On Balance, I'm Not A Capricious Asshole

Maybe it’s low-grade Berklee PTSD, or that the Al Stone band moves in musician-y circles, or a childhood filled with British television’s made me perma-sardonic: for whatever reason, I’m very good at being self-critical, especially about my guitar playing.

My attitude’s much improved these days, but every now and again it hits me - my chops could be better, my ears more musical, gear way cooler. I’d be useless giving a guitar clinic, I tell myself, unless people wanted to hear dick jokes. Again, the dreaded Imposter Syndrome - surely someone will find me out. 

But then gigs like last night's happen, where the Al Stone Electric Ensemble plays in front of a bunch of people and, with zero rehearsal, lays waste to the joint. I took some guitar solos. They weren’t great. It didn’t matter. The band’s what’s special, it’s what people pay to see, and I’m one fifth of the undeniable chemistry. It’s not the thing, it’s not us, without me. 

My intent isn't to self-aggrandize, it’s just what we musicians do is insane. Perpetual self-inflicted physical and emotional abuse, just to write "Cheeseburger In Paradise"? It’s important realizing we are, just in general, so much more. I guarantee my dexterity within the pentatonic scale didn’t fill up my passport with stamps. I tend not to fart in other’s company. My dick jokes are, in fact, superb. On balance, I’m not a capricious asshole. These traits don’t get likes on Instagram, but they've opened up a world I’d only dreamed of.

NPR Donors

Chicago! Chi-town! The Windy City! The Second City!

I love this town. It helps that it’s about as nice as days get in this part of the world, and the aromas wafting from food trucks near our dressing room dare me to stray from my strict-ish diet and decimate my colon with tubular meats and blindingly strong beer. I’m caffeinated to a counter-productive degree, have sweated through two metal shirts, and I’ve exchanged deep-dive Cubs trivia with the police officer manning the artist entrance. It’s a good day, my friends.

I’ve never had a bad time in Chicago. Last January, I fondly recall a power-walking finance type stopping to regard a snowman, proclaiming it a douchebag. In 2012, former keyboard player and current legend Mark Sampson literally jumped out of a moving vehicle to talk to the “future Mrs. Sampson.” Despite his Evel Knievel-worthy stunt, the woman was unimpressed. Her loss. Even O’Hare, one the universally regarded worst airports in America, doesn’t bother me. LAX actively tries to electrocute you, after all.

Tonight, we’ll play soul music for a few thousand inebriated, high-spirited NPR donors, and I couldn’t be happier.

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

…and I’ll be back Sunday afternoon. That was the original lyric. Not a lot of people know that.

I’m flying up to Chicago today on account of the Al Stone Traveling Hootenanny headlining the Taste of Randolph festival. In the early days, packing for tours and one-offs was an ordeal. What if I encounter X? I’ll pack Y just in case. But what about Z?! Before you know it, you’re carting around two gigantic bags of bullshit, ostensibly prepared for anything but destined to become the asshole redistributing their pack at check in. 

I’m older and wiser these days. Acutely aware that airports bring out the worst in people, my goal’s being a goddamn ninja, moving quickly and silently, without leaving a trace. Was I there at all? Minimal human contact coupled with inexorable politeness cures a multitude of travel woes.

By federal law, for example, I’m allowed to take my guitar on the airplane. I do not take my guitar on the airplane. I’ve endured too many sneers from entitled business travelers and whack jobs with “emotional support” animals. Better to board with just my backpack and settle into a good book. My flight case is built like a tank, the axe will be fine.  

My fly board (aka the pedal board I use for one-offs) has five things on it - tuner, clean boost, overdrive, some kind of oscillating effect (usually a Univibe), and a delay. It takes up less space than a footlong sub. I’m not the Edge.  

I pack, like, three t-shirts and two pairs of pants. My show cloths are counted in that number. If for some reason I need more shit, I buy it and donate it afterwards. Rarely does the band travel to outer Mongolia - in a pinch, there’re always decent shopping options around. 

Fellow travelers - it’s an empowering feeling, performing cartwheels out of O’Hare, blissful and unencumbered. I highly recommend it.  


Create for the Sake of Creating

A while ago, I collaborated with producer/engineer extraordinaire Jeremy Hatcher and released solo music for the first time in years. We made melodic, intentional and, most importantly, LOUD rock and roll. I fucking loved it. Trevor Larkin the singer/songwriter was officially a thing, and that was enough. As a chronic over thinker, is was oddly ok just handing the reigns over to the universe, trusting it'd make sense when the time was right. I happily returned to Allen Stone land and the songs, just as happily, quietly existed.

A few people streamed them, a few more dropped a couple bucks on iTunes, and, eventually, I began receiving messages here and there - would I be interested in a short run vinyl pressing? Could we put All That I Want in rotation? I'm happy these songs are finding their humble way.

Big melodies and even bigger guitars - does it get any better? Check the songs out, if you like. I posted the solo section from All That I Want on Instagram, too. 

Savoring Silence

I found this picture the other day, taken at my favorite coffeehouse in Port Townsend, WA, a place I'd escape to every once in a while post-tour. My life at the time was changing frenetically, and I hadn't yet embraced the universe as a generally agreeable referee, so you'd often find me ruminating in a corner somewhere, yearning for erstwhile comforts or at least something that made sense. 

I'm less emo these days, but I do spend an hour or so each day just thinking - sitting, still and quiet, giving my imagination free rein. I enjoy looking within my mind. It's how I recharge, and I like all the whacky crap rummaging around in there. I'm gloriously bereft of answers - that kinda thing's way above my paygrade - and savoring silence before boarding the pirate ship again seems like the right thing.  


The Dawn Chorus

I woke up obscenely early this morning, like 3am early, various neuroses swinging recklessly along the monkey bars of my mind. Nowadays, I welcome preposterous, unyielding moments - there’s something that needs addressing. I have precious little time for over thinking these days, so whatever life throws at me I tackle head on. This is a good thing. 3am coffee it is.

I’m sitting in my yard in the pitch black, nocturnal varmints still rustling in the bushes. I read an article about everybody’s go-to thespian Mark Wahlberg, how he wakes up at 3am everyday. I get it - it’ll be the equivalent of a full work day before anyone in my orbit’s tasting the toothpaste. The space is welcome. 

I feel acutely the imposter syndrome I’ve written about before - it’s good now, but someone surely will find me out, right? In letting this kind of thing steer the ship, pedestrian business becomes Shaq shooting free throws. Here I am, hucking up brick after somnolent brick in my weedy yard, entertaining every “what if” imaginable, all while Marky Mark’s doing bicep curls in West LA. It is, like I say, preposterous.   

I value occasionally folding in on myself  - it doesn’t mean I’m fucking up or someone’s Machiavellian plot’s unfolding, only that there’s imbalance, and a little fine tuning never hurt anyone.

The birds are exuberant in their dawn chorus, and I allow myself a grateful smile. I'm still here, fighting the good fight. Breath in, breath out…

Episode 6

Episode 6 of Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens is live!

Grady Block is a drummer and songwriter based in Nashville, TN. He, like his brother Rocky, is one of the most gifted musicians I've ever shared the stage with. The conversation's a rollicking journey through all things stony and profound(ish), immediately going off the rails and, in a good way, never quite finding its way home. 

Here’re some text messages I received this morning from producer Trey McDermott regarding today's episode:

"Ohh fuck yes dude"

"I feel so fortunate to have been part of this in any way."

"Fucking gold. It's just 90% road stories and it's the best."

When Trey's excited, you know it's good.  


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Joyously Nihilistic

Ok, one final post about Anthony Bourdain. His love of music, especially 70’s era NYC punk, is well documented, and I’ve been blasting on repeat some of his personal favorites.

Everything by…

Richard Hell and the Voidoids

The Stooges

The New York Dolls

Dead Boys

The Ramones

Patti Smith

As well as…

"Anemone," The Brian Jonestown Massacre

"Pusherman," Curtis Mayfield

"What's Going On," Marvin Gaye

"Do the Strand," Roxy Music

"Chinese Rocks," Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers 

Joyously nihilistic, proudly sloppy, equal parts sorrowful and triumphant. Just like the man.

Feeling Good

These past few days have been tough. Many in my community are talking about their own mental health struggles, which is important and necessary. We’re all people, none of us perfect, and all of us have some sort of relationship with the black dog of depression.

I can’t speak to Anthony Bourdain’s demons, but I know mine all too well. I’ll spare you the gory details - it’s enough sharing that managing my mental health’s my number one priority - by far - and has been since my early 20’s.

I always carry with me a copy of Feeling Good by Dr. David D. Burns. I highly recommend this book for anybody. When I was younger, I worked through literally every page with CBT counselors - nowadays, it’s more about using specific exercises to recalibrate when I feel myself on shaky ground. 

Like I said, I highly recommend Feeling Good for anybody. Powerful stuff contained therein. 

Anthony Bourdain, Pt 1

I read Kitchen Confidential back in 2010 during a particularly low point in my life, the only time I’ve contemplated quitting music. My flight out of SeaTac was delayed just long enough to stop by the Hudson Booksellers, and for whatever reason I picked up Bourdain’s memoir.

I devoured Kitchen Confidential in a day, re-read it five or six times that month. For where I was at, Bourdain's tone was spot on: darkly humorous, equal parts cynical and idealistic, irreverent and respectful. Above all, it was honest. He’d fucked up a lot. I, in my mind, had also fucked up a lot (though not with heroin and, in actuality, not really at all). His life hadn’t followed the script he'd hoped for, and neither had mine. But his story was captivating, and shared with disarming eloquence.

Kitchen Confidential inspired me to write myself into my own narrative. I'd tried achieving some facsimile of conventional success with dismal results - maybe just being my bizarre, off-kilter self was enough and, in fact, the whole point?

I Won't Be Angry At Love

Another 1 take video for ya!

Here’s a song of mine called “I Won’t Be Angry At Love.” In a perfect world, I enjoy 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time first thing in the morning where I hack and scratch away until a song takes shape. That is, like I say, in a perfect world. I used to beat myself up for not getting the full amount of time in, thinking it was due to failure in time management and prioritization rather than, you know, life. Nowadays, older and wiser, I appreciate the beauty of going fishing - sitting down as the day exhales, casting a line out into the universe, and seeing if a melody bites.

A few days ago, I did just that, and the result’s this tune, written in about 15 mins while sitting on my couch at 11pm, wondering what the hell it is I’m doing. I still have no idea (thankfully), but I like this song.  

Here's a link to the video, and lyrics below…


I used to think I was special

I know better now

more than I’d ever hoped to

in my fantasy, calm and settled

I know better now

more than I’d ever hoped to


I won’t be angry at love

even though it has broken me inside

I won’t be angry at love

‘cause where else will my heart and soul confide


I’d never seen truth be chosen

I know better now, more than I’d ever hoped to

in a moment where time is frozen

I know better now, more than I’d ever hoped to


I won’t be angry at love

even though it has broken me inside

I won’t be angry at love

‘cause where else will my heart and soul confide


There was once laughter

angels in snow

now where will I go

when all that I know is buried here




CMA Fest!

It’s CMA (Country Music Association) week in Nashville, which is a big deal ‘round these parts. My path through the industry’s been paved by soul music (which is still weird to me), so I suppose it makes sense my network not over-lapping with the country world. It’s surprisingly easy circumnavigating recording sessions involving truck-based lyrics, which I'm ok with this on balance, but I don't like knowing there's a large, mostly autonomous branch of the music biz I have zero connection with.

Country music - a genre encompassing everything from Florida Georgia Line to Jason Isbell - is as nuanced as any other, and it bugs me that I don’t know more. I’m in town for CMA week, which is a first, and anything that’s hacky, low-hanging fruit for my contemporaries piques my interest, so I figure I’ll do what comes naturally - put on a jazz hat and see what the whole thing’s about. 

Several friend’s bands are showcasing, but who else should I check out? What’re some cool vibes? Please, let me know - refreshingly, I'm largely flying blind.  

A Plausible Lie

I'm often asked what a typical day on the road looks like, and I'm tempted to paint the picture of a finely tuned, mosh-pit-inspiring machine, hyper-disciplined in its pursuit of perfection. In the absence of a plausible lie, I suppose honesty's the best policy. A typical day on the road, in reality, looks a lot like this... 


Episode 5

Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens Ep. 5 is live!

Rocky Block is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and legend in the making. It's always an insightful and goofy rollercoaster ride chatting with him, and we had a blast shooting the breeze about maintaining perspective, garish trousers and, most importantly, staying Gojj. 

This podcast keeps me present and engaged in a healthy reality where candor and humor steer the ship. I'm grateful to my guests for inviting me into their worlds. 

Wanna subscribe or listen on iTunes? Here ya go.

Or watch the video? You betcha.


Whoopsy Daisies

Four years ago, I went through an ill-advised Western shirts phase. I'm not proud of it. Like many follies, it seemed like a good idea at the time. There’re hundreds of pictures online of my looking like a numbnuts, so I’ll save you the keystrokes. At least I was "feeling it," right?


One of the most important lessons the Al Stone project’s taught me is looking stupid’s ok, because looking stupid means you’re taking chances, and taking chances means you’re growing, and growth means you’ll just look stupid in a more elevated way, which is a bottomless treasure trove of gloriousness and nourishment.

As artists, we want our work to be taken seriously. We adjust the lighting just-so, wear just the right thing in just the right way, plot and plan until the proverbial cows come home. And that's fine, up to a point. I find inordinate comfort in realizing my life isn't "if A, then B, then C," but rather, "if A, then HOLY SHIT IT’S ALL FOR NOTHING WHY ME WHY THEM WHY ANYTHING EVER IN THE WORLD."

Better, I think, to try stuff, develop a thick skin, and learn as you go. 

Remembering Demba

Demba Nabe and I are two very different people. Demba, for example, is an uninhibited conduit of celestial energy and conversant in rabbinical mystic teachings, whereas I look like a guy who irons his underwear. But what’s the overused movie quote? “We’re not so different, you and I.” Demba’s probably not so nimble with Larry Bird trivia, but we shared some neat moments.

The Al band’s a few shows deep in our 2013 run with Seeed. I step out of their nightly post-show dressing room rave for some fresh air, sit along the loading dock and watch our tireless road crew load up semi truck after semi truck - I still marvel at what goes into making an arena show happen. I feel a tap on my shoulder, and Demba’s there, offering a joint the size of my arm, which I decline. Eying me suspiciously, he reaches into his Harem pants pocket, producing a lukewarm beer, which I accept. Demba puffs away exuberantly, I sip my beer, and we sit in silence for a while. It’s a beautiful thing, being able to sit with someone without saying a word.

Demba puts a hand on my shoulder. “I like your playing,” he says. “You have something inside of you that’s trying to get out. Let it.” He offers me his arm-sized joint one more time - sensing and finding amusing my Britishy preference to severe my own hand rather than offend anyone, ever - and literally moonwalks back inside the arena, hands weaving in and out of ganja smoke. 

I’m still processing that he’s gone. Demba was the genuine article, a beautiful maniac in every way. I’m lucky to have known him.


RIP, Demba

Yesterday, Demba Nabe, co-lead singer of German dancehall/reggae band Seeed, passed away. 

Seeed is a beautiful band, miraculous even - a multi-cultural, eleven piece dancehall/reggae group from Berlin who sell out stadiums. If ever there’s an embodiment of the current artistic renaissance and inclusive spirit in Germany, it’s Seeed. In 2013, we opened for them for about two weeks, playing packed arenas, getting our asses handed to us in ping-pong, exuberantly dancing along with trance jams during nightly post-show dressing room raves. Everyone was patient, inclusive, and entertained by our inadvertent American-ness. 

Demba was the most enigmatic of the bunch, quietly standing in a corner one minute, the next six inches from your face, regaling you, in immaculate, rapid-fire English, with anecdotes from his years spent homeless in Toyko. He was a savant, alarmingly articulate in arcane subjects, his gentle charisma perfectly complimenting fellow lead singers Peter Fox and Frank Dalle. After our sets, he’d offer a nod, barely noticeable, which we were told was the height of praise and rarely given. To a young band finding their feet, it meant everything.  

I spent this morning reaching out to members of the band and crew. They’re having a rough time. Maybe, on their behalf, call a loved one or friend today and, I dunno, just let them know you’re there. That goes a lot further than we realize.

Here’s a link to Seeed’s set from Lollapalooza in Berlin, 2015. What a band.


Tired of Losing

Another 1 take video for ya! 

Here's a tune of mine called "Tired of Losing." Watch the video, if you like. Lyrics below...

the symptoms will fall away in time
’til then, I will live alone
and I heard every world you said
I still don’t know the half of it

I’m ready for change
I’m tired of losing
I’m ready for second chances
no new romances

I’m ready to turn the page
no longer a prisoner to your hypocrite smile
eager to act my age and grow stronger
you tantrum like a petulant child

I’m ready for change
I’m tired of losing
I’m ready for second chances
no new romances

when I was afloat, you were my anchor
now you’re drowning a friend

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Nebulous Crustaceans

It made me so happy having Greg Ehrlich back in the band for BottleRock. He’s crushing the game at a fancy merch company these days, cashing regular pay checks and sleeping eight hours a night, the rat bastard. He's right where he needs to be, I know, but goddammit do I miss the Great Man.

Greg’s the heart and soul of the band, always was and will be. Throughout our BottleRock set, I’d look over at Greg stank-facing triumphantly and remember back to 2013 when, during a day off in Dusseldorf, he and I posted up at a posh beer garden, singing exuberantly while knocking back about 20 lagers each with German salarymen similarly pickling their livers. Or scarfing down nebulous crustaceans at a dingy Balinese food shack in 2015, flicking cockroaches off bottles of luke-warm Coke, stray cats negotiating shrilly at our feet for table scraps. Or that time at the Gorge, opening for the Dave Matthew’s Band, when Greg and Jay posed for this picture.


For years, Greg Ehrlich, Brent Rusinow and Mark Sampson graced the Allen Stone project with their talent and hilarity. They gifted indelible memories. It's preposterous how lucky I am to call them brothers-in-arms, and I wish them every triumph in their new chapters. I promise I'll keep fighting the good fight, Peter Pan-ing around, in search of less nebulous crustaceans.   

Murderous Cyborgs

Episode 4 of Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens is live, a fun Q&A session with the podcast’s producer/videographer, Trey McDermott. It’s a stellar chat, check it out.

BottleRock was a blast, btw. It’s awesome catching up with friends (the Lake Street Dive crew, this time around), and if you can’t get down at a Bruno Mars gig, well, you're clearly a murderous cyborg. Such a concentrated talent pool's inspiring, and my big take away's that I’ve been coasting. More aptly, I’ve been doing a good job following through - writing this everyday, the weekly one take videos, and now the podcast - but the simple act of doing the things I said I was going to do isn’t enough. I feel like what used to be my max effort’s now, like, 65%. Hopefully that’s evolution, or maybe I wasn’t pushing hard enough in the first place. 

Either way, moving forward, I’m placing a premium on focus. Step 1) my goddamn telephone. Just because my phone’s going off like a rigged carnival game doesn’t mean anything’s actually happening. As of today, the ol’ pocket computer makes no audible noise. I keep it face down so I can’t see the screen light up. When I install new apps, I disable notifications. Life will go on if I don’t respond to texts immediately. Rediscovering comfort in silence and focus needs to happen. 

But keep posting pics of your adorable puppies. I'll see 'em eventually. I'm not, after all, a murderous cyborg.