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12/12/12 (redundant dates are awesome)

Hi there. Couple of new snippets to post about here.

First off, my brother was nice enough to make me a little custom mailing list widget. It's up in the top right corner of the screen, if you'd like to join it. I occasionally send out bonus songs and stems and such through there, so if that sounds good and you don't mind me spamming you with info every couple months, then definitely sign up.

Next up, I added a couple shirts to the store (button up on the navigation bar). The first is just a Bear Machine label shirt. I have no idea if anyone would really want those, but I wanted to make a small run for fun. It's something I can wear and not feel like an asshole, which is nice. Hahaha.

But the second is the first in a series I'm doing called "The Artist Series." I know a lot of visual artists, both around town here in Jacksonville and elsewhere. For a long time I've wanted to commission them for some designs. I figured since I have a store now, why not do it as t-shirts? So what I'll be doing is, a few times a year I'll be printing a really short run of t-shirts, designed by different artists I know, and paying them with the profits. These will be limited runs, about 50 to 100 each, and when they're gone, that's it. No reprints. This current run is 100, to test the waters. I never even know if anyone wants this stuff, so my numbers are always a bit of a blind guess. We'll see.

The first one is up, and it's a design by Amber Vork. I met Amber while on the last Europe tour. We talked a bit and I complimented her on her shirt. She informed me that she'd made it herself, and then offered to make me one, which she did. This led me to see more of her work, which I liked, particularly this totem print she made (I have a soft spot for bears, if you haven't noticed). She offered to let me use it as part of this series, so that's the Totem shirt. You can check it out on the store. And if you'd like to see some more of her work, here's her website: http://ambervork.nl/

Also, these shirts will all be printed by a friend of mine here in Jacksonville. His name is JT, and he's really awesome with print and design. This is a picture of him looking awkward in front of his equipment, which he keeps in Rickolus's garage.

He also takes print work from people in general, so if you need someone in the North Florida area, or someone who can do smaller or more custom runs, send him a note. He's a good dude, and he's really good at what he does: JT@crooked-paw.com

Beyond that, I've been recording a lot on The Branches. It's taking on some new shapes, and some songs are going in ways I didn't quite expect. Which is really fun. I love how recording is always a little unpredictable to me. No matter how thoroughly I write a song, when I sit down to track it, there's always some mutations that happen. These have been a little more dramatic than I was expecting, but it's making all the material feel fresh again, so I'm not complaining.

But since I've been recording so much, I'm running into an issue with getting the Clone release together. The record is going to predominantly exist as a website, with narration videos to go along with all the songs and explain the content. I planned on putting these together myself, but it doesn't look like I'll have time if I'm gonna keep recording like this. So I'm just putting this out there: if there are any folks reading this that have an interest in animating some text for me, feel free to shoot me an e-mail with some work you've done. I'm not sure what'll be required for a project like this -- it's fairly simple, visually -- but it'd be pretty specific, and you'd have to work with me directly. It's all going into some gran design, so it has to fit. But if this is interesting to you and you think you'll have some free time over the next couple months, definitely send me a note.

And I guess that's good enough for now. I have other things kinda swimming around in my head, but it's all probably best left for the new year. So I hope everyone has a happy holiday, and that everyone is well.

November, 15, 2012

Hi, folks.

It's been a bit too long since I've posted. Time always slips away from me. I've been recording a lot for "The Branches", and once I get going I tend to tune out the world for a little while. I don't do well easing into it. But it's going really great. I'm happiest when I'm buried in a project like making an album. I think I'm at my most excited when these ideas I've had sitting around, sometimes for years, start forming into something specific, something I can play back, when it's no longer just rattling around in my head. I never get bored of the feeling. There's a thrill and satisfaction in it that I've never found anywhere else. I think it's why recording will always be my favorite part of all this.

But I have done a couple things recently I figured I should post about. First would be putting out this little Always Gold ep. At the moment, it's only available on itunes, but I'll be getting it in more spots soon. The ep is basically a collection of all the stragglers and alternate versions I've had from "The Roots" recording sessions -- a way to tie off everything from the first record. Some tracks were previously unreleased, and others you may have heard. But they're all available now in some form. From here on out, it'll be about the forthcoming "The Bastards: Volume 2" ep and "The Branches".

Beyond that, I also added a couple new videos to my YouTube channel. The first is a little live take of how I play "Ghost Towns" when it's just me and a guitar:

I also added another tutorial, this one for "Always Gold". I'm not real confident in my ability to explain finger picking, but I did my best with it:

I guess that's good for now. I'll have more news concerning the "Clone" release and a couple other little random bits, but for now I'm gonna get back to recording. I hope everyone is well.

September, 26, 2012

So as I mentioned in the last post, I made a video with some friends for Always Gold.

For the treatment, I really just wrote out what the song was about, and we shot that. My friend, Brian Guiry, who plays my brother in the video, was nice enough to let us take apart his house to film. Which was perfect, considering Brian's house was built about a hundred years ago and I was trying to avoid anything terribly modern (well ... as much as was reasonable). And he's never done anything with film before this, but he had no trouble jumping in and was really easy to work with. Thanks again for everything, Brian. Internet high-five. And thanks, as always, to Michael Walter and mark Hubbard, for giving up the time to film, and to Emeral and Brittany for helping with the setup and set design.

We shot the entire thing in two days. It cost about $50, and most of that cost just went to candles and firewood and that oil lamp. Granted, we were able to borrow all the camera equipment, and I realize that's a hell of a luxury. But all the props and such we already owned, so it didn't take much to put it all together.

One of these days I'm gonna have to shoot a video where we aren't filthy and sweaty the entire time. Hahaha.

I'm gonna upload some more guitar tutorials (Ghost Towns and Always Gold are next) and some little acoustic/live videos in the next week or so. But until then, I hope everyone is well.

September 20th, 2012

Hi there.

So it's been a while since I've posted. Sorry for the radio silence. I guess I took a vacation from everything. After the show at Landisfest (which was really fun, btw ... thanks for inviting me to that), I blew the money I made renting an apartment in a city where I didn't know anyone. I found a cheap, 200 square foot apartment in Vancouver and spent about 3 weeks walking around in solitude and writing in notebooks.

Ever since taking over the label side of things, things have been somewhat hectic. I've always handled everything when it came to making records, videos and artwork, and gladly. I may have started recording at home because it was the only way I could afford to do it, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the process, and I wouldn't give it up even if I had other avenues. But the business side of things has been its own learning process. I don't at all regret taking it on, but it's been a lot to figure, and since it's not something that I'm terribly natural at, it has taken a lot of time and attention to sort it all.

So I cut off of everything for a little bit. Just spent some time not talking to anyone or checking e-mails or having a properly functioning phone. I had time to really think about this next record without distraction, to clarify where I'm at and where I'm headed with these next projects, and to simply think. It was awesome. I'm clear-headed and excited again. I know what this next album is going to sound like now, because I had time to let it stew in my head without interruption. And I also realize that I'm really damn lucky to be able to do all this on a whim. Not to imply that it was a smart use of money, because it wasn't, but the fact that I can just wander off somewhere without worry about, say, getting fired is not lost on me. Normally silly decisions like these have more consequences than having to catch up on tons of e-mails and apologize to a few people for disappearing.

I'll stop there. I've had a lot of time to just sit in my own head, so I'll spare you all the asinine musings. I think I also learned that there is such thing as having too much time inside your own head. Hahaha.

Anyway, I'm home now. I'll be catching up with folks over the next couple weeks. And all the projects are back on track. So ...

Clone: The intention was to have this out in fall, but it's looking like it'll have to be January. We are not doing anything very traditional with this record, like printing CDs or Vinyl (though, Vinyl may happen later if there's enough interest), and the manufacturing is going to take longer than expected. I also have a lot of narration videos to put together for the Clone website, and it will at least take me a couple months. So the date is now end of January. But we're committed to that one, so there shouldn't be any more delays.

Radical Face: The Branches is now the only thing I'm recording until it's done. I've already recorded 5 or 6 songs for this album, but I'm going to scrap those recordings (minus one). I'm keeping the songs, but I know how I want them to be produced now. It's not drastically different, but it's different enough that I want to start fresh.

I also shot a video for Always Gold, which will be up shortly. I'll write more about this when it's posted, but I really like how it came out. I'm pretty much just shooting the story of the songs in these videos, which has been it's own challenge. But I like how it came out.

As always, I have more to say here, but my friend Mark (the guy I shoot all these videos with) is getting married this week and I gotta get to the rehearsal dinner. I will post more now that I'm home. I hope everyone is well.

July 17th, 2012

Okay. Everything is back in order now. The forum is no longer broken, and all the download links should be functioning now. And my e-mails are up and running again. But I am really behind. Gonna start my catch up mission this week, but it always takes me a little while to get things back in order, and unfortunately some messages just kinda fall through the cracks. If you sent me an e-mail and didn't get a response, feel free to send it again. You aren't bothering me. I need reminders.

The current sale in the webstore will cease on Friday. Just wanted to give folks a heads up on that.

Beyond that, me and my friends are shooting another no-budget-video over the next two weeks for "Always Gold". It's a simple concept (just following the content of the song, really), but I never know how videos are going to turn out. We've done a fair amount of them at this point, but I go back to feeling unsure with each one. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just because of all the variables with video. I'm never sure if the ideas I have on paper will translate properly, and whether the mood will be right. But I guess we'll see.

Also, Clone is coming together well, as far as getting it ready for release is concerned. Much of the design is now worked out. Just looking for a mastering engineer to finish off the audio, finding a manufacturer to make everything, and working on all the additional content that goes with the album (there's a lot). And The Branches is under way as well. I can never say how long it will take me to finish a record, but I have this one more sorted out than I normally do, so I suspect it won't take me nearly as long as it normally does. But again, we'll see.

More soon. I hope everyone is well.

July 12, 2012

First things first: I somehow broke my e-mail. I'm working out the details now, but I'm not receiving any messages, and I have no idea if my outgoing are arriving. I guess it has something to do with pointing my domain name to a new server. I'm working on the answer now, but please bear with me for a little bit. I don't entirely know what I'm doing.

That being said ...

Show Update: I will be playing my first ever show in Canada. I was asked to play at Landis Fest, and since I was planning on visiting Vancouver for a little while anyway, it just kind of coincided. The show will be on August 3rd, and it's on VanEeerden farms near Grand Prairie, Alberta. I won't have a band with me, so it'll mostly be an acoustic affair (read: pretty boring to most people ... hahaha), but my friend from Jacksonville who plays bassoon in the orchestra is gonna come. We've made arrangements for 4 songs so far, and they're different from how I'd normally play them, but I like them a lot. Bassoon is an awesome instrument. Anyway, I have no idea if the show will be any good, but if you're in the area and decide to go, come say hello.

Clone: So we're all done with the album and looking to get it mastered next week. It'll be the next release on my label (Bear Machine Records), and will be avilable in fall. I will have more details as we go, but for now I have a little teaser video put up. It's just the first 3 minutes of the first act, but it'll give you a small idea of how the record will sound (though, to be honest, it really goes all over the place).

I also added an Electric President song to my youtube channel, with some words to go along with it. This is a song that was never widely released, but was made for the Japan Tsunami Relief in 2011. Since I'd never done much with it, I figured I'd upload it, and add the lyrics for fun.

I also have some more tutorials and little live videos coming soon. But first I gotta fix this broken e-mail.

I hope everyone is well.

July 11th, 2012

So the new website is finally up! Took a little longer than expected, which I should learn to expect. But it was worth the extra work. This new one is going to be so much easier to keep up with. My brother coded it for me, and added tons of nifty features that make updating it really simple. And I think it's a much better organization of all the info. If you'll notice the buttons on the left, the news sections is now divided into years to avoid it being the ridiculous tower of text it was before. And embedding players and photos is much simpler, and I can even update from my phone if I need to. Not that I really use my phone very much. But I could. Future.

I put up some new stuff for download. If you check the Radical Face section under the music tab, I added a zip of the Junkyard Chandelier to my server. It's technically the first Radical Face record, though I never actually released anywhere. Figured I might as well give it away, since folks sometimes ask me for it. I also have the Unkle Stiltskin record up (it's under "other") and the first Patients album available. Some songs are also downloadable from the embedded soundcloud players, so check those as well.

New to the site are the "Videos" and "Lyrics" sections. Well, technically I had a lyrics section on the former site, but it never had any lyrics. Now it does. I only have the full-length records for Electric President and Radical face up right now, but I'll add more as I get time. I'd like it to eventually be a database of all the songs. Same with the videos section. It'll give me a way to compile them all in one place, which would be nice even for my own sake.

My brother is currently working on coding me a player for the site. It'll be a little side bar music player, and I'm just gonna add all the music I've made to it. So while on the site, you can listen to any of it. I will also be able to make songs downloadable from the player, which will be nice. We hope to get that up in a couple weeks. The code for it seems a little complicated. Also, RSS feed will be back in shortly, as well as an easier way to sign up for the mailing list.

Since I was updating he site, my sister went ahead and updated the store. W went through all my inventory recently and found some boxes of records and shirts that I forgot I had, and we thought it'd be fun to do a little sale. So for the next week or so, everything is ten bucks. Vinyls, CDs, shirts, whatever. But some of these are really short supply, like the vinyls for Ghost, Sleep Well and S/T -- I only have about 9 left of each. But now's a good time to grab them if you're interested.

I have more to add, but I'm dozing off. I'll do another update tomorrow. Because updating is now super easy. Long live new things, until something even newer comes along.

I hope everyone is well.

June 14th, 2012:

Hi, Folks.

Sorry for the radio silence. Between moving, making some new furniture, working on the new record, working on two music videos and rebuilding this here website, I've been losing my mind a little bit. But I'm almost done with the new website, at least. I made a much simpler, more minimal design that'll be easier to update. And my little brother is coding it this time around, instead of myself, so it will function a hell of a lot better. Some of the features I want to include will have to wait a little while, as the code is a little complicated, but the basic site should be finished and published next week. I'll post some actual content then.

So I guess this is just a post about why I haven't been posting. How meta.

I hope everyone is well. More soon.

April 6th, 2012:

So it's been a while since I've posted. Sorry about that. The beginning of this year was really busy. Or it felt like it, at least. In some ways, I'm much busier when I'm home, but I've found I'm not real good at juggling all my normal projects while being in and out of town. It's good to be done, though. I don't mind touring from time to time, but I'm happiest just writing and recording and making videos and such. Once I'm done figuring out my taxes (almost finished!), that's exactly how the rest of my year is gonna be spent. It'll be a good year or so before I really consider any more touring. I might do a couple one-off shows, but no more than that for a while.

That being said, thank you to everyone who came out to the shows. I realize that performing isn't exactly my strong suit (I'm a pretty sloppy musician, even at my best), but I hope that people at least had fun. That's the main goal for me when doing shows. While in Europe, Laura (my friend who did merch for me) was kind enough to shoot a bunch of photos. I never remember to shoot any, so it was a nice change. I did my best to take pictures while in Japan, though. I've been uploading some these to a new Tumblr over the afternoon. I'm gonna try using it as a photo blog, since I can update it easier when I'm not home. Here's a link to that:

Tumblr

Also, while in Japan, I wound up shooting a lot of video with the video-mode on my point and shoot camera. I did this a lot more than shooting photos. I was itching to make something with it when I got back, so I cut it into a video for "Feathers" from the last Electric President record. It works both as a music video and a little tour documentation. Here's a link if you wanna see it:

I'm in a video making mood lately. I have a few new ones that I'm gonna be shooting this month. One of them is another Electric President video. I bought some toy video cameras while in Japan, and I wanna shoot a video with them for Safe and Sound with them. One of the cameras doesn't even have a view finder, and they're both really tiny. But the footage on them is pretty awesome. The second video will be for "Always Gold" from The Roots and will be more of a production. I have a treatment written out based on the story of the song, and we'll be shooting that pretty soon. I just have to get some clothing and props together and we should be ready to go.

As for new plans, I'm gonna be focusing on The Branches now. I plan on having it all wrapped up before the year is out, but we'll see. I'm terrible at predicting these things. Also, Clone will be released this year. I'm getting all the material for the presentation of it together now, and I will be posting a preview of the album shortly. I've posted about the Clone project before, so see former entries for that info, but I'm excited to finally show people this. I had no idea it would take this long to see it released, but I never do.

So that's really it. Make videos, release Clone, finish The Branches. Oh, and our film! Me and a the guys I make music videos recently finished shooting out movie. I wrote a script in 2010, and it took us about a year and a half to film it all (we thought it would take 3 weekends ... ha). We are now in post production for it, finally beginning to really edit and color and all that. Me, Emeral (my brother, other member of Iron Orchestra), and my friend Anthony (who plays in the Jacksonville Orchestra) are writing the score for it as well. We'd like to have it totally wrapped up before Autumn, but I'll be happy if we finish before the year's out. I still have no idea if the movie's even gonna be any good, but it's been a really fun project. And stressful. But mostly fun.

So yeah, that's it. Back home and starting to really move on new work. Oh, and for those who have been asking, Electric President is not a dead project. We're going to do one more album. It likely won't be until next year, but we haven't called it quits yet. We've just been on hiatus.

I'll update more soon. Unless I have nothing to add or say. I hope everyone is well.

January 17th, 2012:

Well, it's a new year. Congrats on making it this far. We're still alive.

I've been waiting for a little while to post, mostly because of my curse. I don't know if I've ever mentioned my curse, but whenever I have some shows coming up, something happens to me. I'm not sure if I cause it because I'm trying to be conscious of my health before I leave, or whether I just have bad luck. But I always end up getting sick, losing my voice, injuring myself, etc. This time, it's an injury.

I hurt my back almost 12 days ago lifting at the gym. This isn't terribly uncommon. I did some severe damage to lower back when I was 19 and determined to become a professional skateboarder. I fell from a high ledge onto my tailbone and rearranged some important parts. That ended my skating career promptly and, 11 years later, I still deal with it. I got into strength training in 2008, and go to the gym 3 nights a week. It's what I do for stress relief, and to help deal with insomnia. It's been a huge help ever since I started. But about once a year, mostly due to negligence or carelessness, my form slips during a heavy lift and it puts me out for a while. All it takes is a bad squat, deadlift, or in this case, an overhead press. The mistakes are always obvious in hindsight. But even so, I'm typically back to normal in about a week. 10 days at the most. I must have done something particularly bad this or time, or perhaps I'm just getting old, because it's been almost 2 weeks and I still can't be on my feet for more than half an hour before the pain/cramps get bad. And I gotta fly out in 2 days.

I'm still doing this tour. No worries there. I'm just explaining all this because I may have to play seated, and I think it might be a painful couple of weeks. So it goes.

Beyond that, I've been waiting on the holiday dust to settle. And it has. I'm forming all my plans for the year.

First off, The Roots is going to be more readily available in Europe, Australia and the UK starting at the end of the month. I set up a licensing deal with Nettwerk Records in Europe so I can have more proper distribution over there. It won't effect me creatively at all (I'm not willing to give up any creative control at this point), or me running things myself. I'm still releasing everything under Bear Machine Records, I'm just partnering with Nettwerk for distribution not on this continent (similar to working with Lirico for distribution in Japan). It just means I won't have to personally deal with customs for shipping, and it'll be cheaper and faster for everyone involved. And the cool thing is I'm taking very little hits financially for this as well. It's a great deal.

So the record will have better availability outside of the US come the end of this month. It's a load off for me. I'm kind of stumbling through this process of releasing things myself, and I can say I've learned a whole lot in the past 6 months. I've made my mistakes as well (thanks for bearing with me, those who've had to), but I try to remember the mistakes are important too. They're often the best teachers.

And on that tip, vinyl is finally should be coming soon. I don't have the official date for the pressings yet, but the last test pressing sounded good, the artwork is in, and we're just waiting on the finished product now. Next record, I will be able to have it all done on time. But I guess I had to trial and error through this one. I've learned more about vinyl than I ever expected to, though, and I have that much more appreciation for the craft as a result.

I also wanted to share some things in relation to these new records. For these Family Tree albums, I have a lot of notes and stories and little knickknacks associated with the project. For example, some of these songs I also wrote in short story form, where I went into more depth. I've already shared this one with some folks (either through the forum, or the web store), but figured I would post it here as well. It's for the song Severus and Stone (and for those who bother to read it ... there's a clue somewhere in it).

Here's a link to the PDF

I plan to post more of these stories soon. I just need to edit them. I've also just added a little live acoustic video to my youtube channel.

It's a murder ballad I wrote, and it's a part of the Family Tree set. I'm gonna start shooting little videos like these from time to time, just as a way to document some of the simpler live arrangements I make. And I am still doing the tutorials. I just haven't had a lot of time to edit them down, but I've got a few more filmed. Once I'm done with this tour, I will have free time again and can be faster about getting them up. Winter Is Coming, Deserter's Song and Ghost Towns are the next 3 coming up.

Now Clone. Because of touring and trying to be a label, I still haven't had time to get this in order yet. So me and Rick talked it over and felt like April would be the best time to put it out. 3 months later than originally intended, but I want the time to do it right. The presentation for the record, due to it's odd nature, will take some work. So I'm sorry for the delays on that. I feel like I've been talking about this record for three years now. Probably because I have. Hahaha.

There's something else I'm forgetting. Which seems to happen damn near every time. You know when you have, say, a long mental list of books you want to get, but right when you get the bookstore you can't remember any of them? That's how I feel about this here page. I always have all these things I think I want to cover, then forget them when I sit down to write. So I guess I'll stop here, and if it comes to me before I leave, I will update again. If not, I'll do it when I get back.

I hope everyone is well. And if any of you reading this are coming out to any shows to watch me limp around, come say hello. No need to be shy. I'm harmless. I promise.