We're about half way through our tour right now and things are getting interesting. On Monday we premiered a new single called, "I Don't Feel Alright," via the Northern Transmissions blog. It features Fran Litterski of Kid Runner, and current touring keyboardist for Magic Man, on vocals, and the always illustrious Jeff Martin on drums. I detail out the recording process of the song in the Northern Transmissions premiere, but I wanted to share a bit more about the origins of the song and how it came about here.
In late 2015 I became very frustrated with where I was as an artist and musician. I felt like creatively I had slowed down and that I wasn't putting my time and energy into music the way I wanted to. I looked at everything around me: my house, my studio, my job, etc. I decided if I really wanted to get on with it, I was going to have to let a lot of those things go. It took a bit of time and finagling, but everything came to fruition on New Years eve of 2015 when I worked the last day of my marketing job of four years. Shortly after, I drove out to my girlfriend’s place in Philadelphia to spend my first month as a full time musician there.
I was going on my first tour in three months and I was supposed to have an hours worth of material. At the time I had about 35 minutes, so I needed to get writing. The first week went by, and I came up with nothing. The second week went by...nothing. The third week went by, and while I’d scraped together a couple of ideas, deep down I knew they were rubbish. The further I went down this rabbit hole of creative stagnation, the more I began distracting myself with all the useless marketing stuff I thought mattered as a musician.
I started to figure out something was wrong when I came back to Ohio after a month. I met up with my mentor and old studio partner, Tony. I played some songs for him that I’d been working on, and after he turned to me and said, “That’s it?” We didn’t dwindle on the subject for long, but inside my stomach was turning and I couldn’t get the disappointed tone of the statement out of my head.
A week with my co-producer, Mike, in his studio didn’t help either. We’d worked through some of the back-log of tracks we had, but overall I was completely in the dumps and totally uninspired. When I went back to Philadelphia, I was filled with self-doubt. Had I grossly over-estimated my abilities when it came to writing songs? Had I really just walked away from a nice practical life by all standards for something I was totally unprepared for?
I began to reflect on all the decisions I’d made over the past year and realized that a bigger issue than all of those externalities was that I just wasn’t at all in touch with my emotions. I was so wound up in becoming a full-time musician that I'd forgotten how to be one. It didn’t come back instantly, but more and more I started to learn to be more honest with myself again. I was worried and uncomfortable with my new routine. As soon as I focused on those feelings and tapped into them, that’s when the hooks and lyrics started popping in my head. Soon after, I had the full arrangement of “I Don’t Feel Alright" ready to go.
This song was all I needed to open up the floodgates creatively. It’s become therapeutic in a sense and serves as a reminder to look inwards before we start focusing on external forces if we’re in a rut. I know that won’t be the last time I go through something like that, so it’s nice to have this snapshot that can remind me that it’s never permanent if you shift the focus. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.
Listen to "I Don't Feel Alright:"