Archive for November, 2010

Big Ideas!

November 19, 2010

Simplify!  I got a phone call from an old friend…I mean OLD friend.  Not high school old, but old enough to have attended my high school band Brillohead’s last show (El Mocombo in 1997), to have seen most of my plays in University, and to have done a lot of things, good and bad, in my presence.  Let’s say…weathered friend.

The conversation went in all directions, but one of the central points was ‘simplify!’  He, like me, has the brain-curse of wanting to do everything, and do it big, and when it stops going in that big, amazing direction or slows it’s forward motion it just…


We both start the process dreaming big (and usually about a half dozen ‘big dreams’ at once) and thinking we can handle it.  In the end, the big dreams never get done.

We both managed to pull off big dreams simultaneously at one point in our lives so we think we can do it again.  For me, it was working full time, doing a web comic, helping to run a furry convention, writing songs, and acting in two plays at the same time.  And in the end the web comic continued for another two years, I’m still involved in the convention, those songs got recorded, and the plays were performed.  I did it!  I can do it again!  Right???

I’m not into horoscopes, or astrology…but I think the stars were in alignment that summer.  Or maybe I was healthier.  Or maybe I was just more energized by the process.  The point being…I can’t expect that it will happen again, so I shouldn’t act like it will.

After the conversation I went and jammed for the first time in months with my high school songwriting bud, the same guy who played on stage years ago when my other friend caught our last show.  Halfway through playing old songs ideas developed…big ideas!  Ideas about on-stage technology, clever trickery so we’re playing songs with our 18 year old selves, of videos playing on stage synced to the music we play, of banter and cleverness and general spectacle all wrapped up in the strange package of ‘High School Bandmates Reunite!’

And I honestly think I can pull it off!

…I also thought I could pull it off in March…when the same idea originally came up.


The difference this time is that I’m not thinking about the shows themselves, planning four in advance, trying to book a space.  I’m thinking about the steps we need to take to perform three songs on stage with a scaled down version of the HUGE performance we want to do later.

I’m thinking about how we could move from three songs at an open mic to six songs opening for someone else.

I think it’s important to dream big…think about an impractical goal and work on making it practical.  Like a game we developed for the summer camp this year: it started as a camp-wide logistical nightmare, and in the end was the same game but was instead a narrative version of paper-rock-scissors.

Big ideas are just that…ideas.  When it’s time to ‘do’ them, it’s best to find the simplest way to make them happen.  At least then…they’ll get done.


Down and Back Again

November 18, 2010

A quick post:

Went to see a bizarre double-bill on Tuesday night: Donovan Woods and Tunng.  Bizarre because I’ve been a big fan of Tunng for about three years now…and because I went to University with Donovan.

So, I show up, and after a short wait Donovan goes on.  And does an AMAZING show.  The songwriting is pristine, he’s mastered the power of perfect length* AND his voice was spot on.  I enjoyed every song, and the friends with me enjoyed it too.

Of course, I got very very depressed.  I mean, I’ve been doing music since long before I went to University…and have been writing and performing ever since.  I’ve slacked off.  I’ve lost it.

Why can’t *I*’ open for Tunng?

I wasn’t mad at Donovan, obviously.  I bought his CD (a friend did too…see, we support independent music!), I was amazed at each song, but I was down and that’s for sure.

Then Tunng came on…three piece instead of the full band but with some clever technological trickery, an amazing performance, and a great blend of new and old songs, I was back again.

Why?  Because I watched their performance, I watched VERY closely, and I realized that the approach they’re taking is one I would love to try out.  I could very much grab a midi controller, a laptop, and do something fun and unique.  And if I could do it with friends or collaborators that would be even better.

Now the hard part is over – the change of perspective –  and the harder part is coming…motivation!

I’ll keep you posted!

Follow Tunng on Twitter @thisistunng

Follow Donovan Woods on Twitter @donovanwoods

* Perfect Length…a lot of songwriters can’t seem to figure it out: songs have a length…if it’s too short it’s somewhat acceptable because we’re left wanting more…if it’s too long we get BORED people!  If your song is three minutes long, don’t stretch it to six because you want to add more verses and since the hook a few more times!