May 2, 2021
I used to do music. A lot. Way more often than I've done movies. Let's take a walk down my lane of memory...
I was 13 when I asked for a guitar after hearing Start Choppin' by Dinosaur Jr. on 88.1 FM, WBGU, our local college radio station. It melted my face, and I wanted to do it too. I got some cheap, blue Aria Pro from BG Music & Sound, and a tiny 8″ amp, and off I went.
A year or so later, I played a talent show with Joel, Sam, and my brother pseudomichael on drums. We called ourselves RIYL, based on the acronym for "Recommended If You Like" - which was a tag that Christian rock albums had on them to suggest their "secular rock" counterparts.
We covered Starflyer 59's She Was My Sweetheart. It was a blast, people had fun, danced in the aisles, and somewhere there's a video I wish I had now.
After RIYL we decided to start a real band, only without pseudomichael since he was only 10. Sorry! And Joel's buddy Josh came on board to drum. Joel's first bass amp was a Silvertone, so that become the band name. They were all older than me by 4 years so I was intimidated, but they were good good churchy boys, big bros, and we had a blast.
We were a mighty fire that burned bright and fast in '95-'96. It died pretty quickly after just a couple of demo tapes and a promising string of shows, a decent local following, and opening for MxPx once upon a time. My personal favorite show was opening for Bloomsday.
Since we were all raised churchy, we played Christian Rock. No shame in that. It taught me a lot about being in a band, how to play guitar with others, and how to write a song.
At the time I thought life was going to be nothing but awesome: making music, recording, going on tour, I fell in love for the first time, and pretty much all of those came crashing down when we broke up. It tempered my optimism for life in general, so how's that for therapy? Ah, adolescence!
I will always point to it as a dream state. To me, it was lightning in a bottle, and when it was taken from me I took it pretty hard. I guess I still do. You mean we don't get to do what we want for the rest of our lives with the people we love?
We live, we love, we lose, we grow.
I went on to start a group with pseudomichael on drums called The Chilens. This was a term a girl I was crushing on used to call the kids she babysat across the street from me and I wanted her to like me back. Did it work?
Pseudomichael was probably 12 now? He slammed on the drums for me as I whined and rocked out on my Epiphone Les Paul trying to be J Mascis from the aforementioned Dinosaur Jr. with walls of distortion and riffs.
We played one show, and I remember getting preachy in it, saying that bands shouldn't take money if they talk about Jesus or something? I don't know. I do remember getting offered money after the show though and I didn't want to take it but then I said I would donate it or something? It was controversial, regardless.
Another band that came after the Silvertones was with my pals Stephen, Ben, and Mike. I played drums this time and we did our best to emulate Joe Christmas, basically.
Juniper was a blast to be in. At some point Mike left the band, I think he left our church and we were mad about it. We went on to play lots of shows, and even got to open for Joe Christmas when they came through Toledo. We played at the Impromptu Stage at Cornerstone 9...7? Good times! We might have gone on for 3-4 years, I don't remember how we ended up breaking it off. I'm going to blame Ben for doing Pinewood Derby too much.
I played drums for a couple other high school pals Keith and Zach. We had like 4 songs maybe? One of them was a rad cover of Weezer's Jamie. I remember only playing one show in Keith's garage, I think. Did we do anything else? Great band name.
Now this band was quite short-lived. I did this weird tuning that opened the door to a lot of great chords and songs - G C D G B E. I made some demos and asked Jesse from Pinewood Derby if he wanted to rock with me and pseudomichael, and he did!
We played one show at Jesse's church with Ben on bass having not really learned the songs. Then we had our last show in Pemberville a few weeks later, and we still didn't get to practice with Ben, so I told him "How about we forget about you playing bass tonight." Ha ha. Don't worry, Ben was in ALL THREE OF THE OTHER BANDS that night already.
We got some bad vibes from Juniper and Pinewood, jealous that we joined forces for our super rock group? Ha ha! We agreed to call it quits rather than dealing with it anymore. But man that would have been great. Jesse was an awesome songwriter and guitarist, and pseudomichael was really coming into his own on drums.
A hard core band that never played a show nor recorded beyond a mini tape recorder that's long gone. Somewhere in '96/97, after Juniper Drive practices a new band was coming together in the vein of a Mr. Bishop's Fist (🖤), Coolidge (💚), or Roadside Monument (❤️)...Nowhere near as talented ha ha, but Ben would switch to drums, I would jump on guitar so I could really thrash, and my older brother pseudomatthew would join us on bass while Stephen would scream his lungs out.
Another band that never played a show, but we had a number of awesome practices. We were named after a town close to BG called Fremont, only we added an E.
Joel was on bass/vox and our friend Tony drummed. We'd rock out in the Kohl Hall (BGSU) rec room on weekends. Our style was loud, and Tony played maniacally. I still rip off some of his drum beats today.
We were R.I.Y.L. Roadside Monument's hard stuff. I had some Freemont recordings on a minitape that doesn't exist anymore, too bad!
Our first show we played with a pre-recorded bass track. This was a nightmare, not sure how pseudomichael did it. Then pseudomatthew joined us on bass for a show in our church gym and it was the only time we ever played Mind Warp live.
I later would add more whimsical piano and saxophone stuff with my friend Brittan and on/off girlfriend Amanda. My best mate from those days Mike ultimately played bass for our little shows around Ohio/Michigan, borrowing him from my buddies Wes, Jimm and Nick in local hard core act Suburban Vermin. We played a lot of shows together and released...5 albums? Dang!
Seasons came to an end basically when I moved to Kenya with my family in '99. I lost touch with a lot of people after I left town then.
Since Seasons, I never really played in a band again. I still wrote tons of songs and our home studio had really come together, so I just put out a bunch of solo albums.
Love Project was the first, a series of love songs shamelessly inspired by The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs. I had pseudomichael lay down drums for me and I got my friends Suzy and Kelly to do some vocals.
I don't think I've ever played these songs live, or maybe just an open mic coffee shop here and there? I'd still want to perform some of these with a real band, I still like them!
This was yet another collab with pseudomichael that amounted to a series of demos. I'm not sure exactly of the calendar for these, but it's in the same era.
My next effort was another themed album telling stories about capitalism, basically. I also did a bunch of tribute covers of other bands' stuff and ended up with 17 tracks!
I played drums for myself here, and little bit of trivia: the guitar work here is all an acoustic direct into Logic and using virtual amps and fx to make it sound electric and crunchy. It's hit or miss for me, but I still like a number of these songs.
Kelly came back and sang for a few of these too, and we would later end up on/off dating, imagine that! She recently passed away way too soon and hearing her sing here keeps her alive in my memories. 😩
I never really played any of these live, either, maybe a talent show here and there. I don't remember how to play any of them.
Thanks to Kevin for reminding me of this one! This was a "secret band" we wanted to get really good and surprise the world with a great live show and album launch. We had a couple practices — Kelly sang here, pseudomichael did stuff too. Did we formally have a drummer? I don't remember it much, but Kevin tells me we split up over "creative differences" - ha ha sure, I trust him! The music would have been more indie folk whoa-whoa music probably?
On Jan 1, 2006, I set a ludicrous goal to write 100 songs in a year. That's a new song every 3.65 days? They didn't need to be fully finished recordings, just the structure, chords, lyrics.
I have such fond memories of these late nights in the studio, getting inspired and laying down tracks and concepts. I started with a journaled list of 100 ideas to write songs about, and just went about it. I landed somewhere around 44 songs if I recall, mostly in pretty rough demo shape.
There was a collection of these floating around called Oh No, Not Dayton that I made for a couple of shows (one in Dayton). We played a mix of my songs and pseudomichael's, with Kevin on the bass. We just called ourselves Pseudobook and did one other show at the Cla-zel in Bowling Green sometime in '06.
After 100 Songs, I made my move to L.A., away from the studio, and started a new life, so the songwriting suffered. I just had a couple of songs going, and actually moved back to Kenya in 2008-2009. There I found more time to write and developed enough songs for another album.
This album had 20 songs (!) on it originally. PS3 here is my favorite jam from then. It's based on the melody to Phantasy Star 3's title screen, with lyrics based on Phantasy Star 2's story. 🤷🏼♂️ I played this for an open mic night during my time at AFI in 2010 and Juliette may have fallen in love with me because of it. 😂
Since 2010, Juliette and I have laid down some tunes around Christmas time when we can and have built up a growing library.
My songwriting and recording has been occasionally flexed for film songs and scores. I won a College Television Award for "Best Music" with Come Back To Me (2011). I also contributed to the Detective Detective Detective (2014) score and I wrote all of the Malarkey (2021) score just a few months ago.
Sorry, don't have any more albums to plug. Nothing really official since 2009. I think that's lame. I haven't been in a band in forever, and haven't played on stage in just as long. I super miss it.
I want to get that mojo flowing again. I got a new Life Guitar™ (my term) last year for my COVID-ruined birthday - a custom designed Fender Telecaster that blows my mind. I used it for this year's Christmas tunes and I've been laying down a few tracks for pseudomichael's new album with it so far, but want to get moving on something new for me, too.
I am thinking to get going again I might take my top 10 favorite songs I've ever written (in my mind), and re-record them all, give them a new polish, and put out an album of self-covers. That means I'll have to remember how to play most of these, whoops!
I'll keep you posted as this develops. I'll narrow down those 10 songs first...