“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci
There comes a time when every artist has to walk away from the work, allowing the world to see it, hear it, or smell it. Some artists know exactly when to walk away. If food is your art that is, then yes there IS a best time to abandon the heat and let people eat. Otherwise, it takes trust, intuition and a bit of mastery and/or naïveté. Although, nothing inspires like a deadline.
Since December of 2009 I’ve been writing and recording demos at home, in London, New York, in various studios around Los Angeles and the occasional hotel room, Integratron or tree limb. More than 80 songs were tried and tested in that time and eventually 20 were selected for the final session (12 of which will end up on an LP and the remaining might see the light in future EP’s, bonus add-ons, and/or possibly carry over to another record.) The final album (untitled) was recently recorded in LA with Producer Joe Chiccarelli and a line-up of all-star musicians. The sound is new, but not a departure from the previous albums. It’s rich in texture with great vocal performances over solid instrumentation and clever arrangements and as usual showcases a variety of moods, from soulful-baby-making-jams to colorful-new-jazz to love-fueled-acoustic-guitar-strokery to rhythmic-sunshine-pop. So far, the songs’ themes tie together on this album unlike other albums. The contrast between light and dark is a constant study, as is love lost and found within.
Stay tuned to this website and blog for updates about album title, track listings, release date, etc.
With reckless abandon
Driving home at night on empty streets, ominous fog holds the tune in my headphones in a much tighter but gentler grip than my helmet does. Some nights I listen to Radiohead, Blonde Redhead, Muse, Switchfoot, My Morning Jacket, Black Keys or Crazy Horse. Anything that has intense guitar and drum presence, is gritty, and is also steeped in reverb. On less foggy occasions I like to get shamanic with Nakai Carlos or Lorain Fox and I might pretend I’m a low flying bird, carving out lanes of low lying sky in and/or under Hollywoodland.
I’m also a junkie for classical adagios, 70′s synth-organ rock by Mark Moulin, choral music and yogic-mantra-tantric-chanting. However I perceive my emotions to be pairing with the weather, I make my musical selection. I am by far no musical egotist. My selections are limited. Pandora is my Dj and even that is the trial version with commercial interruptions.
Almost any genre goes well with autumnal midnight racing. At this hour the less-than-crowded streets are mine and mine alone. I am the developer of the game. I am the designer of the dream. I am enveloped wholly in awe, racing home to my wife, Amazement. We snuggle so closely the two of us have become one. You know when you accidentally grab two spoons from the drawer because they’re pressed together so tight and neat? That’s us.
It’s a 20 minute commute from the studio space back to my room downtown. I take Rossmore through Hancock Park, privileged to putt my way through such an affluent area and for those few pot-hole-less blocks I belong there. And it’s the same when I’m cruising Koreatown. At every red light, I’m already home. That’s the beauty of being married to Amazement. You go everywhere together. We ride with our bewildered smiles behind the tinted shield of our space helmet. You get odd looks on a scooter. Motorcycles think you’re cute and post pub crawl drunkards like to prove they’re idiots at the core by blaring scooter hate from cracked back seat windows. I pay them little mind. I carry a secret that my life is great and no matter what judgment is cast upon me, it doesn’t divorce me from Amazement. Plus, with no gears to jostle thru, I know I’ll be the first one off the line and long gone before they can unlock the door to fall out and puke.
I love the commute as much as I love making the record, which is what the gurus, ministers and luminaries will remind you. The journey is about the journey. There will always be the road. Even the morning drive in dense traffic retains it’s privacy, speed, and total immersion in the elements. Wind, Air, Water, and a Fire inside propel us all forward making for an expanded experience of the path. I like that you can’t check your emails in this lane and there’s no GPS on board to tell you where to go. You can make all the illegal u-turns you want. You can also stop and start faster than anyone else on the road and the short-cuts are up to you. Of course, there are no seat belts and if you’re ever sideswiped, you better be wearing a jacket, not to mention be loose and limber. Road hurts. Period. Like Buddha said, There will always be suffering. I’ve only wrecked once after jamming on the brakes to see if I could make the bike skid. Needless to say it did what I wanted it to. It just wasn’t very graceful. But in that not-very comes the clarity of all that is.
Enjoy your journey. Enjoy your commute. It’s your movie even between takes. Acknowledge how incredible you are as walk to and from the set. Listen to music as much as you can. Especially while driving. Don’t text behind the wheel. But if and when you run a red light, you’ll not only want to be paying attention, you best wave to the camera. Because if you get your picture taken in that moment, or worse, sideswiped, I want everyone to see how much fun and humility one can possible have because you simple chose to do so.
everyday the instruments come and go. cartage brings in the basses. techs build the drums. a bald guy I’ve never seen before wheels in the vibraphone. space gets carefully claimed in a room perfect for cartwheels. the same room zepplin recorded Whole Lotta Love. the same room eddie made Van Halen 1. the same room the doors made their first 4 albums. Janis Joplin. Rolling Stones. Buffalo Springfield. Prince. The Doobies. the list goes on and on. each has left their mark, a scratch on the wall, or a juicy stain I’ve been swimming in since July.
musicians cut from the same cloth are on call and when they come to play they bring not only their talent and expertise, they also bring their friendship, camaraderie, and/or perverse & experienced comedy. I view all this human action and interaction thru a window in the back of the room, inside the very cocoon new songs transform. from grounded ideas to winged messengers of light, the space is warm with vintage audio equipment set up for production & sound capture of the first flutter of flight. from the singer’s lips to his fingertips, the room’s practical purpose is for the organization and arrangement of the word. it’s a temple reflective of the very space between mine.
I am on the ball, literally, balanced on a yoga ball, managing posture deep within contentment of a dream. I know I am not sleeping, though the elements that contribute to my life are so astounding it often goes beyond what is humanly possible for me to imagine. it is because of this ease, this grace bestowed to me by the mighty universe at large that I am of service to the sound, a messenger for those willing or eager or accidental to receive it. it isn’t a game, or a mission that has a specific ending. there’s no It to answer what is It about. it just IS in each new moment. this isn’t a business. this is the music Is-ness.
I first tried surfing when I was 28. That may seem late for some, especially since many in the surfer scene began their adventures at sea way back in the their single digits if not their teens.
I wasn’t raised on the coast. In fact I grew up a few hours from the nearest beach and even if I had spent much time there, it wasn’t a good spot for surfing. We were often on a riverbank or a bay, neither which generate waves.
Now after a good handful of years in a wetsuit, surfing has become one of my passions. All it takes is one good wave to get you propelling through life on a wave of metaphors. Synchronizing your location and speed with that of a wave that traveled perhaps 1000′s of miles to reach you is not unlike seeing a ghost or riding a dinosaur. It’s a rare, exhilarating and fleeting experience. But now I’m rambling, and feel I’m getting further away from the truth, which is that surfing is perhaps the greatest waste of time. It requires mind/body focus with spirit surrender. Even on a small day it can take you to your edge and re-introduce you to who you really are, a beastly creature of the sea.
There are myths that serve as deterrents for new surfers, such as “this beach is for locals only.” In some cases the crowds can become strict enforcers of these made-up rules and are usually done so out of a love for their special location. There’s nothing worse than overcrowding on waves, especially by inexperienced surfers. However, when approaching a new beach with that same love and respect, most surfers can’t wait for you to ride their wave and see how beautiful life is from their perspective.
I’ve been fortunate to travel to Costa Rica, France, Australia, Morocco, (and soon Bali & New Zealand) all in the name of wave-riding. And though surfing is generally understood as something you do alone, I caught some of the best waves of my life with the help of friends, other surfers who welcome me in the water with encouragement and enjoyment. One of those people is the incomparable Jesse Billauer, an incredible surfer, perhaps the best in the world.
I met Jesse at a concert in Ventura. He a lover of music and I lover of surf saw eye to eye right away and knew we had a lot we could share with each other.
He would invite me to great locations and events up and down the coast of California and I would give him copies of my demos, dozens of songs that never make it on my albums. Like any friend, we talk about love, life, food, fishing, surf, girls, etc.. And like good friends, we often travel for lengths of time without connecting but never make the other person feel guilty for not reaching out. Good friends are like money in the bank. You can go back anytime and tap into those savings whenever you want, without hassle. A true friend will only add interest when you’re gone.
In this case, Jesse is as good a friend as it gets. And what’s more extraordinary about this awesome being is his story. In 1997 Jesse hit a shallow sandbar and suffered a spinal cord injury leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. With limited movement of his arms and a lot of help from his friends and family he started his life all over again, learning how to care for his body, and make the best with what he still had access to. Most impressively is how he chooses to live in his mind. As a child he had an unwavering dream of being a professional surfer who traveled the world to harness of the energy of amazing waves, fleeting moments that every surfer lives for. Today Jesse lives that dream with extraordinary gusto, proving that nothing can get in the way of your dream. AND when you do it right, others will take notice and see their own dreams realized as well.
Jesse also tours the world as a motivational speaker and launched LifeRollsOn.Org, an organization devoted to helping those with disabilities overcome limitations of the mind. LRO hosts surf and skate events, contributes to spinal cord injury research, and holds a variety of fun fundraisers throughout the year. A Night By The Ocean, the annual gala is this Saturday night in Marina Del Rey. I’ll be there to play a few songs and win some prizes in both the silent and live auction.
I don’t have a date for it yet either. Wanna come?
Here a link to the upcoming event:
Saturday, October 15, 2011 | 6PM
Life Rolls On 8th Annual
Night By The Ocean
@ The Ritz-Carlton
4375 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA
I am not my face.
I am not my hair.
I am not my family.
I am not my care.
I am not my upbringing.
I am not my mole.
I am not my receding gum.
I am not my cold.
I am not my money.
And I’m not my fame.
I’m not my hat.
I’m not even my name.
I’m just an idea that happened upon love.
I am that I am and that I am is enough.
Located about two hours east of Los Angeles, light years from sanity, at least according to the sum of conspiracy theories surrounding that what, why and how of this extraordinary space, lie the incomparable, INCREDIBLE, Integratron. Intended by it’s designer in the 1950′s to be a center for sound healing, the Integratron was never actually completed; however, the amount of the structure that remains today, stands to be an acoustic wonder.
The main dome, constructed entirely of wood, serves the singer, speaker or whisperer alike in experiencing the power of their own voice as it is being projected into the cavernous space. The closer one gets to the center of the room, the more powerful and dramatic the 360 degree sound experience becomes. In fact, it’s so intense in the center, I got a slight experience of nausea from the sound fully enveloping me, almost taking my breath away. And yet you don’t have to be the one making the sound to understand how the vibrations in the room could penetrate and manipulate the body. Listening to music, instruments, or even footsteps create waves for the room to the have it’s way with.
Everything is sound. At the subatomic level we would see that we are made up of particles that vibrate in and out of existence. When the right music comes along, it is harmonious. Meaning, when we are touched by a song, a tone, or a word, we react on so many levels; in the mind, in the heart, all the way down to our elementary foundation, and in a way, this becomes sounds dancing with itself, and this is not only magical, it is healing. Through music and sound we are all connected. It is by this science that I believe music is the closest thing to God we as diverse humans may ever agree on, even if the words go unspoken.
There is an alter inside the Integratron for people to place tokens of gratitude, gifts, or prayers for loved ones. I’d been on a journey to cultivate my own inner peace and happiness; to be able to radiate it outwardly from my own self generating infinite supply, not relying on others or material possessions to fulfill the tall order which is something we often do. I’d been wearing a beaded bracelet that symbolized gratitude for my incredible life. The day I visited the Integratron the bracelet began to unweave itself. I took this as a sign that my practice was ready to advance to a whole new level. So I removed it and left it on the alter among the other treasures piled up there, understanding I had achieved the level of personal strength I sought only a few months prior. And upon leaving the Mohave Desert that day, I reflected on my incredible life, the trips I’ve taken, the people I’ve loved and those who loved me, the places I’m planning to go in the coming year, and all of the sweet, sweet freedom I have, even inside the confines of this body, limited to 5 senses, gravity, blood type, flexibility, etc.
Experiencing the sound of my voice in the sacred chamber was not unlike looking in a mirror. You get what you give. And I am oh, so grateful for the sound I have been given. I look forward to meeting your eyes, entering your ears, and enveloping you on a cellular level very soon.