The Only Way Out is Through

escapism

5/14 ESCAPISM: ‘A Graph of Plotted Points… or Little People in Jars’

Sometimes you have to take stock and regroup.  Step back from everything you are and everything you do – from everything you have become.  You are defined by what you do.  Not always by your actions… but by what you do.  When you meet someone for the first time they will ask “So… what do you do then?”.  And you will answer with your job title.  And that then defines you in their eyes.  At least for that moment in time.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  A cycle.  Sometimes the assumptions are right, sometimes the assumptions are wrong.  But they are our means of putting people into boxes.  Putting people into jars.

Music is defined in the same way.  When I listen to a new band I immediately associate them with similar artists and categorise them accordingly.  When I heard Gene I thought Smiths.  When I heard Editors I thought Joy Division.  So it’s always a pleasure to hear a band that sounds fresh – where the links to the past aren’t immediately noticeable.  The roots are always there… but they may be buried deeper than others.  Fresh music… Black Sabbath, Blur, Oasis, Portishead, Flaming Lips, Jeff Buckley, The Chemical Brothers … the list is actually pretty long and you can substitute your own choices.  Of course… this music all becomes jaded in the end.  It’s actually difficult to remember how fresh Oasis once sounded for example.  And the welding of dance and rock has become commonplace.  We have probably reached an era in which it is more tricky than ever to sound genuinely innovative.  Yet there are still breakthrough acts which prick the ears – through being the future, or being engagingly retro.

I’ve now lived through a few ‘eras’ of music.  Metal, Grunge, Brit-pop, New Wave of New Wave, Emo, Nu-Rock, etc etc.  An important factor for me has been to keep my musical ambitions pure.  Okay, we can all be swayed by current fads… but I believe I’ve always stayed focussed on what I want to achieve.  Individuality.  And I’m not equating individuality with originality.  Individuality can involve originality… but they are completely independent concepts.  I’m talking about individuality of spirit.  Knowing what you want to say and saying it.  Not veering.  Even when swaying… swinging back to what is important to you.  For we all have something to say.  Some don’t have anything particularly interesting or profound to say – and luckily they therefore don’t venture too far into the artistic world (although when they do they produce some god awful bubblegum blockbuster, or a nice coffee table album!).  But those who do have something meaningful to say are a far more exciting prospect.  And those who have something to say and the means to say it are the reason music lovers love music.  That’s why we worship our Radioheads, Morrisseys, Buzzcocks, Beatles, Stones, Gorillaz, Cures...  Again, the list is a long one.  Individuality of spirit.  The most difficult of concepts to follow through with for it is all too easy to jump on a bandwagon.  To become a Northern Uproar or a Menswear.

To have complete individuality of spirit is however a double-edged sword.  For every person who ‘gets’ you, there will be a handful who don’t.  And that handful of people are often the most vocal.  It is for that reason that some of my favourite bands, films and albums are often neglected by the masses.  A lot of people prefer the glossy-Hollywood-remake-cream-cake to the authentic-slice-of-the-original pie.  And in some ways this is for the best.  It is great that some of the best music is not mainstream.

Life Will Be the Death of Me is probably my favourite song on ‘Escapism‘.  Musically, it embodies my notions of individuality of spirit.   I am on a journey and this song feels like a constant.  A fixed point in time and space.  A point on which all future work will be compared.  Will I ever again produce a piece of music that so perfectly defines who I am now? Where I am now?  No.  But the journey is like a graph.  A graph of plotted points.  Fixed points.  And I’m now living life until I can see that next waypoint.

“Hello… Um.. so, er… what do you do?”

“Well… I observe an individuality of spirit”

“Hmmm… sounds a bit pretentious to me!”

“Well… actually you might just be onto something there;  But I’ll stand by it. And life will be the death of me.”


4/14 ESCAPISM: ‘The Calm and the Storm’

I sit here with a bowl of mint choc chip ice cream and stare at an empty screen.  A screen I know I’m supposed to be filling with insight.  With wonder.  With mesmeric prose.  And the ice cream is melting.  But it is good ice cream… because it hasn’t crystallised – you know, when you let it melt and then you stick it back in the freezer.  It comes out with ice saturated through it.  Ice cream with ice.  NO!!!!  I want my ice cream with no ice!  And that’s what I have.  So I am relatively happy.

To write about a song called “The Calm and the Storm” should be so fitting at the moment.  Bill is experiencing some of the sentiment of the song literally.  And while he ponders why the storm always has a girl’s name… I sit here eating mint choc chip ice cream.  Rum and raisin is probably my favourite flavour.  But I can certainly learn to live with mint choc chip.  Anyway, this relationship is not going to last.  The bowl is emptying steadily.  Well… sporadically… in between fits and starts of typing.

I sit here in my studio and recall the writing of “The Calm and the Storm”.  The album was progressing beautifully – plenty of hit singles in the making.  Things were in danger of becoming too easy.  I felt compelled to throw a spanner in the works.  I embarked on a song that couldn’t possibly, conceivably, ever be a single.  When I toyed with the Les Paul I was trying to choke out notes that would cause the listener to furrow a brow rather than tap a foot.  I was messing with time signatures and messing with the concept of what an Eleventh Hour Initiative song should be.  And when I finally sat back in my chair and surveyed all that was before me I realised that I had accidentally recorded perhaps our defining moment.  It was with a sense of trepidation that I sent Bill the music for “The Calm and the Storm”.  I so wanted him to like it… but for so many reasons.  I needed him to like it… because the song had become an important statement of intent.  The song had become a symbol of how strong my music could be.  How strong music could be.  full stop – /period . . . Like an obelisk surrounded by apes.  I had thrown the bone to Bill and I hoped the jump cut would work.  And it did.

Bill understood where I had taken our music and reciprocated with some tremendous lyrics.  Not only that, but he also added more to the music and made the epic more epic.  We could seriously state that our music was cinematic.  The song projects images into my head.  Static, moving, flickering, full colour, black and white.  The song is a true journey.  The song is a pivotal moment for the album that has become “Escapism”.  If we were brave before, we came out the other side victorious warriors.

I feel we need Bill’s input on this one.  For he talks so eloquently when the subject of this particular song arises.  And I think this song justifies a second talking head.

Oh.. and the ice cream has been eaten.  Everything is good.

‘Non Submersible Units’

So we’re sitting here now, I have no idea what time it is where you are, but let’s pretend it’s 3 in the morning. We need to talk clearly with this post, and as I’ve said, there is no better time.

I want you to think about some of your favorite daydreams. Are you there yet? Now imagine yourself. Who do you see yourself as? I don’t mean where you’re at right now, I mean where you’re going. Who is that person? How do you see the world? Again, not as it is, but as you think it should be. What about all those mysteries out there? What are some of your theories about them? What do you believe?

Don’t worry, we have infinity to do this, remember?

It is my belief, feel free to agree or disagree, that in order to be truly fulfilled you need to take all of these things out into ‘the harsh light of the noon sun’.

As I said in my last post, some things will be utterly destroyed, and yet that same destructive power will give other things life.

‘Why do I need to throw all of them out there?’, you ask.

Well, ok, not all of them. Just the ones that are important to you. ; )

It gets a bit more complicated though. You see, if you’re throwing everything you deem worthy out into the sun, well some of these things are going to be part of the core of who you are. Some of these things are going to be what Stanley Kubrick would refer to as ‘non submersible units’. These are your anchors. Destroy these things, and your whole internal world comes crumbling down.

Why risk it, then? Why throw something so important into the unforgiving sun?!!!

Because as awful and hard as it is, it’s a bit easier when you choose to do it. If you don’t, at some point, life will do it for you.

Trust me, life always hits harder…

Sometimes, whether you did it willingly, whether you saw it coming, or whether you were blind-sided, one of your non submersible units gets obliterated by the sun.

Some people refer to this as the death of the self. If you’re Christian you may have heard it referred to as ‘being put on the cross’. Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell would call it the death/rebirth archetype. Poets? They call it ‘the dark night of the soul’. If you asked the guy next door, he’d probably just call it deep, dark depression.

If you’re wondering if you’ve ever experienced this, then you haven’t experienced it yet.

Your entire inner world is utterly destroyed. Nothing remains. I mean nothing.

There is no quick recovery from this if it happens to you. Usually, at first, you need to mourn what you’ve lost. You want to hold onto that dream so bad!!! You fight, you struggle, and then, finally, …it dies.

What needs to happen at this point is you essentially need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Unfortunately, Rome is never built in a day, …or so I’ve been told.

It’s been my experience that you don’t have any blessed clue how to do this, how to remake yourself. You don’t want to. You don’t want to do anything! Then some time passes and all that fury of emotion settles into sadness, then cynicism, and finally apathy. You usually get one direction then. Call it intuition, call it what you want, but it’s like a quiet and calm voice, not audible, but you just know.

It says, ‘go here’

You say, ‘go here?!!!’ ‘why?!!’ ‘What’s going to happen?.’ ‘is this going to help me?!!!’ ‘i want some answers!’

It says, ‘Ok.’

‘go here’

So after you fight it, doubt yourself some more, and then fight it some more…. you get tired, and finally

you go ‘here’.

‘Here’ is not necessarily a physical place. It’s more about starting again. Everyone has a different ‘here’.

Once you get ‘here’, that same feeling leads you to go to another ‘here’

You ask all the same questions, and the process repeats itself, until you stop asking so much and you just go. I mean, at this point, what better thing do you have to do?

It takes a long time, but at some point, things start to feel ‘new’ again. There’s no other way I can describe it. Then you find that after another great long time you look back and you realize that you are a really different person than you were. You’re a better person. You come to terms with why that particular dream had to die. Something new and very real tends to take its place. The experience itself just changes you.

There is no moment I can put my finger on and say, ‘that’s when it happened!, Resurrection!!!’. I guess it just happens at some non-descript time when days are blurring into days. Maybe part of it is that you’re no longer thinking about it, so you don’t notice exactly when it happens.

I’m sure some of you have no blessed clue what the hell I’m going on about. This is for those of you who do. Even if you don’t, their may come a time in your life where you’ll get what I mean. When that happens…trust me,

‘Go here’


3/14 ESCAPISM: ‘In the Harsh Light of the Noon Sun’

When I was younger I used to believe that everyone, deep down, saw the world exactly the way I did. I mean how could you not? Just look around!

I was also a talker. If I was a car salesman in the 1950s people might just refer to me as having ‘the gift of gab’. It was my theory that all I had to do was talk to a person enough and I could get down to the heart of the matter. I just had to peel away all those social layers and then deep down, we’d be the same.

that simple…

I mostly made this mistake on girls. A pretty girl would walk into the room and I’d already be projecting all kinds of wondrous and mysterious things onto her personality. Sure, she may seem shallow, but deep down I could get to the real her! I would just hit that rock with words, like Henry Plainview in ‘There Will Be Blood’ and eventually I’d strike it rich!

Imagine my surprise to find out this wasn’t the case.

You set up the diving board, jump off full of excitement. you do your best trick, and you find the water is only 2 feet deep. You end up with a concussion, and a lot to talk about.

How dare she not see the world exactly as I do!

How dare she not love everything I love!

Depending on how stubborn you are, you may have had to jump off of many diving boards till you figured things out. You grow, you adapt, you learn to appreciate the different perspectives different people have on the world.

How often does something like this happen in a person’s life? How often do thoughts you have that seem so natural turn out to be utter, embarrassing nonsense in the light of reality?

In my recent post on ‘Try and Get Some Sleep’ I talked about the magic that is 3 o’clock in the morning. How many ideas do you have at 3 in the morning that just seem foolish once the next day rolls around?

A character comes to mind from David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’. Her name was Dorothy and she was played by Isabella Rosellini. Throughout much of the film she is a classic femme fatale. Dorothy is beautiful, mysterious, dangerous, sensual, magical, etc. etc. A funny thing  happens though, at one point in the film Dorothy ends up naked and beaten on the main character Jeffrey’s doorstep, in front of Jeffrey’s parents and girlfriend! In an instant, everything that was once sensual and mysterious about Dorothy suddenly becomes awkward and embarrassing in the light of day. It’s as if real life had stripped her, pardon the pun, of some sort of magical power and now we were viewing her as she really was.

How many ideas are like this? They are mysterious and powerful in the night of your mind and then they become instantaneously ridiculous in the light of day. Perhaps it is for this reason that many of us deem it wise to keep our inner most thoughts and dreams to ourselves.

However, reality isn’t just a harsh, unforgiving force. A funny thing happens sometimes. Sometimes an idea, a thought, or a creative work can spring out of your mind into reality. The sun eyes it up and gives it all it’s got. Then, instead of melting like the witch in The Wizard of Oz, the idea becomes purified. The sun gets rid of the dross maybe, but what’s underneath passes the test. It is deemed worthy and suddenly it exists as a real thing, clever thing that the sun is ; )

So maybe you’re sitting there tonight and you have this idea. Maybe it’s just a thought of who you’d like to be. Maybe it’s something new you’d like to try. Maybe it’s a song that you want to write, or a movie you’d like to make, or a business you’d like to start, and on and on. There is always the fear that the sun, being very strict, may mock this thing you want to bring into being. It may destroy it utterly. You may be embarrassed!!!(the crowd shrieks!) However, just maybe,

… it may be found worthy.

It may become something very, very real in your life.

Is it worth the risk?

That depends on how you feel about your life? Are you happy? Are you right where you need to be? Is there anything you truly wish to do, but are afraid to?

I say life is short, and I’ve been embarrassed enough to realize that the world doesn’t end when falling off of a limb. In fact, not too long from now, I have an ‘Escape Plan‘ that has a scheduled audition with the sun. Don’t worry about me, even if I fail, I’ll still have Isabella Rosellini

Well, you get my point!


1/14 ESCAPISM: ‘The Secret To Stopping Time When Everyone Else is Asleep’

When I think about Try and Get Some Sleep I think about the early morning hours. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to stay up late. Since you’ve been nice enough to read this post I figure we can talk openly here.

I don’t stay up because I can’t sleep.

I don’t toss and turn in my bed.

Just between us, I stay up so late all of the time because I’ve discovered a secret. To put it simply, sometime in the morning, a little after 3 until just before 3:30am, …time ceases to exist.

Really, it’s true.

Time is like a stopwatch that is wound sometime after 3:30 in the morning. After it is wound it continues to gather speed and power until it reaches its pinnacle at 3:00pm. That is when people are at their fastest. That is when the world is at it’s loudest. That is when you walk outside and the sun is so bright it imposes itself on you, forcefully. The brightness, speed, and power of 3 in the afternoon can leave many good people bowing their heads in submission, dumbfounded, and squinting. Thoughts zip around your head like so many bees in a crowded hive, all determined to go somewhere, but not entirely sure of why, and why is it so important again? You can’t answer these types of questions at 3 o’clock in the afternoon because you have somewhere you need to be…and fast!!! People spout out a lot of nonsense around this time because the words come and go so quickly that they are forgotten before they’re even spoken out loud. 3 in the afternoon is the best time to quickly shout out all of your nonsensical, boring, meaningless, and surface value ideas…and……phewwwwwwwmmmmmm….see, they’re already gone! This is why TV is at it’s most vile at this time. Shows this bad need to be over fast, and as I said, there is no faster time than 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Then, sometime after 3:30pm time starts to wind down again. You may not notice this at first, but at around 4pm you may have found that you can catch a stray thought here, a stray thought there. The rest of your mind is still supercharged, but it is weakening slowly. By 5pm you may find that you’re eating dinner and you have actually been able to catch enough of your thoughts to ruminate on what the hell just happened to you. However, it is still not quite there and that is why when people you love ask you how your day was at 5pm, you say short, succinct things like, ‘fine’. You see, your thoughts at 5pm are like a fish you have caught, but it’s still flopping around the boat too much to actually get a hold of enough to express out loud. You may find that the sun is really screwing with you now, aiming straight for the eyes, but it’s only because it knows that 3pm is over so it’s giving you all it’s got before the end. Don’t worry, it’s all bravado.

Another mistake people make is thinking that time stops at midnight. Surely the clock is winding down, but midnight just sounds better in a poetical sense. People like a good beginning and end, and you know, with the twelve being there at the top of the clock it tends to suit most peoples love for symmetry I guess. Plus, lets face it, most people are either in bed, drunk, or high by the time 3am rolls around so twelve is as close as they get to infinity while still clear headed.

However, if you happen to be sitting at, let’s say a computer, or thinking, or working on some creative work at 3 in the morning you’ll know what I’m talking about. Time slows, slows, slooowwwssss, and then……you find yourself outside yourself. It’s uncanny. You make all kinds of rational and wise decisions on things you need to change in your life. The world seems to become somehow malleable so that you just reach out and shape it into ‘something’ that only makes sense to you between 3am and 3:30 in the morning. You live your entire life in your head, then you create another world to live another life in, and then you smile and reminisce about those lives that you’ve made and you grin again, slowly taking long, satisfied sips of coffee. Finally, you realize that you are needed back inside of time because that is the natural order of things so you sigh, rub your eyes, and look at the clock, which will always be waiting for you at 3:30am. You then nod, and allow the minute to pass…

The next morning you may arrive at work and someone will ask you how you’re doing. You’ll want to tell them about the worlds you made and the experiences you had and how you found a way to cheat time and death. However it will be impossible because scientifically it is impossible to truly express infinity within finite time, especially at say, 9 o’clock in the morning. So you give up and you say, ‘fine’ and leave it at that.

They may then tell you that you look tired and that you should ‘Try and Get Some Sleep‘…


Album Finished, Tracklisting, and I’ll Tube if Youtube

Hello Internet,

It’s been a while! Let’s start with some really good news! The album is finished! We’re sending it out and as soon as we hear back we can tell you when the release date will be! We plan on starting with i-tunes and amazon and then going from there with physical copies and one day, maybe …vinyl? (I hope!)

We started writing songs as a band back in June of 2010 with ‘Where We Go Next’ and we ended in June of 2011 with ‘From Shipwreck to Shore’. The final album will contain all 14 songs we’ve written as a group. That means no one has to worry about their favorite song not being on the album! Here’s the tracklisting:

‘Escapism’

1. Try and Get Some Sleep
2. Pitfall
3. Escape Plan
4. The Calm and the Storm
5. Life Will Be the Death of Me
6. Ready, Set…Explode!!!
7. Mean Machines
8. Feel
9. A Thousand Steps
10. Chasing Chaos
11. Where We Go Next
12. All These Secret Things
13. From Shipwreck to Shore
14. When the Start Begins*

*’When the Start Begins’ was formerly known as ‘Twelve’

We actually tried to take out songs, but we couldn’t. We like all of these songs too much to choose!

So Emrys has re-mastered all of these songs since you heard them last on soundcloud. Do you want to hear what they sound like now?

go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/TEHIband  …or just click here

I decided to go ahead and make a youtube page for us today. On the link I just gave you, click ‘playlists’ on the top right and there you’ll find all of the songs on Escapism with some artwork, all listed in the order they’ll appear on the album. The sound quality will certainly be better when you buy the album, but trust me, even on youtube, you can hear the difference!

Right now I’m working with the very talented Nick Ummarino to make a music video for ‘Escape Plan’, which will be our first single. We’re also experimenting with how Emrys and I can play live, stripped down versions of our songs similar to some of the videos Emrys has on the password protected section of our site. It’s difficult when Emrys and I have literally never been in the same room together, but we’ll make it work!

This is just a taste of some of the things we have in store for you. Thank you for being patient with us! We’re trying very hard to make it all worth the wait!

In the meantime, while you’re waiting, why not listen to the final version of Escape Plan or maybe The Calm and the Storm? ; )

http://www.youtube.com/user/TEHIband

…Bill


Mastering Escapism


I am in the process of mastering our album.  Mastering is basically the process of getting an album fit for public consumption – making sure the music sounds like an “album” rather than a “collection of songs”.  I have currently got a pretty nearly finished version of the album in my car.  I’ve already tested the album on the studio speakers and on top quality headphones.   I’ve tested it through tv speakers.  The car is the true testing ground for me.  The place where I listen to most of my music.  If it sounds good on my car stereo it’ll sound good anywhere! Anyway.. that’s where I’m at.  Escapism is edging closer to completion.

 
If you want to read about mastering in more detail check out: http://confessionofthewholeschool.com/2011/06/20/mastering/

Otherwise… just wait for us to announce a release date!


Something for the weekend Sir?

I thought I’d give Try and Get Some Sleep a quick run through.  Not a perfect take by any means.  Bill wants me to point out that he sings the song on the album… and I am in no way pretending to be him.  I am me. He is he!


Producing the Eleventh Hour Initiative

It’s late again.  And very hot.  It has been like a tropical heat here.  Like stepping off the plane in Cyprus or something. That sheer wall of heat!  It’s late.  I’m sitting here in my studio.  Sweating.  And so I begin to type… we could be here for some time!  Ha ha!

I think I’ve been ‘producing’ music now for about 20 years.   I mean ‘producing’ in the loosest sense.  I, like many other musicians, started out with tape.  First ‘tape to tape’ recordings on a double cassette player.  There are some of you out there who will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.  And I’m not about to explain myself.  Let’s just say it was an extremely rudimentary form of getting more than one ‘layer’ of sound recorded in some form.

Then came the ‘4 -track’ recorder.  I had a battered old Tascam.  In fact I’m pretty sure I still have it somewhere. This was a machine that let you record 4 tracks (no shit Sherlock!) on a normal cassette tape.  It did it if I remember rightly, by using both sides of the tape at the same time.  This meant that if you played the cassette in a ‘normal’ player, 2 of the tracks would play backwards.  This in itself, if manipulated correctly, could give magical results for certain songs.  I trace my constant experimentalism back to those archaic days!  And the technique, used by mistake, never did Led Zeppelin any harm!

In those “good ol’ days” the art of bedroom production was a tight-rope.  You see you could never REALLY produce anything more than a demo of a song.  It was always full of hiss, and the 4-track system meant that recording something like a full drum kit varied from “problematic” to “impossible”.  Yet those ‘demo’ efforts held their own in some ways.  You had your demo, and that demo then had to be ‘lived up to’.  The next step for every musician at the time was the journey into “the studio”.   And more often than not, after you’d spent all your hard earned pennies, you’d listen to the final product and say “Hmmm… Not as good as the demo is it?!?”.  Ha ha!

Anyway… The Studio.  That ever so magical place.  The theatre of dreams!  Or bloody nightmares!  Ha ha!  I remember recording one of my first studio sessions.  We were recording a song that was supposed to be pretty heavy.  Heavy and foreboding.  It had been a live favourite.  So we ventured into the studio to record this killer rock song.  But… I decided on the day, (or was persuaded… I honestly can’t remember now!) that I had to sing this song with a real ‘gruff rock vocal’.  Now… anyone who has heard me sing know’s that I’m not exactly a Death Metal singer!  Ha ha!  I’m more your Damon Albarn than your Max Cavalera.. but anyway, sing it gruff I did!  With devastating results!  I remember the band playing the finished recording to a fan at the time.  His face dropped.  He just looked so disappointed… “What have you done to it?”  he asked.  “You’ve just ruined your best song!!!”.  Ha ha!  We were gutted!  And it was all my fault!  (well… and the drums were shit, the guitar solo was shocking and everything else generally stank the place up!).  But my point is… back then you had to be completely honed.  Every member of the band HAD to know his shit inside out to save the day.  For these were the times of recordings costing you “by the hour”.  A concept lost today.  For today is an era in which I can tinker to my heart’s content.  Back then a recording studio could kick you in the teeth if you weren’t ready for it.

So, I learned from those initial mistakes.  For a start I left the band! 😉  Found a better drummer.  Learnt everything totally prior to recording.  And I was a perfectionist.  I spent hours on every single part.  And remember, by this time I was playing all the instruments bar the drums.  I would write everything down religiously. I would attend the studio completely prepared.  Now, I’m not saying that I got things done in one take.  I have never been a one take kinda guy!  Understatement!!!  But I was certainly prepared.  And the final recordings, I think, still show that preparation.  The album I’m talking about ended up being the only ‘album’ by my band/solo project Alexi in Winter.  It was recorded at a time when I was very into acoustic music.  And indie rock.  And rock.  I was diving deeper into orchestral accompaniment and epic, cinematic sounds.  I was taking my first steps towards making music an ‘experience’.  And I learned the production techniques every step of the way.  The Alexi in Winter album was the last time anyone else produced my music.  Since then it has been me all the way.  I stand and I fall by what I do.  I can blame no-one else.  Success or failure is all down to me.  The burden rests on my shoulders!  Ha ha!

I’m probably wildly digressing here… but that was the caveat of my opening sentence pretty much.  It’s late and it’s hot!

So I have a solid ten years of ‘professional-standard’ solo production under my belt now.  I have produced a whole solo album.  I have tried to remain on the cutting edge of music production.  The idea of staying on the cutting edge is a minefield in itself.  As I see it there are two ways to go.  You can listen to every new cutting edge band and try to stay one step ahead… or you can listen to nothing and steer your own course.  It’s probably not going to surprise you to learn that I steer my own course.  During the Brit-pop era I was the guy who had every new single by every new band.  I was the guy walking around wearing the “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet” t-shirt.  I WAS THAT GUY!  So I can say the following knowing that I have been there and done it:  I try to avoid current trends.  I avoid bandwagons.  I want to do my own thing.  I want to try my own sounds, my own ideas.  I don’t want to be influenced by the sound of the drums on the new ‘Siberian Apes’ record.  Do you understand what I mean?  It’s not that I think I’m too cool for school!  It’s that I feel jaded by the passing bandwagons.  Their cart wheels roll over my toes and break my spirit.

Anyway… ha ha!  So, hmmm.  Where was I?  I built my own recording studio.  This was an important step and has been the most creatively liberating thing I have probably ever done!  I then got together with Bill last year and we decided to record an album.  We worked first on a song called Where We Go Next.  Now… I’m not here to talk about the content of the songs too much at the moment.  I’m more interested in describing the sound I was trying to achieve.  For you see, very early on I had to settle on a ‘sound’.  I was producing music for the very first time that I had not provided the lead vocal for.  I have pretty much sorted out what MY vocal sound is.  I’ve had years to work on it.  But all of a sudden I had to work out what to do with Bill’s singing.  He has a style all of his own.  Nothing like my vocal nuances.  He has his own recording techniques and his particular way of singing.  It could have been a problem.  But I hit upon an idea.  I would use my “basking in music’s past” and avoiding “music’s present” to produce a sound reminiscent of the ’60s, but still firmly rooted in today.  For me, this concept is perfection.  I hold aloft Pet Sounds, Beggars Banquet and Sgt Pepper as the pinnacle of great albums.  My my, how cool would it be if I could bring that spirit into 2011?  I remember writing to Bill and telling him that I’d decided I was going to give his vocals a kind of ‘Head‘-era Monkees treatment.  Now, that could have frightened the poor sod off!!!  But luckily he let me roll with it.  So I went down the avenue of a dreamy, trebley, floaty vocal for the entire album.  It is the constant.   The music may veer wildly from pop rock to epic prog rock… but that vocal sound keys it all together.  A strong glue!

Cool… I had the foundation of the ‘sound’ of the Eleventh Hour Initiative.  This enabled me to write a collection of songs that I maintain are the most coherent and focussed of my career.  I’m not going to talk about specific production techniques… coz they is a sekrit!!! (because they are a secret). But I thought it would be interesting to mention how the majority of the album was formed.  I wrote most of the songs on the bass guitar. Now… to any non-musicians out there this may mean jack shit to you.  But any musos will be nodding their heads that this is indeed a little out of the ordinary.  I don’t have any particular explanation.  It’s just the way I did it.  And it’s another factor that I feel completely influences the musicality of the album.  For this is a bass and drum album.  Everything else is secondary.  This album is all about the sound of the drums… and the interplay with the bass.  This album is something a little different.  You don’t even have to like it (although I have my fingers crossed that you will!), – but I believe you will get a lot out of simply listening to it.  Bass, drums and Bill’s exciting vocals towering above the skyline.

Bill has spoken about the lyrical themes of Escapism.  Well… in many ways the music echoes the themes.  Songs such as the Calm and the Storm and Life Will Be the Death of Me embody escapism within their musical structure.  Escapism has been an album where I have finally realised I don’t have to follow any rules.  Rules can be good.  Rules can be bad.  But Escapism, at its best, unshackles itself from the straight-jacket of convention.  Escapism is the continuation of the music I began with Alexi in Winter all those years ago.  But I have raised the bar.  A lot!  I am waffling now.  It is a hundred degrees in here!!!  And late.  Bedtime I think.  Apologies for the rant.  I’m not even finished.  But for now… I bid you farewell!  Emrys.


‘His Name is Mr. Ed (Part 2) – This is the End, Beautiful Friends’

(cont. from part 1)

In all seriousness, as much as I make fun of Edward Bernays, he obviously knew what he was doing. His dream was to create a mentality in society where desires trump needs, or to put it another way, a society of escapism. He never let the facts get in the way of a good story, and if he couldn’t convince you that cold was hot, he’d convince you that the temperature wasn’t really that important anyway.

You don’t have to look very hard to see his fingerprints on the world we live in today. I’d give you examples, but you’re reading a blog that’s essentially a commercial for our album, so I think you get the idea. ; )

Whenever I’ve read about Bernays and public relations I’m always surprised by how much even the people who hate this man share his view points. Bernays believed that society as a whole was stupid, dangerous, and needed to be controlled. It’s surprising to read people who are against this way of thinking, yet still regard society in general as ‘dumb sheep’. I don’t agree with that viewpoint. I don’t think everybody’s an idiot. I find it hard to believe that people watch commercials and think ‘yes, I believe that’s true’ (or politicians, or tv shows, movies, etc..) I think what really happens is that we’re so surrounded by subterfuge that it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between the truth and fantasy sometimes. As somebody that’s looking for fulfillment, it can feel like you’re surrounded by nothing but mirages sometimes. We live in a world where we seem to be much more interested in the men and women who play important historical figures on tv and movies, than the actual people they’re playing, let alone the ideas that those people represented.

So where does that leave us? …and what does all of this have to do with an indie rock record?

Around the time Emrys and I started writing this record I was feeling pretty defeated in general. In my own limited view, I saw the world as this huge machine, and when you don’t know where exactly you fit into that machine, it can be easy to feel like you’re getting grinded up by all the cogs. Somehow, I began to find solace writing the songs that would make up ‘Escapism’.
In the same way that someone like Edward Bernays could use metaphors to shape public perception, even if it was irrational, I found that I could use metaphors to shape the way I saw my own life.

Some people have therapists, I write songs.

The difference between me and someone like Bernays, is instead of trying to change my perception to make money or power, I tried using it to help myself find whatever it is I’ve been looking for all this time.

who knows where to go or what it is?’ (Escape Plan)

I don’t want to go through each song with you and pull it apart because that takes some of the fun out of it, but I’ll use ‘Escape Plan’ as an example of what I’m talking about.

I was working my second job, midnight shift. It was 2am, and let’s just say I didn’t want to be there. It was a job that I was over qualified for, but I needed to swallow my pride and work because I needed the money. The people there were nice, but I hated it. I felt ashamed, defeated, and depressed. I felt like I was 16 again, it was 2 in the morning and I was mopping the floor at a convenience store.

Waiting in this line I’ll try my best to help

Whenever you have to work or be somewhere that you don’t want to be you tell yourself that you really don’t belong there. You think, ‘it’s only a matter of time’. Sometimes though, reality hits you with a right hook and you wonder if maybe that’s exactly where you belong.

Hopelessness – cue violins ; )

So I mopped the floor, and I scribbled lyrics onto a paper towel. I imagined I had some sort of secret plan of action to get me out of there.

We’ll make our Escape from Society. Kept under wraps/waiting patiently

In truth, I sort of did, but this was grander than that. What sort of plan would that be? How would I implement it?
As the song continued to take shape a funny thing happened.

I started to believe it.

I started planning.

I’m not saying I sold everything I had and quit my job, I’m saying I had this strange confidence come over me that helped me to believe I was going to get out. I was going to find what I was looking for. The song didn’t magically lift me out of my circumstances, but it helped give me the strength and perspective to try and move myself a little closer in that direction. It sure beat the cynicism and hopelessness I was feeling before! The daydream may have been overly idealistic, but the real things it was causing me to do weren’t.

So I’m a millionaire now, right?

Isn’t that how these things end?

Sorry, but no. I will say I don’t need to work that second job anymore.(woohoo!!! ..fireworks, confetti)

As the album progressed, it became more and more about helping me view my life through a different perspective. Not a perspective that pretended everything was ok, but one that helped me get to a place where it just might be. It’s helped me to shape my perceptions, instead of simply allowing them to be shaped, and I hope it can help you do something similar.

As I said in my first blog, if you like our songs because they sound good, or they make you feel good, then that makes me happy. That being said, though I write these songs to get my own head around things, I also have the hope that for those who dig a little deeper, it just may help others view their lives in a bit of a different way as well.

I learned from Edward Bernays that perception can be a strong force in shaping reality. Life and circumstance taught me that it just may be possible to be sincere and idealistic in a world that eats good intentions for breakfast, and still survive, possibly flourish.

There are many who are still searching for the wise man on top of the mountain, just like I used to. I’m sorry, I don’t have any answers to give you, but I do have a collection of songs that helped me find faith again. What that is worth, is up to you.

With all my ranting in these last few blogs you can probably understand why it’s important for me to be as honest as I can with our ‘promotion’ of this album. That being said, I’m considering making the tagline read

‘Escapism: Cause I Don’t Want to Mop NO MO’ haha

That’s the end of my blog for now. I hope my ramblings weren’t too bad to get through, and I appreciate you taking the time to read. I’ll certainly still be active on the site, but no more weekly blogs from me

(wohhooo!!! …fireworks, confetti)

Goodnight and Good Luck Internet People…

Bill


‘His Name is Mr. Ed’ (Part 1)

Last week we began talking about how the world seems off, and my belief that a man named Edward Bernays has something to do with it. Is he the whole reason the world seems off, you ask? No, it’s a lot more complicated than one man, but this is a blog on an indie rock website, cut me some slack! If I could dole out those kinds of answers I’d probably be living on top of a mountain somewhere answering mysterious, riddle-like questions from wayward travelers and truth seekers.

Where was I?

Oh yes, Edward Bernays…

Edward Bernays possessed what many ancient philosophers referred to as ‘dumb evil’ to such an extent that the mere mention of his name can cause good men to yelp involuntarily whenever he is brought up in polite conversation. Writing a few paragraphs to give you a brief history of the man makes me feel too much like I’m writing a term paper so let’s get through it with some bullet points, shall we? Quick! Like a bunny!!!

-Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew. He’s also considered to be the father of what we now know as public relations.

-In following with his uncle’s thinking, Bernays believed that crowds reacted more to irrational impulse than to rational thought. One of his most famous examples of this was his promotion of cigarettes to women in 1929. At the time, there was a stigma against women smoking and Ed was approached by a tobacco company to try and reverse this trend. His idea was to pay young women to ‘defiantly’ light cigarettes in the middle of the May Day parade. He tipped the press off and suggested they refer to the cigarettes as ‘torches of freedom’. The tactic worked. Cigarette sales rose 30 percent among women shortly after the parade. Bernays had succeeded in getting people to associate smoking with women’s rights. ‘That’s ridiculous!’, you say. ‘What do cigarettes have to do with women’s rights?’ nothing at all my friends, nothing at all.

– Bernays was well-known for having a big, dumb head to match his stupid face.

– Bernays once said, and I’m not making this up, that he made up the phrase ‘public relations’ because the Germans had given the word ‘propaganda’ a bad name.

– Google search ‘Bernays, Guatemala’, but be warned, you may yelp…

– “Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays, ‘Propaganda’)

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.” (Edward Bernays, ‘Propaganda’)

….

‘So what does all of this have to do with the price of eggs?’, you ask.

Over the last few blogs I’ve talked about all kinds of seemingly unrelated things. This is a blog about a music album, right? What does all of this have to do with your album?
Starting with Part 2 of this blog(later this week) I plan on explaining how all of these things relate to our little album. We’re not quite done with Bernays, but now we’ve got all the grunt work out-of-the-way so we can just talk a bit next time. I’m only planning a few more entries for this ‘Escapism’ blog(part 2, and maybe one more after that). I’ll certainly try and remain active on the site after this, but at this point, I feel the need to assure you that I will not be ranting on indefinitely.

I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my thoughts over these past few weeks. Until next time http://www.people. ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0OrT-8gXMs


Why an album?

Hi, Emrys here.  First things first.  Should a “band website”tm have SO MUCH WRITING?  So much to read?!?  Well… my simple, honest response is a resounding “YES!”.  Whilst I’m all for the art of being mysterious – the art of not giving anything away… I also see the benefit of opening yourself up to your audience.  For every Jack Nicholson or Morrissey there must be a Lily Allen or a … hmmm… well… hopefully you understand what I mean?  In fact, in this ‘Twitter’-era I guess we’ve got the most ‘openness’ that there has ever been.  It’s not red snappers in hotel rooms anymore… it’s opinions and true thoughts straight in your face.  By no means do you HAVE to read, but I really, really would have loved more of this from my favourite artists in my youth.

Anyway… I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about an important issue.  Why is the Eleventh Hour Initiative so particular about releasing “AN ALBUM”?  It may seem a trivial question, but in this last decade where the importance of the album has been diminished so greatly, you have to ask why we are even bothering with the concept of an album?  A collection of songs.  In order.  Starting at a starting point – of our choice, not yours.  Ending at a final song.  A final song that we tell you is the final song.  The completion of a journey that we take you on.

I think there have been a few factors that have influenced the decline of ‘the album’ as a feature of modern music, but I personally lay the blame pretty squarely at the rise of the mp3 player and the victory of the download single.  The youth of today (ha ha!  How old do I sound sometimes?!?) are into soundbites.  They are into snatches of music.  Fragments of sound.  Nothing to stretch the attention span.  Music has become the ad breaks.  Music has become the noise in between the rest of the noise.  Shards of audio and shards of visual thrust in everyone’s faces.  Hour after hour, day upon day.  And that is not necessarily a bad thing.  I think it is a different thing.  I just have the nostalgia of turning off the lights, laying in bed (fully clothed, nothing sexual going on here!) and listening to the latest album bought with my pennies from an ACTUAL SHOP!!!  Ha ha!  No, seriously… I can to this day remember lying in my darkened bedroom listening to Grace by Jeff Buckley for the first time.  Hearing Lilac Wine for that moment which you can never claw back.  Shiver down the spine time.  Whole collections of songs that someone has taken the time to put together.  Okay, a lot of my ‘longing’ is because it was an era that made me who I am today.  Those listens of Dummy by Portishead or the excitement of These Animal Men.  The download-single-adoring “youth of today” are living through their own era.  And the iPod is part of the zeitgeist.  I’m not sure I’ve used the correct terminology there… but I’m also not sure I care!

So, why are Bill and I bothering to release an album?  Why don’t we just try to chuck out a number 1 hit download single?  Well, I think that answer can be dealt with by means of a series of questions (politician style!):  Have you listened to Dark Side of the Moon?  Have you listened to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots or the Soft Bulletin?  Have you listened to OK Computer?  Back in Black? Have you listened to any great rock record?  Have you enjoyed a classic album?  If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then I believe you will enjoy our album.  I’m not paying lip service here.  I believe you will fall for our album.  For we have dedicated ourselves to making this “collection of songs” the very best set of songs that we can possibly achieve.  We are aspiring to place Escapism alongside the very best of the albums from history.  I want the album to stand proudly alongside Pet Sounds or Revolver on your ‘shelf’.  It’s not important which of the three is the ‘best’ 😉 , I just want you to know, with a simple listen, that we are as serious about music as those classic artists certainly were.  I just want to assure you that our album will contain no filler.  Our album will be a work of art.  I acknowledge that it is possible to say everything you want to say in a single song.  There are some great one hit wonders out there.  But I am not a one hit wonder.  Bill is not a one hit wonder.  The Eleventh Hour Initiative is not a one-off line cast into a river.  We are the full box of bait.  We have the full works… those little float things and the things with the feathers and everything!

The Eleventh Hour Initiative is an opportunity to present music as art.  I know I can sound monstrously pretentious at times ( 😉 )… but I feel it is vital to describe why we are about to release an album in the age of the single.  Remember… things go full circle.  The Beatles defined the album.  Vinyl defined the length of the album.  CDs redefined the album.  Downloads destroyed the album.  And I believe the album will rise again.  The album will return with a vengeance and obliterate the ‘shuffle’ button on your mp3 player!  I like it when I read that vinyl sales are on the increase.  It makes me wish I hadn’t thrown my record player away all those years ago for the lure of the mighty, indestructible CD.  Ha ha!  Indestructible!!!  Ha ha!  Seriously… I sit here in my studio under a framed Them Crooked Vultures album.  It’s a gatefold, double vinyl album.  I long to actually play it.  I think the time has come for me to buy another record player!  And I think the world is almost ready for an Eleventh Hour Initiative album!!!  What do you think?


Does Something Feel Off To You?

If we’re going to be talking about what ‘Escapism‘ is about, then there are two basic principles that we need to go over.

1. The world seems off.

and

2. No matter where I go, or what I do, something seems like it’s missing!

These are principles that I have operated under for as long as I can remember. Now that doesn’t mean I could always put these feelings into words, but I certainly could feel it from a young age.

Let’s start exploring number one.

1. The world seems off.

I’m a big Philip K Dick fan. He wrote the books ‘A Scanner Darkly‘, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep‘(i.e. ‘Bladerunner‘), ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale‘(i.e. ‘Total Recall‘), and many others. My favorite Philip K. Dick book is called ‘Valis‘. At the heart of ‘Valis‘, and all of Phil’s work, he always seemed to believe that there was something inherently fraudulent about reality. If he were alive right now he might tell you that the world never got past 70 A.D. and all that we see is an illusion. It is still 70 A.D. right now! ‘The empire never ended!!!’

Phil’s not the only one who has theories about why the world seems somehow ‘wrong’.

Maybe we’re all being secretly used as batteries for a malevolent computer program!(wasn’t that a movie?)

Maybe we’re all just dust on a shelf in some other universe.

Maybe the illuminati is brainwashing us all!!!

Maybe you’re the star of a reality tv show that everyone watches and is in on, except you.

The list goes on and on.

It can be fun rummaging through theories, but at the end of the day I like to stick with something a bit more concrete. If I can’t find anything concrete, I try and settle on the fact that I just don’t know why life seems this way.

Now I’ve read enough C.S. Lewis to know if he was attacking this problem he’d say something like, ‘if something seems off then their must be somewhere where it doesn’t feel off.’

Are you following my thinking here?

If there wasn’t a place different from ‘off’, you wouldn’t feel like it was ‘off’ in the first place because you’d have nothing to compare ‘off’ to. Your perception of ‘off’ is only relative to what you perceive as ‘the way it should be.’ If you have an idea of ‘the way it should be’ then that place must exist somewhere, in some form, right?

Am I losing you?

Maybe it would make more sense like this.

1. The world feels off
a. there is a place where the world doesn’t feel off.
b. there is a way to get to the place where the world doesn’t feel off

In other words, I believe that we all have a ‘place’ where we feel like we belong. It isn’t really a ‘place’, but a state of being. It is a state of being where you feel like you’re right where you should be. Take away all of my philosophical ramblings and I’d tell you that I know this because I’ve been there, albeit briefly. For fleeting moments in time, I’ve found footprints that were my size and I’ve stood there.

Imagine being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

It was fleeting, but it was amazing! It felt like I had a very strong electrical current running through my body, humming like a refrigerator, except I didn’t die, their was no burning of flesh, and General Electric had nothing to do with it.

‘what I want to be/can you see through me?/I just never know/it just comes and goes'(taken from ‘The Calm and the Storm‘)

The more I try to explain this feeling the more it ceases to make sense because in essence all I’ve got to go on is an instinct. It’s like a small, but persistent voice inside of you, constantly pushing you to ‘head off in that direction!’, even though you have no idea what you’ll find there.

Just for the record, I don’t actually hear voices, metaphors internet people, metaphors!

So we’ve established that I feel like something in life just isn’t quite right, I have a very strong need to find a place where it makes more sense, and I’ve found such a place, albeit briefly.

Have you ever felt this way?

As I said earlier, I like to deal in things that are a bit more concrete. So before I go into my own personal reaction, and my quest to find out why things are off, how about we look at some very real reasons that I would feel this way?

I think we should start with a man named Edward Bernays. You may not have heard of him, but no matter who you are he has had a profound effect on your life. We’ll take a look at him in the next blog, and then we’ll tie him into both of the principles I mentioned at the top of this post, and then we’ll be ready to see where it all fits into the album.

Before I go, I want to say something briefly. Though I will be touching on religion lightly as we go, I don’t subscribe to any particular religion. I was raised Christian, but now consider myself an agnostic. Agnostic is a fancy way of saying ‘I have no idea!’ My line of thinking is what you choose to believe, and even whether you choose to believe in anything at all is a very personal decision and I would have no right to tell you what to do. I’m saying all of this for those of you who are nervous that I’m going to be passing out pamphlets at the end of this blog. I certainly have a life philosophy, as do we all, but my point in going over it is so that maybe you can compare it to your own life philosophy and see where it’s similar and where it’s different, as opposed to me trying to beat you over the head with my own views. Many people say that things like politics and religion shouldn’t be talked about in public. This of-course means that we should certainly talk about it, right?

Until next time internet..


Art Rock Disguised as Indie Pop

It’s dangerous to call yourself a ‘pop’ band, isn’t it? All those Lady Gaga and Britney Spears implications jump on top of your first impression quicker then I can drink an ice coffee. That being said, since it’s just you and me here, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I consider The Eleventh Hour Initiative to be a pop band at its heart. No, we don’t have any songs that mention or bare any hidden references to a club. No, Emrys and I are not planning on choreographing dance routines to any of the songs on ‘Escapism‘. Yes, we play instruments and write these songs ourselves. Finally, not every song on our album is an ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ or ‘why did you leave me?’ or ‘let me sing about having sex in a metaphorically paper-thin way that is both hot, and yet wholesome fun for the whole family.’

Don’t get wrong, I’m not saying that if a band or artist does any or all of these things that they’re somehow awful. My feeling is there is a place for all things, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my own guilty pleasure songs that I like. However, I do feel like we’re too saturated by what has become of pop music. I wanted to make an album about escapism, most of these types of songs I’m referring to are just cheap escapism in and of themselves.

So you’re left with a choice, right?

1. Make songs that are catchy and about something everyone you know can relate to. Stay away from any topic that would cause friction unless it’s accepted friction (i.e. a girl singing about kissing another girl for the shock value publicity). In short, it’s like a pretty girl with no depth. You can’t get her out of your head the first week, but after a while what charmed you initially just annoys you.

or

2. All substance over style. Make the music terribly difficult to ‘get’ initially to weed out what my conspiracy theory friends would refer to as ‘sheeple’. Make your references so deep and obscure that no one has any clue what you are talking about and likes it that way in order to feel somehow superior. Once you get to know this girl you may just marry her, but sometimes you wonder if you don’t need something more.

Truth is, I’ve been smitten with both. However, when it came time to write my own songs I guess I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

My aim with this album was to make the girl of my dreams. What sort of girl am I talking about, you ask? Well, let me give you an example. I once knew a girl who made me say, ‘I want my girl to be just like that!’ Her last name was ‘Revolver’ and she was perfect! Right off the bat, I couldn’t get her out of my head, and, to my surprise, the more time I spent with her the more hidden gems she revealed. In fact, I love her more now than ever!

The BeatlesRevolver‘ represents the pinnacle of what an album should be in my eyes. The melodies are there, it’s concise, and it’s full of innovation and hidden meanings all at the same time. I’m not saying I want to make a Beatles record. I’m saying I want to make an album that’s catchy enough to get your attention, and deep enough to mean more than escapism for escapism’s sake.

Though there are always exceptions, for me, a song being catchy makes it good, but the meaning hidden within it can make it great.

You see, while good music can help you escape, great music can not only do that, it can actually help you deal with those stresses in your life as well. It can make you look inward and outward, it can inspire you to grow, and it can be a friend to you in the best and worst times.

Emrys and I are striving to make something more with our music. I’m not saying ‘we’re great and they’re not!’ I’m simply trying to point out our perspective to help you get a greater understanding of what we’re reaching for.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be spending some time on this blog talking about all kinds of themes and ideas that I incorporated into ‘Escapism‘. I want to make it clear that I still want the songs to sound good and if you like listening to it just because the chorus is catchy then there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you want something more, it is there.

Who are we to even attempt to enrich someone else’s life, you ask? It’s less about me having some great insight into life and more about me documenting my own struggles as I try and gain some traction, some inspiration, and some direction of my own. You tend to stumble upon these mini-revelations and insights as you write and soul search and you want to share them. Sometimes, it’s just about capturing that ‘feeling’. You want to share it because it means something to you and you hope it’ll mean something to other people, as well. As self-serving as it may seem, writing ‘Escape Plan‘ inspired me and I want it to inspire you.

I’ve heard many artists say that they don’t care if people like their work. I do. Not because I’m looking for fame or money (okay, I wouldn’t be angry if I made more money), but because I want to connect with people. I have no idea what this album will sound like to you. I have no idea if you’ll connect to these songs, but they mean a great deal to me and I’m proud of them all. I struggle with the PR side of making records because I feel like a fraud trying to ‘sell myself’. I guess what I’m trying to say, without arrogance, is that I feel this album is worth your time, more so than anything else I’ve ever made.

Escapism‘ is about the imagination and about how we tend to live in every other world but the one we’re living and breathing in. How about we start talking about it in the next blog?

As always, any thoughts, comments, or questions are always appreciated.

…Bill


Our new home!!!

Okay… a pretty momentous occasion people!  This site is the new place to be.  The latest go-to address for the hipsters out there.  The www that will top all wwws.

Seriously, this is the new Eleventh Hour Initiative website.  Those of you who have already clicked this far may well be familiar with us but I would still like to write an introductory post for those of you who have strayed here by accident!

First things first.  The music is and always will be the most important concern of the Eleventh Hour Initiative.  It is therefore my proud honour to direct you straight to the content of our forthcoming debut album which you should see laid out in all its glory below.  I suggest you give it a listen.  These songs are shaping up to form an album that is really hitting the mark.  I have a rough press of the album in the car at the moment and it is shocking me with its vitality and genuine fresh spirit.  🙂

The Eleventh Hour Initiative is a collaboration between two musicians, one on each side of the Atlantic.  Based in England we have Emrys and it is Emrys about whom I shall speak first.  Okay, my name’s Emrys.  I am the producer of the band.  I am also responsible for the visual output and therefore this website.  I will be the primary voice of this website… but I shall make sure I involve Bill every step of the way and I hope to be able to publish a piece from him whenever he feels he has something to say.  This is OUR website.  So far we have been extremely tight when it comes to musical choices and I’m sure our combined opinion and expression will continue via this website.  If anything this site will give us a stronger voice than ever before and will allow us to punch through the sea of mediocrity and smash our debut album into the mire of apathy with full force! 😉

Bill and I came together over the internet a year ago and pretty much formed the band there and then.  We had so much in common that we just had to make our combined voice heard.  The special factor is that despite all we have in common there are also those differences that give our music the edge.  There are things that he does that I would never dream of doing and vice versa.  We are not just two artists in collaboration.  We are a band.  We have a group spirit.  We are not just two people working together.  We have a collective ambition that drives us forward and inspires us to produce the very best music that we possibly can.  I hope your initial listen to the forthcoming album has energised you enough to our cause to make you bookmark this site.  You will have to return.  We have only just begun!!!

Anyway… as I was saying… My name is Emrys and I have written the majority of the music for this album.  Which leads me perfectly into my introduction of Bill.  Bill is based in New Jersey and is responsible for most of the lyrics on the album.  He also sings those lyrics and is therefore the main contender for the role of “lead singer”.  This has been an organic process and, certainly for this debut album, it has been the case that we work best with me laying down the land of the song musically – and Bill then washing over the music with the ocean of his words.  It has been, for me, the perfect process so far.  The very best case scenario.  I think we are accomplishing something very special – a concise, specific, rounded collection of songs.  I acknowledge we live in an age where the digital download single reigns supreme.  However I believe we have created the perfect album for this age.  We have the spirit of ‘the album’ in our veins.  We are producing music for people who appreciate Radiohead, Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips etc etc ad infinitum.  I’m not saying that you can’t just download a song from us that you like.  I’m simply pointing out that we are all about the whole.  Our debut album has an almost ‘concept’ scope.  The title will be “Escapism” and every song will paint a layer of the bigger picture.  Each tune will put another brick in a wall that eventually tells the story of our lives.  I would like Bill to wax lyrical regarding the themes of escapism that run through the entire album.   See… you gotta keep coming back to this site!!!

In the meantime… well… I just wanted to say a personal hello.  Music can be so impersonal.  There really is no need for it to be that way.  The Eleventh Hour Initiative is here to stay.  Tell your friends!  Tell anyone that you think would be up for a little ‘pushing things forward’.

And remember… our debut album has not yet been released.  By reading this site now you are getting a sneak preview.  I hope you stay on board for the whole journey!