Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The End of a Famine

"And there was a famine in this great land"
"Ben, what are you mumbling about"
"I'm just writing an epic about my spell of writer's block and how it's over"
"Yes, self-interviewing alter ego I am weird and I enjoy it"
"Moving on....so tell me about this spell of writer's block"
"Well I finished my RPM album which should be up on the RPM website in a couple of days and I realized that I hated like...half the songs on it. This made me feel like I had wasted a lot of time and energy and just basically made me frustrated that I couldn't write what I wanted to write and instead was stuck writing....Army Brat."
"Yeah....but your mom likes it."
"This is true. My mother has gone on record to state that Army Brat is her favorite song on the album but I'll be totally straight with you here. I haven't listened to it since I finished mixing the album like...a month ago so I kind of wish it would go away."
"It won't."
"I know. Anyways, so I've been feeling really self critical and then I started hammering something out yesterday and it was sounding good then I got up and promptly forgot the rhythm and just got frustrated when I tried to come back and play it again later."
"Well that sucks. You should probably write your music down if it sounds decent so that you won't forget it"
"Don't worry I do"
"So then I figured it out in bed last night and worked with it some more today. I finalized it with some help from my sound defining space echo pedal. (I love that thing. It writes songs for me)."
"Sounds like you're cheating"
"I am but I really don't care. So then I was thinking in the car about how "Ashamed" was a song that I still really like but it sounds kind of....empty with just delayed-reverbed guitar so I thought "What if I added Sax melodies to all of my songs" so I wrote a sax melody for ashamed and one for the new song I'm working on"
"That sounds cool. Maybe your father will stop getting angry at you for not playing the saxophone now"
"Yeah, that'd be nice. So that's how I got out of Writer's Block. I'm feeling a writing Frenzy coming on over the next few days."
"Good, maybe you'll become less self critical as a result because....that's just not healthy."
"I know. I'm working on fighting Jason to take out some of that self-critical energy and it seems to be working but I now have a big bruise on my chest from where he asserted his dominance over me last time we fought."
"That doesn't sounds good"
"Mommy it hurts!"
"Oh dear..."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cleaning Up

"Ben, where have you been? Did you take up drinking or something?"
"No I didn't. In fact the last time I had a drink was January or somewhere around there. There was this one time I wanted to have a celebratory beer after I finished my album but when I went to hunt for it, I found that someone had already taken it from me"
"OK....so what have you been doing in all this time?"
"Well I've pretty much been doing nothing as of late. It's been a nice change of pace from audition preparations and all that business and it's given me some time to sort of digest what I'm doing musically."
"So what's that supposed to mean?"
"Well I've been listening to some different music as of late"
"Well I finally listened to "Hail to the Thief" which has been the missing piece in my Radiohead puzzle, and then I've also been listening to "Castaways and Cutouts" by The Decemberists and...oh I listened to "Broken Social Scene" for the first time in about a year and a half, and I must say before we go any further, that that album makes me angry pretty much every time I pull it out now."
"I see. So what does all of this mean?"
"Well it means that I'm thinking about the songs I'm writing. I've been thinking about the stuff I wrote during RPM and all the other musical sketches I've laid out post-RPM and wondering where to go from here. So I started listening to this music and thinking about what to take away from it and basically making my head spin"
"Yeah I know. So today I stopped thinking and cleaned out my looper. See....one of the things I do is I come up with these short chord or riff patterns and guitar harmonies and I lay them down on my looper and then save them and they just sort of sit there and are forgotten so I have to clean it out every now and then. It's always interesting though because it always has a few surprises in store for me. Today for example I found my original recording of "Regrets" that I used so I wouldn't forget it, and then I dug up some more stuff that's been on there for a while and once it was all cleared off I felt like I had a better sense of what I want to do for my next batch of songs."
"So what is there to be expected of the next batch of songs then?"
"Well, they will be less complicated, less structured, less forced, less lyrically dense, and less sensical. What this basically translates into is that it will be more the music I want to make rather than the music that I think other people will want to hear. It's possible that other people might like it but that's not the point. The point is to allow myself to be free in my expression of my current musical ideas."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I'm feeling some lyrics typing coming on so here's all of the lyrics from "Prior Peter" with little notes about the song.

Army Brat
I wrote a riff for this song randomly and just needed words to go along with it and when I recorded the Demo take for it, I just called it "Army Brat" because it moves around a lot. Cheesy lyrics were written shortly after.

Let me tell you a story about an army brat
Moving cross the country, and other stuff like that
Oh how he hated his life, army brat
He had one constant friend
That was his guitar
He played it in cold lake, he played it in Petawawa
Oh Army Brat
But then one of his moving days, the movers left behind
his precious guitar four provinces down the line
He shed many tears over his loss
He locked himself in his room unable to go on
Then one Day a package Came Express and Very Large
He Opened it up and it contained a brand new guitar
oh New Guitar

I was monkeying around with 7th chords and this is what came out. It makes me feel like I'm ripping off the tangible ears. I'm not happy with the drum beat but that's what it is on the album so I have no choice.

I look outside my door
but I
see no friendly face
folks are
all strangers in this town
they don't
they don't wave or smile

I go walking down the street
look ing
for a soul to greet
no one
looks me in the eye
they all
look away or hide

de per son al i za tion
Oh how I de spise you
you make me feel so lonely
and you love it don't you

The Move Out
It's the only heavy song I wrote so it feels really out of place and also it's too high for me to sing but vocal ranges be damned I will yell on my album if I want to. It's modeled after Rage Against the Machine.

The time has come
to move away
to another house
somewhere dar away

I've grown too old
for this suburban life
I need the city
to free me from this strife

Cause it's hard to live at home
when your soul
desires to roam
your parents don't gel well
with you
after 18 years it's time to move out

pack all my stuff
in a carboard box
make sure
nothing gets lost

rent a big white van
throw it all inside
go somewhere else
leave that old house behind

Dark and Dawn
I wanted to write a song about driving by an old friends house and it sort of twisted into this whole "girl leaving" song which is cool too. This is pretty much a straight rip off of "Shiny" by The Decemberists so after I wrote it, I took the drums and bass from Shiny and just plopped them into this. It's my 3rd favourite song that I wrote during this whole business.

I drive by your house
all is quiet in your house
when it's dark it's dark

I look across the lawn
the memories haven't gone
in the dark the dark

I wonder what this life has done to us
I wonder if I could have kept your trust

you have moved away
gone outwards looking for a way
to see the dawn the dawn

I wish that you were here
then maybe I could hold you near
and watch the dawn, the dawn

and I wonder what this life has done to us
I wonder if I could have stopped this loss
I wonder if we could have made a home
I wonder if I'll survive on my own

Is our innocence all gone
were our younger years really not that long
is it possible that I can still atone for all the things that I've done wrong

to you

Three Wishes
The guitar recorded poorly for this song so it doesn't sound as good as I had hoped, and I also think the vocals are (again) out of my range but that's what came out so there it is. The music was sorrowful so I wrote some personal sorrowful lyrics to go along with it.

IF I had three wishes, let me tel you what they'd be. First I would wish to take all your pain away. Cause it hurts me inside to sit here and watch you cry. With this first wish all the tears would be wiped from your eyes.

For my second wish, I'd wish your past away. No more solem regrets, life could be a brand new day. For my last wish, I'd wish for your heart, cause though I care for you deeply you've never loved me from the very start.

But I don't have these wishes, it makes me hurt inside. Cause this whole deal makes me empty, makes me want to give up the fight.

Lost in Westport
Originally was "Lost in Moncton" but I've never been to Moncton so I changed the title. Sounds a lot like the first half of "Holland" and the last half of "Sister" both by Sufjan.

it's midnight in westport
the car rolls along
the stores are all closed up
and dark

The street lights are quiet
their bulbs seem quiet dim
they all semm to say
You're lost

ah you're lost
ah you're lost

thumb up on ashpault
the semis blaze by
they never look over
or stop

the birds in the forest
they chirp quietly
I think that they're saying
I'm lost

Ah I'm lost
Ah I'm lost

5 Long Years
This whole song is about this guy that I used to be friends with but have since drifted away from each other and he goes to my school but we don't talk.

I can't help but wonder how it would have been. Would you still have me over? Would we still be friends? It's been 5 long years now since we last spoke. I want to say sorry, I want to call your home.

But I burned all the bridges between me and you. We'll never speak again. It's sad but that's the truth.

I walk right by you almost every single day. Out of the corner of my eye I see you look away. Do you recognise me, have I really changed that much. The long hair and glasses seem to hide me from your thoughts.

I wrote this and "Ashamed" 2 days before I recorded and they were both good enough to replace some crappier songs that I wrote. This is my second favourite song that I wrote and fits better into the sound I'm trying to create with the rest of my songs. It's about making a mistake and wondering if it's to late to go back and try when you feel like you've missed and opportunity.

Four years together, I must have been blind to not notice you in all of that time. The reason is I Was preoccupied but I feel like a fool since you're now on my mind.

One day together is all that it took to make me take a good second look. You live hours away, how could we make this work, but I'll still never tell you, I'm afraid it would hurt.

Well damn you regrets, you make my heart hurt, I should have just let you come in and work on this heart so torn and blinded. She might have helped stop this mistake.

But there's no sense crying over so much spilled milk, I'll just have to start trying, believe that this could work. Do you share my feelings? Someday I might ask. Can I work up the courage or will I just pass.

My favourite song on the album. It's just about feeling stupid about your past.

I am discouraged at all I've done wrong, my past makes me blush, makes me wish it was all hgone. So much wasted time that I could have saved, had I not been so foolish in the first place.

Some men look on their past in a positive light, me and my past we just want to fight. So many months I spent waiting around, so blinded by love as I ran myself aground.

Is it my fault this happened? Is there anyone to blame? Will I ever let go or will it always bring me shame? Can I find someone to help me forget? Must I forever carry this painful debt?

This is The End
I think a lot of the songs on this album talk about unrequited love which has been something that I've experienced a lot in my life so I wrote this song about giving up on unrequited love.

I called your house just the other day, someone hung up on me. And I know you don't love me but that's no reason to be rude. I was trying to tell you that I'm giving up on you as of today. So now that you know, stop trying to hide from me and running away.

It hasn't been easy, trying to get you to care, that's why today I am saying this is the end.

So there you have it. Now you know what I'm saying and why I'm saying it. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ok, I'm Gonna get Nerdy For a Second Here

So....that's my pedal board. Now you may be wondering "Ben, why in the world are you posting a picture of your unplugged pedal board with your webcam". It's a good question. It's unplugged because the webcam wouldn't reach my amp and I had to use a webcam because the digital camera seems to be gone with my parents. But this isn't about the picture this is about my pedal board. Why is it important that you know about my pedal board? Because it's
linked to the kind of music I'm making now.

You see....I always figured I'd be doing acoustic stuff and then I started listening to Sigur Ros and then my friend Tyler came over and recorded some sweet stuff with a delay pedal of his and I was like "Ok self, I Think you want some pedals to expand your creative possibilities" so I started buying pedals.

The first pedal I bought is the shiny red one you see on the left of the picture. That's a looper (the little black footswitch you see attatched is the stop/tempo button that I also use in conjunction with the looper). A looper is a pedal that enables you to record things and play them back immediately in a loop. So for example....actually just watch KT Tunstall do a demo. She's fricking awesome

Bye the way, if you pay attention to nothing else, watch that video.

Then I bought a tuner which is the white thing on the right. It's not that exciting, it tunes and provides power to the looper and to the....

SPACE ECHO! Doesn't that just sound like an awesome name for a pedal? I think it does. But anyways, this is the important pedal on my entire board. You see, before I had this I played with delay a little bit but once I got this thing it changed the way I write and record songs. It's bascially determined the kind of songs that I write now because I like the sound of it so much. You can hear what it's doing to my songwriting on "Ashamed" and "Regrets" on my album. Coincidentally those are the two most recently written songs that I have so that's what my sound is starting to evolve into.

Then the two big black pedals in the middle are not really that exciting but they get used sometimes. The volume pedal on the left is for doing swells which allow you to get a pitch without actually hearing the attack. If you listen to Nothing you can hear Tyler doing swells in his random guitar solo at the end. Then the pedal on the right is a Wah Wah which is for making crazy noises on. I used it randomly in the bridge section of "Army Brat" but it does some other cool things when you run it through the delay rig.

Anyways...that's probably all I'll ever say about my technical stuff (actually I'll probably post about my MBox2 when I actually make enough money to get it but that won't be for a while) so if you found this post boring, FEAR NOT for I will never do this again.