Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Only 7 Days Left

In 7 days, I will be done with this semester and I can concentrate on finishing the 12+ songs I have been trying to write for this record. It's hard to write about Abigail Adams when you have to concentrate on Omm Sety and Ahtmose III.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fourteen Songs in Six Minutes

Saturday night's show was one of those when the hour of playing flew by at a blinding rate. We ripped through our set so fast that I couldn't believe the end was there when it came. The recording shows that we played really really well: it was the Daniel show that night. Jacob came up and turned him up early on, and he lit up the stage all night with skronky feedback and his great leads. It was definitely our best "Let's Go to War" ever, if not some of the others (I haven't listened to the whole show yet). I have a recording of us playing "Let's Go to War" that may turn up on YouTube or somewhere like that because it sounded so good, especially with Kelly heralding the solo with a Paul McCartney scream that I suggest he add to the recording when we do it for the record.

The problem the show was low turn-out. Sixteen people paid the cover. The normal people who make our Murfreesboro crowd just weren't there Saturday night. Maybe it was dead everywhere. Maybe it was Dave Matthews playing in Nashville. Regardless, they weren't there. My feelings on the Distractions as a band teeter between feeling oh so low about it and like we're a big deal waiting to happen, with much of the time being on the latter end of that spectrum. It's no fun, but I think sometimes our egos need an empty house at the Boro to remind us that we have to continue to work it in order to carve out a name for ourselves around here, that all our friends who speak so highly of us aren't necessarily writing us a blank check to the reasonable expectations we have for where we want to go. And that's not a bad thing.

I was also glad to see Jacob again. It was the first time he has seen us all the way through since he ran sound at our first show, and the first he's seen us at all since he recorded us and we started on the frustratingly un-named history record. Streetlight Allstars is a great group, and I wish we could devote the time into our project like they do, not to mention their fire for it: those guys were rocking it as hard for twenty of us as they would have for two hundred.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ready To Rock and Influences

I had the standard wednesday "I'm ready to rock" conversation with Peach yesterday. I also did with Josh. Mid-week before a show is always exciting. I ready to give it a go. Alot of pent up engery just waiting to be unleashed onto the world.

I have a variety of influences. Some are obvious, some are not. Some are hidden and buried deep, others come right at you. Daniel Rice asked me what influenced the idea of the history album the most and I had a hard time explaining it.

I guess I've always wanted to do this. But for those of you who don't know, I worked on a Zelda themed album for a long time. I wrote close to 5 songs for this thing. Only two were recorded, and only 4 were ever played live. I gave this up when I was living in Nashville. I had the worst writers block and really wanted to give up on music. A Zelda record was not going to fly no matter how much thought I put into it. Afterall, I was creating my own story and using the characters and events of the game in my own way. That made it harder. I guess maybe one day i could pick it back up and I have thought about it, but I've got so many history songs to write and on top of that, in the middle of all this, i've been sketching out songs that aren't history songs. Too many songs to worry about an old project, but...this go around seems to be a lot easier and more challenging. I'm having to be a little more organized. Plus I have three other dudes here to help make my vision come true.Four is better, it's also a good number.

Without that experience, I probably could not do this record. This history concept is a little more straight forward but through the eyes of other people and events, I am able to tell the story I want to tell and defend my thesis. It's like a history paper, the evolution of american culture told through humor and song. I have put alot of thought into all this, more than any other musical endeavor. I really enjoy concept albums, but  mostly concept albums that have a centralized theme, buried or straight up in your face.

The Frogs album Racially Yours is almost like a history album. I have been extremely inlfuenced by it. It chronicles racism down to a timeline. It's more about human struggle and learning to live each other, peacefully. regardless of skin color, language, or beliefs. It also paints the picture that in the end, who are the real racists? It is told from both points of view....

I look at that and marvel at it's greatness, there are many touchy subjects but the message is clear. You can't deny our cultural past, you can just learn from it.

Our listeners will learn from our album. They will see the importance of the people, events, and era's we sing about. It all comes together to show that you must not deny your past, you have to face it in order to move into the future. Election:1800 is a good example of this. If you don't look at the past, the same out come will occur. I still find in ironic that after 200 years, we still fumble around with electing leaders.

That is all for now...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Observers and Participants

Observers and Participants.

Just say it a few might like it....

Good title. Better yet, I'm pushing for this one. It says everything I want to say in the record.

Through history, everyone is involved in some way. There are those out there making it happen and other just watching the parade. Both are very important are both very similar. You can't participate unless you observe first, but by observing, you are participating. Without observers, there would be no recorded history, and without participants, there would nothing to record.

This record brings both these ideas together in one small package. The constant reemerging themes has led me to believe that we as a band are not only observing history from a different prospective, but we are participating in it by making the music we do.

How many people were at out first show? About 60. How many people were at last show? About the same. Those people are witnessing history in the making, while we are up there making it. Those leaving the show, will go home, tell freinds, and pass on the stories. Creation through observation, participation through creation.

The smaller the crowd, the bigger the history, the more signicant the event. Those 60 will turn into 100 in the next ten years.....

Observers and Participants. History In The Making and In The Past. Think about it....we are all both...even if one person buys the album and listens to it, the idea is a success.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wasting Time

Just killing time. I should be writing a paper about Ancient Egyptian Medicine. But i'm not. School is not on my mind, this record is on my mind.

I really want to get back in the studio. That last marathon session was full of fun, excitement, and (dare I say it) magic. I keep listening to the almost-completed tracks over and over and would love to add more to them. As I sit here doing research for songs, I keep in mind the power of those 14 hours and just keep reminding myself that this is the leg work to get to the fun part. Even if nobody listens to this thing, atleast we all had fun doing it and maybe we'll have fun doing more records, even if its for our pleasure, which is what we do anyways. Love it. I want to get back in there and work some more......

On deck we have Bob Dole, Election: 1800, Eli Whitney (re-done), and Let's Go To War. Should be an interesting session because of the differences in all these songs. We plan to bust out some acoustic guitars, brushes, hand claps, and any other percussion instrument lying around for a few of these. Let's Go To War is so straight forward, we are currently taking bets on how long it will take to record, I have put myself down for 31 minutes, vocals and all.

When all goes well and according to plan, we can start on the tunes we have been currently getting ready to start learning as a band. That will yeild a third dayand hopefully after that all of tghe principle recording will be done. With the finances being the way they are, Peach and I are hoping to only have to pay for three more days of recording before mixing. That should do it, right? I mean, it's not like we are snorting coke, inviting groupies over, going to the pub, or spending 4 days getting the "vibe" correct. Being in the studio is hard work. and it's great!!! I think we spent more time ordering sandwiches at Quizno's than we did tweaking. It's nice to know what you want inadvance and have engineers that know how to get it without screwing around. kudos.

One-Take Williams...what can I say?

Ok...time to go and finish writing. Peach might post something when he's at work tomorrow. You never know....

How about this title? Participants and Observers. Explanation of the title and why I like it to come tomorrow. Peach is not allowed to write about it until I do. He is still pushing for "I Went to college for 10 years and I did was this history album The Story of Kelly Kerr." It's not far from the truth.....I do everything in life backwards......

Show This Saturday!!

We have a show this saturday at The Boro here in murfreesboro. We will be joined by Jacob Spaulding's newest musical creation The Streetlight All-Stars. You might remember Jacob as the producer of our EP "Whimsical In Reverse." Show starts around 10pm and will cost you five bones. Hope to see you there!!

It's A Pop Song

I have been listening to a lot of "pop" music these days. I hate using that word, but it's the best way to describe it. I have been knee deep in ELO, Cheap Trick, Queen, Jellyfish, Beach Boys, and many more I will not mention.

It rubs off. It also does not. But sometimes, it rubs off without you knowing it. I think I have a new song. The word "think" is a good way to describe it. I've got the music worked out, and a few of the lyrics, but a trip to the library tonight will yield the completion. 

I have been doing some research on pop songs. Why they are hits, what similarities they have etc etc. The  Josh decided to learn "Don't Stop Believing." Those 4 chord are used in a million songs, most of them hits. No, I did not write a song using those chords, but went back into research mode and found some chords that could work and fit the song I have been trying to write.

It's a song about the Wright Brothers. Orville and Wilbur. You know, the dudes that built and successfully flew the first airplane? This song has to be joyous and somewhat of a celebration. The airplane is one of the most important inventions in the 20th century. The main breakthrough these guys were able to make was the invention of the three-axis control. Like many inventions before, they were not the first but get the credit because they were capable of creating an aircraft that could be steered by a pilot and maintain equilibrium while using a fixed set of wings. Pretty cool huh? No invention would be complete without controversy, But i'm choosing to leave all the patent wars out of this one, my other new song about Nikola Tesla will yield nothing but scandalism.

It's nice to know that combined with another new song we have about 4 more on the horizon. Pretty cool huh?

Friday, April 17, 2009

9 Songs

I recently began looking at the songs we have for this record and tentative track listings and ideas, and I was surprised that we've come far enough in the writing process that we have nine songs. In order that they were presented as somewhat completed history songs, they are

Eli Whitney
Bring Out Your Dead
The Great Stink
Bob Dole
Election of 1800
Whiskey Rebellion
Know It All
Let's Go to War

We began discussing what this means for the project from a lot of angles. Kelly and I discussed how the perfect track listing is thirteen songs and forty-six minutes, but that being between forty and forty-six minutes is more important than the track number. Since most of the songs we have will run between two and three minutes, it's safe to assume that we may need more than thirteen songs to reach that kind of time frame, although we've agreed we won't hurt the project by adding a sub-par song just to fill out the track listing. I over-estimated the length of the four we've recorded at twelve minutes and forty-eight seconds, as I noticed that they have periods of silence before and after the music that will be shortened on the mastered version.

More importantly, being around two-thirds finished with writing the record has meant, for me, taking a step back and asking what kind of scope I had envisioned for such a grandiose concept as a "history album" and the discrepancy between what we have and what we want it to be. I have always approached this record in its timeline form, and I believe that if we call this a record about history, then it needs to cover diverse topics over a long period of time. Kelly's interest is on earlier American history, and the songs he has written have focused there. I threw a wrench in my own concept by writing "Bob Dole," meaning that the latest song chronologically goes up to the elections of 1996 and 2000 (the latter was also referenced in "Election of 1800"). If it hadn't been for that, I would have been content to have let it go up to the early 20th Century.

The result of this has been that I have moved my focus from simple events to epochs. I think this will broaden its scope to the whole of something as lofty as "history" a little better, but they will serve to compliment the individual events.

We have many pieces of songs and ideas in various stages of development, some I'm more excited about than others, and I wonder if all of it will be able to work and how the whole thing will play out in the end. It's funny how being where we are in the record limits the possibilites of what the record to be (as opposed to what we could dream of the record being back when we had only two songs written for it), but we really have more questions to ask about the concept than when we were just throwing out ideas and writing songs about them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Benjamin Franklin Vs. the Martians

I think it says a lot about the creative environment in which we work that Kelly and I were talking today about possible titles and how they relate to the subject matter when Kelly made the off-hand remark, "It's not like we're writing songs about Benjamin Franklin fighting off martians."


"That would be a good song idea."
"I was thinking that, too."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Read the Last Post First, then read this one... song...Commodity...i'm only glad it doesn't sound like a Ramones song. (insert laughter here)

I like it. It's better than Bob Dole. And Why? Because Matt manages to get his point across by using "KEY" words instead of lines that seem like talking/singing. Keywords have been an issue and this one does not represent that. A good example would be "Know It All." I tried very hard to incorporate more scientific words and references but managed to get a few in there. Mechanical is a great way to describe this song, which is another reason why I like it. It's supposed to be mechanical, and why? It's about the industrial revolution.

Deadpan delivery? Dude, I sing different than you....I sound like a dying elephant and you sound like a dying cow....the two are different...I shouldn't have a problem giving the Peach what he wants on this one...

I will be interesting to see how this one comes up and out because Josh wants to make the drums like the Nine Inch Nails version of the Minutemen, which will be kickass. Of course the guitar and bass wreak of D Boone and Mike Watt, so another element will be good. and by the way, for some reason we have been taking alot from Watt and Co. these days...I think this has something to do with the fact that those guys were a bunch of smarty pants that started a band....kinda like us....Watt is an intelligent guy and it rubs off on us.

I enjoy songs where the chorus is the title, but we do need some of it on the record. Sure my writing has evolved, and getting more complex, but I am trying to avoid an entire album of wordy songs and massive chord changes. Less is more. Sometimes you have to do one or the other.

I like where all of this is going. 9 songs is solid. With the newer attention on Election:1800, I'm in another position where I need to finalize that song. Which is being done as we speak. Plus there are more on the horizon. "Dear Abby" will hopefully come to a close soon. I've also been trying to amp up the research aspect of the record which is causing me to take more time. I also have a new direction on a song about Nikola Tesla.

After some thinking and discussion, it has been noticed that most of our songs deal with war, science/technology, presidents/leaders, early american poltics, lesser known events. These things are things that dictate society and cultural growth the most...could we be onto something?? Possibly. But i'm not writing a songs about Obmama or Bush Jr, or how there isn't a federal law stating you have to pay your taxes even though it won't hold up in a federal court.

So...hopefully we will have Commodity and some others by the time we rock the house at French Quarter Cafe for Peach's ultimate bachelor send off. In the meantime...come see us at The Boro on April 25 and rock out...bring a freind...

New Song: Commodity

It feels good to finally forge ahead in the writing process of this record by producing another completed song amidst all the ideas we're always discussing and batting around.

This particular new number is the second from 2005. I wrote it after watching We Jam Econo and listening to lots and lots of Minutemen as a result, so this short song fires in and rocks it hard at just under two minutes with tinty guitars and roaring bass, the bassline once again being stumbled into when I wasn't playing bass much and just wanted a demo of the music. Daniel and I both always liked this one and wanted to turn it into a Distractions song. On our first practice after our first show, the same one where we first practiced, "Eli Whitney," Kelly had some lyrics that we applied to it. We weren't happy with the words, so we just let it go in light of the other songs.

So I set out to add my "A" material to this history record, quickly deciding to make its mechanized, angular chord progression about the industrial revolution. I've fretted over it since Christmas when we began the writing process, but to no avail. I decided to make it another answer to "Eli Whitney" like I did with "Bob Dole." That song was meant to take Eli's motif of a name as its title and a biography within the song, only with a less musical sounding name and a less romantic "hero" of history. It was written also with the idea of being about insecurity, being misunderstood of one's identity because someone else is mocking him. I think this is lost in Kelly's deadpan delivery of the words, but that's okay.

Anyway, the new song, "Commodity" answers "Eli Whitney" by its contrast. Eli is one of our most melodic songs, "Commodity" is shouted a chord progression that doesn't allow for much actual singing. It is also about the industrial revolution, which was started in the textile industry alongside the invention of the cotton gin (although the two aren't directly related). I wanted the song short, so I had to just make a mention of all the ideas I'd researched, leaving the listener to fill in some blanks more than many of our other songs.

Josh and Kelly came over Saturday to play some and discuss the record and new material, and I worked up the song to play it for them. By the time they knocked, I decided the song was stupid and was afraid they'd hate it. Their reaction was that they liked it. Kelly first said, "It's better than 'Bob Dole.'" He added that these were the most intelligent lyrics we have. I took that as a complement.

Unfortunately, it uses the formula of "take the title and sing it as the chorus," which Kelly's songwriting has matured past. This formula dominated the last record, and now it's only my contributions that use it on the new record (this one and "Let's Go to War").

This is the ninth completed song for the record, and I'll be writing about what this means for the whole project and the writing process sometime soon.

Whimsical in Reverse Now Available on iTunes

We're so happy to have expanded the availability of our fir record, Whimsical in Reverse, to be available nationwide on iTunes. If you haven't purchased the record, go to the link to the right, and it will take you straight to it in the iTunes store.

Back to the Drawing Board

I decided to end the poll early since the overwhelming majority said we need to think of something else. I keep hoping a name will pop in our heads, and we'll know that it only makes sense with that perfect title. Since that has eluded us up to this point, we still continue to kick around ideas and disagree on things. I've already come up with a couple more ideas, and I hope they'll sound better as I hear them more, but it seems best to continue our search and discussion to find the perfect title for the history record.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Name The Record

The discussion continues as to what in the world we'll actually call this thing when it's finished. In the interest of opening up the conversation, we thought it'd be fun to put a poll on this blog to see what people thought of our current top contenders. There's an option here if you don't think any of those would be best. We may not go with any of them and decide to call it, I Spent Six Years in College and All I Got to Show for It Was This Lousy History Record, but we'd like to hear your thoughts on this aspect of the creative process.

If you have some idears of your own, post them in the comment section of this blog.

Most of Our Visitors Are Belgian