adam reflects on an emotional couple of weeks / loses shoes
Friday, September 17, 2010
ok, i know, i know...you're not surprised. you're probably thinking i wouldn't be wearing shoes anyways.
this is untrue.
i do wear shoes for the most part in some stores, restaurants, supermarkets, and certainly airports. i think i left them in the studio. hopefully they'll let me on the plane.
i'm sitting here at the gate. happy to be sitting. was getting a lot of strange looks when i was walking around.
i felt like i should be wearing a large sign saying.
"dear annoyed starer,
my lack of shoes is not a desperate plea for attention, nor is it a political statement, nor an act of rebelion. i just lost my shoes.
p.s. i'll play you a song for a set of flip flops..."
actually i'm looking forward to the overnight flight. i am at the point of tiredness when i just know i'll be asleep before the plane lifts off and probably won't wake up until touchdown. some people can't do this.
josh and turtle could be coming off two days with no sleep, dose themselves on axiom and quaaludes, while traveling on a private jet with waterbeds that play smooth jazz and rub your feet and they still couldn't sleep. i have a theory on this. i believe their beds at home are simply too comfortable. sleep while traveling takes training every night. if you are reading this and you strive to be a good travel-sleeper, i personally recommend training on a moldy futon. that's been good for me. i'm sure there are other methods of course...like that gimp character in pulp fiction...i bet he sleeps great on planes.
anyways, we've been having so much fun making our ridiculously stupid vlogs that i really haven't actually written to you in a long time. sorry about that. i like writing. hard to find a window, but when i do, i always enjoy it.
i really want to tell you a little bit about the last couple weeks. they've been an incredible whirlwind of excitement, tension, frustration, panic, elation, and food delivery. for those of you who haven't been following the antics on facebook, i'm flying back to boston after two weeks of recording in cali. (minus a two day jaunt back to the east coast for a couple shows last saturday).
we've been working on this new album...funded by our new record label...produced by fancy people who put their pants on one leg at a time and then make hit records. (yes, they too love cowbell). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ExOkfaSCc
last week was the band session. we all flew into LA and spent 6 days recording together. our producers were great. it's really incredible to watch actually. as much as i work on the art of songwriting and the group works on the art playing our instruments together, it's a different art form entirely to record and produce an album. it's hardly ever as simply as handful of humans playing a song together while someone presses record.
recorded music is built by layers.
often one instrument at a time.
getting the best performance out of an instrument requires the foresight to be able to picture all of the other instruments and sounds in your head, often before they're recorded. being a good producer also requires the ability to think beyond instruments. who cares that no one specializes in playing the side of a vinyl couch pillow? ....if that slapping, thuddy sound is what a section of the song needs then you best start looking for the right pillow! (yes that happened...turtle was our pillow player). a good producer also has the ability to get the very best sounds out of the instruments. if a mic that is standing 4.5 inches away from the sound hole of a guitar is shifted just a fraction of an inch they can hear the difference, and they don't like it!! (bad news for this fidgety guitarist).
there are hard things that come along during this process as well, especially for the songwriter. even when i co-write, which i did a lot of for this album, the lyrics come from a very personal place. sometimes the lyrics and the melody work in perfect tandem inside my mind, creating the exact message or emotion i'm trying to express. of course, just because it's perfectly communicated in my mind, does not necessarily mean other people are feeling the same thing.
one thing i think a bad-ass producer has to be good at is assessing the artist as well as the song...figuring out what is supposed to be communicated and helping the artist figure out how to make the song speak in a way translates to a bigger audience.
now here's the tricky thing...if aaron, (our producer), thought the "bigger audience" we should target were the smooth jazz listeners of the world we could've been up shit creek! (not that there's anything wrong with smooth jazz...i hear it's great for sleeping on airplane waterbeds).
(also - is it "shit creek", "shit's creek", or "shits creek" ? i really have no idea...i went for brevity...unlike this blog)
so a huge question in my mind going into this thing was, "what audience is this guy going to be producing for?"
frankly, i'm still not totally sure. the songs he chose out of the 40 or so demos i sent him completely surprised me. he chose folky stuff, heavy stuff, poppy stuff, even a two step! of course i love this. i write in all sorts of different styles because i'm inspired by all sorts of different music and like to express all sorts of different perspectives and emotions.
in the end i decided that aaron simply connected to what he connected to based on the songwriting and went from there without a marketing agenda beyond making a great album.
so kudos to you, aaron! may your cup runneth over, and may the label not be pissed...
but back to the hard part...yeah...so there were moments during almost every song we worked on where aaron wanted to incorporate a sound i wasn't expecting or comfortable with...or he wanted to change a chorus, or edit a line. whew...those moments were hard for me!! like letting a complete stranger tuck your kid into bed, or rearrange your closet. (note that the two above examples are completely for your benefit...i have neither a kid nor a closet).
anyways, i found myself over the course of these last two weeks trying to find a balance between fighting for the things that were sacred to me and letting our producer do his job. (a job that he is incredibly gifted at, btw). i think we found a balance, but it was an emotionally charged balance...at least on my end.
this was definitely the case this week, when i flew back into cali to spend 4 days without the band, recording vocals. it was just aaron and i working meticulously through every line and every harmony. brutal. i mean, this is my voice he was manipulating...both literally and figuratively!!
i have to say that at the end of it all, i'm proud of the way we worked together and i love what we came up with...even the stuff that at first threw me for a loop!
so i'm sitting here in the airport...no shoes...so tired my eyes sting...and this feeling comes careening through me. (yes...feelings careen...they careen all the time...people just don't talk about it...like their net worth...or the clap).
i feel lucky.
i mean, that's a stupid thing to say because feeling lucky doesn't even begin to describe the excitement and gratitude and sense of purposeful contentment i feel right now.
my life is pretty frickin perfect.
even the parts that frickin suck.
(note my lack of profanity there...working on this)
i'm thankful that i'll soon have a window seat to sleep on and delicious peanuts in my belly.
i'm thankful that i've got the greatest band in the world...rob, who has the worst sense of style in the band yet has spent all week trying to pick out womens' t-shirt designs while i was gone...turtle who plays a mean pillow...chappy who has amazing hair... josh who as you read this is probably tirelessly putting together our next ridiculously stupid vlog.
i'm thankful that after ten years of scraping and scrapping for work, we are suddenly entering a time when we almost have more offers than we can take!
i'm thankful for the basement, and all the songs it has helped me write.
i'm thankful that the van is still running, even if the air conditioning keeps breaking and it smells like cheese nips
i'm thankful for my friends and my family.
i'm thankful that as soon as that lady in the blue vest begins speaking through that intercom i am going to board a plane and head back to boston where saturday night we're gonna tear up the paradise rock club in front of hundreds of our hometown peeps!
i'm thankful for the incredible community of humans we are gathering around our tattered-string music, some of whom will wake up early on sunday to volunteer with me at the homeless shelter after raging late into saturday night.
i'm thankful that i have another pair of shoes at home.
i'm thankful that for the first time in my life, people are really investing in the songs i write...which come from little scratched out ideas on scraps of paper in the basement...which come from the sparks and kindling in my head...which come from the infinite prismatic current that runs through my body i don't always understand until after a piece of it becomes a song...which comes from the rhythms of my heart and sometimes the cadence of bare feet on airport linoleum.
...and i just felt like i needed to tell you.
thanks for being a part of this ride with us.
you are the reason i don't mind not owning a comfy bed. (you, and the fact that i can now sleep on planes)
p.s. a waterbed that plays smooth jazz and rubs your feet??#!?
ok, that's just creepy. not sure how i came up with that, but shame on you for reading on...
i mean, i would hate to fall asleep to smooth jazz. not sure i could. i'd be too afraid i'd dream about saxophones and turquoise leisure suits.
and what's with the foot rubbing? have you ever heard of someone using a foot rub as a sleeping aide? no, i'm sure you haven't. not to even mention the fact that the waterbed (creepy on it's own), would actually be doing the rubbing.
i'm not sure what dark twisted place inside of me that visual came from, but man i'm sorry...
p.p.s. on the off chance that you are reading this and you own a water bed that plays smooth jazz and rubs your feet, i'm sure you're still a good person....let's not fight.