Monday, January 25, 2010

after i finished constellation i knew i was at a crossroads
i'd been doing this song and dance routine of independently making records
for over 17 years
from nourallah brothers - done on an 8-track recorder in the corner of a converted garage
to polaroid - staying up all night recording while Jayme was making G in her belly
to snowing in my heart - stretched over the course of a year
each record had it's own story
and a different method of construction
ultimately i finagled my way through every one of them
because that was the ONLY way to create them
no financing from labels
or backing of any sort
all completely D.I.Y.
punk rock ideology without the punk rock music
even my recording studio Pleasantry Lane
was born out of the D.I.Y. ethic
when my brother and i realized we couldn't just sit around waiting for a label to give us
money to make our own records
we established a place to do it ourselves
and took the labels out of the equation
it was born out of necessity

when Billy and i put the finishing touches on constellation
roughly 18 months ago
i felt ok with walking away from making any more of my own records
i'd finally made the one i'd been wanting to make all these years
i enjoyed the feeling of peace
later on i told Observer music editor Pete Freedman
"yeah, this might be my last one..."
and then he wrote about it
after that people started asking me every now and then
"so, are you really not gonna make another one?"
i'd say "i don't know"
i honestly didn't know how i could it pull off again
unlike the Stones, time was definitely not on my side
1) with a baby on the way and tons of bills to pay
where was the time supposed to come from?
2) 99% of all PL artists self-fund their records
i have not and will not raise my studio rates right now because of this
that means if you look up the term "hamster on a wheel" the Wikipedia page might just have a picture of yours truly!
3) constellation was the first time in ages i took time off of work to focus on my own music
and it almost put my family in the poor house
up until November i had no plans to continue
other than still performing live
i felt like my making D.I.Y. records goose might finally be cooked...

in November
when i picked up my friend Alex Dezen from the airport
he told me about
his band, the Damnwells, had parted ways with their last record label
but it didn't matter
they were planning to fund their next record themselves
via Pledge Music
i'd never heard of anything like this before
it blew my mind
it was a brilliant concept
the pledges are all incentive based
so that fans get stuff in return
for example - a pledge of $16 gets you a pre-order of the next cd
$750 - a house concert which you can sell tickets to (if you'd like) in order to recoup the cost
at the end of the pledge drive 10% even goes to charity
the whole concept is another great example of how the major label system
has crumbled
trying to finance records this way was unheard of even just 2 years ago

after Alex D. laid the Pledge Music info on me
it became obvious that this was the next step for me
my #1 priority now is trying to support my family
my own music has never been able to come close to doing that
so, with a little help i hope to soon be able to afford my most highly sought after commodity
time to make another record
i have lots of new songs i'm excited about
i've got a million and one ideas ready to be unleashed
i just need the time...
time - he's waiting in the wings/he speaks of senseless things
his script is you and me, boy

it's been a privilege getting to do what i love all these years now
to express myself
to make "art"
as a kid getting to make records was my wildest dream
i've been able to do that plenty of times now
there's not a day goes by that i don't thank my lucky stars for it all
i'd love to continue
we'll see if i do...

please consider your pledge a vote for me to keep going!



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

getting back to the Clash...

Brad Austin had lent us the Clash’s 1st record from 1977
but it was now actually 1982
we soon found out their 5th record “Combat Rock”
had just come out
we got that next then all the rest too
we became obsessed with the Clash
in October we videotaped them playing “Straight to Hell” and
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” on Saturday night live
we watched it over and over again with the UTEP vs. Hawaii
basketball scores annoyingly ticker taping along the bottom of the screen
our Mother (who liked or encouraged us with most of what we listened too)
walked into the living room one afternoon while we were watching the SNL tape
she said “you call that singing? i just don’t think that’s singing…”
it didn’t matter to us
we thought Joe was the coolest as he held his fingers to his head like a pistol and sang
“go straight to hell boys…”
i was now 15
my brother had just turned 14
we’d never been to a rock’n’roll concert
in late January of 1983 we heard Nick Lowe was coming to El Paso
opening for Tom Petty
i was a big fan of Lowe’s and had found out about him because he was Elvis Costello’s producer
we begged our Dad to let us go
he eventually agreed
just 5 months later we found out the Clash was going to play the El Paso Civic Center
on the way to play the US Festival in California
Dad said “oosh baba, not again!!!”
we begged and pleaded with him
he said this time only with a chaperone
on May 25, 1983 F and i road in the blue Monte Carlo with our 24 year old 1st cousin
Maad Okko
Maad was from Algeria and spoke broken English
with an ear to ear grin he sported a healthy afro and woolly mustache
plus parachute pants and a tight sleeveless shirt
he listened mainly to disco music
he had never heard of the Clash or punk rock music
he was baffled by it all
to document this momentous occasion i planned on smuggling a micro-cassette recorder
into the Civic Center
i don’t remember how this plan actually worked
i only remember being convinced i’d surely be caught and potentially arrested
thus, missing the Clash
my favorite band
neurosis aside, once inside we took our position about 20 rows back and in the middle
a perfect spot
the lights dimmed and Spaghetti western music came over the PA song
the Clash finally took the stage
we jumped to our feet and cheered
they kicked in with “London Calling”
Mick hopped around like an elastic Mexican jumping bean
Paul bobbed, ducked and weaved like no bass player you’ve ever ever seen
Joe attacked his beat up Telecaster with ferocious intensity
wearing a white sleeveless military jacket/vest and black straight to hell t-shirt
Maad looked to us and yelled “you like this?”
i nodded my head and thrust the micro-cassette recorder to the sky
soaking in “Death or Glory”
the show plays out for me now in a haze of nostalgic slo-mo bliss
memories afterwards of laying under the sheets at night
with the micro-cassette recorder pressed to my ear
trying to re-live the moment by listening to the shittiest recording imaginable
we also begged our Mom to make us a black straight to hell t-shirt ‘cause they were sold out at the concert
she tried valiantly but after wearing her iffy labor of love to school one day i decided it just didn’t look right
i retired it to the bottom of my t-shirt drawer and never wore it again

Friday, January 01, 2010

it’s the morning of January 1, 2010
i hold my baby daughter in my left arm and type with my right finger
i hit the space bar with my thumb
the sun is lighting up the right side of my face
she’s burrowed into the brown furry collar of my favorite winter coat
the sky is blue and calm
there’s a cold chill in the air
i went to bed at 3:30
after our show at Bryan St.
i should feel tired and horrible
but instead i feel great
positively brimming with energy
and ideas
today we celebrate the “son of Christmas” with L & L
who are visiting us from Austin
we coined the joke term last night ‘cause i talked Jayme into leaving the tree up this year
for their visit
today we’re gonna exchange gifts
go see the Christmas lights one more time and milk this holiday spirit for all it’s worth
before everything gets put away tomorrow
the 1st is usually a day of quiet reflection
so i will quietly reflect
could 2009 have been any better for me and my family?
i don’t think so
it was a banner year all the way ‘round
topped off in September by the birth of our precious little crumb Miette
everything else that happened was just icing
as memories already start to fade and be replaced by new ones
here’s what springs to mind…

Rhett smiling under the silly cowboys blanket as we cranked playback of
“like love”
Billy Harvey creating worlds for songs to live in
Rip almost falling out of his chair from excitement over John Dufilho’s ricochet snare drum fills on “nobody says i love you”
me, standing and singing in front of the Potter’s fireplace
feeling loved
feeling safe
me, standing and singing in front of Dean and Carla’s fireplace
feeling loved
feeling safe
driving through the Texas countryside listening to Buttercup with J and G
feeling lucky and grateful to have gotten to know and work with them
Gavin at Seaworld feeding the dolphins
burger street dude’s fantastic “Better by Design” cd and our lonely Ft. Worth show
Mike Snider’s contagious all-good smile
pancakes with Buttercup
the pure joy of playing “Montreal” with Guns of the Navarone on the Rudyard’s stairwell
going back to Denton to visit and play music with Paul Slavens
discovering Dan’s Silverleaf which made me feel like i was in Silverlake
flying to Hamburg on my birthday
Casa Buskies Basti and Dirk
cruising Berlin on the roof of a double-decker bus one sunny afternoon with J and G
strolling the gardens of Potsdam and feeling paradise on earth
Wreckless Eric playing the philicorda organ in the South of France
Wreckless Eric chucking the balalaika over his shoulder with a devilish twinkle
Gavin filming the Paris apartment on Rue d’sevigne “mom struggling with her pants”
Joe Reyes incinerating “a way to your heart” at the Dufilhos’ 1st show in July
the Whiskey Folk Ramblers lighting up Pleasantry Lane with accordions, hats and boundless creativity
Gabrielle LaPlante with echoes of the fable maker, N. Sinatra and Carnaby Street
the Monco Poncho painting Morricone panoramas
Holt hauntingly updating Drake and P. Floyd
Liles and the Kessler
Samples and SPACE
Schoder and the Granada
the miracle release of Binary Sunrise's debut
Pascale flying Alex D. to Big D
our Habaneros adventure and Opening Bell reunion
walking to Ginger's house with the kids
Bionicles Transformers Power Miners Bakugan
all the wonderful joy filled days
staying up late and watching Breaking Bad/Mad Men/Bored to Death/Modern Family and 30 Rock with Jayme
"the bullies are back"
"2 years"
"we're gonna live forever"
"andalucia in the spring"

every day i get to be here with my family
and friends i’m grateful for
thank you to whoever out there is running this thing
thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it's 2010 now
farewell 2009
i already look back fondly upon you

i hope you all have a year filled with love, good fortune and boundless happiness

love, love, love,