Weekly Thoughts

The MoaT returns in its new weekly format!

As mentioned last week, this may only be a temporary shift away from daily writing, but as of now, it feels good.

Being an artist’s a tricky gig, what with our befuddling, omni-shifting worlds, every imbalance a potential micro tear in the fabric of our fragile psyche. We are, all of us, delicate flowers, and voluntarily putting one’s self in the Truman Show can be a bit much.

Sharing my writing everyday has been a catalyst for so much positive change, but, at the moment, it’s wonderful inhaling and exhaling within my fortress of relative solitude, enjoying as much insulation as an ignoramus with a podcast can expect. 

Now, some updates…

Allen Stone -

There’s not a whole lot I’m allowed to announce, but rest assured you’ll be seeing our despicable mugs on national television in the next few months. Building Balance is out Nov 8th, and full-band touring begins the top of 2020.

It’s exciting knowing the Al Stone world’s waking up again, and I’m grateful my other creative outlets subdue somewhat my megalomaniacal lust for power. Which brings me to…

Climb The Sky -

A single every month, my friends! “Out Here On My Own” is available everywhere - here’s a Spotify link.

CTS is me, Gid and Gabe in a studio, giggling and dancing and engaging in buffoonery, releasing music as fast as we can write and record it. 

It’s cathartic for the three of us, happily successful in other projects, to let the story unfold through the songs, allowing the biz, such as it is, to come to us.

Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens Podcast - 

This week, I’m chatting with Bobby Chase, a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and just about the nicest, lowest-key musical genius you'll ever meet. I became a fan after hearing his piece for string quartet, "Dreamweaver," debuted at the Parthenon in Nashville TN, and he graciously allowed me to share said piece at the end of the episode.

Again, thank you all for supporting this new format. See you next Monday!





Changing to Weekly (for now)

For the next couple months, I’m going to experiment with the Mind of a Trevor becoming a weekly rather than daily newsletter. 

I started the MoaT 630(ish) days ago. 

In virtually every facet of my life, I felt slowed by overthought and unrealistic expectations. Through the MoaT’s daily accountability, I rediscovered the imperfect beauty in endeavoring to be better, and simply paying attention.  

Now, I’m in two bands I love, better shape than I was in my 20s, and possess a halfway decent grasp on not being an asshole.

Don’t worry, I’ll still mostly ramble, and occasionally be accidentally edifying, but I’m conscious of feeling overexposed, and it’ll be healthier, for now anyway, to bombard your inboxes a little less.

Thank you for coming along on this wonderful and evolving journey. See you next week!

Unjudged

As artists, we combat an omnipresent pressure to conform, or at least do what other people find palatable. And personally, due to my engrained British-ness, I’d rather lop off a finger than be discourteous. It’s a recipe for spectacular over-expenditure and low-key, push down-able rage.

Today was a good day. I’m grateful for Climb The Sky headquarters and my other fortresses of solitude, where my tweediness and creativity go unjudged.

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November 8th

There’s finally a release date for the new Allen Stone record!

“Building Balance” is out November 8th, and what a glorious Friday it’ll be.

Making records with big companies takes time.

For an album cycle to go well, record label, management, booking, touring crew, band and, of course, the guy whose name is on the ticket, need to be on the same page - green lighting a project before a consensus “ready, break!” is a recipe for bruised egos. Enter lunches, conference calls, text threads, emails in all caps, an egregious carbon footprint and, above all, compromise.

Writing for this record started almost three years ago, and by the time Nov. 8th roles around, almost two will have passed since the band hunkered down at Sound Emporium. A lot of life’s happened since then. Allen’s had his first kid. Band members have new relationships, new projects. Climb the Sky didn’t exist, and this humble newsletter was just getting started.

So, honestly, I’m as excited as you are to hear these songs. I wonder if the slightly younger, inevitably worse dressed version of myself holds up, and what new chapter unfolds.

Talented Friends

Matt Musty is Train’s new drummer, and I had the great fortune of hanging out entirely too much with him this summer.

Musty’s a rare musician - immediately upon meeting him, you realize you’re in the hands of a grown ass human being, that if everything goes to shit, if the freaking stage catches on fire, if Ted Nugent, bestride a sabertooth tiger, begins launching arrows at the singer’s keister, there’s zero percent chance the groove suffers.

And I reckon Matt out-fisticuffs the Nuge, though they’d both claim the contrary.

It was a treat hearing him speak so candidly about his journey through the music biz on the excellent Drummer’s Resource podcast.

Here’s the episode.

Again, Poems

I’d like to share another poem by Ocean Vuong because 1) he’s my favorite new poet and author and 2) my mind’s all kinds of foggy. I’m finally, you see, FINALLY kicking my infamous coffee habit, and eliminating processed sugar to boot. 

So yeah, these last few days have been challenging, but long overdue, and I’m taking advantage of my blah-ness by reading wonderful poetry, which, FYI, is unbeatable accompaniment to a splitting headache. 


Eurydice

by Ocean Vuong


It’s more like the sound

a doe makes

when the arrowhead

replaces the day

with an answer to the rib’s

hollowed hum. We saw it coming

but kept walking through the hole

in the garden. Because the leaves

were bright green & the fire

only a pink brushstroke

in the distance. It’s not

about the light—but how dark

it makes you depending

on where you stand.

Depending on where you stand

his name can appear like moonlight

shredded in a dead dog’s fur.

His name changed when touched

by gravity. Gravity breaking

our kneecaps just to show us

the sky. We kept saying Yes—

even with all those birds.

Who would believe us

now? My voice cracking

like bones inside the radio.

Silly me. I thought love was real

& the body imaginary.

But here we are—standing

in the cold field, him calling

for the girl. The girl

beside him. Frosted grass

snapping beneath her hooves.


 

Redefining Technology

Episode 31 of the podcast is live, featuring videographer to the stars Sean Sheetz, and one of the many things we discuss is redefining technology’s role in our lives rather than vilifying it into irrelevancy.

For example, I now write about 90% of the MoaTs on my phone. Like everyone else, I’m susceptible to insidious social media deep dives, but rather than deleting and re-downloading apps, using an app to stop an app addiction, or a myriad other anxiety-inducing traps, I decided to turn my phone into a portal through which I’m honoring a commitment to myself.

I still watch dumb crap on YouTube and feel the odd pang of envy when a buddy’s doing something cool (filtered just-so, of course), but now that I’m writing everyday on my phone - something about which I’m proud - I’m less inclined to waste entire afternoons “learning” about the Crystal Skulls.

Art According to Godin

Best selling author and former tech executive Seth Godin shared his definition of art this morning in his excellent daily email newsletter. Seth does a nice job disguising sorta self-helpy, go-better stuff within gentle, often irreverent prose. It’s a fun read every AM.

“Art is a human activity. It is the creation of something new, something that might not work, something that causes a viewer to be influenced.

Art uses context and culture to send a message. Instead of only a contribution of beauty or craft, art adds intent. The artist works to create something generous, something that will change us.

Art isn’t painting or canvas or prettiness. Art is work that matters.

It’s entirely possible that you’re an artist.

Everyone can be, if we choose.”

Poems

I was struck today by this passage from Ocean Vuong’s poem “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”:


Ocean, 

get up. The most beautiful part of your body 

is where it’s headed. & remember, 

loneliness is still time spent 

with the world. Here’s 

the room with everyone in it. 

Your dead friends passing 

through you like wind 

through a wind chime. Here’s a desk 

with the gimp leg & a brick 

to make it last. Yes, here’s a room 

so warm & blood-close, 

I swear, you will wake— 

& mistake these walls 

for skin.

Grubby Artist

I recently started following Charlie Mackezie on Instagram (@charliemackesy). He creates elegant, minimalist drawings, and they’re absolutely wonderful.

Hopping over to his profile’s become a first-thing ritual, especially when, as he puts it, “surprised by difficult things.”

He describes himself as a Grubby Artist. Should we all be so lucky.

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Lemmy Wouldn’t Approved

Just wrapping up a 12 hour session with Climb The Sky. Our arrangements are evolving to where charts with little black dots are required. Lemmy from Motörhead wouldn’t approve.

It’s exciting how quickly the band’s becoming this beautiful amalgamation of our influences, and the music’s increasingly difficult to categorize.

Our next single’s out on 9/19. Maybe I’ll start posting the demos on my Patreon page?

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Floating Melodies

The last show of the summer tour was only three weeks ago, but it feels like three months.

So much movement, so many dopamine hits, a lifetime’s worth of experiences, packed into a single season. Then, just as earnestly, it’s planting vegetables, and relearning the muscle memory of six out of ten.

Time’s condensed, then stretched, the ebb and flow of a productive day in one universe becoming the antithesis in the other, and I’m writing this while a curser hovers over “Buy Now,” destination anywhere but here.

But for the first time in my touring career, I appreciate the fine line between a youthful sense of adventure and running away.

So, I shut my laptop, pick up an acoustic guitar, and embrace the movement of floating melodies.

Episode 30 - Annika Bennett

The Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens podcast returns! Episode 30!

Annika Bennett is one of my favorite singer/songwriters, and I don’t think she realizes how talented she is. Her song, “Boy Who Has Everything,” is a perfect song. She's an inspiring creative spirit, unstoppable force for good in the world, and I'm grateful she took the time to share her story on my humble show.

Check out the episode here!

The podcast’s now live on Spotify as well, and I’m pretty sure everywhere else podcasts are streamed.



Taylor vs Tool

Tool’s “Fear Inoculum” is about to unseat Taylor Swift’s “Lover” as the number one album in the country, and the Twitter feud between sixteen year olds who’ve never heard of Tool (nor should they have - Tool’s last record came out when they were in preschool) and middle-aged video game enthusiasts is more entertaining than it has any business being.

“all the old ass 30+ year old men quoting and replying to this all mad…embarrassing…go take care of ur wife and kids weirdo”

”grandpas discovered iTunes I guess”

”As Taylor Swift fans, I guess youre used to manufactured dog shit and wouldn’t know what good music is if it hit you in the face”

Etc, etc.

Laughing my ass off at a duel between demographics both still living with their parents has chewed up the majority of what was supposed to be a productive afternoon. It’s worth a Google.

(ps, both records are really good)

Compounding

I’m currently pacing back and forth in my backyard, my melonesque cranium adorned with oversized headphones, listening to basic tracks Climb The Sky recorded yesterday. Sorta Sgt. Peppers prog mashed up with James Taylor and the Black Keys. We’re finding our voice, and it’s exciting.

The key to avoiding burnout in this lunatic business is finding joy in the small things - fun recording sessions, nourishing conversations, exuberant rounds of disc golf with kindred spirits. The tiny wins, the precarious-yet-none-the-less-struck balances, compound exponentially.

Any readers starting new projects, reply to this email with some links, I’d love to hear what you’re working on.

Another Shot

I’ve played music on every continent except Antartica, famous stages, not-so-famous stages, brushed shoulders with household names, and happily strummed away in gainful annonimity. 

I’ve kept the fridge full with a guitar in my hands for a long time. It’s a good life - an enviable one, even - and I’m grateful.

But it’s still a day-to-day struggle not to get discouraged. 

Jiminy Christmas, is this business ever unrelenting in its poking, prodding, and generally agitating, and today I wish the murky waters I navigate in order to keep making stuff up for a living would evaporate into blissful nothingness.

But it’s 85 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, the vegetables I’ve planted haven’t died (yet), and I have a sneaking suspicion the world won’t cave in on itself in 24 hours. Fingers crossed, anyway.

So, I reluctantly accept that I’m not perfect, and would be more tedious than I already am if I were. I’ll get another shot at this.

Precious Things

I was chatting with mastering engineer Eric Conn today, a dude far more accomplished than any name dropping could do justice, and he shared his circuitous route in and out of the music business.

A stint in full-80s-mode LA, a sabbatical in Colorado as a carpenter and ski bum, a gig as head audio guru at the freaking Smithsonian, more productive existential crisis (and skiing), culminating in a call from Garth Brooks’ camp in Music City, and Grammys. Many Grammys.

He was outspoken in his belief that taking breaks from music is ok, even necessary, especially if the alternative’s suffocating the joy out of what is, objectively, a remarkable way of making one’s way through the world.

There’s something to be said about laying down the precious thing and, in time, picking it up again, patiently, with more skillful hands.  

Adventure

I texted this to a friend earlier today, and thought I’d share it here:

It’s ok to do whatever you want, because you’re a good human, and by virtue of that you won’t fuck things up, not really anyway, only enough to encourage an element of adventure. And in being confounding to both yourself and others, the present becomes exponentially more intriguing than some boring ol’ future.

Look No Further

I may have shared this interview before - you lose track after 600 or so MoaTs - but I watched it again today and it’s somehow even more fantastic and inspiring.

If you take anything away from my daily meanderings, please let it be this: if you’re down on the music biz, or life in general, look no further than Dave Grohl.

Language not suitable for work, but you should quit that stupid job anyway.

Here’s the video.