EP update 1

I know I don’t use this blog very often, I generally don’t have much going on musically that seems worthy of posting. I’ve more or less retired from doing acoustic shows. I know a lot of people enjoy it and it is the only way to get their music to people but to me it is one of the most boring and unfulfilling things I’ve done. I never intended to be a ‘solo’ artist, as I’ve said before. Having a band is what I’ve known and it’s how I prefer to present my songs. Unfortunately, it has been hard to find other people to play with… until recently. Last year I started playing with a drummer friend named Jake Verble, who I happened to have grown up with. Somehow we never played music together until last year. We’ve been working and re working on songs, jamming, trying new ideas, making rough demos, etc. for some time now. 

2012 was a weird and wild ride for me and 2013 has been a continuation of that. I got so used to a certain routine and truly believed I was doomed to stay in it for the rest of my life. My point of view was very negative and I had little excitement about the future, whatever that means. Sometime in 2012 I got a huge electric shock inside of me that woke me up from a coma. I started living. I realized that I wasn’t doing much musically anymore and I set out to regain that side of me I was so familiar with at one time. That led to me playing all those acoustic shows and starting to write more and more. It’s not an easy thing to reclaim something and I have hit a lot of rough spots, especially with writing. It’s been hard to know what my voice is at 25. I still haven’t fully figured it out yet but I’m more in touch with myself than I was before. I’m interested in expressing where I’m at now and exploring new musical ideas and I have been doing so.

We’ve been recording my debut EP and hope to have it finished and released within a month. As of now the title is Push/Pull and we will have 4-6 songs on it. This is a strange thing because I haven’t felt ready to put something out in a long time. i’m still not fully ready but I’m going to do it anyways. I wish I could say there is some huge underlying personal theme or that these songs are all autobiographical and tell my story but they’re really just a collection of songs we’ve been working on over the last few months. Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects that ring true to me but a few of the songs are story songs about fictional characters. Of course, I sing them in first person so that will probably be lost on most who hear it. I’m slightly worried that friends and family may try to read in and get it wrong but I suppose that’s their right to do so. It’s a strange concept to sing songs as a character in first person. Or to sing a song sarcastically but without really letting the listener know that you’re not being sincere. Randy Newman does this often but people seem to get it right off the back.

One of my songs is about a man and a prostitute, one is about a man whose wife has left him and probably won’t come back. One is about a borderline stalker who is clearly in denial that the woman he wishes to possess isn’t coming around and was probably never even aware of his infatuation. It’s about fantasy. There is no real cues to signify this, it’s all up to the listener to interpret it. Which goes to my original point of being worried that people are going to assume these are literal songs about things in my life. Ah, well who will listen anyways? I understand the repetitive nature of songs about women through a man’s perspective. That is something I am working on to consciously write about other things. Interpersonal relationships are just so damn interesting to me though. Different dynamics between different people can cause so many outcomes, I love it. If nothing more than as a study, it’s really cool to me. I love going through life and forming new relationships, thinking about old ones, ending current ones, etc. Obviously there can be a lot of pain involved but it’s just part of the game of life. It builds character. 

Well, I got off of my original point which was to talk about my EP. I will follow this up with a less ranty version. 

Scott Pilgrim

On twitter I came across a retweet from Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim author) about a new convert to the film/comic and it got me excited. It can be read here: http://fandomania.com/characterized-by-nostalgia-scott-pilgrim/. I’ve always been fanatic about music, tv shows and movies but not the way I feel about Scott Pilgrim. I saw the film in theaters when it came out with little expectations. My brother said it was pretty cool and that was all that convinced me. I was a little burned out by Michael Cera (whom I now consider my favorite actor and think of as nothing less than brilliant) and that probably would’ve turned me off from seeing it had I seen the trailer. It also just so happens that during the summer of Pilgrim (2010) I had just recently been converted to Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s brilliant BBC series ‘Spaced’ and spent much of that summer watching and re-watching, laughing and re-laughing, 

In the previous mentioned blog that inspired this post, the author mentions the opening sequence as immediately drawing her in. I would agree. I just turned 22 and was living on my own for the first time of my life in an urban neighborhood and an aspiring musician to boot. All I wanted was to find love. As soon as that movie starts you are hooked into that world. Edgar Wright and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s world. Scott Pilgrim’s world. I knew those characters, I knew those feelings. There aren’t enough stories about people in their early 20s post college who are still finding their way. Not everyone becomes a lawyer or teacher. Some people work in cafes and play in bands and are poor. 

I fell in love with Knives originally, but over time started to recognize Ramona’s cool and enigmatic aura. I got why Scott wanted her so much. After I saw the film I bought the comic books and that opened up a whole other world for me. This packed so much more than the amazing film. The universe in Scott Pilgrim is one that I want to live in. It’s the one movie I wish I could watch over again and see it the way I saw it the first time. I don’t recommend drugs but if I ever decided to try mushrooms, this is the movie to watch. My favorite part is when Ramona takes Scott’s hand and they go through the door and Beachwood Sparks amazing song ‘By Your Side’ comes on and the sequence that follows… Obviously inspired by The Big Lebowski but so damn beautiful. 

I know this is supposed to be my music blog but whatever, I thought I’d share my love for this movie. I didn’t edit or re-read before posting so forgive the inconsistency. 

Long time no Blog

I forgot that I had a blog for music related thing. The only peeps who be reading this shit are like super stalkers, ya know? Actually, I don’t know if this is true. I’ve been recording some ‘rock’ demos with Jake Verble at his house/our practice studio and working out arrangements for new recordings to begin. I am not sure what will become of these songs but if I had to guess I’d say I’ll re-do them in a few months and put out a compilation of songs (sometimes known as an ‘album’). I can only assume it will be an Extended Play (EP for short) instead of a Long Player (LP for short). One thing keeping me confused is that although playing rock music is fucking fun, I don’t really have the range I once did.

Well, that may not be entirely true. I just never warm up my voice to go in full voice mode. I’ve been doing lots of stuff in the tenor range and singing lots of falsetto. It’s really natural for me at this point and the full voice whiny shit I used to do is kind of contrived. Or at least I feel that way.

Friday I had a show in Normal, IL with several other acoustic acts and it ended up being a chill party where every songwriter sat around in a circle and took turns doing a song and told stories and joked. It was amazing. Everyone was super talented and very receptive. It’s fucking ridiculous how embarrassed I am to be a musician in Rockford. It’s almost like something you’re supposed to be ashamed of. If you aren’t in one of the 2 cool bands you better not play. Usually I’ll have like 3 or 4 of my closest friends show up but none of my more casual friends come, and they usually say they’ll be there. My thinking is that it’s not THAT bad. I highly doubt it’s going to be THAT uncomfortable and unlistenable that you can’t just show up?

Whatever though, I’m so so so over playing in this piece of shit town. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some new buddies that have been helping me out and being supportive. The Bookworm Cafe has been very encouraging and supportive to me. I love the shit out of that place BUT that is only one venue and we’re usually just playing for each other at this point. Unfortunately, the musicians haven’t quite gotten to where the poets have. Those poets are fanatical and seem to love each other and it’s amazing. I just don’t care to try anymore. I’ll play with those who I like and for those who ask but I have no delusions about actually being a successful local artist. I gotta skip town for that.

May 29th I’ll be at Stumpy’s with Naked Little Monkey and June 14th is the Nilsson tribute show at Memorial Hall I’m doing with Original Mechanical Mouse. We’re hoping to do well with this and get some people out there. So if you are one of my stalkers and enjoy Harry Nilsson, COME ON OUT!

Happy (belated) New Year

The Artificial Hearts show at Stumpy’s was a good time! I will be playing there Feb 16th and I have a show next Friday (Jan 25) at JustGoods in Rockford. Can’t wait! I haven’t been recording lately so I am sitting on a mountain of unfinished demos 😦 I resumed playing with my lifelong friend/drummer Jake and we are working on a set. We need some other musicians though before we book anything and it’s all about finding that perfect fit. I hope to have a regular show schedule and to get a full band together and finish my demos soon but we’ll see.

December update

I keep forgetting to update my blog, my bad. I have lots of news… First, my brother Will and I (The Artificial Hearts) are getting together to play a show Dec. 26th at Stumpys. We’ll be releasing our EP “Are You Artificial” for the first time which is exciting. We worked our asses off on those recordings and the sad thing is that not very many people got a chance to hear them and those that did didn’t seem too excited. It’s difficult when you know you squeeze every little thing you can out of a song and tweak and tweak it to get the best result and it ends up being received in a lukewarm manner. If we have time we’re going to put together some brand new acoustic recordings featuring some unreleased Hearts songs and maybe some weezer or beatles covers. I miss my brother a lot and although our year and a half of doing the Hearts was sometimes heated and uncomfortable due to our close quarters, all we have is the music now and I feel it stands on its own. If you haven’t heard all of our songs, make sure to grab an EP from me!

I’ve been working on 3 solo demos, sort of going in between all of them. I’m afraid to just finish them and of course the longer I go without doing it the harder it gets. It’s really just my voice that’s making me nervous. I don’t sing as much as I used to and when I do I don’t belt quite as much. When I go to record my voice is not the instrument I am used to. I suppose I just need to warm it up on the reg. The first song is really long and kind of epic. I originally came up with a rough demo for the song 3 years ago and over time have been building the arrangement for the song in my head. When it came to getting the official demo started, most of it was relatively easy due to my planning. The second song is more like the stuff that anyone who has followed my writing over the years would expect from me. It’s sort of a poppy emo song with big guitars. My weezer influence inevitably returns. I’m most excited about that one, I think I should probably start moving towards that direction though it’s been nice to experiment with bigger, more atmospheric sounds. The third one is a little interlude song, pretty dreamy sounding. I gotta fix a lot so I’ve been neglecting it.

Basically, after all is said and done I should have a pretty good chunk of demos finished and then I can decide what’s good and what should be used for my debut release. I believe my brother and I will have a vinyl release in the near future. I gotta pick a song though…

All in all, I’m still creating. It’s good to see all these songs coming together to form what will hopefully be a solid debut release in the future.

NOVEMBER

Well it’s been a while since I wrote a blog so I figured I would chime in. I’ve been at work practicing my set a lot since I had a show a few weeks ago (and more to come). I’ve also been jamming with a few musicians which is very exciting. I’d hate to get too ahead of myself with excitement though so I can’t say too much. All I’ll say is that at the moment I’m working on getting a live ensemble together. As of now it’s still acoustic based but we may go electric before long. It’s been fun working out songs and figuring out what to use from my back catalog. I haven’t been recording much lately though I still have a lot of demos that are half finished I’ve been neglecting. I’ve been doing a little bit of writing, and I know I like at least one of the songs so far. I posted my recording of ‘never gonna be without you’ on facebook/reverbnation/soundcloud so if you haven’t checked it out, what are you waiting for?

 

I just uploaded a new song to my facebook/reverbnation, it’s called ‘She Had a Daughter’. It’s a short little number, not quite a full song. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that both the songs I’ve put out have ‘she’ in the title. Plus, the millions of other songs I’ve done that also have ‘she’ in them. ‘She’s so sweet’, ‘She’s on Fire’, to name a few. Plus my personal favorite, ‘She’. On the other hand, The early Beatles catalog is mainly songs with ‘she’ and ‘her’ in them and lots of Beach Boys stuff too (She Knows me too Well being my favorite). I love that old Beatles stuff. I like a lot of dumb pop songs. Who doesn’t? Oh well, this latest song was recorded in May and I forgot to upload it. Alas, http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/14400327

I haven’t been doing as much music lately but have been working on some demos I hope to finish soon. I got stuck on a few things so I’ve been avoiding going back to them but will resume shortly. Probably doing some acoustic sets where I can soon and hopefully forming a band.

 

July 1, 2012

I’ve had a difficult time remembering how to post on this blog but I figured it out. Last Saturday I played my first show as a ‘solo artist’ in New Berlin, WI with Kevin Delaney (Modern Chemistry). As I posted on my facebook page, I have some roots in the Milwaukee area and it’s always been a special place for me. I played my first show in Greenfield at Kevin’s house and it’s one of my fondest memories. I hate to be nostalgic but being in high school and forming a band is a pretty exciting thing, and then to be able to get enough songs together and play a show… Wow, it was crazy for us at the time. I had a fairly sheltered life up until that point so that was kind of my ticket to do things I never normally would have. Anyways, I have a video tape of that first show that I randomly decided to convert to VHS in an act of wisdom;the master tape was recorded over soon after. I’d like to put it on youtube sometime however I feel self conscious about some of the inappropriate language we used. I still use that language too, forgive me. It starts with me and my bandmates driving to Wisconsin and the shenannigans that happen on the way. We followed my older brother’s band to the venue (Kevin’s garage) but on the way we had to make some stops. Some of this footage will probably not ever be seen due to the incriminating evidence. I think I will just blur some faces and use some bleeps. We played our set to about 10 or 15 in a little garage shortly after the previously mentioned hijinks. The set was politely received but we weren’t very good so they were probably just being nice.

I mentioned in my first blog that I was covering some of my earliest songs for fun. I actually posted one of those recently on my soundcloud page. The song is called ‘My Friend’. I feel slightly embarrassed because I put it up with my new songs and some things about the song are a little cringe-worthy for me. It was the first song I wrote and it’s only 3 chords. The first verse is like 10 times longer than the second which is very weird to me now. It’s also very adolescent sounding but being that I was 17 and full of teen angst and hormones it’s appropriate. You can listen to the song here but bare in mind it’s not something I’m promoting as new. It’s definitely one from the graveyard that won’t see much light of day other than this post.

I’m working on getting some shows booked but am still a bit overwhelmed with re-learning how to book them, the format is different than I am used to. Also, My brother Will Tallman and I will be putting out a split EP sometime soon. This will be my debut EP previously mentioned, but will probably consist of 3 or 4 of my songs plus 3 or 4 of Will’s songs. I will be going to Raleigh to record some things with him for my part of the EP and probably doing some backing vocals and maybe other work on his part. I can only assume he will be playing and singing on mine as well but I haven’t asked him yet, haha.

See ya soon, Happy 4th!

Post Won

Welcome to my official blog. I figured I would start by explaining a bit about my ‘music career’. To be honest, the older I get the more difficult it is to promote and hide behind a music project, especially one with my own name. It’s easy and fun to hide behind an alter ego or a band name but fuck it, I’ve been the little wizard hiding behind the curtain for years. I started writing songs when I was 17 way back in 2005. Back then it wasn’t known as songwriting, it was just something that had to be done for my shitty little band. I can’t help but laugh when I see peers of mine really going at it as serious ‘singer-songwriters’. Not because I’m a total dick, but just because it seems so many try so hard to go for that label. When I hear that dreaded ‘singer-songwriter’ term I want to throw up. I think of the late 90s when being a writer was a huge commodity for labels (or at least marketing yourself as one was). I think of Paula Cole and that horrible Dawson’s Creek song. I think of Duncan Sheik. I think of Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. I want to gouge my eyes out. I am not influenced by any 90s cafe strummers, I think those people should quit playing music because they’re awful. Most songwriters I admire wear a few different hats, whether it be production or frontman of a cool band. The only solo artist I’m enamoured by is Harry Nilsson. There are plenty of greats, I just haven’t quite gotten to them yet. Nilsson was the reason I decided to go public with my demos. Oh right, my demos.

I started recording my own music in 2007 when my friend and bandmate at the time got a digital 4 track. It was obsolete technology and not even in a retro cool kind of way but we used the shit out of that thing. I first started experimenting with overdubs, arranging and production although it was pretty bad. After I received an Apple computer I was able to take this approach further through Garageband. After a year of demos (about 50 of them) I finally started learning some fundamentals. This helped me work out harmonies and more adventurous arrangements for my second band, The Mondos. I stockpiled hundereds of demos (not exagerrating, check my itunes) over the years and continue to record regularly. Because of my ultra hip friends I became very self conscious of my songs over the last year or 2. I know I am not hip but that doesn’t mean I should quit doing my thing, right? I decided to come out of the closet and start my ‘solo gig’ because I’m tired of living a secret life as a musician.

Currently, I am working on a few different projects. The first is my first solo EP (or full length depending on what comes of it). This is more of my serious and moody stuff, my babies. I really enjoy writing pop and rock songs though, and have recorded some of these as well. These will surface under my side project, Super Goose. I also began working on an EP of reworked versions of my earliest songs, which I am unsure about releasing. For now I will put my releases online for free and if it comes to it I will put out a physical release (probably cassette, maybe cd).

Oh, and I should introduce myself. I’m John Tallman, 24 years old from Rockford, IL. I am a Beach Boys freak but also enjoy other artists. I have my vices but who doesn’t?