I’m still alive! I know it’s been a while since my last update. I was looking forward to teasing new Purge song this weekend but I had Windows problems in the middle of the week. That said, I’ll have a new song ready to tease in the next week or two in anticipation of a new release.
This time last year I was sick with inspiration and creating “Waves” in a furious urgency. Everyday was filled with the unquestioned conviction that I would write, or record, or mix, another song. One week, I went four straight days writing or programming one song at night, recording lyrics the next morning, and mixing the song during the rest of the day. It was a creatively frantic and physically unhealthy time, but I was making the album I knew I’d needed to make since I was 16 years old and first had to deal with the unsolicited demon of depression and the awareness of the world’s suffering. In a strange way, expelling my hopelessness and guilt, I was making myself, if not quite happy, proud.
Life, for me, meanders more often than it charges forward and shortly after releasing “Waves” the economic realities that had given me such opportunity and privilege to explore my own emotional landscape were, for the first time in my life, genuinely threatening to remove themselves. I tried making things work with a local magazine but it seemed like personal conflicts and the monetary unreality of the venture were leading to less-than nowhere. That path was not leading towards a remotely stable future.
Around this time, Zeke, my sort-of-adopted-son, was approaching the age of three and Rebekah was about to begin a welding apprenticeship. As beneficial as our prior unemployment had been for Zeke’s mental development, it was becoming obvious that providing him with a day-care or preschool environment where he could interact with his peers would be the best thing for him, but doing so takes money and Rebekah (my partner) would still only be making but so much. If I wasn’t supporting myself, I was going to become a drain. I needed a day-job.
I’m in a very different place this year than I was last year. I managed to use my genuine knowledge and confidence in the audio-visual field to land a job as a production technician. Instead of going to bed at 4:30 in the morning after long nights of song-writing, I’m showing up at work and changing microphone batteries for a local news station at 4:30 in the morning.
Hopelessness is not my motivating force anymore, but I’m still incredibly proud of the experience I crafted with “Waves.” With long overdue excitement and pride, I’m officially releasing a short-run of Waves on CD. The CD is a full-color glossy disc and comes with an 8-panel glossy booklet with lyrics and liner notes. I’ll be assembling these together by hand on a made-to-order basis.
You can order one at https://thepurgeva.bandcamp.com/album/waves or shoot me a line.
The Purge, like my life, is a work in progress.
As important as it may be, as a musician, to focus on yourself and your own visions, it’s also important to work with other talented and creative people. As an artist, I was in the middle of a crisis with balancing my many different musical inclinations with my new career and with my personal life feeling more and more like a traditional family with all the duties and responsibilities that accompanied it. As much music as I had in the works (it’s coming, I promise), I had really been stumbling over myself in terms of concrete direction and lack of confidence in new lyrics. Despite all the information I’ve been inundated with at the news station, it’s left me feeling more overwhelmed than anything when I’ve tried to synthesize it all and, with that lack of direction, music started to feel more like a chore I was neglecting than a genuine passion. I needed to do something drastic so I could simply enjoy music again.
Enter “The Crisis:”
The Crisis is the brainchild of Kenneth Thomas, one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. If he isn’t the smartest guy in the room, he’s probably, at least, the most informed and not afraid to tell you of his, often, controversial opinions about the overall state of the world. This guy probably dreams in dialectic. Thus far, it’s been an honor to be play keys alongside him (guitar) and with Alan Jelercic (drums) and Hillary Heckard (bass), we’ve been bringing his music to life.
Our sound is pretty easy to describe but may not be as easily understood for those not musically inclined. We’re trying to perform 60s and 70s style garage rock with middle eastern key signatures transposed for our western instruments. Now that we’re about five or six songs into the process, I can confidently say that I think we’re succeeding and you’ll be able to hear what I mean soon enough.
With song titles like “Back in the ISIL” and “Don’t Date the Data Monster” we’re looking at what it means to do everyday things like consume news or update Facebook without losing the fun and upbeat pace that makes rock so accessible. What’s been most exciting for me thus far has been leaving a session with a hook Ken wrote or that I helped craft still cycling through my head and the genuine camaraderie we all seem to feel in that room now that things are coming together. There were some rocky patches in the beginning with learning how to work with others and get used to the different scales and arrangements Ken is writing in, but it’s all feeling fairly intuitive now.
At our current pace, we’ll be ready to perform in late October/early November, so look out for The Crisis!
There are always and will always be plans to finish new Purge work, but exploring an entirely different sound with different people has been a delightful change of pace for me.
Hey all! Tenacity is finally available through major digital distributors!
It took me a while to get it out there because, frankly, I couldn’t budget the money it costs to upload through CDBaby or Tunecore. I’m trying out a new service called “Distrokid,” and from what I’ve heard about it and my experience thus far, I find it highly recommendable! Their subscription structure makes them incredibly reasonable for active artists who like to regularly releases their material.
Here’s the breakdown; for a yearly fee of $19.99 (that’s less than $2.00 a month) you can get as much of your material released through them as you need! And guess what! They don’t even take a commission on your sales like CDBaby!
I already feel so much freer to make more music and release it now that one less stress factor has been removed from the equation.
For those of you who don’t know, you can still get Tenacity on Bandcamp (currently for free/donation), but for some of you who prefer the ease of organization from using a different service and don’t mind paying a little extra for it (the vast majority of it to the artist), you now have the opportunity with me.
I’ll probably be recommending Distrokid to all my musician friends from now on.
You can learn more about them at www.distrokid.com.
Delivered in a plain paper sleeve, this ubiquitous black disc is the debut studio release of Edgar Graves’ brainchild, The Cemetery Boys. This minimal packaging is an extension of The Cemetery Boys’ minimal aesthetic, and theirs is a surprisingly welcome approach in an age where computer music has given artists almost limitless options for expression. Produced by Hampton Roads’ own Patrick Walsh, the only instruments besides voice you’ll hear on this album are drums and electric bass guitar. If the sound of that makes you feel a little skeptical, don’t worry. You’ve probably never heard bass guitar sound quite like this.
If you neglected to notice the absence of a guitarist credit on the label or have never seen the band live before, you may not even realize right away that there’s no guitarist. “At Midnite,” the albums first song, begins with what sounds like a distant guitar riff buried in radio fuzz, but it’s quickly revealed that there is some seriously impressive low end here as the introductory facade gives way to the actual song. This witch’s brew of distortion and tone that Mr. Graves has created for his bass acts as a glue in the mix, binding everything together without the need for complex harmonies or too many complimenting elements. I mean it when I say his tone sounds BIG!
You might think that such a small act would need to resort to virtuosity and showiness to keep things interesting, but that’s not really what you’ll find here. While Ed is an exceptional bass player with nigh impeccable timing, having written and performed with a drum machine for many years, this is good ol’ fashioned rock & roll songwriting and, while he indulges in the occasional solo when a song calls for it, his arrangements are absolutely void of pretension.
Speaking of, while the band’s overall sound is what’s most unique about them, what’s most refreshing about The Cemetery Boys are Ed Grave’s lyrics. Where so many bands who delve into doom and gloom for source inspiration try to walk that fine line between embarrassing pretension and great poetry, Ed Graves, wisely and with great affection, simply wears his love of old-school horror movies on his sleeve. From haunted hotels to the original Frankenstein movie, these songs are wrought with warm nostalgia and reverence for a time when the art of shock and special effects in cinema was just beginning to be realized.
Some potential problems do exist here. While these 9 songs are fun, they’re not particularly long. With an average run-time of only about two and a half minutes, the album reaches the benchmark for “number-of-songs-to-be-considered-an-album,” but you may still feel like it ends too soon. The final track, Transylvania, a slow hulking song that really takes advantage of the bass’s low range, ends on a somewhat tense note, which is good insofar as it leaves you wishing for more, but it’s also a little dissatisfying in that you feel a little surprised when you have to reach for the replay button. Once you’ve restarted the album, though, any grievance is quickly forgiven as the fun, catchy, and just-barely-over-the-top spookiness continues to put a smile on your face.
It remains a legitimate challenge to see if Mr. Graves and “The Boys” can write a longer collection of material for another release without exposing too much limitation in their minimal approach and/or expand upon their sound without abandoning that practically trademark tone. With such a strong debut, however, the expectation for a follow-up seems like a good problem to have and, frankly, if Mr. Graves can keep in good standing with his muse (who I imagine might look a little like Elvira), a little “more of the same” might be all that’s required.
There’s still plenty more to write about in the horror lexicon, after all. I mean, I haven’t heard a song about zombies yet, *wink wink.*
Like The Cemetery Boys on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecemeteryboys
Shortly after my last blog post, I received an ultimatum about my situation that forced me to temporarily adjust my priorities. I needed to find a paying job and settle some debts before I continued to devote the bulk of my energy to organizing a live band or writing new music or else risk total destabilization. It’s been almost two months since that post and I felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to say some of the things I needed to say. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have the confidence that comes with the security a job has.
I’ve been working as a production technician at the local television station for about three weeks now and work during the live broadcasts of the daily news. It’s a rewarding job with awesome people involved and I feel privileged to have it.
I mentioned adjusting my priorities earlier; while that meant that I have not been promoting my music as much as I could have been over the last several weeks, it does not mean, even remotely, that it has ceased to be an important and driving element of my life. I’ve been putting together a collection of orchestral work that I’ve written and plan to release in the near future. It’s a little off-genre, I know, but The Purge arose out of my desire put together the kind of album I’d always wanted to make and this orchestral release is a progression of that desire. Don’t worry, if you’ve liked what I’ve done thus far with The Purge, I’m not planning on completely reinventing The Purge’s sound or anything, just releasing an oddity that I hope some of you will appreciate.
New Purge music is inevitable. Expect it. My Music and I are not going anywhere.
I’m working on my brother’s first release under the artist handle “Cysthen.” I’m mixing his music for him and I’m proud of what he’s done. I’m not sure when his plans to release are (clearly I have to finish mixing everything first), but I’m sure to be promoting it when it’s done. It is super electro and super pop. Think Robert Delong meets VNV Nation meets Unicorn Kid.
I was recently asked by a fellow artist if I “still planned on taking The Purge live.” It wasn’t a strange question, but I had to respond with a more complicated version of “yes.”
I finished audio production for Waves around late October/early November. That was 6 months ago and I’ve, in the mean time, released three new The Purge songs but have yet to perform a live show. I’ve had some very talented musicians approach me about getting involved, but for various reasons I didn’t capitalize on the moment. Part of that is because I wasn’t 100% sure on what The Purge live was even going to be like.
There are many decisions to make when you try to take what is, essentially, a studio-oriented music project live; more-so than there are when you’re a more traditional band that writes and performs all their music together. How big of a production should this try to be? Will you need to try and produce accompanying video? How reliant will you need to be on backing audio (pre-recorded music or portions of music)? How many other musicians are in the band? How will you repay them for their time and commitment? Can you even afford to do that? What will you do about stage-lighting? What will the overall tone of your show be like? Which songs are crucial to your set-list and which ones aren’t? How long will your set be? The list goes on and on.
For the traditional band, live performance together is the creative process and recording is an after-thought. For projects like The Purge, recording is the creative process.
There are multiple routes I could take The Purge live. One extreme, and the perceivably quickest and easiest route would be to rely very heavily on backing audio and simply walk on stage myself. I would not be uncomfortable doing this, but I do feel like it might be a waste of resources and talent when I’ve had enough other musicians approach me about getting involved. I also know from my experience with my last project that working to organize a heavily automated performance by yourself is a pretty joyless chore when it comes time to adapt it, whereas a more organic approach has the ability to bend and be flexible.
The other extreme, and the most traditional approach, would be to assemble a committed group of 3-4 other musicians/artists and arrange the songs live so that backing tracks become wholly unnecessary. It may or may not come as a surprise to some readers, but I’ve never actually played my own music with a group like this. One fear I have about this approach boils down to what is, basically, a trust issue. I’ve talked to other artists like Edgar Graves of The Cemetery Boys about band structures and he’s always liked to keep his band small. His reasoning was that it’s, and I’m paraphrasing a little here, difficult to arrange the schedules of a group of other adults who have varying degrees of commitment to the project so that you can play shows and rehearse consistently.
But that isn’t to say I’m not above trying to make that happen, and it may even turn out that a few songs would require limited backing track use regardless of how many musicians are in the band.
Simply put, I won’t and can’t know for sure what The Purge live will be like until I assemble my team. What I do know is, however, I would like to see The Purge performing consistent shows and performing them well by the end of the year, in whatever shape or form that may be. If you’ve ever talked to me about getting involved with the project live, expect a message from me by the end of next week. If you’re a musician who has thought about getting involved with the project live, please contact me.