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.
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 Beatles ‘Revolver‘ 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.