What? You guys want updates from what’s going on in the studio as I record what is turning out to be a very strange, potentially divisive and offensive record? Well, sure. I got nothing better to do (except take care of my kids, but they’re practically raising themselves over there in that TV room. Thanks technology!)
Last night I was in the studio til about 230. Nick and I finished up the bass and we got to work on vocals. I sang three songs and then the inevitable doom that accompanies the knowledge that both myself and Matt Allison were gonna have to get up with tiny kids in just a couple of hours set in and we decided to call it a night. As of right now, of the 8 full band songs I’m doing in this studio (that’s not counting four others that I did elsewhere that are already fully done) bass, rhythm guitar and drums are done and vocals are over a third of the way there. Pretty exciting, folks. The fact that the record is turning out even weirder than I thought it was gonna be is a testament to something. Last night upon completing a vocal take, I looked into the control room, where Matt, Justin and Nick were sitting and said, ‘wow, this record is really the suicide letter of my musical career, eh?’ It’s quite possible that’s the case.
It’s funny, ambition is an interesting thing. It’s one of the more lauded character traits, but it can manifest as being disgusting, cruel, stupid, ugly, lame or laughable. In art, if you go for something that’s ambitious, you absolutely MUST pull it off or it’s just the dumbest, shittiest fucking thing of all time. Concept records are great examples of the two ways that ambition can play out. On one hand, you’ve got a concept record like, uh, I dunno, that thing that Fucked Up just did. People listen to that and it just blows their minds. That Good Life record, Album of the Year, it’s pretty dick/soul melting in its cohesiveness. On the other hand, you’ve got that Yellowcard album about the girl named Holly Wood who goes to (wait for it) Hollywood to seek her fortune a la Mama’s Fallen Angel. That one didn’t get quite as much acclaim as David Comes To Life. In fact, because Yellowcard was so ambitious, but (according to a lot of people) missed the mark, falling short of pulling off the lofty, very difficult task of putting together a cohesive and cool concept record, they actually felt the need to come out and apologize for it in a press release!!! And while it seems crazy to me that an artist would ever apologize for their art, in a case like this, I almost kind of get it (even though I’ve never listened to that record and don’t have an opinion on it one way or the other).
There’s nothing so brutally embarrassing as trying something and failing. The more preparation that’s involved, the more chances you take, the more you attempt to make something that really truly stands out, the more likely it is that the final product WILL stand out, BUT, if you don’t do an awesome job, there it all is, your shortcomings, your lack of true vision, your physical limitations, your foolhardiness, your hubris, and most crushingly, your big, stupid idea up there writ large for the world to scoff at and casually dismiss. That sucks. That’s why something is ‘ambitious.’ Because it’s gonna be embarrassing as shit if you fuck it up.
Now, I’m not making a concept album. I’m making a record that’s different from shit I’ve done before and as it stands, there’s gonna be people who are gonna say shit like “man, wow, this sucks, go back to the shit you actually know how to do.” There will be people who feel that they know my capabilities and limitations and if what I do, in their opinion, doesn’t rock like the shit I’ve done that they like, they’re gonna be angry and feel betrayed, or worse, they’re gonna be smug and dismissive and make comments about how I’m out of it, or irrelevant, or desperate or whatever.
But those are the exact people that I’m looking to alienate with this record. I’m done being ruled by other people’s opinions regarding how I should create things (not that I spent a lot of time worrying about that before). This record is a weird batch of songs, and I’m nervous about how it’s all gonna come together (though I’m cautiously stoked out of my mind so far) and how it’s all gonna end up working. I know that it’s gonna bum some people out, but I guess I hope it doesn’t bum EVERYONE out. Eh, actually, that’s not true. If it bums out absolutely everyone, that’s probably a job well done, right? If the visceral experience is universal, unequivocal hatred and disgust, I’ve completely succeeded, haven’t I? Okay, good talk. Let’s hit the showers.
I’m playing a show tonight at the Underground Lounge. Come say hi. Turns out my dad may be there. Weird.