So I’ve gone and booked some tours. Well, not technically true. Some agents booked a tour for me. But either way, I am touring.
You may have noticed that I don’t tour often. If I am honest, it is not my favorite part of being a musician. I think people assume I’m shy (I’m not) or have stage fright (I don’t), but it really has nothing to do with the shows themselves. Playing songs for people is often really fun. It’s just everything that surrounds touring — the lifestyle of it — I am not very built for.
On the physical side, I’ve been plagued by back problems since I was 19 and tried to film a “sponsor me” video for skateboarding. I fell from a 4 foot ledge onto my tailbone and haven’t been the same since. Which is why I have to play seated at shows. I don’t prefer playing that way at all, but I do it as a safety, so if my back is all jacked up from sitting in a van for 8 hours a day I can still perform. I also have insomnia problems on a good day, so put me on the road in a different bed every night and I can have sleep problems pretty quick.
And then there’s my little ol’ voice. I recently went to a voice doctor in Los Angeles and they put a camera down my nasal cavity and into my throat, and I finally learned why I lose my voice so easily. I have a type of paralysis in one of my vocal chords. I only have about 15% mobility on the left side. This is not new. I have likely had this since I was pretty young and wasn’t taken to a doctor for a throat infection and permanent damage was done. As such, I have always been a quiet speaker and have really low projection. Of all the things I do musically, singing is the one I have fought for the most. I had very little natural ability for it, and it is what I have to practice the most. But what I learned from this vocal doctor is that I use a lot of neck muscles to speak and sing, much more than most people, so when I talk too much, push too hard or don’t get enough rest/sleep, I lose my voice because my neck tires out. Weird! But I was really happy to learn all of this. It helps me plan for this next bit of touring in a way I’ve never been able to before, because I didn’t know what was happening.
And lastly, I think I’ve always struggled with the monotony of touring. I’m happiest doing creative work, and touring is all about repetition. It might appear like touring is the more exciting part of music, but when I am home and working on projects, every day is different. I never quite know what I’m going to be doing, and I really love that. On tour, almost every day is the same. You actually have to work really hard to repeat yourself! Hahaha.
So this time around, I’m doing it all different. The dates have all been broken into smaller chunks — each 2 -3 weeks with breaks — so that I can put creative work in between each outing. We spent time working on the routing so getting 7 hours of sleep a night is actually feasible. And we scheduled more days off in between so I can have bursts of quiet time and not lose my voice. I think it’s going to make a big difference. And I’ve also come to realize that a lot of this is in my outlook. I’m looking at these tours as a way to gather stories, write a lot in my notebooks, read all the books I have not been able to find time for lately, and finally play some Switch games.
And I am also reconnecting with why we do this. Go to shows, I mean. I sometimes forget the communal aspect of music. It has mostly been a private affair for me. So much of my relationship with music has been in headphones — listening to mixtapes on a bus as a teenager going to the library, or sitting on the shore in the evenings and listening to albums. And then I make records alone for the most part. So it’s most often just been a place to figure out what the hell is going on with me emotionally. Some kind of internal mirror that I learned about myself with. But music can also be a shared experience, and unite people instead of just comfort them. I never went to that many shows growing up, so I forget this. But I’ve been asking friends and colleagues what they see in shows, and their answers have been a really nice reminder. It’s giving touring a greater sense of purpose beyond “I guess I’m supposed to.”
Wow. That was much more than I thought I had to say! Well, here are the actual dates, for those who are interested in coming out.
07/11/2019 - Norway, Oslo - Parkteatret
08/11/2019 - Sweden, Stockholm - Södra Teatern
09/11/2019 - Denmark, Copenhagen - Hotel Cecile
11/11/2019 - Germany, Hamburg - Gruenspan
12/11/2019 - Germany, Berlin - Lido
14/11/2019 - Germany, Munich - Ampere
16/11/2019 - Italy, Milan - Santeria Social Club
17/11/2019 - Switzerland, Baden - Royal
19/11/2019 - Germany, Frankfurt - Mousonturm
20/11/2019 - Germany, Cologne - Kulturkirche
22/11/2019 - Netherlands, Amsterdam - Paradiso
23/11/2019 - Belgium, Brussels - AB
24/11/2019 - France, Paris - Cafe de la Danse
26/11/2019 - UK, London - Union Chapel
28/11/2019 - UK, Manchester - Gorilla
29/11/2019 - Ireland, Dublin - Whelans
NORTH AMERICA - WEST:
1/21/2020 - Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom
1/22/2020 - Tucson, AZ - 191 Toole
1/25/2020 - Denver, CO - Gothic Theatre
1/26/2020 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
1/28/2020 - Vancouver, BC - St. James Hall
1/29/2020 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre
1/30/2020 - Portland OR Wonder Ballroom
2/1/2020 - San Francisco, CA - August Hall
2/2/2020 - Sacramento, CA - Harlow's Restaurant and Nightclub
2/5/2020 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
2/6/2020 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
2/7/2020 - Pomona, CA - The Glass House
NORTH AMERICA - EAST:
2/26/2020 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line
2/28/2020 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall
2/29/2020 - Detroit, MI - El Club
3/1/2020 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
3/3/2020 - Pittsburgh, PA - Rex Theater
3/4/2020 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club
3/6/2020 - Montreal, QC - L'Astral
3/7/2020 - Boston, MA - The Sinclair
3/8/2020 - Brooklyn, NY - Elsewhere Hall
3/11/2020 - Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live: Downstairs
3/12/2020 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
3/14/2020 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
3/15/ 2020 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
And if you are coming out, and there’s anything you would specifically like me to play, feel free to comment or send me an email. I build set lists out of what people want to hear. I am not the one buying a ticket — I firmly believe shows are for the audience — so I never add more than two songs I personally want to play into a set. Now, how I play that song is up to me. I don’t try to recreate recordings live and like to rethink them each time. But I very much want to know what to add in the first place.
Beyond touring, another little tidbit I’d like to cover today is the “Ghost: Anniversary Edition.”
I recently got the rights to Ghost back. And what that means is I can now print the album myself, whenever and however I want, and I can release it through my label that I co-own, Bear Machine Records. And since I knew it was returning to me, I wanted to do something special with it. At first I was just gonna add some bonus recordings and artwork, but I wound up going much further.
Where this first started was with the live renditions of some songs. I have been playing some of them, like Winter Is Coming and Wrapped In Piano Strings, for over ten years now, and I like to change songs as I go. Some of them have taken on very different shapes because of this. If you’ve ever seen the live version of “Along The Road”, you’d know it only really shares melodies and chords at this point, and reads more like a shoegaze track. So I decided to record these versions. I got all the members of the live band to come play their parts on Wrapped In Piano Strings, Glory, Along The Road and Winter Is Coming. But once I got that far, I realized I had alternate versions of other songs, like a string version of “Asleep On a Train” and an acoustic version of “Sleepwalking.” So I went ahead and remade the entire album with alternates of various styles.
This edition with be released as a double vinyl. The original album was remastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, and then there’s a second disc of 12 new recordings. And I really shouldn’t say remastered here. The original version of Ghost was never mastered at all. I just did the leveling on my mixes as best I could and put it out that way. A fun thing about mastering is that it brings out details that were formerly a bit buried, so while it’s not a new mix, it can feel larger and more panoramic. And I think that’s what happened here. Greg Calbi did a great job with it.
For an example of one of these new versions, I went ahead and put up the orchestral version of Welcome Home on my youtube channel.
This arrangement was done by my partner, Josh Lee. I played the piano and mixed it, but the rest was all him. Josh has been playing strings most of his life, and it was really cool to hear a version of the song arranged by someone who really knows the instruments. I think he might have a future in arranging.
But yeah, the Anniversary Edition will come out this fall. I’m getting the final word on the vinyl production now. When I have the dates I’ll be sure to post them.
Beyond that, I also recently produced an album for someone, and I have begun tracking my next full length, called “Into The Woods”, among other new projects. So there is a lot more to talk about! But I think I have gone on long enough for one post.
I hope everyone is well.