Ah the peaceful life. Sort of.
Mr Wizard has been scheduling the rest of 2020 and we're even peering into the dim mists of the future for various things.
There comes a point where concepts and the future drop below the event horizon. and it becomes a Best Hope, rather than a Plan.
Carl said to me during the tour, we have a 60% hit rate on set lists, in terms of varying from the printed order.
I asserted that 60% is a good strike rate, considering the variable types of shows and locations, times, crowd and vibes. That in fact our ability to shift to find the right rhythm for the right moment is a strength.
I may have also indicated that anyone else who wants to drive the bus is welcome to take the wheel. I may have used another metaphor and more colorful language, but that comes with the territory.
This is illustrative of 'planning'.
Whatever our intentions may be, circumstances quickly supersede proposed direction.
The 5th US tour was all about the unexpected. Amen to that.
Making another album was predictable, we like that sort of thing after all, yet doing it in Clarksdale, and with songs we'd written in Memphis was quite unexpected.
The chain of causality was hard to follow - We cancelled some shows after Millage's son got sick and Millage had to cancel, leaving us with time to finish writing. We had a gap in our schedule as a result and...well...so.
This brings us to the current discussion of 'What makes an album'
What Makes an Album
See? It's even got its own title.
For Theo & Mr Wizard: an album is about quantity.
We have 4 tracks recorded in Clarksdale, another 4-6 written/worked on in Memphis or on tour and then everything else.
Sonic quality and Concept are more my kind of categories.
I reckon we can call 7 songs, all in the same basic mental concept, with some sort of sonic relationship, an album.
I prefer the term 'record', as it's a record of where we were and what we were into.
Dr Rock has started me thinking in "era's".
Each of the albums has been it's own sonic and thought concept.
Allow me to repeat and refine from an earlier blog I may have expressed these opinions in -
1. Whiskey Talking was Blues without 12 Bars. Recorded inexpensively, one studio, no particular sound in mind.
2. Spacejunk - Analogue lunacy. Shredding tapes, motor control issues, live sound problems. Everything was recorded and mixed analogue. Why? Cos that's what we were into. I also note that Mr Wizard & Theo don't consider this an album, but an EP as it's only 6 tracks. The Marketing Department begs to differ.
3. Nuevo Retro - Blues without borders. Our first time finding our own style and taking bigger risks. Same studio production quality, some sonic flaws when things went wrong with the rhythm section.
4. Carl's Chair - Live, on location sound and when we went all O Brother Where Art Thou. That's where we got into trouble for writing Trans Genre pieces. Oops.
5. Hired Guns & Borrowed Glory - on location again, fusions styles. Guitar amps housed inside massive boxes to insulate the drums sound, madness.
6. The Curious Assembly. Rule book out the window. Each song with it's own sonic style. The differences were the point. The consistent element was change. 11 studios.
7. Everywhere Feels Like Home - a sound track. Recorded here, there, a sonic travelogue.
8. Kansas City Gold - a production disaster on top of a tour disaster (hi Qantas) turned into a triumph thanks to some hard core technical work and perseverance. We'll never get that sound twice because it's a never to be repeated process. No, seriously.
9. Defiance - The Mid Western sound, we-wish-we-were-tom-petty and beyond. Sonically impeccable. The precise opposite of what we experienced with KCG. Smooth sailing, easy, well planned, well executed. Would 100% do it again the same way.
10. Safe Harbour - Artsy beyond all reasonable belief, experimentation with location sounds, real world locations effects on writing, hoo boy some completely wacko stuff. Flamenco, Trance.
11. Rogue State - Rules? Nah. Sonic quality? Wall of sound. No mercy. A tribute to Sydney and Aussie Rock. Nostalgic, bittersweet, a real chunk of 'white city' (hi Pete!) but about our own hometown.
So where to from here?
L, our favourite Aztec, said that Rogue State was completely unexpected. That's a compliment.
PL was listening to the double release of Safe Harbour/Rogue State and wrote me initially, 'this first one is boring' and then shortly after 'but this 2nd one is exciting' to which I replied 'yeah, you got it' - hence the double release. From calm to hectic.
Make Voyages, attempt them, there is nothing else
Before we wound up heading to Memphis, we had a backlog of songs to record.
Getting 'Crossfire' done took aaaaages, a little similar to the finalisation of Kansas City gold.
It's not a problem, it's an exercise in patience. It's ready when it's ready.
As a result of going to Memphis and planning the shows with Millage, we started writing stuff to suit.
'Get on home' was written for him, all bout the proposed journey and it's relevance, the things he'd told me about touring the circuit back in the 60's.
As we travelled, new stuff emerged and that meant putting aside all the other songs in the pipeline and doing the things that related to the time and place.
That's yielded some good new directions.
If we hadn't gone, we wouldn't have the songs.
Same same with Defiance, in fact, looking back over the catalogue, we have always been keenly and voluntarily affected by location.
Now that we're back, Mr Wizard wants to add another 3 songs to the Memphis/Clarksdale batch and call it an album.
For me, I'd rather see the stuff that's mentally consistent and sonically consistent grouped together.
So is an Album even relevant?
Is an Album a 20th century hold over? Does it matter?
Video games are thew new rockstars
Music, once the province of Led Zeppelin and stratospheric monies, is now the smaller player in an increasingly fragmented market.
Humans still love music, but the 20/21st centuries + technology + societal shifts are not yet done and it's turmoil in access land.
Billions of hours of self made material being churned out, and small numbers of high value AI generated predictive winners pushed with money to try and catch a little of the last rain.
ML said to me, and ML is a smart cookie. He said 'Paint. You're a painter. Paint.'
k so that was symbolic. I mean I'm not a painter (does photoshop count?) and he's a mastering engineer, but the idea was solid.
So we paint.
Streaming? Singles? I dunno.
Can't solve that one. Beyond event horizon.
is 7 songs an album?
Do people buy albums?
Is it even something to entertain?
As I cannot work that out, I propose instead to finish the work and then see what happens.
What's the worst it could be? We release two?
It's good to be active, working, and following a path.
This will take the time it takes; our resources are not unlimited.
I read somewhere 'let thy limitations be thine art'. I am not sure what that means exactly, but it comes to mind.
When we were in Clarksdale, Gary and I had some discussions on sonic quality. I'm interested in their sound.
I'd like to keep the stuff that's connected in that way together. I can't hold back the torrent of other work that's out there and we can't do everything at once.
Aaaaand were back to planning and scheduling.
See what I did there?
TL:DR - making album 12 is prompting album 13 and maybe albums don't exist and it's just a bunch of songs, but I still have to arrange studio time and also finish writing.
Good times, good times.