I'm reading Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking, which was recommended in my session of Artist, INC last year.
It's an endearing, well-written book that illustrates Palmer's earnest, sincere, and generous approach to building a ginormous network of supporters for her art and life.
The principles on display - chiefly that generosity, vulnerability and engagement beget generosity, vulnerability and engagement - make all the sense in the world, and I'm sure everyone can apply them in some measure to the betterment of their lives.
But I have no illusions that I can ever do what Amanda did for her band for The Sexy Accident. I'm just not extroverted enough.
Maintaining the volume and level of interpersonal connection Amanda did/does would obliterate my personality. I just couldn't keep up. I get tapped out on "social juice" with my friends, kids, bandmates, coworkers, etc.! Much less on hundreds of fans in signing lines. I love spending time with people, but usually in a one-on-one, let's-play-Scrabble sort of way.
In sum, the gift of this book for me is to reveal conclusively that Amanda's way is not mine. Not that anyone would think it was. ;) That said, I'm sure I'll pilfer a few of her moves...
Now where's "The Art Of Becoming A Bookish Pop Star" when you need it?
I have a hard time when I finish a Sexy Accident album. This band is a source of meaning for me. It's a big part of who I am. Maybe it's not the single most important thing about being Jesse, but it's up there. So going from tracking overdubs and working with guest musicians and making lots of small, even minute arrangement decisions can be pretty jarring. I don't have enough to think about!
That's not a good place for my brain. When I'm idle I can obsess over unpleasant things simply for a lack of good, productive mental fuel to burn. I starve for hairy creative problems to solve. I'm used to walking the streets of Volker whistling parts and singing lines. Now I've got silence bouncing around my skull.
There's much left to do to put out this record, especially with our unusual plan for the physical form (I'll tell you soon), and I am excited by those challenges. But the creative process behind the music is mostly done for me. Steve Fisk is mixing. I'll provide feedback, but he's so damned good that I'm pretty much off the hook. I've even got the track order done, barring any last minute epiphanies.
I am staring at a blank canvas of no songs. I have no idea how I want to sound next, or what I want to sing about. I have no tunes or riffs. No ideas about instrumentation, color or tone. I'll wait and fumble and find inspiration. Maybe I'll sit and play the old Cure, XTC and Wedding Present songs that got me into guitar in the first place. Eventually I'll experience something striking personally, or witness big things in another person's life, or see art that sees/feels/looks/sounds absolutely nothing like my work.
If I'm lucky, it won't be long before something moves me. I want to fix it NOW, but there's no shortcut. I can pick up the guitar. I can hum a melody. And I do! But I don't really feel it right now. Nothing is sticking, yet.
In these doldrums, I feel deeply bored/boring and dissatisfied with aspects of my life that have absolutely nothing to do with my art. That's not fair to my family and friends. But it's a phase, and I should probably cut myself a little slack. This blog post reminds me of that. :)
When this blog is quiet, you can assume we are busy. There's tons of recording going on – overdubs and guest musicians – and I've taught myself musical notation! At least to the extent that's helpful for writing backing vocals and harmonies. :) I'm no Stravinsky.
We're evolving our approach to live shows and to the lineup, too. From now on, you'll see more variation in terms of who's on stage. We are going to tailor the lineup for the venue and occasion like a jazz act. This will give us greater flexibility in the kinds of shows we can put on and it'll allow us to broaden our range of collaborators. After 10 years and many lineups, The Sexy Accident has become more of a collective than a band anyway. This approach takes it up a notch. You'll still see Dan and Ramone a lot. They're the core. So don't be sad!
We've got a gig coming up this Saturday, November 7 at Prospero's Books on 39th. Free admission. 8pm. Ramone opens with an acoustic set of his solo tunes, then we take the stage in our electric glory with new collaborator Kyle Dahlquist. Be there! We will be playing songs from every era of the band.
In personal news, I've been eating up Royals baseball and enjoying time with my kids. The weather in Kansas City this fall has been idyllic. All crispy leaves and applesauce. Hope it's similarly lovely for you, wherever you are!
I'm also pleased to announce that I'll be putting together a book for the 2016 POP POETRY series from Spartan Press. More on that as I have it!