Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Record

I've been agitated lately. Ornery. I can work myself into a frenzy doing absolutely nothing. I feel a weight on my mind, and with it comes these pangs of doubt and worry and regret. These days I can find a way to stress and wonder and plan and curse my plans through any distraction I impose upon myself. This is all of course because it is time again to write.

It is time to write a record.

Record. Thats a funny word to still use as a noun, especially since we've never done a vinyl pressing. Alas, the word "Record" is still the current industry standard for the daunting and tumultuous journey I am about to embark on. Do I sound like I'm complaining? Sorry. Like I said I've been agitated lately.

My Dad is a bit of a genius nut. He has cycles, ups and downs, much more dramatic than most people. You could probably call him slightly manic, although he'd probably deny it as he most likely remains unmedicated. Sometimes I think I may have chipped a bit off of that old crazy block. Although in most ways I'm not like my Dad at all (he hasn't an artistic blood cell in his body), I think sometimes I can act like him emotionally. Which is scary. I'd like to think of myself as emotionally adapted, an advanced communicator, a relational problem solver... but really, deep down I'm just a nut. I smiled just now when I typed that. Honesty feels good.

Maybe it has to do with stress. I feel this thing that I have to conquer is in front of me, and I feel very alone on the battlefield. It's easy to blame my band mates for lack of interest, drive, growth... talent. And maybe they can shoulder some of the blame, but the sad thing is I can't sling any of that mud without getting a significant amount of it all over myself. I'm not as driven as I could be, as talented as I should be. I feel this thing that I have to conquer is in front of me and I am not good enough to conquer it. This is new for me. Talk to me five years ago and I would have said to you in confidence, "I would love to do so many things, but I feel really limited because of the band and our current style of music." Talk to me now, I have a HUNDRED places I could steer this ship and I feel like my arms are cut off. I CANT STEER. What happened to my vision? What happened to my confidence? I suddenly have all the freedom in the world to seize what ever lies ahead and I have this terrible feeling that I'm really not good enough to see it come to fruition. Is that truth? Well, from a spiritual standpoint I am enough because He who is in me is enough. Perhaps I'm not relying on that. However, what if it is true? What if I'm a connector, someone who brings all the geniuses together in one room and milks their minds of the good ideas - and then with that milk I make a milkshake that blows minds? Maybe my mind doesn't have the best milk. This could also be true.

It's funny, one moment you're on the road in a band thinking, "Man, what we could do if these guys let me," and then you're at home going, "WHAT AM I GONNA DO WITHOUT THESE GUYS?!"

And no, our band isn't breaking up. Not just yet. See the "Seven-Year-Itch" post for the prequel to this one. Long story short things aren't like they used to be, and we can no longer afford to have five full time members in our band. Which leaves me, the one full time member, to try to find time to write with the part-timers.

So back to my crazy Dad and how I think I have genetically inherited a similar cycle. If I am not surrounded by inspired, passionate people, this is the only way I create: Self destruction, creative inspiration, complacency, self destruction, creative inspiration, complacency... you get the picture. 

To simplify: Destruction-Creation-Boredom rinse, repeat.

It is so stereotypical it makes me sick. Artists and their mini-meltdowns, their flare for the dramatic. Yuck. Not me right? I'm different right? Maybe not...

Let me tell you though, I've got big plans for this next record. I have demos and I have plans. These plans will be hard to achieve. I'm just so terrified of putting out something that I'm not 100% proud of, I want to do it right. I want the right people involved, the right vibe, for the right reasons. This is a lot of think and to pray about. We could use your prayers too, if you're the praying type of person. I need wisdom for how to move forward, faith that no matter the outcome it will be Good (with a capital G), and inspiration for the times when the thought of this work sucks all the creativity out me.

For those of you long-standing blog followers, I probably sound like a broken record. There's that word again. For those of you who are newer, you can read similar sentiments in post from a few years ago called "Tapering."


  1. Write the record you think God wants you to write. Keep praying and listening to Him. Your last album was genuine and real and I believe that's what you should always do. Honest lyrics and music. Listen to God and keep up the good work. You've got great talent and He gave it to you for a reason.

  2. Matt,
    I really appreciate what you and The Classic Crime as a whole have created in the past. The lyrics, melodies, and beats are so creative and thought-provoking. I will sincerely pray for you and the band. I hope the kinks can be worked out and inspiration be plentiful. I'm very excited with the prospect of a new record. Since what you're wanting to write about is coming from what sounds like a need to overcome some things, maybe that's the message God is wanting you to send to you're fans right now. Your thoughts are always very interesting. Thanks again for sharing your talents with the world, we really do appreciate it.
    P.S. You should consider using the phrase "broken record" somewhere on the new stuff, I like it!

  3. As a Ph.D. student stuck in the craziness of the ivy league, all I can say is this: True genius is not measured in the momentary bursts of inspiration, but rather in the years of hard work. Don't let those perfectionist tendencies keep you from doing great work. So fire up the Discovery channel---you got this.

    Really looking forward to hearing the outcome.


  4. I feel like we might be in a similar spot, Matt. In a way I'm more free to pursue doing the things that I want to do than i ever have been before, but on the other hand I have doubts (mostly in myself) and I feel paralyzed and doomed to either hit a brick wall or settle for less.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that He who is in You is enough. No matter how adequate or inadequate you are, He is the one who brings things to fruition. Proverbs 16 says: "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans."

    I have no doubts that God will give you songs to sing and wind in your sails as you put it all under submission to Him, and trust in Him.

    The Classic Crime has been a great inspiration and blessing to me for years. I love your music, honesty, faith, shows, and transparency. And I'll be keeping you guys in my prayers. Here’s to that next record. :)

  5. This is the first blog of yours I have read. I appreciate your honesty so much--as a musician, but mostly just as a confused human being. Your story brings me comfort, although our stories are so very different. I think this is what I love about music--the ability to connect with the song composer, even tho the situation which he came from is a million miles away from your own situation. Yet you feel connected and a mysterious sense of empathy shine through the lyric and melodies.

    The best part about a cloudy sky are those streaks of light that somehow manage to penetrate their way through the overcast.

  6. Hi Matt,
    Keep on fighting. It's not easy doing things in the music world right now especially with the added pressure that this will be your guys' 4th album. Can you believe it? Just like you said in one of your song, You're just a man, it's alright to be weak and afraid sometimes. These are the opportunities for God to dispense a little more of Himself into you. At the same time, you will always have your fans there supporting you. We fell in love with the sincerity in your lyrics and your voice so as long as you write from your heart we will buy your record. Don't work yourself too hard. Take a weekend off and spend time in nature or attend mass at a different church. Who knows, inspiration might come to you from there. I'll keep praying for you and the band.

  7. Matt (a.k.a hero),

    You might not feel creative - but here's some encouragement: the ability to write a killer song is in you. You have written TENS of BRILLIANT songs. That's not OK songs, or passable songs - that's BRILLIANT songs.

    Form is temporary - class is permanent.

    You CAN write that song you've always wanted to write. Make it simple - you, a guitar and your thoughts. It will come.

  8. If you guys pressed a vinyl record I'd buy it. Vinyl's coming back!!! :)

    Of course I'd still buy a digital copy too.

  9. I have found that mostly, people only write good music in the process of bursting out of a gigantic, dark, goopy bubble of sludge and filth and ...well, destruction. Sometimes it's a gigantic, bright, goopy explosion of yellow light... but most people aren't optimistic enough for that. It kind of sucks. Seeing as I'm not a professional musician, sometimes it feels like a choice between Life: version Misery and Music vs. Life: version Shallow and Stable. Thinking about it that way, in the quiet times, tends to plunge me into the former. I get over myself soon enough though, and cycle back to the latter... and back in to the former... Well. I think people in general are pretty cyclical.

  10. Matt..... You're crazy. But there's some inspiration rite there rite? sometimes people can be so stupid to be so blind of what they already have without realizing it. Im not calling you I? all I know is, reading this "interesting" post, you've got a hell of a heart and a hell of a way in expressing it.

    example: (take what you just wrote and make it into a song.... duh...) cuz i have never heard that emotion expressed in a song.

    You think you need to be surrounded by inspiration in order to be inspiring (believe me, I know how it feels to feel alone in a journey even when everyone you love is right there with you), but what you dont see that we can is that the emotional "drama" that that causes IS inspiration. So believe me, you got plenty of that.

    And with that amount of natural ispiration you imply as being a heretical curse, you are called to give it to the world, without looking at how God uses it to change the world. Cuz believe me, if you saw just how much you impact the world when you give yourself completely to it, lets just say even the most humble couldnt conquer that pride. God blinds us sometimes to keep us giving. Just dont blind yourself (which im sure you wont) and use all of it to give as well.

    Prayin for ya. Someone hates what your going through becasuse he knows what its goin to turn into, and believe me, it sure as hell isnt God ;)

  11. Matt,

    Everyone here is telling you how capable you are. This is true and I know you know this. However I would like to take a different approach. I always believe the effort you put into something will affect the outcome for the better. If you are going to write this cd do to the best of your ability.

    I was at a show of you all's before the silver cord came out. I was really excited for that album because i could feel it was going to be great. I asked you all what your thoughts on the cd where. You all's reply was that it would probably be the greatest music you all would ever write. You all where so confident and proud of the music you had written and recorded, and you know what the silver cord is (in my opinion) top 5 best records of all time. I told everyone about TCC and knew that if they heard your music they would love it. You have created many TCC fans because of the silver cord, because you where in it.

    I have been a fan since i heard the fight in a friends dorm room while playing call of duty. Albatross got me hooked and it was blasting from my car for weeks on end. The silver cord made me fall in love. It was different then albatross because it was darker and had more meaning. I can't quite remember how long you where in the studio for this album but I want to say it was around 3 weeks. Then Vagabonds came out and I must be completely honest with you there are some good parts, but the album falls short. I feel like almost every song could have been epic like the silver cord but it fell short. If I recall you all spent a week in the studio for this album.

    I still love you guys and I always will, I mean your lyrics mean so much to me that i got some of them tattooed on to me. I just want to encourage you to create something new and deep something that you will be proud of, so that the next time I see you in concert and I ask you about this cd you can say, "it is the best music I will ever write."

    Your loyal fan

  12. Thanks for writing this. As an artist who is getting a little older, I face the same doubts and questions more frequently. Good to know I'm not alone.

  13. I will be praying for you. I also think it is impossible for you to write a bad song. Love everything that you have done. I drove 7.5 hours from Canada to see you play. Also if The Classic Crime were to have their albums come out on vinyl I would buy them all even though I have all of your CDs.

  14. Matt,

    Fear not, my friend. I can't wait to hear the new stuff. As a non-believer, I've found more comfort in your lyrics and music than I've found anywhere. It's because of the truth that drives you. Not necessarily 'the' truth, but 'your' truth. The passion you feel for your words and music is one of the things that separates The Classic Crime from other bands. I first heard "The Fight" on a Tooth and Nail sampler cd, and waited very impatiently for Albatross to be released. Your growth over the years as a band is unmatched. It's apparent every time you release new material.

    I read someone say that Vagabonds fell short for them. For me it was the opposite. With 'The Silver Cord', I didn't want to hear another 'Albatross'. With 'Vagabonds', I didn't want to hear another 'The Silver Cord'. DISCLAIMER: I do want to hear another 'Seattle Sessions'.

    The great thing about music and lyrics, is that they are all objective, and open to interpretation. I am inspired by the message of each song, even if the message you intend isn't the message I recieve. Even if you were to say that you have recently been inspired by Miles Davis, Mozart, and the lyrics of whatever band wrote "Cotton Eye Joe", and couldn't wait to see if all of that inspired material could be transposed into new TCC songs, chances are that I would still wait again impatiently for the 'record' to drop, and love every second of it.

    Believe in Yourself. If you have faith in You, You cannot fail. Nor can you fail anyone else who believes in You. Thank you for your music.

    check out d millz advice on creativity.

  16. We have faith in you, Matt. You haven't failed us yet, all the albums you guys have put out so far, didn't disappoint! (Some of us still call them albums, a term once equated with vinyl, although I'm surprised you guys didn't do the vinyl thing like so many others these days!) I'm sure your inspiration will come soon enough and most assuredly when you least expect it! Until then, we'll pray and wait patiently in anticipation! (Unless of course, the world does end on your birthday, then we'll all be OUT OF LUCK!)

  17. Make a milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard.
    Then, you will be satisfied.

  18. When I heard the SAMPLER to Vagabonds, I can't explain how it made me feel. I had to sit down the way most girls do when they find out someone has a crush. Your passion and your heart came through so clear in that combination of snippets that I could literally feel it in my chest and on my heart.

    I have faith in you, you'll get your Good.

  19. Matt, The Classic Crime has always been one of my favorite bands and will always be, i have also told plenty of people about you guys. Its defiantly not your fault that you aren't doing as well as you would like to be doing, its the fact that people like lady gaga and katy perry and not you. i am truly excited to purchase your next CD including the one that you are recording with your wife. if i had half of your talent and friends as good as yours i can tell you right now that i would want to sound exactly like you. i will be praying that you make it through this rough patch, and if its not meant to be i think you and Kristie would do great together in the music business or if you continued with Skin and Teeth. Far From Home and Walk With Me are two of my favorite songs ever, along with every other TCC/Orizon song.