Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Man, there's just something about this picture...

Taken by my friend and coworker Matt Parks for Pearl Street Photography.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tell Me

As I was recording "Loose Cannon" I would test guitar sounds and such before I started to track a tune. One night, sitting at our dining room table, I was just blue skying random riffs into Protools LE 8 and made up this guitar lick. I liked it a lot. So I recorded it. Then I added a second layer and a third layer. Pretty soon, I had a whole song complete with verses, bridge and chorus. Problem was, I had no lyrics for it. I didn't even have a concept for what this song might be about. As I was sitting there I looked into the living room where Susan was sitting on the couch contently watching Scrubs reruns and not complaining at all that I was off in my own little world making music. I thought, "I wonder if she would tell me if she was unhappy sitting there by herself while I record this record?" Then I thought, "I wonder if I would even want to know?" So there it was, the concept for the song. In about fifteen minutes, I had written out all the verses, bridge and chorus. And that is the story of "Tell Me". Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1
Tell me that you need me
Tell me you are there
Tell me that you want me
Tell me you’re not scared

 I want to hear
All you don’t fear
Don’t tell me the truth

Verse 2
Baby are you with me
Maybe you could try
To tell me that you’re happy
Even when you cry

I want to hear
All you don’t fear
Don’t tell me the truth

Bridge 1 (2X)
I got got it
Got got got it down
I’ve got got it
Got got got it down
I got got it
Got got got it down

Bridge 2
We’ve got, got it, got, got, got it
We’ve got, got it, got, got, got it down
We’ve got, got it, got, got, got it
We’ve got, got it, got, got, got it down

Verse 3
Lately we’re not sleeping
When we lie in bed
Worry is for the weeping
But sleeping is for the dead

Thursday, September 23, 2010


When Susan was pregnant with our first son, Cole, I started to imagine what I might want to say to him when he was finally born and growing up. I thought that even though I knew he might not want to hear my advice and thoughts on life until he was much older, it would be cool for him to look back and see what thoughts I had about what he might want to know before he knew he wanted to know it. I started out with the first verse and I got stuck. At this point in my songwriting career, I was really focused on writing songs that would work for the band. I knew we would probably never play this song. So since I was stuck and the song would never get used anyway, I just put it away. Later, after Cole was born and we were expecting our second son Cohen, I started to have these reflective thoughts on fatherhood all over again. I finally sat down to finish it. I was really happy with how it turned out. While the recording was progressing, I kept putting copies of the rough mixes in our car to listen to them and see what need to be changed. Every time Apple came on, Cole would say, "Daddy, what is this song about?" And I got to say, "This song is about you and your brother." I could see on his face that it made him feel really great and it made me happy to think that I was living part of what I had envisioned this song would be about in the first place. Life is awesome. Here are the lyrics:


You are an apple between us
You are the fruit we both share
A brand new reason not to cuss
The cause of joy and despair
You are the gum on the sidewalk
The thing that makes us both pause
A strange event that makes us talk
That makes us mad without cause

 But you breathe
 And so you need
 And we concede

You are the wrapper on the candy
You will protect us from ourselves
Your constant presence comes in handy
When we start browsing the shelves
I can’t explain all the detail
You’ll have to try it your way
And when you try you just might fail
And if you fail here’s what I’ll say

Because you breathe
I know you need
I’ll take the lead

You’ll never want to admit you’re wrong
But don’t ever let this go on too long
Try as you might to know wrong from right
You might need help

My combat tactics make me tired
They say choose your battles well
I fight cause that’s how I’m wired
But love goes further I can tell

It lets you breathe
And fills a need
I finally see

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Salute To The People

Track 6. Salute To The People was a song that I wrote when my band "unsettled" was getting ready to record what would be our final project, "The Burning Charismata". I wanted to have a fun song that would be just perfect for live shows. It had to be a song I could envision a crowd of people at a city club or music venue rocking out to whilst enjoying their euphoric state of half-drunk. I wanted it to be raucous and loud. I started out with a riff and the chorus was born. I was in our practice room with my amp cranked up and started playing the chords. All of a sudden, the words just popped into my head and I started singing them at the top of my lungs. I wrote it in about 30 minutes. I never pitched it to the band though and I'm not sure why. But when I started putting "Loose Cannon" together, I knew I was gonna have it on there. Hope you enjoy it, it's for you. Here are the lyrics:

Salute To The People

I know you’ve got to let go
Don’t think I think you don’t know
You’ve got one chance to take so
Fall in salute to the people

You got us here
You hold us high
You know our names
What we play and why
You shout our song
You scream and sing
You know the words
To the whole damn thing

I know you’ve got to let go
Don’t think I think you don’t know
You’ve got one chance to take so
Fall in salute to the people

You break the doors
Bend the walls
Long as you’re inside
You don’t care at all
Your crazy friends
They stayed at home
You’re here by yourself
But you’re not alone

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Watch Them Burn

Back in 2005 I bought my first "Real" guitar. It was an Epiphone 335 'dot'. '57 Humbuckers, Grover Tuners, Fixed Tailpiece, it was sweet. The Epiphone was my main guitar for several years. I played it for tons of shows, it rode around in a trailer in freezing cold and blazing hot conditions. It got rained on at outdoor shows and probably got filled with smoke at more than one bar show. It always stayed in tune and always sounded great. One day in 2007, when I was at my band's practice room where I often would go to write songs, I thought to myself, "I wonder if I could get an Epiphone endorsement if I wrote a song all about how awesome their guitars are?".  That was where this song came from. There are two ironys in this story. One: Epiphones are by no means top-of-the-line guitars. They are fairly consistent quality and reliable, but not of the desirable, collectors-got-to-have-it status. And here I was shooting for the stars of an Epiphone endorsement! Two: This is one of the few songs on the record that were NOT tracked using the very guitar I'm singing about! Anyway, even if you aren't a guitar buff, I hope you can appreciate and enjoy the meaning behind this song. Here are the lyrics:

Watch Them Burn

Strumming on my Epiphone
I don’t care if I play it alone
But you should hear that killer tone
It’s rock and roll and rolling stone

Set the clock an hour back
And keep on turning up the stack
There is nothing that I lack
Write the song and cut the track

My endorsement deal’s a bust
I will buy them if I must
Cause when I’m playing I can trust
My guitars will never rust

Keep it simple so they say
Pick three chords and start to play
Watch the hours fly away
My Epiphone is here to stay

What’s that sound
It shakes the ground
It’s getting louder and it’s all around
Watch and Learn
Without concern
I’ll set the frets on fire and watch them burn

I won’t dwell upon the gear
Cause there’s a lot of people here
And they just got another beer
So give 'em what they want to hear

Catchy hooks and happy chops
Pulling out all of the stops
until my amp just cracks and pops
or we get shut down by the cops

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Take Me To The Edge

This song was one that I wrote back in the early part of 2007. I had started to experience a sort of spiritual reawakening and was thinking that it was time to stop fighting God. I was thinking about how my fear of being close to God was born out of my fear of being associated with Christians (whom I really did NOT like at that time), but that if my fear was keeping me from Him, it must be sin. I had never thought of fear as a choice that could be made before. I liked that concept very much and still do.
This is the first song in the lineup lacking a sarcastic tone toward either myself, someone else or God, so that's a good thing! This was the first song I started recording for the record. It wasn't even supposed to be on Loose Cannon, but after I laid down the initial tracks, I really started to like it! It was the first song I mixed as well, and really set the tone for the record's overall sound color. Here are the lyrics:

Take Me To The Edge

Take me in your arms
Kiss me on the lips
Take me by the hand
In case I slip
Fit me in your armor
When the guns begin
And even though the noise
Would you draw me in

Take me to the edge
But don't let me fall
Unless I fall to my knees
At the wailing wall
I dropped all my defenses
When the war came to an end
And I finally stopped fighting
When you became my friend

Give me something clear
That you want me to do
Are there people to affect
And could you show me who
Let me take a moment
To try to shed my skin
It's the clothing of fear
And I don't need that sin

Take me to the edge...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today Is The Anniversary Of My Marriage To Susan

I have absolutely no problem saying this: If you want to know what a true virtuous woman is, look at Susan. She is an amazing person with an enormous heart. She has a completely unique perspective that is informed by both her experiences and by her relationship with God. Her capacity to forgive is fluid, not fixed. She is an outstanding mommy to our kids and dreams up the most creative ways to communicate with them. She talks to her closest friends with her heart. She is extremely perceptive. She is beautiful. I am pretty sure that I would be living in a cardboard box if I hadn't met and married her nine years ago. Happy Anniversary Susan. I hope I can provide an amazing experience and happy life for you and our family. Thanks for being who you are. TMF

Sweet Potatoe Pie And A Bullet

The number one thing to understand about this song is three things: 1) Most of the time, but not all, when I say "You" I really mean "Me". 2) I am shooting at a lot of people/things in this one (hence the bullet). 3) "Sweet Potato Pie" is code for bullsh*t.

Ok, now that that's out there...
Here is a list of people/things I'm shooting at:

Verse 1
1. The Bible
2. People who criticize the Bible
3. People who misuse the truths found in the Bible to justify their actions.
4. The idea that being a Christian means you've got it together.

Verse 2
1. People who have great ideas that don't lead to action.
2. People who's great ideas (that don't lead to action) lead them to judge others.
3. People who speak "Christian" but don't deliver on their words.
4. Myself and a certain evil habit that once existed in my life.

Please remember, I include myself when I say "You".

Here are the lyrics:

Sweet Potato Pie and a Bullet

Jesus came, discipled John.
Jesus left and John moved on
Packed his bags and donned his wings
John is on to bigger things.

John saw visions in the air
Tore his clothes and lost his hair
Off the coast of Sicily
If john saw nothing who are we.

Sweet potato pie and a bullet goes
A little further than the average person knows
Back to john and on to me
I’m just about confused as a person could be

The light goes on across the room
I’m-a-gonna leave if you don’t say it soon
I believe you overshot
You’re landing when you said you’re gonna pray a lot

Don’t commit your hands to fold
If you’re gonna break a promise not an hour old
You get help and I’ll relate
Your sweet potato pie can fill another plate

Erase your history from the week
Drive a mile home and pinch a little cheek
Look her right in the eyes
And calmly tell her all her favorite pack of lies

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Revenge Reprise

If "Loose Cannon" is a statement of where I am now in my realization of my need for community and the support of others, then "Revenge Reprise" is the antithesis. I began writing this song about 6 years ago when my disdain for church and Christians was at it's peak. I felt that I had been burned by Church and by extension, God. There is an obvious amount of spite for those who call themselves Christians in the lyrics. It was a time when I felt that I was encouraged to be a part of Church for musical purposes, but I felt that I couldn't reconcile how Christians acted towards others. There's no resolution to my questions within the song. It is what it is. Here are the lyrics:

Revenge reprise
They will pay with their lives
Revenge reprise
Take your shot then hide your eyes
When you die
You can blame it on the lies
Or pretend you didn’t know what you were in for.

Sidestep all your decisions
The fact is that you caused this division, whoa.
Convincing me that you’re just a martyr
Please don’t take this joke any farther
You kill me

You said you guys
Should hang around and fraternize
You winked you’re eyes
And traded truth in for the lies
You live and you’ll die
By your empty battle cries
Or you just might realize what you are in for

Sidestep all your decisions
The fact is that you caused this division, whoa.
Convincing me that you’re just a martyr
Please don’t take this joke any farther
You kill me
The light that you emit seems to blind you
at least the high and mighty can find you

God almighty why’d you do that to me
God have mercy don’t you keep it from me
All your people have no rights as far as I’m concerned
I hope eventually they all get burned

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Recording Process

As I began to lay down guitar tracks in Protools I started to get very excited about the potential of these songs. It was cool to imagine what the song might sound like when it was complete. I had an idea of what I wanted my record to sound like, but no road map to tell me exactly what steps to take to get there. I had never recorded a project by myself before. I knew I wanted the tone color of the whole album to be dirty and a little dark. I didn't want it to be a squeaky clean pop record.
I would love to say that I did take after take after take of each track until I found the perfect one. But most of the time, I did it in one or two takes and was satisfied with a "good enough is good enough" approach. I've always felt that songs have to be just strong enough to overcome their representation; but as time went on and I got further and further into the process of building arrangements and mixes, I started to be a little more careful with how I set up my gain structures and did less reassuring myself that I could "hide that in the mix".
I am super pleased with how it all came together and even more excited with how it has been received.
Over the next several days and weeks I will be posting the lyrics to the songs and where there is a notable back story, I will tell that as well. I guess, to quote Maria from Sound Of Music, I will start at the very beginning.

Loose Cannon

One night, as I was rocking my then six-month-old, Cohen, to sleep, I had an idea for a song. At that moment I heard the whole intro in my head just as you hear it now. Then, as I sat there, I wrote the lyrics to the music I was hearing. I wanted Cohen to go to sleep asap so I could get downstairs and write them down! It was at a time when I was starting to realize my need for support and relationships in my life. I could see how, over the years, I had made decisions haphazardly that hurt me and my family more than they helped. Here are the lyrics:

You're gonna lose, loose cannon, if you're out on your own
I got some news, loose cannon, that you're out of control
If you’re confused, loose cannon, when you light up the fuse
take a shot across the bow of any vessel you don’t care if you lose

Loose Cannon
Loose Cannon

You never roll, loose cannon, when you’re tied to the deck
You’re never tied and nobody ever bothered to check
You make your wars , loose Cannon, and your battles you pick
Always fire at will You’re always fine and you never get sick

Loose cannon
Loose cannon
Loose cannon
Loose cannon