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The Calm

September 5th, 2013
I’m waiting for the calm
I’m stepping in the weeds
I’m ready for the clouds to rain down on me
seeping in the ground
and running to the sea
making my peace and evaporating

we’re all touching a different world
at arms length but still so far away
shrouded in the dark of night
and washed out by the bright of the light of day

I’m waiting for the calm
I’m high up in the trees
I’m happy for the sun to bear down on me
the sky becomes a haze
the ground becomes a blaze
and I’m lost on my way back down again

we’re caught up in a different world
we’re not really who we think we are
shrouded in the dark of time
and washed out by the bright of the light in our eyes

It’s done — and documented

August 12th, 2013

Between the Walls and the Sea is now live on Bandcamp. Tapes ship out by September 25th, and you can pre-order them now.

One of the different things about this album — besides that it took four years to complete — is that I put a lot of effort into documenting the songs and recordings as they developed. I wasn’t in a hurry to get a record done and I sat on the songs for a long time. Back in 2009 I was recording a video demo of every new new song I wrote. More recently I’ve been posting sketches on Soundcloud. I’ve been posting lyrics as soon as a song is written here on Quelquechose, and as they get edited, I’ve been updating the same post with all the edits intact. Further, my Soundcloud has multiple versions of the songs as the recording progressed, so (if you want to — not saying you do) you could hear “Background” without the synths or “Cellar Door” back when it had a much simpler drum track. All of the songs on this new record have a post on this blog that archives the changes that occurred. I was also, for a while, keeping a live to-do list that I published on Twitter, but that fizzled out at some point

So, this album ended up being a songwriting documentary experiment, which you can check out by visiting the lyric archive, where I’ve compiled all of my songwriting posts grouped together by album. You can also view the song lyrics category to view the posts in reverse chronological order.

Tuned to the Background

November 12th, 2012
it’s like it’s all there
floating somewhere
between the walls and the sea
waiting for me
you can’t look too far
there’s space between stars
no matter where you are
you can’t take it apart

patiently waiting
for more of the same
the effort it’s taking
fills up this space

the light hits my eyes
dark in between
the life I’m not seeing
means too much to me
so where can you go
I wish I could sit still
cut the distraction
from the space that I fill

gently pulsating
on a lost frequency
tuned to the background
is everything
we’re all complicating
what’s already there
there’s something I’m seeing

Original Demo:

In Progress Recording:

On a Road

October 30th, 2012
gone to set my sights
on a sliver of darkness and lines
of fading light
it’s gonna take all night
to make it anywhere that lets
the time pass by

the song still in our throats
of holding on so tight
time to let it go

the ground falls from my feet
one at a time to come crashing
back toward me
and I can’t see
I know what’s left of me
the same that was there before
without the fantasy

I let go of this road
reach out for never know
I come back and I go

Original Demo:

Recording Draft:

Comfort Zone

September 15th, 2012
it starts and then it stops
it never goes away
I’m eating up my time
I’ll make it up someday

they’re running up a wall
it’s crazy how they climb
I don’t understand at all
it’s funny how we fall

there’s nothing in the way
of what we’re trying to get to know
you get to someplace safe
and then you gotta go

but what if you just stayed
you can lie in bed all day
and fade into the night
and melt into the fade

there’s a party down the road
but I don’t know if I’ll go
heavy in the head
I can’t be held responsible

if I take up my slack
and get up off by back
I stop and then I take
everybody down with me

and why is the fire on fire when it feels so cold
this artifice slaps me on the face if I step outside my comfort zone

I wake up with the sun
beating down from up on high
I take the hours as they come
and feel like I’m just squeezing by

and sometimes I fight myself and it takes its toll
I pick myself up even though this is not what I signed up for

Summer Fuzz

July 24th, 2012
I don’t know the problem anymore
I could look forever and not see more than sky
you pick at your thoughts
and there’s always something bigger coming right up behind

down and out and about
separate the pressure from what keeps you alive
fuzz me out
nowhere to go, no time to arrive

the summer sun sets in
and no matter what it’s always too high in the sky
if you’re coming around, I’ll wait around

I’m recording and you get to watch.

November 14th, 2011

My vacation from music is over, I’m happy to say.

A long time ago, I started a YouTube channel where I was posting song sketches. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it–or with the songs–but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to publish the groundwork rather than waiting until a proper record came out for people to hear the songs. I really love recording and don’t consider myself much of a live performer, so that keeps my songs boxed up until a CD release. I kind of envy bands who can test out an early version of a song in front of an audience before going into the studio. I’ve always been a little protective of my work–I’m afraid that if you hear a track that hasn’t been obsessively worked over for six months, you’ll think I’m sloppy and not very good.

But now I think that if you have that kind of attitude you probably wouldn’t even pay attention to my blog or listen to the unfinished tracks anyways. What’s the harm in letting people in on the process, letting them witness the changes, and letting them see not only the work that I put past the gate, but also the stuff that I edit out? I really like rawness, mistakes, sketches, and happy accidents. An unfinished piece usually has a lot of character that can’t be recreated in the final product.

I was initially going to start from scratch and gradually write new songs. When I had a bunch, I would record them. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking–that’s not how I work. The songwriting process doesn’t drive me. I have no interest in writing songs unless I’m recording (or unless I have the right combination of depression and privacy). Writing bass lines, tweaking echo effects, fucking with synth plugins and micing amps are as much part of the songwriting process as playing chords and coming up with words.

So I decided to pick up where I left off and rework the songs from YouTube and record a new EP. Some of them are getting a near-total rewrite. I’m trying to take the folksy edge off of all of them and work them into a layered, echoey, loud, electric landscape. It’s a lot of fun to take something that started on an acoustic guitar and rebuild it from the drum machine up.

I’m also mixing down sketches that I have sitting on my fourtrack, which will probably turn into new songs for some future project. I’m documenting everything I can online: videos to YouTube, audio to SoundCloud, and updates to my recording to-do lists get automatically Tweeted.

My finished recordings are now up on Bandcamp for listening and purchasing. I made a compilation of all my best old songs (entitled Questions Unexplained) which you can get for free as individual tracks, or at a price of your choosing if you download the whole thing. There’s also my last two “studio” records, “Open” and “Exits + Obstacles.” I consider “Open” to be a major artistic success. Erase the 10 years of stress and anxiety preceding it and maybe it wouldn’t have been such a complete marketing failure. Maybe. Anyways, I’m very proud of that disc. Listen to it. Buy it.

As for “Exits + Obstacles,” I think it’s funny how right as I was releasing it, the economy was collapsing. It’s a loose concept record that I wrote as if I was living in a post-apocalyptic, mid-western dystopia. It was pretty easy since I already felt like I was. After listening to both of these records with fresh ears, I realized that there’s this subtle, angry political undertone in my songwriting that wasn’t there before. The royal “we” left my songs back in 2004, and when it came back, it came back darker and more damaged.


September 13th, 2009
sad life awaits
in the corners of the crowds
everybody knows they’re gonna be alone
deep down

cover up myself
with the road in my head
but I know it’s no longer who I am
this time

I’ll look up
if you look up
we don’t need to stay here anymore
I need you more
than I’ve ever known myself
so come on…

dance with me
in a sidewalk street
talk to me like a human being

Some Things I’m Looking Forward to Doing in September:

August 6th, 2009
  • Washing my clothes in strange laundromats
  • Recording noise guitar under the pitch-black skies of rural New Mexico
  • Writing songs in a tent
  • Buying single servings of milk to eat my cereal with
  • Drinking whiskey from a metal flask
  • Being in cities and having little to no agenda
  • Taking smaller highways, taking my time and going through the centers of small towns
  • Going for a swim instead of showering
  • Making a different mix CD off of my laptop for every few days I’m on the road
  • Taking more photographs in week than I’ve probably taken all year
  • Small moments of positive boredom
  • Trying to grill dinner at a wayside reststop

Untitled July 21, 2009

July 25th, 2009

Final Title: Groundless/Flightless

We hang up in the air
over everything down here
I won’t settle
I won’t stretch
I won’t argue

with the city on my side
and the rest of it in time
it’s enough just to keep my mind
above the surface

cast a room above your head
filled with people from your dreams
set it up and live inside
baby, close your eyes
cause you don’t belong here
you don’t want what they’ll sell you
but you’ve got to nothing to fear
and you can’t rest unless they do
cause when you got nothing to lose

separated from the sky
but still not fit for the ground
if what destroys keeps us around
can you still keep from looking down?

Original Demo:

Recording in progress: