It has been one year since I released my debut album, Erase This, with Luke Conard.
I don’t usually celebrate these kinds of anniversaries. And had the album not been released only four days before my birthday, I probably wouldn’t have remembered the date. But Erase This isn’t really like any of my other projects.
First, there was the budget difference. With Taking Leave, Tom Milsom and I did everything. Studio time was extremely limited and hurried. Our instrument choices were limited to what we had on hand. We mixed and mastered the EP ourselves. And all of that shows. For Erase This, I was determined to not be limited by my own talents or musical knowledge, or lack there of.
So I invested a great deal of money in the writing, recording and production of Erase This. In the end, well over $10,000 that I have receipts for, and probably much more in small PayPal payments that I never recorded. I hired the best producer I could find, Christian Caldeira, who originally was just supposed to fill in for our absentee drummer. Without Christian behind the mixing board, Erase This as it stands today, would not exist.
I hired some of the best songwriters I knew to work with me. I know my own strengths, and my own weaknesses. I am a very strong lyricist, and wrote every line on Erase This. But my melodies lack… well, melody. The majority of the music on Erase This was written by Jason Munday and Raven Zoe. But some of the tracks, or elements of some tracks were written by Eddplant, JB Dazen, Tom Milsom or Ted Hu. All people who seriously know their shit.
I hired half of the DFTBA Records artist roster to record their own versions of every song on the album, resulting in the second bonus disc which features the entire album re-performed by Craig Benzine, Alex Day, Meghan Tonjes, Mike Lombardo, Eddplant and others. Truly the best “collaboration” I’ve had the privilege of being involved with yet.
Second, there was Luke Conard’s voice. Luke is a frontman. He’s got the voice. He’s got the personality. He’s got the looks. His voice soars on Erase This. He’s told me personally that Erase This is usually the CD he reaches for when sharing his new music with family and friends. His falsetto on “Shortwave, Part 1” still gives me goosebumps.
Finally, there is the staying power. I don’t end up liking most of the things I create after some time passes. I can’t watch my old YouTube videos, I can’t read old zines or blog posts. My 4-track and shoebox full of tapes are embarrassing. But I can crank the hell out of Erase This and enjoy it. Not just listen, but enjoy it. Some people tease me on last.fm or skype when they see I’m listening to my own music. But what’s the point in creating something that you yourself wouldn’t even listen to and enjoy? I set out to create my ideal record, and, as my iTunes play count will tell you, I believe I succeeded.
After manufacturing costs and paying out royalties to the main players on Erase This, I’ve barely made back half of what I spent to produce the album. But I would do it again in a heart beat. I have a job, my job is other people’s music. Luckily, that means my music can be about personal expression, and if that comes at the price of lower sales, that’s just fine with me.
Next, I’m going to attempt to branch out from concept albums and story arcs with my new musical project, The Caulden Road. The Caulden Road released our first digital single last month, “Shine” with a rock version of my song “Summer of ’09” (originally performed by ALL CAPS) as the b-side. Writing and recording singles is exciting and moves much quicker than producing a full concept album. Though our second digital single has been sidetracked as we’re now the backing band for Mike Lombardo’s new mini-musical, The Alchemist (slated for release in July). So much for branching out, huh?