Wednesday, January 2

Dealmaking

I've had a difficult few months. Just lots and lots going on. Relatives visiting. Steph and Toby and myself catching a succession of bugs. Steph and Tobias almost crashing on the way to Oklahoma City in that blizzard. And poor Riccardo, our wonderful cat - we had to put him to sleep on New Year's Eve. :(

And through it all my day job has been as uncertain as it ever has, which in reality is not terribly uncertain - I know that I'm valued and that I have options if I ever need to look for something else. But given all of these stresses, I've been having a really hard time feeling OK about spending $7000 recording the next Sexy Accident album. In truth, this is one of the hardest decisions I've ever made.

Bands don't generally talk about this sort of thing, that I've seen. But in any case, here are the facts. I'm 30 years old. I've been working on music seriously and steadily for ten years, now. I've played in five bands (if you include my solo act as one band) and written over fifty songs. I practice diligently and I spend an equal amount of time working on the "business" side of things - just trying to book shows and get people to come to them, mostly. To date, I've been moderately successful. Never monetarily, and never with popularity, but I like the music I make. Sadly, not a lot of people have heard it. Maybe someday that will change, but maybe it won't. All I know is I'm trying.

I have a two year old son and a wonderful, supportive wife, and a demanding corporate day job. I bring home the bacon - my wife has her hands full taking care of Toby and keeping the house together. Because I support the family, it's really hard for me to think about spending this money. It's even hard for me to think of leaving town for a week, of not being here to help. Because sometimes this project feels like an irresponsible indulgence and a luxury, and it feels like it's just for me - like nobody else benefits from it. And I worry that it won't really change anything in terms of the band - bring us more shows, better reviews, more fans - which it may well not. I really don't know. What I do know is I'm really stressing myself out. It feels like a lot of money - more than I've ever spent on anything for myself, certainly. And I have to borrow almost all of it. I'll be paying for this, and the family will pay with me, for the next few years.

So I'm going to write down why I'm going to do it anyway, despite my misgivings, right here, and I'm going to write down what I'm agreeing to as part of the bargain I'm striking with myself. I need to do this for my own peace of mind, because how sad would it be if, as I go through with this, I don't enjoy it because of guilt? So without further ado -

Why I am spending $7000 to record the next Sexy Accident Album at Electrical Audio in Chicago

1. Because I can be sure that the guys at EA can get me the sound I want and record us the way I want to record (which is as live as possible).

2. Because this material is better than anything I've ever done before. For the first time, I think I've created songs that can hold their own alongside the music I love.

3. Because I've always dreamed of recording in a real studio, with people who really know what they're doing.

4. Because Electrical Audio is the coolest studio that I can think of. I admire Steve Albini for his music, for the way he approaches his work, and for what I know of his principles. And considering the caliber of the facility and the people who work there, it's an absolute steal.

5. Because I've worked harder on this music than on any other single thing or project in my life. And because the band has worked right along with me (across line-up changes!) to get ready for this.

6. Because I want to show my son that it's a good idea to go after your dreams, to take risks. I want to be able to give him this album when he's older and say "I made this. It was very scary and very fun, but above all - I did it. You can make things, too."

7. Because I've always compromised my albums in the past and done things as cheaply and as best as I could, and this material is just too good for that treatment.

8. Because this was the promise I made to myself twelve years ago when I embarked on a career that wasn't musical - that the non-music would support the music. I need to honor that promise.

9. Because when I sing these songs I know I'm singing from my heart, and I want people to hear that.


In exchange (the rest of the deal)

1. I agree that I won't pay to record another album until this one is paid off in full

2. If, despite all my efforts, this new album and the work I do to promote it/us do not bring my band enough financial success to cover (or at least mostly cover) this level of expenditure, I will not spend anywhere near this much money on an album again

I hope this is a good plan. After writing these words I mostly feel like it is. God willing it'll all work out perfectly. I want, more than anything, to look back on this time and say "wow, that was fun. I'm so glad I did that." Please wish me (and us) luck.

Jesse Kates * www.sexyaccident.com


2 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Jesse,

It's inspiring to read your thought process and see you (albeit from a distance) go through this exciting experience. I think you've covered everything well, and the deal you've made with yourself is perfectly balanced.

I see making music as central to your being; it's a big part of what defines who you are. So while $7000 is a lot to spend--especially without label support--in this case it makes perfect sense. It's a natural--even necessary--next step from where you've arrived after all these years of honing your talents.

When I first started reading this entry, I was worried you'd talked yourself out of recording at EA. I'm so glad you haven't. Even if the result isn't "success" in terms of sales/shows/money/etc., it will be an unequivocal artistic success. Can't wait to listen to it (and hopefully see it performed as the resulting tour brings you to the east coast!) and be blown away.

-Legume

2:09 AM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Hey Chris!

Thanks so much for leaving this note. It means so much to me. It's so amazing that you're always around to give me another little push when I start to falter on this stuff. That's why you're in the liner notes. :)

Jesse

10:18 AM  

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