Awake Studios Nashville

Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat. by Nick Bullock

week 6 Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat.

Some people love to say how difficult their chosen "career" can be. They complain. Sometimes it comes in the form of a joke, sometimes their words and actions straight up drip with venom, and sometimes its a subtle comment of desperation and frustration.

It's usually easy to imagine, feel, honor, glorify and visualize our next grand accomplishment in the career of our dreams. But that's not all there is to it. What does it mean to follow your career path? It means if it's true, it will be hard. If its TRUTH, it will be the hardest. Follow your instinct, follow your gut, follow your dreams and they are guaranteed to lead to hard times. But if they are really your truth, you don't have a choice anyways. So, if we choose to go the hard way and follow our truth, then we do it intentionally with the knowledge that we are not going to have a breezy stroll down career street. We can, however, learn to discipline our minds and hearts over time. We can learn how to honor our feelings of self doubt and frustration, but not live in them. We can start to take command of our subconscious. And slowly over time, we get really good at what other people might call having a thick skin, or "no worries". Its really just the ability to deal with in a healthy manner, all the negative bullshit that surrounds following your truth.

So, experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry and repeat.

ps: for week 6 of 52 in 52 go to https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/grand-design

Commitment by Nick Bullock

Commitment: The scary thing about committing is that you are officially on the hook. The scary thing about being on the hook is that you might be taken to task for not seeing it through. And if you fail, not only do you let others down, but you let yourself down, and that doesn't feel good.

But commitment is also confidence, it's a way of publicly stating your intentions. It's a powerful statement that "yes, I can" is in action. And the funny thing is, even when you trip up and make mistakes, people usually respect those who have whole heartedly committed themselves to something (an ideal, a job, a process etc), and rather than hanging you out to dry, they tend to give you a second chance. The question then is how do we want to perceive ourselves (therefore have others perceive us)? Whether we commit a "take to tape" at a recording session or commit to a relationship, I think the answer is obvious.

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this week in 52 in 52:

The Hand That Pushed:

to stream, go to: https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/the-hand-that-pushed

Working IN your business, Working ON your business: the difference by Nick Bullock

week2 There is a big difference between working on and working in… both are important. I know for me, when I get myself organized about which is which, it helps me to prioritize, and get clearer about my goals as an artist and a business owner.

Working in your business, for me is practicing my instrument, playing gigs, recording, mixing, producing, writing songs, song writing sessions, and a host of other fun "artistic-y" things. I generally spend more time doing these things because I'm a firm believer in if you want to be know for doing great things, then you need to practice, and practice often. By working in my business, I get better, learn more, and generally have the feeling that I am progressing in my "studies".

Working on the business is doing all the managerial and administrative things. It's taking the time each week to write out my roles and priorities. Scheduling meetings, making coffee dates, scheduling recording sessions, booking gigs, scheduling rehearsals and in general reaching out to anyone I find fascinating, inspiring,and with whom I might work well with and want to meet. I still keep an old school date book/organizer to help me run my schedule (and business). Working for my business basically keeps me in check so that I am consciously taking the time for working in my business (my art), and making sure I have time with my family. Pretty boring stuff right? Well, it's not as sexy as practicing my sweep picking, or getting the perfect take from a vocalist i'm working with, but it sure does make my life breathable, and it makes sure I get all the time I want and need doing the things I love.

Of course both of these things combined make the whole, the yin and yang. And sometimes life chooses which you are going to spend more time doing, "working in" or "working on". It's a balancing act that has its own flow and zen to it. In the end, I meditate, I laugh as much as I can, I fall deeper in love with my wife everyday, I remind myself that I am a blessed dude for getting to work with creative and talented artists here in music city (one of the greatest cities in the country/world) and I get to do that for a living! I try to be as kind as I can, I try to bring out the best in the people I surround myself with, and I surround myself with people who encourage me and challenge me to be my best, and grow… And of, course i play my guitar and write songs.

So I guess there is working on, working in, and then just being… what ever it is we want to be.

Week Number 2 of #52in52:

"Nervous"

to sign up for the #52in52 mailing list for exclusive content, voting on your favorite songs and other cool shit send your email to:

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to stream this weeks song, go to: https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/nervous

Happy Holidays, Still In Love With Music by Nick Bullock

It amazes me, that after fourteen years of calling myself a professional musician, I'm still lucky enough to do this for a living. More importantly, after all that time I still love what I do. I've definitely burned the wick at both ends plenty of times through my journey, but I haven't burned out. That got me thinking as to why I'm still doing what it is I do? Why, when its so easy to get frustrated, or more specifically for me, sometimes it can feel helpless. Being a musician, and relying on your income as a musician, can be precarious at times, and down right stressful. A friend recently wrote a face book post about his self proclaimed addiction to being a musician, and how it's cost him relationships, financial hardship and more. I can relate on some level. It definitely manifests itself as a need.

The other side of the coin is that being a musician is life giving, life altering and a spiritually rich path, every day. I've met my closest friends doing what I do, I met my wife, by doing what I do. I've had more adventures with my best friends in the last ten years alone than most people get in a life time. Being a musician led my wife and I to move to Nashville, which has brought immeasurable gifts, both personally and professionally. A whole new set of friends and relationships to build and nurture. I've been lucky enough to share in the experience of making records with close friends, which brings us inevitably closer as friends, as we dig deep together.

Thats the side of the coin I choose to look at everyday. And thats why I do what I do.

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I guess, for me, when I boil it down, music is really what I need to do. Yes, it's a passion, but it goes a little beyond that, it is what I was put on this planet to do, and the older I get, the more certain of that I am. When I was twenty two, I wanted to be in a band that was world famous, and successful beyond my imagination… like cover of Rolling Stones famous. Of course, I loved music and playing guitar then as I do today, but I had big aspirations. Now, my aspirations are a bit different, but just as big in their own ways. Gone is the desire for the RS cover, replaced with the desire to get to know all the players, producers and artists I can. People that have been on the cover of RS, and people who have not. The more I do this, the more I realize its about these experiences that I collect along the way. It's these experiences that make me rich, "famous", a better producer, a better writer and so on.

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If you are pondering whether or not to follow your musical talents and turn them into a career, let me be the first to tell you that it is 100% possible to make a living playing, writing and recording music. Let me also tell you, you better feel the need to pursue it from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. In the age of "fair game" internet, and singing TV Show idolatries, more people than ever before feel they are worthy to pursue music as a profession, and maybe they all do, but it takes a particular kind of musician to maintain, and see the bigger picture through all the (temporary) set backs and frustrations. Being self employed can be tough, especially for musicians, who dare to make a living out of their art. But I'm here to say, if it is what you are called to do, if it is what you were put on this planet to do, be brave and do it. You can do it.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone. Thanks for a great year Nashville! Thanks to all of you for taking time out of your busy lives to read this blog. There are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, and I can't wait to share them with you all.

My Week in Nashville in Pictures and Words by Nick Bullock

Hey Friends, I thought it would be cool to share my week with y'all here in Nashville, in picture form :)

Sunday

 

Sunday, I got to work with this sweet lady, Heather Hershow, a songwriter here in Nashville. We met a few weeks ago, and she wanted to do a single of one of her tunes. We're kind of going for the popier side of country… which is really cool for me, because I don't get to go there all that often. It's always fun to do something a little bit different! She has a great voice and it's a really good song, so that always makes it easier and more fun… we'll finish her single up probably sometime in the next month, but for now you can check some of her older stuff out here if you're curious: http://heatherhershow.wix.com/heatherhershowmusic#!music/c1x9v

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Cait and the Bad! My other band…. we rehearse every monday. That's Dan playing drums, and Kevin (from my band The Sound Awake) playing bass while his bass wears my wizard hat (thanks Will for the hat!). We have our first gig this coming wednesday at the basement! Cait Leary writes some great songs, and can sing her but off, and recently we added Paige to the band, who let me tell you, can also sing her but off, and the two of them together = magic… We haven't recorded anything as a band yet, but I bet in 2015 we will… you can check out some of her older recordings at http://cait.bandcamp.com

Tuesday

Then Tuesday, I met with another artist that I'm producing, Miss Lauren Pratt. Lauren has a voice of an angel really, she's a trained music school geek like myself, who writes great songs. I'm really excited to see where we take this record, as of now, we're still in preproduction mode, but the work tapes we are getting done sound really great already. Think somewhere between Gillian Welch and AKUS… it's amazing how talented everybody is down here. You can check her out here: https://www.facebook.com/laurenprattmusic

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Then on Wednesday, I got to hang with my buddy Joe Novelli, who was in town to see some buds play in Nashville, and playing some gigs in Asheville NC. Joe is probably the most talented lap slide player I know, and really, one hell of a dude. After seeing his buddy Tyler Ramsey (Band of Horses) play a solo set, we came back to my studio and hung till 3am or so trading songs and stories… I really like hanging with Joe, and it was a treat getting to catch up. And seeing Tyler perform was awesome too. http://joenovelli.com

Thursday

Thursday night found me and my two band mates doing some recording for future projects and releases to be announced soon in 2015. Still working on the website too, but eventually it will all come to fruition.

Friday

Friday, I got to hang with Beau James and Jenny to finish tracking for his record that I'm producing. You've probably heard me write about him before on this blog, but in case you haven't, this record is full of heart ache, pain, joy, trials and tribulations, and most importantly Beau's truth. I feel very blessed to be able to work with artists who dig deep, and really push themselves. Jenny laid down some great back ground vocals to tie up all the loose ends that evening, and  now we are just starting to mix. Really, this one is special, I'm not just saying that. http://www.reverbnation.com/beauwigington

Saturday

Saturday, I got to spend some quality time with the most beautiful woman in the world! She really is my better half. Meredith, I love you, you are the light of my life, and with you, I am whole. This thing called life is much better with you, my beautiful wife. www.meredithcbullock.com

Wegmans

 

Sunday we had some visitors from my home town of Rochester. Pete and Marney brought me some reminders of home, Wegmans in particular. If you are aware of who and what Wegmans is, then you know that it is possibly the best grocery store out there… maybe after Whole Foods… and yes, for those in the know, that's some Country Sweet wing sauce that they brought me… come over some time and maybe I'll let you try it :)

And that was my week!

 

 

The Listener is... by Nick Bullock

A wild beast, unpredictable, untethered, and roaming the desert constantly changing its habits, making it almost impossible to track or chase. So what do we musicians, artists, players and writers do? Do we follow the trail, hire a tracker, load our packs with fifty pounds of shame and frustration and set out to capture their attention? No. Well, yes, and no.

We let them come to us, by being ourselves.

Yes, we do practice to get better, yes we are listening to the times pass with our ears to the ground, keeping track of culture's momentum. Yes, we want to know what the thirteen year olds are digging on. Yes, we want to know what is happening in the clubs of NYC, on the front porches of Nashville, and in the back yard parties of LA. I say it IS good for us to know who headlines what EDM festival, and what the top college radio stations are playing. Its always good to keep your eyes open when you're in the wild desert homeland of the listener. So listen good, take notes, copy stuff, learn from everything, learn it all. Then forget it all, and let your voice come through.

Thats the only way you are going to lasso the listening public. Thats how you'll build a fan base. No matter what you do, if its really you, its really true, then the wild listener will find you.

From freak flags to sweet melodies... the right people are out there, your tribe awaits. Follow your own road.

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Inspiration from Movement, Songs and Ted Talks by Nick Bullock

dance 1 I got the opportunity to go to a Ted-X event here in Nashville this week, where the focus of each presenter was the creation process. Imagine people talking about everything from getting the audience involved at a concert to creating an instant feeling of communion with the people on stage, to how to best monetize your art, to encouraging community through art installations... all pretty great stuff, granted we've all heard it before... community, feelings, inspiration etc... but it's nice to be reminded... But before the talks even began there was the art itself, in the form of movement.

Now I work out on the regular (pretty much), so I can live longer, play music longer, feel good about myself... but these women (and one guy) have complete control of their bodies... a craft mastered over long and late hours practicing and rehearsing, as a group and as individuals. The thing that impressed me most was the choreography, and not just the steps and timing, but how the choreography used the dancers bodies. Someone had to "write" the dance, and when they did they decided to push some boundaries (at least to my untrained eye for dance) and push the performers... I wish I knew who did the choreography, I would shake their hand and tell them how it almost moved me to tears, how I was enraptured by their dance and what the performers could do with their bodies, and how it all tied together. Like any good song, it makes you feel.

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And thats what its all about. Connecting the audience with the emotions they already have inside of them... When I was watching the dancers move I started thinking about my father and my parents divorce for some reason. I have no idea why, but it brought me there... to the underbelly, and I felt vulnerable for a minute. Thats what a good song or performance of any kind can do.

I'm working with an artist right now who decided to bare his soul and tell his truth with the songs we're recording. It think a lot of song writers say they write their truth, but I think too few do the necessary digging... because it's hard, and it can be very painful. Later that same night, after the ted talk, we got a buddy to lay down some pedal steel on a couple of these songs for this particular artist and again I was reminded of the dancers I had witnessed... the movement of the pedal steel, the sound it creates whispers of movement... shapes and forms coming and going... another great performance...

So yeah, my tuesday was filled with community, feelings and inspiration... and it was awesome!

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Patience, Wisdom, Courage and Strength by Nick Bullock

Cartoon girl:guitar Strength (from Webster's Dictionary): the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way

Strength is easy, it's really about taking action. Do it. Whatever that is. That is having strength. It has nothing to do with size, and everything to do with intent. To dare to dream is great, but it's in the first step, and the second step that strength is shown. So write your song, book a show, show your face... it takes strength to make those first steps (as well as every step there after)

Courage (again, Webster says): the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

Yup, strength's big brother. Before the step can be taken, you need to come to a realization that you are not doing what you were put here in this planet to do. This might be one of the hardest things to admit to yourself... "yeah, I don't love my job, but it does have great benefits" etc. I'm not shitting on anyones desires to lift themselves out of poverty, or anyones goals to make more money, but money is just energy, and so is courage. It builds until one day you say "f the benefits, i'm miserable". Whether your happiest when writing a book, or poem, or acting, or singing songs or whatever, courage is recognizing that steps (strength) that need to be taken, and admitting your truth. And doing it everyday if need be.

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Wisdom (Webster's Dictionary): knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life

That's the thing... experiences... you don't know you love acting until you have the unique experience that comes with it. The first time I saw a guitar player doing his thing, I thought it was really cool. And, as a small child at the time, I remember thinking I wonder how you do that... Where are those sounds coming from? Fast foreword about ten years and I have the experience of picking up the guitar for the first time, and the wonder and frustration that comes with learning a new instrument. Fast foreword another ten years and I have the experience of going to school to study the instrument, and playing my first professional gigs with it. Maybe, beginning to build a little bit of wisdom on how to use the guitar properly, for me. Another ten years, and I have all the experience and wisdom that I have now (and i'm still working on it!). You can't fake passion, passion doesn't start with knowledge, but it can go hand in hand with wisdom. Without all my experiences, I wouldn't have cultivated whatever knowledge I do have in my early thirties about playing guitar, being a professional musician and making music. Without that wisdom, I wouldn't understand my passion nearly as well as I do, and I wouldn't be able to do what I do... Without the experiences and wisdom gathered, I would be lost. Even with courage and strength.

Patience:

More often than not, this is the one that I struggle with the most. But in all honesty, it might be the most important. When you're playing a solo live, improvising your way through with your band mates and friends, patience can be what makes or breaks the experience. When you're in the studio, searching for the right tone and part, patience is the saving grace, other wise you settle for less than what your creativity is demanding of you. When you're writing a song, patience is being able to take a deep breath, and stay present and with it until you've figured out the next line in the story you're telling. It's also knowing a good song when you have one, and not becoming negative about it when the first person you show it to/play it for doesn't loose his or her shit and have a come to Jesus moment like you think everyone one should. And patience is being able to smile and relax when you are meeting someone who wants to help you along your path to success. In this case, it's the comfortable pair of jeans that never looses its popularity, because patience tells you that you are worthy of success, and it doesn't really matter if the person you are meeting with right now actually comes through or not.  patience is being in it for the long haul... the long game.

Queen Cartton

*clearly none of this artwork is mine

Humility by Nick Bullock

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. "
-Ernest Hemingway 
The more "successful" people I meet, or read about, or listen to, the more I realize they all share a certain, and maybe necessary  trait, humility. I'm constantly amazed at their genuine warmth for the people around them. They might not always have the time they would like to spend with the people that they call friends, but when they do, they give 100% of their attention. Now of course, the same could be said for many people, fame/success or not. And actually, the overwhelming vibe here in Nashville (at least among the musicians) is one of support and togetherness. Which I think is part what makes it so special, and frankly, the real reason for the success of music city.
My feeling is that it is humility in particular, that separates Nashville from the other two (or three) towering "entertainment" city establishments...
What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. "
-Abraham Lincoln
Anytime I've ever sat down on a gig or a session with someone who is constantly talking about who they know, what they do, and where everything they breath is about them, I immediately get turned off. As I am writing this and reflecting on it, it gets me sad. I think they are missing the whole point. When you come to a session filled with wonder, humility, passion and awe, it is truly mind blowing what gets accomplished, what gets done, and what fruit ripens from the collaboration. Pride on the other hand... is poison to a session (or a show, or a play, or a movie set, or a board room, or a CEO's office...).
Humility moves and inspires people. It motivates us to do better, to take risks, and make more of a difference. Humility is the cousin of empathy, that very human response in most all of us that allows us feel the pulse of our fellow man/woman, and respond with kindness. Empathy cannot survive with out humility, it gets choked to death and becomes disdain.
And don't take me for a fool, pride can be a useful tool sometimes. It's always good to take pride in a job well done. The difference, at least here, is the attitude that you bring with you before the job has started.
Humility can be a tricky thing though, it can be the saving grace of who we are, and what we do, or it can disguise the devil. And don't confuse humility with self loathing. To love oneself is to be humble, because when you love yourself, you know who you are, what you are made of, and what you strive for... where you can be better. This is not a torturous thing, this is the benefit of humility. It is the reason I pick up my guitar everyday and do my best to be better. It is the reason I write everyday, so I can push myself and go deeper. So I can see myself more clearly as an artist. So I can recognize that same passion for depth in other artists and be a better producer, and help them achieve their own dreams.

Humility, that low, sweet root from which all heavenly virtues shoot. " -Thomas Moore

My recommendation, what I am constantly striving for; start from a place of humility, and allow the nature of the humble path to unfold in front of you. It will always lead you true. It is one of the keys that unlocks our true and full potential. Humility, passion and discipline... you can't go wrong. You won't go wrong.
Some pics of my week/weekend :)
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Locheland/Springsteen show at the Stone Fox
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Forget the name of the band, but they were great!!! At the Musician Meet up at BlackBird Academy
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Some youngins from BalckBird Academy

 

 

One Year by Nick Bullock

   

Have you ever dared to start over, to begin anew, click the refresh button for your soul?

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It can be something that brings out an immense amount of excitement from deep within you, but can also have you trembling your ass off. It doesn't always happen overnight, it can take time for you to notice the winds calling. For me, there are voices in my head, the good kind, that yell at me over and over until finally I gather up enough courage to listen and take action.

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This September marked the one year anniversary of us moving to Nashville. It has been one of the best choices I have ever made, one of the best examples I can think about in my own life of gathering that courage, listening to those voices, and jumping off the cliff. I'm lucky, I didn't have to do it alone. I have the love of my life here to experience all of the ups and downs a year of transition can bring (a year of life can bring). I have supportive parents, a brother who is cheering me on, not to mention all the old friends from New York (and beyond), and all the new friends from Nashville (and beyond).

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It can be really hard (and scary) to start all over, especially being a musician in a place like this. One year in, moving to Nashville has already given me so many blessings that I would have missed out on if I lacked the wisdom to listen to those voices in my head. Thinking back on the week I've had, I've gotten to hang with a grammy award winning producer that I really respect and like, I've been reunited with an old tour friend, and gotten to meet some of the cool people he knows here in town, I've co-written two songs with two great songwriters, I had a great rehearsal with a band that I get to play guitar in, and I am going to top it off by recording and producing an EP for a great songwriter and friend this weekend, where I get to flex some new gear that I recently purchased for my studio. Oh, and I bought a new piano! This week is a direct result of the previous fifty one weeks that came before it, and all the aforementioned support that I've been lucky enough to have. And it makes me really excited, because if this is what fifty one weeks of hard work brings with it, then I can't wait to see what one hundred and four weeks bring! The courage it takes to dive untethered into new territory, is no small amount. But when we demand the most for ourselves and out of this one life we are given, the new roads we are called towards give us more in return than we thought possible.

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There are no guarantees in life, but i'm constantly amazed at the gifts each new turn in the road can bestow for anyone daring enough to drive blind around a corner.

You can do it.

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Studio 4

Time to Show Up by Nick Bullock

I was hanging with a buddy the other night, and having both moved to Nashville at relatively the same time, we started talking about people who get the gigs in town, versus the people who don't. Unknown

The first person I recorded here in town was Danny Sierra Leone. I met Danny out at a new faces night at The Basement (probably still my favorite club to go see music), and after chatting with him for about ten minutes, I gave him my card and we parted ways. Fast forward a bit and we have one EP done, and an LP in the works. There are many bands and artists that I have met in similar circumstances, and have had the privilege to get to produce, record or play with. Each time it has come about by me just showing up and putting myself out there.

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I will say that sometimes it is difficult to know how and when to show up. Each conversation we have or circumstance that we find ourselves in, can require a different reaction from us. Case in point, the buddy I was speaking about earlier, is an incredibly talented bass player... like really, really good. He asked me what he should say when he meets another potential employer/artist... "hey I'm a really good bass player, and you should hire me?". Of course he was being a little facetious, and that strategy would be more funny that anything else, but his question of how to present himself was a real one, and a challenge for many of us. I don't pretend to know the best answer for other people, I only know what has worked for me. It is definitely uncomfortable to put yourself out there sometimes, and that nervous feeling is usually my barramoter for taking action and going for it. Once I do, I trust in my ability to be myself, be genuine, be curious, be respectful, be professional, be nice, and from there, I give up wanting control. I can't control whether or not the band will come and record with me, or whether or not I'll get hired as a guitar player for the persons project. My buddy can't control whether or not the person hires him to play bass. The only thing we have control over is whether or not we put ourselves out there. There is no magic bullet answer for my bass playing friend, there is no definitive strategy that once implemented, it will guarantee him the outcome he deserves and wants. Yes, we could probably get into a conversation on how to have a conversation, how to read people, and how to manipulate circumstances, but then you're just kind of looking at it from a cold perspective... or being a tool, not a person. We want connection, not manipulation. So, the best advice that I can think of for myself and anyone else is to just show up and trust your gut. Be genuine, and be present.

I like to think my ability to be present, and genuine... to show up  is part of the reason that people like Danny Sierra Leone choose to work with me. I love putting myself out there, despite how scary it can be, because it has given me friends, work, and a creative energy that is life giving.

So, it's time to show up!

What can you do this week to show up? Share with us a story of you putting yourself out there.

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Bedrest, It Makes You Think by Nick Bullock

I had to go get an unexpected outpatient surgery yesterday. I was fine on Tuesday night,  and when I woke up on Wednesday I was in so much pain that I could barely walk or sit. I'll spare y'all the details, but it was not comfortable. So I found myself yesterday in the capable hands of a surgeon. And later that afternoon, I was gratefully walking back to the car with much relief. So yes, I am fine.

But it made me reflect on the things we take for granted, and those of us that are lucky to have healthy bodies, more often than not take for granted the gifts that our healthy bodies bring. There are so many minor miracles that need to happen in order for you to bend down, pick up a guitar, take hold of the guitar with your hand, swing it up on your lap using your muscles in your arms, take your right thumb and arm and strum the strings while your brain and your left hand communicate exactly how and exactly where to place each one of your fingers on the fret board, all at the right time. Do you know how many electrical pulses are being sent to and from your nervous system, to your muscles, to your brain and back again. I'm no scientist, but I know that it isn't a simple procedure.

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Have you ever stopped to wonder about the mysteries that are right there in front of us every day? What gives you the voice you have? What gives you the ears you use? And how do they all work.

It's easy to lay on the couch all day, and ponder this all, because, lets face it, Netflix only has so many interesting movies to watch, eventually you get bored and start to think about stuff...

My challenge, and one that I bestow upon you, the reader, is to remain mystified by it all, especially when you are healthy. It is up to us to not take for granted the beauty of hearing an old vintage Gibson being plucked, because with out the ears on your head, you would have no way of knowing that beauty. And without the ability to strum, you wouldn't know the joy that it brings.

Thanks for reading.

Fame vs Great by Nick Bullock

I'm on vacation. I'm staring at wave after wave crashing onto the sandy beach. I'm a lucky guy to be able to witness the millions of little happenings, lets call them experiments, that have over a long period of time brought about this particular sandy beach, ocean tide and sun shine into one masterful experience. I wasn't going to write a blog this week, but then I started reading The Rise by Sarah Lewis. I love vacations for lots of reasons, but at the top of my list, it allows me to kick back and enjoy catching up on reading and writing. Last time I had a couple of days of vacation I gave myself a challenge to finish three songs by the end of my four days off, this time, I'm being a little more relaxed about it all, not searching for perfection, but enjoying the process, and trusting it. photo-9

The Rise, at least so far, seems to be about the gifts that mistakes can bring to an artist or creative person as they develop. How mistakes, one by one, get us closer to achieving our goals as creatives. And that without them, we are worse off. Maybe a better way of saying that is it's not about the destination, it's about the journey (that old cliche!). I, as some may know, am not always a patient person when it comes to my career/creativity/destination vs journey... I'm not always patient with my own course of development.

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We as creative American citizens/artists/entrepreneurs can and should be pushing every envelope we are given. We should be striving for excellence, and fumbling on the way. We should not expect the world to stop for our genius, we should instead seek to never stop ourselves from striving to discover our own genius. It is not about fame or money, it is about mastery. Perfection is a concept that is unachievable, and mastery is a noun, that brings forth memories of actions taken. Mastery is born from the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, again and again and again. I'm reminded of The Gap, an idea that was first brought to my attention by Ira Glass (http://vimeo.com/85040589). The Gap is the space between our current abilities and what we see our true selves being capable of, to put it simply.

I never knew that Michelangelo was famous for leaving works unfinished. But it makes sense. If completion is the objective then what is an artist to do once the job is done, cease being an artist? I know that with every song that I have written and recorded I am only giving it up to be released or to be put down on tape because I am ready to say goodbye and walk away from an imperfect and incomplete idea or concept. No song is ever finished really. I could and sometimes do drive myself crazy with nitpicking my work to death. Sometimes, more often than not, I am needing to move on, so the song is "done". This is how I track my idea of mastery, this is how I grow. And really, my ultimate goal is not to write a hit song, or produce a hit record, it is to be a master of my craft, a master of my tools. That is what really turns me on, and what gets me going.

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And when I'm able to remember that I really do what I do (write, play, and produce music) because I love the inevitable discovery process that comes with wanting to master such crafts, I am able to take a deep breath, trust the process, enjoy the waves, breath, enjoy my book, and look forward with excitement to the good work that I am going to continue when I get back in my studio.

When I moved to Nashville, it wasn't so I could be a star, I moved there because that was where the biggest musical masters were from. So yes by all means, follow your dreams, start a business, start a band, paint a picture, try out for The Voice, move to NYC or Nashville, be an athlete. But do so for the love of the work, not to seek fortune and fame. Those things are fleeting. Do the world a favor, and seek to be a master. That is where greatness truly lies. That is what inspires people to change their lives and the lives of others for the better. The world needs more masters, maybe now more than ever.

Pop Songs with A Side of Meaning Please by Nick Bullock

There is nothing wrong with a party song. There is nothing wrong with a song about sex. There is something wrong with pop music when all we have are these two options as listeners. And yes, I know, you can dig, and find the niche artist(s) that fill the void for you, but with so much stuff happening in the world, you would think that some one out there in the pop music would start to question where we are as a human race. This is what music once did. Neil Young sang about Ohio, and Joni OHIO

 Mitchell sang about being Blue, and Springsteen sang about being Born in USA. They were and still are all considered to be part of popular music. What happened to all of our pop writers that were skilled with a melody and a turn of a phrase, AND had meaning and depth to what they had to say. I know they're out there.

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It doesn't have to be just an exercise in baring witness to the outside world, I'm just as interested in the internal struggles we all face as a music fan. Thats why I mentioned Blue earlier. But there is more to it than whiskey and bouncing asses. Is there no one that is willing to risk? Is there no one that is willing to tell it as they see it? I don't care what side of the coin you are on, what political stance you take, what you feel is what you feel, and that is all I want to hear, that's what I'll buy. I want to hear you sing of the beauty around you, of the struggles, of the humanity, both good and bad that you see. "Three chords and the truth" they used to say. I think we've lost sight of the most important part of that cliche, the truth! 

Again, I'll repeat myself, I need a good "dance party" song, or a "forget all our worries" song too (I used to play in a funky jam band after all!), we all do. Blowing off steam is good. And I understand that the professional song smiths out there have families to feed and bills to pay, so I don't blame them for taking care of their business (I'm in the same boat). But music, while giving us that particular gift of forgetting our worries, once was so much more, and I'm talking pop music here.

Yorke

I wonder if music in general can ever get there again? I believe it can. I have no idea how, or on what platform, or who it'll be. Maybe Miley Cyrus will grow up to have more depth than anyone would have guessed, maybe Bruno Mars will stop singing about banging like a guerrilla, or maybe Thom Yorke (one of my personal favorite song writers of all time) will embrace his lyrical side of writing like never before.

Bruno

I believe like all things, the pendulum will swing back, and I'm going to do everything in my power to help it along the way. Radio might be slowly dying (right?), but pop music is, as always, here to stay. Our challenge is to make it mean something again.

cyrus

What do you think?

Some things to think about before hitting record by Nick Bullock

I met with a friend last night to talk about making his record. We got together, and he played me all of the songs he was considering recording, and we talked about the arrangements, instrumentation, and production he was aiming for. As the person who is producing, engineering and finally mixing his album, it's my job to make sure that his vision is achieved, both artistically and sonically. There are so many factors that go into crossing that goal line that I thought I would just outline some thoughts on the process. board

1.) Pre-production can make all the difference in the world, turning a good song into a great song. It can also serve the artist by helping him/her get an even firmer grasp on the sounds they are going for. For the artist I mentioned above, we will be getting together at least one more time with the full band to rehearse and go over arrangements. This just helps to smooth out any kinks that show up. It's much better (and cheaper) to work all that stuff out before you actually hit record. It also serves as a confidence booster to everyone in the group.

2.) Don't be afraid to copy the greats. Get specific. There is no way that I can get your band to sound exactly like Surfer Rosa era Pixies, but it does help the producers and engineers to know that you love the bass sound on Michael Jacksons Thriller, or the snare on the Smashing Pumpkins Good Night Good Night. Borrow the sounds and the ideas of your heroes, just don't expect to make a DNA copy of their music, nobody wants that anyways. (This of course applies to the writing process too... chord progressions, snippets of melodies etc)

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3.) Now is not the time to quit smoking, or switch to tea. I'm not saying that I do not wish for you a long and healthy life, but recording can be stressful. You are spending a decent to a huge amount of money to lay down your soul for all the world to see, and you want to get it right. There can be a lot of internal pressure (and sometimes external). It can be a scary process for some. This is also where a skilled producer comes in to play as well, managing personalities and feelings almost as much as they are managing guitar tones and performances. All I'm saying is don't do anything that is going to add a big amount of stress to the process (which includes partying... the studio is not a disco tech, at least not anymore... at least mine isn't).

4.) Tune your guitar between every take. It's a good habit to get into, just do it.

5.) Make sure you have all the pics, strings, smaller instruments, cables, percussion you could possibly ever need. Write up a master list of everything you will be bringing, and get it all together the day before you load into the studio. Check it twice.

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6.) This is the moment you have been waiting for. Embrace it, trust the people you have chosen to work with. By the time you are ready to hit record, you have already made most of the difficult decisions. It's time to breath and concentrate on playing and singing your ass off. Let the rest float down stream. Don't worry about deadlines, don't worry about changing the world, don't worry about who will like this or that. Trust your self, trust in the moment, and play for the selfish joy it bring you and your mates. The best records, I think, are the ones where the band lets go of expectations, and they trust in the process of being in the moment. They make decisions based on what they enjoy about music, what they like. You've already dissected every chord and lyric, and channel strip, so now its just about having fun and making great music.

What do you do to help get yourself ready to record? Share your thoughts.

Touring: Experimental Existentialism and Shut Up and Play by Nick Bullock

Have you ever toured before or wanted to hit the road in a van, with your best buds, playing your music? Who wouldn't want to, right? A few weeks ago, my band went on a ten day tour, starting down south and eventually ending up north to play a festival set near my old stomping grounds of Ithaca NY. All in all, playing eight shows along the way. I thought I would share some thoughts on my experience, both anecdotal and practical. First, a brief background for those of you who don't know where I'm coming from. I spent the majority of my 20's, in a van touring with my best friends. tour6

We lived together, worked together, partied together, did chores together, wrote together, and recorded together. We were, in some ways, living the dream. One day at a time, we were figuring out how to be professional musicians in a professionally touring band, playing original music. We hit the jam band circuit hard for years, playing well over 150 shows a year for the majority of our time together. That is a lot of days on the road, I don't care who you are. We sacrificed much of our personal lives for the greater good of the band, and for our shared vision of what we wanted out of life. I'm very proud of those days, and I don't regret a single moment. Being in that band taught me many many things.

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But, like all things, everything comes to an end eventually. When we split up, we all went our different ways, and I, out of my creative restlessness started a new band called The Sound Awake a few years ago. In the time that has passed since my "touring as a living" days, I have gotten married, started a business, sold that business, moved to Nashville, and started my studio, and a new musical/professional life here in music city.... so this tour that I mentioned above, was really like a dipping of the toe back in the warm waters of the touring lifestyle. More than anything, I was curious to see how I handled everything... so here we go.

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The Existential Experiment:

Playing music you write to a room full of enthusiastic people is really one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced in my life. It is an experience that I would encourage anyone who writes their own music to aim for. The good news is it's a reachable goal. I didn't realize how much I missed the camaraderie of being in a band, hitting the road, and doing it together. There is a bond that gets formed, regardless of personal differences, or personality traits or whatever... it's unavoidable. You get tighter as people (sometimes this means you see both sides of people's humanity, the good and the bad), and tighter as a band. There is definitely a thing called "tour tight"... its kind of unexplainable, but after so many shows on the road, you all just gel better musically. We weren't out there quite long enough to get deep into that tightness, but it was there, lurking, and I could feel it. I wanted to drink it in more, I wanted to let that feeling wash over me more. I got a taste, and it was sweet. Touring is also an amazing social experiment, and way more times than naught, you get reminded of people's innate goodness. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing to behold. It is so easy to believe that the human race is going to hell in a hand basket, but when you get out there, meet people face to face, give them a genuine smile, you would be surprised at how many genuine smiles you get in return. Maybe that speaks more for the power of music, than anything else, but the fact remains, there are a lot of kind people out there who will offer you a couch to sleep on, buy a CD to support your dreams, cheer you on,  buy you a beer, talk guitar tones, or lend you an amp if yours breaks. I could go on and on. Touring is also a great time to catch up with old friends that you don't get to see on the regular. It is truly one of the best things about being on the road. I would go through and name all my friends that I got to see and spend some quality time with this last time out, but there are too many to name. I miss them already. All in all, the tour was very successful. When we got up to upstate NY to play the Grass Roots Festival (which is attended by about 10k-15k people), we were in shape, and we brought our A game. Nothing compares to the roar of a crowd after a particular enthusiastic song or musical moment... and my end goal all along was to get that roar, and we did, more than once. I can't tell you exactly what it feels like to be the target of a crowds raging storm of energy, but it feels so good. Its a drug, and I want more of it.

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I don't know what it would be like to do 150 dates a year again, and quite honetly, where I am in life, I would have to get paid way more than we did on this tour to consider doing it. I missed my wife, I missed sleeping in my bed. I didn't enjoy sleeping on couches quite as much as I used to remember. And I like my AC (sorry, it's true...). Touring is hard work. You drive all day, hurrying along the freeway, watching the mile markers count down, only to get to the venue to see there is no sound guy, or the bathroom doesn't have a door on it, or the PA that the venue said they have doesn't actually exist... or all of the above. If you are going to put yourself out there night in and night out, the one thing I would say, is that the music has to be the life blood, it has to be the source and the purpose, it has to be the thing that gets you off the most. And you have to believe in it, more than you believe in anything else, at least for the moment. So, if you're still into it, here are some very practical thoughts I can share with you on the my experience.

Shut up and Play: I'll keep this pretty straight forward.

Start booking the tour at least four months in advance. If you're booking yourself, it takes more time than usual to get all the ducks in a row, line up the routing properly, and make as much of a promotional splash in the market as you can before the concert date.

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It's up to you to get people through the door, and once they are there, to keep them there. I don't buy that it is only the clubs or promoters responsibility for the success of the show. We, as artists, are in charge of our carriers, not the venue. That being said, usually when venues see that you are working hard to promote a show, they will get on board and pick up the slack on their end too. A win win is what we are all aiming for, after all.

Advance the show! At least once, if not twice. Go over all the details with the talent buyer at least a month before the show. This can clear up any little hang ups, and make sure that communication is clean and obvious. This will ensure that you have little to no headaches on the road, it will help you rest easier knowing that all the t's and i's are crossed and dotted. Ultimately allowing you to concentrate on the music and relationships that can form while on the road.

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The music comes first. Don't drink too much, serisouly. Don't overdue the excesses, because it will be easy to. When I was on the road this last time, I started smoking again (why oh why! after months of successfully quitting)... why? because I'm human, and thought I could handle the temptation. Beware, is all I have to say. Have a good time, but music first, and music last. (I am now more than a week quit again, thank you very much... get back on that horse!)

Appreciate your band mates, you are all in it together. You are a team. If someone is in a bad mood, it doesn't hurt to give them space. Don't take everything to heart, people are people, love them for who they are and where they are in their own personal journey. As long as everyone is treating the music with the respect it deserves (see above), all will be good.

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Don't be afraid to warm up! In the van, in the green room, wherever. What ever you can do to make the show a better experience. Warm those pipes, warm those fingers, and don't be embarrassed about it.

You are there to provide entertainment. Read the room, it might not be a great time to take a set break after playing your second ballad in a row. You will get booked again if you keep people in the room, buying drinks. Unless your touring larger venues, and drawing hundreds of people, know that the one thing that will help you achieve your goals is to get rebooked, and get playing for more people next time. The people that were there had such a great time listening to you that they tell their friends, buy your merch, sign your mailing list and spread your gospel.

Have a mailing list. Have your merch table in a well lit and obvious place. Seems like a no brainer right? Bring a light, bring a cool table cloth or patchwork blanket to lay down... anything to make your products/merch look cooler, or more professional.

Know that nothing is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect tour. Have a a does of thick skin, if the promoter or bartender is being a total jerk, walk away respectfully. If the show is poorly attended, play your ass off regardless. Touring has its limitations, enjoy it for what it is and know that doing your best is all you really can do at the end of the day.

A big thank you to Kevin and Russ, bass and drums extraordinaire, you guys are the rock to my rock n roll. Thanks for making the tour possible. #tsatour

What are some lessons you've learned from touring? What about touring most excites you? Share you thoughts, we would love to hear them! 

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A Case Study: "Say Yes" by Elliott Smith by Nick Bullock

elliott4 One of the best songwriters maybe ever. I don't think everyone gets him, at least not at first, but when he hooks you, his genius unfolds. It's not just the words, its the twists of melody and harmony, and how the notes and chords sweep the words along. I'm a big fan, obviously, but if you are unfamiliar, do your self a favor and check it out. I started with the album XO, and my writing, production and taste in music hasn't been the same since... all for the better I like to believe.

Case Study: Say Yes by Elliott Smith

A cold start and a nice descending chord progression played on acoustic... simple right, almost seems like its just another folkie doing his thing.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl  Who's still around the morning after

Then the acoustic guitar becomes two acoustic guitars, panning immediately in time for the second half of this first verse. You also have an electric guitar appearing too, with his voice being doubled as well... maybe this isn't so cookie cutter after all. And I want to point out the lyrical/rhythmic phrasing here, without getting too music geeky, its so easy to follow along, and sing along... and the words are pretty straight forward and honest... simple and honest usually wins for me. More on that below.

We broke up a month ago and i grew up i didn't know I'd be around the morning after 

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Followed by the guitar playing the melody, panned on the right side still, then the second verse. Same simplistic beauty as the first. Again, that phrasing, and I love how the first three notes of the melody start by going up in register, as the guitar/bass line is moving down... yay for counterpoint! In general, the melody has more upward movement too.

It's always been wait and see A happy day and then and then you pay  And feel like shit the morning after  But know i feel changed around and instead falling down  I'm standing up the morning after 

Then the bridge, instrumentally, pretty much the same thing is happening... the doubling of the vocals, the electric guitar panned right, the acoustic doubled with one more or less down the middle, and the 2nd one panned to the left. That electric guitar is almost playing more lead type stuff, nice double stops... Also, worth it to mention that the bridge, depending on how you count it, is a five measure phrase.

Situations get fucked up and turned around sooner or later 

And then back to a quick verse: This is the first time in the song that he gives away his control, "you tell me"... I never knew what to make about that line, is he resigned to his role, resigned to play the fool, and he just doesn't care, or is there something more... the next section, I think, answers this, but I always wondered about this lyric, as if this is the point in the song where the main character is teetering... whats going to happen?

And I could be another fool or an expection to the rule  You tell me the morning after 

The second bridge! He harmonizes with himself, which he does really well, does it with two voices an octave apart too, which is a little bit different than what you would normally do... in a classic pop sense anyways... Other than that, it's the chord changes, and the extension of the bridge and phrase that is so cool, especially on the word "is" (and notice the electric guitar mimicking the vocals there too)... any you guitar playing songwriters out there, check that second chord out (thats how you use an augmented chord!). Lyrically, this is where he answers my earlier question, to me anyways... its not up to him who loves him and who doesn't. Just like its not up to me who loves me and who doesn't, who cares for me and who doesn't... these are all things out of my control, but we still have to ask. It's worth it in the end, even after the rejection, to ask someone to care for us, to ask someone to say yes. This moment right here, this is why I love this song, and its arguably one of my favorites by one of my favorite songwriters. Simple. Vulnerable.

Crooked spin can't come to rest  I'm damaged bad at best She'll decide what she wants I'll probably be the last to know  No one says until it shows and you see how it is They want you or they don't, Say Yes.

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And how does he end the song? With a dash of optimism... i think. And wraps it all up in barely over two minutes.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl Who's still around the morning after

If you're a fan, there is a new documentary on Elliott called Heaven Adores You, you can find more info  here:  https://www.facebook.com/HeavenAdoresYou

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGB8meDWQeQ

What song or artist should I do next??

 

Some Words with Music Band from Nashville TN by Nick Bullock

Hello from the road/tour! One of the best things about living in Nashville is the incredible talent that you are surrounded with everyday. It can be daunting, but mostly I find it extremely inspirational, and enlightening. It helps me clarify what and why I do what I do with my musical career.

Music Band is probably my favorite band in Nashville, and and I only say probably because I'm very aware of my own tendency to get super excited when I bear witness to great musicians singing great songs... Music Band is positively great. I've gotten the opportunity to see them a bunch since moving to Nashville, and under full disclosure, I've have the great fortune of knowing them personally for the last three or four years... And to sum up my feelings, last time I saw them, I immediately went home and wrote a song that was very inspired by them. And for me, whenever someone makes me want to go home, pick up my guitar and start writing, I'm all in. That, is true inspiration. Thanks for that Lee, Harry and Duncan.

Enjoy the interview!

MB 2

Nick Bullock Music: What is your favorite thing about the Nashville music scene?

Music Band: The music scene here had been gaining momentum well before we moved here two and a half years ago. Really steaming, cooking with gas. It's like a big steam engine ripping through a residential intersection at 3 in the morning and the driver is all coked out and fucked up just laying on the whistle because he hates his life and wants to ruin everyone's night. That actually might be one of my least favorite things, when a train sounds its horn for way too long and you're just too close to it. It cuts right to my core, enough for me to shout out loud, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" every time I hear it. Damn, it makes me so mad. But the Nashville music scene does not make me feel this way. We got mad respect for these streets and these peeps here. Mostly everyone who plays music here rules, and I think that's because it's the kind of town that if you come here and don't have any respect for the folks who have been holding it down OG-style then you're liable to get yourself banished. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. It's "Music City" and people have been doing this for as long as anything here. That's what's cool about Nashville. It doesn't matter what kind of music you're into because you should be able to appreciate the real heads who are on their grind. It's funny to go to shows here, and a lot of touring bands I meet will lament about this, but a lot of the time when Nashville people are watching bands they don't move around much. I think it's not because everyone's jaded on music but it's more because everyone is a musician in their own right and are actually watching the band, I mean having a real peek-see, and I can respect that.
NBM: How do you balance the artistic/creative side of being in a band with the business side of being in a band?
MB: We've been pretty much doing our own business since the beginning, so it's not really something we think about much anymore. Although lately there have been more business-related things going on for us, it's fun to learn how it's done, and I think we're fortunate to have some guidance from our friends who know what they're doing. Everyone in a band is always like, "I just want to play, man. The music industry is killing me. Etc." but we're quickly learning that if you can't deal with the business side of things then, well, what the hell? Music ain't a hobby. Not for the real heads, at least. If you're actually trying to make money or a career out of this then you gotta learn how the shit works, even if it's learning by trial and error. I think it gets to a point where the creative side of playing music is sort of like the "reward" for everything else. Or at least that seems like a good situation. I guess it's something we've just had to start balancing out of necessity.

NBM: How do songs come into creation for the band?
MB: Most of the time one of us will work on the structure of a song alone and then bring it to the the rest of the band in practice and we'll spend a few days working it out, trying different things. A lot of the songs on our new tape "Can I Live" actually came out of fucking around at our old practice space, as bands are wont to do. Some of my favorite songs we have just came up off the dome from a late-night "jam", as corny as that sounds. Once we have a song though, we spend a lot of time tweaking it and working on dynamics, harmonies, etc. usually by recording a demo at home and seeing what we like/don't like. Lyrics are really important to me (Harry), and so that's often one thing I personally start with.

 

NBM: Do you have an end goal, a big picture you are shooting for?

MB: To become immortal, and then, die.

NBM: What about being in a band excites you the most? What are you working on now? How is the process going (how did it go)?
MB: Live shows are the best. Going on the road. Meeting people, meeting other bands. Good audiences. Makin' em laugh. Free meals. Being in the van just getting all crazy. Figuring out a new song and being really excited about it. Recording. Takin' a peek-see at mixes in the studio (shout-out to Andrija at Bomb Shelter). Venues that really know how to treat musicians, and not that bullshit where you show up and everyone working there is like "I don't even want to be here tonight. What's even going on?" Havin' a plate of Lil' Smokies in the morning. Fun doggies. Seeing our parents on tour. Putting friends on "the list" due to mad respect. 

 

MB 1

Check out their new release "Can I Live" a cassette release on Infinity Cat: http://infinity-cat-recordings.myshopify.com/collections/music-band

You can listen/stream there stuff here: http://musicband.bandcamp.com

For music info/shows etc go here: https://www.facebook.com/musicband.gov

Support Local Music!

What Nashville band should I interview next?

Play For Me... by Nick Bullock

famwash

Hi, Musician on stage... I'm here, I'm the only guy in the room... can't you see me? I'm listening, I'm clapping, I'm engaged in your music... this is your soul, remember, and I am liking your soul... hello? I don't need or want you to stare at me the whole time, thats just creepy, but some eye contact would be nice when I'm the only one clapping. Just saying.

And at the end of the show, come say hi, because I stayed, I am still here, and I'm not counting the wasted girl who is flashing the bartender, or the drunk dude passed out and slowly sliding off his stool, they doesn't count. Lets talk, and get to know each other a little bit.

I was hanging at the Family Wash over on the East side in Nashville, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites spots to hang, and saw a band there in this exact context. And you know what, the singer made eye contact, and came over and said hello, and thanked me for being the only one paying attention.

It makes a difference.

A little eye contact goes a long way.

 

 

The American Dream: Just Do it (Happy 4th of July) by Nick Bullock

4th of July

Sometimes as a musician-artist, knowing what to do next can be a struggle. Questions like "How do we build our team? Who can help us get where we want to go? Where are our cheerleaders? How can I get a pub deal or record deal?" etc. These were all questions that to one extent or another, I used to ask myself all the time when I was in a full time band. And sometimes I still do. The bad news is that no two music success stories are truly the same. The good news, however, is that every one of those success stories have the same DNA, the same essence. People say you should do A to get to B, which gets you to C, then to D etc... that is all great, and you should absolutely check out what the experts say and do, after all, they're experts!

But you must remember, the best idea to get your band signed, or get that publishing deal, is always going to come from you. You have to do it, and the good news here is that you are very capable. You will need to think better and more creatively than you ever have before, and you will be tried and tested like never before. It will not be easy. I'll say it again, you already know what to do. You have all the cool, crazy and unique ideas that you will ever need, you just need to fish them out.

It's a business, and you must really understand that, even as an artist. Respect the business side of it, know that people are out there doing it so they can feed their families, know that people are out there busting their ass so they can put a roof over their head. You will need to be one of those people busting your ass. But you already know this. The most important thing is that you do it, start it, what ever it is for you. Start recording all the time, start uploading your videos, start working with smart people... what ever it is, do it. That is the only way that you will ever accomplish anything. Don't wait, do it.

Happy 4th of July. Three cheers for the american dream, all of them.