruel way, possessed of a certain sadness. But I've always maintained the notion that sadness is not always something to be avoided. Part of the reason that certain melancholy indie artists appeal to me is because they are not afraid to treat sadness with an even respect. Just like any other emotion, it is not flat and direct- it is multi-colored and multi-faceted and therefore deserves the same examination and dissection afforded to more positive chemical reactions. It's important, for the sake of this discussion, to separate depression from sadness. Sadness, in my definition, is less of an affliction, and more of a general sense that washes over you: for a brief second you can see the past, present and future at once. More specifically, you understand too much about loss, mortality, and the human condition to be in full possession of your conscious character.

But like I said, today was a good day. Sometime in the early afternoon, I watched "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner." the book of which I had read years ago, really enjoyed, and primarily forgotten. It's a really beautiful film, full of nuance and subtlety, even if it does mildly divert from the narrative structure of the original text. I have never been particularly good at vicious rebellion, but something about the silent protest of the main character, I found awe-inspiring. Following the film, walked to my local grocer and purchased an orange, but not just any orange, a really large, potentially-genetically-modified-now-that-I-think-of-it-orange, perhaps the brightest one in the shop. As I walked home I flipped it up in the air repeatedly, marveling at the mere wonder of its weight each time I caught it. Immediately upon arriving home, I placed it on my bed, enabling myself to employ both hands in the the act of shoe-removal. Just as I had removed the second shoe, I turned around to see the marvelous color combination of fresh fruit and fabrics: mint green top sheet, white quilt with some sort of yellow floral pattern, chocolate brown bottom sheet, and of course the orange of the day, large and luminescent as ever.

In this moment I realized that this is one of the benefits of being alone: to notice things like this, these sorts of bizarre simple pleasures. When you are alone, you suffer silence, you are more prone to contemplation, to noticing nature's little eccentricities that spring up round about you. Just for clarification, bear in mind that I am not talking about loneliness on a catastrophic level, the sort that is inflicted upon people against their will, but rather the kind of everyday loneliness known to many on a more basic level. And so, proceeding...Yes, I whole-heartedly agree- it's hard to live without real love in your life, but sometimes you have to use that particular silence to enrich yourself, to notice the wonder of brown against yellow against orange, to watch something that inspires you, and, eventually, to create. We have to learn to process the desire for human contact into something more positive, at least until something more substantial comes along.

And so this series of bitter and sweet realizations melts into something that I will once again refer to as a certain sadness- it is not necessarily a direct offense, but just that- a certain, inescapable sadness. For me this feeling is epitomized by the sunday evenings of my younger school days. That bizarre combination of fading light, dissipating energy, and terrible TV programs, iced with the threat of impending responsibility and anger brought upon by the school week. I can clearly remember sitting in my parents' old living room, the one with thirty foot ceilings and insanely large windows, watching as the angle of the sun decreased, and thinking to myself just how intense the silence was. Not so much an absolute silence, but more the sound of the last cello note played in the last symphony on the last day of humanity, forever decreasing and decaying to an almost inaudible buzz, across the darkening horizon that somehow managed to embrace the entire world.

In that moment, you know that, one day, you will be lucky enough and stricken enough to face bigger things.