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My M-Box was knocked to the ground by my cat about a year and a half ago. The faceplate came off, but remained tethered to the body of the device by the internal wiring. In the months that followed the strained wiring inhibited my work. I would hear crackling in some of my takes as I recorded and my headphones would cut in and out. I learned to deal with these infractions and even threw an elastic around the body and faceplate to keep them together and immobile. This did some good for a while, until the problems came back. Usually a little adjustment would remedy the problem. But as the recording process decayed in other ways (lack of inspiration, degradation of my voice, feeling like I wasn't 'living up' to my first album etc...) the M-Box just felt like one of the hindrances preventing me from getting the work done. The set up process before a session became laborious and uninspiring; the build up to repeated disappointment. I'd built up a body of demos to choose from but felt unable to follow the majority to completion. Then the M-Box stopped working. Fundless, disillusioned, and exhausted this was the last straw and I left it behind. I again seriously questioned whether I'd keep going. THUS II was a titanic personal failure. The original goal was this: To record a more radio friendly record, full of songs that could potentially be singles and simultaneously integrate original, non-obvious rhythms in these catchy songs; employing odd time signatures unobtrusively by creating catchy grooves over them, thus create rhythms that wouldn't be found in my contemporaries' music. This goal was difficult for me to achieve as I unwittingly pressured myself into it.With the M-Box fried, along with my resolve, I stagnated for a couple weeks.One night I went to The Mediator for open mic and Don Tassone asked if I might want to do a feature. I said yes, despite my recent inactivity. That necessity, paired with the backdrop of knowing I couldn't record, pushed me to dream up the rest of my album in a sudden surge of creativity one night - something I'd not experienced for eons. I completed two sets of lyrics, and added the finishing bits to a third I'd started months earlier. Those were 3 of the final 4 songs I had left to complete. I thought, well now I can start rehearsing Thus II for my feature at The Mediator. And so I did. Over the course of the next 2 months I rehearsed Thus II at least once a day in full. How surreal it was finally having my work of 2 years nearly complete and beginning rehearsals. Over the course of this 2 month period, I whipped my voice back into shape almost completely omitting 'chest voice' from my technique.Smoothing my voice over was huge for my endurance as a singer, and my confidence as a performer. Additionally, my guitar playing dramatically improved. The acoustic guitar fortified my manual strength and dexterity, and having played some Paul Simon songs recently I'd resorbed some long lost elements of my chord vocabulary and guitar voicing. By the time my feature came up on October 28, I'd really sunken into the difficult rhythms peppered throughout Thus II, and looked at it as a finished piece. I played and sang well. And despite a few bumps in the road, I made it to the last song and delivered what I wanted to the audience, and to myself. Cut to a week later: yesterday. I decided it was worth trying...I got it out. Set it up. Plugged it in. Miraculously, the M-Box came to life. Amazed, but reticent, I proceeded, recording a whole set of lyrics for one of those last few songs I was so inspired to write that night a couple months ago. The universe certainly works in mysterious ways...for had it not been for that last straw, the M-Box, breaking, I may still having been dragging myself through the former, muddy tedium of Thus II, as opposed to having it done sometime in the next two weeks...It's the inanticipated end of what's turned out to be an gratifying journey...
I love how people feel the need to label to works of original art in an attempt to 'classify' them...really all that does is bring it down to the level of crap art that the piece in question is striving to rise above. Okay...just a little annoyed...let me clarify: THUS II has been called '...a rock opera.' It's not. It has also been referred to as a 'concept' album. If I may be so bold, ALL ALBUMS ARE CONCEPT ALBUMS! All albums have a theme in one way or another. Not all have a unifying narrative but do stand together, on a single tangible medium for one reason or another. Maybe the artist thought they sounded good together...the theme could be as simple and broad as that. Or maybe the songs were written in a single creative burst that seems to urge the artist to release them as a recording of that period. Still, another possibility is that an artist may want to put songs together which collectively express a narrative. That is all that THUS II is. Yes, it is a gapless album. Yes, it has been a big production. And yes, it has a certain narrative to it...but it's not The Wall or a Dream Theater album. I simply wrote songs that reflect elements of my life (just like the first album), organized them into three suites consisting of four songs each, and connected them musically so that the album flows. I feel it necessary to inform that for the mild mannered listener who would rather have an album that is more simply organized that there will be two versions of it: a gapless, and a standard version. For technical and musical reasons, it is taking me an absorbitant amount of time to get both versions to my liking without compromising the integrity of the narrative. Granted, the gapless version will be in the order of the events which occured, so as to accurately project a loose 'story'...I'm not expecting anyone to necessarily say 'wow! That was really enlightening...' The 'plot' points are there simply because I was driven to write it that way. Nobody has to get it. I only want people to enjoy the music. If they're interested in the concept, great! If not, then you've got a pile of good music that I put years of my life into. Much like Brian Wilson's SMiLE album. I don't think lots of people understand that album without an explanation of it's concept. That's why I'm writing this blog about THUS II. If you're totally against 'concept albums' and consider them preachy and long winded, then I urge you to pick up the standard version of the album. It will flow nicely like a well organized collection of songs. If you're into a slightly bigger production, with loose narrative and gapless flow (no pauses between songs), you'll want to pick up my preferred, definitive version. Just don't call it a rock opera. Ugh.
Hey all - I am very excited to report that I have very little work left on THUS II. I finished a new song called Surface Depth yesterday...if I feel like putting the effort into releasing another single before I let the finished album out, this song will likely be it. I've been testing the gaplessness of the 9 finished tracks for quality assurance (flow of the track order, key changes between songs where needed, continuity of the subject matter, etc...) and I'm more ecstatic than ever to release this enormous piece of work! Anyone who has eagerly waiting the past few years for new THUS is in for big rewards for patience! Talk to you all soon with more updates... Mike
Thus has seen a great amount of action lately...right here on Reverb Nation. Widget hits went up to over 157,000 following the release of the first single in over 3 years: 'Between the Lines'...wonder how that happened...and following the release of the next single 'Crime Scene' I found myself at #7...then #6...then #5 on the local alternative charts! Flying high...if you've got time, check out my other projects Bridge Under Construction with Scotty Lewis, and Attack at Dawn with Cameron Moquin. They're both on Reverb Nation so since you're here, and sick of listening to Thus over and over and over, give those guys some love! They are both exciting projects to be a part of and have influenced the writing process of THUS II. As for the future of live performance, I'm still working on the 2nd album and hope to get out on stage when it's completed. It will require very specialized musicians to acheive onstage but I think they will come to me (...hopefully...)let me know if you know someone...or are someone...interested in getting involved. That's all for now...stay tuned for a new single soon... Mike
Be sexy. Be there. We're rockin the Living Room's shingles off again on the 29th this month. Bring some anibiotics in case we get another friendly flu dusting from above. JTO Man will be joining us again as well as a slate of other artistes you can smell from many feet away. THUS has spoken. BRAAAAAAAAHH!
to everybody who attended THUS first show at the Ron Paul Liberty Ball on Friday night. Your support lubricated us in all the right places. Watch for us in the next month. We'll be around. Mike
Saturday At Nine http://www.myspace.com/saturdayatnine JTO http://www.myspace.com/rifunkymusic TORN http://www.myspace.com/torn THUS http://www.myspace.com/thusissexy Johnny Carlevale & His Band Of All-Stars http://www.myspace.com/brokenrhythmboys GlassAndSteel http://www.myspace.com/rochaman (pre-produced CD to run between a band) Mourning the Dead www.myspace.com/wearemourningthedead Corte Aqui http://www.myspace.com/corteaqui
Obama is being backed by Ted Kennedy. +++ Ron Paul has the most successful internet campaign in history and in the last year he has broken single day fund raising records twice. +++Huckabee wants to abolish the IRS, and cater to the middle class and the working poor+++McCain and Romney are scratching each others backs- seen on Jan 30 with their successful filibuster of Ron Paul, and nearly successful filibuster of Huckabee- Huck was able to enter enough dialogue to at least lay down a little bit of his position. Anyway, McCain and Romney both plan to stay in Iraq for, get this, 100 years. I shit you not, you can look it up.+++Anderson shit-sCooper(intended misspelling) is acting like pawn for the media empire, the "fourth estate". The King of media-- Rupert Murdoch (owner of every major news medium-, has the power to filter what we see, hear and know (from television and print media). This is why it is important to do good research, and evaluate each candidate from your own set of standards and principals, not to those of a man or woman inside your TV box.+++Although the media can't stop saying it, Edwards did not ever say he was dropping out of the race, he said he would "step aside" and "suspend" his campaign. Currently he has not endorsed anyone.+++ I will continue to summerize the highlights of the process so you don't have to do too much research on your own.. Just keep in mind, there is no law that says you have to be truthful on television or in print, technically, it's our first amendment right to free speech that allows it. With the war smoldering away our resources, the Patriot act continually takes away our most important rights. The second Amendment of the contitution says we have the right to arm ourselves to protect our homes and families will soon be removed, along with our first amendment freedom of press, religion and free expression. Already we've lost Amendment 4( No unwarranted search and siezure), 5 (right to a trial and appropriate punishment) 6 (speedy trial) 7 (trial by jury) -- These rights have already been dissolved by the Patriot Act as well as Amendment 8 which stands against Cruel and unusual punishment. What does that mean to you? It means the government can enter your house without your consent-- even when you're not home, search your belongings, take anything they consider incriminating, or just take you and dispose of you/torture you as they please. I don't think this is too difficult to understand. The current government is grossly unconstitutional. Have a nice day.