August 10, 2017

I used to post a lot more, I know. 


I was never really sure if anyone read these posts, unless people specifically wrote in after. But those emails often led to lots of small conversations, and it was a nice, safe way to feel connected to the thing I spend most of my time on. I've recoiled from that in the past few years. Not because I don't enjoy the interactions, because I do. I just found myself shying away after becoming more public about some parts of my life. Speaking up was cathartic in its way, and I don't regret it. But the truth is, I wasn't nearly done. Big events are often overwhelming and obvious in the moment, but I've always found the aftermath to be the real work. This has been no exception. Because despite some very big changes to find some space and peace in the past couple years, my life was still unstable, and I wasn't sure quite what to do with myself. 


What I didn't realize at the time was that I was in way over my head. I was bumping into things I couldn't logic my way through anymore, and all my old tricks for coping were coming up shy. I've wrestled with depression off and on since I was a teenager, so I knew that part, but the anxiety was new. So I sought therapy. I found some good clinical psychologists and started digging up all the things I'd buried, and dealing with my PTSD responses. We began pulling on threads that go all the way back to my birth. I'm still in the process, and likely will be for a long time, but it's working. Things are feeling simpler than they have in a long time, and the ground doesn't feel like it's always moving. I'm not going back to how things were, but finding a new normal. 


So I find myself wanting to write again. I'm curious to see how it will go this time around. 


When it comes to music, it's been interesting watching how I interact with it these days. Music has been a constant in my life since I seriously started playing guitar at 13. But thinking back on it, I never took any lessons or learned to read music, and I barely learned anyone else's songs. I learned two  from Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Come As You Are") right off, and that was about it. After that I started writing my own. They weren't very good for a long time, but from the beginning I wanted to write. Creating something new was the draw from the very beginning, and it still is mainly what I like to do. I've been touring more than I used to in the past 3 or 4 years -- still not a lot, I know! -- but I sometimes resent how often it pulls me away from writing. Same goes for aspects of my personal life. So after this short run of shows in October (the dates for the current tour and the one in October are in the "Shows" tab, should you wanna go), I'm going to stay off the road for a while and keep myself in one place. I write the most that way. 


On the writing side, I have a lot of new work forming. A good amount of it at the moment is instrumental. For years now I've wanted to work on film soundtracks. I like film and storytelling a lot, and I enjoy writing pieces directly for mood. So I've been building a portfolio. I'm not sure how much will come of it, but I'm learning and having fun regardless, so it's worth it to me. No matter the results. And since I am in Los Angeles a lot these days, I'm in a place to give it more of a go. So hey, why not? 


For Radical Face, I've got two EPs happening simultaneously. They both have very vague themes, but they are music driven themes instead of content driven. I plan on putting them both up in the Fall. And after that, I think I will begin a new full-length. I've got some seeds that are starting to grow, but I'm not gonna rush any of it. I figure once these EPs are done and up, I'll be ready to really dive in. And this short form stuff will give me a chance to explore some new sounds and methods without trying to keep a large work in my head. 


Another big project that's been eating some time is my studio. I put together a very proper recording space in Jacksonville over the past couple years, and I've decided I'm going to rent it out publicly. It's a big enough room, and for certain types of recording artists, I think it will work particularly well. Plus my house has extra bedrooms, and people could both live and work there when recording, which I think is ideal. Jeremiah Johnson, who plays guitar and piano for me on tour, is going to help me run it. He's a terribly good engineer, and we work together really well, so I proposed the idea to him earlier in the year and he's on board. So we're getting the last bit of insurance and licensing done, then we'll open the doors. I'll go into more details about the space once the website and paperwork is all finalized, but I think it's gonna be really cool. The space was designed by Lou Clark, and it sounds awesome. It's an atypical design, but really cool for people who like to work in one large, multi-functional space. And since I am not in Jacksonville nearly as often now, the studio will stay useful even when I'm not there, which I like. 


Beyond all that, I'm finding myself writing again. Fiction and essays, I mean. It's been a long time since that bug has bit me, but I'm happy it found me again. I've been writing out a skeleton for a fantasy book that's been kicking around in my head for a while. I don't know when I'll have a chance to really dig into it all, but when there's a will, and all that. 


As I sit here in my hotel room in Brussels, listening to the rain, Josh snoring in the bed behind me, nothing feels very complicated at the moment. I think feeling simple is worth more than anything to me these days, and I'm grateful any time it shows up. I hope you're all well, too.


-Ben