I was asking myself, "What is the most embarrassing thing for me as a songwriter and artist?" I think the answer is, "my failures." Which is to say, all the little bits of music I try to create, don't like and discard.
Honestly, the really really bad stuff never even gets recorded. I'll play around with an idea for 30 minutes and then go, "Nope, that's awful!" and move on to something else.
Yesterday, I saw Paul Barker (ex-Ministry) record a live podcast interview (at a theatre here in Portland, following a movie about the early UK industrial music scene.) Paul said something I've also expressed: when you're working on music, you get really focused on what you need the piece to achieve; if it's not up to that high level, you toss it. But sometimes you come back years later and realize it wasn't as bad as you thought it was.
I would add that artists get overly obsessive-compulsive during this process, a bit manic or depressive (based on their personality), and we lose sight of the trees for the forest. Making art is a lot like falling in love: it’s irrational. You don’t see reality, you begin to see what you want to – and need to – see. Perhaps when there are bandmates with equal creative control, you have others to balance the obsession? Working on your own, it’s just your own irrationality & obsession to base these decisions on. Of course, this also explains bands that break-up over "creative differences." If four or five people all start getting obsessed on different aspects of a song, it's no wonder songwriting teams almost always exp lode. How long would you put up with Lou Reed, if you were John Cale? : )
Ok. Did I get off topic. I think I got off topic.... rewind... I have 15 failures for you this month. Well, ok, I'm being melodramatic, maybe they aren’t that bad… but they are all bits of deitritus from the last year in the studio. Most of this music is listenable at least once. Some of it is repetitive because it's backing instrumental tracks that would have had more added as time went on.
And who knows? You might absolutely love one of the pieces and find your own buried treasure within these 30 minutes of remains, remnants, fragments and scraps.
I am sure Ashes fans will enjoy the first track. I was trying to see if I could figure out the sequence from "I wish you could smile." My notes from the 80s recording were rather cryptic. But I got it.
“2014_09 Icy Drone” could have been a track for the As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monuments (addendum) release. I forgot completely that I had recorded it; When I was compiling the bonus release, I kept thinking to myself, "Wasn't there another song I planned to include?" Ooops!
I can't say for sure that this stuff will never see the light of day, there's always a possibility that something will re-spark my imagination and make it's way onto the album. But my feeling is this all goes onto the rubbish heap of history.
Do you have a favorite?
Post your comments and impressions on this Patreon post.
released June 2, 2015