Friday, December 28, 2007


Hey's been a while. Hey, holidays take their toll. The blog was one of the things that has suffered (along with my diet).

Anyway, we went to Greenville and I performed at the Seacoast Christmas Eve service. It was great to be back and hanging out with my old band mates. We did several Christmas songs that were fun, plus we did Mercy Me's song "God With Us" was a little surreal singing a song that was the 2nd to last album produced by the guy producing me...a little weird.

So, got to hang out with friends and Sarah's family, plus Sarah and I went to see 2 movies with my brother on Christmas day after the family get together. I won't say which ones because in the past it has started an outrage...but just know...both movies were very good. One was very funny and one was bloody. Your only hints.

We got back last night and today I got adjusted at the chiropractor and also got a massage. So, I'm a little looser, though my chiropractor says that he notices some work that needs to be done, so once insurance kicks in, I'm gonna get some work done.

Then in the afternoon, Phil called and asked me to come and write. He has to turn in some songs this next week to figure out the rest of his record, so we listened to a few songs I had worked on and decided to start afresh. He had a lyric idea and we quickly jumped on it and within a couple of hours (mixed with goofing off, hanging out with Chloe & Mikelah, and listening to each other's songs) we had the song completed.

After we finished, Phil asked for my opinion on some songs that he's been pitched. So, we listened through large portions of about 15 songs. I told him which ones I thought were great and which ones I thought were just good (I mean, at this point everything he's being pitched is really good...but some are just better than others). Let me assure you, people, after hearing 3 of the 4 songs Phil's recorded already and now the majority of what else he's recording (including the song we wrote, hopefully)...Phil's record is going to KILLAH! All Killah no Fillah! Seriously, he has some really, really great stuff and I would like to hold my prediction (since my predictions on other season 6-ers haven't turned out as right as I thought) that Phil will be the best selling New Country Artist of 2008...he will be the Bucky Covington of this season...well, except he sings a lot better and he doesn't have a twin brother or a mullet-tail.

I also had the chance to hear 2 new songs that Chris Rich has been working on. And I should say that I think they're the best stuff that I have ever heard from Rich...they're just little home demos (like the stuff I did at home), but the songs are there and they are great. So, look for some cool stuff from the Richness.

Seriously, no matter what the sales say...Season 6 had more overall talent (I.e., more than just singers) than any Idol season yet. I promise you. I lie not.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Studio Blog 9 (December 17-19, 2007)

Okay, so again these three days were pretty boring. So I combined them. Plus I haven't had time to sit down and write a blog till now. I'm wasted tired so this will probably be somewhat short, too. Sorry...I promise to expand these at some point...but I think you'll get the point of what happened for the last 3 days.

Sunday night, Sarah and I had Mitch and his fiancee Suzanna over for dinner and a movie...well, we went out to eat and then came to our place to watch a movie. It was tons of fun. But we stayed up late talking life and strategy and stuff, and I got to bed later than I really wanted to.

So, after a not-too-long sleep, I woke up and got ready. Sarah started her job Monday morning, so it was nice to have her up at the same time. We took our shakes and nutritional stuff and she headed off to work. I worked a little more on a songwriting demo for my publishing deal and then took a shower, got dressed and headed off to pick up Ash...then it was to Brown's studio. I was 10 minutes late, and Brown showed up 10 minutes after that...which is funny since it's his house studio...but he was out running errands.

Steve Bishir, the engineer, however was there. I walked into the dead room and found 5 microphones set up. He went into the control room and I immediately started trying out sounds. To make a very long story short...we spent the next 7 hours (minus an hour for lunch) trying to find which microphone would be the best one for me, as well as which effects chain would be the best. I literally sang the first verse of "Running Back" 200 times. We tried 10 different microphones, plus countless effects chain combinations. I was about to go out of my freaking mind. But, hey, Brown is the biggest producer in the Christian music industry and he is known for bringing the best out of vocalist.

Finally, about 6pm we started tracking vocals. We worked for about 3 hours on the vocal for "Running Back" and got everything except for the last chorus. Brown is very old school in the way that he produces vocals. Most producers now-a-days have the singer sing through the song 3-5 times, depending on how well they do. Then the producer in post-production makes the vocals sound pristine and tune them up. Brown will go 2-4 lines at a time and have the singer sing them till they are perfect. He will do a comp, but prefers to get a performance of a whole verse or a whole pre-chorus or chorus for continuity. Everyone warned me I would want to kill him before it was over...and though it didn't get that far, I certainly had to work for every line I got him to "print".

Ash has worked with tons of producers during his time filming Hanson and other bands and he said he'd never seen a producer do what Brown does...get a perfect performance filled with emotion. Hey, these last two days are the best singing I've ever heard myself do, so I believe in the method.

Anyway, I left Browns and went and hung out with Chris Rich and Josh Hoge, which I already wrote about, and got to bed too late once again.

Tuesday, I woke up, got dressed and headed off to work. I got a little bit of extra sleep because we didn't start till 11am Tuesday. So, that was nice. I had let Ash drive my car home Monday night so he picked me up this time and it was off to Brown's.

We jumped right back into "Running Back" and reworked a little of the 2nd pre-chorus and finished the last chorus. Then, we decided to throw a quick comp together of "Running Back" because my label's owner and President were coming in to hang out for the day and hear all the music.

About 1pm, Steve, the president of my label, McQ (Mike McQuarry), the owner of my label, Mitch and Mike Blanton showed up for lunch. Brown had never met my label guys, and wanted to make an impression, so he hired a cook to make an incredible, healthy meal. With my diet, I can eat just about anything I want for my one meal per day...but it's always better to eat healthy, obviously. So, when Brown hired the cook, he made sure she made grilled chicken for me, as well as a full wheat pasta and a salad with low-fat ceaser dressing. Needless to say, the meal was awesome and a good use of 500 calories.

We spent way too long hanging out at the table and talking and jawing and just having a great time fellowshipping then we headed up to get to work.

The Brash guys haven't heard any music yet. When we worked on the deal, they just trusted me to make a great record. Thankfully, I have the right people around me who have made sure that my instincts were right....I mean it doesn't get much better than Blanton Harrel as management and Brown producing. Anyway, they hadn't heard any music yet, so I was apprehensive that they like everything.

We started off with "Running Back" and they loved it. Then, we gave them "Empty Me". Their immediate reaction was incredible. We all discussed and decided that "Empty Me" would, barring some miracle on another song, be the first single. It's the story song about all that is going on.

We listened to the roughs for "Potential", "Pleased" and "Something Beautiful" next. They loved them all...though they did give little pointers here and there. Then we listened to "In a Moment", "Know" and "Cry Tonight". After "Know", we had a somewhat heated discussion (not in a bad way...just with people really passionate about their points of view) about what should be the first single. A couple of guys were thinking maybe we go straight to mainstream radio with "Know". I fought for the side (along with a couple of others) of establishing me as a CCM artist first, then, if it's right, taking songs like "Know" to the mainstream.

We already have a hook up with one of the biggest tv music supervisors for shows that are great about breaking new music, and we have some interest for the use of some songs, so if that works out it'll be great. Also, a song is being considered for a theme song for a major tv series that is established already, so if that works out...well, it'll be huge. So, there are mainstream opportunities being worked on at the label and elsewhere, but we all came to an agreement that the first focus was going to be establishing myself as a Christian artist.

Once we finished listening to rough mixes, I then let them hear the fake string version of "Loaded Gun" letting them hear an idea of where it'll be with real strings.

And the label is officially excited. And that makes me even more exciting.

They left around 4:30pm and it was back to work.

I spent the next 5 hours giving a perfect performance of "Empty Me". Seriously, I can't wait for you guys to hear it. It is honestly the best recorded vocal I have ever done. Brown evoked a performance from me that was, was something I was proud of in the end. I can't wait for you to hear it.

I then headed home.

This morning I had an early morning for my photo shoot. Not much to say about that except we got some cool shots. Full makeup. Full wardrobe (I got to keep $500 worth of clothes, so that was cool). Full lights. Full everything. We did studio shots and location shots. It was tiring. But we got a lot of great shots.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Chris Rich gave me an unexpected phone call today to let me know he was in town and wanting to hang out, if possible. I was in the studio working on vocals (more on that later), so when I wrapped up, I drove home and got Sarah and we went and met Chris and Josh Hoge at a Mexican Restaurant.

It was great to catch up...we've sent several texts back and forth, but it's hard to catch up in that medium. We just talked about what was going on in our lives and with our careers...I obviously can't give details, but he's doing really, really great! It was really fun to just hang out for a coupla hours.

Josh Hoge is the guy who's been on tour with Elliot Yamin for the last several months and also wrote "Know My Name" for Blake (which happens to be my favorite song on the album...well, that and "End of the World"), so it was great to get to know him a little bit. He's a super nice guy who is doing things very similar to how I'm doing it (except more on the mainstream side). I have a feeling you're gonna be hearing his name a ton in the next few months and years...he's really talented.

Also, Phil is doing great! He's going to be stopping by the studio tomorrow to hang out while I do some vocals. He and I are going to be writing some songs together next week after Christmas to get on his record...apparently, he talked me up to his label, which was incredibly kind, and his label wants to hear some country songs! Here's hoping I can deliver with Phil, so I don't make him look bad for recommending me.

Like I said...some of my best friends have come from this AI experience.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Studio Blog 8 (12-13-07 & 12-14-07)

The last two days have been a little bit boring, to be perfectly honest. Not a ton to write about, so I decided to combine them into one.

Guitar overdubs are slow and painstaking. Every note has to be perfectly in place. With bass and drums, if something is slightly off, you can go in and move things around. Guitar is a little bit tougher, so everything has to be perfect. I always felt bad because when I'm at home, it can take an hour to get a guitar part right. Then I see pro studio guys take an hour and it makes me feel kinda good...or at least that I'm doing better.

I already told you about George. George has been great all week long, getting the right sounds.

Thursday, we did more of the same. We had 3 songs left for electric overdubs, so we hit it hard...we really wanted to get the songs done so we could start vocals on Friday, after we did some acoustic gutars. So, we started with "Running Back". The rhythm part, we decided should be a little more brit-rock, so we used the Orange Tiny Terror. It sounded pretty freaking great. The part I played was more of a Switchfoot kind of rhythm part, basically downstroke-upstroke in 16ths, while the chord changes happen on off-beats...for those non-musicians, basically that means very syncopated. We started that one and in a couple of takes on each section, nailed that part. Then I doubled the part. Then I tripled the last chorus to give it some extra "umph". I even surprised myself, actually...since I'm supposedly so bad at rhythm I guess I kind of buy into it sometimes. But I/we found my "rhythmic difficulties" untrue in this situation.

We finished that part around lunch time and broke for lunch. Thursday, Sarah stopped by, as well as Mindy, Ash's wife, and thier kids. Debbie, Brown's wife, made a great chicken ceaser salad to help me stick with my diet, which was very kind. Steve Bishir and George and the rest enjoyed it, believe me, but I was thankful they were able to help me. At lunch we took some time to relax and watched part of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...what a great movie. Such great dialogue. The Coen Brothers are great.

After lunch we went up and worked on "In a Moment", which came really easy. I've played that song so many times that it just kind of comes natural. This new arrangement has such an incredible build to it. It starts off with a slow build and when you get to that last chorus, it is just absolutely huge.

Once again, I nailed the part pretty quickly, then doubled the part.

Then, it was on to the last song: "Cry Tonight". We decided what I needed to play and I pretty quickly got that one down. Seriously, I don't know if it's just the surroundings, but from a rhythmic standpoint, I was on this week. So, that was encouraging...I was scared of taking hours and hours to do electrics. In fact, Brown, thinking that I would have rhythmic difficulties had hired George to be there for a full 3 days for electrics plus a day for acoustics, so we got done a full day early!

After we finished "Cry Tonight" we listened through everything to make sure we had what we needed, then I headed home to get some sleep.

The next day, I showed back up to the studio and the electric guitar equipment was all gone. We immediately got to work on acoustics.

This stuff doesn't really need a bunch of acoustic stuff to carry the rhythm...but Brown really wanted to put some acoustic stuff in the songs for flourishes and just something different sonically.

Ash didn't come in on Friday because it was kind of the same thing we'd done...same studio, same people, etc. So it wasn't quite as fun without him there.

We started off with "Empty Me", which definitely needed an acoustic part. We layered the acoustic guitars, using my Taylor and a 1960 Gibson B-25. My Taylor has a bright and airy sound while the B-25 has a deeper, darker sound. "Empty Me" went pretty quickly and we broke for lunch.

My diet for yesterday was basically a fast, so they went and got great-smelling Mexican food...I was pissed! I wanted to ask someone for something so bad, but held firm. No cheating for me. So, I went back to the control room and ate my 1 oz of cashews and two celery stalks.

After lunch, we listened and decided to add a part to "Cry Tonight". I wrote a really great acoustic part but realized pretty quickly that I just wasn't a good enough guitar player to pull it off in the couple of hours we had before Brown had to leave. So, I taught George the part and he went in and recorded it. It took him 2 and a half hours to get it. So, thank God I didn't try...George is one of the best guitar players in town, so I'm sure it would've taken me twice as long. Anyway, he recorded 3 passes. The first one was with my Taylor which we did stereo. Then we used his B-25 as a mono track. Then he used a 1961 J-45 (the acoustics the Beatles played) to record another mono track. Altogether, they sound great.

As soon as he finished that, Brown headed off, and left us to lock up. We headed out soon after and I went home for some much needed R&R.

However, Mitch invited Sarah and I to go to see TobyMac, Aaron Shust, Superchick and several other bands on the Winter Wonderslam tour. Aaron is on the same label as me and with the same management, so I thought it'd be great to meet him. So I went home, hung out for a little bit and headed off for the show. We got to meet Aaron and hung out with Mitch for a while. These Nashville shows are a veritable churning pot of who's who of CCM, so I met quite a few really cool, influental people backstage. Aaron's show was only 4 songs, but it was really great. I was impressed. Mitch left after Aaron's set, but Sarah and I stuck around for part of Toby's set. Wow. I've seen Toby before and he blew me away, and he didn't disappoint this time. Seriously, the best performer in CCM, easily. He just jumps around stage and his band are all energetic and incredible. You need to see Toby sometime, even if you don't like his music.

And there's the last 2 days.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The equipment

Hey, I thought for the guitar lovers out there, I'd post some of the equipment I got to use as George Cocchini as the "Tone Chaperone". Basically, George brought over a bunch of stuff for me to use. And it is awesome. I probably got to play on about $50,000 worth of equipment.

'65 Fender Jaguar
'60 Fender Jazzmaster
'75 Fender Telecaster Deluxe
'67 Blonde Fender Telecaster
'63 Brown Fender Telecaster
'61 Gibson ES330
'64 Gibson SG Junio
'05 Gibson SG Heritage
'98 Gibson Les Paul Historic (w/ vintage PAF pickups)
'97 Rickenbacker 6 string

'60 Vox AC30
'97 Matchless HC30
'60 Fender Super Amp
Orange Tiny Terror
Bogner Ecstacy 101

'69 Marshall 4x12
'61 Blonde Vox 2x12

I thought I'd also add in my equipment. I don't have a bunch of vintage gear, but I have had the opportunity to get a lot of really great stuff that I can't wait to play out on the road.

Michael Kelly Country Gentleman
Michael Kelly Jazz Guitar
Tradition Les Paul
Fender Stratocaster HSS
Fender Telecaster
Fender Telecaster Deluxe
Fender Jagmaster
Gibson Les Paul
Hagner Supersonic

Taylor 614ce Special
Takemine EF 350SMBSC

Fender Jazz Bass

Peavey Classic 30
Fender Blues Junior
Fender '59 Bassman Reissue
Fender Deluxe
Crate 15-watt
Gallen-Krueger 30-watt tube amp

Gallen-Krueger 8x12
Fender Supersonic 2x12
Airline 2x12

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Studio Blog 7 (12-12-07)

Today was kind of different. I woke up early and went to pick up Ash and headed back to the house where I had a meeting with the stylist who is doing the styling for my photo shoot for the album, which I am doing next week. She came by the house and just looked through all my clothes to figure out what we have and what we need. Thankfully, Idol did give me some really cool clothes, so we just decided that we needed a few things.

After that, I went to get a massage. I have been having some serious pain in my back, and have been really needing a chiropractor, but haven't had the time or the chance to get to one. Today, Sarah called at the last minute and got me an appointment with the massage therapist close by...I only got 20 minutes with her but it was well worth it, plus I set up an appointment for Friday. Anyway, the 20 minutes was great.

Then it was over to Brown's house/studio at about noon.

Today was really cool because Brown brought in a guy named George Cocchini who is a legendary guitar player in Nashville. He's actually the guy who wrote and played on dcTalk's "Colored People" (in fact tonight, he showed me how to play that guitar part, which is pretty surreal to learn an influential guitar riff from the person who made it up - weird). Anyway, Brown brings George in to be the "Tone Chaperone". Basically, he brings in a bevy of vintage amps, pedals and extremely expensive, vintage guitars that I play. It's great...the work gets done by George and I just get to tuning, no lugging stuff in and out. It's a great concept.

We got the amps set up and the speakers set up with mics on them and once we figured out the right alignment of speaker/speaker cables/amps/etc. then we got to work (this actually took about an hour and a half to get set up). We decided to start on "Know". I got to doing my rhythm parts and was actually in the pocket. As we all know, I have "rhythmic difficulties" so I was pleasantly surprised that I was in the pocket. I actually only took about 45 minutes to lay down my rhythm parts and we all were excited.

A lot of talking and joking around goes on with these guys because they have all worked so much together. As we finished up "Know", Brown thought it might be cool to add a couple of rhythm parts on the riff during the breakdown and on the outro. We added a really high pitched kind of distortion that cut through the mix really well. Then we did a deeper sounding distortion in drop D tuning. Put all together, it sounded great. Then George suggested putting a jangly part at the end of each phrase, so we pulled out an old Rickenbacker 6-string and laid down a nice little section, basically 1 bar at a time. Anyway, you probably won't even notice when we get to the mix, but all of it give a sonic texture.

As we were finishing up all that, Steve Jones, the president of my label stopped by with Mitch. We hung out for a little bit. Steve was in town for a sales conference for Word Distribution, which is the company that my label is distributed through. They invited me to come and perform a couple of songs and to get the sales team on board with the project and get them excited about it as soon as possible.

We got there and Steve got up and told the story of how we had gotten hooked up with each other and then introduced Brown who got up and spoke for a few minutes, basically conveying his excitement about being on the project, saying very kind things about me and the music...and then he introduced me. I went up to the stage and took a seat, cracked a joke and went into the first song, "Pleased". It went well, I think. Then I gave my testimony about coming to the decision to make a CCM record and then sang "Empty Me". I think it went over really, really well. Like I said, I think this might be our big song for this record.

After we got done, many of the sales reps took pics with me and encouraged me that they thought "Empty Me" was a big hit. That's encouraging because it is these guy's jobs. So, I left that feeling very encouraged and good about our chances of breaking in the CCM market. If you have sales guys behind you, you have a great chance of getting great retail space. So, "schmoozing" is a good thing.

We got back to the studio and worked on "Empty Me" (oddly enough) and laid down some really great sounding big guitar parts that filled out the choruses. Seriously, when it hits that chorus, it just feels huge. I can't wait for you to hear it. Stuff is sounding big and huge and Brown is just doing an incredible job of making things sound really, really great.

I should finish guitar parts tomorrow and start vocals on Friday. It's a good possibility I could be done with my parts of the recording with Brown by next week. I'm step closer to you guys hearing some music.

By the way...someone asked if it was possible for me to post the new recordings...unfortunately I can't put out the actual produced tracks until the record comes out just for copyright issues. Well, we may put some stuff up on myspace a month or so before the album comes out, but before then, it's not possible. But with that said, I'm counting down the days to you hearing this music.

Studio Blog 6 (12-11-07)

We got to the studio once again bright and early...10am comes early when you had a 13 hour day the day before. We immediately got to work on "In a Moment". Last night we had gotten the loop and acoustic guitars done for "In a Moment", so we had what we needed to do piano, drums, bass and guitars. Because we had the basic outline for the song already mapped out, and because this song is more along the lines of the AC stuff that these guys normally play, the song went really, really quickly. By noon we had the song done, including punching in everything that wasn't quite right the first time around.

On "In a Moment", we ended up actually keeping a lot of the piano parts that we had on the original, but it's more as a lead part on top of the rhythm, as opposed to THE rhythm part, so it feels similar but not the same as the HPF album's version. The drum part that Dan played was incredible...the real churny part on the bridge sounds so much better with "real drums"...the HPF album was all real drum parts, but we programmed them all to make them sound better. Having "real drums" adds so much harmonically to the part.

Mitch came in from the beginning which is always great...he and I have become really great friends, which is incredible and, I think, rare. After we finished with "In a Moment" we went to lunch at a local Irish Pub. We had eaten there once last week and once again it was incredible...I got chicken this time around though (last time I got a prime rib sandwich).

We went back to work and started on "Cry Tonight". Cry is staying pretty much the same, so we played the demo and immediately got to work. Brown noticed there was a similarity in the notes used in Know and Cry Tonight, so we had Jerry change his basic part on the intro. That was really the only serious change we made. We began work on that song and within another couple of hours we had the track done. Jimmy Lee did some bass parts after the fact, but by 4pm, we had the track done.

And we moved on to the last song for the tracking session: "Empty Me". More and more, as I've performed the song out, we feel like this song has the makings of being a big single for us...obviously you never know how something will work at radio, but people have really, really been reacting to the song, so that is always encouraging.

We began working on the track and took some time to decide on which tempo to go at. The demo was at 70bpm and we tried it at 71 & 72, but ultimately came back to the tempo that we had on the demo Clint and I did a few weeks ago. As soon as we got the tempo set up, the song started to really come together, all the way up to chill bump levels.

As we got to work, Blair and Brown had the idea to make the verses (which start on a minor chord) a little more haunting. So, Blair made the piano part a (and I hate to say this) little more Evanescense-esque. But it worked, really well. And now when you get to the chorus, it just explodes. It really sounds great.

We finished up around 9pm and I headed another studio day tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Studio Blog 5 (12-10-07)


Well, my weekend from Hades is now over. I'm wasted and still fighting off the sickness...but I'm in the studio with the killer bands of killer bands right now, so I can't complain.

Today, I have Dan Needham on drums (a first call session drummer who's played on a plethora of really big CCM albums), Jimmy Lee Sloas (who has played bass on albums ranging from Point of Grace to Megadeth and produced Downhere's 2nd album), Jerry McPherson (amazing guitar player who was in one version of White Heart, if you guys ever liked them, and has literally played on hundreds of big records) and Blair Masters (a keyboard guru who has played on and programmed for tons of stuff that you would recognize), I pretty much have the masters in the studio right now.

My brother Jon is here with me, so that's kinda cool. He took off 2 days of work to come up...he went to Pensacola with Ash and me yesterday, too. I'll have a post about that trip, but it was great and interesting at the same time.

On to the session today.

I got to the studio a little late because I wasn't feeling well and when I got in, everyone was set up and ready to rock and roll. They had listened to the demo of "Running Back" and Brown had decided to start with that, and we immediately went to rocking.

We've taken several takes of everyone jamming on the song and it sounds really, really great. As with everything else, it has taken a step up from the demos. As a side note: I say that demos are crappy, but they really are pretty good for demos...but they are demos. Stuff will change from the demos because the demos are me playing everything and I am limited in my programming AND playing abilities. So, when you get incredible musicians taking my ideas and making them way way better, things start to change a little bit to a lot.

We're working on making sure everything is perfect with "Running Back" and then it's on to lunch and "Know".


Well, after lunch we started working on "Know". The band got in and started rocking pretty quickly. They listened to the song twice and worked out specific drum patterns and guitar sounds and then went to work.

One thing about these guys is that it's obvious they've all worked together a good bit so they know each other really well...lots of joking around, lots of stories, lots of joint stories...all of this adds up, though, to a lot of not recording. So, "Know" took for-freaking-ever to lay down. Plus, this band works a little differently than the other studio bands worked. Jimmy, the bass player likes to wait till everything is down, then go in and record his part. So, once the Dan and Jerry got their parts (through several overdubs and punching), then Jimmy would go and do his it just took longer.

Brown was very kind to my production of the HPF album and very little is changing about the 4 songs from that record (3 that he is doing). "Know" is basically the exact same as the HPF recording, except it will simply sound better than the recording we did on $500 worth of equipment. The arrangement and feel are the same and the players just took mine and Adam's parts and made them better. So, it sounds incredible.

I couldn't be happier with how "Know" is sounding.

After we finished with "Know", Jerry, Blair and Jimmy were able to leave because we were done with them for the day. Dan stuck around for a while to work out a drum loop for "In A Moment". He laid down a nice little loop (after several tries that Brown and I didn't think quite worked) and then he headed out. Brown gave Stephen Leiweke a call to come and lay down soem acoustic, and we ordered pizza while waiting. Stephen got in and set up and after dinner we got to work.

When I originally wrote "In a Moment", I actually wrote the song for Phil. The HPF album was completely done, I thought, when I went to Hollywood week and Phil and I hit it off as roommates during Hollywood week, and I offered to write some songs for him. I wrote him 3 songs..."In a Moment" was 1 of them. I recorded the demo for the song (the track that ended up on the HPF album minus Adam's lead guitar and the strings) and was going to send it to Phil. Adam came over and started working on some mixes and saw the file for "In A Moment" and immediately asked what it was for...I told him and he replied that I would be stupid to give up that song. I let several people listen and they all agreed that I couldn't give that song to anyone. Because of the restrictions with Idol, I didn't feel like I should do any more recording, so we kept that arrangement, even though I really would've done another arrangement for the record than what we did.

So, all that to say: Phil didn't get the song and now that we're re-recording the song, we're doing a little bit of a different arrangement. Instead of piano based, the song is going to be acoustic and loop based...think more "I Could Not Ask For More" kind of feel, but more rocking. If that makes sense.

Anyway, Stephen is recording acoustic guitar part #2 right now. It's almost 10pm. I'm wasted. Should be done in an hour or so. Hopefully I'll be in bed by midnight. Then it's back here tomorrow bright and early.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Studio Blog 4 (12-5-07)


I woke up and headed off to the studio. I am tired...this week has been packed with a lot of stuff. 3 long recording sessions in a week, plus a show, plus pre-production. Then tonight I leave for Greenville, SC for a show tomorrow morning for the Meyer's Cancer center, and then tomorrow night I'm getting with Don to work on string arrangements and to hang out a little bit. Friday we're then waking up early and heading off from Greenville to Chatanooga, TN to sing for my cousin's wedding. Then, after the morning wedding, Sarah and I are driving back to Nashville, and at 7pm a private plane is picking, Sarah, Ash and I up at a local airstrip and we are all flying to Pensacola for me to play a solo acoustic show for Marcus Pointe Baptist Church in Pensacola that just worked out at the last minute. Then Monday & Tuesday of next week, I have 2 more tracking sessions at the same place I've been at for these 2 sessions. So, it's 8 days of craziness.

But it's good craziness.

Anyway, I picked up Ash and we headed off to the studio. We got there around 10 and immediately started to load stuff from my hard drive to the session tracks. We are working on "I'm Clean", "Love Is Raining Down" and "Waiting For You" with Will Owsley producing, and Will likes a lot of the pre-production stuff I have in the demos, so we just imported some of the synth and keyboard stuff into these sessions. As soon as I walked in the door, we quickly took care of that.

Right as we were starting on the first song, my manager, Mitch came in to hang out for a while. Mitch and I have gotten to be great friends, so it's always nice to have him around. He was playing skippy at work to come hang out and listen for a while.

Jim Bogios, the drummer for Counting Crows now (and he's played with Sheryl Crow for years, as well as Dixie Chicks and several other major bands), and I hung out for a while as Will got stuff hooked up and ready. Seriously, Counting Crows has been one of my favorite bands for a long time (at one point they were all I listened to) and Adam Duritz has long been a songwriting hero of mine, so to have the drummer that Adam picked for his band playing on my record is an honor and extremely awesome! And on top of all that, Jim Bogios is just a cool, laid back cat who's just a great hang.

Will had lost a bunch of stuff because his Mac crashed so he hadn't had a chance to work out his bass parts, so we decided that today would be just a Jim Bogios day.

The first song we started on was "I'm Clean". We took a couple of minutes to make sure the sound were great and then Jim started to playing. After the first take, we had what we needed. For safety's sake, we took one more take, but when we comped the two takes together, we used the first take and something like 2 bars from the second take. Amazing.

Session players in Nashville are incredible players, but for the most part they are very safe's really hard to talk a session player into just rocking out, which is good...for the most part you want session players to not detract from singer/songwriter they are playing for. Jim, though, can do that, but comes from a band situation where he's able to show off a little more, which was exactly what I was looking for. He came in and just ROCKED the FREAK OUT!!! So much energy and so in the pocket. I'm in love with Jim Bogios's drumming.

After we finished with "I'm Clean" we immediately went into "Love Is Raining Down". As we were taking the first pass through the song, a rack mount broke on Jim's drum set, so we took an early lunch. Mitch, Steve (the engineer), Ash and I walked down to an Irish pub for lunch while Jim and Will ran off to Fork's Drum closet to grab something to fix the drum set.

We ate and and ran back to the studio. Soon after we got back, Jim and Will got back and we immediately started tracking. For the loops we decided to create live loops with Jim playing, but do some wacked out EQ and compression to make it sound distorted and loopy. So, we decided to break up the drums and "loops". We first took 2 takes of drums and had all that we needed. Once again, Jim nailed it like crazy. Then we took 2 takes of the "loops" after Steve had changed a bunch of settings and now we're comping those together to make a track.


We started working on "Waiting For You" about 30 minutes and we have what we need. Simply incredible. Jim Bogios went in and nailed an extremely complex drum part in 1 take. I seriously have never worked with a drummer as freakishly great as Jim. We're just listening and comping and then I'm going home. Shortest studio day yet. Amazing.

I can't wait for you guys to hear this.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Studio Blog 3 (12-4-07)

I woke up early again today and went and worked out. I drove home, took a shower and jumped in the car to go pick up Ash. I got Ash and we headed off, getting Stephen's a few minutes after 11. Stephen was listening to "Pleased" when we got there, trying to figure out what else it needed. After a few listens we figured out it just needs some guitar parts done by Stephen later on. These 2 days of overdubs are specifically for trying to get as much stuff from me as possible, so Stephen's stuff will have to wait, if possible. So, we moved on to "Something Beautiful".

"Something Beautiful" took a really great still has an 80's vibe, but instead of 80's pop, it's more like 80's pop/rock. The little synth intro is gone and replaced by a big guitar/bass riff. It's real punchy and cool.

Today, we sat down and started off with Stephen laying down a rhythm part. I would normally play it but the part is a little more complex than usual, and after a couple of tries, we decided that Stephen should go ahead and lay down the part just for time's sake. He went to work and after a few takes, he had the part. I sat down at the keyboard and laid down a nice little piano part. As soon as I figured out the part, I laid down the part and then we added some effects to it to mess it up a little. We changed the piano sample from a grand piano to an upright piano...for those who don't know: grand piano would sound a more like 70's & 80's Elton John...upright sounds like John Lennon's "Imagine" or some Coldplay stuff. The upright sounds a little dirtier. After we figured out the sample, we put a distortion on the piano, which made it a little more dirty. Then we added an echo delay, which finished up the "messing up" of the sound.

I then moved on to a synth part. Stephen just got this new program called MiniMonsta. It's a synth based program that samples all the great Moog sound from the 70's and 80's. It has a ton of presets to start with and like 20 knobs that you can then turn to change the synthesis and the way the sound is produced. It has filters and knobs just like a regular Moog, so you can really get great, great synth sounds that other programs I've messed with have failed to recreate.

I started off laying down a synth part on the verses. The part was just a simple one part melody that was contrapuntal to the verse melody and I moved on to the pre-chorus part, which was an arpeggiated melody that fit really nicely under the melody. We listened to it a few times and really felt we loved the synth part and Stephen added a really, really simple melody on the chorus underneath the vocal melody.

Stephen then went to work on another big rhythm guitar part. He laid that one down a little slower because it was vital for this specific part to be exact. It's a little crunchy chunky part he did with a strat through an old 70's Marshall head that kind of had that Police "Every Breath You Take" vibe to it on the verses. On the choruses, he did an octave part that kind of added some movement in the choruses. It was really cool.

I then got an idea to double the bass part on the verses with a synth bass. We got this really great 80's-sounding synth bass with a great filter sound (you can hear it opening up and down). On top of the real bass it gave it this really cool Maroon 5 or 80's pop/rock sound.

As we finished that up, Stephen went to work on some more guitar parts. Sarah stopped by and she stayed for a little bit while we worked. While we working I uploaded a bunch of photos from the first day of studio work on myspace. I also played some Tiger Wood's Golf on PSP.

I had to leave a little early because I had a show tonight. One of the larger booking agents in town also has a sports side of things. They were having a banquet tonight to celebrate a piece of their side of things where they put on Faith Nights at sporting events. They were meeting with well-to-do people to contribute to their idea, as they just moved from a 'for-profit" to a non-profit. They wanted to give the meeting the feel of a Faith night, so they had music and a testimony from a Christian pro athlete. I was the music.

I sang 3 songs and it went really, really well. And now I'm back at home and I'm going to bed early. I work out again tomorrow morning and then it's off to the big studio again for my tracking session with Will Owsley. Tomorrow is really cool...Jim Bogios, the drummer for Sheryl Crow for several years and now the drummer for Counting Crows (which is of course one of my favorite bands) is flying in from San Fransisco to play on these 3 songs! I am pumped!!!

Anyway, today was a great day. We got a lot done.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Studio Blog 2 (12-3-07)


I woke up this morning bright and early and went and worked out with my trainer. We worked hard for our hour and then it was home to shower up quickly. As soon as I got dressed, I packed up the rest of my guitars and loaded them into my SUV, along with 3 amps and then it was off to pick up Ash at 10:30. I got him and his equipment and it was up 65N to Stephen's studio.

We got to the house a little after 11am and proceeded to unload all of my stuff. Loading and unloading is the bane of my musician's existence. One day, down the road, I will hire many men to carry my stuff in, but for now Stephen and Ash's help will have to do. Soon after we got unloaded, Steve Bishir, the main engineer for the record came by and brought an expensive mic for us to use on guitars...he also helped make sure that the "sounds" were just right. Stephen is a pro, so of course everything was great, but hoops must be jumped through for the main engineer. After he was satisfied with sounds, Steve headed off to have a day off and Stephen and I got to work, with Ash filming as we went along.

We set up and decided to work on "Pleased". We started off with me doing rhythm electric guitars. I sat down and started working with my Tradition Les Paul and Stephen decided that we needed to give it some love, so we took it down to his workshop and he worked on setting the guitar up. Once that was finished, we began working on guitars and, to be honest, for some reason I was struggling.

The thing I'm realizing quickly that a label record has to be even more perfectly precise than an indie record has to. We are taking pains to make sure everything is perfect. I would lay down a guitar part and 1 note would be off and we'd do the whole thing again....incredibly frustrating. But you know once I finally got the entire song 3 hours later, it was worth the work because it sounded awesome.

Brown showed up right before lunch, as I was finishing up the 1st part. He gave his approval on what was happening, and then, after I'd finished, we all went to lunch at a Greek restaurant not too far from Stephen's place. It was fantastic. I got a small meal, so I was able to eat great food but watched how much I ate, so I felt good about it.

After lunch, Brown headed off and left Stephen and I to our devices. I doubled my guitar part with another guitar and different tone and that went a lot quicker. 30 minutes later, we had the doubled guitar part and it was on to listening and fleshing out extra parts.

We listened through trying to figure out what was needed. We do know we need bgv's and maybe strings. Stephen will do some lead guitar work later on, but for now, we just decided we needed some synthy stuff to make it feel different than your normal pop/rock song on the radio. So we added one part to the verses and the end of the bridge, and then for the last hour or so have been working on the lead parts on the intro and turn-arounds.

Everything is sounding great.

Around 6pm, we moved on from "Pleased" feeling like we had everything we needed with the exception of some guitar parts that Stephen will do later. We moved onto "Potential". The new arrangement of this one doesn't leave a lot of space for tons of guitars, since it's a little more ethereal, so we tried to figure out what else it needed. We messed around with some synthy stuff and then decided to go ahead and record 1 guitar part. I pulled out my telecaster and ran it through Stephen's old AC30 Super Reverb, which sounds incredible. I tuned my guitar down to drop D and laid down a little distorted part that sounded kinda cool (in the mix, you'll probably barely be able to hear it, but it'll be there).

After we finished that guitar part, we worked on some keyboard stuff. I wrote a little line that I played at first in Reason and then we transferred it over to a Pro Tools program called Velvet, which is a sample-based program that sounds exactly like old electric pianos (Rhodes, Wurlies, etc.). It added a little counterpoint to the vocal, which was what the verses needed.

After we'd listened to see if anything else was needed, we closed up shop for the night and I headed home. Can't wait for you guys to hear everything.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Studio Blog 1 (11-29-07)


My wife told me that yesterday and today, I've acted like a schoolboy on their first day of school.

I got up bright and early and got dressed, then proceeded to load up 2 amps, a speaker cabinet, 3 electric guitars and 1 acoustic (my trusty Taylor) into my Jeep. After I loaded up, I drove over and picked up Ash, who is filming the recording process. We stopped by Mickey D's for breakfast, then headed on to the studio. I got to the studio at 9am and unloaded all my stuff, getting set up for the day.

We got started a little after 10, with us all in a room hammering it out. Will Denton is playing drums and Joey Canaday is playing bass. These two guys were requested by me because they were in Steven Curtis Chapman's band for a while and I had met Will a couple of times. Stephen Leiweke, who is co-producing, played guitar and Jason Walker, who I co-wrote "I'm Clean" with is playing piano.

We listened to the song once and then went in to the big room to begin whittling away the arrangement to make it perfect. We took a measure out here, 2 measures out there and we changed one thing here and there, and we had the arrangement. We tracked the song 5 times and we had what we needed.

After we tracked it a couple of times, we saved my scratch vocal and I went to playing electric guitar, adding some umph underneath. But, after 2-3 times of me playing with the band, we had what we needed. And it was off to lunch.

After lunch we came back and fixed 2-3 trouble spots and suddenly, "Pleased" is finished and ready for overdubs. It sounds incredible already! We're getting ready to start on "Potential".

We started working on "Potential" and decided that we didn't like the feel of the song. So, we spent the last couple of hours reworking that song. We sped it up a little bit and moved Jason over from Piano to Rhodes through a distortion pedal and made the whole song just feel more mature. It's really, really different, but it's exciting to hear the difference. And it feels way better. It doesn't necessarily rock more, but it's a little more driving.

The players I'm working with are incredible. I've caught myself a few times almost laughing because it's so exciting to be around incredible musicians. They hear the song once and jump in and kill it.

It's incredible.

Well, the next song up was "Something Beautiful". We started working on it about 5:30pm and immediately Joey, the bass player, started messing around with a riff taken from the chord structure that we all thought was pretty cool. Stephen started to mimic it on guitar and pretty soon we had a riff to build the song around. We figured out the feel of the song after the riff and then started tracking to nail it down.

I laid down a couple of vocal tracks until we had a scratch track that was good enough and then I went out and played guitar on a couple of takes. My guitar part is down and now I'm listening to the guys track another take as I sit here and type.

Seriously, the songs have all taken turns for the better from my crappy demos (well, I would hope so). I'm excited to see how they end up over the next few days as we add guitars and keyboards and vocals.

I spent a lot of money today.

But it was completely well-spent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Studio - pre-production

Today, I head off to Brown Bannister's studio to work on pre-production of the first 3 songs we're recording.

I was supposed to start recording on Monday with another producer, but some things didn't fall into place, so he wasn't able to start working yet. So, Thursday is the day we start tracking.

I will have my computer with me in the studio and keep a running update of what's going on throughout the day. We've decided on the 12 songs and a possible 13th. I wrote or co-wrote all 13 songs. And I'm excited about the material.

The first 3 songs we're working on will be a co-production of Brown Bannister and my good friend Stephen Leiweke.

They will be:

Are You Pleased?
Something Beautiful.

So, tomorrow, I'll start my studio blogs.

I can't wait!!!

P.S.: Go check out the new version of Hero on and tell me what you think. It's way different...but Brown thought the old version was a little 80's, so I took another pass at the arrangement. It's a little slower and piano based.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

Well, is it obligatory? Or is it needed? Probably not. The world isn't a better place because I ramble about life and the music business on the internet in my own little corner of the world. But you know, I'm better and my life is better because of this little blog. So, I guess thanksgiving is in order.

1) I am eternally grateful for the last year of my life. July 28, 2006, I made it past the first round of American Idol because a songwriter/publisher from Nashville, TN named LeAnn Phelan saw through my blunder of singing an original song and heard my voice and caught the vision for an image and an attitude I would carry until the 1st week of the semi-finals. So, I'm thankful that she saw past a fat guy in a little coat and put me on to the next round.

2) In February-May of 2006, I worked at BMW Manufacturing putting exhausts and bumpers on Z4's and X5's. I developed carpal tunnel and my hands were in so much pain that I literally could not squeeze a guitar. Scary for a guitar player. I then moved to a great job from May until I left for Idol at Level One, leasing apartments all across the nation. That job was an answer to prayer. And if I hadn't had that job, I could never have taken the time off to try out for Idol. So, ultimately God had a plan through all of this. So, I am thankful that it all was worked out for me to have a chance to make it on American Idol.

3) I am thankful for the fans who have been with me from day one. I remember reading my name on the internet before anyone had even seen my audition. I remember after my audition seeing on the American Idol boards people writing Sligh-kus and being fascinated and honored that people would take time to think about me, nonetheless write poems about me. And to have some of those same people (plus a lot more!) posting here on a regular basis is encouraging, exciting and humbling. So, thank you guys.

4) I am thankful for the lifetime friends that I have made through this process. It started with Rudy Cardenes. Then Blake and Phil entered the picture in Hollywood week (Phil & I were roommates and Rudy, Blake and I hung out all week long). Then at top 24, Sundance Head became a close friend, as well as Chris Richardson. Melinda and I hit it off the last day of Hollywood and got stuck in the Houston airport together for 5 hours with delayed flights. Gina and I hit it off immediately and stayed fast friends. Sanjaya took some time to grow on me, but became a close friend over the summer. And lately Haley has become a good friend of Sarah and mine. I could go on to everyone in top 10 or top 12, but I think the point is made. I went into it focused on relationships, and though I will readily look back and admit, I lost sight of that for a time, it is nice to come out on the other side with relationships being the most important thing to take away from this experience.

5) I am incredibily grateful for my management team. Mike Blanton and Mitch White have become close friends and I could not have gone through this whole signing process without them by my side telling me everything was going to be okay. I could not have made it past the freak outs that no one outside ever knew about without them patting me on the shoulder and telling me that it was all going to work out for good, even when it looked like nothing was happening or things were moving incredibly slow. They helped me to trust that God was in control. And I wasn't. How comforting is that. No one, including myself (no matter how much I try to convice myself otherwise) wants this idiot in charge. Of anything. Except this blog.

6) I am thankful to my family. My parents were in a tough spot. They are in an incredibly conservative religious denomination. Their peers would not see the good in their son (no matter how old) being a part of American Idol (if for no other reason but that it has the world Idol in the name). Yet, they were positive and encouraging and interesting all the while keeping their personal beliefs and standards intact. I can't imagine how tough it is to see your child go in a different direction than you had hoped, but my parents could not have done a better job of loving through the differences. So, I thank God for them.

7) Finally, and most importantly...Sarah. Good Lord, I don't know what I could've done without Sarah. She comforted me and consoled me and encouraged me through a process that was very tough and emotionally challanging. I went home way earlier than anyone predicted and, though I can see the good in that now, at that point it was a struggle and there was a lot of hurt. Sarah was there. Sarah is the most unselfish woman I can imagine. She would work 55 hours a week while I was on the show so that she could break away for 3 days to come see me once every 2 weeks. She literally and figuratively held down the fort. She was my rock. From a financial standpoint, I could not have followed this dream without her working hard to pay the bills back home. Sarah is the love of my life. She is perfect in every way. I am undeserving of her love. And on top of it all, she's hotter than heck. And I get to spend every night with her. How great is my life!

So, that's my list of thanksgiving. There's so much more that I could be thankful for, but words don't suffice. Thse simple words can't convey my heart, but at least I tried.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just when things couldn't get any better....

Well, I'm sitting on my couch, watching football, my foot propped up by 3 pillows. Friday morning I woke up and got out of bed and crumpled because I couldn't put any weight on my left foot. I went the whole day in pain, but could put a little weight on my foot from time to time. Sarah and I went to see Steven Curtis Chapman and Sanctus Real play here in Nashville (more on that later) and by the end of the night, I couldn't walk any more. I woke up yesterday morning and my foot was swollen and bruised and I could no longer walk. In probing around my foot, I have found that the pain is coming from the bone coming from my 4th toe (the one next to the pinky toe). In playing sports, I have had sprains, I have had tendon strains. But this pain is much different...I asked some people who have been through stress fractures to describe it and also read some stuff online, and I'm pretty sure it's a stress fracture. From what I understand, with a stress fracture, they pretty much tell you to stay off of it, and you can get a booty if you I don't really want to spend the money to go to the doctor. So, I'll be on crutches for a few days. And I'll be doing a lot of icing and heating of my foot.

Anyway, the bad is out of the way.

Friday was a great day (outside of my foot killing me). My friend Ash, who is doing my video stuff, was coming into town for a few days to do some video stuff with Sanctus Real, a Christian band. Sanctus Real is on tour right now opening up Steven Curtis Chapman with Bethany Dillon. Anyway, the tour's Fall leg was ending here in Nashville, so Ash invited us to the show. We showed up before the show and hugn out backstage with Sanctus and got to know those guys a little bit. We watched Sanctus's show and then Ash went back with the band to do some video stuff during Steven Curtis's show. Sarah and I stayed out for the show.

Steven Curtis Chapman is on my list of heros. Ultimately the decision to make a CCM record came down to the fact that 3 of the records that I looked at as life-changing were Steven Curtis Chapman albums. As he went through a list of his hits and some songs from his newly released album, I realized I was singing along with every song and knew every word. It was great to see SCC again in had been probably 5 years since my last concert with him.

Afterwards, we went out to Sanctus Real's bus and hung out for about an's funny musicians usually don't watch AI, but are fascinated by the show and what it does, so the band had quite a few questions about the was fun to talk about it. We talked about my record coming up, and about their record they just finished. That was fun.

Then Sarah and I went up to the meet and greet with SCC. It was great. In line was SCC's keyboard player Scott Sheriff...we talked for a long time just about everything (he's been with SCC for a long, long time), and decided we should hook up and hang out, so that'll be fun. Then we finally got to SCC. It was the most surreal thing...SCC comes, knows who I am, and thanks me for doing Christian songs on the show. Weird...I will never get used to people who I have loved for a lifetime knowing my name. I thanked Steven for his ministry in my life and told him that I was working with Brown (who produced most of Steven's biggest albums). We talked for a coupla minutes and then took a picture. It was one of the best experiences of anything that has happened through this whole thing...I got to meet SCC!

Yesterday, I woke up and was in a lot of pain with my foot. So I took some painkillers and they made me a little woozy. I was supposed to meet Clint Lagerberg to write at 10am, but I called him and we put it off till after lunch. So, laid down to take a nap. Then, I went and ate lunch with Ash and a tv host named Logan. After lunch, Ash and I went to Clint's house, where we worked on a country song for Phil. Ash filmed the whole thing, which was interesting. It's tough to ignore the camera. Clint and I got 2/3 of a great, great song that reminds of a Hank Williams Jr. type song. Clint and I will finish it on Tuesday.

I got home, and rested my foot a little bit then Sarah and I went to dinner with Mitch, my manager, and his fiancee Suzanna. It was a great, great time. We stayed till almost 12, just getting to know them better and talking about life, and some music. It was a lot of fun. Suzanna broke her foot this summer so she had crutches, so after dinner, we went to her house and grabbed the I have crutches now.

So, that was the last few days. Good times.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yesterday * Today

Yesterday, I had a writing session with a guy named Jason Walker. I was a little worried because I had never heard any of his songwriting and was worried that we wouldn't hit it off. My fears were quickly relieved, however. Yesterday was a great, great day.

Jason is a mainstream artist who happens to be signed to Word publishing. He is seeing some pretty good success with getting some stuff into tv and film stuff, even though he's not signed to a label. We started off by listening to some music then moved into writing. Jason is a piano guy, and a great, great piano guy, so he had a couple of ideas that we screwed around with. The first one was an upbeat piano rocker. We worked on a lyric for a while and just didn't find anything we loved. We went to lunch and hung out for a while, then decided to go lay down tracks for both of the songs at my house.

We drove to my place where we layed down the basic tracks for both songs, then we hung out a little while and just talked. We ended up really starting to develop a friendship so that was really great.

Go check out his myspace/jasonwalkeronline. He's got some stuff up there and it's great. It looks like for my Spring tours that Jason will be going along as my keyboard player and will be opening up for me. So, if that works out, that's gonna be awesome.

That night, Phil, Kendra and the kids and Haley came over for dinner. My wife made an incredible dinner for us - seriously she outdid herself. We had a great time just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. It's funny how these people who I didn't even know a year ago have become like family.

After dinner, I went up to my studio and worked on the lyric for the first song with Jason. And I think I wrote one of the best, if not the best lyrics I've ever written. It was one of those that just happened really quickly and just felt great. I emailed it to several people involved with the project and several songwriting friends and the response was incredible...the song is called "I'm Clean" and it will definitely be on the record and is being discussed as the first single.

This morning I headed over to Brown's house to discuss more intense stuff with the record. We sat down and listened to the 13 songs and he threw a couple of other songs back onto the table for discussion. We talked through production ideas and how the record will flow with having 3 producers and how to make all that work. We talked about different production ideas, also, in the sense of how to take each of my songs and make the feel different from each other and for the album to take the listener on a journer for that 40 minutes they are listening. It was a great, great conversation.

One exciting note from the Brown meeting was that he told me that apparently word had gotten around town that I was working with him, and he'd received calls from a few songwriters wanting to write with me.'s so fun being able to write and be a musician for a living.

Then I went over and wrote with a guy named Ian Eskilin. I was toast from the last couple of days and I'm starting to come down with some kind of we didn't end up writing a song, but we have a couple of killer ideas that we're gonna get together in the next couple of weeks to flesh out.

Finally, tonight, Sarah and I went with Phil and Kendra to a big fundraiser for Rocketown, which is a teen center here in Nashville that Michael W. Smith founded and helps support. It is a concert venue (Elliot Yamin played here when he came to town), a cafe and a skate park all combined. It's pretty freaking awesome. I think I'm gonna go start skating...I'll be the loser old dude trying to rekindly his love for skating.

Anyway, Ronnie Milsap played and he blew my socks off...he did a medley of several hit songs and it truly was remarkable. And Smitty debuted an instrumental piano piece he wrote. So, it was great night all in all.

Tomorrow I meet with Brown again in the morning and then head over to write with a guy named Clint Lagerberg. Clint and I met the other day when I was writing with Jason and hit it off really that'll be great fun, I think. Then at 7pm I'll be taping an interview with Way FM's syndicated show "Total Axxess"...I'll find out when it's playing and let you guys know. Then after that I have a photo shoot. So tomorrow is a long day. But I'm thinking it's gonna be a great day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A special note

Every now and then I get notes from people just saying thanks for inspiration and for songs and what not. Obviously they mean a ton to me. When I get a note from a fan, especially something specific, it makes what I do worth everything. This is a note from a fan over on myspace that I shall keep anonymous, per our agreement. But this was a great note. From time to time I'll share these kind of notes. This one is very special to me.

"Hey Chris...

I am sitting here at my computer, trying very hard to muster up some words that sound half intelligent. There are so many things I need to say, but for you to understand, I suppose I will have to start at the beginning. So, if you will, please bare with me. Hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

I will start of by saying that, ever since your Seal song in the AI auditions, I found something incredibly appealing about you. Your voice was unique, your sense of humor was a light in the sometimes serious mood of the contest, and I loved how God seemed to shine through you. I am 16, a sophomore in high school, and currently working towards confirmation. I am so excited to be thought of as an adult in the Church. I have become much more spiritual throughout this process, which also excites me. And yes - this all relates to you. I read your blogs often, Chris, but I tend to just sit back and read, rather than comment. But, I did see your blog about songs a few weeks ago, and decided to come by and check them out! Just let me tell you, that I have had many songs that touched me for one reason or another, but I have never, and I mean NEVER, had any song touch me as much as "Empty Me Of Me" has. The message is so powerful to me, especially since I am going through a "spiritual reinvention", if you will. I don't want to waste your time, but I just wanted to let you know that I love what you are doing, and I will back you up 100% of the way. I honestly think that your music was a gift from God, meant to help me through this journey of mine. So thank you, and please keep it up. And keep letting God shine through you as he does.

Love and Happiness

I wrote this person back and let her know that this kind of note makes a song like Empty Me mean even more to me than it already does.

So, thank you all for your support and love.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


So, I get emails from Fox Broadcasting with news about tv shows and stuff like that. I guess it's one of the "perks" of being part of the Fox family. But I just got an email from Fox talking about the 2 hour Prison Break...that I watched 5 hours ago. Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose to send out a "news" email AFTER the news has happened.

Anyway, moving on from that rambling.

I felt like I had a pretty solid grasp of the way record deals worked because of my experience before the show. I had had label interest and had built relationships for years. I thought I had been really close to record deals int he past, but now that my deal is a lawyer's once over and my signature away from being official, I realize how far I was from being actually signed. It's interesting...I was closer than most people ever get, but so far away.

Basically, when I finally decided what I wanted to do with a label (and decided to go with a label instead of doing my own thing), I then decided which label I wanted to be a part of. Once I made that decision, my management went to said label and began more formal discussions (when you're courting, you talk in general terms). At this point, the formal discussions talk about deal terms: production budget, personal advance, promotions budget, how many records, etc. Then, once the label gets an idea of what we're looking for, they send over a deal.

The label I'm signing with literally does 1 page deals. To put it in perspective, the deal I signed with 19 Entertainment after Hollywood week was close to 90 pages...and that wasn't even an actual record deal. Anyway, the 1 page deal basically breaks down the 90 pages to what's important. Anyway, the label sent over a deal outlining everything. They started off on the low side of things, knowing that we would negotiate up.

Over the last couple of weeks, the deal was negotiated, and I can honestly say that everything I've asked for in this deal, I have gotten. I got the production budget I wanted. I got the advance I wanted. I got the number of records I wanted. I got the promotions promise that I wanted. Literally, my label has come through in spades!

The deal I'm signing is a 3 record deal. It guarantees 2 with the label's option for the 3rd. So, America will definitely get 2 albums from Chris Sligh. I'm hoping that the 3rd is a no-brainer, because that will mean that we have been successful from a sales and/or touring standpoint. The thing that is nice about this kind of deal is this: most major label deals are 1 + 5 deals...this means, you're guaranteed to make 1 record and the label has the option for 5 more. Basically, you're tied up for what equals to about 10 years. With my deal, I'm tied up for about half that time. Now, you may ask why that's important.

Well, it's a double edged sword, of course, but like I said if I make it to the third record, it means we've seen some success. If we see enough success, it may be in my best interest 5 years from now to form my own indie label (or sign to my own label, if I already have one). Or I can possibly sign with a larger company. Or sign to a deal with the same label again, but this time with even better terms (and believe me, I don't know that the terms of the contract could get much better). So, it simply gives me options earlier in my career than a major label deal.

Anyway, I hope you can tell: I'm excited. I was in Wal-Mart with Sarah today (we were getting the oil & battery changed on Sarah's car) and I checked my email on my iPhone and saw the final deal...I was very excited. One of the things that is very exciting is that there is a budget for a documentary and different video stuff. A friend of mine named Ash Grayson will be coming in to film the recording process. Ash did all of Hanson's video stuff throughout their careers till now...and he did some really great stuff. I just watched a couple of documentary's he filmed and directed and got very, very excited about how cool this video stuff could be. Ash will also be directing my music videos.

So, I will be meeting later this week with the producer of my record (Brown Bannister) to decide when we will actually begin recording. We will actually be using a lot of my demos as the outlines for the actual recordings, so I've been making sure the tempos are right, the arrangements are right and the songs are right. Right now, a big thing I'm doing is going through and making sure every lyric is as great as I can get it right now. I'm taking each lyric and rewriting what needs to be rewritten.

I'm excited about this record. I think that we have a great possibility to sell a lot of records. Obviously, nothing is promised, but I couldn't have a better team around me, from my management, to players to producers. I'm pumped.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Well, the record deal has been negotiated and has been sent back and forth and next week (fingers crossed) I'll be signing the deal. It's a great deal. Once the deal has officially been signed I'll announce the name of the label, but know this: I'm excited about the deal, I'm excited about the label and people at the label, and I'm excited about making this record. If I sign the deal next week, then Monday of the next week I should start recording. I have 3 producers that will be working on the record. Brown Bannister will be producing the whole record. He will be co-producing several songs with Will Owsley (of the band Owsley - you need to check out this was one of the bands that Blake and I connected on very, very early - we both loved the band, so it's really cool to have him work and play on this record) and several other songs with Stephen Leiweke (who produced HPF's first album). Brown is one of Christian Music's legends, so it's incredible to have him signed on for this record. He is taking a significant paycut to work on this record - it's pretty great to have someone of his stature believe in the project.

Anyway, the title of this post is "Songs". I'm going to talk about the songs that look like will make this record. I love the double meaning of make here...they will make it on the album and they will make the album. Anyway sorry for that. These are the songs that look like they'll make the album...obviously in the studio that could change, but here's what it looks like right now.

Running Back - I love this song. I rewrote the lyric with Tony Wood and rewrote the chord structure on the chorus and it went from an "off-the-radar" song to one of my favorites. The message of God's mercies being new every morning is something important to me, since I'm an idiot and need mercy & forgiveness a lot. On the 1st verse I tried to paint a picture of morning coming...there's not a lot of tension until the pre-chorus. The 1st verse is just a poetic picture of the sun rising. I don't think I've ever seen the line "Stars go down in the Western sky" or anything like it...I'm sure it's been said before, but I haven't seen it said like that. The 2nd verse talks about the idea of darkness covering up my faults, only for light to stream in, illuminating my sins. The message is definitely one I need to remind myself of. Musically, it has what I call the signature Chris Sligh brooding verses, building pre-chorus and soaring, epic chorus. I can't wait to hear what Brown does with this song.

Empty Me - I wrote this song with Tony Wood, too. This one, though, we wrote together from start to finish. He had an idea for a chorus and then we wrote about my life in the verses. It's idea that fame and fortune can tear lives apart and one can buy into their own hype. My prayer is to empy me of me and get rid of the stupid things: pride, the be filled with God. We feel like this is going to be the first never know till you get in the studio, but everyone feels really good about this one.

Know - I think this is my favorite song that I've ever written. It was on the HPF album.

In a Moment - this ballad seems to move people. It was also on the HPF album.

Cry Tonight - again...a song from the HPF album...another favorite of mine personally.

Love Is Raining Down - one of the things I wanted to make sure with this album was to walk the fine line between making an album that we can take to radio both on the CCM and the mainstream side (i.e., look at the first 5 songs) and making an album with songs that we think will work live and just rock out. This is one of the live/rockout songs. It has an aggressive dance/rock beat, an 80's synth rock sound and a lyric where I tried to describe coming out of a depression into a celebration of dancing because of love raining down on me.

Good Intentions (Loaded Gun) - this is another live/rockout songs. It is very aggressive guitar rock, again with a dance/rock beat. But what will be different with this song will be having a huge string sound on the song. The lyric basically talks about the idea that love is a loaded gun that we should let go daily but we usually hold onto. I love the line at the end of the chorus that says, "Love can change the world, but it's gotta start with my heart"...because that's where it all starts.

Somewhere - this is from the HPF album...I chose this one over some of the others from that record because it's one of those songs with the anthemic sing-along chorus that just works live. Plus it rocks faces off. And I love singing it. This was the hardest decision, honestly, from that record because there were other songs we thought about...but this one just works live, so in the end, we chose a live/rockout over other songs.

Hero - again, from the HPF album. We chose this one for possibilities in tv/film. Plus it rocks out pretty good and has always worked live.

Pleased - we're not sure on the final arrangement yet, but the message is what puts this song on the record. The idea of checking ourselves to make sure we are living like we should is an important sentiment. Melodically, this song is a favorite of mine. From a message standpoint I love it, too.

Something Beautiful - I love this song. I mean, obviously I love each song on the record, but this one just feels really great. Plus, the message of finding beauty in the things that normally beauty isn't found is a cool idea to me. It is crazy that beauty is found in 2 wooden stakes nailed together to kill a man...yet it's what my belief system is built on. There's something beautiful about that.

Grace Finds Me - I wrote this one with Chad Cates and Nate Campany, both very distinguished writers. This one is a cool little 6/8 rocker that feels really good. I love the lyric on the chorus. It's cool to look back as we thought through things that find each other like grace finds me.

Potential - This is a favorite of mine. It conveys a very personal idea of never quite feeling grown up. I think it's something that a lot of people can identify with. Plus musically, it's one of the only 2 ballads that will be on the album.

Anyway, as I said before, these could change, but right now, these are the 13 songs that I think will make this record.

And the thing that's nice is that I think you guys have heard all of these songs at one point or another...or have had the chance to hear them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dreams are built on this....

I have had a great trip so far.

Last night I got in and hung out with a pastor and his wife who have become like family to me over the past 7-8 months. We ate and watched football and then the last of the Red Sox game. It was a great night. Then I came to my place here and crashed.

I woke up early, went for a walk, watched ESPN and then headed into L.A. from Laguna, where I'm staying. I hung out with my manager for a little bit, then had a big meeting with my agent on the acting side of things. We are working on a gameplan of how to approach the acting side of things and how to make all that happen. It was a really good meeting and an encouraging one. Obviously, when it comes to entertainment, nothing is promised. But my agent is excited and encouraged after learning some of my background and the fact that I actually studied acting and the theory of acting and the method of acting. So , in turn, that was encouraging to me.

Tomorrow I have two meetings with heads of casting for major studios. Wednesday, I have 2 more meetings with studio casting heads and also with casting directors for tv.

Apparently there are several strikes looming over the entertainment industry, so tv and movies may very soon be screeching to a halt. So, it may take some time to get a series going or some movie roles nailed down. But most actors never get through these doors. All I need is for one casting director to take a chance and then I just have to deliver.

Just know this: it's going to take hard work and a lot of patience getting into acting. But I'm excited about the possibilities. Who know? I may never get the chance to do acting at this level. But there's always that chance that I can live that dream also! It's early. So bear with me.

I mean, I'm still developing the sitcom idea. Once we figure out some of this stuff with the strikes we are going to pitch the show to various networks. It's a cool idea, I think, and a somewhat novel way of looking at the sitcom genre, so it could be cool. Also, I'm developing three screenplay a drama, one a comedy, and one a family comedy/drama. I think I'm going to be hooking up with a couple of writers to work on the drama. I'm going to have to go back and look at my textbooks from my screenwriting courses from college, haha. I have the ideas, I think...I just need a technician to help me take them to the next level (or up 15 levels). I am just trying to be proactive in all of this as much as I can.

So, anyway, I'm excited, apprehensive and thankful all at once. I'm getting to live the dream. I mean, a year ago, I would've killed to walk into CAA, hang out with an agent for a couple of hours and leave with 4-5 casting appointments in hand. In fact, most young actors would kill for that. And because of one silly turn of events (me actually making it on AI), dreams are coming true.

Though I'd love to be a huge, popular, well-respected actor and would love to be able to fulfill more dreams down this road, I honestly would be okay if this was it. Today was a huge day for me, and I can live with that for a long time.

Dreams are built on hopes for tomorrow.

I'm just an optomist who can't wait to see what is waiting for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Working Feverishly

Well, I leave tomorrow morning for sunny City of Angels. I'm excited. But I am working feverishly to get caught up on demos. I wrote 8 songs this week and finished up 2 other songs. So, I have 10 demos that I'm trying to get done to throw into the mix for my record. As I said before, we have 15 that we're mulling over, but I'm hoping to write better songs to knock some of those 15 down the totem pole. I think I succeeded this week.

I wrote with Tony Wood on Wednesday and we wrote a new song and he helped me finish the lyric for another I had. The song we wrote together (well, he wrote lyrics, I wrote music) is called "Between Two Forevers" and is the idea that an end could come at any time, so we should live life to the fullest. The lyric is gorgeous. I put music to it, but am re-writing to make it even better. This lyric deserves my best shot musically. The song we finished was called "The Movement" but when we re-wrote the chorus and pre-chorus, the name changed to "Good Intentions". I really, really like it. It's very agressive musically and the lyric is really cool, and different for me. So I'm excited. I mean, we spent 4 hours just rewriting the chorus, so I hope it's good.

I wrote with Sam Mizell yesterday. Sam and I pushed out a song called "Hurts Just a Little Bit" which is a soulful piano mid-tempo rocker that talks about the idea of "if it hurts just a little bit, you're probably doing the right thing". The lyric and music on that one is really freaking cool, too. I am struggling to figure out if it fits on my record, but even if it doesn't it's one of those songs I could see getting cut really quickly. It's really cool.

Then later yesterday, I worte with a NY writer named Nate Campany and a Nashville guy named Chad Cates. We churned out a great 6/8 rocker called "Grace Finds Me". The lyric on the chorus is:

Somehow the night finds the day
Fall finds the spring, the rain finds the sea
And just as the wind finds its way
Jesus, each day
Somehow your grace finds me

I'm really excited about this one. I think this could be a strong CCM single. And that's what I'm trying to get right now. So, hopefully that works out.

Anyway, I must run to finish demos. But before I leave, I thought I'd let you know, I put "Good Intentions" up on myspace, so check it out and let me know what you think.

Also, I put up an acoustic demo of another song called "The Breakdown". Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No News Is Good News?

Haven't really had a lot on here lately, when actually my life is extremely busy of late.

Obviously, I've been writing. I just wrote another song that I'm really, really pumped about called "The Breakdown"'s about the idea that there is this weird dochotomy in life that being broken down is somehow beautiful. You can't truly love without defenses being broken down; you can't truly give yourself to something or someone without barriers being broken down; there's beauty in the breakdown.

Kevin Max and I, I think are becoming friends. How weird is it that someone I have idolized to some degree is now becoming my friend. Anyway, we're working on a couple of ideas right now that are really strong, I think. We're getting back together on Thursday to work through and hopefully finish a song or two. We may possibly involve a guy named Will Owsley who produced Kevin's Blood album and was the lead singer of the band Owsley. Owsley has become a friend also.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting with Brown, the producer who'll be producing most of my album. We are listening through songs and figuring out the 5-6 songs that are definites for the record...basically we're defining the record we're making. We'll also be talking about who will be playing on the record, who will be producing other tracks on the record, etc. So, tomorrow, hopefully, we'll have a definite vision of what this record will become.

Wednesday, I'm writing with one of my lyrical heros, at least in the CCM market, named Tony Wood. Search Tony's name and you'll find he has written songs that you know and that you love. He's a fantastic lyricist, so I'm excited to see what kind of ideas we work through. I have ideas for lyrics, but he's the technician who'll take the ideas and make them great.

Friday, I'll be working with a guy named Sam Mizell who is had like 6 number 1 CCM hits last year. This will be interesting. Sam's style of writing isn't my personal favorite, but he is great at what he does. If he's as talented as I think he is, it'll be cool to pull him to where I like to write and have him make me better while doing something different than he normally does, or maybe we'll meet somewhere in the middle.

I've been working out 3 times a week for an hour with a trainer, plus small cardio on my own on off-days. It's kind of cool to see my endurance growing quickly. I actually can run a pretty good distance now, so that's exciting. Plus my face and stomach are rapidly growing smaller, so it's nice to at least see those things tone up.

Next week, I fly to sunny L.A. to meet with publishing, labels, tv studios, casting directors and film companies. I have a busy 4 days. I also will hopefully be writing with a writer who had something like 5 number one hits on the mainstream side last year. CAA has done a great job with lining me up with people who will help me on the acting side of things while my management is chasing down some ideas on their end that look very promising. In the next few weeks, I may have some exciting news on the acting front!

Finally, it looks like my label hunt is finally coming to a close. Recently, a label has stepped up to the plate and really made it worthwhile to work with a label. There's a lot that still has to happen before a formal announcement, but let's put it this way: I'm excited. It's a label that's been in the hunt from the beginning, never fallen off and stayed true to making great music and helping me build a career off the great building blocks we have already.

So, stay tuned. My guess is that, if everything goes to plan, within a week or two, I should be announcing my label home.

So, believe me, no news is good news.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Co-writing 101

Today, I cowrote for the first time. Well, not for the first time, but for the first time successfully. I've never enjoyed cowriting. I'm very private about my writing. Ask Sarah...if I'm writing, Sarah can't even be in the same room as me. I'm weird about it. So cowriting has never really worked for me.

Today I went over to Chris Eaton's house to attempt to cowrite.

Chris is a Brit who was signed in the 80's and 90's to Reunion Records (Smitty's label), and has been a successful songwriter for a long time (he wrote a huge hit for Jaci Valasquez in "God So Loved the World"). Brown hooked me up with Chris as my first co-write session. And I'm glad he did.

We kicked butt today. I got there about 10:30am and we just hung out for a few minutes, then I let him listen to several of the songs we're sure will be on the album to give him a context of what the album will be like. He asked me if I had any musical or lyrical ideas, and I played him a little acoustic thing I had. I told him that I really didn't have a stripped down kind of song, so it'd be kind of cool to work on a piano or acoustic song. Chris is a really great piano player, so my acoustic riff quickly turned into a very nice piano riff.

Lyrically, I've been thinking about the idea of being almost 30 and feeling like I'm still a kid. When do we grow up? Those kind of questions. So, we took that idea and formed a lyric around it. The name of the song is "Potential". It's definitely the most vulnerable I've ever been lyrically and the song turned out to be one of my favorite I've ever written. So, I'm excited about that one.

After that, Chris started playing a Celtic sounding piano riff and we quickly wrote a simple worship lyric. I got the idea to put a modern rocking chorus with it and suddenly we had a song. We quickly fleshed out the 2nd verse and I threw down an idea for a bridge and within an hour, we had a great worship song...I can hear churches singing this song all over. I don't think I'll record it, but I think it could be a really big song.

So, today was a great day writing wise.

My cousin is in town, too, so that's fun to hang out with him. We're watching Monday Night Football as I write. Anyway, back to football. Cowboys better win. Romo is sucking tonight.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The New Life

Well, life has changed considerably. Sarah and I are in Nashville...well, Franklin...and enjoying life. We love our new house. We love our new neighborhood. We love our new life. It's awesome.

We have a 3 bedroom/2.5 bathroom house in a Franklin neighborhood called Fieldstone Farms. My next door neighbor is the head of Warner Brothers Christian publishing. We have a Publix and Blockbuster down the street from our house and just last night, I was stopped by a songwriter who has been a part of records that have sold 200 million records who stopped me in Publix wanting to write with me; then in the parking lot, I was stopped by the producer who co-produced the MuteMath albums just saying hey and thanks for doing MuteMath all summer. Only in Nashville.

Next week, I'm writing with a guy named Chris Eaton who has written number 1 hits on both the CCM side of things and the mainstream side of things. Wednesday I'm writing with Kevin Max. Over the next coupla weeks, I get to write with songwriting heroes like Tony Wood, Chris Rodriguez and many many more. It looks like we are going to be starting the album around November 1.

I'm also excited because over the last week or so, we've kind of moved the direction of the record from a straight up Christian record to making a crossover-type record, which is exciting for me from an artistic standpoint. On Tuesday, the producer who is producing most of the record (Brown Bannister) and I are getting together to choose the 5-6 songs that are definites for the album and then choosing 7-8 more that are possibles. Then as I write between now and November 1, we'll figure out what songs are the best 12-13 to make the record.

Last week was a frustrating time for various reasons. It's nice to be back to being excited again. I think hopeful suits me better than frustrated.

Life is good. I can't wait for music to start pouring forth and for label news to be out.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wasting Time

Well, I'm sitting out on my porch listening to the packers packing up my furniture and, I presume, getting ready to start carrying stuff out. I feel a little guilty. Sarah and I have moved 4 times since we've been married and every time it's been a stressful, miserable experience that involved me lifting a lot of boxes and carrying my wife's too heavy furniture. This time, I fell a little guilty because the movers are doing all that for me while I write a blog entry. But you know, the guilt is not enough for me to be anything but happy to be sitting writing a blog while they pack up my house.

This is the beginning of a new stage of life for Sarah and me. Sarah, I think, is going to pursue her dream of doing interior design, and it looks like we've got a place for her to work and learn. So that'll be exciting. She's an amazing designer naturally so it'll be fun for her to be able to do what she loves for a living (even if she doesn't make a lot of money at first).

I'm excited, tomorrow I start my workout regimen and, afterwards, head in to work on some finishing some of the songs I have written. I'm a little worried. I've never worked with cowriters before. Well, I have, it just wasn't a good experience. So, I've never worked with pro cowriters before. With the new songs, I feel like musically, they're really close...just the touch of a fantastic producer, I think will shore that stuff up. Lyrically, they're a little further away. I just need a technician to take my ideas and make every word perfect. So, I'll be sitting with some lyricist, showing them how the songs go and letting them work their magic. I think that this could be a big breakthrough for my songwriting. I hope...I'm nervous, but hopeful.

Wednesday, I think I'll be doing some co-writing, having a meeting with one of the producers I'm working with and then I'll be heading over to another producer's house to start work on some more intensive demos. These demos should become the basis for the album, so that will be exciting. Studio work is my favorite...I love being behind the board and creating. Obviously, the touring side of things is ultra important to me...I can't wait to get out on the road. But the creating of the music is so much freaking fun for me. So, it'll be fun to start getting more serious demos done.

Still not sure what will happen on the label side of things. The more I've researched and thought and looked into the whole indie thing, the more I think it could work. However, after all the research, too, I feel like the right label could be great, too. So, the next few weeks are going to be vital. I would have loved to have had a label decision by now, but ultimately I've come to realize that this decision is the most important, so I can't sign with a label simply to have a sense of accomplishment. It has to be the right fit. Looking at friends who have gotten signed in the past, and looking at past Idols who have gotten signed, the right label fit makes all the difference.

So, I'm sitting on the porch wasting time. Dreaming. Looking forward to the next few months. These are the good times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Copeland Farley

Copeland Farley was the baby that I spoke of in the post a few days ago that did not have long to live. After holding on for 8 days, she finally passed from this world.

Please keep my manager's family in your thoughts and prayers. The parents (my manager's daughter and son-in-law) are the same age as Sarah and I, so it has brought a lot of thoughts to Sarah and I...I can't even imagine the pain of seeing a child, especially one this young, pass away.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Well, after hearing that song at least 700 times over the summer, and having it bring back memories of my AI demise every time, I am finally home.

It's good to be with my brothers. My brother Jon is 26 and Allen is 19...they both live with Sarah and I...well, for 1 more week. Jon and I went to eat dinner with Sarah and I was able to eat at my favorite Mongolian Buffet. It was fantastic (though I think that the place we went to in D.C., Carmen, was the only place that has ever been better).

It's good to be with my puppies. L.G. & Tucker recently got fixed, so they aren't very happy with their mom and dad. Oh, well. I was tired of them peeing on everything. Well, actually, I hadn't really had to deal with it for the last year or so, but Sarah was tired of it and I talked her into allowing their nether regions to be altered.

It's good to be with my equipment. That's right I said equipment. Maybe I could say my stuff...maybe I'll just let that one go with a smile. Anyway, I have had the chance to get some fantastic equipment over the past few months and it has been waiting for me at home. So, my new guitars and new amps got a little face time with daddy today. We talked about the future and I made sure every one of them was tuned for rocking and then did a little classically-trained rocking out. It was fun. Though I was disappointed with 1 piece of equipment - a distortion pedal called the Metal Muff...I had read it could give a warm bluesy tone, but apparently all it does is Metal. And since I'm not really a Metal guitarist, I'm afraid it will end up on ebay very soon. Anyway, I was excited about that.

Finally, it's great to be with Sarah. In our house. Together. Not in a hotel. Not in the American Idol bubble. We stayed up late watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy that I downloaded on iTunes. We also watched a couple of episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. We don't have cable so I couldn't watch Monday Night Football (why, NFL, did you give it to a cable network?!!) It was probably better that I didn't because I was able to not feel remotely wussy by watching a chick show because my wife was in the room with me. Fantastic! A get out of jail free card.

Side note: I am pumped about the NFL this season. As always, I went through this last week and made my weekly predictions. This week I was 10 of 15 right...better than Boomer, right? Anyway, I love football. I love the NFL. I love Indy and can't wait to see them in the Super Bowl again. However, I should point out that the Super Bowl is going to happen in the AFC championship game, when Indy plays New England. Has anyone seen how great Moss and Brady are together? Holy crap! I hate the Pats, but Brady has never had a receiver like Moss and Moss has never had a QB like Brady. I'm saying this: if Moss stays healthy, he's going to break records this predictions are 1700 yards and 20 touchdowns. He's 30 and playing like he's 25. But I digress. Sorry non-football fans.

It's 1:45am. I should be sleeping, but I'm still used to this crazy schedule I've been on for nearly a year. Stay up late. Get up early. I'm looking forward to tomorrow being able to sleep in. Though I'm pretty sure the puppies I love right now will be hated in 6 hours when they are licking my face to release their bladders somewhere other than my pillow. But hey, the glass is half full, right?

At least I'll be home.