Sorry for the late post! The past week has been crazy for me, and here's why. Music is my other creative pursuit besides writing. I play drums and synthesizer for a crappy little band called We Fight Bears. The "band" is more a revolving group of old high school buddies that I get together with once a year and record high-quality versions of demos we exchange via the internet. Think of us as a shitty version of The Postal Service. Even that, I think, is too self-congratulatory.
Anyway, I was in the studio with We Fight Bears last week and part of this week. Instead of paying for actual studio time, we rented a gorgeous cabin in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Amish country) and brought our own equipment. Armed with a 16-track recorder, some microphones, my ten-year-old drum kit, and the invaluable asset of blissfully blind ambition, we set out to record the follow-up to our first EP.
This new album is called APPLIKATOR. In some ways, it's our tribute to Kraftwerk. In other ways, it's a loose collection of synth-driven tracks with a punk song thrown in for good measure. The only consensus my band mates and I have about APPLIKATOR is that it's the album we set out to make. It's a mess, but it's what we wanted to make. It isn't for anyone else. It defies most musical conventions of taste and logic. And we love it.
Music has always been an important part of my creative self-expression. One of my most vivid memories is sitting in my dad's car a year or two after the divorce and flipping through his black leather CD case. I picked out a random disc. The cover had a triangle and a rainbow on it. No band name or album title. "That's a good one," my dad told me with his trademark restraint and understatement. "No shit," I reply now, twelve years later.
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon changed my life. It changed my ideas of what music could be and what it could accomplish. It opened the floodgates of progressive rock. I was soon lost in the sonic worlds of Rush, Yes, King Crimson, ELP, Kraftwerk, and others. Being raised with two older sisters in the late 90's meant being raised on N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and Christina Aguilera. I don't hate bubblegum pop music on principle. I think life's too short to hate on pop music. However, there's something about being 13 and believing boy bands are the edge of the universe and then stumbling upon Pink Floyd.
Much like books, music was an escape for me. I loved how I could turn the lights off in my room, play a Pink Floyd album, snuggle into headphones, and be transported to some other place. Their use of texture and reverb astounded me. Their songs weren't just songs. They were entire worlds for me to aurally explore. Every time I listened I'd hear something new. I've been chasing that sound for my entire musical career. Making an album in the vein of the space rock kings themselves would be a culmination of years of dreaming.
Did APPLIKATOR achieve that lofty goal? No. Of course not.
But I think APPLIKATOR is a step in the right direction. The album was a hugely ambitious project for us: a band living in three different cities whose members can never practice together. We made a lot out of not very much at all. Most importantly, the APPLIKATOR recording sessions helped us define our sound even further. Comparatively, our Lake House EP two years ago sounds like a demo scratch track. We made progress and I'm proud. But none of us can sing, so I think we're going to become a punk band. We're keeping our options open.
Taking a break from my manuscript to record music has made me even more exciting to get back to writing. I'm in the back half of my third draft now, where revisions are needed the most. I'm ready to push my characters to their breaking points. I'm ready to put this thing to bed.