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(Continued from previous blog entry) Lately, it seems I only feel inspired to write when I’m pressed for time or supposed to be doing something else (like working at my day job). I have sometimes found sleep deprivation to be effective to the creative process. Many times when I wake up, my mind will be racing in a way similar to being high, but without many of the other effects. So perhaps, I need to take advantage of these instances or set an alarm to wake me in the middle of the night so I can hammer out some ideas. I certainly have my distractions that I could try harder to keep in check, like facebook and porn. I have plenty of excuses and inhibitions that I use to keep me from writing, but I can easily shoot holes in every one of them. -I don’t like my songs to be too wordy. I want to try and get the ideas across as simply as possible and leave more room for the musicality of the song. However, ‘Now You Know’ is probably the longest, wordiest song I’ve ever written and people have told me it’s one of the strongest songs on the album. -I don’t want to put out bad songs, but I have definitely written and even performed some absolute pieces of shit before. -I don't want to end up writing about things that I've already written about. Yet, in my last band I had three whole songs and a verse of a fourth song that were all about the same person (though maybe in different contexts). Yeehaw Jihad already has three songs about sex and two songs about vengeance against a particular person. None of that really bothers me. -I worry about being too honest or too personal and offending someone… Think about that one for a second. Just think about what an absolute bullshit concern that is both as an artist in general and especially being a songwriter for a band called Yeehaw fucking Jihad. We have songs about cocaine, substance abuse, casual sex, rough sex, choke-fucking and the threat of vengeful murder. Yet on some level, I’m still worried about upsetting someone. Obviously, I need to stop that right now. I’m very familiar with the idea that as a creative person, I need to feed and exercise creativity by creating every day. I do believe that I’ll only be a better writer (or better anything, really) by doing it all the time. I gotta write like it’s my job because that IS the ultimate goal. So... what's everyone up to in Facebookland? -Geoff
The muse can be an elusive bitch sometimes. I don’t have much trouble coming up with music. Jamming comes naturally to me. Playing with other musicians, I can quickly pick out the key by ear and start building up from the lowest common denominator both tonally and rhythmically. On my own, I can usually grab a guitar and within half an hour or less, come up with something and be able to say, “I can use that and it doesn’t sound too much like something else I’ve already done.” Lyrics are another story. I’ve always said that while playing music is very natural to me, actually writing songs is a necessary evil to the kind of music I want to make. Writing words is like pulling teeth. I have thoughts, feelings, ideas, passions and inspirations, but getting words down on the page in a way that does justice to the idea and simultaneously sits well with the music and sounds interesting, is a daunting task almost every time. Some songs have literally taken more than a year from the point where the music was finished to the point where the words were finished. There has been more than one occasion where I finished the words in the studio right before I had to record the vocals. I have tried to work with lyricists in the past. I certainly have plenty of friends who are far better poets than I, if not lyricists. That never seems to pan out though. For one, they’ll write words that sound great on their own and don’t often fit with any kind of rhythmic melody that I can make work with what I’ve come up with. Also, I feel that if I’m going to be the one singing it, then I need to be more directly connected to the words and their meaning. In short, I’m too much of a perfectionist for my own good and if I want it done right, I gotta do it myself. I feel like I wrote better songs in my previous band. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy or take pride in what I create with Tom and Josh in Yeehaw Jihad. I love all of our songs. I’m fairly happy with the words I’ve written for them. I just feel like my lyrics were more clever and potent in the last band and I’m trying to come up with ways to get back to that level of writing. The trouble with that is, what I attribute that better writing to. During that band’s existence, I was in a very different place in my own life. I was working in a far more frustrating and soul-crushing job. I was at the end of a failed five-year relationship that had been riddled with lies, resentment and cheating from both parties. One member in the band itself, frequently had me at the edge of violent rage due to his stubborn ignorance, intolerance and immaturity while another member simply kept me on my toes all the time by generally being a loose cannon. So I had plenty of legitimate (if likely self-imposed) angst to draw from. I also was still doing drugs at the time (by drugs, I mean lots of weed and the occasional psychedelics). I don’t want to attribute too much of my creativity to substance use, but weed does seem to make ideas in the brain race around and pop out more. I think it also may have helped me simplify the ideas in my head. I tend to overthink things when I am writing. I think it’s possible that smoking helped dumb-down my overthinking so I could focus in on the purer essence of the ideas. Right now in my life, I don’t see smoking as an option and I’m not anxious to create or invite more conflict and frustration for myself (though Lisa often jokes that she could gladly shake things up for me). (Continued in next blog entry)
We received our first piece of hate mail today (which is actually pretty exciting). The message itself was brief and fairly amusing, but it presented a great opportunity to discuss the matter of our name. For those of you who don't know, 'jihad' is an Islamic word. We're aware that our name inspires attitude, intrigue and controversy. That's why it works so well for the hard rock and punk styles that we play. We have absolutely no political or spiritual message to promote. We write songs about sex, drugs, drinking, racism, death and real people in real circumstances. These are the same things rock bands have been singing about for decades. It's just life. The direct translation of 'jihad' is struggle. The deeper meaning behind our name is simply that life is a constant struggle and that it's only what you make of it. Our name is very well suited to the sound and lyrical content of our songs. While we have at times joked that our name is a hoe-down holy war or that it's where mideast meets midwest, it's really just very basic sarcasm about life. The daily struggle. Yeehaw! For the people who have an issue with our name or don't understand it and don't care to try, we couldn't give a fuck. -Geoff
This past week we tracked all the drums for our first full-length studio album. The whole undertaking is a fun and crazy process. I've already been accused of intentionally understating my excitement for it all. This may be true. This is my full-length album, period. I haven't asked, but I believe this is true for Tom and Josh as well. We've each been in various bands over the past 15+ years. Some of them have recorded, but as far as I know it's all been short demos, EP's and a few rough live recordings. This is the real deal. We're doing 9 songs. Some of them are old songs that we've been doing since the begining. Other songs on the album are newer and we've only played live a couple of times. There will even be one brand new song that no one has yet heard in its finished form. We're hoping to get a big, loud sound out of this record. We're adding a few more layers and studio tricks that we normally wouldn't be able to acheive live. Some of the songs will have acoustic parts in the mix. We're also planning to have some friends from other bands make guest appearances. The recording is being tracked, engineered and produced by some old friends of mine whose skills and ears I trust completely, Jason Lawrence and Brad Decatur. I was in a great band with Brad and Jay that lasted for 3 years and saw some very important transformations in my own personal life. So I know firsthand that they are able to give us a great sound that will more than do justice to the songs of Yeehaw Jihad. We'll be trying parts on different guitars and different amp combinations. Whatever it takes to get the right sounds for the parts. I've been going over old recordings of Yeehaw Jihad (all the way back to the begining), listening for ideas and inspiration for later when I go to record my lead parts. It's exciting for me to hear how differently we played some of the older songs when we were still feeling them out, before we cemented and homoginized how we play them now. There is definitely some good stuff that I'm going to steal from my earlier self for the album. So much to say, so much still to do. We're all excited to be making it and to be able to share it with you when it's done. We'll keep you updated on the progress. -Geoff
It's already Thanksgiving day. Soon Christmas will be here and close behind it, a new year. 2013 has been a really good year for us. At this point, we've decided to not do anymore shows this year and just focus on finishing up writing a handful of songs that we've started over the last few months. Our plan is to record a full-length album this winter before we start doing shows again in February or March. We played out a grand total of 17 times in 2013 which was just short of last year's count but still more than the entire run with any other band that I've played in. More than half of our performances this year were at the Main Crust Company. 4 were at Milly's Tavern in Manchester. Only 1 of our shows this year was out of state and only our very last show at the beginning of this month was at an actual house party. Next year, my hope is that we can play a little more strategically, if not more frequently. I want to play in more areas that we haven't and play for more people who haven't heard us. Believe it or not, we still haven't played anywhere in Massachusetts yet. We plan to remedy that. I think it would also be good to play a few more house parties. The real trick is to be where the people are. We live for playing out. It's really our favorite part of the whole process. This year we made a good number of new friends, both with bands and fans. We got to see some great new bands come into the fold who we look forward to seeing again and hopefully, sharing the stage with. The highlight performance of the year for me and probably for Tom and Josh too, had to have been the Keene Music Fest. We were lucky enough that the band before us ended early which allowed us time to set up and play at a more relaxed pace. We gave probably the strongest performance of all our original tunes to date. We definitely were given the best professional live sound treatment we have ever had. We also played to probably the largest crowd we ever have so far. It will likely be a long time and a lot of hard work before we have circumstances that favorable again. 2014 will be our 3rd year together as a band. I've found in other bands I've had that things really start to gel and flow in the 3rd year. The overall sound comes together and the songs really start to click. I see that happening for us. I think we're getting to the point where we're really dialing in our sound the way we want it and we're producing the songs that we want to be writing. I think we've pretty well defined what our sound is, but we're still testing and shaping the limits of what it can be. I'm excited by our plan to record soon. In my past experience, the recording process pulls a band together like nothing else. Being able to hear each separate component of a song and how they all balance together can really help focus everyone on everything that's going on. We'll likely record some finite versions of songs that we've been doing a while now as well as new songs that we haven't even played live yet. We're excited to have that finished product to share with you and of course, we'll have to have one hell of a party when we're ready to release it. I think 2014 will have some great things in store for us and I think that we're working hard to make sure that it does. I want to thank all of you who helped make 2013 awesome with us. We'll see you next year. Yeehaw! -Geoff
The week of the Independence Day holiday we were hard at work on our new demo. We recorded in Wes Aldrich's home studio in Dublin, NH that he has dubbed 'Ultrasound East'. Wes has a great spot to record and a great collection of vintage gear. We set out to record 3 songs for our new demo, but ended up with only 2. One song just wasn't ready in time. We're confident though, that the new demo will sound strong, especially with Kris Smith's mixing and mastering wizardry. Stay tuned for that. This past weekend we threw a party at an awesome location in Dublin with the primary goal of getting some more video footage by our friend Abner Soto. The party was in this ballroom that is the only piece left standing of an Italian-style mansion built in the early 1900's. Everything went very well. We couldn't have picked a better July night. We had hoped for a few more people, but we were impressed that we got as many as we did, considering the party was in the middle of nowhere. The mosquitoes were pretty bad too. We opened the evening and had 3 other bands follow us. HUG THE DOG, SKARMA and OFFTHEHOOK all killed it and we feel that we put on one of our best sets in recent months too. We had a great time with friends and family and rocked out 'til almost 1 in the morning. We owe a huge thanks to Maggie and Abner for letting us use the ballroom. Extra big thanks to Abner for getting even more great footage with his awesome camera. Thanks to all of the other bands for providing an awesome soundtrack to a killer summer party. Hopefully we can do it again in the fall.
This past Sunday we returned to The Railroad Tavern in Keene to headline a local showcase put on by Elm City Booking. It was part of an amazing holiday weekend with beautiful weather for all kinds of great activities. We used this performance as an opportunity to have our friend, Abner Soto shoot footage for a music video he will be producing for us. The evening really became a Yeehaw Jihad occasion. I had been asked to sit in on bass for the band Dethavesk because their bass player/front man, Adam had been unable to attend this date. I had a great time getting together with Clint and Trey earlier in the week to work on the songs. Clint's family was very welcoming and hospitable, feeding me two excellent dinners while I was there. The set went off very well for only having learned the songs the week before and practicing as a group only twice. I let the guitarist for Atlatl use my guitar for their set to save time after he had broken two strings right out of the gate. He subsequently broke a string on my guitar as well, but quickly replaced that one on the fly. Due to gorgeous weekend weather and probably some hoiday travel, our set was still poorly attended, but those who came and actually stayed with us until the end put out great energy for us. It may not have been the largest crowd we've played to, but it was undoubtedly the most enthusiastic. There were plenty of old friends and fans who had seen us times before as well as a good handful of new friends and fans that we turned on that night. I'm not conviced that we put on our best performance, but the room ate it up none the less. There was even a representative there from a local music publication who had excellent things to say about us and told us to expect an interview, a feature in the publication and more shows. Our show at The Railroad was actually the sixth in a seven week-in-a-row streek. We're getting busy. Now we just need to write a few more songs and get some merchandise to hand out to you guys. These will happen soon. Thanks everyone for your interest and your support. -Geoff
It's springtime and the ball is rolling. Lately, it seems that we're playing out almost every week. We have a house party before April is over. We have a regular, one-a-month featured spot in a local open mic night. We have 2 scheduled shows for May. It's almost getting to the point where we need to slow down so that we can write more songs. We hope to record a new demo soon and we're looking to make more connections with new bands and new venues. It's an exciting time. We're having a lot of fun and getting a good response every time we play out. See you soon.
Saturday's benefit show went as well as could be expected. All the details that were within our control went off without a hitch. The bands all played well and put out great energy. The sound was generally on target. The Derby Damez made a decent chunk of change between the door, merchandise and baked goods. There is even some pretty good video footage of all of the bands. Unfortunately, the aspect of the event that didn't go so well was yet again, attendance. We promoted intensely for over a month. We invited well over a thousand people via facebook and other means. There was an eye-catching poster that got put up around town. The event was mentioned in the Keene Sentinel and the Monadnock Shopper News. Of course there was plenty of word-of-mouth promotion too. Maybe the recent snow was a deterrant. Maybe the afternoon start time or the kid-friendly/non-alcoholic atmosphere turned people away. There were plenty of excuses offered. With all the effort that was put into this event by all parties responsible, I still would do it again. I can identify certain things that I would do differently, but that's me. As soon as we were done, I started making my lists of what needed to be worked on. I take it as a learning experience. Also, I am able to measure our band's personal growth and improvement by this show. We did have more people there to see us than the last time. More of our friends and coworkers were finally able to come out and see what we do. We made new connections with other great bands that hopefully we can play with again. We also saw a slight increase in our online fanbase. There is a measurable progress every time we play out. Now I am especially focused on refining our sound and our performance. I think we'll be woodshedding for a little while again before we play out next. We have songs to perfect and others to finish. The sun is getting closer. Winter is almost done. We won't be gone long.
Last night we opened for The Kush Groove Band in Brattleboro. In spite of only having 5 people turn out to see us and getting kicked off stage after only 20 minutes, it wasn't bad for a first gig. We had fun. Attendance can always be a big challenge, especially for a new band. When an artist promotes for an gig, they can maybe expect around 10% of the people who even say they will be there to show up. Some will even argue that estimate to be a little generous. It can be hard to find motivation to go see live music. A tough economy can often be blamed. People are broke or on budgets. Going to see a band half an hour or more from home can be out of the question for some. Expecting good attendance in the dead of winter is difficult too. People are cold, sick, tired and many just want to stay home and hibernate. Having had better attendance might have helped, but who knows? The owners of the venue didn't dig our sound and in the end that was all that mattered. We were told that we were too loud and we were asked to turn down. Decibel-wise we weren't even close to the volume of the headliner. We do have a much heavier sound, but any metal-head will tell you we're not heavy enough to be metal. If we had been playing in Massachusetts, we might not have been heavy enough. The impression we got from talkng to audience members, was that Brattleboro, like Keene is a dead music scene where club owners who say they want 'live bands' really want live jukeboxes so that patrons can drink and dance to something safe and familiar. If you're bold enough to play original music in towns like these, then you'd better play folk. Maybe if we had done our acoustic set or if we had played nothing but classic rock covers, we would've been tolerated longer only at the cost of our own self-respect. It's like the scene from The Blues Brothers when Joliet Jake asks the club owner what kinds of music they have and she replies, "Oh, we have both kinds..." One thing is for sure - if we had had more people out on that floor dancing and/or drinking, it wouldn't have mattered what we sounded like. In spite of getting 'gonged' after only half our set, the 4 songs that we did play went great. We really put out our best for that room. The songs weren't without a few flubs, but they were as tight and as spot-on as they have been so far. We even got a decent recording of it, applause and all. We stayed for The Kush Groove Band. They put on a great show as they always do and had people moving and grooving all night. At the end of the gig, Tom and I went with the guitarist and bass player from KGB to an after-party right around the corner from the venue. We made good use of the time. Tom connected with a bunch of locals who should've been in our audience that night. In his own words, he "...sold us hard." Meanwhile I connected with the host and was able to press him for contacts and venues down in Massachusetts that he said could help get the ball rolling. All-in-all we had a great night and really weren't soured by the fact that we got cut short. It made for a great first gig and a great story. We were laughing about it long before the night was over. We talked about how to plan our setlist more strategically for just such a scenario and we joked that next time we would try to get kicked off after only 2 songs. Honestly, it was a great room to play in and we all agreed that we'd love to play there again. We just know that we'll have to play a lot of other places first. We need to grow our audience and make more of a name for ourselves if it's going to be worth any club owner's trouble. So we hurt some feelings and pissed people off. It's rock music. We wouldn't be doing our job if we weren't pissing somebody off. Have you seen our band name?