Archives for category: Friends’ Work

Yesterday JP (Das Piumas bass player, musical genius) sent me two recordings of himself playing guitar to the accompaniment of birdsong outside a house in Thornbury Ontario. He asked me for some vocals over top of both of them. Here are the two songs, with accompanying vocals, and the lyrics I wrote:

Forget Me

Summer Frame

Here are the lyrics:

Forget Me

You were right to leave me, wrong to love me,

I was never even close

To being the man you needed me to be.

You were right to love me, wrong to leave me,

You could never even see

How deeply I fulfilled your every need.

I am of two minds, I see I’m blind,

Love you ‘cause I never loved you right.

And it started out with all those doubts,

I’m better off here worse than I have been.

 

If you ever loved me, please forget me,

Like you did, like you did already dear

If you ever loved me, please regret me,

Oh, and never let me hear.

Yes forget me, forget me, forget me every moment of the day.

Forget me every moment of the day. Moment of the day.

 

And dreaming of the ocean shore

Reminds me of the land we wore

Like boots we built of concrete and of clay.

We never would have walked too far

I hope you know you were the stars

I watched while you just looked away.

 

Summer Frame

How delicate the face we see

Between the lines of light

We dreamt of heat and woke to it

And now the day is bright.

Falling in the fields the birds

Are swiftest on the wing.

We listen for the sounds of home

To reach us on the wind.

La la la-la-la la-la.

La la la-la-la la-la.

You’re a fever. You’re a summer frame.

Paint is peeling. The old days peel away.

 

Intricate the latticework of

Shadows where we stand.

Beading up like teardrops

On the cool drink in your hand.

We were once

Miles across.

We were once

Wildly lost.

And we were once

Miles across.

We were once

Wildly lost.

La la la-la-la la-la.

La la la-la-la la-la.

La la la-la-la la-la.

Advertisements

I had a great weekend catching up with all the people I didn’t see when I was in Europe – and a person or two I haven’t seen in months. Also, some great conversations. My sister told me about a theory that’s got me off on yet another experiment.

The theory is this: if you do something every day for 21 days, it becomes a habit. So if, for instance, you were to exercise consistently once a day for that length of time, you’d end up treating it as something natural, rather than a chore. I’ve seen some evidence of this – it takes me about 50 minutes to walk to work, which felt like an eternity for the first couple of weeks, but now seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

But what my sister was suggesting doesn’t relate to exercise – it relates to mood. Basically, the idea is to try and form the habit of never complaining about anything.

When she explained the idea to me, it got me thinking about the way that I talk. As a Canadian, I feel most comfortable when I’m complaining to someone about something… the weather; my job; the new 21-day no-complaints project I’m trying out. It seems to put other people at their ease, and it gives you things to talk about.

It’s pretty bad for your psychology, though. When I see everything as an opportunity for complaint, I also find myself believing what I say. All the stuff I’m talking shit about becomes a burden, instead of a boon. So I’m trying it: no complaints for 21 days. But it has to be 21 days straight – if I complain once on day 19, it’s back to square one.

I don’t know if I’ll manage to stay focused enough to form a good habit. Still, it’s given me a new perspective on life, and it keeps reminding me how good things actually are. Any time I’m tempted to reach for a negative comment, I pause and think about what I’m about to say. And I always realize that I’m wrong: there’s nothing to complain about.

So there you have it: no music, but a new path into the future. And the bassist of Das Piumas was here all weekend. We wrote two songs (because it’s that easy), so I’m going to try and work on them and get a version of at least one of them up at some point. Exciting stuff. There’s life in this thing yet…

It seems like something’s out of whack tonight, and maybe for the last couple of days. I’m not sure if it’s a full moon, the lengthening summer, a sickness, or what, but I’m feeling out of sorts.

Hopefully it’ll pass. I’m also extremely busy with things unrelated to music, so I’m afraid I haven’t given this project nearly enough attention. The main concession I’ve made is relistening to a bunch of old Eminem songs, which isn’t exactly taxing work, but hopefully will have some positive effect on my ability to write?

Anyway, I look forward to clearing this slough of despond and emerging out the other side, and altogether better Pilgrim. I hope none of you get that reference – which I’m probably getting wrong, anyway – because if you do you probably had to take an English Survey course at some point (shudder).

Cheers to all of you, and congrats to B and K on their pregnancy! So exciting when friends are bringing new life into the world. In twenty or so years: new friends. Good news.

Some scientists believe the universe is getting hotter, and that this will eventually result in the death of everything. This will not, presumably, take place for billions of years. When it does (if it does) I hope a song something like this – only, of course, more polished and practised – is playing.

GRM – Heat Death (Jam)

As for right now, I am experiencing short term universal heat death. I can’t think, I can’t work, and I can’t feel comfortable. I hope this humidity passes, because apparently I’m too weak for it.

The last two days have passed in a weird haze of self-loathing. As far as I know, I don’t really loathe myself, so I’m a little unclear as to what’s going on. I’m going to attribute it to the weather, and assume that it will do the same thing the weather tends to, and pass. Until then…

This weekend was a sweat-fest. And a shoe-fest. It was not a success-fest. But I’ve enjoyed it.

I did manage to jam with the awesome Rob and Greg last night, which was as exceptional as the first time we did it. So much fun, so natural, and so inspiring. I don’t think we’ll get the chance to turn it into a proper band in the near future, but long-term, who knows?

This is one of the things we recorded. It started as a very, very primitive bassline, and I suppose stayed there. I like it though – I can see the potential.

GRM – Bassline

The band name is just our first initials, and the song title fairly arbitrary – this was, as I’m sure you can hear, just a jam. It’s a bit long and formless, obviously, but it reminds me of how much fun it is to make music with other people. In this case, it’s Rob on electronic drum kit, Greg on keys, and me on (sloppy) bass. Good times.

Other than that, this weekend’s accomplishments included the purchase of not one but two pairs of shoes, the reading of Russell Brand’s excellent My Booky Wooky, the watching of some episodes of the brilliant Game of Thrones, and the excretion of worrying amounts of sweat. I know I have to get back on the project horse, but this weather is making thought extremely difficult.

This week I’ll get back to it. In the meantime, wherever you are, I hope it’s air conditioned.

Missed last night’s post because I was enjoying dinner and drinks on the patio at The Beaver with my friends Ali and Krista, who I hadn’t seen in far too long.

As always, good conversation with nice people helps to put things in perspective. As soon as we sat down and started talking, I mentioned FiveFourEleven, and talked about how I was struggling a little bit. Krista used the phrase “Learning Curve,” which was the title of the last post. This whole experiment is definitely a learning curve, and sometimes it gets a little steep.

But I have to say that this year, with its challenges, highs (releasing Inlands), lows (the last week or so), and everything in between has been incredible. I talked at length about this last night, but I think we have a natural tendency – or if not “we,” then certainly me – to let life slip by as we get older. I’ve discovered that getting older seems to bring with it some protective tendencies which reduce the intensity of experience so we can get on with the business of living responsible, safe lives.

Which is good – I don’t want to be so constantly assailed by emotion and hormones that I can’t think. It was amazing when I was young, but even then it sometimes got a bit much. Why am I crying? I don’t know. And why am I so turned on right now? Same answer. Getting older and calmer has been wonderful, and it’s helped me to work out who I actually am and what I actually want.

The attendant danger, though, is that life can seem grey and time can slip past way too fast. Without intense experience on which to hang our memories, it can be hard to see the signposts as we drive, so that it all seems to rush by in a blur. That’s where mid-life crises seem to come from: you wake up at forty-eight and realize you don’t remember the last twenty-five years. An overpriced Harley and a regrettable ponytail are rarely far behind.

All the learning I’m doing this year comes from attempting things I’ve never attempted before. New things. And that’s a lot of what made being young so intense and so big: everything you’re experiencing is new. It’s all first-time stuff. Some of it (like trying to create a whole rap record in under a month and discovering you’re not very good) is painful, but that creates a memory too. And I strongly recommend that if there’s something you’ve wanted to try, you try it.

Learn something new – a foreign language, an instrument, a sport. Explore a new art form. Write that novel or those short stories (as Krista is doing). It might just make life seem new and intense again. It has for me.

Tonight I’ve managed to basically finalize two more songs – “Like Gravity” and “Just Bones.” These are two recordings I actually created a long time ago, and have been pretty happy with from a performance perspective. What needed work was vocals, timing, and drums.

So I’ve done some rerecording, some tweaking, some playing, a little (very poor) mixing, and they’re starting to sound about how I’d like them to on the album. That said, it would be incredible if I actually knew what I was doing. Maybe next year, once I’ve released all these damn things, I can get down to the business of learning how to mix, how to record so that mixing is made easier, and just generally what to do so that things sound the way they’re supposed to.

I’ve made a decision not to share any more of the songs in progress on this record until the record itself comes out. This is for several reasons: 1) I don’t know if I’ll decide to go back and tweak further, thus rendering whatever I share redundant, 2) I expect to be polishing off a bunch of songs in the next few days, and I don’t want to clog the blog, and 3) this is silly, because I realize I don’t have a large audience waiting with baited breath, but I personally love the surprise of getting a whole new album and getting to discover it as a whole.

Obviously if you’ve been following the blog, you’ve heard iterations of several of these songs, but I’m guessing it’s been a long time since you’ve heard any of them. I hope this record will work as a whole, and that the songs speak to each other in the sequence I’ve chosen. Therefore, I look forward to sharing the whole (unmixed) thing with you in the next six or seven days, as a piece.

In non-FiveFourEleven news, check out this interview/podcast I did a few days ago with the brilliant Allan Lewis: http://vandersaar.com/?p=492. It offers some insights into his new (incredible) EP, Lowpass, some stupid jokes, and lots of whiskey and wine consumption.

Also, here’s my latest Empirella article on how to create a successful online comedy video: http://www.empirella.com/1999/how-to-make-a-successful-comedy-video-for-the-web/ Of course, it’s probably wishful thinking that I’m qualified to write it, but it refers to some very funny videos indeed, so even if you hate it you can at least enjoy the links.

And that’s it for tonight. Getting closer and closer to my goal. Excited.

Although I have less than half a month left to finish this album, I’ve become obsessed with my other major hobby: the web series. I feel like Captain Ahab chasing his white whale. Except this whale is multi-coloured, and made up of video clips, and it lives in a computer.

I stayed up until almost one last night, hunched over my wife’s MacBook editing episode 2. It’s getting better, and I’m getting close to finishing it, which is great, but it’s not helping me make music. I didn’t even have time to post a blog entry.

When I mentioned all this to my boss, she asked the obvious question: “so when can I actually SEE this web series?” And the unfortunate answer is…not for a while. We’re trying to do this the professional way, which means careful fine-cut editing, proper sound post-production, a real, original soundtrack, awesome titles, a great website…all these things take time and money, and neither of those is plentiful right now.

I swear, there is an actual web series being made, we will show it to people as soon as possible, and I think (I hope) it will be funny. Just like making five albums in a year, the idea of creating a narratively complex, multi-location, single-camera web series with professional production values is great. The reality of executing it is much harder.

But that’s the whole point of this year: decide to do impossible things, and then learn through failing to achieve them. Every failure, as I think I wrote a couple of days ago, is a lesson. And I’m getting another degree for free!

Last night’s jam was exceptional. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to play with new people, and in this case I was attempting to pretend that I knew how to play keyboard, which is extra untrue. But Rob and Greg are both extremely talented musicians, and we all seemed to feed off one another very naturally.

I’d say we wrote a minimum of four songs on the fly, and although as Rob pointed out they all sounded like they could soundtrack porn, I’d suggest that it would at least be high-class porn with great production values. In places, it would also be surprisingly emotional porn, with some heartfelt minor chords to soundtrack the pounding.

We’re going to get together again soon – originally tomorrow night, but now perhaps Saturday to accommodate people’s work schedules. I’m hoping to get both of the guys on the Expensive record in some capacity, and if possible to feature them heavily. I love the idea of getting some good grooves going. That way, my horrible, horrible rapping won’t have to work so hard, because you’ll be able to pretend it’s not there.

As for tonight, I think I will accomplish nothing. On my home a bar jumped out of nowhere and forced me to drink several beers (that actually is pretty much what happened), so I’m feeling sleepy and sluggish at the moment. But the week is young. More good things to come.

I really did mean to work on Saga City today, but several things got in the way: one, editing the second episode of our web series, a process that will prove very long indeed, and which I’ve only just begun. Two, an exciting game of dodgeball (we lost, but came from behind to finish up with a 10-11 score – fun times). And three, an unexpected musical detour.

My friend Greg, who’s an extremely talented writer, actor, filmmaker, etc., and I’m guessing musician to boot, invited me over to his house tonight to jam on some hip hop with his buddy Rob. They’re two super-cool guys (and both excellent dodgeball players, as it turns out), and I’ve been meaning to make some music with them forever, but we never managed to connect before.

Greg’s got an electronic drum kit, Rob just got a studio Les Paul, and I’m going to drag my keyboard and computer along for the ride. I have no idea how much we’ll accomplish tonight, but it promises to be a pretty great way to close out what’s actually turned out to be an epic weekend.

It feels like summer, even though I barely went outside today: long nights drinking on patios, impromptu jam sessions, delicious food, and a general feeling of good things in the air. I hope you’re all enjoying the remainder of your Sunday. If there’s anything to share from our jam, I’ll post it up tomorrow.