Well guys, here we are. I've been been teasing "big news" for a while now, and it is finally time to let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag. It's not just one grand announcement of awesomeness, but also a series of other bits of news and updates as well. Ready?
After all the time I have spent over the past seven years on Absolutepunk, I have come to know many incredible people, and I have had opportunities and experiences that would have never been possible without such an amazing community. While the industry and state of music in general may always be changing (and not always for the better), Absolutepunk is pretty much the best representation of whatever the "scene" still is today, and without that outlet, things would not be the same for many, many bands, and many, many individuals. Myself included.
Not long ago I decided it was time to do something else. Something more. Yeah, I realize I get a lot of attention on AP. But that's not what this is about. This is about doing something more than sitting around and simply talking about music. Something bigger than the individual. A reputation. This is about giving back what I can to the people and the community who have given me so much, for so long. This is the least I can do.
That being said, here's the big news: I've started a record label. You can check it out at American Dream Records
Things came together not even two months ago, and working with another AP member (Ryan from the band Augustine, you'll get to know him eventually) we progressed from what began as a post on the message board to a legitimate record label already working with several bands. Currently, we are focusing on vinyl releases for bands, both active and no longer with us, that for whatever reason were unable to give their records the treatment they, and many fans, felt they deserved. While the vinyl format has been making a comeback as they say, I feel that many are still intimidated and confused by the concept of owning records. In a world of digital everything and instant gratification, that is understandable to a point, but we will be doing whatever we can to help change that.
As you have seen if you clicked the link to our site, our first release is with The Graduate. It has been a pleasure working with them, both from a personal and professional standpoint. We are proud to bring you the exclusive release of their new album, Only Every Time. The record is gorgeous, both musically and visually. There's a bonus track included as well, and I have to say it's just as good as the rest of the album and the b-sides they recently put out. The band has been awesome to work with, and we couldn't have asked for a better record to have as our first recently. As a little bonus, if you grab two different colors, you get entered to win one of the test pressings, which are extremely rare. If you buy all three colors, you'll get two entries. We're already at work putting things together for the release of Anhedonia. The Graduate are heading out on tour this week with The Dangerous Summer (who have an acoustic album coming out in a couple days that I strongly recommend), Sparks The Rescue, and The Scenic. I highly encourage you to check out this tour, and the band will be selling the record at shows along with all their other merch.
We are also proud to announce we will be releasing The Agreement by Lakes. We will have a pre-order on the site as soon as the artwork is finalized. I'd also like to announce that the band will be releasing an EP in the very near future, followed by their next full length. If you were ever a fan of Watashi Wa and wondered where they went, Lakes is the answer you've been looking for. We're excited to work with them on The Agreement, as well as some other projects which we'll keep under wraps for now.
Last but not least, and I don't mean to be too much of a tease...just kidding, I really do...There's something else amazing that I'm waiting a bit longer to announce, but it's something that a lot of you are going to love and we absolutely cannot wait to bring you the final product(s). It involves a band/artist that's been around for a good amount of time, so we are very much looking forward to bringing you something we feel is long, long overdue. We'll let you know soon enough.
I want to thank everyone who has helped make this happen. I also want to thank everyone who kept this very secret up until now. It has been an amazing and exciting experience, and the support and interest we have already received even without anyone really knowing this was happening has been astounding. There are so many other things already in the works, we are amazed and we are thankful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you're a band and you think we can help you out, let us know!
She asks me about some past relationships. Short answers. I try not to think of these things. They've been etched deep, but for the most part I'm consciously able to avoid recollections of past affairs. It's usually a nightmare, a smell, a place, a song, a book that triggers something subconsciously. Other times it's just words that might have been said by another person at another time. I'm thrown into a flashback. I get the sinking feeling in my stomach and the ice in my veins even if there's no reason to feel so. Perhaps some things are just ingrained in you too deep to ever really forget. When do you know when you're really over it? Maybe there really is no Eternal Sunshine. Maybe you don't get over it. Maybe you can't. Maybe you're not supposed to.
And she tells me she's not happy, and she tells me why. I think to myself, this could be worse. This has been worse. This is worse. It might not be good for her, but maybe she doesn't know what the opposite end of the spectrum is like. She could be taking things for granted. Everyone does. You get used to it. It becomes routine. You settle for things you shouldn't and you don't thing about the big picture. The long term. If you complain about not being happy, but aren't taking all the steps you could to actually obtain that happiness, then what are you doing at all? You're only wasting your own time. Just stop. It's not easy and it's not supposed to be. But do something. Otherwise just let go.
You might feel like history is doomed to repeat itself. You'll never get what you want. You never have, you never will. Maybe what you wanted wasn't what you needed. Just because it didn't work out before doesn't mean it won't work out this time. Or the next time. Or the next. The sun used to be the center of the universe, you know. Ask Nicolaus how that turned out.
Eventually you get to a point where you have to focus on yourself and new opportunities. New faces. New places. Living in a world of "what could have been's" and "maybe this time around's" gets you nowhere. You've got your whole life and it could end tomorrow. Stop wasting it. I'd prefer to focus on myself than deal with the problems created by other people.
If you are living scared, then you are not really living. Trust me on this one.
And she asks why I don't write anymore and everyone asks why I don't write anymore. And I say I won't write about not being able to write, and I won't, because that's redundant and useless. It's pathetic. It's self serving and it's self destructive. She asks why it's been so long. What's changed? Everything has changed. What hasn't changed? You know why I haven't written? I haven't felt it. It hasn't been there. I haven't felt that fire, that burn, that need to get it all out into word for people to say Oh he's such a great writer and for the people to say Oh he's the cause of all his own problems and he should shut up and do something with his life. For all I know both crowds are completely right and completely wrong.
I tell her that it hasn't been there lately, at least not like it was. Maybe she understands, maybe she doesn't. Then I tell her, it hasn't been there lately, but it's still there, somewhere. Wherever it hides, takes time off.
It doesn't ever really go away. And I'm sorry, but you either have it or you don't. There might be phases of how much or when, but it's still there. You don't lose it. You might lose your mind. You might lose your friends. Some money. A girl. It'll find you again. If you're one of the blessed, the cursed, the chosen, the fortunate, or the unfortunate that have this in whatever sense of having it you may, it is up to you to figure out what to do with it before it is just too fucking late. You missed your chance kid. You blew it.
"there are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
You don't lose the fire. You burn out before it does. The fire does what it always has. Grows, inspires, amazes, consumes.
I feel as if each time I write a blog these days (weeks, months), I should put a disclaimer that it very well could be my last entry on the site. Burn out or fade away. I do not write like I used to, and I do not know why. I have the time, I should have the energy, but something is off. That urge of necessity to get the words out does not appear as often as it used to. Maybe I've grown up, maybe I've learned. Maybe I've begun to accept things which I previously could not. Maybe I have the people I need. A lot of people want a lot of things, but in all honesty, it doesn't matter what they want. It matters how things are. The world does not run on good intentions. It is doubtful there would be enough to run the whole thing if this was the case, regardless.
Charles, you see, people like him are somewhat of a rarity these days. Too few, I would say. Not enough, unfortunately. Not too many, thankfully. There are people who understand, who you do not have to say much of anything to, or even anything at all sometimes, and they are okay with that. They are not happy, they are not particularly sad. They just are. They know what it is like to really feel, and what it is like to feel alone. These emotions, memories, and sensations, no matter how terrible it all becomes, these people just keep going. It takes a special kind of strength and a certain sort of intuition to balance out these feelings, emotions, whatever you might call them. The human brain, as wonderful of a creation as it is, can become so filled with such sadness and evil and darkness and loneliness that you can't even remember what it was like to be okay. That yellow bird? You won't find it. That spark? You won't feel it. You have nothing to lose but yourself, whatever dignity you've accumulated, your mind, and your reputation if you believe in those things. So really, what do you have to lose? How about what you have to gain? The easy way out is rarely the best way of managing the situation at hand.
But how can you know what is best? You can't, not right away at least, and possibly never. Maybe we weren't meant to. You can't appreciate the good in people and the beauty in life until you've truly been on the opposite end of the spectrum. Until you've experienced how vile people can be and how hopeless you can feel, you just don't have the capacity. Don't talk to me about love or loss or sadness or what you wish would happen.
Tell me what you're fucking doing to make things better. Tell me what you're actually going to change.
People are not good to each other.
Perhaps if they were, the nights would not be so dark. The sheets wouldn't feel as uninviting. Perhaps that aching feeling which you can never quite tell if it is your gut or if it is your heart would not linger like it does, even after you assure yourself that you have done all there is to do. Maybe you have. Maybe you're fucked.
You may reach a point where you are more concerned with the happiness and well being of somebody else more so than yourself. Maybe that's okay. Maybe that's what love really is. If after so long, you feel like a lost cause, or you feel that it's just not going to work out the way you had planned, then maybe taking what time and energy and focus you do have and investing that in somebody else is the right thing to do.
At times, the only things I miss are the frozen air of the final, drawn out evenings of late 2004, the few people I spent those days with, and the feeling that even though we hadn't a fucking clue about where we were going, it was all going to be okay no matter what. I am unsure of when that soul crushing epiphany occurred, and while I could perhaps look back and figure out when it took place, it changes nothing. Maybe it was one of those "gradually, then suddenly" affairs. For the most part, the past is best left buried in archaic journal entries, decaying small town landmarks, and whatever part of my mind where memories, ideas, and people go when they are no longer of use to me. I wonder if everyone really is replaceable, or if every now and again someone comes along that has something you will never find anywhere else, and if you fuck it up, you'll never forget it. You either never know the answer to questions like these, or you know them after it is far too late. Great White Buffalo. You know how it is.
Keep going. Hope and faith are not bad things, nor are they useless things. But they need something to support them. A foundation.
It's not that decisions get harder to make as you grow older, necessarily. It's that they have much more finality attached to them. You need to know the right answer all the time. You rarely get a second chance. The margin of error has shrunk drastically. You just can't fuck up anymore.
I suppose there's a certain group of people out there who can relate to all this. They don't have trust funds, they think too much, and maybe they want too much or maybe they want too much that actually has meaning to it. Most people seem to be okay with being empty and trite. This is easily applicable to both materialistic living as well as relationships. Most people in your life will become as useless as an outdated stereo or a broken piece of furniture. There isn't much difference. It could be argued that the broken furniture is worth more. You can still sit on it. You can still set it on fire when your heating gets shut up. People just make you sad. They just make you sad and they leave.
You build up this collection of "what if's" and store an armada of "what could have been's" in the back of your mind. These create even more self doubt that you already had when you woke up this morning. You see your peers happy (or at least doing a better job of pretending to be) and it's impossible to stop yourself from wondering what it is that is so different about this person that makes it so much easier for them to go through the motions when the only thing you want to do is sleep in or take another shower.
Everything becomes a comparison even though you know it shouldn't be. They're making more money. They've got a fancy job title. They're having more sex than you. They have a fucking wife and two kids already. You get older and it becomes faster cars bigger houses fatter portfolios and other shit that just doesn't fucking matter. They don't wake up with an overwhelming sense of impending doom or a voice in the back of their head telling them that they are wasting their time and it's all a lost cause.
I've been having a hard time caring. I'm sorry.
Not even the biggest ego makes a difference when you wake up alone. You don't want people to help because you can't even help yourself. You don't want people to help because then you end up feeling obligated to them somehow, or some other fucked up sense of attachment is created when you just want to be left alone in the first place. The people you don't care about expect too much, and the few that you do, well, we know how that ends.
I was a little bit late getting to it, but Jimmy Eat World's Invented is fucking phenomenal. There are a few tracks on this album that hit me like a fucking ton of bricks and I can't stop listening. It's almost a perfect blend of Futures and Chase This Light.
Finding albums/songs that make me feel something, or make me really think about something is getting harder and harder as each year goes on, but this album has managed to do that. Maybe I'm growing out of touch with whatever musical scene is left, or maybe I'm just getting too fucking old, but it's a good feeling when the words and the music make your skin light up with tiny little goosebumps.
It's nice to be reminded that you can still feel something.
A band that needs little introduction here on AP.net, The Dangerous Summer, recently released a highly impressive live EP to hold fans over until the follow up to their breakout album Reach For The Sun is available. In a world of absurdly altered vocals, computers being used as instruments, and a pretty face being worth more than a solid song, The Dangerous Summer are a stellar example of a band doing everything they can to stay true to the music. Their live show exemplifies this, the raw energy and passion that made fans fall in love with Reach For The Sun is taken to an entirely new level, making what was one of 2009's most emotional albums sound that much more heartfelt and sincere. If for some reason your ears have yet to experience this, I highly recommend you change that as soon as possible.
I owe you this blog. You know more than most people how much these words mean to me and how important it is for me to get them out of my head. There are few people who have been as big a part of my life over the past year or so, and maybe you will continue to be that, but things change, and usually not for the way we would prefer. We are headed in very opposite directions, both figuratively and literally, and as good as I am with telling you how things will end up, I do not know the answer to this one.
I once said that if I write about a person, it is the most sincere, flattering, and significant gesture that I can express towards them.
This entry feels incomplete, as there is always something more to say to you.
Here you are. After all this time.
"I have to go," I said. I could feel it rising up in me, that pressure in the throat, the burning in the eyes.
There are points in conversations and moments in situations that if you do not remove yourself promptly you will end up repeating the words you've already said, and you will be crying even harder than the first breakdown. I thought I had said everything there was to say. If I didn't leave, I was going to lose it.
I let go of her hand. I reached for the door.
She grabbed my arm. "I love you, I really do," she exclaimed in a voice with an amount of desperation and urgency I've never heard before.
Then I lost it. God, I lost it.
A driveway conversation reduced to nothing but a blur of tears. Two kids crying for an hour in the moonlight. I went on and on, but all I can actually remember saying is, "It's not the end."
I didn't expect it to be like this. I feel foolish for wasting time, missing opportunities, and not being as good of a friend as I believe I could have been. I didn't expect to care as much as I did. As I do. I never thought it would really add up to anything, and I certainly never thought if it did, it would be when it was time to say goodbye. The technicalities of what is and what isn't a goodbye can be argued indefinitely, but the bottom line is that when a person is gone, they are gone.
You can love somebody, and they can love you back, but the truth is that that's just not enough. There is no guarantee for a perfect ending. There's not even a guarantee of a relatively pleasant ending. People change, faster and faster it seems, and as I get older I continue to have trouble accepting these changes. Once something is gone, very rarely does it return. Life gets in the way and people go in different directions. I envy the optimists, for they feel something I may never know.
I try to see the big picture. I don't always, and I get caught up in the moment, the short term aspect of things. But if you can change somebody for the better, if you can leave your mark, if you can become unforgettable, then that is a victory. All of the bad things are canceled out. Try not to let it hurt too much, for too long. You've done more than most people ever will.
"It's not the end," she told me. We said goodbye.
You don't hear it very often, and you believe it even less.
It never fails. You think you've walled off the dangers of the world, turned away most anyone who has the ability to find a way past your defenses. Somebody slips in, eventually, and finds a weak spot. A rogue, trained in the master arts of disappointment and able to tug on heart strings like no other.
The heart is nothing but a Trojan horse.
After knowing somebody for an extended amount of time and connecting with them on a certain level, you would like to believe that you've left upon them a substantial mark, some kind of impression. You'd like to think that you've instilled in them a sort of inner value, a sense of self worth. The two of you are on the same page.
That isn't how it works. It doesn't work. You can think that you know somebody, you can invest time and effort and words and emotions. We all do. When it comes down to it, these other individuals are the ones in charge of their own decisions and their own lives. They are the actor, the writer, the director.
You can't hold yourself responsible for the shortcomings of other people. You shouldn't.
But when you want nothing but the best for them, how do you not feel any responsibility? How can you not feel like you are the one who has failed in some regard and disappointed them? All of your words and wisdom and the bits and pieces of everything and nothing in between seem to be useless. It's as if it never even happened.
People will fuck up at almost any given opportunity. Maybe that's what human nature is. To fuck up time after time and hope somehow things don't get too out of control.
The logic of analyzing who is responsible for what doesn't matter when you're the one feeling let down. When you have a set of standards that are at a certain level, you try to surround yourself with people who live and react accordingly to those standards. It is difficult, if not borderline impossible to find an ensemble that fits your cast list as ideally as you would prefer. All the world's a stage, but the audition process is a fucking joke.
Somebody once told me that my standards, even as high as they may be, aren't a bad thing. What I needed to work on was becoming more tolerant and accepting of the people, however many billions there are, who fail to meet those standards.
I have yet to do that. I don't know how to, or if I ever will. Or if I even want to.
Get your hopes up. Come back to reality. Put the pieces back together. Try to move on.
If you don't ask for help, if you don't let people know things aren't right, then don't expect things to get better. Very few people can fight those kinds of battles alone and come out better off. Getting out alive is difficult enough, let alone getting out improved. It just doesn't happen.
There are few things more futile and counterproductive than writing about not being able to write. So I don't.
These people, Jesus, when you take a step back, when you just take some time to collect it all, to take it all in, you see these insects crawl out of the wood. Rambling on, paragraph after paragraph, (maybe a stanza if they're trying really hard to impress), line after line. None of it is worth reading, so even less is worth remembering.
You don't choose to be a writer. It chooses you. If you don't have the time to write, you're already dead. And you can't write when you're dead. Become an accountant. Become a math teacher. Numbers are good. You can always find numbers to work with. They only go up and down and they don't talk back to you. What you're doing will be or already is pointless in the grand scheme of things and nobody will look back and say "Oh I remember him, he was such a marvelous accountant. They just don't make accountants or bankers or sports psychologists like they used to!" Spare us, or at least spare me, the things you think are worth saying.
The advent of digital photography made everyone a photographer.
The advent of force fed social media has made everyone a writer.
And they thought the Lost Generation peaked after the first Great War. God, if they could see us now.
I've always got lines and thoughts and rants and moments of absurdity that are meant for the page. You just aren't seeing it. At least not like you used to. At least not yet.
A writer is only as good as his audience allows him to be.
Thursday night at 9pm I will be doing a tell all interview live on the air with the kind people at St. Lawrence University. This will cover pretty much anything and everything, so it should be a fun time.
To make it even more interesting, you get to come up with questions for them to ask me. Post them here, or if you would prefer to remain anonymous, ask them at http://www.formspring.me/anamericangod.
I'll post the technical info tomorrow afternoon, but you should be able to listen through iTunes.
If you found any of the interviews I did on The Gunz show entertaining or enjoyable, I have a feeling you'll really like this.
I still have that bracelet that you made for me, you know. I wear it on special occasions. Days that pulling myself from the mismatched pillows and blankets of my bed seems like too much of a chore. Days where there's something important happening, days where I worry a little more than I usually do. A big test. A doctor's appointment. Things like that. I'd say it's something like a good luck charm, as close as it could be to one given that I don't really believe in luck.
Maybe it doesn't always work, but it's still there on my wrist regardless. Even if the day doesn't turn out as well as I had hoped, or if an exam goes so poorly it makes me question the future of my career, I've still got that little reminder of something that was good. God damn, things were good. It's a memory I can take with me. It's a part of you that I still have, when I am still at a point in my life where I feel as if I don't have as much as I want, or as much as I deserve.
I would say that the morning is too early for thoughts like these. But that would be wrong.
I would say that I miss you. But it doesn't matter. There are too many technicalities when it comes to missing somebody.
I do not know why the sparks inside of my brain told me that I needed to write something about you this morning. I do not know why I felt like I needed to wear your bracelet.
With open windows and the cold of Autumn flowing through the room, you lay in your bed, music mixing with frosty air as your eyes grow heavy. A voice in your head, a whisper in your ear, a thought in your mind, a memory from too long ago, and yet you know for some reason it will never leave the crevices and cracks that your 20 something year old brain has had carved out by a river of seemingly nonsensical emotions and tragedies and late night conversations that got you nowhere.
A long time ago, you had this feeling in your heart. And you don't know where it went or why it went but it's gone man it's just gone.
Have you noticed how fast love seems to happen, but how long it takes for the aftermath to wear off? You can't just wash it out. It fades, and it fades so fucking slowly you don't even know what to do with yourself. Give me my poetry and give me my pills. At least these still stir some sort of feeling within me. At least they make me feel something.