I’m honestly not very good at doing “typical” musician/band things...
[For those who are in a rush, or just don’t care to see me cleaning out the existential cobwebs of my cerebral cortex in the form of long-form stream-of-consciousness text, skip to the ***Break*** at the end to get right to the big news!]
I don’t relish being the center of attention.
I don't necessarily exude confidence, and I rarely play in front of people.
I arrange and record everything alone like an antisocial little hermit, and I’m constantly in a state of writing/recording rather than clearly starting and finishing a defined project.
I don’t have a market. I don’t always fit into one genre, and if anything, part of the benefit of my one-man-recording-project "band" is that I don’t need to. I can embrace my sense of musical whimsy without fear of alienating full-time musical collaborators.
I never had an innate desire to be rich and famous.
I always want to improve at things musically, but I don’t feel a need to become a virtuoso at anything. I actually aspire to be a jack of all trades, and I’m perfectly content to be a master of none (I do daydream of taking classical piano lessons or learning to play the harp, but that’s all in a different context).
I don’t follow the typical old-school path toward a life of professional musicianship (play live and build a local following, try to sell merchandise, save up a pile of money and rent time in a pro studio to record a demo, get a manager with super-awesome slick hair, which leads to meeting a magical record label deal fairy. Then you get hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on recording an album and funding for a world tour. You've officially make it BIG, which means you can finally afford to rent out an entire Tibetan monastery in which to snort priceless finely-ground wooly mammoth tusk powder with Bill Murray, then record a million dollar album with Dave Grohl on drums. You find out you still owe all that recording and touring money back to the label fairy, so you get all hopped-up sniffing bowling lane oil and drive your leased Maserati into a school bus full of orphaned pygmy children, then spend 3 nights per week in court-mandated outpatient group therapy sessions before you declare bankruptcy, later join the church of Scientology and turn your life around before hitting the county fair and children's birthday party music circuits en route to your eventual comeback… It’s a story as old as time. Anyway, I digress.)
So with all of these facts in mind, I’ve been asking myself lately; Why am I approaching my musical releases like a “typical” band or artist? It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it’s doing what I’m “supposed” to do as a musician rather than what works best for me, and it’s a bit of a sad and somnambulistic approach to what I’m passionate about in life. I’ve begun to stress myself out with my own therapeutic hobby, and I’m stifling my instinctual creativity by worrying about logistics and “business” decisions. I have to stop myself from writing new songs every time I get a few minutes in the studio, because my time is limited and I need to “finish” some of the others. I’ve been so worried about how to get new people to hear my music, that I don’t share what I have with the people who already want to hear it.
So how do I use my unique qualities to my advantage, instead of sabotaging them in order to wedge myself into someone else's mold? How do I USE my "gifts"?
First of all I had to identify said gifts (which is no small feat for a self-deprecating and frankly confidence-deficient lad like myself). Let’s go back to my list of qualities. What do I have to offer? What sets me apart? It’s not virtuosity, it’s not showmanship, and it’s obviously not marketing skill or financial freedom J… It’s the ability to crank out songs. Whenever I want. Too many, for the way I’m trying to do things now.
I extend a heart-felt welcome to those of you who just skipped over the leisurely gondola ride through the stream of mental diarrhea that I just spewed out onto my keyboard, and an equally heart-felt congratulations goes out to those who made it through all of that without gouging your eyeballs out on the sharpest corner of the nearest piece of furniture. Without further fondue, here’s my big news:
There will be no 2nd album from The High Cell.
For the tens of super fans that are disappointed to see this, fret knot. I’m not quitting making music. On the polar contrary, I’m going to be making MORE music. And I’m going to make it available for you to hear much more often than this “One album every 2 or 3 years” crap.
Later this summer I will be releasing an EP of four or five songs (a digital release on iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc). The EP title is “Devil on a Tricycle”, and I’m REALLY excited about sharing it. After that, I will be intermittently releasing a number of other EP’s on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes they might be themed in terms of rough musical genre or general mood, other times they might just be a random collection of some songs I want to share. I might release a few singles here and there, and my idea is that if/when I can get caught up with my current pile of songs, I’ll be able to start sort of a regular “Mikey’s Monthly Song” release to equate to at least 12 new songs per year (which is what I'd want to put on an album anyway). The idea of an almost real-time writing/recording/release process like this will allow me to let songs go and conversely allow me to let all the new ones out.
I know a few people will be a bit disappointed at the abandonment of the full album format and the lack of commercially available physical CD’s, but I believe the benefits of this new strategy will far outweigh the alternative status quo in the single-serving, ADD-riddled 140-character climate we live in today. One realization I came to when considering my options was that I haven't been writing songs with a cohesive album structure in mind, but rather approaching them each as individual endeavors (at times getting on a roll for a few at a time that fit together). In the end, I asked myself- "What good is all the time and emotion I put into this music if I never let anyone hear it?". And the way I've been doing things isn't going to allow anyone to hear most of it. I don't want to be the guy who keeps talking about the next album and disappoints everyone by pushing it back repeatedly, so... I'm just not going to do it.
I believe that my unique “gift” could just be the ability to produce a fairly prolific volume of output as a songwriter, and I hope you’ll join me in my journey to explore it. Expect a release date for "Devil on a Tricycle" soon!