Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Musical Blueprints

Many times during the recording process Shawn(producer/engineer), myself, and any of the number of people who have been working on the album with us, will listen to what we call a “reference point,” which simply means… listening to other albums to get ideas on musical concepts like…arrangements, vocal harmonies, electric guitar sounds, rhythms, production techniques, and on and on and on. Basically we’re saying, “These people made great records, how can we do the same”?

There is SO much that goes into making a record and these artists mentioned below have laid out some unbelievable blueprints to follow. Honestly, there are tons of great artists and songs that have shaped the sound of this CD, but here is the short list of the ones that we spent the most time with…

I highly recommend you check out these artists and albums when you get a chance, they are all fantastic in their own ways:

Joe Purdy: Last Clock on the Wall, You Can Tell Georgia, Only Four Seasons
- Joe has by far been the #1 influence on the CD. You’ll hear bits of his sound sprinkled throughout every song. In my opinion, no one is making music as pure as he is right now.
Songs most heavily influenced by Joe on “Colors and Chords”: Tangerine Eyes, Something Good, Sidewalks/Mary Jones, Words, Bobby Jones.

Josh Ritter: The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
- Josh is an absolute master with words. His music is a blend of folk, rock, and singer/songwriter. He has a very unique sound that we quite envy and referred to often. His song “The Temptation of Adam” is one of the greatest non-cliché love songs I’ve ever heard.
Songs most influenced by Josh: Lock on the Door, Words.

Damien Rice: 9, O
- You don’t quite understand how much of a genius Damien is until you start breaking down his songs. They make complete and incomplete sense all at the same time. Not many artists can write a song as moving and heart-wrenching as “Rootless Tree”, “9 Crimes”, or "Delicate" while remaining so artful and accessible to listeners.
Songs most influenced by Damien: Waste, Grey, Tangerine Eyes, Silence

The Fray: How to Save a Life, The Fray
-Many of the piano melodies you’ll hear on “Colors and Chords” were inspired by the style of The Fray. I enjoy their approach to piano-rock music.
Songs most influenced: Grey, Lock on the Door, Sidewalks/Mary Jones

Bon Iver: For Emma Forever Ago
- The sound of our CD’s are much different, but his originality is inspiring and thought-provoking. For Emma forced me to take a long look at my own album, and because of it, made some changes that I felt improved it greatly.
Song most influenced: Waste

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
- I picked up a copy of their album late in my recording process and I’m forever grateful I did. The vocal harmonies on this record are stunningly beautiful.
Songs most influenced: Words, Tangerine Eyes, Waste

The Beatles: The White Album
- Obviously these guys influenced much of all modern music. We listened to some of these recordings to get an idea of the instrumentation they used to produce those classic sounds we all sing-a-long to. They were masters at making the simple sound so grand.
Songs most influenced: Fixed on You, Words.

The album is not finished quite yet, so if you have any great music that you feel I NEED TO HEAR…let me know and I’ll be sure to listen.

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (On a Tuesday)

Since yesterday was a holiday and I was a little caught up with family gatherings and Wiffle ball games, these thoughts are a day late and I apologize. But here's some thoughts for the week.

* I saw Flight of the Conchords live in LA on Friday night. They were unbelievable. It made me jealous that they’ve become millionaires for cleverly fooling around on a stage for 2 hours. What a life!

* Here’s a joke that always puts a smile on my face…and I know it’s dumb:
You hear about the 2 antenna’s that got married? No? Well, the wedding was terrible…but the reception was great…”

* I’m probably the worst person to watch a scary/intensely thrilling movie with because all I can think about the whole time is how funny it would be if Will Ferrell were the main character instead(Try it it’s fun).

* I did some Spring/Summer cleaning yesterday and got rid of a bunch of old clothes. During the process I wondered how I ever found friends or performed on a stage with the wardrobe I owned. (god I loved Volcom shirts and Tommy jeans)

* I really don’t write much poetry, but I randomly gave it a try this week. You can read “Honey” in the previous entry below.

* I think my Company has started tracking my Internet usage and blog postings…so I’d like to welcome you new members who are reading this now. Please feel free to browse through previous posts and visit my website for more info about merchandise and upcoming shows.

* The record label I’ll be starting in the next week or two will be called…Sweet Face Records…I’ll explain why in a later post.

* The band and I have a show at 2nd Spin Records in Costa Mesa on Sunday at 3pm. Come on by for a free show if you’re around!

Have a great week!

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”
-Jack Handey

Friday, May 22, 2009


To wander as a ghost
In solemn, callused shoes
In passing say,
To dreadnaught eyes, too much.
And scrape your knees
On buzzing bees
And honey in the dirt
Don’t sing a single word
Til boat has reached the shore

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (5/18)

I spent the weekend in beautiful San Rafael, California for my sister’s college graduation and Good God was it hot! I thought NorCal was supposed to be colder then SoCal?! But the trip was a blast. It was nice to get away for a quick moment and get some prospective on things. The 8 hour drive up with my other sister and Grandparents left plenty of room for thought…

*My Grandpa gave me this advice during the long car-ride… “Dan, the greatest thing you could ever do in life is to love someone and have a family.”

* I’m currently working on 2 new songs which I’m really really excited about… “Shine” and “Summer Dress.” Both are upbeat and involve the full band. I’ll start playing them live as soon as they’re finished.

* I thought I was going to lose my job on Friday, but my company decided to delay lay-offs…the end is never where it should be, but then again, neither is the beginning...

* Sometime in the future…I’ll put it on a 5 year plan how ‘bout…I’d like to set up a music festival here in Costa Mesa. I think it’d be great for the city and a lot of fun.

* One of my best friends and old college roomate, Kyle Charters, randomly found my blog while surfing the web the other day. Kyle told me he’d become a “lifelong” reader if I mentioned how amazing of a person he was in one of these blogs. He also sent me a list of things I could/should say about him that were slightly inappropriate, so I’ll just say this…Kyle was the first person I’d spend hours talking to about setting up our own business’s, chasing down dreams, and finding happiness. He never once told me those things were impossible or dumb. I have Kyle to thank for lighting that fire in me and I’m forever grateful.

* The plastic toilet-seat covers in the bathroom at my work have this quote on the box… “Provided by the Management for your Protection”… I don’t thank management enough for being so concerned about my ass.

* I don’t know Jake Walden personally, but I highly respect his music, so I emailed him about the best way to book shows in the busy L.A. music scene. I didn’t really expect to have my email answered…but he personally wrote me back offering his advice and help! It’s amazing what an act of genuine kindness can do. He now has a lifelong fan without having to spend a dime on any sort of promotion or marketing. Check out Jake’s music here…

* Have a great week!

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”
- Jalal Ud-Din Rumi

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (5/11)

Its Monday again…normally I’d be a bit cranky, a bit on the “I hate Mondays/the weekend is too short” train…but this one I’m not. I had a great weekend. Anytime you spend three straight days with family, good friends, and get to play music for a great cause…life is good. Plus Joan Rivers won “Celebrity Apprentice”, so I’m psyched.

Here’s some random thoughts/ideas/updates on a Monday…

* I’m working on the interview with writer/photographer Chasen Marshall…I saw him this weekend and he told me to never set a deadline for myself on publishing articles…so the article will be up…”soon.”

* A concert with all the lights on is pretty difficult…

* I’m going to the studio on Tuesday to do some editing on the album…I can’t express enough how much I love doing even the most trivial things when it comes to music and making a record.

* This morning an older woman at my work turned to me and said… “I need something salty in my mouth right now”… I’m not nearly mature enough to handle that statement.

* I’ve decided to release my album on my own label which I’ll be starting in the upcoming weeks…

* I’ll be heading to San Francisco this weekend to watch my sister graduate from college with a degree in nursing …she’s worked so hard and I’m so proud of her...

* I’m so thankful to have the mom and family that I do…Mother’s Day was great. My mom is a HUGE reason I can do what I do and I am forever grateful...

* If you’re looking for a cool blog to inspire you on a Monday, there’s some good stuff here…

Have a great week!

“You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it.”
-Duke Ellington

Monday, May 4, 2009

Country Roads

One of the more clarifying moments in my life came on a summer afternoon when I was 19. The moment was a gift, completely unexpected, as the best gifts often are. I was in Newport Beach with my family for the afternoon and went for a swim in the water with dad. We were catching waves and talking when something hit me: I wanted to be my dad. I wanted to be the type of man and father he has been for my family his whole life. He’s never been into cars or money or fame, just hard work and strong values. When I need an example of how to be a “man”, I look no further then him, there’s no need. All that became clear then, and it’s what I strive to be to this day.

Another one of those moments happened this Friday after the concert at my house,
and it had nothing to do with MY music…

At the end of our set (which I felt went extremely well), my Aunt asked if she could play a song or two. I was more then happy to hear her play. My Aunt used to play guitar, is a very musical person and had told me during intermission that she was recently inspired to start playing again. She confessed that life was a little rough at the moment and wouldn’t mind playing some music.

And how she performed was truly touching. She played just to play. To escape somewhere else for a moment. She played because she HAD to. Because music has a way of fixing things for just an instant. No posters, no press packages, no managers, no back-stage passes…just a moving version of John Denver’s “Country Roads.”

It was a moment that made me remember why I do what I do. What it’s like to sit in the audience and be utterly moved by a simple melody. You stand on stage enough and it’s easy to forget what the other side is like, or why you started playing in the first place.

My Aunt’s performance is why.

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Bob Marley