On Writing “Worse”

I’m going to go about this a little differently than I have in the past few years and start talking about it WAY in advance.  I’ve mentioned that I’m working on some new music, but I don’t really know where it’s going, etc, etc…  Well, I’ve made some directional decisions over the past week or two, so I’m going to start talking NOW, knowing that it’s not coming out until 2018.  But, yeah, as of now, the new album is officially in progress, as far as I’m concerned…

I’m taking my time with this one and I plan to finish it, shelve it, relisten to it a month later, and tweak it THEN, after I’ve had time away.  I’m approaching this one differently from all perspectives, and the key element for me on this project is TIME.  I keep rushing and regretting, so we’re taking this one slow.  (VERY earliest I’ll even be CLOSE to done will be November or December, but I’m thinking a February or March 2018 release seems right for this one.)  I think the only time rushing a release ever served me well was “Something to Look Forward To,” which has become one of my favorites in my catalogue…but lightning in a bottle and all that…

Anyway…  I’ve got a “track one.”  And I’ve got an album title.  Both of those are critical and mark the “start” for me.  And we’re there…  Now, I don’t know everything that’s going to be on it yet, but there are presently seven songs on the slate to at least demo, three of which are revived material from the dying days of The Social Gospel. (Respectively “Fighting Drunk,” “That Was Then,” and “What I’m Dying For” are under consideration–they might not all make the cut, but I want good studio versions of those at some point.  In particular, Dave and I did do “Fighting Drunk” on our Two Hangmen EP, so it might get the axe just based on that–we’ll see.)  The rest are new.  I’m thinking a total of 10 songs.  11 tops.  I want a nice short listen on this one.

I’ve floated the album title by a few people and gotten a range of responses; mostly positive.  I like it…  It’s one of those titles that can be taken a couple different ways.  It can either be seen as optimistic or pessimistic, and I think that’s going to be a good summary of where the lyrics seem to be heading on this record…  So the title is (at least as of now) going to be “It Could Be Worse.”  (I briefly considered releasing a follow-up record one week later titled “Worse,” but I don’t think I have the energy to commit to that long of a joke.)

I’m going to be going for “Americana meets Punk” with a Big Star acoustic tone.  I’m re-structuring my guitar pedal board right now to fit the project.  I see the main guitars being the 1973 Martin, the Rickenbacker 360 (electric), and the Rickenbacker 4003 (bass).  There might be a Strat or something that slips in on some solos, but I want to keep myself limited to just a few instruments to lock in a unified tone, even though I’m planning on going back and forth between punky yelling and sad ballads. I’ve demoed one song just to test some ideas for mic-placement on the acoustic and I liked what I got…so it’s time to start talking

…and I’m going to talk about this one a lot more than the others…promote it…get excited about it…  Hopefully that generates some interest.  But even if not, I’m a big fan of PROCESS.  I like seeing how things unfold for other musicians, so why not open the door on my own stuff?

So that’s where we are… I think this is going to be a good one.  I just hope you don’t get tired of it listening to me talk about it for up to a year!


Current Listening:

  • Aimee Mann – “Mental Illness” – I’m a huge Aimee Mann fan.  “Mental Illness” came out today and it’s already in my top 10 for the year.  (Probably top 5, but the year’s still young.)  It’s a really beautiful, sad, warm, quiet little record.  Really acoustic-based and rooted in dysfunction and sad stories.  I’ve taken to saying that Aimee’s music makes feeling screwed up feel a lot less lonely.  And that’s a gift.  This is a great album, and the broken among us need it in their collection…we’ve probably needed it for years.  Glad she gave it to us.