Kookaburras

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that jet leg is a beautiful thing. I am, after all, writing this while the sun’s rising in Lorne, Victoria, Australia. The words are coming slowly, but the brain fog’s beginning to lift, and I’m registering that a Kookaburra tried to steal my kangaroo meat last night, which is now a sentence I get to write.

I don’t think I’ve ever been up voluntarily at 4am, and I’m looking forward to a couple hours of reading and beach meandering before the aptly and matter-of-factly named East Beach Café opens for business. I finished the Elon Musk bio on the plane, and next up’s The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, which has been described as sci-fi’s Ulysses. While Elon’s inventing space internet, I’ll settle for a scone, some tea, and inter-planetary blood feuds.

In a few short hours, Lorne with be overrun by boisterous, sleep-deprived Americans and hungover Aussies, all gathered to celebrate the wedding of Allen Stone and Tara Lawson. It’s true - professional maniac Allen Nathan Stone, of over-sized sweater fame, my pal and bandmate, is getting freaking MARRIED! It shall be a party, ladies and gentlemen, and tomorrow’s post will be written likely while still intoxicated. Tour manager extraordinaire Ryan “Bear” Drozd’s suit alone’s worth the trip (photo evidence is forthcoming).

Humanoid

I’m currently 35,000 feet or so above the Pacific Ocean, enjoying my second gin and tonic and thinking about having a third. I’ve got about two thousand pages worth of dystopian sci-fi on my iPad with a violently snoring octogenarian enhancing the ambience, so the next 14ish hours are destined to be a jolly romp. Thankfully, “Humanoid” by Bernhoft’s been stuck in my head the entire flight. It’s a welcome companion.

Here’s a vibey live video from ten days ago at the Fillmore.

Or, if the studio version’s more your thing…

The whole record’s magic, the band’s insane, and “Humanoid” is one of the best track ones in recent memory. Feel free to dance spontaneously, activate the hips, and just go good ol’ fashioned bonkers.

 

Count Dracula in Yeezys

I’m sitting in a coffeeshop in West Hollywood, surrounded by earnestly hip LA transplants staring zombie-like into their phones, the direct sunlight having a deleterious effect on freshly inked, snow white forearms. After being brusquely informed there’s no wifi between 9am and 2pm and asked if I “plan on loitering,” I’m focusing on gratitude, specifically that I’m about to fly 16 hrs to a place where marsupials run amok and don’t have an image of a bearded sailor on my body for perpetuity. It is, on balance, a net gain.

While a guy dressed like Count Dracula in Yeezys orders a hemp milk cortado, bemoans its tepidness, then disappears in a cloud of Juul vapor, I’m filled with unironic love for this city, and also appreciation that I didn’t hang a right on I-5 out of Seattle and decided to continue along I-90, unsure of where I’d land but knowing it’d be somewhere good.

Missing Nashville a bit today, but excited for Tim-Tams, family, and convincing tour manager extraordinaire Ryan “Bear” Drozd that everything he sees is poisonous.

Book Club

Reading’s one of my favorite touring pastimes, and I’m starting an informal book club this time around. Oh yes! Fellow dweeds, please enlighten me as to what’s tickling your little gray cells, I’d love giving it a chance. No genre’s off limits, and I write this fully aware of the potentially terrifying consequences.

Book #1 of the Allen Stone Band Big Tour (ASBBT? The acronym’s too fetish-y, right?) is Elon Musk: Telsa, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. I’ve been wanting to read this biography for a while, then forgot about it, then remembered I’d forgotten about it after Elon controversially kinda-sorta smoked weed on the Joe Rogan Experience.

The only thing Elon and I have in common, sadly, is being awkward, white South African dudes - not a distinguished lineage, to say the least. But by revolutionizing how we think about basically everything (him), and having a singing voice that’s “better than expected” (me, but probably also him), perhaps we can offer a few redemptive drops in the bucket.

Send book recs, you so-and-so’s!

Unknown.jpeg




Feels Like Home

It’s my last night in Nashville for a while. As a guy who bounces around a lot, I tend not to think of home as a place I’ve spent a ton of time, but rather somewhere I’ve discovered profound things about myself.

Seattle, of course, feels like home. It’s where I put the pieces together so to speak - falling in and out of love, professional successes, Vitamin D deficiency, all the benchmarks that define reluctantly learning how to be a grown ass human being.

The road feels like home. Everything about myself I’m proud of shines. It’s filled with magic and dreams and good madness.

And, now, Nashville feels like home. It’s where I rediscovered my own music, literally my own voice, and, thank god, the courage to share them. It’s where I realized I’m so much more than the guy in the background.

So, here we are. The night before the Big Tour. I cleaned the toilet, Mom. I really did. First stop, LA, where I meet up with tour manager extraordinaire Ryan “Bear” Drozd and willingly place my life in his hands for the rest of the year.

Thank you all for reading this thing. It means a lot, and I have a feeling it’s about to get REALLY entertaining.

Something Nourishing

When you write something everyday you know a bunch of people read, there’s a sense of obligation, however low-key, to be edifying, or at least halfway entertaining.

Especially given most constructive criticism I receive involves the MoaT not providing enough self-helpy bromides with optimal viral potential, whenever I’m a sleep-deprived zombie confined to his home with stress-induced flatulence, I feel I’m letting my readership down. To that end, I’m sorry.

The goal of easing the transition from pre-travel limbo to world-dominating rock and roll professional via filling my schedule has been a resounding success, and I’ve resorted to Kroger brand instant coffee. On the mission to acquire said Kroger brand instant coffee, I left the house in my underpants. It’d been an odd day.

But, as John Denver sang, “my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go.” Just a prog-rock opera to sing in, a couple photo shoots to bathe for, and a flight bound for the Land Down Under to nearly miss.

I’ve thoroughly wasted your time today, and I don’t feel at all bad about it, but I figure I’d best leave you with something nourishing. Check this out.

Episode 19 - Emily Chambers

Ok, so tomorrow I’ll post something more comprehensive about my pal Bernhoft, I’ll need another 24 hours getting my thoughts together anyway. Today, I’ll say only that Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens Episode 19 is live!

Emily Chambers is a fantastic singer/songwriter from the enlightened nation of Canada, currently residing in Nashville TN and touring the world over. She opened up for my friends Jessica Childress and Lawrence (the band) a little while back in LA and Vancouver respectively, with both offering high praise. So, when Emily contacted me asking to pick my brain about Allen Stone Band stuff, I was happy to dedicate some caffeine replenishment time, and it was obvious she possessed a unique energy and perspective.

In addition to her crazy touring schedule, Emily and her partner host a cool Van Jams series, which I highly recommend. Multi-faceted creative types fighting the good fight? ‘Tis a glorious thing.

iTunes!

Video!

Patreon!

Bernhoft

I’m writing this minutes before my pal Jarle Bernhoft hits the stage in Cincinnati. We had a fantastic backstage chat for the podcast that I can’t wait to share. Whenever I’m uncertain about the music business or my general place in the world, I reach out to Jarle, who always makes time, a precious commodity given his crazy schedule. I’m beyond excited for the show, my first time seeing my friend with his band, the Fashion Bruises, and almost forgot to write a MoaT, so I apologize for this hasty entry. I’m grateful for inspiring friends and sage, much-needed counsel. More on Bernhoft tomorrow - he’s just started playing, and there’s incongruous moshing to initiate.

Radiating Outward

Yesterday was the last day of my weekly video guitar lessons. What was meant to be a short experiment turned into a year of engaged and badass students - a sincere thank you to everyone who signed up and stuck with me.

A few things I’ve learned:

Teaching isn’t a fall back plan in a tedious universe where those who can’t do languish.

Teaching isn’t a throwing in of the towel, an admission that it was a good run, but it’s really time for something sensible.

Teaching isn’t standing in front of a classroom as some authority figure.

Teaching is a being human in it’s most unadulterated form. It’s radiating outward. It’s relishing in our mutually barely hanging on.

Everyone wants to be heard. Teaching is listening.

Teaching is appreciating humility’s gravitational pull, and being open to whatever might enter our orbit.

People are cool, people are funny, and people are strange. Teaching is celebrating gloriously peculiar things.

What gets drowned out in the echo chamber of our over-active minds is how easy it is sitting down with a decent motherfucker, looking them in the eye, and sharing something you’ve learned along the way. And they’ll share something back, which really is the best part.

And, all of sudden, the world’s utterly quiet, save for the banter between curious souls.

Errant Ghosts

I posted the picture below on Instagram a few days ago with the caption “you’re judged by the company you keep.” And sure, it’s a pretty dumb picture, an objectively unnecessary contribution to an internet filled with nerdy dudes posing with ironic accoutrement. But for me, the sentiment’s profound. The real gift of 2018’s been abandoning self-seriousness, what I’d previously considered an incurable malady. It turns out, there’re a whole lot of lionhearted badasses in my life, something you tend to miss when everything’s so goddamn important, and it feels like I’m finally meeting them on their level.

It’s funny how something can burn in your mind like silver fire one minute, and the next be there, but only just, like an errant ghost. As I’m prepping to become a merry nomad again, I’m grateful for having let go of so much, and welcoming in new dreams.

IMG_0058.JPG

Kindred Spirits

Fantastic day with Gideon Klein, Gabe Klein, and Trey McDermott, getting a last minute recording/video session in for new solo tunes. My plan’s to release one video and song each month while the Al Stone band’s on tour. Inspiring vibes today, reaffirming that my tunes belong in the world, however humbly.

A lot’s made of the impossibility of our industry. In previous posts, I’ve used words like “kooky” and “bizarro,” largely to assuage my own fear, but the reality’s infinitely more formidable. So much is out of our control. But what we can do is keep ourselves busy - book recording sessions, photo shoots, whatever really, with talented kindred spirits, and get to the business of telling our own story. On bad days, the previous sentence reads like a feel-good bromide, creating the illusion of my having my shit together. But on better days, like today, I feel up for anything, like the specter of uncertainty’s just a merry nomad with an ear to lend.

Couldn't Hurt to Try

One week! Oh yes, one week until I leave on a jet plane, knowing full well when I'll be back again but excited none the less. First stop, Australia, to celebrate a good friend’s wedding, playing some rock and/or roll, and see family. Should I encounter a Sydney Funnel-Web spider, evidently the continent’s most dangerous, I’m sure my encyclopedic knowledge of the Police’s catalogue will come in handy. 

Today’s been spent packing, cleaning, organizing, trying to stay ahead of the game in anticipation of a lunatic week filled with marathon recording sessions, guest spots in gothic country shows, rock operas, and podcasts with some of my favorite people. I’m gonna collapse into my middle seat from BNA to LAX a contented ne’er-do-well. 

It’s time. I’ve been off the road for too long, and it’s made me weird(er). It’s time to take the music to the people, and I know my comrades aboard the Al Stone pirate ship are just as ready. 

We’re all older, marginally wiser, and have a bunch of cool stuff happening individually these days outside of the band. Loyal MoaT readers (thank you) know what I’m up to, and I’d like to share with you this. My fellow stage lefter, Steve Swatkins, aka Swatkins, is the best talkbox player in the world, and his band Swatkins and the Positive Agenda are poised for big things. Their debut single makes me happy, and I know it’ll bring a smile to your face, too.

Episode 18 - Director Steve

Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens #18 is live!

Director Steve (aka Steve Condon) is a music video director to the stars, social media and branding consultant, and co-founder of The 10:10 Creative in Nashville TN.

Thanks to YouTube, Vimeo etc, music videos are more relevant than ever, effectively supplanting terrestrial radio. Billboard even factors in video streams while determining chart positioning. So, you don't want some schmuck behind the camera, and Steve's one of the best in the country music world (check out his work with Old Dominion, for a start). I've been wanting to sit down with Steve for a while, and this podcast's filled with nourishing and sardonic bits of wisdom.

Video!

iTunes!

And, as of a few days ago, my Patreon page! More on this tomorrow.

trevor larkin.png

Assclown Distraction

Today, I had an encouraging meeting with a young booking agent working for a major agency. She was upbeat, inexorably positive, excited about the entrepreneurial potential within our loony industry, and appropriately dismissive of the status quo. I told her how much I appreciated her candor, and how refreshing it is speaking with someone from a big company who’s stoked on the future rather than bemoaning the absence of Lobster Thermidor at every meeting. After a trying few days, it was a breath of fresh air.

I’m reminded to surround myself with badasses. Yes, there are capricious rat-bastards in the music business, and yes, there are multitudes whose hearts are gone, and that’s sad. But there are a whole lot of folks fighting the good fight (my phrase of choice lately). It’s on us to seek these people out, buy them smoothies, and team up against cynicism - the enemy of all things audacious and wonderful. 

It's not your fault that guy over there's an assclown. It's really not. Don't let said assclown distract you from the good stuff, which in my case right now is old school Megadeth, a home cooked meal, and welcoming change with open arms.

CHEAP TRICK!!!!!

The Delta Rae Revival was exactly what I expected, which is to say mind blowing - if you live in Nashville or near enough, ie the lower 48, you HAVE TO SEE THIS SHOW. I won’t spoil it for you, aside from saying they brought out fucking Cheap Trick(!) as a special guest and I lost my goddamn mind. CHEAP TRICK!!!! I mean, I can’t imagine they’ll bring out Cheap Trick every Wednesday, but a metal nerd can dream, and knowing my friends I’m sure each show will be filled with equally devil-horn-worthy surprises. Band’s like Delta Rae don’t come around very often. They’re fighting the good fight, and it’s inspiring.

I’m lucky having friends doing their thing at a high level, and rather than being envious I’m excited to discover where my ceiling is. I mean, I know I’m not slacking, but I'm ready to do more, and with greater intention. How would it feel doing the things I say I’m gonna do 100% of the time? Pretty sweet, I bet. 

The timing for the Allen Stone Band tour’s perfect - momentum, excitement, full Rock and Roll McDonald’s mode, and within that obsessively redlining my creativity, output, and (hopefully) endearing weirdness. 

Delta Rae Revival

Every Wednesday from tonight until the end of the year, Delta Rae will be performing at the Basement in Nashville. From what little I know about the show (they've been annoyingly hush-hush), it’s going to be ambitious, equal parts performance art and celebration of their deep catalogue. I'm heading to the venue in a few mins and can't wait to find out.  

I’m proud of my friends. The music business is one where bandwidth gets exhausted quickly. Expectations from managers, labels, publicists, booking agents and, of course, fans, can compound to an overwhelming degree, and it takes unique conviction to speak up over the din and say look, here’s the vision, this is what we want and here’s how we’re going to do it. 

Delta Rae’s killing the game. They have the industry machine behind them, and therefore every excuse to coast and scapegoat, which is a beguiling path in such a bizarro world. And they don’t. They’re telling the big shots where to aim, not a stance always encouraged by the powers that be. Kudos to my pals for being visionary badasses, and for takin' no shit.

Check out their website. Watch their latest music video, stream their tunes, and of course come to a Delta Rae Revival show. The Rick and Morty closing credit says it best, and goddammit who doesn't like a bow tie? 

8736569941_cc1a364c9a.jpg

The Ballad of Big Country, Continued

My neighbor Big Country is celebrating Labor Day exactly how you’d expect - sloshing moonshine onto the driveway, slurred, non-sensical ramblings punctuated by aggressive flatulence. He’s throwing scraps of bacon to his dog, Little Country, and complaining about my other neighbor, Don. “Sumbitch won’ say a goddman word t’me,” says Big Country, “he’s lower’n a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.”

Big Country stands like a teapot against our shared fence. “I’ve been thinkin,” he says.

"Go on," I say, bracing for impact. 

“Well, I’ve heard people ask ‘are we human cause we look at the stars, or do we look at the stars cause we’re human?’ Shit, that’s stupid. Do the stars look back? That’s the question.”

With that, he hawks a fat gob of god knows what in the general direction of his weathered Tennessee Titans cup and waddles away, braying atonally at Little Country, who knows to follow.

I’m often left gobsmacked by Big Country. He’s most likely absorbed in bizarro internet porn, but I’d like to think he stares upward, from time to time, into the dark sky and watches the infinite dance of the stars. Either way, he got me thinking, as he usually does. 

I imagine if the stars did look back, suspended for so long above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, they’d smile gently, finding it funny every time another little human considered themselves the center of their world.

Double Middle Digits

I’m luxuriating into my final couple weeks here in Nashville, ahead of the game planning-wise for the tour, excited to meet head on this undefined but inevitably exciting next chapter. 

I’ve been getting a fair amount of email regarding this “next chapter” business, so let me clarify - I’m still very much part of the Allen Stone team and have every intention of sharing the stage with my brothers-in-arms for the foreseeable future. But these other sides of me - songwriting, explorations through conversation, and prose writing - I’ve largely kept to myself until recently. And I’ll be sharing songs again in earnest this Fall, the podcast hits the road with the band, and the MoaT’s not stopping anytime soon.

Not too long ago, I would’ve fought back against calmness. I’m missing something, clearly, and shouldn’t I be working harder, better, smarter? I realize now that, yes, I am, and I suppose I could be, sure. 2018’s been about shifting focus away from global domination and towards the almost imperceptible clues from the universe that I’m not fucking it all up. They're there, it turns out, and have been for quite some time.

Emboldened to share, and share relentlessly, I couldn’t tell you what’s around the next bend. I can’t wait to find out. 

 

 

Make a Friend Smile

Today's been bizarre and stressful, so I sent a friend a picture of some monkeys.

I took it in Bali three years ago at the Ubud Monkey Forest. Hardly Nat Geo worthy, but it makes me happy. And I knew the recipient would get a kick out of it, and making someone else's day's a sure-fire way to ensure your day's pretty great, too.

Many readers of this newsletter are in the music business, which is to say certifiable - if lovable - maniacs, inclined towards hyperbolic, existential dread. I stand proudly among you. And I know when I'm feeling lost, which is often, I don't need "answers." Because I'm not lost, not really. Delicate, overstimulated, a little lonely? Sure. But I remain steadfast in believing my art's worth it. I bet you'd say the same for yourself. 

So, it's not really about the Tony Robbins bullshit - I'm happy leaving that to some douchebag who thinks he can still dunk. I'm all about making a friend smile.

IMG_2658.jpg