I grew up in Nashville, went to college in Chicago and spent summers in NYC. I managed to find my way to Los Angeles (and remain here today). Being a film junkie, I dabbled in the movie world a bit and even helped make a couple little indie movies that made absolutely no money and starred people who went on to do much bigger things.
The music scene in LA in the early 2000's was not very welcoming. Open mic nights at the Crooked Bar, the random play at Molly Malone's, but never a comfort zone. Then I found The Hotel Cafe, a converted coffee shop that had a BYOB policy and a tiny piano room in the back. The room was so small and would get so packed that you were forced to have a conversation with the person next to you. I met a lot of people really fast. The first night that I saw Gary Jules play there to a room full of fans who could care less that there was no A.C. in a 100 degree room, I knew I found my home. I started playing regularly. Most of the patrons were either newbies like me or artists that had lost their record deals. Those guys were our Yodas. We all went to each others' shows and drank til we got kicked out in the alley. When the room expanded, it was the regulars that took sledgehammers to t
Soon after, an old friend who I had helped with a script in my movie days finally got that film made. It was a little indie movie, and he asked me if he could put one of my songs in a scene. I couldn't bear to tell him that I was too broke to afford studio time, so I recorded it on my beat up 10-year-old Tascam 4-track, and no one seemed to notice that it sounded like crap. Or maybe it was the fact that it sounded like me in my room that made it interesting. Our group of friends all contributed more song ideas to the movie, and it became a very public mix tape. I went back to playing at The Hotel Cafe, paid for an EP working as an assistant on photo shoots and slowly built a nice little following in LA. I was just starting to get comfortable on stage.
Then it happened. The little indie movie came out. The "Garden State" Soundtrack went on to sell a bajillion records and win a Grammy. Suddenly, like magic, enough people knew my music. Enough that I could play shows out of town, tour with a wonderfully diverse group of artists (Imogen Heap, The Fray, KT Tunstall, Brandi Carlile, and Matt Nathanson), get asked to play on late night talk shows, have songs TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, and play music for kids who lived literally across the world from me. Yet I still felt like I wasn't ready for it all, like I wasn't deserving of the luck that had befallen me. I wanted to work my ass off to earn back that luck. I hit it fast and hard. I drank a lot, sowed the shit out of my last remaining wild oats. I put together The Hotel Cafe Tour to give back to my home base, support young artists, and take our family dynamic on the road. I fell in and out of love. I signed a record deal and made a record piece by piece whenever I was back home for more than a couple weeks and eventually put that out. I stayed on the road for four years, and I ended up back home at the end of it all a much better performer, but I still felt like there was something missing.
So I just pulled the plug. Decided to stay home for a year. Check out. Buy my way out of my record deal and start my own indie label. Live life. Re-connect with my friends and have experiences and feelings that weren't about getting to the next city by sound check or who hooked up with the girl in the red dress or who did the most shots of Jack Daniels. Observe the world. Fill the well. Take my time. See outside the bubble. Not just be another asshole with a guitar. Grow the fuck up.
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In that time, I made a record. It's called "Under Control." It's mostly about finding that peace in the chaos when everything moves so fast. The country was changing a lot, so it's about that. My friends were changing - finding success and also falling into the same dark places I narrowly escaped - it's about that. For me, it was about getting back to what I loved doing more than anything - writing music about the world around me. I found a great producing partner in the studio, and for the first time I made a record from beginning to end with a singular focus, with patience, and with a broader scope than just tales of heartbreak, though there is a touch of that for good measure.
So that's my story. And this is the record. I'm fully recharged and can't wait to get out and play these songs for whomever will listen. Hopefully, I'll see you on the road.