Dec 26, 2009

Merry Rockin' Christmas (A Day Late)

Dec 24, 2009

Commiting To Writing

I was just scoping out the blogosphere and I read a great article about writing. It was pretty straight forward but great advice none-the-less, be committed to writing. It's little things like the advice from this article that make me realize how easy it is to get things going and just do what I like to do, write songs. Screw the inspiration, the time, the distractions, every excuse in the book. It's all about putting the pen to paper or the fingers to the keys and that's it, nothing complicated. It doesn't matter what it is, just as long as it's words coming from my head and into the daylight.

Thanks to the Saphrym blog for the great advice and the great blog. To check out the article, "Writing Tips: Commit", click here.

Rock on!

Dec 20, 2009

Off Topic: New Dog!

Christmas came in early in our household. Yesterday, we picked up our new dog, Lisey. We're really excited to finally have a dog after the long and arduous search, KJ even more than me! She's a American Eskimo dog mixed with what we think is a border collie. But since she was a rescue we may never know. She's already taken a liking to chewing on the branches of our Christmas tree, so we have to keep a good eye on her.

Oh, and if you're interested in where the name Lisey (pronounced "Lis" like Melissa and "ey" like....e) came from it has some mixed roots. (And if you're not interested I'm going to tell you anyway.)

I wanted to try to name her after a Red Sox player (since I'm a big Sox fan) and finally settled on Lisey as a tribute to first baseman Kevin Youkilis as Big Papi didn't quite have the ring to it. The name also comes from the Stephen King book Lisey's Story, as I'm also a big SK fan. I definitely wanted the name to mean something, much like I want my lyrics to always be meaningful, and I think we accomplished that.

Dec 16, 2009

Word Box Wednesday #5 - It's Been Awhile

So my last Word Box Wednesday was April...yikes. It's a glaringly sick example of how unproductive the songwriting has been over the past year, the year that was supposed to be my most creative to date.

The Word Box (explained here, last January), was always supposed to be my songwriting inspiration. Or maybe not so much inspiration but a little jump start to the ideas that weren't coming to me otherwise. But lately it's just been an old Whitman's Sampler box with words taped all over it. (Although, it does look pretty cool if I do say so myself.)

The saddest part is that I have this feeling in my gut that I really want to write. The insane urge to create good song after good song that I can be proud of and share with the world. The problem is that I just don't know where to go from here. I sure as hell am not going to give up. But where are those ideas going to come from and how am I going to finally put them together to make something worthwhile? Honestly, I have no clue, but I'm going to start by reaching into the Word Box for the first time in more than 8 months and see where it takes me.

So here I go....first I'll give it a good shake. (shaking....) Then I'll take off the cover. Reach in, (some more word shuffling...) and pick out the word:


How can I use the word dirt in a song? (About a million different ways.) What does it make me feel? (Sad or adventurous.) What does it make me think about? (Death or childhood.)

All good questions, now let's run with it. Rock on!

Dec 12, 2009

It's Definitely A "Twisted Christmas"

It's going to be another weird Christmas this year. Since KJ and I can't make it home once again, we're trying to make the best of it and thankfully the live rock shows have been plentiful to compensate. Our Christmas season got a little "twisted" last night as we caught 98.9 The Rock's Twisted Christmas show at the Midland Theater in Downtown Kansas City. The show featured Adelitas Way, Sick Puppies, Papa Roach and Breaking Benjamin.

This was the second time in a few months that we got a chance to catch Sick Puppies live. We first saw them back in September here in Lawrence (see "Hard Rock, Sore Throats, Hot Bass Players and Getting Old"). I missed Emma. It was nice to see her rocking the bass once again. This was also Breaking Benjamin show number 5 for us. And honestly, I would see them again...and again. Ben (the lead singer) was a little under the weather but they still put on a good show and even rocked out a great version of Dream On by Aerosmith.

As for Adelitas Way and Papa Roach, this was the first time we'd seen either. Adelitas Way was decent, they brought some energy and some good tunes. But Papa Roach was nothing short of amazing. I like their music and although I've never been a huge fan, they most definitely know how to bring the rock. Jacoby, the front man, was all over the place, dripping sweat from song one and all while sporting a giant smile on his face. It's so much easier to get into the music when you can see the band enjoys what they are doing.

Aside from the music it was one of the most interesting shows I've ever been to and that might mean that I need to be in the pit a little more often. We saw at least 3 sets of women making out (I think there was one girl that was the common link to all 3 sessions), two sets of naked breasts (on a couple of different occasions, one occasion that won our side of the floor a little contest), and at least 3 fights, all of which my bad ass girlfriend broke up. This show was truly what a rock show is about.

It's nice to think that in about 3 weeks we'll be heading back to the same place to catch Cavo and Rev Theory for The Rock's New Year's Eve party. It'll be a huge change of pace to be counting down the new year like we've seen on tv all these years. It will no doubt be a great experience and an even better reason to rock out like we love to do.

By the way, sorry for the crappy cell phone pics of the show (Not that the pics on here are ever stellar anyway). It was hard whipping out the camera in the surging crowd and though we were close, it was necessary to use the zoom on my cell phone camera, making the pics a little grainy. But with me being a bit of a cell phone photog wannabee, I couldn't help myself.

Rock on!

Nov 25, 2009

The New Year's Eve Let Down

I think it's a common happening that New Year's Eve is a severe let down. There's high hopes that it's going to be a spectacular night, an insane celebration of the year passed and the year to come. But plans always seem to fall through or expectations are never met. It ends in wasted money, lame parties or like my normal New Year's Eve night, sitting at home for a forgettable night of struggling to stay awake long enough to see the ball drop in Times Square.

I know it's a little early to be thinking about New Year's Eve, it's only the day before Thanksgiving, but I can't help but be excited for this year's festivities. For the first time in my adult life, I actually have plans to do something that barring an unseen catastrophe are going to blow away every other New Year and no doubt make 2010 actually memorable. (Especially compared to last year when I "celebrated" my first Central Time Zone New Year, super lame.)

This year I snagged tickets to see a show headlined by Rev Theory (who I got to catch acoustic-like back in August in my Music Weekend To Remember.) in Kansas City. They will be joined by Cavo and a local band Red Line Chemistry. The local radio station that's putting the show on is talking up the show pretty hardcore and I didn't want to take a chance of missing out so I ordered the tickets today, the second I got home from work.

I'm literally ending this year with a bang. I promised myself that I would start going to more shows and there hasn't been a shortage in the last 3 months. I caught Sick Puppies in September, Our Lady Peace in October, Chevelle and Halestorm in November, and in December Breaking Benjamin, Sick Puppies and Papa Roach as well as the Rev Theory show. This crazy goal of mine definitely isn't cheap but what's the point of working to make money if there's no time to use that money for some play. Work hard, play harder. My motto.

When it comes to the New Year 2010 I've had enough with trying to be cool, drinking my lemonade and vodka, playing Wii and falling asleep at 11:45. Here's to a memorable New Year rocking out, even if it is a bit of a wait.

Nov 13, 2009

More Halestorm, I Can't Help It

I can't help but share the other song that Halestorm performed acoustically on The Johnny Dare Morning Show here in Kansas City. Lizzy is just too bad ass not to share her with the world. Some singers will dumb it down when they rock out acoustic style, which is cool sometimes, it's nice to hear the song differently, but Lizzy just totally kicks the crap out of these songs!

The video below is the band performing their first big single, I Get Off. Rock on!

Nov 12, 2009

Halestorm and My Ongoing Obession

I've mentioned before about how I can't help but dig women lead singers of rock bands. Bands like Flyleaf, Guano Apes, Paramore, and more recently Halestorm have been lighting up my iTunes playlists and blasting out of my car stereo. There's just something about those upbeat, raspy, intense, vocals that sends my music craving mind mad.

I had a chance to feed my obesession live and in person last night at the Uptown Theater in KCMO. (Kansas City, Missouri for those of you not up on the midwestern lingo.) Chevelle headlined a show featuring Halestorm, which as I mentioned, has one rockin' chick as the lead singer slash rhythm guitarist. Sporting the full body, striped, spandex body suit and flexing those amazing (amazingly hot, that is) golden pipes, Lizzy Hale truly rocked my world and was definitely the highlight of the show for me. And not only do I dig her slamming rock vocals because she's a woman, but I am just truly jealous of the power that those vocal chords blasted out at us. Me want some of those.

I can't come close to explaining how amazing her voice is so I included the video below of the band performing acoustically on the Johnny Dare Morning Show live on the radio here in Kansas City. I've had the song, It's Not You, stuck in my head since they opened their show with it last night. It so happens it's their new single so it's obviously doing it's job as catchy radio tune.

Definitely check out the video and keep rockin'!

Nov 4, 2009

Slutterfly, Slumblebee, Slirate, and Our Lady Peace

I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. Sure, I love candy (and roasted pumpkin seeds, oh so good), but the stress of finding a costume and the idea of dressing up to begin with hasn't been my thing for a while. That and I never feel like I'm even close to creative as the other guy. I'm always one upped, or totally skanked out, which brings me to this Halloween.

Since I'm not much for Halloween, I never really get out and do anything. I'm the kind to chill and watch a couple of scary movies. A little boring, I know, but that's how I roll. This year was a little different as my favorite band, Our Lady Peace, was playing a free show in downtown Kansas City. They played a covered outdoor stage at a place called the Power & Light District. I'd heard some mixed reviews about the venue but overall it was pretty sweet with it's restaurants, clubs, giant courtyard, heat lamps mounted to the ceiling, and the jumbo big screen television tuned to a college football game.

Being the kind of boring guy I am I showed up sans costume which I can't say about a good chunk of the people there. Even the opening band, Company of Thieves, was dressed in full Wizard of Oz gear. There were some pretty inventive costumes (Jesus hanging out with the Pope and the Devil to name a few.) There were also quite a few of unoriginal costumes that made me feel good about not wearing one. (Come on guys, you're only supposed to find Waldo once, not 6 times.) But the ones that are always stand outs are the young ladies who find Halloween as an occasion to skank-it-up. These are the ladies that I will never be able to compete with. I can't say I can complain, if they want to dress like that who am I to stop them (wink, wink), but it does baffle me a little thinking what some people will wear in public. The whole thing is a game for me, coming up with names for these wonderfully skanky costumes that seem to get racier every year.

Example #1: slutty + butterfly = slutterfly

There were a quite a few of those this year.

Example #2: slutty + bumblebee = slumblebee

I think I spotted a handful of those. Now, I think you get the point, see if you can figure out slirate.

Overall, the show was great. It was a cool atmosphere, especially with everyone dressed up. This was the third time I'd seen Our Lady Peace and it definitely won't be the last. I'm anxious for the next show I'm attending in December, a show I just spent a little too much money to be able to attend. But what's the point of having money if you don't spend it every once and a while and what's the point of being young if you don't get out, stay up late, and take advantage of it? There is none. So let's rock on!

Oct 6, 2009

Getting Out of the Funk and Into the Rock

I once read somewhere that to be a good writer, no matter what form, you need to read a lot and to write even more. Having my focus on writing lyrics, I've also added into the equation listening to a lot of music. In my quest to keep writing and become a better a songwriter I've done quite a bit of the following:

1. I got myself a library card and have been going book crazy. According to my Books on Facebook application (Yeah, it's bad, I'm even keeping track.) I've read 7 books since September 1st and many more over the course of the summer. I read during breaks at work, I read when I get home, I read in waiting rooms, I read on my days off, and whenever I feel I have nothing better to do. (Which is quite often.)

I'm a little proud of this development, there could be worse things to be addicted to, T.v. or drugs for example. I enjoy reading, it passes time and I'm doing it to improve myself. But I can't help but feel a little pathetic at times knowing there are other things I could be doing. We'll get to one of the most important things I could be doing later.

2. I love music, there is no denying that. Lately, I've been on a new music listening frenzy that is only rivaled by my book reading kick. Many of my favorite bands, and some that I just enjoy in general, have been coming out with new music in the past couple of months and I've been eating it up, hence my earlier posts, "Burn Burn" Burning Up The Car Stereo, Those Are Some "Sick Puppies", as well as posts about Green Day, Hinder, and Three Days Grace. Not to mention dropped albums I haven't mentioned like Paramore, Breaking Benjamin and Thousand Foot Krutch.

It goes on and on my friends. And I can't help it. As Three Days Grace would put it, "At night I feel like a vampire, it's not right, but I just can't give it up." It's great hearing new music because for me it's a little bit of inspiration, which leads to the determination to make something better of what I create.

But lately it's only lead to quite a bit of frustration, too much procrastination, along with unhealthy doses of constipation. Not the kind you're thinking of, more lyrical constipation, constipation of the brain. Which leads me to the one thing I haven't been doing much of at all when it comes to the steps to improving my songwriting chops.


The most important aspect of this whole process has been totally neglected and I haven't done anything about it. I rarely put pen to paper or even fingers to keyboard. The pages have been blank and frankly I haven't known what to do to remedy it. Even this blog has seen posts that are way too far and few between. My guitar has been collecting dust in it's lonely corner, the area I like to refer to as the musical black hole of my new apartment.

Am I putting too much pressure on myself to perform? Probably. Am I not going with the flow like I always used to and just letting ideas comes as they come while making sure to jot them down and not take things for granted? Most definitely. Am I full of excuse after excuse why I can't get things done? Absolutely! But is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, there is. It comes in the form of a chorus that leaked out of my brain two days ago.

Once the ball is rolling, who knows where it's going to end up. Keep it rockin', I will!

Sep 14, 2009

New Three Days Grace Video for "Break"

As if I haven't listened to the new single, Break, from Three Days Grace enough, the video just premiered today. Check it out below. I'm pumped for the cd to drop next Tuesday. My parents are visiting, I'm hitting 4 Royals/Red Sox games (Go Sox!) and getting one my favorite band's new albums next week. A good week it will be. If only I didn't have to work.

Rock on!

Sep 11, 2009

Hard Rock, Sore Throats, Hot Bass Players and Getting Old

I'm only 26, but when did I get so "old"? It's like it happened with a flick of a switch, when I wasn't paying attention, just trying to pay the bills and keep myself happy. Last night, though it was a Thursday (wow, that makes me sound real lame), I braved the unknown nightlife of Kansas to try to regain a semblance of my youth by doing something as simple as staying up past 9:30 and seeing a real rock show, something that I haven't done in the longest time.

Last night was the big show I had been waiting for for months, Sick Puppies in downtown Lawrence playing with The Veer Union and headliner Hurt. My excitement was in the chance to see Sick Puppies, who I've been a fan of since their first album was released in 2006. With the show being right here in town and their new album "Tri-Polar", which I just had to go out and snatch the day it came out (see Those Are Some "Sick" Sick Puppies) blasting holes in my car stereo speakers, I felt this was my opportunity to strip myself of my old man status and act like the rocker of old days that was seeing rock show after rock show excited over every riff and lyric.

The show was at The Granada, an old school looking music venue on Massachusetts St. in downtown Lawrence. KJ and I showed up in time to see the opener, a local Kansas City band called Black Oxygen. They put on a decent 20 minute or so set and made way for The Veer Union, who is known for their single Seasons, which gets quite a bit of play on the local alternative rock stations around here. Their set was highlighted by a dangerous looking mohawk, a drum set set off to the side of the stage due to lack of space, and some kicking tunes. As enjoyable as they were, we stood back at watched from the back of the pit, taking it in and waiting for our chance to truly rock out.

Once The Veer Union finished, I set aside my walker, grabbed KJ and walked to the floor in front of the stage and rocked out like you're supposed to at a rock show as Sick Puppies commanded the room. The modest sized crowd surged around us as we were pushed forward to the very front with Shim (the lead guitarist and vocalist) hovering over us and bating us on to keep moving and making as much noise as we could. I sure as hell didn't hold back. I belted out every lyric that I could, which was most of them, and shouted my excitement like I did in my college days, rocking it out for Foo Fighters or Three Days Grace. (We saw some very good shows back in those days.)

Shim really owned it song after song and Mark truly held his own behind his kit, but there's really no way to sugar coat it, Emma, the bass player, was smoking hot. There is nothing much hotter than to see an attractive woman rocking out on a stage, ripping the hell out of her instrument and looking damn fine in the process. At some points it was hard taking my eyes away, seeing her so intense and into the music, head banging in her tall black boots and short skirt. Heck, even KJ admitted she would tap that. That's saying something when your girlfriend tells you that. It's sad that I didn't have the guts to go say hi and check out her hot Australian accent at the meet-and-greet after the set, but watching the show was a treat in itself.

Sadly, after Sick Puppies, our geriatric ways kicked back in after a couple of songs into Hurt's set. I'd never heard of them until this show and I didn't know any of their tunes. (I did really dig their tune "Ten Ton Brick".) Their music was heavy, intense and most definitely gut busting in the best of ways, but we were both exhausted and dreading the work day that was to follow.

I hate to admit I left early, at only 10:30 to boot, I'm usually the last one to want to leave early from a rock show, especially after paying good money to be there, but we'll take it one step at a time. Me protecting my lady from the moshers and screaming myself hoarse to the lyrics of Sick Puppies was more than a small step to my reintroduction to non-loser-dome.

Sep 1, 2009

Come "Break" Some Stuff With Me and Three Days Grace!

This blog has mostly been about popular music and my ongoing obsession with it lately, and for that I apologize. That wasn't my original intent when I started writing. This place was meant for me to write about my triumphs, struggles and ideas about my songwriting. But with the songwriting stuck on the struggle side, I've been overly excited and focused on new music, and there hasn't been any shortages when it comes to my favorite bands pumping out the new tunage.

When it comes down to it, writing music and being creative has just as much to do with your influences as it has to do with anything that you're actually doing in the realm. If it weren't for these artists like Our Lady Peace and Three Days Grace, I'm convinced that I wouldn't have the interest in writing and performing that I still so badly have. That probably means more posts about new albums and concerts that I've attended, but the more I think of it, the more I feel it fits the original purpose of my blog.

So, speaking of Three Days Grace, they have a new album called "Life Starts Now" that's coming out on September 22nd. (Which of course I'm totally pumped for as TDG is one my favorite bands.) The first single, Break, just debuted on their site at about 20 minutes ago and I'm on listen number 4 in a row as I type.

TDG continues to impress me album after album. This new song is no exception. I'm excited to hear the rest of the album in a couple of weeks. Man, I just love hard rock with the slamming drums, the crunchy guitars and the raspy vocals. I can't get enough. Though it's not the Three Days Grace, you throw a female vocalist in there and I'm hooked, I just can't help myself, I just dig it. (Think Flyleaf, Halestorm, even Paramore.) This heavy, pounding stuff isn't really the kind of music I really want to make anymore, but the lyrics of Adam and the music of TDG are still a huge influence for what I want to create.

In fact, once I heard the first little preview of Break last week, I couldn't help but pick up my guitar, that's a good sign.

Aug 18, 2009

Steven Tyler Living A Little Too Close To The Edge?

This is NOT a funny story by a long shot, I don't want to make it sound that way by the punny title. (For you Aerosmith fans out there, I think you see what I'm getting at. Living On The Edge, anyone?)

On August 5th, Steven Tyler fell off the stage while performing on Sturgis, South Dakota and according to the NY Times article posted at the bottom,"sustained a broken shoulder and received stitches to the head," forcing them to cancel the rest of their summer tour. It makes you wonder what Tyler did to anger the rock gods or whether it's something that's just bound to happen when you've been rocking shows for almost 40 years. (I'm leaning toward the latter.)

Watching the video below makes me cringe a little, not only from the fall itself, but the reaction of the crowd, who you can tell knows something is up. (You can hear an obvious, "Hell no!" near the end.)

That's the scary thing about show biz, not only does stuff like this happen every once and a while, but it's usually bound to get caught on tape in the process.

Aug 15, 2009

Music Weekend To Remember

It's been a while since I've had Internet and it feels good. Better late than never I guess. We're finally settled into our new apartment, well, sort of. There's still boxes here and there and we don't have a home for a bunch of stuff but it'll get there.

We officially moved last weekend after being in limbo and living in three different places over the past couple of weeks. Of course, moving weekend not only happened to fall on one of the most scorching days of the summer, but also on one of the busiest and best music weekends I've had in quite a while.

I've mentioned before that going to more shows, along with doing more writing, is a top priority in my music world. Last weekend was a good kick in the butt. After a long day of moving, my girlfriend (KJ) and I, went to downtown Lawrence to check out one of the great places that makes up the music scene here in town, The Replay Lounge.

Also, as I've mentioned before just about everyone that I work with is in a band or was at some point and we finally got a chance to see one of those bands in action. Two of my co workers make up half of a band called The Gleaners. After quite a long wait (we got there a bit too early for an 11:00 show.), the show rocked. The acoustics were better than I had expected for the little club that consisted of a bar and wall of pinball machines, you could hear every piece of the band like you should, and my ears weren't even ringing by the time the 40 minute show was done like they always used to back in my band's days. I look forward to hitting some more shows down there soon, and hopefully getting to see The Gleaners again at some point too. Check them out at their Myspace, it's good stuff.

To top off the weekend, the following afternoon, KJ and I drove to Kansas City, Kansas to visit the brand spanking new Best Buy and watch a small acoustic performance by the band Rev Theory. They are currently on tour as part of the second stage with Motley Crue and Crue Fest, but since the Sprint Center in KCMO isn't big enough or have the capability for that stage, they set up an intimate acoustic show to compensate.

They set up in front of the Musical Intsruments department, something I didn't realize that Best Buy was in to. The whole section looked pretty intense with the guitars hung to the ceiling and it made a good back drop for the short show. After wading through the Monster Energy drink girls (short shorts anyone?), the crowd of about 100 or so ended up on the floor as Rev Theory rocked out 5 acoustic versions of their hit songs which included Hell Yeah, Light It Up, Wanted Man, Far From Over, and their next single to be, Broken Bones.

From our view point with our backs against $30 Blue-Ray copies of Trading Places starring Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy, it was definitely worth the trek, exhausted from the late night and the hectic moving in. We were tempted to stay for the autograph session and the signed guitar raffle, but the line was pretty daunting and we didn't have the patience or the energy. (Even with an endless supply of energy drinks in the place.) Instead I gave one last glance toward the Monster Energy girls (how could I not, come on) and drove home to the mess that is our new apartment, even a week later.

But it's good to have a new home, it's good to have the Internet, and I can't wait to get to a good comfort level where I feel like I can play my guitar without bugging the neighbors. (I always have that feeling when I move in to a new place where I don't feel 100% comfortable playing, it just takes some time getting used to.)

I've been thinking more and more about getting with someone to do some jamming on the acoustic guitars, it would be good to get a new pair of ears on the songs I've been milking for the past 2 years. With more music weekends like I just had I'll definitely be feeling the motivation!

Rock on!

Jul 28, 2009

"Burn Burn" Burning Up The Car Stereo

It's good to hear Raine's voice again in great new tunage. Burn Burn, Our Lady Peace's new album isn't really what I expected, but expectations tend to ruin perfectly good albums, so I didn't let them. Burn Burn is a great extension of OLP's repertoire with a great songwriting and performance. No matter what I thought the music would sound like, I expected no less from my favorite band.

Last Tuesday (July 21st), I couldn't wait to run out and pick up the new record. Though it's a good way to start spending way too much money, it's nice having Tuesday's off considering Tuesday is the most common CD and DVD release day.

After sleeping in a little too late (I tend to do that on my day off, but hey, that's what it's for) I decided to hit up Best Buy. Their new albums are usually $9.99, which is hard to beat anywhere else around here. I was actually looking to find the deluxe edition which contained a handful of bonus tracks but not only did they not have that, they didn't even have a copy of the regular album on the shelve. I said, "Screw it," probably out loud too, under my breath of course, and left for Target.

You're probably thinking, why didn't you just ask them for a copy? Well, I was in a bit of a vindictive mood that morning and I wanted them to miss out on a sale for not having something on the shelf that just came out and should be on the shelf. Pretty simple. I hate it when I get in moods like that but it felt kinda nice heading over to Target, which is right across the street, and picking up a copy.

After handing over an hour's worth of pay to the cashier at Target, I headed straight to my car and carried out my patented roll-down-the-window-and-rock-the-new-disc ritual that I've talked about before. (This is back in April when I snagged the new Hinder album.) As I left the parking lot and dialed up the volume to fight against the wind blasting me in the face, Raine's voice was nothing short of angelic to my OLP-new-tunage deprived ears. (It's been 4 years since we had a new OLP album.)

I drove around for quite a while, but in the concern for my emptying gas tank I decided to park and continue to listen. I was immediately hooked to the songs "Dreamland" and "Never Get Over You". So I played 2, then 7, then 2, then 7, quite a few times before finally listening to the album at least 7 or 8 times over the following few days.

Though the album wasn't the rock that I was looking for from their first album Naveed, the songs carry that chill yet catchy and soothing OLP sound that I've always loved. We even get to hear a bit of Raine's trademark falsetto that's been set aside for the past couple albums in the final tune "Paper Moon".

So that's enough of turning a simple album buying story into a novel. I need to get back to packing, we're moving out of our apartment tomorrow and there is plenty of packing to do. One thing is for sure, Burn Burn will be playing in the background as I pack everything away for another exciting yet frustrating move.

Check out Burn Burn or just Our Lady Peace in general, you won't be disappointed. Rock on!

Jul 17, 2009

Those Are Some Sick "Sick Puppies"

New music! I love new music! We're less than a week from the release of the new Our Lady Peace album but to pass the time I'm getting smacked in the face by the new album from Australian hard rockers Sick Puppies called "Tri-Polar".

In my opinion, the album is sick, and of course I mean sick in the most affectionate uses of the word. It's one of the albums that I just bought, knowing it was going to be good and it's always a great feeling when the feeling is justified. I thoroughly enjoyed their first album, "Dressed Up As Life" and had the confidence that this one would be even better.

The first single,You're Going Down, is most definitely a heavier first impression than their first hit All The Same. The rest of the album doesn't fizzle out either. With songs like War, So What I Lied, and my current fave, I Hate You, you get a swift kick in the gut both lyrically and musically. You get that great combo of crunching guitar, gritty vocals and that signature bass twang that is made just that much better knowing a hot rocker chick is slamming it out.

With a couple of chiller songs to give you the roller coaster that a good album will undoubtedly put you on, "Tri-Polar" is going to be in my cd player for quite a while, right behind OLP's "Burn Burn" which comes out in 3 days.

Everyone else is coming out with killer music that's getting me all excited, where's mine? Good question. In the meantime, if you're looking for some good rock, check out the new Sick Puppies disc, "Tri-Polar". Rock on!

Jul 9, 2009

New OLP Single "All You Did Was Save My Life"

My blog has been all about sharing lately, more specifically new music and videos. I'll continue the trend today. I've been anxious for the new OLP album to hit the shelves and I've been listening to the new single like it's my job. Check out the new single, "All You Did Was Save My Life," below along with clips from all the other tunes on their soon to be released album Burn Burn.


Our Lady Peace has been such a huge influence in my songwriting and in my love for music for so long, it's hard not to get excited about new stuff.

3 or 4 years ago, on a live t.v./radio performance my old band Now Transmission did for a college station in Maine, someone compared my voice to Raine's (the lead singer of OLP) without even knowing my obsession with their music and I almost melted right there in front of the camera. It's not every day you get compared to your idol...that was a good day.

What that little story has to do with anything, I don't know, it's just good to remember.

Rock on!

Jul 8, 2009

Will Our Lady Peace's New Disc Drop Already!?

As you can tell from my listening habits, OLP is undoubtedly my favorite band and I'm about ready for their new album Burn Burn. (A lot of those plays have been OLP recently, including right now!) I don't want my month of July to fly by but it's about time for the 21st to come.

Jul 7, 2009

Down In The Drop D Dumps

As a guitar player, it's always been fun to discover different tunings. Of course, you always start with the standard EADGBE, from top string to bottom. But from there, there is an endless array of possibilities as long as you're willing to experiment.

There's the Admiral (CGDCBC), Drop A (AEADGC), Double Drop D (DADGBD), Fourths (EADGCF), and so on. (Thanks to How To Tune A

Each tuning gives your guitar a different sound and a different feel. I can't say I've really tried too many but the standard tuning has never really been my thing. I've always looked for something different. (And not too different I suppose, I stick with something that is still pretty common.)

Since I discovered it I've been hooked to Drop D tuning. It's achieved my dropping the low E string down a step to the low D note. (DADGBE) With this tuning it's so easy to play successive power barre chords by barring and strumming the top three strings. It achieves a heavier rock feel which makes little use of the high strings and favors the low end. I've just always loved the way it sounds and how the chords are played.

Within the past couple of years I've been stuck on a tuning with an even darker feel by starting with Drop D and tuning everything down half a step. (Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb) I just love how the lower notes resonate and how I feel the range fits my vocals. But at the same time, this tuning has gotten me in a slump as far as my guitar playing skills go. I feel that I've been so stuck on these simple barre chords that I haven't been learning as much as I can by discovering what the other strings have to offer to music.

So I am truly down in the drop D dumps. Though I love the sound, I've realized that there is more to playing guitar than just one tuning or one sound. So to standard E I go! Rock on!

Jun 22, 2009

Green Day It Up

I guess I've been going Green Day crazy lately. Eh, it happens. Here's the video for the new single "21 Guns" that I mentioned yesterday. Go ahead and Green Day it up, it's a great tune and a bullet riddled video. Rock on!

Green Day - "21 Guns" - HD

Jun 21, 2009

Green Day Vid Premiering Tonight on MySpace

Music videos aren't what they used to be. Not that they aren't great quality, creative and worthy of the songs that they portray, it's just that no one seems to care as much about them anymore. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, but there always just seemed to be a buzz around music videos when I was a kid, back when MTV focused on playing videos instead of reality shows that people just can't seem to get enough of. (Shows that I can't stand by the way.)

So it's nice seeing some buzz around a music video again. This time it's focused around Green Day's new single "21 Guns". The track is their second single from their new album 21st Century Breakdown which I wrote about in my earlier post, Celebretory Green Day - New Album, 21st Century Breakdown. As I said before, I think it's a great album and I definitely dig the new single "21 Guns" much more than single number 1, "Know Your Enemy". (That's probably mostly because they play the heck out of it on the radio while I listen at work. I hate it when that happens because it still think it's a good tune, I just don't want to hear it anymore.)

The new video has gotten some significant buzz on the radio as I've been listening at work and also at where the video will be premiered tonight at midnight. (You can check a little clip of behind the scenes footage at Green Day's MySpace page.)

I can't say I'm excited about it or anything, it looks like it's going to be a straight forward video featuring the band and probably some significant imagery, but it would be great to see videos become more important, like they used to be. (Again, that's just from my view point. Maybe they are still big and I'm just leading a sheltered life.)

The whole idea behind music videos has always fascinated me as well, because a handful of the songs I write come to me in images before words and sounds. I always thought it would be great to do the whole deal, writing, performing and creating my own videos. But we'll take it one step at a time, music first.

Don't forget to check out Green Day's new vid on MySpace after midnight tonight. Rock on!

Jun 16, 2009

I'm Alone Again I'm "Away"

Here I am, alone again. Not in the grand sense of the word, just here alone in the apartment like the countless days I spent being a bum, trying to make online riches and music in vain.

It feels like I've been super busy. I know I haven't been, no more than any other 9 to 5 schlub out there. But after a year of being unemployed and pushing hard for the first 3 weeks at the new job, I'm not going to lie, I'm exhausted. And to top it off, just as I was getting used to the 7am-3:30pm gig, our schedules got switched up and I'm working 6am-4:30pm, 4 days a week. That leaves me with another day off, which is great, but unfortunately, it happens to be Tuesday.

I really can't complain, it stinks having Saturday and Sunday, working a day and then having another day off before going 3 straight days, but I'm insanely grateful to be working and earning a good paycheck so it doesn't really matter. As long as I'm getting an opportunity to bring in dough and work my tail off I'm happy.

The extra day off will also give me some good alone time that I didn't even come close taking advantage of during my months of sitting here without a job. Today, however, all I've managed to do is eat some cookies for breakfast, drop my guitar (while moving it with my right hand and holding two cookies in my left), catch up on some late night shows (I'm addicted to Conan and Jimmy), and get sentimental about some of my old tunes.

I'm not afraid to say that I'm very proud of a lot of the stuff that I've created in the past. In fact, I'm more proud of most of the tunes that I wrote 5 or 6 years ago than anything I've created in the past couple of years. It's weird to think I was in my prime back then when I was first starting to get into writing, playing and singing. But it was a different time back then, I was in a band, I was cruising through college, I didn't have very many worries in my life and all I wanted to do was make some good music.

Here's to old tunes. (Although, old to me probably new to you.) I've been especially enamored with my song "Away". I can't find the notebook in which I first jotted down the lyrics but it had to have been at least 6 years since it popped into my head. As much as I've messed around with this song, trying to make it a band tune or possibly make it better, I've never been more satisfied than am I with my old recording.

Feel free to listen to all my tunes (the recorded ones at least) down below. I only hope to be able to make some songs in the near future that I can be even close to as proud as I am of most of these songs. Rock on my friends!


Jun 4, 2009

Missing The Old Days

Being at a new job I've been taking advantage of introducing everyone to my old band, Now Transmission. (Everyone at work seems to be in a band, very weird.) In turn, it's got me thinking about the old days.

I'd have to say I miss all those road trips around New England, the smoky bars (at first, then Maine passed no smoking laws, yeah!), eating crappy food, playing in front of 5 people (1 the sound guy, 1 the bartender, and 3 random drunks or girlfriends), screaming my lungs out, feeling like a rock star, constantly writing and recording, hanging out with the guys, and just not giving a crap and having fun.

Of course, it was a little simpler back then, being in school with a lot less responsibility and screwing around and not doing school work as much as possible was the name of the game.

I can't help but get a little frustrated handing out copies of our latest EP knowing it's promoting something that doesn't exist anymore. (We got hundreds of discs printed and broke up a couple of months later, not giving us a lot of time to unload many of them.) Sure, I was the primary songwriter and I'm still here writing, but a lot of things have changed since then, I feel like I'm taking a different route musically, and I don't have a band. (Yet.)

As I've said before, I have a lot of tunes rolling and I'd like to get a group together sometime in the near future. My stage presence will sure need a kick in the pants, it's been a while since I've played in front of 2 people, let alone 50 or 500. I'm sure I could find the confidence of my college days, it would take some doing, but it could be done and I revel in the challenge.

Getting a job was the number one goal. Bringing back a little of the NT, college, great music days is number two. In the mean time I'll just reminisce...ahhhhh. Rock on!

Jun 1, 2009

Music Is My Fuel

It's been a week at the new job and I gotta say, I'm exhausted. It's been 6 straight days of 3rd shift (10pm-6am) trying to get a huge order done by today. We still didn't get it done by the time I left this morning, that's the frustrating part. But I'm not complaining, it feels crazy good to be working, bringing home a paycheck and not feeling bad sleeping in the middle of the day because it's perfectly reasonable with this weird shift.

I'm moving to a more normal shift tomorrow, 7am-2pm (or something like that). It'll be great to start learning some more stuff but at the same time I think I'm going to miss the 3rd shift a little bit. Oddly enough, I kind of enjoyed the weird hours, the repetitive work and the empty building. Being only two of us for 8 hours we can just crank the rock music and roll on.

Truly, music is my fuel. I don't know where I'd be without music. Everyday I was driven on by the beats and the pumping guitars. Music keeps me in my zone, makes me oblivious to pain and annoyances, keeps me happy and singing, strong and energetic.

I've been especially enamored with 98.9 The Rock out of Kansas City. They play a great mix of old and new rock, from Korn to AC/DC, that keeps my tank full and kept me kicking during those late night shifts. (Although it was exceptionally depressing hearing all the talk about their Rockfest show that happened last Saturday that I didn't buy tickets for when I had the chance. I wrote about "dropping the ball" back in April.)

Hopefully, the move to the day shift won't mess things up too much. I'm digging work so far and I'm looking forward to using my extra time work on my pathetic guitar skills and my half done songs, my motivation to get through the day. Rock on!

May 25, 2009

Celebretory Green Day - New Album, 21st Century Breakdown

What a better reason to spend some money than to celebrate getting a job. Makes sense, right? Well, it doesn't really need to make sense, cause I did it anyway. It took some personal convincing as KJ and I wandered through Target for some necessities, but after picking up the new Green Day album, setting it down and walking away, we wandered across the expanse that makes up the checkout lanes of Target and picked it up again. I couldn't help myself.

Not that I had any doubt but Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown is definitely quality tunage. You have your straight forward hits like the first single "Know Your Enemy" and "21 Guns" but you also have surprising rockers like "Restless Heart Syndrome" and standard structure breakers like "Before the Lobotomy". And we can't forget those heart felt piano filled tunes like "Last Night On Earth". There are no doubt some awards in this albums near future.

With 18 tracks split into 3 acts (All full length songs but one mind you. You get your money's worth with this album. We're talking $.55 a song for $9.99 at Target.), the album picks up where American Idiot left off adding even more songwriting maturity, political undertones and catchy, rockin' punk riffs that we've come to love from Billy Joe and the gang.

If you're looking for a complete album that rocks your socks off, lulls you into a musical trance, and suprises you with the sheer songwriting genius, 21st Century Breakdown is a great one to cure your fix.

For a sneak peek check out the video below of track #5, "Before the Lobotomy". I figured if you listen to the radio even semi-consistently you're going to be hearing "Know Your Enemy" quite a bit.

Now is time for me to get away from this computer on my last real day off before I enter the work force. Enjoy your day off for those of you chilling out there today. I suggest picking up 21st Century Breakdown for some musical enlightenment and relaxation on your free day. Just don't try to pick it up at Walmart, they've refused to carry it. In case you haven't heard, here's the article about the ridiculousness.

Rock on!

May 22, 2009

I Have Finally Found The World Of Employment

It's been almost a year since I've held a regular job, but the time has come. I finally found a job! (Thanks to my friend Matt.)

On Tuesday I'll be starting on 3rd shift (10pm-6am) with a company that specializes in printing on glassware (pub glasses, etc.) but also does sportswear. I'll be on 3rd shift for about a week before moving to 1st shift (6am-2pm?) as a print production assistant for at least 3 months.

I'm pumped to get started so I can finally start making some consistent money. I'm also excited to pick up a new skill and meet some new people. Hopefully it will mean less stress and more music flowing out of this brain. As much as my old job annoyed the hell out of me, I was always writing and recording.

That's all I have to say about that. I just wanted to make an update considering I've been whining so much about being unemployed the past couple of months.

Rock on!

May 21, 2009

Tough Crowd

Like I've mentioned before, I like to dabble in other forms of writing to keep my creativity flowing. Here's a poem I write almost 5 years ago.

Tough Crowd

Singing songs for all this time,
Ignorantly ignoring the truth.
Through the crash of the drums,
Past the cold staring eyes,
And the silent but evident sighs.
Was it something I said?
Was it something I did,
That dashed the color, the joy from each face?

They just stare like the dead.
Their glares, knives at my throat.
To the Reaper, my career will fall.
Now knowing, yet knowing all along.
What a wonderful tragedy this will be,
As the last note rings endlessly in my head.


May 17, 2009

Poor Nezzy, Suffering From Electric Guitar Neglect

Nezzy, my six-stringed black beauty, you didn't the deserve the fate that has been forced upon you.

I got to thinking about my electric guitar today. She's an Ibanez Artist Series with a matte black finish. I bought her about 4 years ago with the best of intentions. I simply wanted an upgrade and to improve my shredding skills. (Which were and are mostly non-existent.) The purchase was also around the time when I was starting to play along with my band Now Transmission instead of being the mic weilding, roaming lead singer. (It never really fit me.)

But after the band broke up, Nezzy has seen more of the inside of her comfy case than daylight. She truly drew the short straw when she was shipped to my door. I don't even have a half decent amp to practice my crappy half-assed shredding. But I don't blame the tools, I blame nothing more than my fumbling fingers and my lax determination.

For me, it was always so much easier to pick up my acoustic and strum away. When writing tunes it was always so much easier to sit with a notebook, a pen and my acoustic and play away. I could do this anywhere, no outlet necessary. From there, things would progress to the electric side of things when the band was still jamming. I only truly remember writing one tune where I did a lot of electric jamming during the writing process, this on my first electric. I even recorded a decent version from start to finish that sounded very similar down to it's final form on our EP Down The Middle. (The song is called "Drained Down" and you can listen to it at NT's Myspace.)

The recent years I've been focusing much more on the acoustic side of things anyway. I just dig the acoustic sound, I can't help it. Plus, my frustration has gotten the best of me and though it's easier on the fingers, the electric rockin' has never been my forte.

If it were a law, I would definitely be going to jail, convicted of electric guitar neglect and I would deserve the sentence to it's full extent. So to avoid my guilt (guilt I feel as if Nezzy were a living creature), in any new group that may form from my acoustic demo-ing, I'll have to make sure Nezzy plays her part. She deserves better, she deserves to be on the stage and flowing out her sweet tones to a room full of inebriated folks just looking for a good time.

That day of rock will come.

May 16, 2009

Epigrams From A Lazy Songwriter

Sometimes when the songwriting is going a little slow I like to dip into some other forms of creative writing. Here's some epigrams I wrote back in the Now Transmission days.

Think Before You Speak
What you thought,
And what you said -
The difference is one,
Stayed in your head.

Afterthought to the Mess
I just can't deal with how I feel
I never thought it'd be so real
If I turned around to start again
Would I change it all and lose a friend?

Rock on!

May 15, 2009

Creed Reforming in 2009

I have to admit, back in high school I was a pretty big Creed fan. Along with bands like Fuel, Seven Mary Three, 3 Doors Down and Nickelback, Creed was a major contributor to my rock awakening. They all helped open the gateway that has had me addicted to melodic hard rock ever since.

I was especially drawn to the My Own Prison disc, Creed's first album, after hearing my sister's boyfriend at the time try (I emphasize the word try) to sing along with the track "What's This Life For" on the radio. I wasn't attracted because of his singing of course but the driving guitars and the powerful lyrics of band itself.

Needless to say, when I heard the news that they were breaking up 5 years ago, I was a bit upset. Not only with the break up but with the lead singer Scott Stapp for sounding like such a pretentious douche bag. I didn't hold out hope that they would ever get back together as the separation between lead singer and band played out pretty harshly. I moved on and was very accepting off the band's new incarnation with new lead singer Myles Kennedy called Alter Bridge.

But when I found out this morning that the band in it's original form would start touring this summer and release a new album (without breaking up Alter Bridge which I've rocked to quite a bit), I grew a little giddy with 15 year old delight. I think it will be hard to put all the Scott Stapp jerk-off drama behind me, but as long as they make great music and recreate the vibe that I always enjoyed, I'll be more than happy to listen.

It's also exciting to know that their tour will be bringing them through Kansas City, giving me my chance to see them for the first time as I never got the opportunity before.

To check out the full article about their return, click here.

May 13, 2009

Music Video Before The Song

It's funny how ideas come to be especially because when it comes to my songwriting, they never seem to come the same way twice. One song might be inspired by a title I wrote down two years ago, another might be inspired by a movie I just watched, another may come about because I'm annoyed that there's no milk for my morning wheat flakes and banana. Because of this inspirational inconsistency it becomes tough sometimes to get things together and focus on writing a tune.

Two nights ago an even weirder scenario played out as I tried to go to sleep. As I doze off toward sleep is a common time for my brain to decide it wants to work and in turn it's one of those times where I lose what at the time seem to be the best ideas that have ever come to me. This particular flash of "inspirado" as Tenacious D might put it didn't come in the form of song, it came in the form of video.

I closed my eyes and there it was, the music video for a song yet to be imagined. I watched it play out in strange clarity as if I was watching MTV on mute. (Maybe not MTV, they hardly play music videos anymore, but you get the point.) It took me a while to find sleep as the ideas continued to cycle, adding clips of footage here and there, characters changing and camera angles correcting. But overall the concept stayed the same.

I woke the next day with a surprising remembrance of the yet to be created video for the non-existent song so I decided to take some notes and draw a picture that more or less summed it up. The exciting part is that the video that played behind my eyelids was pretty simple, a concept that actually could be a possibility for me to create. Now if I only had the song to go along with it.

That leads to inspiration idea #598 (random number here to exaggerate my point): Get ideas and write a song based on the music video for that song.

This has to be screwing with the time/space continuum somehow.

May 10, 2009

Going Green By Recycling...Old Tunes

Going green is all the rage these days. I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit of what you may call a "tree hugger". I recycle anything I can whether it be cardboard, aluminum cans, paper, plastic, and glass, I even have a small little compost bucket that's festering in the garage; I conserve energy, I drive a fuel efficient car, I have cloth bags for the grocery store, I pick up trash on the sidewalk as I'm walking the dog. I'm not a sheep following the herd, it's just how I roll, I don't push it on other people, to each his own, I just like doing it.

My recycling doesn't end there. My green heart extends all the way to my music. Sure, it doesn't do much for the environment, but it resuses old ideas that have stalled or that didn't quite work with their original tune.

That's the beauty of my old Moleskine notebook because all of my old ideas are there just waiting for a resurrection among the wrinkled and scribbled over pages. My Garageband folder also has a long list of weird titled guitar riffs and song segments, some that I haven't listened to in years. (Fluff, Fish, Sox In Japan, and I Suck to name a few.) I've found it's absolutely necessary to take out these old "gems" from yester-year for consideration in the tunage of today.

Songwriting is just that fickle of a friend. What works now may not work in five minutes, then will work a year later in a totally different context. I never completely give up on anything and I think that's very important to the process. (Yeah, I talk about my "process" a lot. This stupid process fuels my obsession but can be the bane of my existense on my worst day.)

I love hearing examples of this same technique in the big leagues. I stumbled across an old demo from one of my fave bands Three Days Grace called "This Movie". I immediately recognized the beginning riff as a riff from their debut self titled album and a song called "Overrated". It's exciting to hear the differences and the massive improvements from one song to the other.

It goes to show that when it comes to music, nothing is set in stone. (Well, until you release that major label debut. If you steal an idea from one of those songs you'll just be seen as unoriginal.) Thanks to my short-term musical memory I'm constantly flipping through my books in my attempt to reuse, reduce and recycle into my next full tune that could end up itself being torn apart and reused somewhere else.

Though, just like most recyclable materials, it's probably good to know when to just throw it in the trash because you've gotten about all the use it held. After all, what's the point of using a over used, out of date piece of recycled music that can't hold it's shape and may even stink a little. That's not rockin', not one bit.

May 7, 2009

New Our Lady Peace Album Dropping On July 21st!

I don't know about you but I can't wait until July 21st! By no means do I want to wish my or everyone else's summer away, but I can't help but be pumped for a new record from Our Lady Peace. If you're a regular to ASWS you'll know that OLP is my favorite band, has been since I was 16 years old. (So about 9 years.)

Raine's powerful and distinct vocals, the exceptional songwriting that has always been an inspiration to me as a songwriter, and their overall sound has had me hooked since I heard my first OLP song on the I Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack. (The song was "Clumsy".)

New music is something I always get excited for and when it's one of my favorite bands I pull out all the stops. There is no exception when it comes OLP's new disc Burn Burn. It's been a long wait between albums, one of the longest we've ever had to wait for a studio album considering their last album Healthy In Paranoid Times came out in 2005.

(This isn't including A Decade, a greatest hits compilation that featured two new and unreleased tracks. If you haven't heard Our Lady Peace I recommend checking out A Decade or my favorite OLP album Clumsy. At the very least check out OLP's Myspace and see what you're missing.)

I've read a lot of good things about this new album. For starters it's produced by lead singer Raine Maida himself. He's said that Burn Burn is a "proper rock album" that harks back to the rawness of their Naveed days, Naveed being their first album. It's also set to contain 10 tracks with the first single being "All You Did Was Save My Life".

To learn more, read this article I found about the release which you can find here.

Come July 21st my album buying tradition will be in full force as we get ready to pack and move (our lease runs out July 31st) and continue to enjoy a beautiful Kansas summer. If the album is as good as it's sounding from the couple of clips I've heard and all the hype, it will be a summer to be remembered. Music does that to me.

And as always with the release of a new album there's always the chance of a live show coming to the area. Now that we're living in the Kansas City area I like my chances. That would definitely make it a great summer.

Keep rockin'!

May 5, 2009

Writing From Inspiration Or On Task

As I promised yesterday, I'm going to answer a great question that a friend asked me at dinner the other night about my writing process. She wanted to know if I write my music solely from inspiration or on task.

(Again, in case you don't know what I mean, when I say on task I mean sitting down specifically to write, inspiration or no inspiration, using title ideas that make up one of my many lists, or a song that I've been commissioned to write.)

Her question made me think of a good story involving a song that I wrote back in 2005. My sister asked me to write this song for her wedding. She wanted me to write a song about the relationship between her and our dad and I was to play it at the reception for the father/daughter dance. She was to get married in December 2005 and she asked way in advance (which I very much appreciated) in January 2005, giving me almost a year to work my magic.

I had never been commissioned to write a song so I thought it would be a great opportunity to build my writing chops. Being for such a special moment for special people and being my first commissioned piece, I put a lot of pressure on myself and it showed.

I started working on the song on January 24th, 2005. Over the next 10 months the few lines and shaky chord progressions remained undeveloped and unfinished. I was too content on waiting on that call from inspiration to put me over the edge but the pressure and the time crunch locked my brain and left me with nothing to show. So instead of waiting on that inspiration, on October 30th I buckled down, and started more or less from scratch. A few lines from my almost year old start remained but everything else drastically changed to become what is now "Take Me Home". (You can check out the finished version at my Reverbnation page, track #9.)

I finished up the song with a couple of weeks to spare and I performed it at my sister's wedding reception as I promised. There wasn't a dry eye in the room and it was one of the most rewarding moments of my songwriting career.

The point behind this story is that to be a songwriter you have to draw a fine line between working from inspiration and focusing and creating things from your musical brilliance. I tend to rely on the idea of inspiration too much and it gets me nowhere. This story is proof that buckling down and writing on task sometimes has to be done, you can't always just wait for the ideas to fall in your lap. Ideally, inspiration and hard work need to work hand and hand to be at your most productive.

Like I mentioned in my previous post "Inspriration? What's Inspiration!?", sometimes it's necessary to make your own inspiration. I'm thankful that my friend brought up this topic because as much as I've written from ideas simply floating in my head, I really needed to be reminded that hard work is necessary and I need to sit down, concentrate and get writing.

Rock on and make sure to check out "Take Me Home"!

May 4, 2009

Running Out Of Pages

There used to be a day when I was running out of pages in my handy Moleskine notebook and it meant that I was writing like crazy, bursting with ideas, and pumping out song after song. Those were the days.

Somehow my Moleskine is running low on pages but the ideas have been few and far between as of late. Most of the pages recently have been populated with half-cocked ideas that never went anywhere, lists, and random doodles that came about when words weren't working for me. (Just so you know, I can't draw at all so they are some of the most ugly drawings you will ever see.)

I've been sick for the better part of a month (not a good exuse) and I've been quite frustrated with the job search and it's definitely taking a toll on me creatively. A lot of the times I can't seem to justify spending my time writing or playing my guitar when I have more important things to do. (Yet, those important things never seem to get done, hence, no job.) I also tend to forget that writing and playing should be included with those important things. I've been taking my love for music and performing for granted.

So, I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Well, make that a boulder and a bed of nails. That would describe a little better how I'm feeling right now.

But when it comes to songwriting a friend of mine brought up a good question at dinner last night. She wanted to know if I wrote on task or purely from inspiration. By on task I mean sitting down specifically to write based on any ideas that I have rolling in my head, title ideas that make up one of my many lists, or a song that I've been commissioned to write.

I thought it was a great question and it really made me think about how I approach my writing process. Tomorrow I'm going to post my answer to that question and explain some reasons why I feel like I'm struggling and a lot of other songwriters out there (maybe even you) have troubles writing. I don't think it will be anything close to scientific, just an opinion that will hopefully get some minds focused, including my own.

Here's to filling the dwindling pages of my notebook with some real writing.

Apr 30, 2009

Burning That Bridge

When it comes to commercial songwriting there are a few things that you can always count on. These aspects of songwriting include but are not limited to repeating hooks, catchy lyrics, and consistent structure. Most people recognize or relate with songs that contain more than one of these things without even thinking about it. More often than not, these components make or break a song, really, they are what commercial songwriting is all about.

As a songwriter, I write for enjoyment but I can't help but want people to enjoy my music as well. My listener's enjoyment always fits into the equation when I'm writing a song. I search my brain for meaningful and creative lyrical ideas, memorable hooks that make my tune recognizable, and I follow song structures that most popular songs have today. (Most popular songs of all time for that matter.)

When I say structure, I'm referring to the verse/chorus/verse/chorus route that is most common. It's really the most popular and accepted way to go, just turn on the radio or pop in your favorite cd. Even though there are so many other options I find myself falling back there every time. I don't see anything wrong with it right now, I just want to pump out quality tunes. But the big decision is what to do after that second chorus and most commonly becomes the downfall to most of my song ideas, especially of late.

This spot after the second chorus is a common place for a bridge. It's the part of the song that should tie together the song, basically creating a "bridge" from the main part of the song and connect it to the end. A bridge allows you to piece together your story giving closure and making sense to the meaning behind your ideas.

It's easy to try to add that bridge even when it's not needed just to fit that structure that feels so right. I've found the bridge is an easy fall back when you have no idea what to do next. Maybe throw in a couple of minor chords, hold out a couple of vocal notes, call it good and hit the chorus for the last time. But when is it right to burn the bridge and add a solo to build to an exciting climax or even another verse?

I fight with every song to make sure it's not the same as the last and keeping away from the imminent bridge is always a good start . You can follow similar structures and write songs that feel right without forcing parts that just don't fit. Knowing when not to force it is the important part and that's a battle that I'm fighting on a song to song basis. My intuition usually treats me well and I tend to follow it whenever I can. Get that intuition to pair with a little inspiration and we'll all be in business.
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