I spent the summer and fall of 2008 in Los Angeles, and the first week there I had no cable TV...no ESPN or Fox Sports for an entire week...indeed, I was in a dark place.
So I began writing some poetry. Nearly 18 months later, poetry became lyrics, lyrics became rhythms, rhythms became music, and the music...simply 'became'.
Became fun. Became a realization of a goal. Became satisfaction.
So I give you 'CONFLICTED'. With the cast of musicians we assembled, I know you'll enjoy the quality of the music. We shot for as much diversity among these 8 songs as we possibly could...hopefully we scored. :)
The links to the left offer stories behind each song. And below you'll find the story about the genesis, creation, and production of...
The Story Behind CONFLICTED
My one and only foray into musical performing prior to September 2006 was the spring of my senior year in high school. I had a closet desire/passion for singing, and my girlfriend had just dumped me. This was enough motivation for me to enter the school's talent show.
So I got up there and performed George Michael's 'One More Try' from the Faith album, donning a fake earring and facial scruff a la the former WHAM frontman himself.
II. Summer of 2006 - Personal Tragedy Leads to Musical Networking
My mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2006. Knowing that her outlook was grim, it reinforced the mantra that 'life is short...so do what you can while you can'.
With the help of a former student turned local St Louis folk singer (Jesse Irwin), I placed some ads for musicians and rounded up a trio of St Louis cover band musicians to assist me with a show.
Unfortunately, my mother passed away 2 weeks before our first show in mid-September 2006, but the performance was a cathartic experience for me...and little did I know at the time, it laid the framework for CONFLICTED.
III. Need More Cowbell and Dan Elder
The band that I formed was called Need More Cowbell, and we actually performed the famous skit before our first show in late September 2006. We went on to do 2 more shows in December 2006 and February 2007, but I lost some of the passion for doing it...partly because I didn't feel that creative performing other people's songs.
The lead guitar player was Dan Elder, who still plays locally in St Louis with the cover bands Hollywood 5 and WAXED. And from the summer of 2006 through the summer of 2008 I remained close with the Elder family, though not in a musical capacity.
But this friendship with Dan would prove crucial in spring 2009.
IV. Summer 2008 and Lyman Medeiros
From May 2008 through December 2008 I spent my sabbatical from my university in Los Angeles. And while playing beach volleyball in Santa Monica one Sunday afternoon, I met Lyman Medeiros. As I started to know Lyman, I realized he was a professional bass player...but I had no idea of just 'who he was' in the music world. Luckily for me, he turned out to be 'the goods'.
Before returning to St Louis in December 2008, Lyman introduced me to his friend, Vinnie Santino. Vinnie and Lyman assisted me with a small vocal project unrelated to CONFLICTED, but it was this brief experience in Vinnie's studio that convinced me that these were the guys and that this was the place were CONFLICTED was gonna go down.
V. Spring 2009 - The Scratch Tracks
Going back to the summer of 2008, I had been working on some poetry with the hopes that I could convert them into songs.
But given that I don't read musical notes, I knew that I needed someone to get the melodies I had in my head onto paper and then into the air.
So starting in February/March 2009, I would go to Dan Elder's home in St Louis, and I'd hum, whistle, or sing the melodies I had in my head until Dan played them back to me the way I was hearing it.
And by mid-May, we had put together scratch tracks for 8 songs.
VI. Summer 2009 - Laying it Down
With scratch tracks in tow and with Lyman and Vinnie on board to assist/produce/direct, we lay down every track on the CD from Vinnie's home recording studio in Van Nuys, CA. We met 2-3 times a week from late May through early August...usually recording for 3-4 hours each day.
Because of Lyman and Vinnie's contacts, we were able to attract some of the best musicians in LA on the project. We were also able to fly Dan in from St Louis to lay down guitar tracks for numerous songs.
At the end of the day, my associates were professional, efficient, and just flat out good. And I really think it shone through in the recordings.
Couple that with the high quality of mixing done by Kent Hitchcock, and the rest is history.
And so goes the story behind the genesis, creation, and production of CONFLICTED.