A new place, and freedom… (Pt 5 of a mini-musical-autobiography)
October 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Upon finishing school in December 2002, I remained in Boston and was still having difficulty coping with everyday existence. I lived with 4 or 5 other Berklee students and grads, and it snowed…and snowed…and snowed. I didn’t have a proper studio set up once moved into this new house, and had limited funds to fix my studio situation or even live on.
I received a call from Brian, Greyhaven’s vocalist in late February, and received an offer to essentially move to Portland, Oregon. It was one of the biggest relief’s of my live, but also very heart-wrenching at the same time. Boston had gone from being a godsend for me in 1998 upon starting school, to being a living hell, frozen over. Very few friends left in the city, and it was time to get out, finally take the time to truly ‘cure’ my problems in a new city, with a new lease on life. I went into it with no reservations. Musically, I hadn’t had a proper album out in some time, and no one was expecting anything from me. Thus, I got to experience life from a totally different perspective for awhile. This also meant no new releases still until early 2005, but that was okay with me. I had a lot of things to do, new things to learn and lots of musical material to play around with.
Echo Us’ debut CD in 2005 came out of a whole lot of pain, and it’s evident all over the album. Many people commented on this as I remember, even though the album sold very poorly. It was also my vocal debut, and after having such a solid release as Greyhaven out there, no matter what the style of the new album, I was on a huge learning curve. I couldn’t afford a vocal coach, so I slogged through it the best I could. What I came out with is still the most twisted and creative album to my ears. Now a days when people mention things sound like this or that, I tell them to listen to that album, because it is so very different.
I hired a photographer for the album’s promo shots, but no one else, and since I was now officially solo I took it upon myself to do everything- for some reason, and not just for control reasons, I had to do everything. I think it was because I had to learn a variety of disciplines, and I always wanted to know how everything worked. The only other musician on the album was Kai Kurasawa- on one track, Who Loves You, which was penned in response to a cover song that I accompanied a girlfriend on some time ago. Some out there might be able to guess it!
Once actually settled in Portland in late July 2003 the creativity started really burgling for me. I quickly finished the debut, warts and all and let it be, planning for it’s later release. Shortly after, in September I received a ‘wave’ of energy, many dreams, and something I never thought would happen- a completely new direction that would start with the composition of The Tide Decides. I received much of the ‘information’ about the album in a very ‘clairvoyant’ fashion- the lyrics for From Snow To Sea came out of nowhere, and the night that happened I knew I’d hit something major. For me, it was almost a new style of music, but it had enough familiarity to it because of it melodies and atmospheres, which were not far removed from what I was doing with Greyhaven before. In fact, this album was first where I believe I topped my former band’s work, or at least equaled it, on my own terms. The mixing was still not perfect, but compositionally I was very much reaching for things that I’d always known existed, but I couldn’t quite put my finger or mind too before. The album has the sound of ‘consonance’ rather than dissonance to it. It’s very open sounding.
I also got to start collaborating with some new Portland-area friends. Much of the album was done simply because I met the right people at the right time that were able and wanting to help. In odd fashion, the drums were recorded last! The album has about 50 percent real drums and 50 percent electronic-based, and oftentimes they are mixed together which was extremely time-consuming to balance and edit correctly. In fact, The Tide Decides was so time consuming as time wore on that I’d never want to make anything like it again- 70 minute albums are very hard to make when you’re dealing with thousands of sounds!
2004 was mostly spent developing the new ideas around that initial wave of energy. I was also still in a new city, slowly meeting new people and reconnecting with people from the distant past as well. This time period I was at an age where I felt I could stretch out, take my time artistically as well as within my personal life. It was a much quieter time, a time of healing.