My Process – Doing it Wrong

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This song is a true story.

But hold on a second; before I tell that story I have to do the disclaimer: This is not an attempt to change the way you interpret the song, just an attempt to explain what I was thinking about when I wrote it.

This song is a true story. If you’ve seen me perform it then you’ve likely heard me tell the story of how, when I was kindergarten, I did my “what do you want to be when you grow up” project about how I wanted to be Batman. And how when the other kids in the class showed up with their projects they were all real-life careers that you can actually grow up and be. And how I got all embarrassed and threw away all the work I’d done that I was super proud of. And how I wrote “FIRE MAN” on a blank sheet of paper and turned it in instead. And how, when I got it back from the teacher it said “=( TRY HARDER NEXT TIME” in bright red. That’s true. All of that really happened.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

I’ve got no regrets no matter the outcome
loving it’s just one of the perks
and it goes like this…

A little kid with a dream to chase
innocent with a grin you could see from space
couldn’t have been any older than five when
the class got our very first homework assignment
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I was fine til the other kids showed up
with doctors and astronauts even people cleaning out the trash cans
not me I wanted to be Batman
suddenly that plan didn’t seem quite so brilliant
so I changed it to be like those children
then it seemed like the right thing to do
now I don’t even remember what I changed it to
just that even then I thought that it was lame
20 years later and it’s not what I became
I wish I would’ve let them thought I was a weirdo
’cause I still want to be a hero
and it goes like this

I’m gonna do what I want
I will never put anything but the truth in a song
I choose the route that my future is on
and I don’t care if I’m doing it wrong
You can do what you want
and eventually you’ll get to where you truly belong
where the ugly duck grew into a beautiful swan
and who cares if you’re doing it wrong

A grown man with a dream to chase
and a chip on his shoulder you could see from space
every day they keep raising the stakes
so no more playing it safe
I spent a lifetime trying to be a regular guy
but there’s already an endless supply
if you ever put your head to the sky and dreamt you could fly
then you know you’re expected to set it aside
and forget it ’cause it’ll never lead you on a safe path
but I really did quit my job to make rap
and I’m terrified
but not as much as I would have been
sitting in the same place wondering what could have been
if it works it’s ’cause I’m good at it
I’m good at it ’cause I put in the work
and I’ve got no regrets no matter the outcome
loving it’s just one of the perks
and it goes like this

I’m gonna do what I want
I will never put anything but the truth in a song
I choose the route that my future is on
and I don’t care if I’m doing it wrong
You can do what you want
and eventually you’ll get to where you truly belong
where the ugly duck grew into a beautiful swan
and who cares if you’re doing it wrong

Do what you love do it because you love it
do it ’cause if you don’t then you feel it in your stomach
do it ’cause if you don’t then you feel like you’re being punished
even if you never see a cent from it
do it for the feeling of doing it like nobody’s ever done it
singing it from the mountains and yodel it from the summit
shout about it louder than blowing on heaven’s trumpet
with the speakers up over eleven hundred
and it goes like this

I’m gonna do what I want
I will never put anything but the truth in a song
I choose the route that my future is on
and I don’t care if I’m doing it wrong
You can do what you want
and eventually you’ll get to where you truly belong
where the ugly duck grew into a beautiful swan
and who cares if you’re doing it wrong

This was one of the last songs written for the album and it almost didn’t happen. It wasn’t even a Malibu Shark Attack beat to begin with. Rocky originally made it with Adam WarRock in mind for his album, The Middle of Nowhere. But WarRock wasn’t able to come up with anything for it. Meanwhile, Rocky had given me a beat that I had an idea for but was never able to put down any words to. So with just a couple of weeks left before the album had to be done we switched. I took this beat and WarRock took the beat that would eventually become his song “Sticks & Stones.”

The first words I wrote for this song ended up being the last verse. It was one of those things where I was listening to the beat and the first line just arrived in my brain unbidden. Then the rest of the verse slid in behind it and I was kind of just sitting there dazed, watching it happen. Picture it as a rap-writing version of those high school movies where the unsuspecting kid throws a party at his house for a few friends and then the whole school shows up.

After sitting on that verse for a day or two and thinking about where to put it in the song and what to do with the rest of the beat, the verses started to form. I really, really enjoy symmetry in songwriting and I was listening to a ton of Myka 9 at the time. There’s a song on his 2009 album, 1969, called “Soul Beat” in which he writes all three verses in such a way that the first line of the first verse rhymes with the first line of the second and third verses. Same with the second lines and third and ALL the lines of all the verses. It’s seriously one of the most incredibly technical and impressive rap songs I’ve ever heard, which is saying a lot since this is the same person who made this song. Anyways, I wanted to do something similar (though infinitely less technical), which is the reason the first and second verses mirror each other in the opening lines “a little kid with a dream to chase…” and “a grown man with a dream to chase…” as well as each verse sort of giving a snapshot of a specific moment in my life.

The hook was the hardest part to write, because it had to tie everything together and I originally wanted it to be a simple sort of sing-along type of thing (which is why every verse ends with “…and it goes like this”). The problem with that is that I’m not very good at writing melodies OR singing. So I just wrote a rap hook, and I seriously think it’s accidentally one of the best I’ve ever written.

Ok, so. This rest of this one’s going to be a little different. The previous posts in this series have been about what I was thinking when I wrote the songs. This is going to be more of a retrospective on the last few months.

I’m going to be completely honest here. I started writing this post in August of 2014, which, had I completed it then, would have been right on the schedule I originally intended for doing these process posts. It was also just before I left to go on tour with my friends Mega Ran, K-Murdock and Doug Funnie to support my about-to-be-released EP, Crisis On Intimate Earths. That tour ended up being not quite a financial disaster, but brought me closer to it than I’d ever like to be again.

Here’s what happened: On the way to Dallas–and the last show with Ran, Murdock and Doug before going off to finish the tour solo– the timing belt in my car snapped. At 80 miles per hour on a rural Texas freeway. And since my car has a very specific type of engine, when the timing belt goes the whole engine goes with it. It was a rather extreme stroke of luck that I had three days off scheduled and an amazingly generous couple of friends that let me crash with them while I sorted out a mechanic to build me a new engine and a rental car in which to finish my tour. By the end of the whole ordeal, the expenses to tow the car, fix the engine and hire the rental came to about $3000. Fortunately, that was approximately EXACTLY how much money I made over the total course of my three weeks on tour. Unfortunately, that meant I was returning home basically empty handed.

Since that experience I’ve done several one-off engagements at cons and venues reasonably close to Atlanta, but I haven’t been back out on a tour. There are a lot of reasons for that–my wife and I just bought a house, winter is a slow season, among others–but I’d be lying if I said anxiety isn’t one. About the car. About turnouts. About being able to bring home money to help pay bills.

This winter was a particularly slow one and with all the extra expenses associated with buying a house, moving, the holidays, etc. I’ve had to start substitute teaching to bring in extra any income to supplement music. I’ve thought about going back to the library and asking for my old job. I’ve thought about going back to school and getting a master’s degree. I’ve entertained the idea that if I were to quit rapping forever right this second that I have pretty much accomplished everything I set out to do and would have very little to complain about or regret.

And so we get to the heart of it. That’s what I wrote the song about.

If I never perform another show, never write another song and give up music forever I will still have made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Seen more of the world than I ever hoped to see. Met some of the nicest and most interesting people I could ever imagine meeting. And had the best two years of my entire life.

That’s obviously not going to happen any time soon. This is definitely not a retirement post. I’ve still got shows lined up and more in the works. Rocky and I just started working on the next Malibu Shark Attack album and I’ve got more ideas kicking around in my head than every before. And if I have to go back to working a full time day job to be able to keep doing music on the side I think I’m ok with that.

There’s another thing you’ve probably heard me say if you’ve seen me perform this song live: “There’s a line in the song where I say ‘I really did quit my job to make rap.’ And I really did quit my job to make rap. Which means the reason I’m up  here, the reason I get to do this at all is because of you. Thank you for that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.” I mean it every time I say it. Thank you.

I’ve had several people tell me that this song is the reason they decided to more passionately pursue their dreams. For some that meant devoting more free time to it. For others that meant quitting a job. But for each of them it meant something. And that’s literally everything I’ve ever wanted. Thank you.

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Here, There and Everywhere…

Well, maybe not eeeeeverywhere. But certainly Virginia, New York and Atlanta.

November is gonna be a fun month. I’m gonna be performing at NekoCon in Virginia Beach, VA with my best good rap friends Adam WarRock, Doctor Awkward, Schaffer the Darklord and Kristy Bee. Then the next weekend I’m heading up to Brooklyn, NY to help Schaffer celebrate his 40th birthday with an evening of rap and burlesque at The Fifth Estate. And finally, I’m coming back home to Atlanta to perform with Scene Missing, which has to be one of ATL’s most fun monthly events. And the theme of This month’s show is Batman. Yup.

Check the full schedule below.

November 7-9
NEKOCON
Hampton Roads, VA
Concert on Friday Night @ 6:30 in the Main Events Hall
(info)

November 14
The Fifth Estate
506 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY
Schaffer the Darklord Turns 40: Hip Hop. Burlesque. Lugo.
Doors @ 8pm
(info)

November 19th
Scene Missing Presents: BATLANTA
The Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge
Atlanta, GA
Show starts promptly @ 9pm
(info)

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IT’S SHOW TIME

Early this morning, which was in actuality more of a continuation of late last night, I arrived at my home in Atlanta. The Crisis On Intimate Earths Tour is officially done and I could not possibly be more grateful to everybody who joined me for any part of it. You all are the reason I do this and the reason I get to do this. Thank you.

So, yesterday on twitter and facebook I mentioned that I had three super awesome announcements to make today and that is the truth. I have three things to announce. And all three of them are super awesome. So let’s get announcin’!

1. I’m gonna be opening for MC Frontalot and Doctor Awkward THIS SUNDAY when they come through Atlanta on the Question Bedtime Tour! We’ll be playing Vinyl @ Center Stage on 9/14. You can find all the show info and tix here.

2. At the end of this month, Tuesday 9/30, I will be joining Schaffer the Darklord, Mega Ran, Fresh Kils and Coolzey in Atlanta when the Fam Fiction Tour comes through town! We’ll be playing at The Music Room and best of all? It’s a FREE SHOW!!! Find info and RSVP to the facebook event here.

3. Starting RIGHT NOW my brand new EP Crisis On Intimate Earths is available to preorder on CD. The CD features amazing art and design by Sketchy McDrawpants and even has a reversible insert with a sketch variant. True comic bookery. Oh, I also rap on it. 5 brand new songs about comics and feelings plus a bonus track! The EP will officially release on 9/20 but you can preorder the EP and hear a couple of the songs on my bandcamp page! Check it out below!

So that’s what I got. I’m really, really excited about all of it. I get to play shows and hang out with my friends and I’m FINALLY releasing some new music for you guys. There’s more stuff in the works, but I’ll save that for another day. I don’t want to overstimulate anyone. =)

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New Crisis Tour Dates Announced

artwork by Sketchy McDrawpants and photo by Ivy Noëlle Weir.

artwork by Sketchy McDrawpants and photo by Ivy Noëlle Weir.

Tribe One, now in more cities!

I just added a few more dates to the Crisis On Intimate Earths Tour in Charleston, Tuscaloosa and Nashville! On top of that, my good NOFRIEND Mikal kHill has been added to a couple of the dates as well. Check out the full schedule:

8/20 – Kansas City, MO – Elite Comics – ROCKED!
8/21 – Omaha, NE – Legend Comics & Coffee – ROCKED!
8/22 – Chicago, IL – Brainstorm Comics – ROCKED!
8/23 – St. Louis, MO – Star Clipper (info)
8/25 – Yellow Springs, OH – Super-Fly Comics & Games w/ Mikal kHill (info)
8/26 – Canton, OH – Buzzbin Music Shop w/ Mikal kHill, 2D6 & Daikaiju (info)
8/27 – Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh Comics w/ Mikal kHill (info)
8/29 – Wilmington, DE – 1984 Barcade w/ Mikal kHill (info)
8/30 – Syracuse, NY – Singers Karaoke Bar w/ Mikal kHill, Sammus & Jesse Dangerously (info)
9/4 – Charleston, SC – The Sparrow w/ Viet Huynh (standup comedy) (info)
9/9 – Tuscaloosa, AL – Sho’Nuff Comics (info)
9/10 – Nashville, TN – Rick’s Comic City w/ FieldMouse (info)

I’ve been having an absolute blast on this tour rocking for old and new friends and playing the new songs from the Crisis EP. Come check me out when I come to your area!

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Announcing the Crisis On Intimate Earths Tour

Crisis Cover FB Bar

just a little sneak preview of the cover art by Sketchy McDrawpants.

That’s right, y’all! I’m heading back out on the road next month for my first ever solo tour! I’m gonna be promoting and performing songs from my upcoming EP, Crisis On Intimate Earths as well as telling some of the many stories I’ve accumulated over 3 solid years of touring the US and the UK. I’ll also be performing songs from Malibu Shark Attack and, of course, some old favorites. Here’s the schedule:

August 20 – Kansas City, MO – Elite Comics (info)
August 21 – Omaha, NE – Legend Comics & Coffee (info)
August 22 – Chicago, IL – Brainstorm Comics (info)
August 23 – St. Louis, MO – Starclipper (info)
August 25 – Yellow Springs, OH – Superfly Comics & Games w/ Mikal kHill
August 26 – Canton, OH – Buzzbin Art & Music Shop w/ Mikal kHill & 2D6 (info)
August 27 – Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh Comics (info)
August 29 – Wilmington, DE – TBA
August 30 – Syracuse, NY – Singers Karaoke Bar w/ Mikal kHill, Sammus & Jesse Dangerously

I’m also going have these awesome new Malibu Shark Attack shirts, designed by the homey Joe Huntermsamodel

But wait, there’s more!

Earlier in the month I’m going to be joining my friends Ceschi and Mikal kHill as they tour through Atlanta on August 5th at WonderRoot. I’ll be doing a Malibu Shark Attack live band performance during kHill’s set so start preparing yourselves now. It’s seriously going to rule.

After that radness I’ll be touring with my good friends Mega Ran & K-Murdock and Doug Funnie! Check out the schedule in this awesome banner by Danger BoycoopoositeofwarFB

ALSO!!!

PLEASE NOTE: I’m actually not going to be at Orlando Nerd Fest on the weekend of August 7th – 11th. Instead, I’m going to be at Otakon with my good friend Adam WarRock for a weekend of rap, anime and awesomeness. If you’re going to Nerd Fest have a great time and tell everybody hello for me!

I can’t wait to see you all again!

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My Process – Yo Into New York

photo by Aggie / brandnewkindof.com

Jesse Dangerously and my back on stage together last summer – probably performing this song – at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. photo by Aggie / brandnewkindof.com

Well, it’s now been over a week since my last process post, which was also the first. I guess that means it’s time for another one! Since I like the whole going-in-order thing, I’m going to talk about track two of the Malibu Shark Attack album, “Yo Into New York,” which features incredible guest verses byJesse Dangerously and Kevin Steinhauser from Math the Band.

(Somewhat related side note: Math the Band’s latest album, Stupid and Weird, was mixed by MSA’s own Rocky O’Reilly and is a super great record.)

I’ll make the same disclaimer here that I made last time: I am in no way attempting to tell you what you should think or feel about the songs. I’m only going to say what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote them.

This is the song that is essentially responsible for Malibu Shark Attack existing at all. When Rocky first emailed me out of the blue to ask if I wanted to make an album with an odd and exciteable Northern Irish indie rock producer, this is one of the tracks the he sent. As soon as I heard it I knew. I instantly knew that I needed to work with this guy and that it was going to literally change my life.

When the band was performing this song on our UK tour with MC Lars I would introduce it by saying “Rocky wrote this next song about being super hungover in New York; I wrote it about being really good at rap. Let’s go!” And that’s pretty much true. The song’s original title was “Put The Boke In Hoboken;” “boke” meaning “barf,” “puke,” etc. But that was before I had written anything for it or had even heard it, in fact. When Rocky sent it to me the title had already been changed and the singing part, sung by the incredible Angie McCrisken, was already in there too.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse One:
oh snap, this is no act
this is no accident
no low fat atkins stamped on the package
we don’t hold hands and we don’t fold napkins
rap game Frodo Baggins marching into Mordor solo
so old fashioned
so Cro-Magnon practically half Jurassic
massive tyrannosaur swag is classic
I’m a grown man so I don’t throw tantrums
just go ham yelling “YOLO”
don’t go back on our word, no quotes redacted
we mastered the curve, you’re below the average
we crafted and nurtured a chapter and verse
so the pastors in churches will quote this passage
now don’t act so mad just ’cause you don’t have post-grad vocab
dope raps in an accent thick as molasses back since Jackie Onassis, check it
Atlanta to Canada traveling the road map
from Staten to Manhattan we putting the YO back.

Chorus:
“Put the YO into New York!” a bunch of times.

Verse Two:
my whole team is so fresh and so clean
dressed to impress double decker supreme
all of these ladies no less than a queen
on the scene so fetch and so mean
I live my whole life like it’s Friday Night Lights Matt Saracen
with a rap flow that has no comparison
I’m half black half actual alien
galaxy class, yo
Astro-American
haters insist that the way that we live is immature
they get a ticket to take a trip on the Hindenberg
my language and diction are changing the hipsters into nerds
making it Middle Earth in Williamsburg.

Jesse Dangerously’s verse:
ship shape you could drown in the wreckage
we ’bout to burn this motherfucker down in a second
and the sound is impressive when we’re pounding the mechanism
now is the reckoning and I reckon I could wreck this thing
rap game Myra Breckinridge
I’ll switch it up with kitten ears
disappear vicious no visitors
Lister and the Cat
come hither for the blistering attack
I’m a wizard and my staff grants wishes
I’m Alfred doing Batman’s dishes
I’m a fat decathlete
now that’s ambitious
I’m mathnastic backflips on your mattress
that’s Rich and me and Tribe are gonna put the…

Chorus again.

Bridge:
slide cross town to the old sixth ward
we’ll stay out all night
burn the birthday boy (sung twice)

Another chorus.

Third verse by Kevin Steinhauser:
ayo, we’re not about to stop
don’t worry about the clock
and we don’t give a shit about noise complaints go ahead and call the cops
don’t let the energy drop
don’t stop til you reach the top
we’re just throwing it down in the big fucking city just partying with robots

And the chorus again. Fin.

Honestly, there’s not much I can say about the content of the song other than I wanted to rap really good. The main goal was to make the song fun, and since Rocky’s music was already incredibly fun, it was just up to me, Jesse and Kevin to keep it that way.

To go back to what I mentioned before in the first process post, about rhythms and pockets of the beat, it was actually pretty challenging to settle on an approach to the first verse. The second verse was super easy, but I’ll come back to that.

When I originally sent the song to Jesse Dangerously to ask him if he’d write for it, I hadn’t finished a verse for it. I had started a verse but it was suuuuuuuuper terrible and ended up being scrapped and deleted forever from my draft folder. If I remember correctly, I think it had a line about picket fences and sixth senses and was going to be about how I moved around as a kid from California to Arizona to Atlanta and then finally went to New York to visit for the first time. Seriously, though, it was awful.

Luckily, before I could make much headway into that travesty, Jesse sent back a demo for the verse he’d written. It was something like a two days after I sent him the beat. It might even have been the next day. After hearing it I realized what a horrible mistake I had been making and started writing the verse that ended up on the song.

I should back up a little bit and tell you how I got to know Jesse. In the fall of 2012 I went on tour with Adam WarRock, Mikal kHill and, you guessed it, Jesse Dangerously. I had toured with WarRock before as his back up hype guy, but this time I had my own set. The four of us met up in Chicago, kHill and WarRock in one car, me in another and Jesse on an airplane since he was coming from Canada.

Prior to this, kHill was the only one of us who knew Jesse personally. WarRock and I only knew him from a handful email exchanges to organize the tour and the fundraiser album we made to promote and support the tour, called FUN RAZOR. Clever, no?

So I knew he was a really great rapper (seriously, just check out the opening track of FUN RAZOR called “Pauly Shore”), but I knew very little about the man himself.

Jesse Dangerously and I met for the first time when I picked him up from the Chicago airport. I’m usually pretty bad at meeting people; awkwardness and whatnot. But as we drove back to meet the others we had a really great time making fun of terrible billboards and shop names and discussing our shared admiration of another Canadian rapper named Buck 65, who it turned out was a friend of Jesse’s that he’d grown up with.

(Somewhat related side note: I do an impeccable Buck 65 impression. For real.)

This is all set up to say that in Jesse’s verse, the lines “Mathnastic, backflips on your mattress, that’s Rich” are references to that conversation on that day when we first met.

One of the terrible shops that we saw was a place called The Mathnasium, whose name was the source of several laughs; hence, “Mathnastic.” The other part of the line comes from a Buck 65 song called “Wicked and Weird” in which there’s a part of the chorus where he says “wicked and weird, I’m a rat-fish trying to practice doing backflips on your mattress.” Also, his real name is Rich; hence “backflips on your mattress; that’s Rich.”

It was also later on that same tour that “The YOLO Story” happened. If you’ve seen me perform in the last year or so there’s a good chance you’ve heard me tell that story. If not, ask me about it next time you see me. It’s one of my absolute favorites to tell. I bring it up because that’s the reason I say “YOLO” in my verse.

So I guess this song is basically about Jesse and I reminiscing on how awesome that tour was. I seriously did not realize that until just now. Huh.

There was a period around when Rocky and I were finishing up the album that we weren’t sure if Jesse was going to be on it. I mentioned earlier that he wrote and recorded his demo astonishingly fast, but then when it came time to get finals vocals from him it became really uncertain as to whether he’d be able to get them to us in time. As a safety measure, I wrote a second verse just in case Jesse’s didn’t come through. However, almost immediately after I did Jesse got us his part. I really liked what I’d written, though, so I asked Rocky to extend the second verse to fit both of us.

It was all really dramatic and frantic at the time, but I think it turned out for the best. It ended up being a really fun song to make and a super fun song to perform, both with Jesse on the mc chris Revenge of the Nerd tour last summer and with the MSA band in the UK last month.

I know a lot less about Kevin’s involvement since Rocky made that happen. I will say that it’s a fantastic last verse of the song that basically sums up what the song is about: Partying as hard as you possibly can in New York (or wherever you happen to be).

Thanks again for reading! I hope you enjoy the song!

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My Process – Better Off As Friends

we were better off as kitties

we were better off as kitties

I decided just a little bit ago that I wanted to do a series of posts wherein I discuss my writing process for the Malibu Shark Attack album. Being the word nerd that I am, I find it endlessly fascinating when artists talk about the intricacies and details of all the things they put into their work. I’m hoping that some of you might find it at least a fraction as interesting.

I should note that I’m in no way trying to prescribe what listeners should get out of the songs I write about; I am a firm believer in the idea that once art is out there it is effectively out of its creator’s hands and belongs to the people whom it reaches. The way a song makes the listener feel is completely up to that listener, regardless – or in spite of – what the artist was feeling when he or she wrote it. So please, continue to feel the way you feel. I only ask that you feel. If you feel like it.

I guess it makes sense to go in order. “Start at the beginning; and when you get to the end stop” and such.

Track one of the album is called “Better Off As Friends,” and it features Dudley Colley of The Dudley Corporation and additional vocals by Angie McCrisken and Kev Jones, both of whom are absolutely lovely people I met on my recent trip to the UK. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Mr. Colley, though I’m certain he is also lovely.

When Rocky sent me the music for this song it came with a one sentence description of his idea for the song, which basically amounted to “When my old band, Oppenheimer, broke up and I started working on another project all of the band’s fans were pretty upset about it.” This made me curious, since at that point I had no idea how big of a deal Oppenheimer had been. When a quick google search turned up videos of them playing live on the Craig Ferguson show and touring with They Might Be Giants and being on the soundtrack for Gossip Girl and Ugly Betty I started to get a little intimidated. Who the eff was this guy? And why did he think it was a good idea to work with me???

I was definitely starting out at a deficit. So when I started writing the song, I did so with the knowledge that Rocky’s old fans were probably going to hate me just because I wasn’t the other guy in Oppenheimer. And you know what? That’s fair. I get it.

But I wanted them to at least give me a chance to explain myself. Here are my lyrics to the song:

“Man, I hate when my favorite bands go on indefinite hiatus and
later announce a new side project
They may be done, what if I’m not yet?
Now, I know that you think that I might not get what you’re going through
but I totally do
That chip on your shoulder’s a boulder I’m moving
to show and to prove that I know what I’m doing
And I ain’t even aiming to brag when I say I’m amazing at rap
’cause I’m honing my craft every moment I have so it’s only a statement of fact
And, see, Rocky’s still making that post-new wave-prog-electronica-indie core-synth-pop
and he said to put on it whatever I wanted, but all I could think of was hip hop
But I promise that I’ll never lie on a track
Diamonds and gold are not why I’m in rap
I want you to know that I’m trying to act like an honest adult with a spine in my back
If you give it a listen and hate it that’s fine
I’ll be grateful and thank you for trying
I’m honestly sorry I wasted your time
Unless maybe you’re changing your mind…”

The chorus:

“This isn’t rock and roll
This sounds so thrown together
What happened to Oppenheimer?
I like their old stuff better

This isn’t real hip hop
This is some new bold endeavor
What happened to The Remnant?
I like their old stuff better”

And Dudley’s verse:

“I’m so sorry I broke your heart
Never meant to be the one who would tear this apart
And I’m sorry if I let you down.

One without two’s just a mediocre sound
And I’m left here holding this impossible crown
And I’m sorry that you’re stuck with me.”

Usually, when I start writing a song the first thing I do is listen to it. I mean, yeah, obviously. What I’m listening for, specifically, are the ways the music interacts with itself and how I can then interact with it without disrupting it. How are the drums patterned? How does the melody interact with the drums? What is the bass line doing? After getting a feel for that stuff I start to do a scat-type of thing to get an idea of how I can pattern my flow to complement the music and sort of fit into the rhythmic pockets of the song. Then I try to adjust my voice and tone to harmonize with the song’s melodies as best I can. Ideally, I want my verses to be just another instrument layered into the song, not overpowering or dominating it.

Content-wise, I was attempting to address the fans of Oppenheimer and The Remnant (my longtime group) and let them know that, yeah, this record is about to be pretty different than what they’re used to, but if they give it a chance I’m going to try my best to give them something honest, at least.

On just about every level, I think this is one of the best verses I’ve ever written. It was one of those magical, oh-so rare instances of a verse materializing exactly the way I imagined it. The chorus teases just a little bit, but mostly I was just trying to preempt that criticism and turn it into something that worked for us instead of against us.

So, yeah. I’m pretty proud of this one. I think it does a really good job of setting up the album both in how it sounds and what it says. I don’t know enough about music to say more than Rocky is a genius and on this song, as well as every other song, he absolutely rocked it.

I really enjoyed writing this song and I loved performing it. At the official record release party in Belfast last month there were actually people crowd surfing to it. It was unbelievable.

I hope you like the song and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts on it. I also hope you enjoy this video for it, starring my good friend Bee Mick See:

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Puddle Jumpin’

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“If this was just another harebrained scheme, why am I flyer than an airplane wing?”

Up there is the view from my window seat on the plane from Atlanta to Philadelphia. I’ve always loved the view from above the clouds; it’s like looking through clear ocean water to the reef below.

While I wait on my connecting flight to London, where I will meet up with my friend MC Lars and my band mate in Malibu Shark Attack, Rocky O’Reilly (for the first time EVER! What!?), I thought it’d be a good idea to post some info about the tour upon which we are embarking.

Malibu Shark Attack is reuniting for the first time ever to join MC Lars on his Zombie Dinosaur headlining tour of the United Kingdom in the cities of Leicester, Glasgow, London, Brighton and Bristol.

After that, we Sharks will be hopping back to Rocky’s hometown, Belfast, on the 23rd to officially celebrate the release of our debut album. Then we’re doing it again in Derry the next day.

I am both lethally excited and joyously terrified of this adventure. But it’s too late to stop it now. I’m at my gate and I hear London Calling.

“All I need is a running start…”

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See With Your Ears, Hear With Your Eyes

aw yeah.

My lovely, amazing and infinitely patient wife recently pointed out to me that I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home since we got married in December. There’s been a lot going on lately, hasn’t there? I just got home from three straight months of touring and I’m leaving tomorrow to go to my little brother’s wedding and then I’m flying into Austin, Texas for my first official showcase at South By Southwest with a bunch of my bestest nerdcore friends like Doc Awk, Jesse Dangerously, Adam WarRock, MC Lars, Schaffer the Darklord, Random, MC Frontalot and more. It’s going to be nuts.

Before I head out again, I’ve got a whole slew of new stuff to share with you. If you’ve been following me on facebook or twitter then you probably already know that I’ve recently become obsessed with Magic: The Gathering again. The last time I played was in 2012 when the Dark Ascension set was released. I was able to break free of the game before too much damage was done, but now… now I fear there’s no going back. I blame Adam WarRock for coming up with the idea of me teaching him how to play so we could have something to do on our tour downtime. I also blame Mikal kHill for already having a bunch of really good decks so that I had to buy more cards to be able to beat him. The good news is that we made a completely 100% free EP about the game and our obsession and did I mention it’s free? It’s free. Check out the song “Friday Night Magic” below!

Another pretty awesome thing that happened was the release of the official music video for The Remnant’s song “Summer Dog Days.” I’m super stoked about how this video came out and it’s all thanks to Mr. Mick Hawkins over at Ash Films for coming up with the video treatment, directing and editing the whole thing. So please check out the video and leave a comment or thumbs up or something. It’s one of my favorite songs on the best album we’ve ever made.

And finally, while we’re on the topic of official music videos, the first official music video for Malibu Shark Attack was released! The song is called “Better Off As Friends” and it’s all about how me and my bandmate, Rocky O’Reilly, both have fans who know us as primarily doing something completely different and would just rather hear more of the old stuff. The video features the emotive talent of Irish rapper Bee Mick See and holy smokes, does he emote. The song also features one of the best rap verses I’ve ever written in my whole life. I’m so proud of the song and I hope you all like the video!

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Snowpocalypse 2014!

you ain't goin' NOWHERE.

you ain’t goin’ NOWHERE.

It snowed in Atlanta today and this is what traffic looked like this afternoon. I sure am glad I spent all day at home writing rap songs for a secret project you’ll be hearing about VERY soon. Oh, and while I’m at it I might as well mention that Adam WarRock are heading back out on tour in about a week. This time we’re running up and down the East Coast. Check it!

TRIBE ONE & ADAM WARROCK TOUR OF COMIC STORES PART TWO
Feb. 5 – Charleston, SC – Captain’s Comics (info)
Feb. 6 – Wilmington, DE – The Comic Book Shop w/ Greg Pak (info)
Feb. 7 – Somerville, MA – Comicazi (info)
Feb. 8 – Baltimore, MD – Collector’s Corner (info)
Feb. 9 – NYC – The Fifth Estate w/ Schaffer, Mikal kHill, & Louis Logic (info)
Feb. 10 – Syracuse, NY – Singers Karaoke Club w/ Sammus (info)
Feb. 11 – Manchester, NH – Double Midnight Comics (info)
Feb. 12 – Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club & Coast City Comics (info)
Feb. 13 – Northampton, MA – Modern Myths (info)
Feb. 15 – Richmond, VA – Velocity Comics (info)
Feb. 16 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone w/ Mikal kHill (info)

After the amazing West Coast run that we had with Schaffer the Darklord I’m super stoked to get back out on the road and on stage again. And bonus! We’re playing with Schaffer in Brooklyn on Feb. 9th along with Mikal kHill and Louis Logic! There’s going to be a LOT of awesome guest rockers on this tour. We’re even playing a show with Superman/Batman writer Greg Pak. And then we’re wrapping up on the 16th with a show at The Milestone in Charlotte for the NOFRIENDS Family Reunion with Mikal kHill, Kristy Bee and more. S’gonna be rad.

See you out there!

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