Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I'm still feeling the effects of a long weekend, even though we really didn't do much of consequence. Friday night was spent in the backyard. Saturday night was spent sleeping. Sunday was spent in the hot sun working on the backyard. Sunday night was spent with friends, hanging out until much too late. Or early. Monday was spent recovering.

And now, it's already Tuesday again. This week seems like it'll be over before I know it, with rehearsals, work, teaching, and gigs on Friday and Saturday nights. So maybe it's just anticipating how busy it'll be, but I feel a little off today.

Like something is lurking... not sure if it's a good or bad thing but... I feel like it's coming soon. I've been banging around a ton of songs ideas, a couple of which I'm very excited about. Just haven't quite honed them to where I can really start working on them. Which is a little annoying.

But what I've realized is that even when I don't have the time and/or discipline to sit down and write, I'm to the point where I can work almost anywhere, at any time: riding the train, driving to teach, walking down the street... I can cycle through ideas and modify them without having a guitar in my hands. Which is nice.

It provides a certain freedom. Of course, there's no substitute for a quiet room, a guitar, and a tape recorder... but sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. I guess that was kind of the message of the movie we watched last night, The Weather Man. I thought it was pretty good. A little American Beauty-ish, without necessarily being quite as profound.

And the Chicago geography was pretty cool, if not a little disjointed. Kind of like this blog.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Page Not Available

I spent the morning wrestling with our internet connection, but thanks to some Comcastic help, it's up and running again. But the whole episode has left me a little lethargic and cranky. So I'm going to just take it easy until I have to teach.

This week is shaping up to be pretty good... we had a meeting with our manager last night in which we laid out a plan for the next 6 to 12 months, which involved getting out on the road to about a dozen cities in the Midwest, continuing to shop the disc, and looking forward to another recording.

Our manager also got us up to speed on a bite from a well-established producer who is interested in remixing a couple of songs from Bottle Boy, and possibly working with us on a new recording in the future. This guy has worked on projects from Stone Temple Pilots to Talking Heads, and had a lot of good things to say about the album.

We now need to decide how, if at all, to proceed with him, and what involving ourselves with him would do for us. I will say it's just great to get positive comments from somebody who's been successful on the scale that this guy has. It's also great to be featured again on the ever growing empire that is Insomnia Radio. Props to Jason for all he's done and will continue to do.

With a new plan in place, both realistic and aggressive, I think things will start to pick up a bit over the summer and into the fall. And just in time. So now... it's off to the park with the dog to enjoy an hour or two of May sun. Chin up.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quoth the raven

Another week, another great article about Burn Rome Burn. Yeah. Cause that happens all the time.

But seriously, you gotta love good, nay, great press. Brightens an otherwise gloomy week a bit. Other than that little nugget... not much happening. Work, teach, play. Repeat. Have got a couple of strong songs simmering... haven't quite honed them to the point where I know how to proceed, but, one in particular entitled "Skyscrapers of My Heart," seems like it has the potential to be something special.

Kind of a combination of Van Morrison and David Byrne so far... if that says anything. One of the things I've been working on lately, with little success, is writing songs in different sequences. That is, trying to write the chorus first, then the verse. I tend to write in chronological order, starting with the verse, from beginning to end, and I think it would change things up a bit if I were to write the chorus/hook first, and kind of work outward from there.

Easier said than done though. It all goes to the idea of continually challenging yourself to do something different artistically... something I know I've been very cognizant of recently, and it seems like the band has been, too.

We've been trying to create different sounds, different structures, different textures, all while still sounding like Burn Rome Burn. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't. But I guess that's a good comment on life in general.

That and "It's not rocket science, it's rock and roll."


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Grist for the Mill

Another weekend come and gone... Friday night was a chance to relax at home. Saturday night was spent at a brilliant 60th birthday party in the suburbs. Sunday was spent seeing the various generations of mothers in our lives.

And now, we're back to the work week. I picked up two new albums last week: Paul Simon's Surprise, and Gomez's How We Operate.

 Surprise, at first blush, is quite good. Some immediately obvious positives: Brian Eno as Producer; Tchad Blake as Engineer; Herbie Hancock on Keys; Bill Frisell on Guitar; Steve Gadd on Drums. Wow. That is an all-star lineup of music people. I'm still getting into the substance of the album, but it seems like a return the ideas of Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, but instead of using South African or South American music as a production and arrangement framework, the singular electronic/ambient production of Brian Eno is the key element. And the lyrics... well, it's Paul Simon. His worst lyrics are better than most people's best. I'll still need more time to decide whether or not I think Surprise is really really good, or merely interesting. But it certainly is cool to hear a guy who's over 60 still trying to make urgent music with integrity, still challenging himself.

 How We Operate, however, has really caught my ear and heart right off the bat. I've never been a huge fan of Gomez, but I've liked a lot of what I've heard in passing. And HWO has demanded the majority of my listening time over the last week. The title track (which I heard last night coming from the TV in the other room... actually, heard it mixed with Gina's sobs as she watched the season finale of Grey's Anatomy) is a truly excellent piece of dynamic rock songwriting and I've been working my way through the album with that song as my reference point. It seems like a perfect example of a band just focusing on making a solid, tuneful, interesting album, and benefiting from that focus. Not trying to be groundbreaking, but just trying to do something that's already been done, but do it really well. If that makes sense.

Gomez is apparently on ATO Records, the home of the last band I got obsessed with, My Morning Jacket. Also, Gil Norton produced HWO. My one critique of the album is that the lyrics are sometimes a little lacking in depth... but it's by no means often or extreme enough to ruin it for me.

Getting new music is so good for the ears... I'm so often inspired to write just by hearing something new, just by gathering more ideas for sounds, for arrangements, for lyrics... So on that note (middle C?), I'm off to scribble illegibly and sing out of tune.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rolling along

Just before the story ends When the clocks are running down What's broken we will mend What's lost will be found And skeletons, skin, and sky Will fall into one And the days of getting by Will finally be done Remember when It was just a game Remember then It all changed So I'll keep writing songs Of time and the sea And angels and the dawn And singing while you sleep But I'd throw them all away Just ask me to If it meant another day Here, with you Remember when It was just a game Remember then It all changed


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Everything's comin' up Axl Rose

And from the "hell freezes over department," we find this tidbit. Nothing I read about this album surprises me. Hell, I even almost believed this April Fools' review in Spin Magazine last month. The bottom line is, Axl Rose is crazy. End of story.

Next question. Yes? What did I do this weekend? Well, I'm glad you asked. On Friday, I went to a wedding. My friends from high school and college, Greg and Kirsten, got married in Oak Park in the late afternoon, and we proceeded to head downtown to Spiaggia (on North Michigan Avenue) for the reception. A great time was had by many, and there were a bunch of people in from out of town to celebrate.

Saturday night, after a brutal day of teaching, I headed out to Oak Park again to hang out at Greg's parents' house, the site of many, many nights of craziness in college. Greg's parents are moving this year, so there was some anticipatory nostalgia going on. After staying up way too late again, Sunday saw some breakfast with friends from out of town, and some rocking and rolling with the boys from Stylus.

It looks like I'll be starting to play with Stylus as a second guitarist now and then. They are a great group of guys and the music is spectacular. Dave, the drummer, is the engineer who recorded both our EP and full-length. They asked me to add some guitar work to their upcoming record, and we've been getting together every now and then to fashion a set on which I can play live. Good times.

BRB gets its usual rehearsals this week, which is a good thing. We're being interviewed this morning for a profile in a suburban paper, and we also have a fairly important meeting with our manager to discuss the next six months and how they are to unfold. Lots to think over, lots to clarify, and lots to do.

Finally, I've been exploring the idea of recording a solo acoustic album or EP in the next few months. I have a bunch of songs that seem to fit the solo acoustic format rather than a band format, and I may take a shot at doing a quick and dirty weekend recording of a bunch of them, just to see if I can get something I like enough to put out.

Of course, it may not be as good as Chinese Democracy, but... what i-, uh, will be?


Thursday, May 04, 2006

St. Scarlet

Her last breath came and went In darkness and alone I put her in the ground But her ghost was free to roam All memories and bones And St. Scarlet spoke to me "Save the last light Save the last light for me Save the last light It's everything you need" I heard she was in town My senses were at war I watched the fires go down On the empty shore There must be something more And St. Scarlet spoke to me "Save the last light Save the last light for me Save the last light It's everything you need" The train tracks were the veins Running straight into the heart Of the cautious mounting flames So uncertain from the start I'm just dirt and spark And St. Scarlet spoke to me "Save the last light Save the last light for me Save the last light It's everything you need"


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

chirp... chirp... chirp

Hunh? Blog? What blog? Oooooohhhhhhh. That blog. Yeah. Gotcha.

Sometimes, the week slips away with nary a spare moment to tap out a public missive. Alas. Last week saw some rehearsing, a couple of shows, and just too much to do.

The shows went well. Thursday in Joliet was one of those shows that by all rights should have sucked. For one, it was at Harrah's Casino in Joliet. Natch. For two, we had to be down there around 7:00, which meant leaving the city in miserable rush hour traffic. For three, as we were loading in to the show, I heard a noise from my amp and one of the vacuum tubes that creates that warm rockin' sound came rolling out the back, broken. Right.

Actually, the whole night showed me how far I've come as a professional performer and how far BRB has come from some of the previous projects I've been involved in. In the past, a setup like the one described above would have resulted in 1) moping, 2) panic, and 3) a disastrous show. Oh. I forgot one thing: we couldn't drink at the casino. Not kidding.

So after load in, we ducked out and ran to a bar down the street to let off some steam. I managed to get my amp up and running, albeit at about half power, and a strange thing happened: for all the trial and travail, we started playing and sounded pretty good. Not great. But we just got up there and played. And had fun. I think that set a good tone for Saturday's show at Double Door.

I got my amp to Todd, the guy who does work on my musical equipment, on Friday night at about 8:00, and he had it ready for me at 5:00 on Saturday. The Double Door was already pretty full as we started playing, and it continued to fill up during our 45 minute set. In terms of performing, I thought it was as good a show as we've played. We all seemed relaxed and energetic. Our tempos were solid. And I personally felt like I fronted as good as show as I've ever fronted.

Musically... well, you just never know. There's always a weird balance between energy and accuracy. I know it wasn't my cleanest show musically, but I felt like the performance aspect outweighed whatever mistakes I made. And a few people, my "barometers" for our performances, were overwhelmingly positive. Which meant a lot.

So, after a show like that, this week was bound to be a bit of a let down. Plus, I just have too much to do. This morning, I've got to run the dog to the vet for his yearly check up, go to rehearsal, go to the gym and grocery store, and then get up to Deerfield to teach. Ugh. 

At least I'll sleep well tonight. Thanks to Ambien.