2021 & Beyond

2021 is closing down. While I think it’s sort of silly to concentrate on the year changing over, like it’s going to make a difference, I suppose it’s a nice opportunity to reflect on the last 365 days around the sun, set some yearlong goals, celebrate successes, and wish for the best…

Like everyone, life was weird, but it kept moving. In personal reflection, I am thankful for my health and the continued health of those whom I love. As some of you know, I struggled through 2020 and into 2021 with some severe back pain. I’m happy to report my back continues to slowly recover and it’s not something I fixate on daily. I do have to be careful about lifting things and often stress myself out a bit with concerns with favorite activities like biking, gigging, or getting back into a little light golfing again. But I’ll take it. It beats being bedridden and walking with a cane…though, the cane was kind of a cool accessory.

I was also able to quit smoking cigarettes…again. The next step is weening myself off of nicotine lozenges, which I convince myself is much less dangerous, but still not a great habit. Though, it’s relieving not to feel pulled by the need to fill up my lungs consistently with tobacco on the regular, stink up my clothes and life, and now that it’s getting colder again-not having to stand outside in terrible weather to feed the habit. I hope I don’t come off judgmental as I have many vices, physically and mentally, I am quite guilty of indulging in, and I am a major advocate for living your life the way that you choose, but it’s something to celebrate personally I suppose. I wish you all the best health and success.

I have really missed performing, but I’m sure that will make it just as much more special when the occasions come again. I was able to play a very special event with friends and bandmates in TiRES, who helped me celebrate the release of my EP, The Plan in August. The release show was odd, but mostly due to people still feeling uncomfortable about returning to events…not to mention it was TiRES and my first show back in a long while so excitement, nerves, and a little rust was pretty evident. I wouldn’t change the experience. I couldn’t be more thankful to Cory, Phil, and Chris rehearsing those songs from The Plan so I could perform them live for the release show. I’m sure we’ll incorporate them into our live set in 2022 and fingers crossed that we’re able to feel more safe and carefree about playing live soon again.

While the show was definitely a blast and I appreciate folks coming out to share the experience with us, it was really the practices with the band that were most special. What can I say? It was fun. We have a good time. And it’s a different beast putting these songs in the hands and brains of the TiRES gang. It was just really powerful working on those songs for the show with everybody and hearing them come to life that way, even after the EP was fully recorded.

The Plan is something I’m really proud of. It’s different than anything I had released before, but it still felt familiar and right. I recorded most of the skeletons (synths, guitars, electro beats) of the songs at home in my Birdroom Studio, while I ended up doing drums, bass, vocals, and everything else with Phil Young at Sonic Factory Studios. I was still in a lot of back pain during those sessions. I specifically remember doing a really intense drum take of “Know Me,” then Phil asking me if I wanted to try it again, and me basically responding with, “I don’t think I can physically do that again.” It was a good take. It was something I needed to get out regardless of how I knew it would soon make me feel after the take. Keeping both feet moving with 8th notes in a quick 6/8 isn’t necessarily an easy task in general, and while it sounds like a flex, it’s really special for me to listen to that song and moment. Kudos to Phil for destroying those sessions with me and doing such a slick job producing, mixing, and mastering the full project. Thanks to Don Jaques for throwing down flute on three tracks. Also, cheers to my wife for recording claps and snaps with me!

The title track, “The Plan,” I released early with two version; the proper 7:47 version, and the 4:21 single version. I think people really dug the tune, but I honestly think the full EP didn’t get the attention I thought it would. It probably has a lot to due with energy running low and it’s an odd thing to try to promote yourself. I’m much more interested/involved in the art, the process, and the final product…that’s the important thing to me. But, of course, it’s nice to share that and have folks listen. The Plan is streaming on Spotify, Apple, or on my Bandcamp page. *PLUG*…hey you came to my website ;). It was released August 28th, 2021, almost exactly a year from my album, The Color Of My Soul.

Of course I am back into writing, recording, and producing these days as well. I am about sixteen songs into a new album I am recording fully at home in Birdroom Studio. I hope to have about a twenty-four song double album to share in 2022. At this point it is much more guitar driven, with some electro qualities like I did with The Plan, and other surprises. Ambitious? Prolific? Narcissistic? Conceited? I don’t really care. In my mind there will always be more songs to write and I might as well capture as much as I can with my time. While writing a song might come off “easy” for me, it still always feels like swimming up current. I happen to like that chip on my shoulder.

I turned 40 in 2021, and while I contradict myself with my opening statement of this article, it has been a new chapter. Lessons learned, contemplation, acceptance, and appreciation. We’ll see where 2022 leads us, or where we lead ourselves. There are projects that are being talked about and the hope of playing more shows, but I’ll take it one day at a time and hope for the best. Cheers to everyone. Happy New Year.

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