This past Saturday was like most in the Summer of 2020, this Covid Summer: hot and humid, Saturday Morning roads a buzzing with trailers and boats, nothing to do anywhere. So we have taken to long rides, good coffee and a playlist that gets created Saturday Morning.
I am always in charge of the Playlist, but serve up a helping of what makes my Girl tap her foot. Oddly more often Boy Rock like Janes, Rage, Soundgarden. She is a girl too. Despite this.
It is a team effort.
My own Saturday selection tend to run the gamut of British Glam and of course, some Goats. And a selection of what came out new that week, whatever it may be.
When you meet someone that you are supposed to meet, like in a real and lasting sense, you notice that as time goes by you tend to pick up on the musical history of your mate. Because everyone wants to hear something that makes them happy, makes them shake, even makes them sad.
It is personal. But if you spend enough time with someone, you find yourself being drawn into those same reactions.
And one of those reaction, which can not be underestimated, calculated, figured is joy.
So this past Saturday I set up my list and included some LCD Soundsystem. Julie and Carmen tuned me on to them when I still assumed that they were something I would not care for. And yes, assumed they were British.
LCD is outside of any style of music that I have taken on. Its dance music, with a real working brain…but the dance music aspect I could not wrap my mind around. It was like a buzzing all around me: a quick song caught in the kitchen, a song that popped up on Sirius….and when I would hear it, the reaction was the same: WTF Is that? (the only other band I had this same reaction too was TuneYards. Whenever something would pop up that I loved and was scared by, it was always TuneYards.)
So I downloaded the LCD Soundsystem final show, the MSG show that I would NOW kill a man to see. At the time I was unfortunately blissfully unaware.
But Julie was there. She was there and had the still pefect T Shirt to prove it. She was there.
So tripping our way through the Niantic area a song came on and she turned it up loud. Real Loud. The car shook. And the song began….
It was the live version of ‘North American Scum’ with additional assistance of Arcade Fire screaming along to the chorus. It was enthralling. Incredible. The road washed out around me as I just let go and whooped along.
It was pure joy of music too loud. It was the actual Bliss of brilliant song and brilliant band, at the tip top of their absolute magic and powers.
It shook me with how beautiful life is. How lucky I am to hear this song on this day. The genuine thrill of being genuinely scared by music.
The windows came down and Julie drove faster and faster. The world around seemed to slow. There was nothing but Julie and Me taking off for unknown galaxies in a little blue rocket.
I remembered what I should remember every day: This is what we get. Guard your bliss with more passion than you guard your money.
A gracious and salutary ….ummm.. salutation to you, Cursive Cabal.
I hope this note finds you fat with money, free with love and a good meal awaiting you. With the Gods. Or your Dogs.
So today, as we slide from post apocalypse plagues to a newer (and yet far older) apocalypse, we are here to discuss voids.
Let’s call it March. 3 Months and change and everything went upside down. A world most of us never expected…and the ones who did expect are SUCH a drag to hang out with.
90 days. 2100 Hours.
So what did you do with your void? Empty space fills the bowl that one held hilarity, kicks, communion … and we are on our own.
Did you gain weight? Knowledge? Has familiarity bred contempt? Catch any new shows?
I was getting busy when the quarantine hit. I lost Hogan and knew that if I did not get my head together quick…well, I had no idea what that result would be. After the ceremonies, Julie and I got down to it, building the beats, laying down tracks upon tracks, gittin’ all fancy. Guitars added, guitars subtracted, Julie building big brassy counterpoints and high infections of melody.
Because we can dream and we can build, it gives us control. We can spit frustration into a vocal, over-distort the guitar and then do it again, learn bass.
And when you’re done…. there is still the void.
My concept of how to make money making music was probably outdated before I picked up a guitar. The main thrust of it was ‘get out there!’ But that was never my …. desire. It all came back to the lifelong argument Dave and I would have.
He said that if you play everywhere, and are good, people will know you and you can build a following.
I said that you will burn out in the bars before you ever get heard and there has to be a better way. A better mousetrap.
The debate rages still, now more piquant as the venues are gone. As is D.H.
And everyone is experimenting with building better mousetraps game now.
Look beyond this day, this year, and know someday this will be regarded as a truly creative period for art.
A State Enforced Renaissance.
We reach out how we can. Social networking is just too convenient and too easy, which is why it is absolutely over-saturated with everyone everywhere.
It is also a true gut check for the times that you pour your heart into something and it gets overshadowed by a particularly cool cat pic
But Fuck. Life is hard all over. Especially these days. Let us not carry things without weight.
And if the Gods are kind and the cats are ugly, maybe you can be heard.
So…what have Cursive is Code done with their Void?:
Songs: Follow the link to check out the available Cursive is Code songs on Soundcloud. This is 4 songs…and I think a few more will be added and this will be available for purchase. Like the songs if you like, love us if you like love (?):
Hey You! Yes YOU! You in the glasses! (that was just for me)
Yes I have a great opportunity, big payouts, we finally take down ‘The Man’. Just you and Me and a couple hundred thousand friends. We’re gonna cabal the night away.
That’s why you don’t see this blog anywhere else. This is just for Us. Shhhhhh….. You may note from my usual method of screaming ‘PAY ATTENTION TO ME!’, this ain’t that. Sure, I will post on walls (even a bathroom walls but the number always gets wiped away…) feeds, pages… if I wasn’t so lazy I would post bills and hang flyers….but going out side is so 2019.
Nope, its just us now. So chilllll…relax…let me drop some knowledge. This is the birth of the Cursive Cabal.
So…if your reading this….you’re interested in what I have to say. And if you read any of my previous blogs, you will note I’m not exactly a deep thinker. This will continue that grand tradition. But…more honest. Cause I am among friends here.
So….Cursive is Code. This is the new band, this is my new Magnetic North, this could be the last band. Who knows, right? Cause not all the members of this band will make the record. If you read this before, you know exactly what I mean.
Here is the tale: So when Grimm kicked the bucket, I decided to follow my expected route of Singer Songwriter sensitive heartbreak route. And I brought in Grimm Cello player Julie Kay to help me. I never discussed this before, but she helped me beyond any expectation I had. It wasn’t simply the beautiful playing or the Astral Weeks style bass thing she brought (which ticked off one of my musical fantasies). She was playing hurt. She was scheduled for a surgery…and she came down to the basement and sat uncomfortably, in genuine pain…and would grin and bare it.
If I had…if I was better at being human….would I suggest she not come, not put herself through excess pain? I can say we don’t know…I can also say it made no difference at all cause she was going to come anyway. She believed in what we were doing. She believed in Me. She would work her way down the stairs to sit in my bachelor pad (which looked a lot like a 13 year old’s basement except more cheesy keyboards…I think that was captured in a video somewhere….) or take a trip out to Collinsville to work on some songs with old music mate Adam Hagymasi, who did about half of everything on that record. If it wasn’t an E Bow (That’s Hogan) or fumbly acoustic (Moi), everything else was Adam. But Julie would take these trips with us while we worked out the basic tracks.
The record turned out good. I still have some free downloads if you want one.
This was….or wasn’t…I cant be sure…when I fell in love with Julie Kay. We did not connect till about a year later. And…Wow. We grew much closer. And live happily.
Anyway….yes, this is more honest…more deep .. than I expected to go…
So, a Misery Monkey like myself, now all flush on new love… time for my next record. I mean…I live with my band! (Julie) It was a test of my theory that writers write best when mostly miserable. And I was right! Unfortunately…
I was blocked. New happiness made no songs. And I somehow wised up to the fact that forced unhappiness is just dumb, dumb, dumb. Look around now. You just never know.
So I lived happily…and even the anguish of not creating abated a bit. We formed a band based on the acoustic sound, played some shows, had some fun. I was writing new songs but I just could not get motivated to do something with them.
Meanwhile….a bit of history. Dave Hogan and I started together in our first band….and played together from project to project the entre time I knew him. Our musical tastes were different…and always had been since age 20….but we came together on a mutual love of vintage guitar rock and British Glam. So Humble Pie….Mott The Hoople…Black Sabbath….BOC…..despite the time and tides of projects and bands, the friendship was based on these fundamentals. I don’t mean that to sound tribute or light…sure we came together on a few bands and differed in so many ways…but the way we loved these bands was zealous. Religious.
And we had an often discussed plan, a goal. One more BIG rock band with me and him. He always wanted to just be a musical director in some project…and I wanted to re-use the voice I cam up singing with, less croon, more rock.
So I took this to heart and started writing again. It was not easy. It was Karma. I was always fortunate that I could write on a dime. It was my Super Power. Sure not every song was ‘It’s Alright Ma I’m Only Bleeding’ but I could attach a half formed thought with a half formed melody and shake some shit up. Not this time.
I had my concept. I wanted to write a series of songs reflecting Dave’s and my coming up through the local music ranks. Targeting specific gigs, specific experiences. The significance of this to me was that all these tales turn quaint when balanced against the entire industries apple cart getting upset by the Internet. All the old plans, the old expected results, the long time argument tween Dave and I if excessive gigging helps or hurts…. I had my concept. And dug into it.
It was rough. I will say that I had to return to rhyming dictionaries. I had to try every trick suggested on every writing site. In time…it came. It did not break out like a dam; it trickled like a stream but still filled the record.
It was not just the band concept I was working with…I also had the excitement of being happy and in love…so those songs were written right along.
So I bought an electric guitar and Julie played keyboards. Did I know Julie could play Keyboards? Not at all. Can she play? Like a MotherFucker.
Then a year in the desert looking for musicians. I had not done this…actually my only experience doing this was Grimm…. And CC and I muse that we still don’t know how we got so many people involved, taking trips out to Windsor and making something beautiful. This time was less successful, more anguish and wholly disappointing. EXCEPT….We found Dan. Dan plays bass, as well as banjo, classical guitar….and most important, was good fun to play with.
But the record was not getting made. No drummer. I worked on it with my vintage Korg Dr Rhythm Drum Machine (favored on RUN DMC’S biggest hits) and made a few tracks’, but others were beyond my rhythmic imagination.
Enter Julie, with yet another unknown talent on display: beat maker. After we upgraded the keyboard, out of frustration more than a plan, she started coming up with beats and we started recording properly. And it worked.
With unexpected results. The songs were danceable. I never created anything danceable unless you count bouncing uncontrollably as dance. Also….after working exclusively with acoustic for years…I was really digging the Electro Sound. It sounded vintage to a scene I never listened too. This was Julie influence. She opened me up to sound and brought those sounds right home to Deep River.
So now….Hogan. Weapon X (he would appreciate the comparison). And I sent him the tracks with a note on the envelope that exclaimed ‘Our Mott The Hoople Dreams contained within’.
And I was too late. And I will never forgive myself.
But Hogan was more than a friend and a stunt guitar player. He was a Saint. I never would have conceived of that when we were kids. But going to his funeral…the pure Love of all of his friends, the real heartbreak of losing a cat before his time. This record became important. Cause these songs were written with him in mind, his style, his background vocals. Based on experiences he and I both lived through…and lived with.
We often had discussion of we were just both legitimately crazy still chasing this same dream when every conceivable outlet turned against us. We always reached the same conclusion: We were.
I miss him every day.
Anyway….so back to Julie and Me and the record. We dug in….I played more guitar, more than I ever thought I was capable of….Julie brought out the strings and horns from the Juno….and we started crafting what would be and currently is Cursive is Code. The name came from a late night conversation tween Julie and Me of how generation of kids no longer recognize, much less can write, Cursive. That made it feel like a secret language, something shared among those who know.
Happy New Year, ya filthy bustards (it’s a type of bird and now I have taught you something).
I am a simple machine. I am the definition of sanity in so much as I do the same things over and over and make them fly.
Did I get that right? No, I did not.
So here we are at the precipice of what started this blog in the first place. If you are not aware what that means, start at the first Blog and wit till you get here.
I’ll wait. Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo. Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo.
(Sing along at home! the words are Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo…..)
So here I am home recording a record. A theme record. Even a concept record though the concept is loose and filled with holes. So theme.
As you can recall from just rereading every Blog I produced (you did, right? Right?? RIGHT????) that this Blog came about to take my mind off of making a record. It was a heavy record for me, emotionally, not sonically.
And when I did what people of my ilk do (record a heartbreak record and hide for three years), it was satisfying. A good record too. I’m proud of it. I had one goal for that record: I wanted someone to hear it and understand the wild weeds of how I really felt, I wanted to help someone, to let someone know that they were not alone. And I did get that.
And I should have made the goal mansions and brand new cars. Live and learn.
And then I sunk into the luxury of living a good life. I’m dumb but quite happy. She makes my planet spin and also plays a mean piano.
I always felt my own misery was my muse. I feel like I found myself in situations which would make me miserable and then all the good words flow out. It works too.
At what point though do you need to drive that particular muse to a bus stop and let them go? (See.. that is JpK fun cause a lot of that record was written on busses. I’m so fun. Look it at me. I’m fun.)
Anyway…. Right, New Years Misery. Got it.
And by reading this you recognize that this whole process starts again. I did not create this blog as a marketing tool. Though should have. Its medicine.
And here we go again. New record that I have been sitting on has started recording, and again in a similar format to the last: obsession and excess headphone equalizing.
And when I follow myself up that path up my own bum, I will come here and complain, cajole, or worship.