A Certain Musician I Know is a Legend

A certain musician I know is a legend. He's a legend for many reasons, but principally for what happened back in July 2012 when the Allen Stone Orgasmic Noise Orchestra played the Late Show with David Letterman.

A celebratory mood’s in the air. In early 2012, we’re grinding big time, barely making ends meet, and then, all of a sudden, WHOOSH, we’re here, there and everywhere, opening for giant bands, playing on national TV, frantically trying to adjust to whatever "this" is. And, make no mistake, we have no idea what "this" is.  

The night before our Letterman taping, in the spirit of being generally overwhelmed all the time, we’re tossing back sake like it’s post-marathon gatorade. It’s New York and we’re excited and everything's new and holy shit our dreams are coming true and then I woke up at the hotel.  

At some point post sake apocalypse and pre coming-to at the Brooklyn Comfort Inn, drunken calamity befalls a certain musician I know. It's uncertain exactly what happened, but the end result's a gnarly gash above his lip and endearing embarrassment. Naturally, we're all laughing like insensitive hyenas. As we pile into a van bound for the Ed Sullivan Theater, there's every conceivable excuse for a mere mortal to crumble. These shows are weird enough without temporary disfigurement.    

But, like I said, this certain musician I know is a legend. 

Upon arrival at the theater, he doesn’t head straight to makeup, wordlessly point to his upper lip and, within 15 minutes, come out looking good as new. Absolutely not, what with that lacking improvisational flare and all. Instead, this gem of a human disappears into the costume shop down the block and emerges with the most ludicrous fake mustache that’s ever existed in human history. It looks like a wounded, wet Yorky’s clinging to his lip. With a maniacal confidence, this certain musician I know grabs Letterman's production manager and says “don’t show my face.” Which, of course, is not-so-secret code for “literally the first close up’s going to be me rocking a fifteen pound fake mustache, sunglasses and (if memory serves) a trucker cap” Genius. Kaufman-esque. It's on YouTube.

The lesson here, aspiring musicians, is yes, preserve a modicum of professionalism or whatever but, really, why didn’t you become an accountant?  Because this shit’s really, really fun, and things matter a whole lot less than you think.

Thoughts on Loneliness

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with an old musician buddy about loneliness. Just what you wanted to be reading about over your morning coffee, I know. For those of us in the arts - in order to get the thing right - we necessarily have to spend a ton of time on our own, and that can get the ol’ brain box working overtime in not-so-awesome ways. I've spent years lost down this particular rabbit hole, so I figured I’d share a few thoughts.

Several years ago, a friend sent me this quote by theologian Paul Tillich:

“Language has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

These words came at a critical point in my life, and they planted a seed. I began exploring the meaning of “being alone,” and I discovered that, in and of itself, being alone’s neither negative or positive, just a fact that describes a good portion of a creative’s life. If Tillich was right, then, it could be experienced as painful loneliness or glorious solitude.

So, I asked myself “what do I enjoy about being alone?” The list was long haha, so I’ll share just a handful:

-being alone quiets my mind and heightens my appreciation of the world around me. I notice little things I’d otherwise ignore - the interplay of shadows on the wall, or even just my breathing.

-I’m more productive when I’m alone because I can follow my train of thought more easily, especially when I’m writing music.

-being alone means I can listen to my body and allow it to dictate the rhythm of the day - when to sleep, eat, write, or take a walk.

-I spend a lot of time on my own, and being alone so much makes trips out into the mean ol’ world special, like I’m seeing everything with fresh eyes. My curiosity’s piqued, and I tend to be more embracing of interesting people and places.

I’m proudly not an android, at least not yet (c’mon, Elon!), so whenever the pain of being alone overtakes me I don’t fight it. Instead, I direct a little compassion at myself by acknowledging that where I’m at right now’s a bummer. “It’s tough feeling like you’re missing out when all your pals are on tour,” or “yeah, it just plain sucks not being around people right now” are phrases I’ll literally say out loud until I feel like I’m listening. I remind myself that the pain of loneliness, like all mental states, comes and goes. It’s brutal now, but if I’m patient the sweetness of solitude will take it’s place.

Anyway, I hope this offers a little perspective. We’re all in this together.  

 

Swing on the Spiral

I stopped by the mad scientist Jamie’s Lidell’s studio last night to touch base with him and Al Stone - since the Sound Emporium sessions wrapped a couple weeks ago, they’ve been hard at work overdubbing vocals, tweaking arrangements and adding ear candy (when I arrived, my bro DeMarco Johnson was laying down some SWEET Stevie Wonder-style harmonica).

At Sound Emporium, our goal was capturing as much musical goodness as possible, trusting Jamie would sift through everything and getting the impression he was very much looking forward to doing so, what with him bringing a fresh armload of music-nerd orgasm-inducing gadgetry every morning (much to Eddie Spear’s delight). We were DEEP in it.

As tones and arrangements came together, it was clear the whole thing was kinda at a new level and, frankly, the lyrics and melodies needed work. They were decent enough to give the tunes shape and get the label to green light the record, but the songs had evolved into something, just, MORE and what we’d written didn’t meet the new standard. We were able to tweak some lyrics during the sessions, but it more or less fell on Allen and Jamie to hunker down after the fact and put their extremely capable heads together. 

I gotta say, Al’s been killing it. He’s digging deep. One song in particular’s grown from a kinda throw away track to, like, a statement, and listening to playbacks last night I’m thinking there’s a whole lot more inside of us than we realize.  I’m proud of my friend.

Lots of people are waiting for this record. There’s pressure, both from the industry (it’s their third record, it’s make-or-break time) and fans (we wanted new music fucking two years ago), and the natural reaction’s to overthink. The thing to do, really, is show people your heart, and that can be terrifying beyond words. But the band’s done that through our instruments and Allen’s doing it through his lyrics. The spiral's there to be swung on, my friends. Let's do it together. 

Dani Elliot is a Punk Rock Icon

The Paris Monster show at the Basement last night was Muy Fuerte. Eight hours later, my ears are still ringing. Any time members of country, jam, hipster soul and metal bands all congregate under one roof to have the ever-loving christ pounded out of them by two bearded weirdos with a myriad blip-bloop gizmos…well, there’s hope for us yet. Such a cool fucking band.

My dear, angelic-voiced friend Dani Elliot opened the show. I’ve known Dani for several years - for reasons I still don’t understand, she agreed to sing background vocals with the Allen band for multiple tours -  and she’s embracing her artistry in a profound and inspiring way. Dani’s sang with literally the best of the best and was enjoying a lucrative career as a backing vocalist before focusing on her own music full-time. I could dedicate this entire post to how much respect I have for that decision. 

Ok fine, I will dedicate this entire post to how much respect I have for that decision.

The music business is brutal, and carving out a space where you feel confident sharing your art is an accomplishment in and of itself. Making a living in that space requires dumbfounding levels of courage. A reality where there are tour busses, fancy hotels, catering with organic hummus and venues where the word “theater” is misspelled? That’s unicorn rare, and I can tell you first hand, pretty gosh darn nifty.  And Dani’s worked at the level above that even, flying between tax havens in private jets ’n shit. That she’d walk away from all that and set up shop in a decidedly more humble zip code is both a testament to her character and evidence that the pursuit of art - your art, your story, your truth - is THE thing. 

Dani sings and writes with the confidence of someone who’s been given the keys to the castle and said nah, I’d rather build my own. FUCK YES, DANI. She might cringe at my saying this, by she’s one of the most punk rock people I know.

Looking around the Basement, there are musicians of all sorts: friends in country bands on major labels trying to suss out the radio game, virtuoso instrumentalists who see vivd landscapes in the Matrix code, hired guns jealous they're not decimating ears drums in the Paris Monster, and, well, there’s me - just some guy trying to make sense of a thing or two. As I’m standing here, being pummeled by 700db of electric mayhem, I’m thinking we should maybe give ourselves more credit, just a little anyway. As artists, convincing ourselves we're less-than can be like slipping into a warm bath. We’re all here because we had the courage to chase our dreams down the less traveled road, dreams that have blossomed into life-long friendships and miraculous careers. We’re doing it, all of us. Sharing our art. Telling our story. Speaking our truth.

In this moment - grinning ear to ear, well whiskey warming my insides, two-stepping with a pretty girl - I'm thinking maybe there's a place for me in this mean ol' world.  

Snoring

I picked up a good buddy from the airport last night and he was over the moon, having just been hired to play keys for a very cool artist. What was previously a pretty empty spring’s now insanely busy, and my humble Toyota Corolla can barely contain his excitement as we zip along the I-40, as much as a Toyota Corolla can “zip” anywhere.

My buddy beat out an extremely gifted and well-known piano player for the gig (who shall remain nameless) and delights in telling me the reason why.

“I get a call from the artist, and he’s like yeah, so, I normally tour with that other dude, and he’s a beast, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. The fucking guy snores. Like a lumberjack. I mean, it’s the loudest thing I've ever experienced. Last time out, I barely slept. I can’t do it again. You don’t snore. You’ve got the gig.”

Often, we’re hired not because of the things we do, but the things we DON’T do.

So, aspiring artists, open your nasal passages, drink plenty of water, and maybe change your sleeping position. Your livelihood could depend on it. 

Reading

In yesterday’s post, I left out a critical point about why I write everyday: it inspires me to read more, specifically fiction.

Reading puts me in a similar trance-like state to meditation. I’m not very good at allowing myself pit stops throughout the day: absorbed in a book, even for like 5-10mins, my cognitive world resets. When I’m reading a lot, I sleep better, feel less stressed, and generally feel better about myself and the world.

I think this is because imagining creates understanding, or at least helps it along. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes grows our capacity for empathy. When lost in a great book, we’re interacting with the thoughts and feelings of others, getting down with characters’ longings and frustrations, guessing at their hidden motivations. We feel empathy for people we’ve never met, living lives we couldn’t possibly experience for ourselves, which is so self-evidently critical. 

Life’s weird, and by using fiction, we can explore ideas of change, complex emotions, and the unknown, all while slurping down a Frappuccino.

Reading makes me happy. Here’re a few books I’m reading right now, if you’re curious:

The Sellout - Paul Beatty

Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn Ward

Tinkers - Paul Harding

Oh, and re-reading the Preacher graphic novels. Holy shit they're good. Vampires, the infant Anti-Christ, God going on walk-about and a hillbilly beating a Gorilla in a cage match. What more is there, really? 

 

Questions?

I was asked a series of questions about this newsletter, and figured I’d take a stab at answering a couple, and maybe a few more tomorrow.  

How do I write everyday? 

I just do it. I spend less time writing than the average person spends on YouTube, probably. I write this literally first thing in the morning, sitting up in bed, drinking coffee, time I used to spend watching NBA highlights or Larry David interviews. I love writing, but it’s a hobby - a “side hustle” as they say in my business - and I’ll never spend more time writing than being a musician. All I’ve done is subbed out Larry David complaining about pomegranates for Big Country boiling roadkill.

Why do I write everyday?

I kinda addressed this in a previous post. And I believe writing’s powerful. I don’t just write the Mind of a Trevor. I’m constantly drafting business plans, project roadmaps and a whole whack of emails to managers, labels, clients, etc. Writing, in some form or another, is at the core of the Thing We Do, and the more fluently we communicate, the clearer our thinking and understanding of what’s important becomes. 

I also believe the world needs our stories. Comedian John Mulaney, honoring David Letterman at the Mark Twain Awards, describes Letterman’s show as reminding us that “our weird lives are just as funny as show business.” I love this. At what point is your story interesting? When you’re photoshopped on a magazine cover? Married into the Kardashian family? Selling out arenas? Fuck that. We’re all miraculous, hilarious and worthy of a few hundred words every once in a while.

The Mind of a Trevor’s a two-way street. I write, you read and occasionally respond. Really, I just hope you guys are entertained for a few minutes everyday, and whenever you do respond it invites new dialogue, insight and perspective. And I know several readers have started their own blogs and newsletters inspired by my humble offering. So cool! Sharing, unafraid and unapologetically, is how we make sense of our time on this spinning orb. We’re just improbably intelligent chimps made of stardust, after all. Let’s help each other out.

I present a moving target with this thing - reptilian overlords, lunatic hillbillies, Al Stone Band stories interspersed with incoherent-yet-earnest ramblings - and that can be a big ask. Thanks for following along. I dig that this is my bar where I get to be the bartender. Any and all are welcome.  

 

 

The Ballad of Big Country, Pt. 2

“You ever heard of Cinderella?”

This is literally the last thing I ever expected Big Country to ask me, so much so that I’m concerned for my safety. I mean, where could he possibly be going with this? Is he talking about the 80’s hair metal band? Big Country’s on par with Yoda when it comes to sage-yet-awkwardly-worded life coaching, but the man was bragging the other day about making stew from roadkill: I can’t imagine a fanciful story about unjust oppression and triumphant reward playing into his narrative. Or maybe it does, like, REALLY does, and BC’s about to peel back layers of his pickled-in-moonshine onion, laying to waste stereotypes promoted by my lefty-democrat bubble. Whatever the case, my last sip of coffee spills from my agape mouth as the reality sinks in that I actually have to answer this question. 

Yes. Yes, I have heard of Cinderella, I reply with every ounce of musterable courage.

“Shit, I know ain’t no Cinderella from Tennessee.”

In this, Big Country’s correct. The earliest variant of the Cinderella story can be traced back to Ancient Greece, with the most popular version published by the Brothers Grimm (German dudes) in the 1800’s. I only know this because when your 6’4”, likely criminal, clearly bat-shit nuts hillbilly neighbor - who’s wearing overalls with no shirt in 20 degree weather - asks if you’re familiar with a children’s story, well, that’s the Universe telling you to Wake the Fuck Up. There’s something here, ya ding-dong, and you're missing it. So, you better believe I Wikipedia’d the shit outta Cinderella. 

Anyway.

Why? Why wouldn’t Cinderella be from Tennessee?

“Shit, flip flops are the glass slippers of the South.”

This one’s clearly been in the chamber for a while - god knows why - and Big Country, guffawing maniacally, drops his chipped coffee mug, as if dropping the mic.

I’m left questioning everything, a shell of a man, like the remains of a lobster dinner.  

 

 

 

 

High-Fiving Distance

I wake up early in the morning. Not because I’m a go-getter particularly, or someone whose life goals include power walking down trendy Brooklyn streets, buried in a smartphone, ostensibly killing it. Counterintuitively, I’ve become an early riser so I can stay out late and catch as much live music as possible.

I usually “work” from around 6am-3pm: practicing, writing songs, articles and essays, falling even further behind on correspondence - essentially anything and everything that highlights my never having had a real job. I usually write a halfway decent tune or collection of passably readable sentences before the world around me wakes up, so right out of the gate it’s a pretty solid day - I take care of myself first, thereby moving through the world more peacefully and circumnavigating the wrath of our reptilian overlords. After that, I generally bounce around doing human being stuff, replenishing creative reserves and seeking inspiration.  

In Nashville, the first round of shows kick off at 6pm, which is a beautiful thing, especially for an ear-fatigued road warrior like myself- if you're feeling delicate, you can catch two sets of legitimately world class music and be in bed by 10pm. More often than not I’m out later, usually much later, bouncing around between three or four venues. Last night began at the 5 Spot in East Nashville, exceptional spoken word and hip-hop by The Black Son, Rashad the Poet and The Realist Person. It’s beautiful, challenging art. The crowd’s collective comfort level’s clearly pushed, and the less stalwart disappear outside for unneeded smoke breaks and social media fixes. But most of us are enthralled. I come-to an hour and a half later, feeling lifted.  My neglected Jamison on the rocks's now pond water, but I down it in one gulp, years of touring and attendant poverty having conditioned me to never, under any circumstances, leave a wounded soldier.

Before the night’s through, I’ve taken in some bluegrass and, as a palate cleanser, black metal. I forgot my ear plugs, which would’ve come in handy towards the end of the night, and my ears are ringing perilously during the ride home. But I kinda need that - there’s something cathartic and nostalgic about music absolutely kicking the ever-loving shit out of me. I like that teenage Trevor’s always within high-fiving distance.  

Tonight, I’ll be back at the 5 Spot for Sunday Night Soul. Curated by my bro Jason Eskridge, it's always a special night, and the band is EXTREMELY capable. I often play, but this time around I think I’ll chill with a cheap domestic lager. Music’s at 7pm.  

 

 

 

Monarch Review, Pt. 1

I’m contributing a three-part series to the Monarch Review, a cool Seattle-based literary and arts magazine, sharing my thoughts on the Allen Stone recording process. If you’re curious, check out part one here

I’ve shared some thoughts about the sessions via this newsletter - overly caffeinated, largely sleep deprived thoughts (the best kind) - but I’m going into greater detail with Monarch and have a much clearer sense of what the whole thing’s meant to me, now that the dust’s settled.

Believe it or not, I’m really trying to improve as a writer. In the MOAT - a reader gave this thing an acronym, I’ve officially arrived! - I essentially write how I talk, which is “unintentionally aloof” according to a good buddy. One of the great joys of getting essays published is working with editors, and Jake Uitti at Monarch’s an extremely gifted one. He absolutely tore my first draft to shreds. Very correctly, he pointed out when I was being overly familiar (Al Pal? Really?), lazy (you say you’re excited, but SHOW ME) and out of touch (no one double spaces after sentences anymore). 

And I love it. A life in the arts is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, stranded on a desert island, and hoping someone will find one of your bottles, open it, read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, money, maybe even love. Most of the time, these bottles go unreturned, and it’s easy believing no one’s listening, reading, or cares at all. So, when the opportunity comes up not only to have someone read your writing, but go over it with a fine-toothed comb and point out, in glorious detail, when you’re being an asshole, well, to your pal Trevor that’s a goddamn dream come true. 

I hope you enjoy the piece, and thank you all for following along. There’re kinda a lot of you now. More Big Country stories coming your way, he’s been on a role.   

 

 

 

Swift Kicks

The recording sessions for the next Allen Stone Band record wrapped a few days ago and here I am, back in the real world. Didn't I join a band to avoid this kinda thing? Anyway. Maybe it's the calm before the storm, anticipating the record's release, or my throwing myself into a bunch of new projects that's got me off balance, but these last few days have been a bit of a tight rope walk. And that's ok, there're good songs to be found here, and I'm writing this literally as the sun's rising on a new day.

Before the Allen Stone Band found its feet, I fronted a rock trio. We were pretty good. A few record companies bought us meals, and one guy in particular bought us very expensive meals. He suggested we make a bunch of changes to pretty much everything, and we did because he said he’d sign us and give us a Ton of Money. We put lots of time and effort into making those changes, and the music suffered, but that's ok because, you know, a Ton of Money. Then the guy lost his job and no one at the label returned our calls. 

I took it personally. Clearly, I sucked and had no business being invited to the party, much less showing up. My apartment became a pizza box obstacle course for a couple months, and I questioned the universe and higher powers responsible in all the ways 22 year olds do. 

But I still had my guitar and my songs, and I still had a few months’ rent in the bank. Brushing pizza crumbs off my regrettably patchy beard, I decided in the future I wasn’t going to sacrifice my art just for the money. If I do that, and don’t get the money, I’ve got nothing. If I do work I’m proud of, and don’t get the money, at least I have the work. 

Every once in a while, I forget this rule, or disregard it anyway, and each and every time the universe's given me a swift kick to the happy sacks.  

So, these days, I'm all about the party coming to me. I don't look good in the musical equivalent of pointy shoes, anyway.  

 

 

Second Guessing's a Good Thing

I really enjoy writing this newsletter every morning. 

I’d originally intended this to be a daily accountability exercise, existing on my laptop, for my eyes only. Maybe I’d read through at the end of the year and get a better sense of where I’d come from and where I’m going. Posting online, much less encouraging people to subscribe, never occurred to me until it was pointed out I'm unphased looking like a buffoon in public. 

Which is true. I think this is a reaction to my early 20’s, where I lost years of my professional life to over-thinking. Sounds melodramatic maybe, but for a long time I just didn’t put anything out. I was afraid of failing. If you’d asked me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what “failing” meant exactly, or success for that matter. 

What I tell young artists now is second guessing’s a good thing, you’d be a sociopath if you didn’t doubt yourself. You second guess because you care, about making good art, about protecting your heart. That’s so important. It’s precisely because you care that the world needs your voice. You're not an asshole! Hooray! So, share your art. You can’t put out song thirty without first releasing song one. And it’ll be fine. See? No one’s bitten your head off, called you a fraud, dragged your name through the mud. Share your art.

A friend of mine, who also keeps up a daily email newsletter, recently sent out his 1000th post. 1000 days in a row. Wild. Where will I be after day 1000?

I’m grateful for this humble little newsletter, keeping me present, engaged, evolving, and receptive to beautiful things.

The Ballad of Big Country, Part 1 of Infinity

I'm enjoying my first chat with Big Country in a couple weeks. The Allen Stone sessions have been all-consuming, and I’ve missed my lunatic neighbor’s endearingly offensive wisdom.    

BC knows I’ve been hunkered down making this record and says I look, “as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” I’m assuming this is good, though I’m pretty sure BC’s Irished up his coffee. The mental image of my porcine counterpart joyfully decomposing in the luminous morn doesn’t inspire confidence.

I like to think I'm a reasonably engaging sorta swine, but BC really only talks to me because I'm a captive audience. When you're a maniac and have no one to manic at, life becomes a disagreeable state of affairs and, in a pinch, any hipster'll do.

My favorite BC moments are when I’m boring him. My neighbor’s not big on wasted time (few geniuses are) and his malcontent’s seldom betrayed subtly. Big Country possesses this Santa-Clause-on-meth style guffaw, laughing directly in my face when it's time for a subject change, and today's conversation's evidently a real snoozer.

“BWAHAHAHA!"

The air, now redolent of chewing tobacco, is eerily still, anticipating the Great Man's edict. 

“I don’t like routines. Care for superstitions even less.” 

Ok, out of nowhere, but I play along.

"What's wrong with superstitions?" I ask. 

“They say rabbit’s feet are lucky. Well, what happened to the rabbit?”

With that, the conversation’s over. Satisfied he's put me in my place, BC resumes attending to his drying overalls.

There are few truly legendary humans in this world, and I’m proud I share a fence with one of them.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Husky Puppies

It’s my first official day back in reality, post the Allen Stone Total Emersion Experience, and I'm not a fan. I mean, everything’s fine, it’s just been two years since we’ve hopped on the bus and been a real band. As my degenerate gambler buddies put it, I miss the action. So I’m thinking about happy things, hence a picture of me with a bunch of husky puppies.  

I made a trip to the Yukon a few years back and had the privilege of mushing around with these incredible animals. It doesn’t look like it, but it’s unseasonably warm, a balmy 25 degrees, and we have to pull the sleds over multiple times because dogs are overheating. Their ideal temperature, I’m told, is about -15, and I’m currently fortifying myself with a little whiskey just recalling that fact. 

I love the Northern Territories: there’s something oddly calming about looking to your left and realizing there’s zero civilization for three thousand miles. Perennial things shine here.  

I’m smiling on account of the pooches but, if I’m honest, this picture’s a little bittersweet.  I’m newly single here, profoundly confused, and about to enter my voluntarily homeless phase, which lasts basically up until landing in Nashville.  I spend the better part of a year just running, using the band's schedule as an excuse never to really look at myself in the mirror.  I’m grateful for that time, though.  It’s brought me here and, cheesy as it sounds, I’m proud of the person I’ve become.

But enough of that.  LOOK AT THESE PUPPIES!!!!

puppies.jpg

EAGLES!!!!!!!

EAGLES!!!!!!!!

I’m bracing for retaliation as Tom Brady colludes with our reptilian overlords, but I have plenty of canned food and booze so go ahead and try starving me out.  

What a game!  Entertaining, the most combined yards in NFL playoff history, and who doesn’t love an underdog?  This is great for the game, a changing of the guard, and I’m stoked for Nick Foles- a player who’s been thrown under the bus time and time again, a journeyman QB now Superbowl MVP.  The guy's earned it, and god knows how much money he'll ask for, and likely get, next season.  Almost zero chance he’ll stay in Philly.  

Speaking of Philly, it brings me great joy when teams win championships from cities where people are guaranteed to celebrate by lighting shit on fire.  I was in Seattle when the Seahawks won the big game, and hipsters kinda sorta danced in the street, as much as one can wearing skinny jeans, and craft beer's lack-luster fuel for wanton vandalism.  No such issues in Philly, and I wanted to kiss the collective population right on the mouth.  It took me a few trips to wrap my head around the great city of Philadelphia, but now it’s one of my favorite tour stops.

I’m listening through dailies from the Sound Emporium sessions, and even these rough mixes sound amazing.  Can’t wait to hear what Jamie does over the next few weeks, left to his own devices.  He’ll no doubt go fully bonkers.  Star Trek level nerd shit.  What will our reptilian overlords think?

Here's a picture of me singing about my feelings in between takes.  A whole lotta that coming your way over the next few months.  

singingaboutfeelings.jpg

Ass-Chinned Sociopaths

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone! 

I’ll be gorging myself on nuclear-hot chicken wings, rooting for the upstart Philadelphia Eagles and comeback kid Nick Foles against the cheating scoundrels that are the New England Patriots, helmed by ass-chinned sociopath Tom Brady.  I should really be a sports writer, right?  Did I pass the test?

I’m a huge sports fan, and truth be told I have a soft spot for Boston sports across the board.  I have family and went to college there, and I’ve always resonated with Boston's equal parts tweediness and grit.  But Tom Brady’s not from Boston, he’s from San Fucking Mateo, and he doesn’t eat strawberries, and if there’s a clearer example of a reptilian overlord in a skin suit you’re going to have to show me.  Ok, this is going off the rails.  Should be a good game, and I’m watching with a bunch of Pats fans who are already hammered.  Very on-brand, Boston sports fans, I approve.  

Fun night last night at Analog, the new venue at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville.  Al Pal played a solo acoustic set, with myself and Jamie Lidell joining him for a handful of numbers.  We debuted some new jams- Taste of You, Lay it Down, and I’ll Give You Blue- and the response was amazing.  It was a sympathetic crowd of contest winners and die-hard fans, granted, and the drinks were free, but I’ve played more than a few gigs where that’s resulted in furniture being hurled on stage, so I’d call it a win. 

I’m still feeling the affects of twelve 16 hour days in a row being pummeled by Jason’s drums, so I’m being gentle with myself today.  The jacuzzi tub last night was most excellent.  Started re-reading the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, one of my favorite Sci-Fi series and a perfect introduction to the genre for those of you who don’t constantly adjust their glasses.

FOOTBALL!!!!!!!!!!!

....And That's A Wrap!

10 days, 16 songs, 10,000 gallons of coffee.  It’s going to take me a day or two gathering my thoughts, and I’ll be gushing about Ty, Jay, Al, Swat, Zack, Eddie and Jamie for the next several posts.  Consider yourself warned.  

But, today, I’m experiencing the all-too-familiar post tour/session come down.  Every musician reading this knows what I’m talking about. 

Everything we do in the Al Stone Band’s kinda a lot.  Crazy energetic exchanges, marathon shows, intense travel and generally being all up ons 24/7.  It’s difficult, crash landing back home after all that looniness.  I used to experience gnarly depression post tour, walking up and down grocery store aisles all zombie-like, shoveling ketchup into my shopping cart and lamenting the lack of pyrotechnics while starting my Corolla.  After a few too many Howard Hughesian moments, I realized I needed to soften my landing back into reality.  Now, after every tour (or crazy recording session, in this case), I treat myself to a stay-cation.  A couple more nights with higher thread count sheets, a few more plates of hipster food and generally experiencing my hometown as a lucky traveler might.  After 48 hours or so, I’m ready to fully decrescendo, buy new pots and pans from Costco and maybe a hat (not from Costco).

I’ll be posted up at an undisclosed hipster hotel for the next few nights, reading, writing, listening to music, luxuriating in a jacuzzi tub and, if I’m feeling decadent, eating some mini-bar gummy bears.  Lots of cool shows worth checking out, too.  I’m grateful to be doing the thing, whatever the thing is exactly, 'cause the thing won’t thing itself, after all. 

Al Stone Recording Sessions, Day 10

Last day at Sound Emporium!  It’s already chaotic, with camera crews running around and the last minute panic setting in of oh shit, the label’s brought in a goddamn camera crew and we still have a ton of overdubs to lay down.  We’ve necessarily had to change the studio’s entire footprint to accommodate the video stuff, which is fine I guess, but it’s an irritating disruption and I’ve excused myself so that I might write this in a throne.  All this said, there’s a cool buzz in the room- we know we’ve made a really, really, really good record, and we’re excited.  

Because there’s a camera crew, everyone’s ditched their tracksuits in favor of attire you’d maybe actually wear in public, and our time of hunkering down all nerdy-like making blip-bloop noises is officially over.  I was just chatting with Jamie about how we’ll miss these sessions: it’s been fantastic, with lifelong friends made and similarly fashion-challenged comrades embraced.  One more 16 hour day to go. 

We did real good.  Thanks for being patient, the new music’s worth the wait.  I promise. 

Throne.jpg

Al Stone Recording Sessions, Day 9

Second to last day of tracking!  I originally wrote "penultimate," then realized I've been listening to too much Rush on my way to the studio.

I’m going to miss this routine: showing up early, writing this thing and relaxing into the potential energy of a space that’ll soon explode with creativity and, like, heady vibes bro.

There’s a let down after making a record.  After all the hours spent together reigniting the chemistry, all you want to do’s get back on the road and share the new music RIGHT NOW.  But it doesn’t work like that.  If you’re lucky enough having an engaged label/management team, you necessarily have to pass them the ball, and how long were they waiting on us?  A year?  The reality is this record’s not coming out for a little while.  

And that’s ok.  I’m happy letting the industry hive mind do their thing, and I’ve learned over my seven (!) years in this band that if everyone’s not just as excited as you are then you’re dead in the water.  Better to be patient, explore different creative outlets and fold into the background, Clark Kent style, until it’s time to Put the Band Back Together.  These songs are the best we've ever done, and we owe them that respect.     

It’s interesting how my perspective’s shifted.  The music industry’s changing so much and, these days, I’m grateful for my little slice of the pie.  I’m proud of the music we’ve created here at Sound Emporium- it’s hands down the best Al Stone Band record to date- and it’ll be time when it’s time.  Until then, I’m excited for my own music, writing, podcasting, and seeing where this gloriously nebulous artist life takes me. 

Smooches from the A room!

Al Stone Recording Sessions, Day 8

Overdub time!  

Like I mentioned, this record’s got a lot more cool guitar shit on it, which is to say riffs: gargantuan, mosh pit-opening, devil horn-raising wahoooooooo moments.  Ok, I might be overstating things, but holy smokes am I having fun!  Overdubs for me consist of hey, should we double that cool part with an octave fuzz?  Yes?  Ok, let’s double that cool part with an octave fuzz.  Then I drink more coffee.  

There’s not a ton of noodly white-guy-blues happening (when it’s there, it stands out and actually sounds cool) and most of the textural stuff’s being tasked to kooky synthesizers and bizarro studio gizmos.  I’m digging the direction.  Swatty and I will break off today for a sectional and see if there’s ear candy to be found, and I think we’re tackling talkbox overdubs which will be siiiiiiiick, but the real challenge for me’s balancing my caffeine vs. food intake so I don’t start raving like a jittery lunatic at our assistant engineer, Zack.  

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good.  Ordered some neat books, wearing clean-ish pants and probably won’t order a salad for lunch but will definitely talk about ordering a salad for lunch.