Monday, November 06, 2006

Time to Face the Music

I started writing this blog on July 11, 2006. I feel that I'm finally ready to post it.

I look at our debut EP "Sarcasm Is Your Friend" as a generic poppy, punky, immature stroll through adolescence, experimentation, and pure luck. I had never written a CD before. I just wrote songs. I never knew what it meant to write an album. I had no idea what I was doing. Most days I still don't, however I feel like that's been changing over the last few months. I went through a period of time where I was really pressured to write new music and have it be a certain length in a certain style, with certain instrumentation and certain melodies. This pressure wasn't from any outside sources, it was all coming from myself.

Nothing's certain in music.
I'll probably say that 100 times throughout this rant.

I have a complete understanding for why bands will release Sophomore records that their fans hate. As songwriters we figure out what we like, what we don't like, have ideas on what we'd like to try, what works, and what doesn't work.
Sometimes I want a challege, other times I know what's safe to write and I don't get in over my head. In the end, I'm writing music that I want to listen to. I don't write it for you, I write it for myself, and if you happen to dig a song here and there, then bravo. That makes me feel good about what we do and gives us some purpose.

Maybe no one will like it. Some days, that's how it looks.
Nothing is certain in music.

For a long time I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish with our next CD. Our first full length. Our first album. I've become so sick and tired of hearing records that sound exactly the same the entire way through, and I'm sick to death of listening to CD's where the songs don't have any kind of collective feel to them.
I've listened to a lot of styles of music in the past year and a half, tried a lot of new things, some which worked, others which tanked, but I feel better about what I can and cannot tackle musically.

I decided very quickly after "Sarcasm" was released that I wanted our full length to be very cohesive. I want it to have hooks and melodies you cannot get out of your head. I want it to have tracks that you'll skip over but mean the more to me persoanlly than they ever could to you.
I want it to sound more mature.
I want to write about real things.
Real people.
Real events.
I want it to be real.
I don't want to sugarcoat anything anymore.

I feel as though my writing slowed down simply because I was afraid to say what I wanted to. I don't want to offend anyone with the music. Especially people that I know. I feel as though my songs represent a moment in time and not how I feel all day every day. A song is like a picture. You look at it, get some sort of vibe and that memory comes back to you. It's like an audio photograph. Or this blog. Much the same. Just because I hated someone for a 24 hour period and wrote a song about it doesn't mean that person should be offended when they hear that song months later.
I felt like if everyone would just assure me that nothing I say would get to them, we'd be three albums deep at this point. Instead I use metaphors. Metaphors with a catchy guitar riff behind them. Everyone wins.

I once even had delusions over writing a whole concept record. I love them. I think that when done well, they are the best pieces of music. Music usually tells a story. It's insanely hard to tell a coherent story over 11 or 12 tracks, so I always give kudos to bands who manage to pull it off. Green Day, Say Anything, Armor For Sleep, and even The Early November who just recently released a massive 3 disc concept album. Bravo to them all. I tried to gear my writing towards this for the longest time, but I don't think I'm ready to tackle it, so instead I'm sticking with the theme album idea.

I have a vision. The rest of the band is cool enough to baby me and deal with my little tantrums and occasional music-nazi attitude. I don't know if they see and support what I'm trying to accomplish, or if they just deal with it and trashtalk me when I'm not around, but it's cool that they appear to be supportive of this vision of mine and give me the time I need to create it. Never do they say "Hey Wes, how come you haven't written a new song yet?"
It took me 11 months to complete 3 songs and I ended up writing the bulk of them in 5 days. Pressure apparently brings out both the best and worst in me.

For a while there I thought that maybe the well ran dry.
Now I feel like the well is backed up and overflowing into my neighbor's yard. And they're pissed.
See? I just used the well as a metaphor from the mystical place that I draw my lyrics and melodies from. I would name that place if I could. It could be a planet or something. I think it's more of a black hole. Ever try to walk around all day with a melody in your head just waiting to get home so you could play it on the guitar and then when you get to your house you have forgotten the melody? Happens all the time. That's why the "Voice Memo" function on my cell phone is jam packed with snippets of my humming, singing, and reciting various lyrics and melodies that I am desperate not to let slip away.

It's gotten to the point lately where I'm really starting to feel like I've centered myself with certain ideas that I'd like to accomplish. I have songs in mind that I know my bandmates will hear for the first time and laugh because they'll think it's a joke. I want it to be a CD that I'm proud of. That the band is proud of. I want to release a record that I look back on and love. I'll be completely honest here... I can't even listen to "Sarcasm" anymore and really don't have much desire to play more than two or three of those songs live. I've grown. I've moved on. I think all artists feel that way. You love it when it's fresh and new, but here I am now, 22 years old still singing the same old songs about stuff that was relevant to my life when I was 18 or 19. I need to talk about where I am now. What's happening now. How I feel now.

Were this blog posting a movie, this next part would be a flashback.
Of course, were this a movie, the plot development would probably be way quicker and the characters more interesting.
Oh, and I would be played by John Cusack.
Anyway...

I recently took a week long vacation off of work. It was getting to the point where I had so many music ideas in my head and little time to get them out that I thought I was going to explode. So during this week off, I hunkered down in my bedroom and recorded three new songs onto my computer. I recorded these songs as if I were in a multi-million dollar recording studio. I used all sorts of crazy effects and other bells and whistles that will never happen in a live setting, but again, I wrote the songs that I wanted to hear. I'm so proud and happy about how they turned out and it makes me excited to one day hear the finished product if/when it gets recorded in a real studio. Nothing is certain in music.

End flashback.

As things stand right now I feel that we have six really SOLID newer songs that I would be proud to put onto a record. Obviously six songs isn't enough for a full length release, but I'm confident that I can pump out an additional five or six others before the end of the year. When I played the 3 newest demos for my bandmates, they met the songs with a positive outlook and I know since then that JoAnna has been working on making the drums beats awesome, Doug has had some of the tracks on constant repeat to absorb them, and Bert has added his own style of flair to bring you some wicked basslines. I work with good people. There's definitely an advantage to living with your bandmates. You get to create music with your best friends and everyone gets to play an instrument they love to create songs that they also love. It's an amazing thing.

We've had several different opportunities pop up lately and have quite a few ideas on where we'd want to record an album, and who we might want to record it with, but due to the fact that currently we don't bring in a lot of cash means that we have absolutely no budget for recording at this time. We are lucky enough to have access to recording studios here and there and will be recording and re-recording demos as much as possible to make sure that these songs are exactly where we want them to be.
We hope to get these demos into people's ears who might be able to help us out with getting our record recorded and released, but in this industry, there is no certainty. All of our newer demos will be held tightly under wraps and if they leak then chances are I will scrap them and write new material to replace it. There will already be songs on our next record that people have been hearing live for almost a year. That's cool. If you know three of the songs already, then you've gotten a taste of where we're headed, but I want the rest to be a surprise and blow your mind.
But then again, nothing is certain in music.

We hope 2007 to be our year. Help us make it that way.

1 comment:

Hannnnnnah. said...

I decided that this deep entry deserved a comment& I may sound totally lame throughout this comment, but just ignore it. :]

Reading this was really interesting. The way that you explained everything. Plus, it's remarkable how much you care about the music. And it's really nice to know this.
Me liking you guys& seeing you like once a month means more to me than I think you guys realize. Over the past year, I've decided what I want to do with my life, and I give the four of you as a band, a lot of credit for that. Seeing you guys numerous times& being able to promote for these shows, and making sure that people at least try to listen to you, has led me to realize that this is what I love.

Being able to see you guys so many times over the past year allows me to honestly say that you've matured musically, and it's definitely for the best. Each and every new song I've heard, I fall in love with, and begin to like them more than any songs off of Sarcasm. Saturday night when I heard the first chords to 'Something That I Miss', my eyes filled with tears. Why? I don't know. There is something about that song, but it's a good something.
You guys just keep up everything that you're doing, and it will pay off. And anything I can do along the way to help, you know I'm here.