Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ramblings 8-30-2007

So, I'm looking at a new t-shirt I bought that is the front cover of Abbey Road by the Beatles.

Have you ever wondered if it would be quite as iconic if, say, Ringo were out of step?

I'm guessing not.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Choice

Since early 2001, I have focused on attempting to make music my career. In 2001, when I started, I felt strongly about Christian music and Christians being involved with Christian music. I was in love with the music of artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Chris Rice, Bebo Norman, Caedmon's Call, Third Day and many more. When I first started this journey, I was a straight up "Christian artist" whatever that me, it meant I sang music that the mainstream or people outside the church wouldn't "get"

I got into Christian music as a teenager (behind my parent's back) and honestly believed in it at the time. It changed my life in allowing me to see that music didn't have to be crappy to be done by Christians; that lyrics could talk of a relationship with Christ without being stupid or cheesy. I always listened to mainstream music but my main staple was always CCM (Christian Contemporary Music). However, over the last few years, I felt that CCM had made a leap into more cheesy and un-poetic (if that's a word). There were bands that broke the spell of the typical, so to speak, but for the most part, I became fed up with CCM. In the mainstream, there's as much or more bad music, but CCM is such a small world that it created the problem of not being able to find great music as often as I was on the mainstream side of things.

My band began to take off and get noticed, we had record deals on the table, but never had anything actually work out, and after 4 years of doing everything I was told to do to make it in CCM, I decided to take my band into the mainstream. It was a tough choice because at the time we were pretty consistently making $1000-3000 a show, and in the mianstream we went immediately to making nothing or at the most a couple of hundred bucks.

But immediately the band began to gain traction. In 4 months from the time we started to play shows in the mainstream, we played more "big" shows than I had in the 4 years of working the CCM industry. Then my friend talked me into trying out for AI and after making it to Hollywood, I had one of the biggest managers in the mainstream (with a list of big discoveries a mile long) contact me about the band, and ultimately decided that AI was the way to go...if I did well on American Idol instead of being a bottom of the totem pole band, trying to make it, we or I would be at the top of a label's priority list to make sure I/we were successful.

So, when I started the AI journey, I was pretty decided on being a mainstream artist or in a mainstream band. As I made it further and further in the competition, instead of thinking about all the possibilities on the mainstream, my heart kept bringing me back to CCM. It was really strange. I didn't really want to be in the CCM market, but my heart kept on returning to having something to do with it. Originally, I thought I would have a mainstream deal and just siphon the record back to the CCM market somehow. But the more I thought about it, I kept feeling that I was supposed to be a CCM artist.

It was weird...I actually felt like I was fighting God on it for a while. I really didn't want to be a CCM artist. But as I surrendered it over to God, I realized that I was passionate about making great music within the confines of CCM. In fact, this realization has happened really in the last 3-4 weeks. I have become very passionate about making music that would be equal or better than I would ever do on the mainstream with lyrics that deal honestly and freshly with my relationship with Christ.

Many people who aren't religous and who aren't "Christians" will wonder why I made this choice. Believe me, if I couldn't I wouldn't have. At one point I had multiple mainstream labels involved in the chase, but I decided several weeks ago to move on from those labels and focus on labels that would allow me to focus on a Christian record. The label's that I'm excited about are all labels that will not only allow me to make this kind of record but will allow me to succeed with this kind of record.

This last week, I met with the team that will be mine for the next few years. My management is a perfect fit. My booking agent is someone I respect and am lucky to have on my team. My day to day manager is one of the most fun guys I could ever imagine having on board. And the producer I think I'm going to be using for this first record literally produced several of my favorite CCM records of all time.

Will I sell fewer records? Probably. Will I make less money? Probably. Will this allow me to fulfill my dreams? Definitely. Will this allow me to make a career in music? Well, here's hoping.

I am lucky to be in the position of having choices to make. It doesn't make the choices any easier, but the choice has been made.

And I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for the memories

Well, today is the official day that we are released from our contracts with 19 Entertainment. I actually got word of my release a couple of days ago, but today is the official day. It's excited to move on, but it's with whimsy that I look back on the last year of my life.

I am thankful to 19 Entertainment for a lot of things. I am thankful that Nigel and the judges gave me a chance. Before Idol, I was at a place in my career where I was frustrated because, though things had happened with labels, nothing had ever quite worked out. Now, because of the show, I am signing with management that I have always dreamed of signing with and I'm about 95% sure I'm signing with the label and A&R guy that I fell in love with 5 years ago.

There were some really great times over the last year and some really crappy times, mostly of my own doing, to be perfectly honest. I put myself in stupid situations and the last few months have been great to extricate myself from some of those situations. It's nice to finally be at a place in my life where I can make choices and stand behind those choices as my own and feel confident enough to allow disagreement with those choices without defending myself. It's a nice place to be, honestly.

19 and American Idol have changed my life for the better. And for that I am eternally thankful.

I am glad to have had this experience.

I am now looking forward to putting this behind me and making a great record and touring on the validity of that record. As I said in the previous post, I have 3 new demos up on myspace. Check them out and listen while I'm able to have them up there. Please continue to come here...I'll have new content up soon.

And thank you for being with me on this incredible journey.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ramblings for the day (8-8-07)

So, 2 days ago, I started a ramblings about Chuck's. I think I'm going to make this a feature of my blog. Sometimes I just think of really stupid things and feel like making a blog about it. I'll call it ramblings.

Today's rambling:

Today, as Rich, Mindy Doo and Kiki were singing "I Heard It Though the Grapevine" I thought through the lyrics. The lyric on the 1st verse says:

"Oh, I bet you wonder how I knew
Baby, 'bout your plan to make me blue"

And it got me thinking about the word "blue". If I wrote a song today that included the word "blue" in that context, I think it would be thought of cheesy and over the top...I think mainly because the word "blue" is not really used in that sense in our vernacular today. However, I got to thinking...when Marvin Gaye wrote that song was it cheesy then? Or was it part of the common language, so it was accepted? And I wonder if blue will ever be vernacularized again in modern language?

Just rambling.

Happy Day

Well, as some might have heard already (it's posted on youtube and it happened in front of 15,000 people)...Gina got engaged tonight to her longtime boyfriend Joe. Joe is seriously one of my favorite people in the world, and he's marrying one of my favorite people. Congrats to Joe and Gina.

It was great to watch...good day for all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Tour

So, the tour has been going for a few weeks here. I am having the best time of my life. Everything about this reminds me that this is what I want to do for a long time. Obviously it's tough being away from Sarah - till Minnesota, we had been apart for over 3 weeks - but we just made a rule to not go more than 2 weeks without seeing each other anymore, so hopefully that will cut down on the feeling of missing her...though it is obviously different than being together.

But everything, from the performing to the interviews to the comradarie among all of us on's just all incredible.

I have the problem of focusing too much on trying to be musically perfect and forgetting the performance aspect sometimes. In college, I studied classically and was taught to never look like I'm straining or really even move's taken a long time to get away from all that training. Classical training in this regard has held me back. The training has been great for my musicianship and being able to keep my voice through a lot of singing situations. But from a performance standpoint it has stunted me.

Also, as I moved into performing non-classical music, I was surrounded by conservative Christians who encouraged me to never allow my performance to take away from the words of the music. When I would really let loose (which for me might be jumping out of time with the music), I would have someone talk to me about really allowing God to come through instead of me. So, this was another thing that stunted my growth in this area.

When I moved away from this time of Christianity, I began to perform with musicians who were a little bit snobby and every time I'd attempt to go crazy on stage, they'd give me these high-brow looks like I was crazy. Yet another thing that stunted my growth.

Then about 2 years ago, I finally got with a band that really wanted to go crazy on stage. And I finally started to learn. I started to see bands in concert and watch how they moved, how they rocked out, how they went crazy. So, basically, in 2 years I've had to learn what most people learn from the beginning of their perfomance careers...and not only learn, but unlearn everything I've learned for 10 years.

So, with that said, I am having fun, learning from Blake and Phil...Phil lately has been watching my performance and critiquing sucks because he usually tells me I sucked, but it is also great because with every show, I'm getting things to work on, and really working on them. I think that that is the thing that I am most excited about...I want for my life to be full of learning experiences and this tour is allowing me to grow leaps and bounds because of great interaction with people better than I. This for performing is kind of like what it was like hanging out with session musicians and producers in Nashville...I just watched how they worked and learned.

I have a long way to go to be a great performer, but I have the fundamental elements: people say I'm a good singer; I feel pretty confident in my musicianship; and reviews are saying that I am a great songwriter. Now, if I can continue to lose weight (I've lost 15 pounds on tour so far) and continue to grow as a performer, I think that I can become the artist that I really want to be. My goal is to be the best at what I do. I'm realistic enough to know that that will never happen...but striving for excellence will only make one better.

So, to those who voted for me...I thank you. Otherwise, I would not have the tour as a learning experience.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ramblings (8-3-07)

Have you ever noticed that Chuck Taylor's have been the shoe of choice for the alternative crowd for forever. I mean, you never see preppy people wearing Chuck's. Why is that? Why has the cycle never come around to preppy kids wearing Chuck's?