Monday, January 4, 2010

2010: The Year We Make TOO MUCH Contact


So 2010 is upon us, which in itself, is a relief. 2009 was, for most members of IWTDI, the worst year we'd ever experienced. Whether it be intense breakups, the passing of loved ones, the fucked economy, personal illness, whatever- it all just piled up, end over end, and somehow managed to crash down on us for months at a time. There were certainly high points- some colossal shows (playing in front of 14,000 supportive Joan Jett fans was a milestone- as were shows with some of the best NC has to offer- Polvo and Birds Of Avalon to name just a couple), a tour than included an unforgettable day and show in Minneapolis, MN (in which events unfolded that will later be revealed to be specific and important to the context of this very blog update), and most importantly- signing to our record label, Greyday, and releasing our vinyl "The Beached Margin/Done Waiting" and our CD "Horror Vacui", both through the Portland, OR based label. All those great moments aside, we're very happy to be done with 2009 and on to better, saner times.

Last night was an interesting night. We played another one of our "I Was Totally Destroying U2" tribute shows to a very healthy sized crowd at Tir Na Nog in Raleigh. In the opening moments of the third song in the set- somewhat ironically, "New Year's Day"- I completely and totally lost my voice. I am not kidding- I was reduced to a mousey squeak on even some not-too-crazy notes. This was understandably horrifying, given that it was the third song and we had about 30 left to go. I was left there, trying to see if I could push the catch out of my throat, during the epic yelps of the mid-section of the song. No dice. Then, In the final stanza, my voice cracked *back* into place. I (mostly) had my notes again. The very kind audience seemed to rally behind me, or at least tolerate that the operatic moments weren't gonna be happening for a bit. The problem persisted off and on for the following 5 or 6 songs, and then during "Bad", probably the second hardest tune to sing in the entire set- I was fully able to hit the high notes again and really didn't have the problem anymore for the rest of the night. It's kind of a mystery as to why that would happen- lose your voice, then suddenly un-lose your voice (although I'm sure the multiple cups of hot tea courtesy of Chris Tamplin had their hand in it) - but that brings me to my next thought in this longwinded story. During those awful moments in the middle of "New Year's Day", I noticed that the lovely Karen Mann was videotaping us. And videotaping us ONLY THEN. She shot THAT song, and stopped. Because of the candid, frightening, "snapshot of a moment" nature of what Karen was recording- I was reminded of something I want to try with IWTDI in 2010....

Let's call it "2010: The Year We Make TOO MUCH Contact". Many bands before us have documented the process of recording an album on film- whether it be feature length documentary, or YouTube updates. I've always loved these glimpses into the process- but they've always been just that- glimpses. Now I don't mean I'm gonna make some 75 hour documentary here- but my biggest qualm with these candid portraits is what gets left out. It always feels like you're walking into the creation of an album halfway through- or leaving before the final touches are applied. I always crave more context. I feel like IWTDI is in a unique position at the moment to open a window to the viewer from an albums inception, to it's completion- which we're hoping will take roughly a year- January until December, 2010. This month we're kinda starting from scratch- our only goal is to make something that sounds nothing like what we've sounded like in the past, and something that is strikingly compelling and still "catchy", whatever that means. We have tiny bits and pieces of *potential* songs, but nothing much really. We plan to spend the month of January sifting and cataloging/demoing our best ideas that have been laying around unused, then jump right back into the full band process in February- see where those stray ideas go, and try to create many more from scratch- a very different approach for what has basically always been a singer/songwriter type of band. The spring and summer will be spent creating true songs out of these ideas, more demoing, pre-production- and then we have plans to record the album in a very special place in the autumn/winter. And we plan to film all of this. Band practice, songwriting sessions, bedroom demoing, album discussions, the studio process, etc. We want you to see the metamorphosis of the songs and the concepts, still without giving too much of it away. Like that footage Karen Mann was shooting, I want to capture the temporary moments- but see how they evolve over time, stacked next to their counterparts from the future. So yes, this is all a very longwinded way of saying "we're gonna post a bunch of videos throughout the year letting you in on the process of creating I Was Totally Destroying It album #3.

Lately (always?) I can't get enough of Kate Bush, Bear In Heaven, Cocteau Twins and watching documentaries on Krautrock and immersing myself in the world of Brian Eno- most recently finishing and thoroughly enjoying a book about his "Another Green World" album. You should check it out- there's many thought processes and concepts explored on different approaches to music making that I hope to *somehow* mold into the IWTDI experience (Oblique Strategies, anyone?). And once again, that's what this whole 2010 project is going to be about. Today, Rachel and I would probably say we want the next album (which has a working title already, one I am quite fond of- but it's far too soon to give it away) to sound like "Hounds Of Love" meets "Achtung Baby" meets the five of us. I'm gonna guess we're way off the mark right there, but let's see what I say in December.

Here's to a wild ride, please tag along!
-John & IWTDI