2020 was odd. I have been working through some pretty serious back issues, and after multiple episodes of being bedridden for weeks at a time, working with pain specialists, physical therapists, chiropractors, taking x-rays, an MRI, and cortisone shots, I’m starting to feel a little normal. It turns out I have a herniated disc, and probably have for some time. I’m certainly not 100% but I can do some normal activities again without immense pain. I really missed biking this Summer and being able to do normal outside activities…but I guess if there was a time for this to happen, during a pandemic where I’m not doing shows, practices, moving gear, and being in public, then I suppose it’s fine timing. I haven’t used a cane for about 4 months and if it wasn’t so cold I’d love to go on walks again. Here’s to everyone’s health in 2021!
I’ve stayed busy musically. I’ve spent some time upgrading some gear like the pickups in my telecaster and strat, getting my vintage 1 watt Alamo amp firing again, and such. Plus, a lot of writing and recording. My album, The Color Of My Soul, came out in August, so I finally felt the green light to continue work on a lot music I was tinkering around on. That tinkering around led me to The Sonic Factory where I have recorded 5 songs with my buddy Phil Young co-producing. This EP is about 30 minutes long and it’s a big step away from the last album. I’d consider it much more hi-fi, and somewhat “Electro-Drama-Pop,” whatever that means. Nonetheless, I’m very excited about how it’s turned out. I have plans to put some extra orchestral moments on a few of the tunes and we’ll be ready to mix! The name of this EP is titled, The Plan, which is also the name of the first track. It’s sounding great and I’ve been working on putting together a music video for the title track with my old North Iowa High School classmate and Karate buddy, Matthew Peake! I am also scoring the music to Matthew’s documentary project as well, but more on that another time. We’re hoping to do something pretty epic with this video, and the tune is over 7-minutes, so we’ll see where that leads us!
Also, just recently I was asked to score some music for a neat podcast, currently called “Iowa Off-Kilter.” The project sort of helped jump-start me creatively again, and what were some quick ideas created as background music turned into full fledged songs that I have decided to release later in the year. I’m currently calling that EP Off-Kilter, in correlation with the podcast name. All of that happened rather quickly and I recorded the music all at home in The Birdroom, my home studio. It’s a bit more acoustic based, with some haunting 50’s vibes…or at least that’s what I’m hearing. Not to mention, all of the new electric guitars recorded I used my vintage Alamo amp, and good-golly it’s sweet tone!
In other music news, I have about 30 songs demoed and set aside for Volcano Boys. We have a new rehearsal space, though we’re not necessarily jamming as a full band yet these days. Trent (drums) and I were able to do a couple masked up practices and the tunes immediately sounded way cooler with his input. I can’t wait to get the full band together and start work on what I hope to be a double album. Though, that’s pretty ambitious, it’s been a dream of mine for some time. Some of my favorite albums are big and bold with a lot of content. Taking some inspiration from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and The White Album. We’ll see where this lands in the future!
TiRES also have a handful of tunes recorded that we’ve been sitting on that I’m stoked on. I really miss creating and jamming with my friends, but I’ve kept my creative energy going pretty consistently throughout the pandemic. I just look forward to being able to share that experience with my bandmates in the near future hopefully.
Like most people these days I’m leaning on TV and movies to pass some time. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve been binging and taking in.
TV Series: The Mandalorian: Yep, you know I’m into this. It was certainly a highlight of my week, and something to look forward to weekly. I have watched the second season at least two times through, especially that finale! Oh, Lord, Star Wars Gods, thank you for the FAN SERVICE. Maybe it was just an epically terrible week I was going through, but along with with many viewers of that series, I admittedly could not hold myself together for the end of the finale.
I also went through the three seasons of Narcos, and while I enjoyed seasons 1 and 2 the most, season 3 was still very well done, but I missed the story and actor of Pablo Escobar. Wagner Moura was transformative in that role.
A few months ago I really dug Raised by Wolves on HBO as well.
The Queens Gambit I enjoyed.
I really disliked Utopia and tried watching it three times with no avail.
I LOVED Euphoria too.
Movies: I have been into mob and Scorcese films. Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Casino, Goodfellas, and then Coppola’s Godfather I and II.
American Psycho, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) & (2014), Karate Kid II & III,
Drinks: I have been trying out a new lifestyle of not bringing beer home and just having a cocktail (or so) when in the mood for an adult beverage. I feel like I’ve perfected my home martini (extra dirty). I just really enjoy the ceremony of making it, plus it’s not something you can just chug, which is definitely an issue I have! Leave the chugging to La Croix, which I have about 10 a day now. I’ve also enjoyed a Bloody Mary here and there recently, but I can’t get close to a classic London Underground version.
Music: As a big Smashing Pumpkins fan I was excited and nervous about their new double album, CYR. I appreciate the production risk and I think the majority of the album is stellar songwriting. It’s insane to me that you can have a drummer like Jimmy Chamberlin in your band and we don’t get huge drums with excellent fills and demonstration. BUT, knowing there is already another album recorded for SP that hits those vibes more, it made the listening experience to CYR much more enjoyable. I think it’s a bit too much of the same for a double album, but I’ll take it!
I’m really into whatever Julian Casablancas puts out, so of course I’ve listened to The New Abnormal by the Strokes a lot. But it’s the recent single from his band The Voidz, “Alien Crime Lord,” that I have had on repeat in the car. I just love music that isn’t obvious and still catchy.
Currently on the turntable is Elliott Smith Either/Or.