All-Or-Nothing Thinking

Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself falling back into familiar all-or-nothing thought patterns, which often happens when I’m sleep deprived and eating like an asshole, which I have been lately. I figured I’d share my process for working out of the muck. 

First, I make a list of all the all-or-nothing thinking. Here’re a few recent gems:

  1. Today absolutely sucked
  2. The meal I cooked was terrible
  3. I’m too old
  4. Nobody loves me
  5. My career’s a failure
  6. I sounded like shit at our last show

When it comes to crippling self-doubt, why mess with the classics, right? After a few rounds of creative profanity, I counter with thoughts that are more in tune with reality:

  1. A couple of annoying things happened, but not everything’s been a disaster
  2. True, it’s not the best meal I’ve ever prepared, but it’s edible
  3. Too old for what? Enjoying friends? No. Making music? No. Travel? No. Loving and being loved? Absolutely not. So, what am I too old for, exactly?
  4. Bullshit. I have lots of friends and family who care about me. I don’t reach out as much as I could, but I can work on that.  
  5. I’ve succeeded at some things and fallen short at others, just like everybody. But I’m gifted to be able to produce, work and create, so why not enjoy it?
  6. It wasn’t the best show I've ever played. In fact, it was way below average. But the fans had a great time, and I know how to focus my practice moving forward.  

For me, this process isn't about feeling instantly better, but rather allowing a few rays of sunlight to poke through the clouds, which can be all I need. 

And I feel it’s important sharing. We’re in this together, after all. 

IMG_0814.jpg

Writing On My Phone

I’m sitting in the shade at Cornelia Fort Airpark in Nashville, attempting to procrastinate but instead, for the first time in MoaT history, writing this on my phone.

We write on our phones everyday - texts, emails, searches etc - but longer form writing I feel’s less common. I’ve resisted up until now because I’ve needed the ritual and intention of setting aside time to write, but my schedule’s about to become full-on lunacy - this newsletter’s important to me, and I want writing always to feel like a treat rather than a chore. 

So far, I'm into it. I like throwing together sentences from a park bench (where I'm sitting now), beach (hopefully soon), or green room with particularly spectacular dick art (guaranteed). Hopefully, writing on my phone here and there will help me appreciate, maybe even look forward to, the random pockets of time touring musicians know too well, the “you can’t leave, but there’s nothing to do” moments typically occupied by Instagram scrolling.

Ep. 11 - Zac Clark (unreleased Not Famous Podcast episode)

Episode 11 of Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens is live!

A solo artist and member of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Zac Clark is a mensch, raconteur and musician of highest order. He’s one of my favorite people - the transition from supporting cast member to The Guy can be disorienting, and Zac's handling things with predictable grace and good humor.  

This episode’s actually an unreleased conversation from the Not Famous Podcast, recorded a year ago to the day. It’s one of my and Jeremy’s favorite’s, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Zac’s currently out on his first headlining tour - I caught the show in Nashville and it’s fantastic. Experience and be elevated, my friends!

NFTLTL.png

  

 

Create Unrelentingly

I’m privilaged to have several confidants in this business, people who are a little older, exponentially wiser, and offer much needed perspective whenever I’m being an asshole. 

I was venting recently to one of them, all the usual bullshit we creative types fixate on. This particular confidant, think stereotypical Oxford professor in appearance and Tourettes-addled marine in preferred language, offered something that’ll stick with me for a long time.

“You’re original. And it’ll be your biggest weakness, until it’s your greatest strength.”

Let’s all endeavor to keep our heads down, stay the course, and create unrelentingly.

 

I Finally Used the Word "Saurian"

I’m writing this from the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. I’ve been upgraded to first class on my flight to Nashville and figured I’d better write this now before indulging in a couple two-three complimentary cocktails and offering up a long-winded reptilian overlords post. At some point, Tom Brady will rip off his ill-fitting skin suit and sing, with disarming melodiousness, battle hymns from his home world.  

I digress. Canada was great! Two festival dates under our belts, the Truck Stop Concert Series in Vancouver and Rock the Shores in Victoria. We’ve been playing together for so long now that a “bad” show’s not really in the cards. I had some gnarly technical issues during Rock the Shores - failed power supply, an overdrive pedal literally disintegrating during our set, thereby shorting out the entire board, and my having to jury rig a solution involving exposed live wires, all during the Canadian debut of “Brown Eyed Lover” in front of 10,000 people. But I was able to handle things with relative ice in my veins because I knew the band had my back, Bear’d adjust in FOH, and Tim’d tweak the ear mixes like a goddamn champion. 

Chemistry’s a powerful thing. At this level, it’s a given everyone can play - it’s kinda the least important factor. There’s no fancy lick or aptitude on a particular console that substitutes years in the trenches together - guys who know your playing better than you do, can cover your tuchus, and like you well enough to mourn your death should the haphazard MacGyver bullshit go sideways.

When Tom Brady finally reveals his saurian self to a long-suspecting Bill Belichick, I hope this crew charges with me in the first wave of resistance.  

 

The Gypsy Guitar

Since posting the first picture of the Gypsy Guitar, my inbox’s been inundated with everything from hyper-technical questions to “bro, that guitar looks siiiiiiiiiiick.” 

The guitar does, in fact, look sick, and I promised Ken and Nate at the Walla Walla Guitar Company a brutally honest assessment once I’d played the Gypsy on a gig, which I did for the first time last night in Vancouver BC. 

I love my hometown and really, really, wanted the guitar to be amazing - it sounded great at the house, but touring with boutique instruments can be challenging. Bluntly put, they're often designed to look cool on the wall of a lawyer's office, falling hopelessly out of tune once the AC kicks on. My world is, in a word, different - hundreds of shows, disinterested airport baggage handlers, and my beating the daylights out of the thing with less deference than I’d show a chainsaw. I’ll sacrifice all manner of geek-tastic accoutrement as long as the goddamn thing stays in one piece.  

I’m happy to report that not only does the Gypsy look like it belongs in a museum, it received an enthusiastic thumbs up from our FOH, Ryan “Bear” Drozd. I put it through the wringer last night - maniac bends and Ramones-worthy bludgeoning, all through a mediocre back lined amp - and the Gypsy sang like a freaking bird. 

Thank you, Ken, Nate, Terry, and everyone at Walla Walla Guitar Company, for making a player’s instrument.

70307-Maverick-Pro-Crystal-Roaring-20s-Gypsy-1.jpg

Tiny-Balled Fire and Fury

I’m writing this poolside at the opulent Sutton Hotel in downtown Vancouver BC. As touring musicians, we’re conditioned to think a can of Beefaroni in a van with functional-yet-moldy AC’s the height of luxury, so frequenting spots where a quinoa salad’s thirty bucks feels pleasantly unsettling. I’m grateful my misspent youth’s equipped me with fingers dextrous enough to make a day job as yet unexplored. 

Our production manager, Tim Burke, is berobed, wearing sunglasses indoors, and insinuating he might embarrass me at the ping-pong table. He’s new to the team and doesn’t know, and it brings me great joy knowing that, soon, he will know, and I hope his thorough ass whooping won’t result in only kick drum in my mix. Worth the risk, that I might reign down tiny-balled fire and fury. By the time you read this, Tim, you’ll have recovered from being reduced to a quivering heap of false bravado, and we’ll be sharing beers as comrades again. Thank you - my ear mix is perfect.

Traveling with this crew’s special. Looking forward to doing a lot more of it in the coming months.  

Between Starbucks and Outer Space

I love flying from Nashville to Los Angeles - there’s something about the juxtaposition of disparate walks of life, thrown together involuntarily in a metal tube occupying real estate somewhere between the nearest Starbucks and outer space.

An elderly Tennessean on his first-ever flight is wheezing and twanging like an untuned banjo as he espouses conspiracy theories, the “gumn’t” this and “talm bout” that. He’s eyed incredulously by an LA finance type, impossibly awkward in his designer suit, as if a rolled carpet were reluctantly ambulant. Crew dudes are CrossFitting pelican cases into overhead compartments, nervously speculating whether this flight will unlock that coveted Gold status. And me - sleep deprived, but fortified by enough nuclear-strong French Press to pass as respectable company, typing this in my four inches of available space. But even the indignity of modern travel’s kinda awesome - BNA to LAX in three and a half hours, after all, even though I’m pretty sure the guy next to me’s watching porn.

Sammy Hagar, the Great Poet of Our Time, once sang “there’s a time and place for everything, for everyone.” There surely is. 

Then again, he also sang “hey hey, hey, hey, MAS TEQUILA,” which of course means we must take life’s absurdities as we would our agave booze - with grains of salt. 

 

$82 Million

A friend sent me this "article" recently. Allen has eighty-two of several things - moldy-on-the-inside hats, for example, or nightly exuberant high fives with Steveland Swatkins - but millions of dollars ain't one of 'em. Trust me, your friend Trevor would be frolicking in an Olympic sized pool filled with jelly beans if that were the case.

It's a badge of honor, I suppose, achieving click-bait-worthy levels of a thing, and I love the inspiringly lazy title of "People with Money." As a fan of preposterousness, this makes me chuckle, which is most welcome as I'm setting my alarm for 3am, which of course is also preposterous.

 

IMG_4047.png

Thoughts on Writing

This morning, I came across Nobel laureate Thomas Mann’s superb crystallization of the writing process. “A writer,” said Mann, “is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.”

I find this definition liberating. If you, like me, have abandoned innumerable projects, left potential masterworks smoldering in the wreckage of what might have been, or regretfully assumed you’re not creative because of how insanely hard the process can be…well, perhaps now’s the time to try again, in the knowledge that your finding the experience so grindingly horrible means you might be the real deal after all.  

There are, of course, "easy" days, when songs seemingly fall from the heavens or whatever bullshit guys like Scott Stapp say. But it’s infinitely more realistic, and therefore productive, appreciating that conceiving of and finishing a good song, record, novel - whatever, really - is ragingly and absurdly difficult, and you’re therefore a fucking superhuman deserving of multiple ice cream sundaes.

Today, let’s cut ourselves some slack and appreciate that, if it were easy, any ol’ douche’d be cranking out “Let It Be.” Thanks for fighting the good fight. I’m off to grab some ice cream. 

Weathered Yams

Atypically for The Mind of a Trevor, I’m writing this in my office, underscored by rider mowers, yipping pooches, and my hillbilly neighbors drag racing motorcycles. This is Tennessee, after all.

I love traveling more than anything, and I’m grateful my livelihood takes me to all corners of the world. Through travel, one can’t help but embrace the kaleidoscopic nature of things, and I’m a better creator and, I’d like to think anyway, less of a douchebag because of it. The last better part of a decade's been defined by hurriedly packed suitcases, airport Cinnabon and the attendant gastrointestinal discomfort, and meh-at-best guitar solos. I’m lucky. 

I’ve worked hard at making Nashville feel like home, and I can say with pride that I no longer need the GPS to get around. Come mid-September, I’ll be away from Music City for the rest of the year, and as my neighbor Big Country’s drying his clothes with a leaf blower, a cheap cigar dangling from lips resembling weathered yams, I’m feeling an unfamiliar pang for a professional nomad - I’m going to miss this place.

Zac Clark's Summer Tour

I met Zac Clark back in 2013 - we summited Bro Mountain together along with our bandmates in Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Allen Stone, opening for OAR on what's still the most fun tour I've ever been a part of.  

I met Zac's bandmates Mikey the Kid and Bob Oxblood in 2012 - they played bass and guitar respectively in Jack's Mannequin, the first big band to take us Al Stone misfits out on the road. 

Collectively, they're a mighty artistic force, and I'm beyond stoked they're collaborating on Zac Clark's summer run. I caught their show last night in Nashville and was grinning ear-to-ear the entire night. Think effortless, Laurel Canyon-inspired melodies meets 70's era NYC punk swagger.

Do everything in your power, legal or otherwise, to catch this tour, for the love of whatever higher power floats your boat.

Click here for dates, music, and other cool stuff.

ZC_low_res_border.jpg

  

Sneaky Bastards

I’m asked regularly how and why I write everyday. 

The “how” isn’t particularly impressive (I sit down and do it) and the “why,” initially at least, was an equal letdown (it seemed like a good idea at the time). Over the course of six-plus months, despite my aversion to self-improvement, some neat benefits have crept up on me, the sneaky bastards.  

I used to be awful at waking up in the morning - it’d take several hours just to convince myself to drag a toothbrush across my chompers, much less carpe that diem. I decided to write this newsletter early in the AM, hoping that getting the gears spinning first thing might shake up the ol’ brain box. 

Within a week, my morning lethargy was gone - decades of annoyance brought on by chirping birds and other unwelcome first-light whimsy straight up over, just like that (I snapped my fingers, for all you visual people). Now, by the time I’m ready to start my day, I’m sharp, focused, and ready for whatever a day looks like for someone who’s never had a real job.

I plan on writing this newsletter indefinitely, but if and when the time comes to hang up the proverbial sneakers, I’ll always write every morning. 

 

Free From Me

“Free From Me” is my favorite song I’ve written so far. Jeremy Hatcher went absolutely bonkers on the production, turning my emo campfire jam into a stadium-crushing behemoth. I love how it starts out all ethereal and meandering, with an extended Johnny Greenwood inspired guitar solo disintegrating into feedback that'd make Sonic Youth proud. Oh, the catharsis, my friends. An electric guitar played terrifyingly loud’s about the best thing there is.  

This song’s a few years old now, and it’s a little bittersweet looking back on where I was at the time - newly single, trying to make sense of my rapidly changing life as the Al Stone project grew. While I’m a different guy to the one who wrote the verses, the chorus still resonates - if we live unapologetically as ourselves, it’ll all make sense in time.  

Take a listen, if you like. Lyrics below…

 

every time I close my eyes

I’m haunted by the starlight in a different sky

the memories of that moment in Mobile

I’ll escape my broken world

I’ll learn to love this southern girl

I’ve long outgrown my gloomy home 

in the state of Evergreen

 

everyone of us can change, change our ways

if we learn to live life out loud

I know I will never be free from me

so I’ll have to seek shelter from the storm

 

now I’m paralyzed by fright

I felt it in a Catskill’s night

now I’m blind out here in Brooklyn

but the sun’s not in my eyes

in the Rockies, now, I chase

a girl with whom I can’t keep pace

another angel hates me now

it’s one more smile I’ll never see again

 

everyone of us can change, change our ways

if we learn to live life out loud

I know I will never be free from me

so I’ll have to seek shelter from the storm

 

Shouldn't I be "successful" by now?

Doubting everything? Feeling like you're shouting into the void? And shouldn't I be, you know, "successful" by now, or, Jesus Christ, at least not scraping together lose change to pay bills? We've all been there, most of all me.  

On account of the yuppie, self-helpy undercurrent, I've never shared an inspirational quote in this newsletter, and I shudder somewhat that I'm doing it now - it softens the douchiness, I suppose, that it comes from Bill Burr, and I can envision him calling the recipient a rat bastard. 

"Realize that sleeping on a futon when you're 30 isn't the worst thing. You know what's worse? Sleeping in a king sized bed next to a wife you're not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you've got a couple kids, and you've got a job you hate. You'll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There's no risk when you go after a dream. There's a tremendous amount of risk playing it safe."

Personal Turning Points

During our performance at the Special Olympics opening ceremony, I experienced a song take flight. Check it out here.  

“Warriors” came from a Jamie Lidell and Allen songwriting session in the days leading up to our time at Sound Emporium. We tackled the track during our last couple days in the studio, with ear fatigue setting in and the collective attention span wavering. Tyler and I threw the bridge riff together, we all contributed some ear candy, but did we nail it? Honestly, I wasn't sure, and before I knew it I was back in full-on Clark Kent mode, mowing my lawn and recycling junk mail.

When “Warriors” was announced as the next single, I listened back with fresh ears. I thought it was pretty good, but obviously felt a deeper connection with the tunes we’d written as a band. Stylistically, it’s a departure from our wheelhouse, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but “Freedom,” the Capitol Records backed single off Radius, had fallen short of nebulous expectations and left Al in particular pretty dejected. It was smart releasing “Brown Eyed Lover” first, both to satisfy die-hard fans and, hopefully, ease the transition into a more pop sensibility. 

Success on radio, Spotify playlists, potential Marshmello remixes? All good stuff, but fleeting and arbitrary to the point of disillusionment. On stage at Husky Stadium, watching the Special Olympians laughing and dancing along with Al, I felt profound gratitude - not only was this moment a personal turning point in so many ways, but I and the rest of the fellas understood why “Warriors” belongs in the world. 

Episode 9

Episode 9 of Trevor Larkin Talks and Listens is live!

Justin Kelley is a singer/songwriter based in Nashville who performs under the name Hownd. He’s an insightful, gentle soul, and profoundly talented - it was a pleasure chatting about our experiences at Berklee, overcoming creative droughts, and how important Metallica was during our formative years (a true litmus test of character). 

iTunes!

Video!

IMG_4302.png

The Best Amp Settings Ever

I'm writing this from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Sigh. But it's been an exciting several days in the Allen Stone universe, the most fun we've had on stage as a band, and I'm eager to share more tomorrow when I'm not so sleep deprived. For now, as the resignation sets in that I'm about to pay a thousand dollars for a profoundly dismal approximation of a sandwich, I'll share this picture of my amp from a few tours back. 

I received all manner of derision when I originally posted this, both for what I thought were the obvious mock setting preferences (aren't you afraid you're gonna blow your speakers?!) and how the amp's actually dialed (bro, lemme know if you need a lesson on good tone). I beg your forgiveness, Online Guitar Community. Thankfully, for our upcoming marathon tour, I'll be in the hands of Steve "Bluto" Libby, tech to the stars (and also me), who will have my amp singing like Pavarotti. 

IMG_2245.jpg

 

 

Six Months!

Today’s the six month anniversary of The Mind of a Trevor daily email newsletter! It’s not popular enough yet to warrant a cease and desist from The Mind of a Chef, but we’re getting there. 

I love writing and have wanted to get a blog up and running for years. In typical me fashion, initial attempts were overly ambitious and destined to end up exactly where they did - in a smoldering heap of unactualized potential, along with my 3-point shot and break dancing ability.

The only thing I hadn’t tried actually made sense, and therefore was unappealing - short, light-hearted and, on good days, readable posts, and do it every day. If it’s longer than one thumb scroll, chuck it. No targeted demographics, no “point” to speak of other than personal accountability.

I’ve written approximately 72,000 words so far, well on my way to a long-ish novel’s worth of readable, if not Pulitzer-worthy, sentences. The first six months have been foolhardy, not particularly sexy, with minimal viral potential…aka, very me. I'm proud of that.

And I can officially say I'm a writer! Thank you all for reading. It’s flattering and humbling, your following along with my daily musings. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

IMG_4679.png