Friday, April 1, 2016

I Don't Want to Sail with This Ship of Fools

Save me from tomorrow... What, no one remembers World Party?

I've been suffering from a rare, lengthy bout of insomnia since the 20th. To paraphrase U2, some nights are better than others (I actually managed a good sleep this past Tuesday night), but generally I've been slow to fall asleep and have woken up several times for way too long. I'm normally out in five minutes and don't wake until it's time to wake, so this has been, well, a rude awakening. Sorry, had to.

I'm more tired than I look, and that's sayin' something
Along with suggesting possible cures (drinking warm milk or chamomile tea or whiskey, ZzzQuil, reading, placing a glass of water under the bed, listening to soothing music), most everyone has been asking whether it's stress. While it certainly makes sense as a cause, I haven't been aware of feeling especially stressed lately... but there have been some involved issues at work, and the anniversary of my proposal to Laura just passed (I know, I know, but it's hard not to think about it when I did it on St. Patrick's Day), and my self-imposed release date for the album is looming.

That last one got me thinking. Again, I haven't been consciously stressing about it, but because I announced I'd be releasing I'll Live this spring, there are now less than three months to make that happen. It's still achievable, really, but it wouldn't be easy, and I don't think I want to put that kind of pressure on myself. Don't get me wrong: I've been working on it and will continue to do so (I finished up the music to "Let Me" last weekend and will hopefully record the vocals this weekend, which will leave seven more songs to finish up), and it's as important to me as ever to get this work done. If trying to finish it in time to get it out by June 21st is contributing to my issues, however, then I need to loosen the reins a bit.

I'm thinking that late summer / early fall is a more realistic timeframe. Even if my birthday arrives and I haven't yet released I'll Live... I'll live. It's not exactly like you frakkers are clamorin' for it, anyway... heh. My state of mind is precarious enough as it is without adding sleep deprivation to the mix, so we're just going to back away from that precipice slowly.

"Nobody ever hears him
     Or the sounds he appears to make,
 And he never seems to notice..."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You Let Your Hopes and Dreams Make You Go Insane

I spent the night before Valentine's Day at a Hunter Valentine show at NYC's Bowery Ballroom. As frigid as the night was, going was a great idea!

Two months back, I decided that I should go see a band over Valentine's weekend rather than sitting at home, and when I realized that HV was playing on the 13th, well... who better to see on Valentine's Eve? I'd heard of the band several years back and had heard some music online, and I figured I'd splurge for the meet-and-greet ticket. I had no idea just how cold Saturday night was going to be when I ordered the ticket...

I headed into the City anyway, and I'm glad I did. After partaking of happy hour at the bar by downing a pair of Brooklyn Winter Ales, and stopping at the merch table to pick up a shirt and chat with the lovely young woman running it, I headed up to the front of the stage, where a group of friends, some of whom had driven up from Pennsylvania for the show, determined that I might be fun and asked me to join them in a selfie. (Apparently, my CBGB shirt was quite popular that night.) One of them, a young woman whose real name was not Veronika, proceeded to smack everyone on the ass good-naturedly, and I wasn't left out. Of course I replied in kind. Heh-heh.

The Frail (who are now known as Vacances, but were performing that night as the Frail) opened the show and put on a great set, and Hunter Valentine put on an amazing set! Everything sounded great, and I'm especially digging the new single, "Hurricane." Kiyomi's an awesome and energetic frontwoman (and being up front, I got to help her off and back on the stage when she surfed the crowd twice). Lisa just rocks, with and without her guitars. Leanne had an infectious smile on her face throughout almost the entire show, and you knew she was enjoying herself. (They brought a former bass player, Adrienne Lloyd, on stage to join them for a song with her Rickenbacker, too.) And Laura can pound those drums and sing her great Canadian love song... and drink champagne. :-D They're on their "So Long for Now" tour, because the band is going on an indefinite hiatus, but I'm really hoping they get back to making music again before too long. I'd definitely see these rockers again.

Kiyomi, Lisa, Leanne, and Laura

The meet-and-greet took place after the show, and while they must have been exhausted, the ladies were most gracious and down-to-earth. I got my chance to meet with them briefly, at which point it was after midnight and technically Valentine's Day, and it was pretty cool to hear, "Oh, yeah, you were right up front! I saw you!" Lisa and I talked about CBGB a bit, and Sick of Sarah's Jessica Forsythe took my picture (well, took practically everyone's picture) with the band before I got my CD copy of the new EP, The Pledge, autographed.

Hunter Valentine and me

The uptown F train didn't show up for nearly 30 minutes, I had to run to and from the PATH train while gasping in lungfuls of frozen air and came thisclose to missing the last train back to Lyndhurst from Hoboken anyway, and I'm still surprised my ears weren't frostbitten by the time I got home around 2 AM, but it was well worth it. What a fun night!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Something Happened on the Day He Died

David Bowie had a huge impact on rock and pop music. I'm always sad when any real musical talent passes away, and I use the term 'idol' very sparingly, but to me Bowie was one of those artists who earned the right to be an inspiration to many, and I'm definitely feeling the loss. Whether or not it shows in my music, he was an inspiration to me.

I'm pretty sure the first chords I really learned to play on guitar, when I was still a teenager, were the C major and E minor that open "Space Oddity." As a young man, I used to get occasional comparisons to the young David Bowie, and for Halloween in 1992, I shaved my eyebrows (again - but that's another story) and made my own jumpsuit and dressed as Ziggy Stardust.

I played it left hand...

Some of my friends called me Ziggy for a while after that. My first Yahoo! E-mail account was ziggysdust. In '97, I started working on an ambitious cover of "Heroes," which I eventually shelved because the computer hardware and software I had at the time wasn't able to handle 6+ minutes and 10+ tracks; I did end up covering "Rebel Rebel" some months later, and while it's hardly my best work and the drums still sound like they were borrowed from the Human League, I'm kinda proud of it.

When Bowie announced he was starting his own ISP, BowieNet, in 1998, I eagerly prepared to switch Internet providers. It was pretty awesome to be for a few years! Anyway, I'm not claiming to be the world's biggest David Bowie fan. I never got to see the man in concert, and I don't have every album (though I do have seven on vinyl, and eleven on CD). I actually just bought  today, and I imagine many others have or will, too, in a fitting tribute. It's another incredible album, and if you haven't seen the video for "Lazarus" yet, well... here.

What I admire most about Bowie is changes. Yes, the song is great, too, but I mean the fact that he constantly reinvented himself, and wasn't afraid to completely alter his look and his sound and risk alienating his fans. "Space Oddity" and "Changes" and "Suffragette City" and "The Jean Genie" and "Diamond Dogs" and "Young Americans" and "Heroes" and "Fashion" and "Let's Dance" and "Blue Jean" and "Jump They Say" and "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" and "I'm Afraid of Americans" and "Slow Burn" and "Sunday" and "Reality" and "Dancing Out in Space" and, yes, "Lazarus" and so many more are all amazing works of music... and that they were all created by the same musician makes them all the more amazing. The man had conviction.

If you want to hear six seconds of that abandoned "Heroes" attempt, I've got it posted on my Vine account:

I'd like to think that I've picked up a little of that willingness to experiment musically. I'm focusing on finishing I'll Live, my own album of original music, of course, and I don't really spend time on covering others' songs these days, but I was inspired to finally play around with the Acapella app this morning and record this 30-second video of the beginning of "A Better Future," from Heathens. Not one of his better known songs or albums, but I'd rank both as among my favorites, and the time just happened to run out after I sang "Please make sure we get tomorrow..."

Friday, January 1, 2016

...And A New One Just Begun

Happy 2016, everyone! Hope you enjoyed your New Year's Eve, whether you stayed home and crashed before midnight or went out and didn't get to bed 'til after the sun had come up. I was closer to the latter, having caught They Might Be Giants playing two sets (and two encores) at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This was my third time seeing them, and they're still so funny and full of energy and simply an amazing live experience. Pictures from the show, and from everything else I've seen and done in 2015, are of course in chronological order in the Gallery... of Death!


No resolutions for me, thanks... I'm driving. 2016 will be the year I finally get a second album done and released. If it turns out to be my last, I think I'll be OK, more than OK, with that. I'll continue to write and record songs as the fancy strikes, but in the future I'll probably just put out the occasional single or EP rather than being overwhelmed by the concept of an album. For now, though, I'll Live is moving along nicely and still earmarked for a springtime release.

I've gotten some feedback on one of the songs (from strangers... because my friends don't seem to listen, or at least to share their thoughts). It's somewhat humorous that the elements some people like are the same ones that others don't, but I get it; art is subjective, and music is art, and not everyone is going to enjoy the same things. My music is, well, my music. It's not intended to sound like Top 40, and so it's never going to make it on most (maybe any) radio stations. I'm influenced, I think, by the Beatles and David Bowie and Talking Heads and Nine Inch Nails and other musicians to varying degrees, but I don't sound like any of them, except possibly for this little bit here or that riff there. I'm no more interested in being a tribute act than I am in writing huge pop hits, and to me music is more than one sound.

So, more music, more running, more fun, more focus on the future, and less dwelling on the past. That's the plan for 2016. I wish you happiness, good health, and good fortune for the New Year... even if you don't wish it for me. Especially if you don't wish it for me. And hey, maybe 2016 will be the year some of you start interacting with me here and giving me some feedback. It could happen... Heh.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'll Live

Time to dust off "Christmas Lonely," but I have newer and older songs to which you should listen as well. I've finally decided to call the next album I'll Live, and I've posted ten of the tracks (including that holiday song) to SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and of course ReverbNation.

A number of songs from Joy in the New will be included on the new release, though they'll all be getting a fresh mixing and mastering. A few of my already-recorded tracks are benefiting from vocal and/or instrumental tweaks; for instance, "Heavywait" finally sounds right. And then there are the new ones, such as the title track. I don't expect I'll be posting any more songs from the album until it's ready for release (I'm thinking April), but you never know.

The album was going to be called Tougher Than Flannel for years, and then I abruptly started considering I Can't Possibly Give More Than I Can Give early this year. That eventually gave way to The Unfortunate Truth (from a line in "I'll Live"), which jockeyed for position with Signifying Nothing. When I began thinking in terms of including a lot of the older material and making it a double album, I even considered using both names. In the end, though, I think I'll Live is the title it should've had all along.

This probably won't be the album art, though, just a temp

The song "I'll Live" is influenced, at least lyrically, by the Who's late bass player, John Entwistle, and the dark, sometimes macabre sense of humor he often showed in his songwriting. Songs like the Who's "My Wife" and "Trick of the Light," or his solo "I Believe in Everything," inspired me to write my own song about a guy having a string of really bad luck, for whom "I'll live" is not an affirmation but a curse.

For me, though, it feels like an exclamation of defiance. That's right, I'll live! So there! Heh-heh. I hope you will, too, and I hope you'll give my tunes a listen and give me your thoughts. Later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nah... No WriMo

I wrote the lyrics to three songs today. I opted against trying to do NaNoWriMo this year, because frankly I've got enough on my plate without stressing myself about writing 1700 words a day for the month of November. I'd still like to try my hand at writing a novel, and I've got an idea about taking some of my previous ideas and putting them together with an old short story idea; I don't know if I'm going to attempt this for the next NaNoWriMo, or just do it at my own pace...

...but right now, the album is my creative focus, and so I finally sat down and wrote "Morning, Doves" and "A Blurb" and "A Blur" today. The first was inspired by the loss of a friend (in that most final sense) as well as the end of a romance; the second and third are intended to bookmark the album as its opening and closing tracks respectively, and were inspired by my quote: "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb." I added a few more lines to a fourth song, "They Might Be Roses," too, but that one's not quite done yet, and I'm not sure if it's going to be on the album anyway. Perhaps it will; that would bring me to 42 tracks, and we all know how relevant that number is.

Yes, this thing is going to be a bit gargantuan. I'm planning on using a number of the songs from Joy in the New (remixed and mastered), a number of the songs I've recorded since then, and ten or so that I have yet to record. I've been working on the remixing, and I was quite happy to find the original multitrack recording of "Hole in the Wall," which I'd thought I'd overwritten well over a decade ago. I've also been working on demoing and recording some of the new stuff.

I haven't quite settled on the album title yet, but I may go with The Unfortunate Truth, Signifying Nothing. A reference to myself, a reference to Shakespeare... what's not to like?

I'll tell you what's not to like: Daesh. Fuck Daesh. I don't have very positive feelings for anyone who lets them win their games and gives them what they're after, either. Islam is not at war with the rest of the world, and refugees fleeing from death and destruction are certainly not at war with the rest of the world. It's Daesh, the bigots and sowers of discord, who want to kill anyone who doesn't think exactly like them, and anyone like that deserves our contempt, all of our contempt.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rainbows Are Visions

I love the Muppets, having grown up with the original "Muppet Show" and enjoyed "Muppets Tonight" as well. Laura was a big fan, too, and we saw an exhibit on the Muppets at the Museum of the Moving Image together before we were really dating. The first movie we went to together was "The Muppets," and we watched many of the old episodes and films at home (and had a habit of singing "Mahna Mahna" together). She and they are kinda inextricably entwined in my mind now, which is both a happy and a sad thing. As a result, I couldn't bring myself to go see "Muppets Most Wanted" when it came out, and I was hesitant about checking out the new show that debuted tonight (and it doesn't help that yesterday would've been our two-year wedding anniversary)... but I decided to watch it anyway.

"My life is a bacon-wrapped hell on earth," indeed. And the "passionate bear" reference... lol This is certainly not "The Muppet Show" or "Muppets Tonight." I'm still adjusting to the "reality TV" angle, but I have to say I enjoyed the premiere very much. "Ivan the terrible... dancer!" "Maybe you're grumpy your spray tan's too orange..." Glad to see the jokes are as good and as bad as ever. Poor Tom Bergeron... As great as it was to glimpse Uncle Deadly using a lintroller on Kermit, though, I do need to see some of those Muppet penguins again!

Boston was nice, thanks for asking. I could definitely have used more time there, but the weather was perfect and I enjoyed the time I did have. I also got some me time in NYC on Saturday evening, opting to celebrate first Oktoberfest (because I'm part German) and then the Feast of San Gennaro (because I'm also part Italian). Weissbier, bratwurst, and zeppoles... yum. I attended another of Tania Stavreva's musical performances, too. Pics, as always, are in the Gallery... of Death!

Yes, I'm making some progress with the album. I've been digging out old files for remixing and mastering, and I'm working on writing a few new songs to be recorded. Slowly but surely. So I'm movin' right along...

And yeah, I think I'll have to sit down and watch "Muppets Most Wanted" soon.