Gatecrasher Diary 8-14-10

Audioshards’ main focus is to chronicle the journey of making my new album, Gatecrasher.  So, for my first diary entry, a little background story. The road to making this album started with some odd feelings about some successes.

Every February, I team up with the members of the Berkeley Social Scene and we combine forces like Voltron and become the mighty Zinkline. Zinkline then releases an album for the FAWM. In 2007, we made an album called “Bending the Worlds”. The next year, I decided to write a concept album. The album was called “Grace of a Car Crash” and told the tale of a political assassination that leads to a nuclear war. Zinkline enjoyed doing the concept album idea the first time, we embraced it again in 2009. We did an album all about various board games. “Zugzwang” included songs inspired by Monopoly, Operation, Settlers of Catan and various others. We stuck with the concept album idea this year and made “Little Cuts”, an album full of songs inspired by various phobias.

The thing about “Little Cuts” was, despite it being an excellent album, it wasn’t what I had envisioned. Some of the songs went in directions, I hadn’t expected. I wrote very dark and moody tunes, the bands decided to play them with contrasting bright melodies. And that’s when the strange feeling came over me. These were songs that I had written but I didn’t take part in the music making. I was the words, BSS were the sound. As a lyricist, you hand your work to others to manipulate. I suddenly found myself wanted more because I may have been happy to have a band as talented as BSS turning my words into songs, I wanted a bigger piece of the pie.

The first thought was make an album myself. I would delve into my usual world of acoustic guitars and dark songwriting. Then I came to the realization that the narrow range of my musical acumen would not suffice if I wanted to create the album that was in my head. So, what did I do? I decided to put down the music for a little while and focus on my writing. Back in November, I had succeeded at my first NaNoWriMo. I wrote a story called Dead End 94, all about a group of ghost hunters. I love serials and I wrote Dead End 94 with the clear intent to write several sequels. I started going over the story and found that I didn’t have the drive.

I was creatively lost for quite a while. Then my girlfriend Jill & I got the idea of starting a blog where I would write a serial. The serial would be called Gatecrasher and have to do with opening a gate to a parallel universe. The initial blog fell apart and I tried to write Gatecrasher as stand alone prose. It didn’t feel right. Then I got the idea to write Gatecrasher as songs. I wrote the first song, currently titled “Dead of Night”, and everything clicked into place. I knew that this was going to be an album. But I was still left with the question of how to get it to sound the way I envision.

Lucky for me that I know a bunch of great musicians. I asked my friends if they would be interested in helping me and put together a four piece band: Chris on guitar, Ken on drums, John on bass and I’m handling vox. The band is going to try making three songs to see if this foursome clicks. Chris has been great with listening to my ideas and trying to make them happen. I love the fact that I’ve got him listening to Made Out of Babies to get a sense of where my head is musically.  Right now, we’re really at the beginning stages. I’m writing the lyrics for the 10 songs that will make up Gatecrasher’s story and I’m only 2 songs in.

The album isn’t the whole thing. Gatecrasher needs to be something more. To tell the story, I need more. Chris suggested music videos and that thought was already in my head. There needs to be a greater presentation. But that’s way down the road. And I’m excited to see where Gatecrasher’s Road takes me.

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