monday 9/19

“the drive to why”

This is that time of year when the audio and visuals need updated. Did a photo shoot last friday an hours drive from where I live. We shot during magic hour, which automatically meant an hour driving home, in the dark on East Texas backroads.

Which automatically becomes an hour of contemplation…

The last couple of months have been an adjustment back to independence. Without rehearsals and shows to work for an around, I can use my time for anything I want.

Anyone who finds themselves in this scenario will tell how dangerous this can be if there isn’t a direction and a destination. Some call following a set of directions to a destination “a plan”, but I don’t like the term or the process of planning because, the idea of “a plan” sounds so concrete, it can easily lead the faithful and blind to disastrous outcomes. Despite detecting flaws early enough to adjust the course, “executing the plan” begins to supercede “achieving results”.

I prefer “objectives” that come with a list of things that add up to “objective achieved”. This leaves room for adding an adjusting as I discover what I didn’t know along the way.

(still contemplating… while driving.. in the dark)

After gassing up at a station, on the west side of the loop around Marshall TX, I spent the next ten miles or so realizing that I was completing a list of things I do every year or so regardless of whether or not there’s an actual objective. Why?

I could say these are habits adopted to mask the reality that there’s a bit a work that comes with getting what I want. Like: I have to practice everyday or I’ll suck, I need to listen to music (not audiobooks, not podcasts) to “remain immersed”, I need to network with people to stay employed, I need updated photos because I don’t look the same as the last batch, I need new recordings because…

..good question.

If I were in a band and in the support role I’m accustomed to, that would be an easy answer. Recording, coming up with grooves and beds is what I do. Whenever I have material at this stage, I’m usually on my way to putting a mic in front of a vocalist to finish the job. Today, I just did a photo shoot to accompany the release of my own material. No band (aside from the drummer hired for the recording), just me. Why?

As a musician I’ve always considered myself more of a mechanic or specialist than an artist. Unlike my friends who can whip out a song (lyrics/melody/etc) a day out of the air, I tend to require at least one other element to already exist before I go into action – even if that element gets deleted later in the process. When I say specialist: I’m a guitar player and anything else I’m able to do is thousands of feet below the altitude my playing flies. Sideman and support is my territory, but this time it’s me out front. Why?

Recording the material is nearly finished. I’m a couple lines short of a hook necessary to consider the first release “done”. Things are so close that B Roll for the video has been shot and edited. (yeah – there will be video before it even hits the streamers). As fun as the process and final outcome is, it’ll never match performing so… why?

I’ve just crossed the east side of the loop around Longview TX and have no reasons beyond, keeping the blade sharp and demonstrating capabilities. That’ll just have to be enough for now.

[r] 20220919

monday 09/12

There’s a big difference between “finished” and “released”

..been having to repeat that mantra to myself ever since getting back into production last year. Prior to to that, I had drives filled with “starts” (aka demos) of ideas that I never really did anything with, because I didn’t have anything that made them need to be done. Prior to that – twenty plus years ago – I was going through all kinds of phases while trying to follow up on the second of two albums (released 2000 and 2001). By the end of 2011 I’d come to the conclusion that: “music was over – do something else”.

The pressure was off. The experiments increased. Nothing was ever finished. That didn’t stop me from filling drives with hours of sounds and beats and riffs etc. I think there’s some kind of universal truth about getting more of something after you decide to stop doing it.

Last December I was asked to write for the band I was in and within a couple months, I managed to pump out a bunch of ideas (a little over 20). We didn’t use them all, so the unfinished and rejected ideas came along with me to place I find myself today.

My goal was getting them “finished”. In process, I discovered it would be necessary to define what “finished” meant.

For this specific batch – every track has to have lyrics and a recorded vocal track to be considered finished. Finished also meant I could release them.

Then I started to realize “lyrics are hard” and every time I recorded vocals or attempted vocals the lyrics had to be revised (read: almost completely re written). The biggest issue is lyrics/hooks not popping. “Popping” is subjective. “Popping” can be almost unattainable. As of this writing there’s nothing I could consider finished because there’s no way I’m releasing what I have at this moment.

Releasing music was another goal this year. I’m not backing down from this one.

I’ve decided that “finished” is now everything in the original definition with one exception: it can always be rewritten because it hasn’t been released. “Released” means released. Posted. Uploaded. There’s a video. It’s performed live. The track has a life outside of the archive drive and folder filled with hundreds of trial mixes.

As of this writing there’s one track thats “close enough” that I’m doing everything that comes with releasing it short of hitting the upload button. You’ll know it’s ready when it pops.

monday 09/05

Last live show was two months ago but I stayed busy anyway. Besides taking on some work building gear for synthesizer peoples and making tweaks to my home brewed amp,  I got some writing and recording done. 

Did two tracks with Richie and Mini Mendez (Richie wrote them) and a grip of tracks recorded with others tba.

I plan on releasing one sometime this month (once I punch over my bad vocal takes)….

studio time: 20220312 danger

finishing tracks started earlier this year….

Working title is “danger” – this is the arrangement stage. My writing process usually begins from bits stumbled upon during morning practice. I capture them with the voice memo app on my phone and build them in (ableton) Live.

Rough mix and stem package sent to the players for replacement – stay tuned