Day: July 7, 2008

“That bassist couldn’t be in the pocket if he was lint.”

More stuff be gettin’ done, in spite of the dickwad next door hammering away at building a new addition onto his deck at seven in the morning for two days in a row and making it nigh on impossible to keep my sleep in anything resembling normal shape. Somehow I managed to get a fair amount done today in the short periods of silence breaking up his ever-present hammering.

I wanted to throw some mandolin songs on this new album that’s in the process of piecing itself together, but there are just two leftover mandolin songs that were written a while back. I haven’t written anything new on the instrument in a long time. The standard mandolin tuning hasn’t really been inspiring for me lately, and I’ve never tried experimenting with any alternate tunings on the instrument. I figured I’d at least use it as a decorative thing on a few songs.

Yesterday, while I was tuning it up for the first time in a few months, I accidentally tuned a half-step too high. In bringing things back down to where they normally are, I left one set of strings tuned up a bit higher than usual, and suddenly all these new ideas came pouring out. I mean, immediately the seeds of at least a few new songs were there. It’s funny how much of a difference just changing a tuning by one note can make.

I didn’t have any ideas for lyrics until sometime after three in the morning when something triggered a phrase, and in eight minutes a song called “Waterfall of Teeth” was written. I’d been kicking that title around for a year or two with no idea what to do with it, so it was nice to be able to make use of at least one of the many homeless song titles scattered throughout different spiral notebooks, email draft folders, and random pieces of paper. I tried recording it today along with a few other things, and I think it came out pretty nice. It quickly went from being a bare-bones mandolin song to something much more evolved.

It seems like a lot of these songs are ending up pretty layered, at least by my usual standards. Had a brief scare today with accidentally plugging in the AEA ribbon mic while the mic pre’s phantom power was still turned on, but fortunately for me my mic and cables are solid enough that the ribbon didn’t just snap and die a horrible death right there.

I’m also enjoying playing the bass more than I have in a long time, having fun improvising busy little fills all over the place. I should probably thank Martin for that. I rarely just pick up the bass and play like I do with most of the other instruments around here. Most of the time I only grab it it when a song needs it and then it goes back on its stand. But after playing almost nothing but bass for a few hours the day he came over, I found I had a lot more bass-specific ideas than I expected, and now I find myself even writing songs on the bass. That isn’t something I ever do, with the lone exception of “You Missed Your Turn” on BRAND NEW SHINY LIE and a few songs on NUDGE YOU ALIVE that were built from the (synth) bass up. Strangeness.

Speaking of strangeness — I’ve been having some even stranger than usual musical dreams lately. The music doesn’t always stick around, but the weirdness does. Last night one dream involved Bill Evans and was sort of a fragmented documentary that revealed him to be a little eccentric. Each time he would lend a friend a CD (who knew CDs were around back in the ’60s?) and they would fail to return it, he would get another cat to symbolize that person. But he would attach these odd things like pillow case turtle shells to the cats and turn them upside-down so they wouldn’t be able to get away like the people and CDs did. He was also a big fan of Bob Dylan. Again, who knew?

It’s looking like the misfits collection is going to be finished a fair bit earlier than the album of new material, packaging and CD duplication/replication issues notwithstanding. I’m not sure if I should hold it back a bit and “release” them both at the same time or not. It would make for an interesting contrast. Something to think about.

I took the new songs down from Spyspace because the album is coming together at an accelerated rate and I don’t want to give any more hints about what it’ll sound like than I already have. It’s a bit of a change in direction, and it’s taken me by surprise. But I think it’ll be worth the wait. And now that I’ve got a taste for productivity again, I don’t plan on going another calendar year without something sneaking out into the world. Knowing I didn’t put out anything new in the entirety of 2007 hurts me more than you can know. I cry myself to sleep each night.

Well, not really. But it irritates me that factors outside of my control conspired to dampen my momentum for a while.

Barring a tragic haircutting accident that leaves me clean-cut and presentable (which would mean the end of life as we know it, obviously), I won’t be letting that happen again.