Saturday, November 6, 2010

THUS II...Mysterious Ways...

My M-Box (the interface which connects musical equipment to Protools software) was knocked to the ground by my cat about a year and a half ago. The faceplate came off, but remained tethered to the body of the the internal wiring. In the months that followed, the strained wiring started inhibiting my work. I would hear crackling in some of my takes as I recorded and my headphones would cut in and out. I learned to deal with these infractions and even threw an elastic around the body and faceplate to keep them together and immobile. This did some good for a while, until the problems came back. Usually a little adjustment prior to delving into recording would remedy the problem. But as the recording process decayed in other ways (lack of inspiration, degradation of my voice, discomfort with my job, feeling like I wasn't 'living up' to my first album etc...) the M-Box just felt like one of the hindrances preventing me from getting the work done. The set up process before a session became laborious and uninspiring; the build up to repeated disappointment. I'd built up a body of demos to choose from but felt unable to follow the majority to completion. Finally, in August after participating in other various musical projects with friends, regaining a certain confidence in my writing, working on a semi regular basis, slowly tricking myself into a writing/recording schedule, the M-Box stopped working. Fundless, disillusioned, and exhausted this was the last straw and I left it behind. I again seriously questioned whether I'd keep going. THUS II was a titanic personal failure.
The original goal was this: To record a more radio friendly record, full of songs that could potentially be singles. Those types of albums are always my favorites. Led Zeppelin and Beatles albums were often like this. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Dave Matthews Band have delivered albums like this too. The other goal was to simultaneously integrate original, non-obvious rhythms in these catchy songs, a la Yes, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Iron Maiden, etc...I wanted to employ odd time signatures unobtrusively by creating catchy grooves over them, thus create rhythms that wouldn't be found in my contemporaries' music. (Listen to 'Close To the Edge' by Yes. It's a great example.) These goals were difficult for me to achieve as I unwittingly pressured myself into them.
With the M-Box fried, along with my resolve, I stagnated for a couple weeks. One night I went to The Mediator for open mic and Don Tassone asked if I might want to do a feature. I said yes, despite my recent inactivity. That necessity, paired with the backdrop of knowing I couldn't record, pushed me to dream up the rest of my album in a sudden surge of creativity one night - something I'd not experienced for eons. I completed two sets of lyrics, and added the finishing bits to a third I'd started months earlier. Those were 3 of the final 4 songs I had left to complete. I thought, well now I can start rehearsing Thus II for my feature at The Mediator. And so I did. Over the course of the next 2 months I rehearsed Thus II at least once a day in full. How surreal it was finally having my work of 2 years nearly complete and beginning rehearsals. Over the course of this 2 month period, I whipped my voice back into shape (of course after spending the summer talking as little as possible, drinking lots of water and getting good sleep), almost completely omitting 'chest voice' from my technique. (Singing with ones chest voice - which pertains to certain breathe techniques and use of a particular area of the vocal chords - is unhealthy in large doses.) Smoothing my voice over was huge for my endurance as a singer, and my confidence as a performer. Additionally, my guitar playing dramatically improved. The acoustic guitar fortified my manual strength and dexterity, and having played some Paul Simon songs recently I'd resorbed some long lost elements of my chord vocabulary and guitar voicing. By the time my feature came up on October 28, I'd really sunken into the difficult rhythms peppered throughout Thus II, and looked at it as a finished piece. I played and sang well. And despite a few bumps in the road, I made it to the last song (and hit that really high final note I was worried about!) and delivered what I wanted to the audience, and to myself.
Cut to a week later: yesterday. I decided it was worth trying...I got it out. Set it up. Plugged it in. Miraculously, the M-Box came to life. Amazed, but reticent, I proceeded, recording a whole set of lyrics for one of those last few songs I was so inspired to write that night a couple months ago. I don't believe in deities in any literal sense per se, but I will say that the universe certainly works in mysterious ways...for had it not been for that last straw, the M-Box, breaking, I may still having been dragging myself through the former, muddy tedium of Thus II, as opposed to having it done sometime in the next two weeks...It's the inanticipated end of what's turned out to be an gratifying journey...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

THUS founder...auditioning for Idol...?

You'll see me a couple minutes was worth doing just to get on the news fr 30 seconds...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Click on the player in the right margin (if it isn't playing already) to hear the third single off THUS II: 'Surface Depth.' Until today, only heard live in acoustic performance at intimate RI venues, 'Surface Depth' is officially released and can be enjoyed in full studio performance! Follow the link below to download the new single FREE along with the previous two singles from the new album: 'Between the Lines' and 'Crime Scene'. 'Surface Depth' breaks new ground within the realm of THUS' often type-cast 'dark' and 'heavy' sound with a respectively lighter touch. Acoustic guitars and -if you listen closely- even a little mellotron accent the flavor of this tune, all without losing the grit THUS has been notable here!

THUS: a brief, broad history... goes...
I started writing music as a teenager when my buddy Cameron coaxed me into playing guitar (since I had one) in a band. That night in June 1996, for the first time , I picked up an instrument with the serious intent of playing it...I immediately abandoned sheet music after my first purchase (cause it was time consuming), learned songs by ear and within my first month started writing tunes. The guitar became an appendage. I had the great fortune of getting mixed up with really phenomenal musicians in my formative years. The first drummer I ever jammed with, Tom Grace, is still up in my top two or three drummers. His brother Mike Grace was a great bassist with unusually disciplined chops and a really musical mind, making him a really solid, exemplary musician. Cam continued to be a musical influence on me during the years we on-and-offed a band called 'Dreams of Dawn' which consisted of Cam on vocals (whose unique writing style was already defined and matured, devoid of telltale 17-year-old cliche or malapropism) , myself on lead guitar, Jay Luciano on rhythm, Matt Heffernan on bass, 'Red Ben' Zable drumming originally, and Chad Hugenin on drums later on. For a year or two, we practiced at least once a week at Cam's house or in his garage for the love of music. (I miss the days when that's all it was!) Everyone always showed up and had a good time. No fights (for the most part lol) We played Cam's occasionally out of control pool/keg parties where I was always hoping to get laid, but knowingly deprived myself of any shot in hell since I was spending all my time in the basement with my guitar. Later I learned that guitars are in fact more fun than 90% of girls I've associated with anyway.
I spent the next several years from 1998 to about 2002 shifting from mostly lead guitarist to a singer/songwriter. I entered my first 'real' band called Cries Not Heard (later known as Mirror Studies) with Mike Grace on Bass, Pat Barone (a knowledgeable and clean guitar player), and Ryan Gaumond (up there with Tom Grace) on drums. The band had a cool sound that resonated Tool and The Deftones with a little Chili Peppers. I trained myself to sing outside of my comfortable baritone range to reach high tenor, which I still wish I actually was. When Mirror Studies split, I ventured out on my own and delved into my original sound from when I started playing. I experimented for a few more years, attending school for audio engineering and coming home to finally record my first real album. Audio engineer Toni Maserati advised me to tone down stylistically. I was originally aiming for a Beatles White Album type of disc where you would have songs like Helter Skelter placed right next to songs like Honey Pie. But I went back and wrote with a new approach, kept a couple of the tracks, and kicked the others off for future use. Over the autumn of 2006, I wrote and recorded what would become the first, self titled THUS album. It was a huge landmark for me; 12 tracks, written in mostly a single creative spurt by me, self produced and engineered. I was creatively exhausted and glad when it was done!
Over the past few years, I've assembled and reassembled the band quite a few times, searching for just the right people to bring this band to life in front of an audience. Long time friend and seasoned drummer Pete Parravanno has stood the test of time, playing in various projects with me over the last decade. He is a live THUS staple, as is Cameron Moquin who has played bass and guitar at THUS shows.
Currently, I am writing the second album which is to be released in two formats: a standard format and a gapless format which has sort of a narrative through the songs...should be done by the end of summer 2010...

THUS II: Not a rock opera.

I love how people feel the need to label to works of original art in an attempt to 'classify' them...really all that does is bring it down to the level of crap art that the piece in question is striving to rise above. Okay...just a little annoyed...let me clarify: THUS II has been called '...a rock opera.' It's not. It has also been referred to as a 'concept' album. If I may be so bold, ALL ALBUMS ARE CONCEPT ALBUMS! All albums have a theme in one way or another. Not all have a unifying narrative but do stand together, on a single tangible medium for one reason or another. Maybe the artist thought they sounded good together...the theme could be as simple and broad as that. Or maybe the songs were written in a single creative burst that seems to urge the artist to release them as a recording of that period. Still, another possibility is that an artist may want to put songs together which collectively express a narrative. That is all that THUS II is. Yes, it is a gapless album. Yes, it has been a big production. And yes, it has a certain narrative to it...but it's not The Wall or a Dream Theater album. I simply wrote songs that reflect elements of my life (just like the first album), organized them into three suites consisting of four songs each, and connected them musically so that the album flows. I feel it necessary to inform that for the mild mannered listener who would rather have an album that is more simply organized that there will be two versions of it: a gapless, and a standard version. For technical and musical reasons, it is taking me an absorbitant amount of time to get both versions to my liking without compromising the integrity of the narrative. Granted, the gapless version will be in the order of the events which occured, so as to accurately project a loose 'story'...I'm not expecting anyone to necessarily say 'wow! That was really enlightening...' The 'plot' points are there simply because I was driven to write it that way. Nobody has to get it. I only want people to enjoy the music. If they're interested in the concept, great! If not, then you've got a pile of good music that I put years of my life into. Much like Brian Wilson's SMiLE album. I don't think lots of people understand that album without an explanation of it's concept. That's why I'm writing this blog about THUS II. If you're totally against 'concept albums' and consider them preachy and long winded, then I urge you to pick up the standard version of the album. It will flow nicely like a well organized collection of songs. If you're into a slightly bigger production, with loose narrative and gapless flow (no pauses between songs), you'll want to pick up my preferred, definitive version. Just don't call it a rock opera. Ugh

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

THUS ranked #5 on the New England Alternative charts on Reverb Nation!

Check it out here!
At this adress, click Alternative, click Local, change location to Providence , RI 02920, US, and hit Refresh Chart. Yeah, that's THUS at #5.

Monday, May 31, 2010

VLOG # 4

A brief insight into the recording of the new THUS single, 'Crime Scene.'

VLOG # 3

VLOG # 2