W elcome to 2018 and my first music announcement of the year.
I am extremely happy and proud to tell you that I will be releasing new music this year. The first new song, officially single #41, is called “Bobcat” and will be ready for download on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.
The new material will be yet another new breath of style. Whether you are a new fan or if you go all the way back to my first single, My Oh My (or even further still to The Action, Getting Red, and Portable), I hope you have realized by this point that you never quite know what you’re going to get from me. It’s sort of become my thing, and I intend to live up to my name.
What you are about to read is a detailed, intimate, behind-the-scenes, never EVER before mentioned, and often heart crushing breakdown of what has been going on with me musically since my last release. I also will explain how I intend to create and release music going forward, and how I hope you will play a part.
My Music Credo
I still believe in the model of owning music. Whether it’s tangible/physical or not, I feel my music is worth something.
My relationship with my fans has always been direct. And not just because I know half of you by name. What I mean to say is you are supporting me as an artist knowing that I write all the songs, mostly perform* them all, and do all the production and promotion myself.
* (I pretty much write my own drum parts, but it won’t take long to see that I often can’t really perform them for shit. So, I have friends like Greg Berella or Brian Levy who play those for me. Or, for example: sometimes I’ll have a long time bandmate like Mike Z play on guitar tracks. And not just because I suck for solos, but sometimes it’s fun to have a complementary style. Or maybe Sebastian Ciceri would play bass on an entire album to give a different tone and talent. Oh, and my friend Rob Beaton has mastered almost every single one of my songs. So, in other words… with a little help from my friends, you know what you’re getting.)
Once recorded and mixed by me, it gets released by me from my website. Going forward all music will be released on my site first. Then, maybe six months down the road, they’ll be available on other digital distributors (like iTunes, Amazon, etc). I want my fans to know that they get it from me first.
With rare (yet grateful) exception (looking at you, Eric Martinez, Matthew Barajas, & Talmage Watson), I do all of my own art:
I shoot all the photos (except when my wife helps), work up all the single and album art and packaging, and I shoot and direct all the videos for my work (except Man on a Mission; thank you, Jeff Cobb!). For me, this is a central part to the craft of it all. Essentially, I try to set up each song just like a big label would do (or more candidly, just like they used to do). Except in my case, it’s all in-house and DIY.
And all I ask for is a dollar.
At least one dollar for each song.
Over the past 3 years, here is what I have done:
First, know that I started in a small studio “mostly headphones only” apartment. Then, my wife and I bought our first house. There I built a new studio, all so I could better record my vision of what my songs could—and should—be.
In 2014, I spent $12,357 making an “all-in-one-room” studio: a place where I can record live drums, live bass, live guitars, and vocals…where I can mix into the wee hours without anyone more than 10 feet outside of the place would ever know.
It was a complete and total labor of love. I named it Supey Studio, in honor of my dearly departed dog, Superchunk. And I don’t just use it for recording: I’ve practiced bands in there, I shoot videos in there. I really mean it when I say it’s an “all-in-one.”
Five months after beginning the build, I moved my gear in on Christmas day. Fitting. I went about the task of getting it ready, building my own sound panels, buying some furniture to hold gear, decorations, lights, and all that rot.
Then I bought my first drum kit, and drum mics, so I could finally record live drums. A dream come true: My intention was always to make my music as human as possible; if the drum part is meant to be live, it should be recorded that way. If it’s meant to be a drum machine, hell, all good too. But now I have what it takes to record the parts as they should be, instead of programming drum parts using emulation.
The drum set cost $500; the mics, stands and cables, another $1,200. I did all this by finding things used on Craigslist and eBay. I spent another $4,000 on upgrading my recording gear: a new I/O (AUD Apollo), and a host of plugins. (gulp)
After all that, I proceeded to recorded the Glitter and the Glue. It came out in 2015, and it was by far the best sonics I had ever produced.
And I made $2,256 in sales.
THE GREAT PRO TOOLS DEBACLE
And then this happened: an exasperating event that took a year of my life to solve.
It is the most depressed I have ever been as an artist. To be honest, I’m just getting to the point where I can talk about this without getting angry.
You see, while making the Glitter and the Glue, Avid stopped supporting my version of Pro Tools. So after finishing it, I had to spend $400 on the new upgrade (it had been a few years and I didn’t want to upgrade during a recording project. So, after Glitter, I downloaded it and set about to begin writing the new material.
But Pro Tools wasn’t acting happy. At all. After much exasperation, I bought a year’s worth of Avid’s tech support and soon I began (not joking) a year-long tech friendship with one of Avid’s techs, a super kind guy named James. What was happening was Pro Tools kept freezing, or pausing, with the god forsaken SWOD (spinning wheel of death). NOTHING was fixing it. Early on, I took my computer to a local Apple fixer-upper (Melrose Mac), and they found a failing hard drive. I replaced it. But that wasn’t it either.
Perhaps my computer needed replacing (having owned it for 7 years without incident). Well, after a long thought, I plunked down fricking $3000 on a new (used) Mac Pro. Figured this would set me up for a while. I thought that this surely was it.
You can imagine how sickened I was to find out it started doing the exact same problem even on a completely new install.
I called UAD, the tech support for my Apollo. They remotely logged in. 2 hours later….
Nope. Not it.
I spent probably 400 hours of my life trying to solve this. One Sunday, I spent 8 hours filling out 20 pages of handwritten test notes (essentially acting like a software tester: it happens when I do “this”; it doesn’t when I do “this”. REAL OBSESSIVE like). I input the notes into a fucking spreadsheet and sent it to Avid. It was at least somewhat consoling that he felt it would help… and that he was kind of laughing his ass off when he saw the work I did (I distinctly heard “Holy Shit!” during our conversation).
We collectively decided I should revert my system to OS Mavericks, where it worked for a while…til about 2 months later it went right back to doing it for no particular reason. He couldn’t figure it out.
This ongoing issue had up to this point been occurring for 5 months. I truly understood why people give up music. It was terrible. And I was miserable.
I ACTUALLY STOPPED RECORDING
But I didn’t stop writing. A few months came and went. I would just write on my iPhone when an idea came up, recording a zillion voice memos. After a while, Avid released another update AND (since this took so long for that) Apple even upgraded their OS yet again! So my Avid tech friend suggested I completely swipe my drive and start all over again with the new Apple OS (Sierra), and the new PT version. We both had such a “fuck it, it can’t hurt” attitude; it was pathetic, even if we weren’t laughing about it so much.
So I did it: swiping my drive, installing the original OS, and then upgrading to the new one. And from there, installing the new version of Pro Tools.
It took all day…. and it worked.
I’m not kidding: this took a year to solve. A year of my life. Hours on the phone, hours with tech people dialing in to my computer remotely. I recorded almost nothing.
I’ve never really shared this before, with anyone, but my wife and perhaps a few of my music friends (including my drummer friend Greg who watched me go through this experience; hell, it was his drum parts I was trying to record!).
I felt what it felt like to want to give up.
Back up and running
Now with a system that finally worked —and with a ton of new songs I wanted to record—I sort of went all in with all the areas of my gear I wanted to improve: I sold my Apollo for an Orion Studio I/O, and jumped into the world of analog analog gear: 4 new mic pres, an API lunch box to hold them and all the cables (believe me it adds up) to go along with it all.
I think after selling and buying, I spent another $7,000.
Yea. I know. It’s a lot.
Why am I telling you all of this?
You might think I’m showing off. I’m not. I paid for this stuff by slowly collecting gear over the years, selling what I could and keeping what I needed. I have a full time job to pay the bills, and I save. like. crazy. Apart from my house and car, I carry no debt whatsoever.
Oh, hell, maybe you’re thinking “boo hoo you. Don’t like the situation you’re in, stop doing it.” Fair enough. Makes sense on paper. And in all honesty, if this story makes you roll your eyes, I’m probably not your kind of Artist anyway. So, dilly dilly.
Pithy comments aside, part of the “why” of this is you might just be gobsmacked to realize that doing this kind of stuff doesn’t come cheap (my fellow musicians and producers are probably laughing right about now with just a souçon of sadness in their tone). Or that it doesn’t come with enormous challenges, all of which seem superfluous if you aren’t around it.
Hell, many people (I believe) think that music is as easy as pressing record, Sure, there are some who might be able to get by with really cheap gear, or just some decent plugins and limited or free versions of recording gear. If they can, that is great. Truly, I wish them all success.
But that is just not me.
I have this song in my head, and from there I have a curious and non-stop imagination of how I want that song to sound. For me, sonics are not the most important thing, but they are certainly important. If the song sucks—honestly— who cares how good the snare sounds. I get that. But song quality is for me to figure out. Before I even press record.
But once I do press record, I want it to sound good. I need it to sound good. It’s part of the art. It’s my statement.
And hell: all of this is BEFORE the song even gets written!! Let’s not forget that! I think it was William Faulkner who once said, “Writing is easy. Just stare at a blank piece of paper for 4 hours ’til your forehead bleeds.”
But the crafting of a song can be one of the most satisfying experiences in the world. As strange as it is to admit, I am probably my biggest fan (certainly, I listen to my stuff enough in the car to qualify!). I just get so excited when it crosses the plane of “almost” to “yes.”
And at the end of it all, when I’ve finally gotten the gear that I want, and written the song that was in my head, and recorded it and sculpted it into what I dream it could be…that’s where you come in.
That’s when I ask for that dollar**.
My Music Promise
My promise to my listeners is to continue to release music to the best of my ability and with the best tools at my disposal to make sure you get your money’s worth. Know that I don’t write for you, per se. I ultimately write for me. I think that is critical. But I do hope you are standing with me when I do. Your decision ultimately is that you opt to support an artist based on what he has done, and will do again.
Know that some songs will rock, some will mellow, some might be instrumentals, and some might be all electronic, all heavy; all sad or all full of love. My spectrum has always been wide, and I’ve decided it will just keep getting wider as I explore this little thing called life.
If you support me, if you support independent music, please consider the above when you do. My hope—what I want— is for you to believe you’re giving to and supporting the vision of an artist who believes entirely in his craft, and that you agree my art and the art of countless independents all over the world is actually worth something.
So to all the Friends of Chance: I hope you’ll stay on this journey with me.
**Oh, and one last thing about that dollar: I have a “name your price” thing installed on all my music store products. Want to give more? I am not going to stop you. If anything, I openly encourage it.
Good. Because I haven’t been this excited in a long time, and I’m dying to finally let you hear the new stuff. Even just two days ago, speaking to my mastering guy, I was just blown away by how good the stuff was sounding in the car.
So the first one comes out….now!
Here’s the teaser clip below…. And if you’ve read this far, it’s a little early but… linky linky:
My FIRST single of 2018:
SINGLE #41: BOBCAT
Watch the Clip: