It’s been some time. A lot is on the go, even though the touring has settled for a moment. I’ve been returning to some important things left somewhat neglected as of late: reading books, writing songs, etc.
THOUGHTS ABOUT STUFF//
It’s hard to believe that I barely wrote a song between recording Club Meds (finished May, 2014) and this past December 2015. But I also barely read a book in that time. There is so much connection between what room we make in our brains for new ideas and our ability therein to process and re-broadcast those ideas having given them some thought.
I might be late to the game, but upon a demanding recommendation from my buddy Matthew Swann over coffee in Nelson this fall, I’ve recently dug into the work of David Foster Wallace. The 1,079 page Infinite Jest sits on my night stand, mocking me. It calls me names like “procrastinator” and “scaredy cat”. I’ll get there. In the meantime, one of the more enlightening and unexpectedly fascinating bits of his work I’ve read was an essay called Authority And American Usage, which is literally a review of of an English language usage guide called A Dictionary Of Modern American Usage. This can be found in an excellent collection of his essays called Consider The Lobster.
I know, I know, it sounds about as riveting as one academic writer reviewing another academic writer. But to my surprise, I found myself down an analytical rabbit hole of connections and epiphanies about language and politics, and how language is inherently political, and how the debate about the sanctity of language (or lack thereof) is entirely connected to every strongly rooted struggle that humanity has perpetually endured between forces of old and forces of new. Forces of concentrated power structures and forces of the chaotic many. Forces of actuality and forces of ideology. And it’s not soap-boxy. It’s ultimately insightful and self-depreciating at the same time.
In short, Foster Wallace is a master. This is the power of a good writer. And it’s inspiring. It’s like you stick a little syrup tap into what appears to be a dead, boring old tree, and out comes a fire hose current of energetic connections between absolutely everything.
A huge thank-you to the ever-active minds and hearts of The Amazing Factory for putting together this beautiful video for the song Forgetery. Another huge thank-you to all of the fine folks who contributed their talents, homes and time to this shoestring-budget endeavour, including the intelligent and incredibly talented Rainn Wilson (who was trooper enough to jump into a swimming pool clothed). And thanks to our friends at The Line Of Best Fit for premiering the video so handsomely.
Last year, as we were promoting Club Meds, I wrote this missive about Forgetery for DIY Mag. It’s about opening a window into a better version of yourself, and then facing the fact that the window may close again:
My great aunt Margie used to say, “My memory is shot, but my forgetery is very sharp.” I had this amazing experience, once. I was, for a moment, completely and utterly connected and at peace with the entire universe. There was no truth or falseness, there was only perception and the question of willing to accept perception, or to to deny it. Acceptance led to beauty and wonderment. Denial led to conflict and anger. And then, as quickly as the feeling came over me, it was gone. It’s a slippery fish. As soon as you’re aware of an honest moment, it slips away and we go back to our internal discussion ABOUT the moment. Complete unconsciousness is the same thing as total consciousness.
Last year, I played music supervisor to a project my wife Kirsten was heavily invested in as a producer/actor. It’s a web-series called The Drive, and it takes place in the vibrant community of Commercial Drive here in Vancouver. The show is packed full of (only) Vancouver bands, and it plays out not only as an exposé on the neighbourhood, but as a slice of what’s happening in this city musically. I have to say, it was such a pleasure to gather old and new musician pals into this work.
I’m proud of what Kirsten and her fellow producers Nick, Lindsay and Magali put together. Stuart Gillies directed the series (who also directed the video for About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All). It is a dramatic series about many things, but in particular my generation – a demographic who waited an extra ten years to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, who grew up in cities where they may never afford to live as adults, who got university educations but maybe never applied them to any one thing. How is it that ten year olds are more mature and world-connected than ever before, and yet real live modern adults don’t ever really “grow up” like their parents did? Anyhow, you can binge-watch 7 episodes of The Drive (just over an hour total) here: http://www.thedriveseries.com
(Fun-fact: I also designed the box art)
Big love and much congrats to two inspiring visual artists, Ben Clarkson and Cam Dales, who have been nominated for a JUNO Award in the category of “Recording Package Of The Year” for their work on Club Meds. Ben allowed us to use his drawing titled “Dream House” for the cover and then followed up with a series of amazing architectural illustrations. Cam designed the layout and general vibe of the package. Both were extremely indulgent of my long-winded explanations of the album and what I was trying to convey and both managed to funnel that information into a beautiful visual representation of the LP. To me, the aesthetic suggests both the beautiful peace and harrowing melancholy of isolation – that we seek to remove ourselves from the rat race, but can never escape ourselves, and that honesty with oneself is the only true peace. Then again, maybe that’s all bologna and it just looks rad. How fun.
I should mention that I’ve received a number of notes from people suggesting that the actual audio from Club Meds was overlooked when it comes to the 2016 JUNOs. For those sentiments, thank you kindly. But all is well. We made the album we were compelled to make and spilled all of our blood and guts into it and are extremely proud of our work. It has not been received commercially the way that Oh Fortune was, but I plan on making a lot of albums and they will probably fall in and out of favour with whatever else is in the Zeitgeist. And who knows, maybe this LP just needs some time to incubate and will one day find a much larger audience. If we allow external forces of affirmation to define our self-worth, we are proverbially f*#ked.
OH YEAH, MUSIC//
As I mentioned, I’ve been writing songs! It feels very good. I’m going to release some music to the world very soon. Some new things. Some re-hashed old things. Some covers. But more on that soon. I’m pregnant with ideas and, thus, the anxiety that they may actually come to fruition. Some exciting things to announce soon. Don’t touch that dial. I’m also working on lining up a number of tours this year in a stripped down fashion. I’ve been playing some duo shows with the incredible Gordon Grdina and they’ve been so fulfilling. More to come on that, also.
And lastly, I will leave you with this bit of hedonistic smart-assery. I recently responded to a spam email – the kind you get about a prince from an exotic country asking for your bank details and thank god they tracked you down. I had a very pleasing correspondence with my pen pal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.