introduction: volumes I - XIV
We've heard all this music before, why should I listen to this shit again?
Well, I thought maybe if I organized it, added some stories and background to the songs, it might put them in a new perspective and show where the project has been and where it is going. It's also just a tricky way to get my name back out there for a new record which will be released later this year.
I wrote, recorded and released a record every month from July 2012 until August of 2013, culminating in fourteen albums.
In 2012, I lost my home, band, studio, car, identity and best friend.
I went into a creative state for those fourteen months that led to such a large collection of music that it’s been hard for people to know where to get started. I didn’t exactly pick the most accessible songs for this collection but I picked the ones that had the most impact on me.
I’m excited for the chance to look back, but since it’s not so pretty, I don’t care to stare.
1. Volume I - Sydney
“Aw fuck…” It’s May in Aspen Colorado and it didn’t snow this winter, and it hasn’t rained in months. They’re warning about wildfires.
I’ve just dissolved the band; I’ve lost my apartment, car and all my music gear to my ex. She’s sent some papers saying she’s also going to sue me for wasting six years of her life. I’m in debt up to my ears from lawyers, the cost of starting a new life and therapy. I’ve also gotten fat.
I’ve rented an apartment in a nice couple’s house. It’s the size of my old bathroom. I can almost touch each side with both hands at the same time. On the upside, it’s got a closet that’s about three feet deep and six feet tall. I borrow some gear from a friend and set up the smallest recording booth in the world.
“I couldn't feel more opposite, then what this ring has to say”
I’m completely whacked. The new record from my old band is supposed to be released next month. I'd been working on it for over a year. I’m going to trash it, take a loan out and pay back the investors. I’m going to make the most fucked up album documenting the past two months and release it for free.
It was a hot May night when I recorded the first song. Earlier that day, I saw the woman who I had been having an emotional affair with. Any type of communication would have been useless. I just kept walking. I sat in the closet and recorded “Sydney” I remember my apartment being very clean and the sun had already set.
2. Volume II - Bashful vs. Bitter
It’s dry and when it doesn’t rain for a long time, whole new levels of insects you’ve never seen appear. I think I have fleas in my new place and I need a sheet for my bed. I’ve been sleeping on top of my blankets.
You have to drive about an hour down valley to be able to buy anything that isn’t marked up five thousand percent. Plus I thought taking a ride would be nice.
On the drive down I couldn’t stop thinking about dying. While looking for a parking space, this lady who is in the wrong lane came flying around the bend. She only stops about an inch away from ramming me. I flip her off. Her boyfriend jumps out of his car like he’s going to beat my ass. He slams his fists down on my hood. I speed off. I may want to die but not at the hands of a lady who drives badly or by the fists of her angry boyfriend.
There's a river by the train tracks. I decided to take a nap there. I thought about how six years ago, we had talked bullshit lover philosophy with our feet in the water. Six years ago, if you had turned to me and said you wanted to go shopping at target, I would have thought you were the deepest philosopher in the world.
Earlier in the month I acted in the music video for Darkmatter Jesus' “Train Wreck”. They mixed corn syrup and dye and cut holes in my shirt like I had been stabbed and was bleeding. People around town didn't really seem to notice.
“So it begs the question, do I always look this way?”
3. Volume III - Saturday Night
Produced By Dark Matter Jesus
Fourth of July and the wildfires have been so bad that there not going to have fireworks this year. You can’t even smoke outside. I’m glad there are no fireworks, not because of wildfires, but for some reason I want everyone else to be as disappointed as me with how 2012 is working out. There’s something to be said about pushing your disappointment onto others.
This record was split in two parts. The first half the music was done by a producer and close friend named Darkmatter Jesus. It was supposed to be a whole separate project but he hated my vocals and said I could use all of it for whatever I wanted. The second half I did the music myself.
During the next couple weeks, the same girl would come into my work every day to talk to me. We really hit it off. In a douche move, my co-worker told me she looked like my ex. I never called that girl back.
“You look like my ex-wife, probably not the way to start a relationship right”
4. Volume IV - Future Men
Produced By Dark Matter Jesus
The republican convention was on television. Either I was hallucinating or there really were flames behind the politicians while they were speaking. I was really worried that the fear mongering they were spreading would actually work. I fell asleep on my “love seat” alone. I dreamed everything that had happened in the song “Future Men”. It was a long night.
I would awake every couple hours and I couldn’t tell if I was sick or having an allergic attack. But it was raining, and that felt comforting. It wasn’t enough rain to make a difference. Fires began to rage in the southern part of the state.
I recently went out to dinner with the girl from the dream that turned into a cat. She's going to be a nurse practitioner for a non-profit organization.
Darkmatter Jesus agreed to work with me again if I arranged the lyrics more coherently and kept the filters low on the vocals. I said I was fine with it as long as I could do the vocals alone in my closet.
“I should start having relations with nuns, fall for a girl with a bonnet, Goddamn that sounds pathetic”
I would have clear moments right before I would freak out and go into hiding. My friends and family were worried because I had my cell phone off. I was losing about five to ten pounds a week. None of my clothes fit and by the end of the month it was getting cold out.
5. Volume V - Bashful Hips Part III
It was fall and I bought seven sweaters from goodwill. I would wear these sweaters for the rest of winter. I wore them so often my boss complained. I was strangling myself in layers and it was coming out in the way I talked, walked and wrote.
“Fragments stir outside of the diner, Shattered and scattered, the pieces of birds you left in alleyways”
I was driving to Denver on the weekends and staying in this cheap motel. I wouldn't go out into the city. I'd just stay inside this dirty room and write in my journal.
For a few weeks that month this tourist in Aspen took pity on me. I would be sober but she would drink. She spoke a mean game about life but it was hard to take her seriously. I knew she was broken. We slept together for a while and then I never heard from her again.
We were never enamored with each other. There was never a thought of it being a real relationship. But it was more than sex; it was about being honest with someone without repercussions.
6. Volume VI - I'm Sure It's Complicated
I broke spiritually this month but I made the best record I had ever made with any band. I had become obsessed with the sound of the organ. I had dropped to hundred and sixty five pounds. I was past grief, I just felt alone. I was pretty despondent.
I would create a song Friday night, finishing around two or three in the morning. I'd wake up at nine, put vocals on it, go to the coffee shop with my laptop and midi keyboard and make a beat. I would then go home; lay vocals on it, that night start it all over and repeat the same steps on Sunday. It was my own personal boot camp.
“Be a better man, keep plans crumpled in diary pages, place them above public park trash cans, learn to like being a ghost”
The music for “I'm Sure It's Complicated” was done at the coffee shop. I remember because it was a cold fall and I kept getting up and trying to sit in the sun so my fingers wouldn't go numb.
I played my first show as Bashful Hips. I had no equipment of my own and everyone else on the bill was an acoustic singer song writer. I hooked my computer straight through the P.A. with no effects on the vocals. I did a twenty minute set including three songs that I had written in the last seventy two hours.
My ex was there with her friend. I told the crowd I had learned some new dance moves. I danced and rapped through the whole set. The people there ate it up. One lady in the back was laughing. I guess she thought it was a joke.
When it was over my ex was outside smoking cigarettes, I quickly left with my laptop in hand. I screamed my throat dry during the car ride home in my car.
7. Volume VII - Geography
Darkmatter Jesus and I were driving away from getting some tacos. I was really excited that the last record was getting a lot of radio play. He said that he liked the last record, but was worried I was putting some seriously negative emotions into the universe. He said the reason Lil Wayne has such a good life was that he used the “power of attraction”. He talked about how writing about being happy could actually make you happy.
“The mathematical equation is always changing; let’s move our bodies beyond simple geometry”
I decided to give it a try. Vol. VII is fantasy. I wrote from the first person that everything I wanted in life had already happened. It was an interesting writing exercise. None of those things happened anytime soon, some of it did happen later. I don't know if it had anything to do with “the power of attraction”.
I talked with my therapist this month a lot about romance. Not love romance, but the act of romanticizing the unromantic.
8. Volume VIII - A Reason
I lost it; it was very lonely during the holidays. I was sick and overworked. On Christmas my throat was so swollen I couldn't eat. I sold the last of my guitars to pay off some credit card debt. I pretended I didn’t care because I hadn't played guitar in six months.
It was below zero the whole month. I broke with reality most days. I would fall asleep after work and wake up to the light of my digital clock. I would read the time and couldn't help but to think none of this made any sense
“Why did you have to turn your beautiful feathers into rusty terrible switchblades?”
I did the vocals and lyrics to “A Reason”, “Divorce”, “Sunday” and “Lonely Buffallo” in the same session which was about an hour and half. Earlier I had been hanging out with my close friends Paul and Lauren around a fire. It was freezing and I was trying not to dry heave from mental exhaustion and smoke. When I went home and did the tracks, my hands were almost frost bitten. I sat on them as recorded the vocals.
I wrote what I knew that month. I said it all. I died every day for thirty days. I could give a shit that the project was getting more attention. I lived in a ten by ten room alone. I dropped to 140 pounds. By the end of the month, I had come to terms with my existence. It was unpleasant.
9. Volume IX - Product Placement
I moved out of the ten by ten into a basement apartment. I started dating a sweet girl. The basement had a mold problem which gave me a respiratory infection. The people above me needed to get a divorce.
“Well can you keep it like a secret, like a fire that burns underground?”
I was depressed but this girl was sweet. She wanted to be a part of my life. I thought that made her sick. I wanted to fix her, I couldn't. We continued to date for about nine months. It was nice but it wasn't the type of love I needed.
Most of the lyrics on this record were stolen from conversations I had been having or ease dropping on. I heard someone say that they loved some company. I thought they were probably healthier than I was. Being in love with a corporation instead of a person might be better. You only get let down if they go bankrupt.
10. Volume X - Kim Kardashian
Produced By Dark Matter Jesus
I had to move out of that basement. The mold was killing my body and the people above me were killing my psyche. There was nothing available in town. The only place I could find was a place called the T-Lazy Seven Ranch located at the base of the Maroon Bells. It was a utility shed that the landlord called a cabin. It was smaller than my ten by ten and had no sink, but the grounds were the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I had a pet fox and at night bears would rest their bodies against the side of my new home.
I had no internet, TV, radio or cell service and if my car died I would have been stuck up there. But goddamn, that view was worth it.
Darkmatter Jesus and I decided to go for it again. The music he provided was perfect.
“I’ve learned not to compare, compare or contrast the past from the present. Oh forget it, you wouldn’t understand”
For some reason we thought it was funny to name all the songs after reality TV characters. But underneath that idea, making a record every month documenting your life is probably close to the same process as writing a reality TV show. You know where it begins and ends, it’s just how the characters react in the between moments.
“Moving on” is a term I hate. I had nothing I wanted to “move on” to. If I could lyrically and spiritually split the past, present and future, maybe I had chance at “moving on”. “Kim Kardashian” was about trying to see my life differently by actually accepting the direction it had taken.
11. Volume XI - An Old Man
Recording these songs every night in the shed was amazing. I'd chain smoke, drink O’Doul’s and write all night. I was getting this feeling that things were changing. I blamed it on the weather turning from winter to spring.
It had been a year since my life had exploded. I was now a steady 155 pounds. I had a new girl. My job was going good. For some reason though, I felt like a boxer who had won the fight but had been tagged badly.
At the ranch, I was secluded from society and any form of media. I didn’t actually find out about the Boston bombings until three days after it had happened.
Being secluded like this, I was able to look at this time from an outsider perspective. I looked at it as a piece of theater. All these characters from my real life, I had created alternate lives for them to live in my songs. Even though everything I wrote was based in reality, I was taking myself and others and writing about it as I saw them. Writing like it was fact but also emotionally removed that maybe in real life they were actually separate people. I was confused between what was real and the image I had created.
“It’s been a year since you instilled fear, in the rear view mirror of broken hearts and cliché English essays”
12. Volume XII - Everyday Normal Lies
I couldn't handle not having a sink or a real kitchen anymore; my old landlord took me back. Here I was again, back to where the project started, back in the ten by ten.
I was glad to be there. I actually settled in well. This place was home now, no matter how small it was.
I think because it was exactly a year since I released the first record, I had put an undue amount of pressure on myself to make this album count.
“The soft stance of time between problems, to examine that thought for exactly the right amount of time .To hold onto that piece of mind””
I felt a bit disconnected from the material. I felt I was trying to make a Bashful Hips record sound like a Bashful Hips record. I was also facing stability for the first time in year which was strange yet welcome. But I didn't trust it.
13. Volume XIII - Nothing Moves
I knew I was getting close to the finish line. It was frightening that the project in this form was coming to an end. I was righteously bitter about it all.
Vol.XIII was about embracing how dirty, dark, sick and sad the past thirteen months had been. I spent lot of time in reflection. I tried to understand what all this music meant to me and the effect it had on the people in my personal life.
“No one talks because if the truth comes out then we’d all feel just a bit overwhelmed”
I started the process of wrapping up the loose ends and used this record as the last chapter. Any more self-reflection would have been useless. I described what all these characters were up to in the present and left them there to stay forever
14. Volume XIV - A Crosswalk Ending
She was on the other side of the crosswalk. My heart exploded with anxiety. But I actually looked at her. She was always thin. I used to cook dinner for her every night. She now looked like a skeleton of her former self. We no longer knew each other. I've been back to Colorado since, but I never saw her again. I consciously said goodbye in my heart and turned and walked in the other direction.
I can't say our love was healthy, but it was true. I had wronged her a thousand times. Bashful Hips was a way to mend my broken heart. I never really considered hers. At times I'm ashamed these records exist. At other times they're really the only things I have.
That night I wrote the lyrics to “A Cross Walk Ending” the last line fell at the bottom of the last page of my journal.
The next morning at work, I was offered a transfer to Nashville, Tennessee. I took it.
“Now if we were to meet someday in the future I wouldn’t talk; I’d fix you a plate
And we’d sit silent knowing that we both made some mistakes”