Saturday, February 28, 2009

And so it ends...

Well, it's official... looks like I won't be finishing my album for the RPM challenge. With a few songs left to finish, I awoke this morning with a purpose and focus not unlike a tightrope walker hovering hundreds of feet above the ground. Faced with a daunting task, I looked incredulously at myself in the mirror and said to my reflection, "Oh, are we gonna do this?!!" and my reflection nodded, "Yes."

I packed a lunch, walked out the door, and fired up the Mazda. "Bring it, RPM, bring it," I thought to myself.

As it turns out, RPM brought it. Today just wasn't the day I guess. The first road block was that I hadn't been out to our practice space (the site of most of these recordings) since we loaded in our gear after the Warm Fuzzies show Thursday at Tasty World. Seeing as it was 3 am at the time, I didn't really feel like setting up mics and re-routing my cables, so today I spent the first half hour of my afternoon plugging things back in and setting up microphones. Strike one.

Strike two came about an hour later when the band next door decided to show up at their rehearsal space. Now, I should say that I knew that recording at a practice space comes with certain inherent risks, as people are free to come and go and play as loudly as they please. I'd been working around that during this challenge, and most of the time, I've made adjustments so that the sound bleeding in from other rooms is either nonexistent or nonobtrusive on the track. Except when the band next door practices. I don't know if it's some weird proximity affect amplifying bass frequencies when they play or something, but the florescent light fixtures rattle and I cannot hear anything playing back in my headphones. They're swell guys, and I have no problem with them playing loud; heck, it's a practice space. But needless to say, this is not a good time to record vocals. Strike two.

Down but not yet out, I figured a change of venue might do the trick.  My office is a decent enough place to do some singing, and no one is there on the weekends, so I hurriedly packed up everything I'd need - mics, computer, cables, hard drive, etc. - and scorched some asphalt all the way over to my building. After circling the block a couple of times, I finally found a parking space close enough and rode the elevator up three floors to my own private vocal oasis. And indeed, it would have been great but for the fact that for some reason my hard drive would not (and still won't) boot up. I swapped cables, checked the power supply, restarted the computer a few thousand times, pushed the "power" button on the back of the drive, and nothing worked. No hard drive means no files to work on. And that was the curve ball that got me swinging on strike three.

And that leaves me here, sitting at the little round table in my office writing this blog instead of recording vocals. I'm not sure what's up with the drive, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will work on March 2nd, the day after the deadline. A couple of weekends ago, my G5 studio computer stopped working for about four days before miraculously coming back to life. This is just how things go sometimes, I guess.

So what I feel at this particular moment is a mixture of defeat, failure, exuberance, relief, frustration, and hunger (haven't eaten in a while). I don't think I could have worked on it much harder than I have, so I can't feel that bad about it. Especially since there is neither a reward nor penalty for completing the challenge. In fact, absolutely nothing is different.

But the larger issue (one that I won't get much into today) is more about where I tend to derive my own feelings of value and worth. I find it hard to fall short of any goal, and it doesn't really matter if doing so even affects my life or anyone in it. Nor does it really matter if anyone even knows I fell short. When I feel I have failed at something, I am quick to feel that by extension I am a failure.

This isn't the truth, of course, and I am learning this. I'll be excited to continue to work on this album, and now I get the chance to put it out as I'd really like to. I decided a little while back to call the record "All Things Subject To Change," and this part is just keeping to form.

Sure would have been nice to finish it, though.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Song Posted, RPM Update, etc.

So I've been recording this album for the last few weeks, and today I've finally posted the first song, a little tune I'm calling, "Seriously, Hartsfield?" This particular title is something I find myself asking repeatedly every time I have to check bags through Atlanta.

I've got a couple of days left to finish the album, and I'm going to be honest - this thing is all over the place. The more I do this, the more I have come to think that in my own artmaking/songwriting, I am more about ideas and concepts than anything else, and it's really showing here. Especially since I don't have time to do the things musicians normally do when recording an album - things like cleaning up the overt influences in my music, re-arranging things to make the whole thing cohesive, etc.

So this little song is kind of a happy pop song with a little Warm Fuzzies guitar thrown in there set to a loop off my little keyboard from RadioShack. It's rough, but I guess that's the point.

I should also note that this song was made possible by these folks:
Mark Tulk, who recorded organ @ Small House Records in Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Heimann from the duo Popple, who recorded harmonica & ukele at his home studio in California.
Meg Abbott (who works in Artist Services here at Rebuilt) on the cowbell and tambourine
And of course, there's Mattox Shuler (formerly of the Warm Fuzzies, currently of the Bride), who thew down some serious glockenspiel.

More to come - hope you enjoy.
 - jason