Thursday, May 28, 2009


What a blur... The last few weeks I mean. Seriously. Our release party on the 17th was a resounding success... I will have more fallout from that event to report very soon... I hope.

Of course, there has been the inevitable let down... which, in this case, has taken the form of some bizarre spring cold, which has been harassing me for over a week now... and has cut into my morning writing time... every last bit of sleep has become more valuable so staying in bed has taken precedent. 

But yesterday and today have been better, and I've been able to resume my dawn-lit creativity... It is such an interesting change writing first thing in the morning... I think I mentioned, but most of writing up to this point in my life has been evening writing... or late night writing... So stumbling out of bed into a cup of coffee and my guitar as the sun rises has been like discovering a different way to write.

So far, I've pushed (and not without some effort) out 5 or so new tunes, 2 of which are really strong, and a bunch of additional pieces and fragments. The new stuff is... different. As it should be. I'm still not really sure where it's all going, but I'm starting to get to the point at which the material starts feeding back on itself, creating a little echo chamber... where themes start to emerge and in turn further influence the subject matter and musical content of the even newer writing.

Maybe the best of these new tunes (maybe the best song I've ever written?) is a quiet and sweet ballad entitled Near. Enjoy...

NEAR Restless dreams Are taking flight Along the darkness Of a quiet night On the heights Of the avenue We make our lives Within these rooms Close your eyes I'll dry your tears When you wake I'll be near In the sky Beneath the planes You breathe in time I try to do the same We rise at dawn We ride the trains And dream of growing old And of trembling again Close your eyes I'll dry your tears When you wake I'll be near When you wake I'll be near


Monday, May 04, 2009

In the Morning

A couple weeks ago, I decided to try a new approach to writing. With Things We Would Rather Lose out, press starting to come back in, our college radio campaign successfully underway, and the release show almost upon us, I realized that it had been awhile since I had written anything I liked... anything with any substance.

Part of that comes from being so busy with all things record release. Part of it comes from the fact that I hadn't put in the time to figure out how to properly write in our new place... which, given that we've been in since July... well, it gives you an idea of my writing drought. Some of that comes from the uncertainty and disarray of our living arrangements from almost the time we moved in until just a couple months ago and some comes from the fact that since about July, recording and releasing TWWRL have been first and foremost on my mind and taking up the majority of my creative energy. 

And it's not like I haven't been writing at all... I've come across music I like and I've jotted down plenty of words and bits and pieces of song ideas over the last nine months... I just haven't really finished anything I liked all that much, and didn't really have a sense of what comes after TWWRL... TWWRL was so easy in part because of what I was going through at the time it was written and how naturally it followed Look Alive... I had so much material to work with and songs were jumping out of me on such a frequent basis... hence the 25 songs we narrowed down to the 9 that made the record.

Now, it feels like... kind of a What Comes After the Blues question to borrow a phrase. So two weeks ago, I felt the need to try to start to figure out 1) how I was going to write the next record, and 2) what the next record will sound and feel like and be about. It's always a little scary getting started writing again after a time in which you've been dry... I always wonder if the magic and the inspiration is going to be there... if I can write songs that live up to and surpass what I've written previously...

With TWWRL this feeling was even more pronounced because I feel like that record is just... well, really good and really powerful. And I feel the bar has been set pretty high for me as a writer and for the band as a project. So what I set out to do was to turn the creative process upside down a bit... to try something new. In the past, I've written primarily at night... after work, later on... and on the train, especially coming home from downtown in anticipation of more writing later in the evening.

So for the new writing, I decided to take a page from Tennessee Williams and Jason Molina and write as early in the morning as I could bring myself to get out of bed. Which is 5:30, the time Andrea gets up. So over the last two weeks, I've solved the riddle of the timer on the coffee maker, rose at the sound of the alarm on the other side of the bed, and stumbled out into the kitchen to a fresh pot of coffee. After delivering a cup of coffee to Andrea in back, stepping around a still-slumbering dog, I set up shop in our living room with the sun just barely starting to creep in through our giant east-facing picture window... coffee in front of me, guitar, and writing book.

I write for a little more than an hour, sometimes with a song already in mind, sometimes just looking for an idea on the guitar, sometimes just sitting and writing words. After cleaning up, getting ready and taking the dog out, I've ride the Brown Line downtown, grabbing a seat and letting it carry me all the way around the Loop, continuing to write and work on whatever inspiration I found at home in the new light.

And the verdict? So far, so good. Due to a couple days I spent the morning running downtown (a story for another entry), I probably gotten a solid... 7 days of morning writing in over the last two weeks... and currently there are 4 (and counting this morning, 5) new songs to show for it.

And there's something a little different about the songs... both musically and lyrically... as it should be. The songs aren't all done yet, but they're at least a couple verses, a chorus... enough to know that I should finish them, that they are strong enough to start to take the shape of the next record...

So... A lot more new lyrics coming very very soon... Here's to the morning and all the hope and promise it brings in all sorts of different ways.