Friday, October 18, 2013

Good News for Love

Well, there you have it.

The longest lapse in publishing this blog since I started it in 2005.

Six months.

Even in the haze of 2006/2007 I would still find the time and energy to post something every once in awhile... a song list, some lyrics, an obtuse sentence.

But not now.

Part of it has to do with the how the character of this blog has changed over the years... it started out as a chronicle of my life (which included music) and morphed into a chronicle of my music (which has become more my life).

And there hasn't been a lot of concrete music stuff about which to write this year.  To be sure, there's been a lot of work on music, just not the kind of work that lends itself to blogging.

I've been writing songs here and there, I've been playing wonderful moving shows of my Odyssey, I've been teaching an ever-changing but always wonderful diverse group of students...

And I've been wrestling with Paper Arrows.

As regular reader of this blog will no doubt already know, Paper Arrows is the name under which I've been writing and releasing music since 2008.

Jesus!  I can't believe I just typed that sentence that way!  Like a fucking press release!  And now I'm pretending I can't erase it and using it as a rhetorical device!  Gah! Now I just typed "gah!" What the fuck?!

Really, what I'm reacting to is how hard a time I have saying Paper Arrows is ME.

Of course the sounds on our records aren't me alone... I've been lucky enough to work with super-talented musicians and producers on every recording we've made and they have shaped the sound of Paper Arrows' music immeasurably...

But the Paper Arrows songs are me.

And the project, the name, the content, the successes and failures, the strengths and shortcomings of it... they're all uniquely me.

And some days that's fantastic.

And some days that sucks.

And the last 6 months or so, it's been a struggle.

Last year I signed an actual honest-to-goodness record deal with an indie record label.  The label put out our last record, Days of Getting By, and gave me money to record another EP almost immediately, which played right to my strengths: I've developed great relationships with guys who work for modest amounts of money (by industry standards) and do incredible work.  I write quickly and have, I think, a pretty good head for putting a cohesive record together.

So in February of this year, I booked time in a studio called The Midwest Sound in Rockford, IL.

On each previous Paper Arrows recording, I've worked with Jay Marino acting as producer and Darren Garvey as the drummer and multi-instrumentalist.  It's been us three, going back to when we recorded the first Paper Arrows album, Look Alive, in the attic above Darren's apartment in 2007.  These guys have meant more to Paper Arrows than anyone.  Their talent and friendship and generosity... truly something special.

On this new recording, we changed things up a little.  Darren acted as the producer.  Jay's role was limited to mixing the record.

So Darren had the idea to go out to The Midwest Sound in Rockford, where he's worked before, and bring a couple new musicians into the fold.  These were: Daniel McMahon and Miles Nielsen, who are co-owners of the studio and excellent writers and producers in their own right.  Dan would play lead guitars and Miles would play bass.

The studio is contained in an old farmhouse-like building in a rural area of Rockford.  Totally away from everything.  And in this solitude, we recorded almost the entirety of a six song EP in one weekend.

I'll write more about the weekend, the band, and the specifics in future posts, so all I'll say here is that it was a fantastic experience and I couldn't have been happier with the results.

I was even happier once I heard the final mixes.  This was a record I had wanted to make for a number of years, in style and substance... and I finally had.

So I sent the mixes off to the label and...


So after negotiating an unexpected severance of my record contract, which was supposed to take my music career to another level, I was left with an unreleased record I absolutely loved (the new one), our previous EP (Days of Getting By), and having lost almost all the momentum I thought we gained with our 2011 release In the Morning (licensed on 10 separate episodes - and counting - of TV shows, licensed to an indie movie, written about, and led to us being named as a Chicago band to watch in the Trib, etc.).

That's not to say the experience was a total failure.  I learned a ton about what the record business is, about how capital impacts it,  and about a number of things that I'm sure will help me down the line if another label ever comes into play for me.

And I feel comfortable saying that we made a phenomenal sounding record on a small budget in what would count as a heartbeat by music industry standards.

But for all this knowledge and experience I gained, the reality of it was that I was not expecting to have to coordinate a release logistically or financially in 2013: I thought someone else would be doing it for me.

And even more, the whole thing left me exhausted, empty and questioning what we had created... questioning my ears and my taste.  Subsequently it's become clear to me that I was right in trusting what we had created, trusting the musicians around me, and trusting myself.

So I've got that going for me.  Which is nice.

The other thing I have going for me is that I've successfully put out three other Paper Arrows on my own.  And I should be proud of that.  I've gotten notable college radio play.  I've gotten press. I've gotten licensing.  All on my own.

So after sitting on this finished EP for a number of months, I'll be releasing it next Tuesday, October 22, 2013, on the label I started in 2007, Quell Records.

Releasing it digitally and to college radio.  I've partnered with a prestigious and wonderful college radio promoter that I'm really, really excited about.

And these sounds that I've been listening to for months will be available on iTunes and the other usual digital partners next Tuesday.

As far as a release show and physical availability... I'm still fighting that.  As good as I've been at writing, recording and releasing material, I've been that challenged at making Paper Arrows a viable and consistent live band.  For any number of reasons both logistical and creative.

But I'm okay with that for now.

So if you're reading this, I hope you'll support me and Paper Arrows by checking out the release on iTunes or Amazon next week and picking up a copy if you dig it.  Every download is meaningful to us, especially in the absence of live shows.

Our record is our business, which is pretty old school and flies in the face of everything the current music industry tells you but you know what?

Fuck them.

This is how I'm doing it for now.

We have a record for sale, I'm proud of it, and I hope you'll pick it up if you like it and tell your friends and enemies about it.

It's called Good News for Love.

By Paper Arrows.


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