News and Musings

Good Lord it's been since November?!? 

Good Day!

    Oh my goodness, things have been wild.  I am realizing that I need to start my day with journalling or doing something to make forward progress on any goal or else I don’t feel like myself the entire day.  It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes.

       At times it is difficult to justify sitting and recording/mixing music with the incredible demands of the normal world, but it is pure gold when I do get a bit of time to mix!  Time and space mean nothing!!!!  

        I went to several concerts in May and it was sensational!  

Wage War, Nothing More, Veil of Maya and Sleep Theory in Madison.  Wage War and Nothing More absolutely slapped!  Veil of Maya had some monitor issues and their potential could not be shown, too bad.

Sleep Token in Des Moines, my new all time favorite show.

Erra, Make Them Suffer, Novelists and Void of Vision in Minneapolis.  Pretty amazing as well.

          I wrote “You Got This” as a song of encouragement for my wonderful wife as she faced another life change, and the goal was to record it and send it to her but then I got so incredibly sick, sicker than I’ve ever been.  Then I lost my voice for over a month, and it’s still coming back.  And feeling weird.  I feel like I am relearning how to sing at times.  BUT!  I had a ENT appointment yesterday and there were no nodes!  He said I had a weird epiglottis that has always been weird.  What?!?  Oh well.  Maybe that’s why I can’t figure out fry screaming.  

          So I finally got the vocals recorded for YGT and intentionally leaned heavily into Ben Folds for inspiration, and I think it went okay.  Let me know what input you have on the production aspect!  Does it sound weird at all to you?  

          We have a couple gigs coming up, and hopefully I can prioritize the umpteen recording projects I have going on!  Here’s to a wonderful summer, and I hope to have more to come soon!


Currently Reading

The Algebra of Wealth by Scott Galloway
My Effin Life by Geddy Lee
The Artists Way for Children by Julia Cameron


Currently Listening to

“Inmazes” by VOLA
“Take Me Back to Eden” by Sleep Token
“Forward” by Disperse
“Remind Me” by Jakub Zytecki
“Nothing” by Louis Cole
Anything new by Breakk.away


Another New Song and Mastering Bliss!!! 

Good Evening!  I am posting another song that I've been working on for a while.  It is another remix, but the next chunk of music that I will post will be me singing and playing.  This remix has a couple surprises that I had fun with.  A big portion of these assignments was to create the synthesizer sounds myself, something I had an absolute blast doing using Surge and Vital.  

Also!  I got a couple plugins recently over Black Friday, one of those being the Brainworx Masterdesk which is making mastering a breeze for the time being and what I need to master.  When I get to the full album portion of the degree, I plan to be much more thorough and personal with the mastering process, but right now I just want to share what I have been working on at a better quality than before.  I am still remixing the assignments from first semester (now that I know what I am DOING!) when I have time, so hopefully I'll be able to share those shortly.

Every time I sit to write about everything I did, I forget what I wanted to say until a week after I post!  With “Tear in My Heart”, I knew I wanted to do something with 21 Pilots.  I goofed around with changing the pitches of the original melody, and alternated between funk and synth bass lines.  I added some Kesha, and my absolute favorite part was taking out the original bridge (which is the best part of the original song, but I didn't want to switch meters and lose the flow) and adding some sweet rapping from Quad City DJ's.  I like how creamy the synths sound during the second chorus.  The ending was pretty loose.  I always liked how the original song ended on a really nice low D Major, and I wanted it to taper off a bit in the same way.  I liked the pluckiness of the synth at the end too.  Anyhow, I hope you enjoy!  TENSE and Brick by Boring Brick have been re-mastered and re-posted!  As always, I am curious to hear feedback of any kind.  Thank you for taking the time to read and I'll have more coming soon!



New Song and Progress! 

I had a bit of a breakthrough.  For this semester we need to write a paper and I have been working on trying to figure out which music producer to write about.  I thought Rick Rubin for a while, but I feel like everyone loves Rubin and I checked out a couple other ones that would be really interesting.  I considered Butch Walker for a while since he's an amazing performer, his discography is good and I pinpointed a signature sound of his.  He seem like an interesting person as well.  I also checked out Max Martin, and also Howard Benson who produced some albums that really influenced me in one way or another like P.O.D.'s “Satellite” album, two incredible Blindside albums, most of Flyleaf's albums, Trust Company, Hoobastank, Starset.  It's cool to know a good portion of his work so well.  

It all got blown to pieces when I watched an excerpt from an interview where Rick Rubin spent time talking creativity and I knew right away that I would be changing my paper.  I am genuinely excited, as he always seemed like someone I should learn about.  I cannot wait to see what I come across!  

I struggle with the creative process still, but after spending a month getting back on doing Julia Cameron's morning page journaling, I have come to realize how much I have been missing.  

There was a time in my life when I first started doing the Artist's Way when I felt more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before.  It affected my life so positively in many different ways from problem-solving to better work efficiency to facing my fears and taking positive risks.  I have banged my head against the wall to try and figure out what I had learned back then that made me feel so complete (for lack of a better word).  I believe, after all this time and searching and rereading journals, that the most important thing that I was doing was simply just journaling.  Things have been falling back into place ever since I restarted.  I have often though that it not only clears my mind, but also serves as a way to remind myself of who I am.  And be reaffirmed with everything I've been doing and hoping to do.  

So, Rick Rubin and his work seems to align with the mindset that I am hoping to further wrap my head around.  

I had to do a couple remixes for one of my classes last semester and it was unusually fun!  I am posting the first one I did.  I liked the vocals for “Brick by Boring Brick”, and the rest just came together from influences like NIN, Swimming With Dolphins, Evanescence, and The Midnight among some others.  I hope you find it interesting and I'll be posting more music soon!  I'll leave you with Butch Walker being awesome with the Marvelous 3.




Thoughts from January 2023 

I believe that God speaks to different channels at times, often times for me through music.  Earlier this year I went way overboard about a problem that ended up being alright. The next day, Devin Townsend released a song called “Call of the Void” with the lyrics “Cause when you feel the world's insane reaction To follow your heart, the worst reaction is to Freak out So don't you Freak out”, which felt like a reaffirmation of how I should have handled things.  

I am about to begin an awesome Master’s program in Songwriting and Music Production.  It seems perfect for me and what I’ve always wanted to do, but I’m nervous.  It will be fun and interesting, and I’ll be able to use a lot of it as a teacher, but career-wise what kind of a move am I making?  It’s not a doctorate or administrator license, so what is the next step?  If we’re heading into a recession, maybe I should learn welding or carpentry instead.

Then I stumbled once again upon Moodring, like pretty hard.  I remember thinking they were ok when I first heard of them, but this time I was really into it.  The song “Disintegrate” has a really awesome ambient part at the end that spends time building on the line “Someday you’ll wish you had.” 

I am sure other opportunities will come along from this new training, or something else may take place because of it.  I have no idea, but I’m sure I’ll always wonder if I don’t do it.  I have also started to hear “Someday you’ll wish you had” in other areas of my life, mainly hanging out with my kids after an exhausting day when all I want to do is veg out.  Or reaching out to a friend, or trying to get more sleep.

I still find myself second-guessing and worrying about what the best choice is.  But time waits for no one.  As with so many other things in life that happen we have made space and adapted to whatever situation takes place.  Plus, what advice would I give to one of my kids in a similar situation?  What am I modeling for them? I would hope “carpe diem.”  So, that’s what I need to do.  I’m diving in.  I’ve paid the deposit and we’re off on this crazy ride!



An Unfortunate Event 

On Wednesday morning, I was up with the kids getting ready for work and getting them breakfast.  Everything was typical of a weekday morning but when I went to put granola on my daughter’s oatmeal I noticed my hand was not working right.  I couldn’t break up the clumps, it felt really weak.  I tried again and this time not only could I not break up the pieces, I couldn’t even move my fingers enough to get the granola out of my hand, much less in her bowl.   

My son began to state that he needed more granola, and as I tried to tell him to hold on I realized the words would just stop in my mouth.  I couldn’t speak properly, it was like my tongue had turned into a balloon.  I ran into the bathroom to check my face and I was still able to smile normally, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I had a huge drink of water and tried to say some more words, but I still couldn’t speak properly at all.  I finally realized something was terribly wrong. 

I told my wife what was going on and she jumped into awesome mode as she ran across the street and got our neighbor friend to watch the kids.  We got to the hospital and were taken care of promptly.  I had an MRI and a CT scan and it was determined that I had experienced a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or a ministroke.  There were also traces of smaller strokes that I had possibly had in the past.  There is a chance those were remnants of awful migraines that I may have suffered, it is difficult to say.  A TIA delivers the same symptoms of a stroke and is a major warning sign that a stroke is a high possibility, without causing the same amount of permanent damage.   

My tongue tingled for a while in the hospital, and my right arm felt like jello for most of the morning but my major symptoms improved pretty quickly.  I was incredibly impressed with the nurses and doctors we worked with throughout my time, seriously most everyone was pretty unbelievable.  I spent the rest of my stay in neurology and everything seemed up in the air.  It still kind of is to be honest.  I had an ultrasound of my heart (which was crazy to watch!) and a longer MRI with contrast that evening, and we spent the night.   

The next day was better.  My symptoms were almost at baseline and we were able to go home around 3 PM.  I really missed the kids and it was unbelievable to be back.  I had a heart-rate monitor on to keep an eye on my heart, and some preventative medications to get through the next month, but ultimately no solid answers as to what happened. 

There are a couple speculations, but I think the doctor’s first guess is that I have a hole in my heart which would have allowed the blood clot to reach my brain.  We are hoping to find that sort of info through the monitoring and possibly a procedure.  We shall see.  The bottom line is that I am incredibly, unbelievably blessed to say the least.  Since I got out of the hospital I realized how close I came to a completely different life within seconds.  I am still able to play music, play with my kids, and continue on with no physical restrictions for the most part.  Had anything happened differently I might not have been able to do those things again, or for quite some time.  All in a matter of minutes everything could have changed for me and my existence, and completely out of nowhere.  I am thankful for the doctors and nurses, for my wife and her strength and support, and the neighbors and in-laws who were all able to jump in at a moment’s notice and help us get treatment.  We only told a handful of people in the heat of things, and I am thankful for their prayers and support.  I am hoping to find some more answers soon, but I am blessed to have dodged a massive bullet seemingly yet again.  I was two days away from celebrating two years without needing treatment for cancer when the TIA happened.  Now I am able to celebrate getting through this so far as well.  Mostly just the facts, but I’ll post again when I have more answers!

The Artist's Way Experiment 

I am working through the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron trying to unlock some captive creativity and I am really enjoying the process. I am on week four and something incredible happened that I've had in the back of my mind for a while as a possibility. The assignment for the week was to not read for leisure or watch TV for the week (no talk radio or audiobooks, youtube, or facebook either). I laughed when I read it and right away I was really intrigued. I knew it was going to be an interesting week but I didn't know if I would like it or if I could even do it. I listen to audiobooks all the time, and pandora comedy is my go-for working around the house. 

Well, I did it, and it was a remarkable week! Here's what I gathered: 

- I look at my phone waaaaay too much, and I often feel just drained and empty at the end of the day. I have felt the two have been related, and after this week I am certain. 

- On day one I wasn't missing it at all. I felt way more into what I was up to that day, I found myself daydreaming hard again and I was able to tackle some smaller tasks around the house when I probably would have been standing and staring at my phone. The music I listened to that day seemed to sound better, and everything seemed to have a bit more color. I know it might sound a bit silly and over-poetic, but that's exactly what it felt like. 

- On the second day I found myself becoming more aware of my surroundings and the people nearby. Everything seemed more intense too. It was getting better and better. 

- by the 3rd day I found myself really heading off some problems and working to get more organized (and not dreading the tasks!). It is so easy for me to push out my problems with a distraction but without it I just handled things. It felt like a new section of my brain had opened up, it was awesome! Super refreshing. 

- The fourth day was great. I realized how much I was seeking out people to talk to again and being able to think faster and be more engaged in the conversations. I was genuinely invested in what was going on and I was just happier overall. I felt like I was thinking on my feet better while I was teaching as well. When I drove home I put in one of my favorite albums and came up with a neat connected story line to the music the entire drive home. I went made a point to go fatbiking with a friend that evening and I went to bed just feeling awesome. 

- Friday was great! I made a phone call on the ride home (something I don't do often) and when I talked to people I didn't feel like I had to run off somewhere and I had to keep it short. I felt comfortable in my own skin again. Looking back at my notes, each day I noted how great things were going and each day I said something about how this needed to happen long-term (maybe mainly with facebook and limited mind-hijacking during the week). I felt awesome. 

-Yesterday I had to work a looooooong day running sound for a dance competition, and I wasn't bored at all. The day went pretty quickly and I just found things to do to occupy the time, and it was great! There was no staring at the clock, no dragging feeling at all, it was just fine. 

-Finally, today was the best of all. I woke up feeling hopeful and energetic (this used to happen during the summers in high school where everything was where it needed to be and I just had everything to look forward to all the time.) It is an exciting feeling, but it doesn't happen very often these days. 

I allowed myself some news reading and youtube and facebook vegging today and now I just feel dense again. 

Conclusion? I'm definitely doing this for another week! I think there is so much gravity to not even having your phone in the same room when you are hanging out with people or sleeping. The Artist's Way always talks about your creative spirit as a child, and I think this week definitely made me feel younger when I was more social and the entire world was a different light. It's starting to make more sense and I'm really excited to see where the next 8 weeks of the book take me. 

Finally, I remember there was a time of my life where I became a different person. I became quite unhappy for a while, things just changed, and for a long time I was a cynical person who had difficulty identifying and working through some character faults. I can pin the start of the change to not long after I joined Facebook. Beforehand life was without a doubt different. Is Facebook the devil? I don't think so, but I always had the inkling that my life would be better if I stayed away from it. That has now been proven to be 100% true.

Fun Stuff and a Lent Experiment 

The last couple months have been pretty interesting overall.  I played some fun gigs, and I have been doing some things at school that have been new and exciting.  This second semester is really getting long, and I am pretty excited to not be a first-year teacher ever again.  I like my job and I like the challenges, and from now on I will have a better idea of what is coming next and how to tackle it. 

On to the experiment!  I have been trying some new things...I've learned about Radical Honesty and I have been trying to incorporate portions of it into my life.  I've read some fascinating Malcolm Gladwell books.  Finally, I decided to give up groove metal and thrash and grind and djent and all that stuff for Lent. 

I found myself listening to an extensive list of bands like Lamb of God, Volumes, Car Bomb, and so on pretty frequently.  On a daily basis, many times a day in fact, I found myself craving this type of music.  Maybe it was an outlet, maybe it just gave me energy, I'm not sure what the draw was.  I had to have it though.  After thinking about the detrimental effects of so many negative things crossing the mind so often, I thought I would try to find out what might happen if I alleviated this music from my life for a while.  I cut out everything that had any type of screaming vocals for Lent.  Here's what I found out.

The first two weeks were tough.  I cheated a little by listening to instrumental albums, and that was alright.  After a while, though, I wanted more substance.  I started pulling out some of my older favorites from the 00's and a bit earlier.  The first day I did this, it was refreshing.  Then it just took off, like a huge wave!  I was able to listen to things again, pick out small details and appreciate some simplicity.  I didn't have to decipher racing, unintelligible drop-tuned riffs, but I could spend time crafting some scenery in my imagination again. 

I like the singer/songwriter simplicity of certain bands, like Lit and Caroline's Spine and Pushmonkey.  It was cool to look back and realize how much fun a lot of the bands a few years ago seemed to be having all while making something musical.  If they weren't shredders, who cared?  They added some distortion and strummed the electric guitars like acoustic guitars sometimes and just did what they did and it worked.  The drumming wasn't outlandish, it just kept a beat and added some color, and everyone probably went home pleasantly spent at the end of the day. 

I also enjoyed listening to a couple Sevendust songs (sans screaming of course), and it sounded like an interesting transition into the harder music we have today.  I'm sure there were bands that were doing similar things years before Sevendust.  It still grooved and the riffs weren't at all difficult, it was just loud greasy kid stuff.  It reminded me of watching a puppy play tug of war. 

I just reread what I wrote, and I know this sounds like an anthem for the music of yore.  I hope not to evolve into one of those people that refuses to acknowledge new music.  I'm excited to see what comes next.  I'm excited to see what comes next.  I'm excited to see what comes next....

Anyhow, throughout the last six weeks I found myself listening more.  I also feel like I have mellowed out a little (which I was hoping for).  My days have been a little bit more pleasant, and I have found myself taking a step back and being more empathetic rather than dashing to the nearest release on my ipod in the face of a problem.  That has been excellent, and I do hope it continues. 

I found myself missing only Killswitch Engage throughout the whole experiment.  That is one of the few bands that speaks to me on a higher level, and it just happened to be on the 'banned' list.  Does it really count since I interpret Killswitch in a positive manner?  Their lyrics are pretty incredible, and the instrumentation is fantastic I think.  They use dynamics from time to time.  Amazing.

So, to conclude, I noticed the positive effects of not listening to screaming music for Lent.  I mellowed out, I was able to think a bit more clearly, I found other outlets, and I was able to listen critically to music once again.  The last was an interesting discovery, for it was a skill I did not think I lost.  I know that having negativity has a detrimental effect on life.  People who have been bullied a great deal throughout their life have been shown to have shorter lifespans.  I wonder if negativity works that way as a whole in some way.  What if you take negative music but, you're a dork musician like me who listens to the instruments over the lyrics, and is able to utilize it for something good?  People used to get so frustrated with me because I would try to describe a song to them by singing the guitar part!  I'll have to do more reading about the negativity thing, as I am sure there is more out there.  The experiment was interesting though.  Anyhow, a big outlet was getting ready for an intermediate triathlon, which I have never done in any form.  I am stoked for sure, and a bit nervous.  My swimming has been getting better, which I was the most worried about I suppose.  Thanks for reading, and have a great tomorrow!

NPR and my new big boy job 

And everything has been falling into place!  I'll start off with this past weekend, because it was excellent.  The last few weeks have been tough, especially for my wife, so on Saturday we jetted off sporadically to the twin cities to see Prairie Home Companion.  We were able to get front row seats (to a radio show...I know, I know) but it was pretty amazing.  Thank God for too.  Ticketmaster was up to nearly $40 in fees for nosebleed seats, and we got these for $25 less and $5 in fees.  Ticketmaster sucks!  Oh my gosh, they are seriously terrible!  How has no one found a way to put them out of business?  Anyways, we were seated right in front of the sound effects guy, and that was really cool.  The music throughout the program was pretty diverse and really good.  We had some quality guffaws as well.  Also, before each program, they let you write out a dedication card, a shoutout to someone who might be listening.  About halfway through, Garrison Keillor picks a bunch to read on the air, and wouldn't you know he picked both Kristin's card and mine.  It was pretty cool!  I was missing Sparta High School's concert that night, so I shouted out to them as retribution for my absence.  Afterwards, we went to this place called "The Nook", where I was introduced to Honey Bacon fried Cheese Curds.  My right eye has been twitching ever since.  Good stuff.

Musically things have been going well.  People at school are great, and the year is starting to fall into place.  I finally get my new classroom in a week or so, that will be good.  I need to write songs.  I have a couple tiny songs that are nearly finished.  I am off to do more work for the year, but I will hopefully be coming back with new things soon.  Have a lovely evening 

What is this "free time" you all speak of? 

Greetings!!  Things have been bananas as always.  I have been subbing in several local school districts here and there, all while working at a bike shop, and playing music, and playing with other groups, and boy are my arms tired!  Well, you get it.  I just received my educator's license, so I am off and running!  I have also been playing with a local group of guys who put together a pretty slamming rock band, and I'm on the drums once again.  It feels good, I miss playing drums, and I am still getting my chops back, but these guys challenge me, and it's all good stuff. 

Also, I finally got to move into a house, which means recording won't be a huge project of set up and tear down when the neighbors aren't home, in the garage, in the cold, uphill, both ways.  What else?  Oh, I got a job in the Blair-Taylor school district next year.  I am incredibly lucky and very excited!  The superintendent and his wife made a special trip down to see me and Tom Pfaff perform at the Root Note a couple weeks back.  I was honored, and I feel like I'm going to be in great company.  Yes, most of my time will be spent at school, but I will still be writing here and there. 

I have begun writing what I am calling "Tiny Songs".  I feel like a huge trap I continue to fall in is the attempt to tell my life story with every single song idea I come up with.  Well, that is just exhausting and unproductive, so now I have produced several low-key songs about various areas of my life that I think will be pretty enjoyable.  I'll make a huge fuss once I get them on here.  I've also been considering movies, since I seem to get a ton of ideas when I'm watching something good or moving.  The wife doesn't care too much for the lovey dovey films though, so I must creatively schedule my viewings of "A Walk to Remember", accompanied with a nice steak.  Just kidding!  (or am I?)  I have a legal pad to carry with me at all times, so we'll see if I can't capture anything cool these days.  This song writing is such a fickle thing.

So, that's what I have so far, just going a million miles an hour, as always.  I'm a lucky guy who gets to do a lot of things that I like, and get paid for it, so life is good.  I am out of here on vacation starting next week, which will be a bit of getting used to.  Man, I haven't been on a big trip out of this town in two years, so yeah, I'm jumping out of my seat for this.  Thanks for reading, I shall keep you posted when things get posted.  Have a lovely weekend.  Go eat some fish, you Wisconsinites, you! Let's all hope LeBron gets a tall glass of water and some stretches in.  Or not.  Ciao


Lawrence Lawson and Maplewood! 

Hello all!  I graduated and was lucky enough to get a cool long-term sub gig the next week.  That being said, I have been swamped to say the least, but life is good.  For the time being, I decided to help the students prepare for their upcoming performances by posting their music on my page.  If you go to the music page and hear some tunes that sound like, well, not me, then this is why.  I am also recording the rest of my new demo on my sadly broken macbook pro that refuses to die, so that makes it pretty edgy I suppose.  Anyhow, through the cracks and lines on my screen, I shall bid you adieu for now until I return with further news, soon and very soon!

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