Looks like I finally have some free time to actually sit down and write, so I'm taking advantage of it to catch you all up on the latest happenings with myself and the band. To quote that cheesy Staind song "It's been awhilllle".
I couldn't beleive going through this site today and peeking at the blog it's been almost 5 months since my last post! That's OK since this new bloggy blog is more about getting the music news out than updating you all on my HEAL process as it went on.
Just a quick recap on that, things are more of the same. Not gained, not lost I am maintaining which is a good thing. I do hope to ramp it up again soon once it gets warmer and try to lose the #Last40 which once I do, I'm sure you will see me blab about it. I'm looking into new yoga programs (hearing the same routines over and over again for over a year can be annoying) and who knows maybe something more in line with martial arts, MMA which is something that seems to be peaking my interest lately. Blame it on UFC and Iron Fist I guess
But I'll get there. Like I mentioned before the New Year my real journey in 2016 and beyond has been not only fixing the health and body, but also fixing my brain and overall mental well being.
Unfortunately, I had to give up my therapy sessions last year due to my wacky schedule, but just last month marked me being on medication for anxiety/depression for over a year and what a difference! Anyone who says taking meds dulls "your edge" isn't taking or doing the right thing.
Not only has it been helping me deal with things now that used to be crippling, I have never been this creative in what seems like years! It seems like I've been writing music and coming up with fun creative ideas on a frantic pace and it really has been rewarding.
Right now I have 12(!) tracks written for my new album Elephants Bury Their Dead (well 10 full songs with one intro and one outro) and the majority of the tracks completed. Just need to have live drums and proper vocal tracks recorded the next month or two then it's on to mixing and mastering. We got some oldies but goodies (Awake, Get Out The Door), ones I've been playing live with the band the past few gigs (Leftover Romance, I've Talked To The Devil, Ressurection) one I released as a single this year (MuddFukk) and a bunch more I can't wait for everyone to hear (Soursome, Serendipty U and Me, Kiss Me I'm Dead, etc.)
I know most bands and/or artists when they release something new they say "oh this is the best work we've ever done" but I can say that I am extremely proud and love the songs on this one. It's so funny when you finish an album you basically start from scratch and say "fuck, what am I going to do now?" but next thing you know ideas start to come out of nowhere and before you know it (or at least in my case this past year to today) you have more songs than you know what to do with!
Listening to what I have so far in it's entirety (which by the way, anyone who wants to listen to the demo version so far let me know and I'll send you a code. I would love to get feedback from people I respect!) I can honestly say I'm really happy with it. The direction of this album compared to HEAL is.....dark and pretty heavy.
With HEAL I really tried to write an album not only containing snippets of what I was going through trying to get healthy at the time, but I also tried to write a real happy, positive album. The majority of the songs I played all the instruments including keyboards, which is something I've never done before and I loved doing it! My father was a big influence on my musical tastes growing up and some of his favorite artists were Elton John, Neil Young, Steely Dan, Billy Joel and stuff of that nature. I always wanted to write and play piano driven songs of that style and even though I am NOT EVEN CLOSE to being that proficient on piano as those artists the songwriting went in that way for HEAL and I loved the challenge.
After finishing the album I said "oh shit, now I'm going to actually have to play this stuff live!" and it forced me to buy a keyboard and really dive into it and I'm really glad that I did. I still remember being at my sister's house recently, sitting down at her piano playing some of the songs and my mother turning her head saying "oh wow, is that you playing?" I'll tell you, my mother is my biggest critic sometimes when it comes to music (which I love cause she doesn't just give me lip service, she is always honest) and to have her turn around and be impressed gave me a little pep in my step.
The songs were about love (Absolutely Everything, I Wish I Had You Forever) overcoming addictions (Clear, These Three Phases) and making ammends (Goodbye...Clean Shaven Villian). Sure there's some angst like "The Terrible" but overall when I listen to it, for the first time in my "carreer" I felt like I put out a really positive, uplifting and dare I say "mellow" piano driven album which is something I've never done before. Usually it's me and my bass cranking away and screaming my guts out full of piss and vinegar at everyone and everything.
Well, this year get back to hating my music again mom... LOL
Elephants Bury Their Dead is pretty different than HEAL, in fact it can almost be the exact opposite of it sonically. Sure, there is some piano in there and some more laid back songs that are "HEAL like" in a sense but this allbum I went back to my guitar, loud amps in the face roots perse and it's dark, heavy and angry...but in the same way just as positive.
This time I almost took songs like "The Terrible" and "Awake" (which I released as a single along with Get Out The Door a few years ago when I was figuring out what I wanted to do) and made that the blueprint of the direction of the album sound wise. You can literally listen to the last song on HEAL "The Terrible" and go right into this new one from the beginning and it would flow right along. Honestly it's something I always like to do with albums where you make the last track like "OK this is where I'm leaving off and where I'm going for the next one...follow along with me"
But also like HEAL, it's very personal and the theme of the record is like I said taking those elephants in the room, facing them head on and burying them once and for all. Once I started taking the path last year of dealing with my anxiety/depression/addictions head on of course it leaked into the writing process as it always does. But where HEAL was almost like "It's tough but it's gonna be OK, you're clear and healthier and full of love" EBTD is almost like "Fuck you! I'm gonna take care of myself and not let you bring me down anymore! Will it be OK? I don't know maybe?" HEAL I was looking to the heavens with my hands up feeling the sun, EBTD is me being trapped in the corner swinging my arms fighting my way out.
It's funny, whenever I write songs it always starts with a riff and a title or just one line. Lyrics to me are always the last and most stream of thought process in the fact that I sit down, type away lyrics on my phone, save it and it completly leaves my brain. I have to literally record vocals, listen to it over and over in the car and learn it like I'm learning another person's song and I WROTE IT! But when I look/listen back to it after the fact I always end up saying "where the hell did this come from?". When I look at it on paper at first, I hate it and doubt that it will work, but once I sing it and it's recorded? I love it.
I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or being conceited, but I'm really impressed with not only the lyrics, but the songwriting and my playing on this album in general. Even though I've been a bass player and that has been my main instrument for decades, I'm really getting into playing rythm guitar and a lot of these songs I'm playing solos too which is a first! Biggest compliment I got was when my pal Barry heard "MuddFukk" he said "Wow, so you got Shawn to do a blistering solo for this?" to which I replied "Nope...that's ME motherfucker!" Shawn is an amazing guitar shredder so to be almost compared to him, like my mom hearing the piano was a huge compliment and made me feel great.
So....the plan is to finish up the album starting in April and then while we are finishing it I'll be hitting the watering holes more and more starting in late Spring/early Summer to promote with my awesome friends in The Critically Ashamed Band. We've already had some great shows in Feb and March with great response/attendence and I hope to keep that going with more shows in Mahopac again, Poughkeepsie and anywhere else that will have us!
Once we got the band down to "The Core 4" and I started playing rythm guitar and keys, the band has really gotten so much tighter and the chemistry has been incredible! No egos, no drama it's four friends all on the same page and I love them dearly. We've also been playing a lot with Blue Alien Mystic which is Barry's band and both bands get along really well and it's a good mix. To see Barry and I go from being in a band together to both doing our own thing and still being good friends means a lot to me too.
That's enough blabbing for now. I will try to write more when I can to keep you all up to speed on the album progress, new gigs, new happenngs and all that stuff. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for supporting me and my music.