Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some things good are coming.

I am getting ready to (finally) put out some music of my own again.  I'll start by reissuing some of my older material and then (hopefully very soon) I will be putting out some new music too.  I have a few projects working right now and I can't wait to share.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music and the Eternal Bond.

One of the very first tapes I formed a connection with was Nirvana's "Nevermind" album.  I listened to that tape so much I wore it out.  I'm pretty sure that was the album that inspired me to be a drummer too.  Still today when I hear that album it brings me back to when I was a young boy.  I feel like the same kid listening to the tape on my walk-man, drowning out all the crappy stuff happening around me.

I had a small collection of cassette tapes.  When things got tough I'd often retreat into my headphones and get absorbed into the music.  I would imagine myself in those tapes playing the music;  being part of the band.  I would daydream about what it was like to be in a band.  I would wonder about how to make music and how to record it.  It became my world.

As an 11 or 12 year old boy my favorite tapes were "In Utero" by Nirvana, "Ten" by Pearl Jam, Blind Melon's self titled album and "Get a Grip" by Aerosmith.  There were a few others too, but the tape I listened to the most was that album by Nirvana with the blue cover.  "Nevermind" was that one album that would get played time and time again.  Holy shit did that tape rock.  It blew my face off every time.

I remembered when my Mom would plan a trip to the mall, I would be so excited because I could listen to side A on the way there and side B on the way back.  The mall was the perfect distance to listen to the whole tape and I loved to stare out the car window as I escaped into the recording.

Everything about it was fucking amazing.  The songs were great, the performance was incredible, and production was flawless.  I still think it's one of the best records I've ever heard and it would probably be one of my desert island items.

Dave Grohl's drumming on that record taught me the basic principals of what I needed to know to become a good drummer myself.  The simplistic (yet technical) time signatures and beat patterns with the right amount of beefy fills and dynamics were the fundamental building blocks of what I know today.  When I get behind my drums now, I still hear some of his style coming through my own.  That connection will never go away.  He was the first musician I related with.

I later learned more from other drummers from listening to their records.  Drummers such as Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins and Dave Lombardo of Slayer were huge influences.  I even picked up a lot of technique from Thomen Stauch of Blind Guardian.  At the end of the day though, I always felt as though I related to Grohl's style the most.

Another strange thing that has developed recently with my relationship to the album is the eerie feeling I get while I listen to it.  I feel like I'm listening to ghosts from the past.  Not just the ghost of that band, but myself as a child too.  Hear me out.  I don't get this feeling with a lot of records, even ones with deceased personnel; which in this case I think Kurt being dead plays a significant role.  But even the music as a whole; Kurt's voice and guitar, Krist's bass, Dave's drums... the production.  The recording is like a time capsule of a bygone era where their youth (and mine as a listener) is captured in near perfect clarity and warmth by that fabled Neve board.  The sound sends a chill down my spine and makes me feel things that no other record can.  It's an undeniable connection.  It makes me feel young again.

There are other records too that serve as a reminder to certain time periods in my life; those are special too.  Like those albums I will likely carry a copy of "Nevermind" in my collection for the rest of my life.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Has something died inside me, or has it just been dormant?

I vaguely remember a time when I had a fire that burned deeply within my soul.  The embers were hot and seared my flesh spilling flames outward for all to see.  There was nothing that could smother my burning desire to express this passion.  My fire was being a musician.

I would sacrifice anything and everything I had or was to be in a band or play on stage.  I made poor life decisions altering my adulthood forever just so I could get the next gig, or to share the stage with one of my idols.  I was all in and nothing stood in my way from reaching the top.  Nothing except of course what happens to the majority of aspiring musicians that never realize their dreams.  I grew up.

Life as it seems has it's way of getting people stuck in a rut.  You get that job that is supposed to sustain your creativity, however it becomes the very thing that stifles it.  You make a few small sacrifices at first, but over time making bigger sacrifices becomes commonplace.  Your creative outlets start to suffer and your dreams go unfulfilled.  Pretty soon 10 years has passed before you know it.  You may get married and start a family, or buy a house or all of the above.  When you get to that phase you are committed to your responsibilities and any dreams you have may take a back seat or fade away completely.

This is the very scenario I've gone through with my life and it's been bittersweet.  On one hand I'm blessed with a wonderful family.  I have a beautiful wife, a really great son, and a decent home.  For the moment I like my job and all of our basic needs are met.  I feel extremely lucky, and for the most part have no needs for anything more.  On the other hand however, I still have that occasional longing for the life I dreamed about when I was young.  The life where my sole purpose was to make music and perform for a living.  I occasionally get these feelings, but if the opportunity presented itself to me today would I sacrifice the life I have now to start living the one I wanted as a younger man?  Could I have both?  I am conflicted with these thoughts.

I'm positive I would not leave any aspect (less my job) of my current life behind.  I can't justify losing one dream to fulfill another.  That is why I won't quit dreaming either.  If it would happen it would have to be under the right conditions.  I would have to feel like it was the right path.  It would have to feel like a higher calling.

No way in hell at this point will I ever again try and pursue projects that are past my time.  Heavy metal and cocky hard rock bands are out of the question.  I'm too old for that shit.  Would I still rock out?  Absolutely, but I'm not going to be joining any death metal or power metal bands anymore.  I'm done with the gimmicky stuff and show-off shit.  It has to be real.  It has to be from the heart.  It has to speak to me.

It's been years since I've had any real inspiration of my own.  I've been playing in bands, but mostly just following along since about 2005.  I've been contributing without a real connection.  There in body, but not in spirit as you might say.  It's been good practice, but I have had a void in me for a while.  Playing the death metal shit was fun, but let's face it, it just doesn't move me like a good rock song.  But I played it anyway.  Sometimes I liked it, but looking back I see now how miserable I was trying to be this fucking rock star that could play blast beats and triplets.  Wow, so original.  I was a metal drummer in a vast sea of shitty metal bands that no one cared to see.

So for a while I was this wreck of a being.  I was a piece of gear that came with an instruction manual that said "insert drummer here" and play.  I was trying to find that next new sound or big payoff act.  I wasn't listening to my heart like I should have been.  More concerned with fame and the possibility of payout than what it was really about.  Regardless of if I thought some of the music was good, the situation more often than not was bad.

Where I'm at right now though, is a different place.  Now I have inspiration again.  After years of stagnancy I'm starting to feel the flames re-kindling within myself.  I've written music before, but for the first time I'm actually rethinking how I write and arrange material.  I'm putting real thought into it and creating a connection, rather than just making noise that sounds cool.  I'm listening to a lot of the music that inspired me to become a musician in the first place.  I'm not worried about where it will take me, or what I can gain.  I'm finding new ways to approach and play instruments.  I'm relearning my craft.