Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I Could Have Written You a Novel: a bit of history and a long, excited suggestion from Patrick Kelly to Eric Peterson on an average school night

There is a tiny bit of back history to be addressed here (everyone loves history!) before I write the body of this post (a post which is--I'm apologizing right now--surely going to be rather long and riddled with hyperlinks like land mines; however, if you click on every link, you'll be all the better informed! Clicking on every link I give you is rather similar in practice to speaking to everyone in every town in a console RPG; it'll keep you in the know!). Anyway, read on, reader--read it like a chronicle. History is being made. Delicious musical history. If you don't want to read the longish setup to this post, you could cut down to the bold text below that says "the quick summary." Yay!

A couple of days ago, my friend Eric completed his solo album for FAWM (or February Album Writing Month, inspired by and similar in philosophy to NaNoWriMo, which, you'll remember, I participated in back in November). It is important to distinguish that Mr. Peterson finished his solo album for FAWM; he was (or is, I suppose, for another twenty-five hours or so?) engaged in two separate FAWM projects, one on his own (as Roger, Roll--and remember that name! It's going to be important in a paragraph or two) and one as The KB EP with the also-talented Kevin Bell. This is, of course, on top of his already demanding IB workload. He's been a busy man.

Anyway, he finished the solo album. 14 songs written and recorded in 28 days. This is a feat unto itself, but what it also means is that he's now added 14 new, potentially great songs to the already impressive Roger, Roll oeuvre; by my count, there are 52 songs right here on my little laptop, and there are probably others that I haven't downloaded or that have somehow slipped through the cracks, not to mention any songs that Eric has recorded and not released or never recorded. That's a lot of music for a man who's going to turn 18 this year (and, in case I haven't made it clear, most of these--not all, but most--are great songs, not "great for someone his age" or "great for having taught himself how to play" but just great, by any standards).

So the other night I called him up and I said something like, "Eric, you've got to take this all to the next level"--different words, many more words--I rambled, excitedly, while he listened patiently, for more than 45 minutes--but that basic message. I won't transcribe everything I said and suggested and raved about, but he sums it up nicely in this post, which is, you see, the post to which I'm responding, directly, here, now.

The quick summary looks like this (if you want, you can read it as a tiny little play! Everyone loves the theatre!):

Patrick: "Eric, you should record an album and play some shows! You've recorded a great deal of music and it's all quite good and you really ought to do something with it!"

Eric: "Patrick, I'm pretty sure I'm intrigued by your idea, but which path should I take--album or shows? Both are viable and equally exciting!"

And then comes my response, and then Eric weighs all possible choices and decides upon the one that most excites him and pleases his soul, and the curtain falls and all applaud and the world is better for this music being in it.

(End quick summary)

Wanna know that mysterious ending? Well, read on (and then listen!), for the words I'm about to write fall, chronologically, right before that part about Eric's soul being pleased much. That part hasn't happened yet. I told you this was history--but confusing history, like time travel. Everyone loves time travel!

A quick note: the remainder of this (grossly self-indulgent, too-long) post is addressed directly to Eric himself, so if you are not he it would be perfectly fine to just stop reading here and sort of see what develops. But you're welcome to continue, and, if you'd like, you could pretend you are he and imagine the choice you'd make! It could be like one of those neat (frustrating) Choose Your Own Adventure books. Everyone loves literature!

Eric! You've made it past the temple traps that line the path, Indiana Jones-style, to this point! Welcome! A great, shiny treasure awaits--the treasure that is... my unprofessional and completely opinionated suggestions as to what musical step I think should be your next!

Enjoy your stay inside the schizophrenic and excited cityscape that is my mind.

First of all, I wanted to point out that, with the music collection that I have now, a real, actual Roger, Roll album would fall precisely after the weezer tribute album Rock Music and precisely before Rogue Wave's very good pop album Out of the Shadow. Also, Rilo Kiley is, indeed, close, and you'd also sit on the same shelf as Shelby Sifers, Sigur Ros, Sonic Youth, and a whole slew of other splendid folks.

And now onto the real blood-red meat of this post (finally!). My recommendation to you, as not a professional but simply someone who really digs music and goes to a lot of shows, is this:

Record an album.

Make Roger, Roll a physical reality for geeky record collectors like me.

Eric: "But, Patrick, why should I record an album first, when I could easily go out first and hone my skills on stage?"

Patrick: "Patience, dear friend! I'm about to tell you--first with a vague list, and then, in true Patrick style, another, similar list that simply expands upon the first!"

Eric: "...could we get on with this, please?"

Patrick: "Certainly! Here's why you should totally go record a sweet album."

1. People like to buy stuff
2. People can follow the recording and get excited
3. You'll know the songs oh so well
4. Your age
5. You're going to need a band

So, the list. I'll try to make these short and to-the-point. Try.

1. People like to buy stuff
This is simple: if you play a show, and kids at the show like your music, and you have music for sale, they will buy it. If you record an album before you start playing out a lot, there will be something physical people can take home with them, and that goes a long way in being remembered. It'll seem more professional, too. Instead of being a guy that's out playing shows just because he can, you'll be a guy playing shows in support of his first full-length album. Doesn't that have a nice sound to it?

2. People can follow the recording and get excited
You already have a bit of a fan base, and, through the wonders of

a.) MySpace, and the internets in general;
b.) friends, the best promoters;
c.) general word of mouth;
d.) Nick and I with How to Do Things With Sound; and
e.) random fliers and junk?

you can get the word out like never before. And if you post a few final, polished MP3s here and there from "Roger, Roll: The Blackwell Gate Sessions" or whatever, people will like them, and people will want more. This, then, will build excitement for the shows you eventually will play. If you just go out right now and play some shows, a few people will show up, but not as many as you'd need to really build a solid Denver fanbase--you're especially going to be in need of a 21+ crowd, which you will gain if said 21+ crowd catches wind of some sweet tunes on the 'nets. Later we'll discuss the fact that you're not 21+.

3. You'll know the songs oh so well
This one speaks for himself; by the time you record an album (I just can't get over how cool that sounds), you'll know the songs inside and out (or you'll know more of their insides and outsides than you do now, at the more-or-less demo recording stage). You'll be a pro. You'll be a wizard. You'll be a dragon-slayer of some kind, probably. This is a very good thing.

4. Your age
Although the rock and roll business is a primarily 21-and-over affair, there are ways--it actually wouldn't be too hard--to get you--and anyone else under 21--into venues to play shows. However, it's going to be a whole heck of a lot easier once you're eighteen. Since this won't happen for a few months, you might as well spend those months doing something you can do (and have been doing) at any age: recording excellent music.

5. You're going to need a band
If you want to realize on stage the full grandeur that is Roger, Roll, you're going to need a trusty band of vagabonds and rogues--a real rough-and-tumble sort--to take up instruments by your side. I have a whole line of thought going on that subject--I literally have a separate Word file; I'm telling you, I have so many excited words and thoughts about all of this--but we'll get to that later. The point is, putting together the band is going to take time. You can more or less record the album alone if you want or need to.

I need to wrap this up; you need to sleep or do homework or something other than this. We'll talk more on it. I just think all signs point to recording your first album. I think you're ready. I think it's time.

But that's just my opinion. I hope all of that makes sense. I apologize for my wordiness; once an English writing major, always a verbose windbag. I could have written you a novel. Factor in the other votes from other friends, and let me know what you decide--I'll certainly support you wholeheartedly (and, in fact, wholeeverything'dly).

Oh! And I hadn't even heard the re-recorded versions of "All Faculties Intact" and "d=rt" before the other day--they're phenomenal. Well done, sir.

Anyway, soon. All of it, soon.

Your friend (everyone loves friends!),


(Deep breath.)

Post-script: I nearly forgot to mention this, amidst that flurry of words above: on the simplest level, I'm a fan, and I just really want to hear a polished, official, full-length Roger, Roll album. It's really as simple as that.