Back In The Saddle

Studio RoomToday is the first time in well over a year I’ve had a mic set up in my room with Pro Tools running ready to record. I suppose you could say this is officially day one of making the next Five Times August record. I’m looking forward to finally doing another FTA album. I really haven’t released an entirely “brand new” album since 2008’s Brighter Side, so that’s kind of a big deal when you think about how long it’s been. Since then, the only full lengths put out have been “Life As A Song,” which was a collection of re-recorded songs from the two albums prior to it, and I also did a second installment of “Acoustic Sessions” in 2011. Oh yeah, not to forget the exclusive double-length anthology “Rare, Live, & Unreleased” which was a fun project to piece together, but exclusively released via Bandcamp. But all those releases mainly featured songs already released as different versions, so it’s going to feel good to put out a collection of all new material again. The “Where Did I Go?” E.P. released earlier this year was 6 new songs, but that was a side-project with a different sound. I’m sure I’ll do more releases for Music By Bradley James down the road, but until then I thought it time to “get back to my roots” as they say.

When I began writing and recording the very first Five Times August songs I had just turned 18. My approach was simple and quick and homemade. I’d write a song, usually in about 3 hours or so, record a few takes soon thereafter, overdub additional guitar parts, mix it and considered it done – all in my bedroom. It was rough but it was honest and that’s very much how I intend this next album to be, rough and honest. I’m going to get back to basics and essentially limit myself to my room,  the gear I have, and my own creativity and knowledge of record production. That’s not to say my knowledge is limited, but I’ve worked with and relied on some amazing talent over the years, and this time around I have decided to take that luxury out of the equation, just do it all myself with the education I’ve consumed from working with them. It’s going to be a challenge but an exciting one at that.

So I just wanted to drop in and let you guys know I’m back in the saddle again. I’m ready to create some new tunes and see what comes out of this little room.

Talk to you soon,

Brad

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The Future Before The Internet

Mars

I wrote and posted this a week or two ago on my Facbeook but now that we have a new official blog I thought it deserved it’s own entry, so here you go…

Here’s an interesting thought – if the core of your childhood took place in the 1980’s or early 90’s you are among the last generation in history to envision a future without the Internet. Remember what that looked like? We were going to have hover cars, people living in space, molecular transport tubes that sent us across the galaxy instantaneously, and everyone was going to wear cool shiny silver jumpsuits. Now, I will admit, most of how I imagined the future as a kid was based heavily on a variety of family vacations to Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center between 1986 and 1996, as well as the movie Back To The Future Part II. Still, let’s all agree that by now we should definitely have a few hover cars sitting next to us in traffic on the way to work.

So what happened? Where are the shiny suits? The transport tubes? Delorean Time Machines??? Anyone??? Well, in exchange for that tired cliché vision we dreamed of for so many years we got the Internet instead. Sure, the Internet is great, amazing, revolutionary, yada, yada, yada. But, I think it’s a very anticlimactic future for our generation. The mere idea of “The Year 2000” was once synonymous with science fiction, but all we got in the end was Y2K and Napster. Thanks Internet, I guess. We used to look up, out into space, and conceptualize a world beyond our own. Now we’re constantly looking down, conceptualizing a world within our laptop. That’s the future we were waiting for? iPhone apps and games for social networking? “So and so invited you to play Candy Crush??” Ah man, what a let down. Pretty far from space the final frontier. Think about it. We have a rover on Mars right now, a planet we’ve never been to before, but nobody seems to really care. When was the last time your Facebook news feed was inundated with educational pictures of space rocks? Who cares about life on another planet? Like, am I right? On the other hand, have you seen that trending Buzzfeed article “21 Things “The Goonies” Taught Me?” It’s totally so true OMG!!

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I wouldn’t feel let down if we were using the Internet to better our minds and not numb out on what is mainly pointless drivel. Cat pictures, food pictures, porn, Facebook stalking, stealing music, peopleofwalmart.com, and arguing; Generally speaking, these are the “great” advents of the Internet. We literally have an endless amount of knowledge at our fingertips at all time and THAT’S the information that means the most to us in cyber land. I guess it’s entertaining, but, I don’t feel any smarter or educated for having the Internet. I just find things out instantaneously and most of the time the information doesn’t stick to my brain anyway. I think that’s why we clutch to our smartphones so much. They’re beginning to think for us so we don’t have to. That’s why if someone asks us an educated question we most commonly reply with “I don’t know, let me Google it.”

Our future did not include the Internet until it just sort of appeared and took over. For most of us it showed up in the mail as a CD labeled “500 Free Hours of America Online.” That frantic dial up static noise not only connected us to the World Wide Web for the first time, it connected us to our future. The Internet came in and said “Move over hover car, rocket boots, zero gravity housing on the moon, you’re not in the cards for these people, I am.”

So, our vision of the future flipped and became introverted. That once big infinite black universe surrounding Earth shattered into a million smartphone screens that now reside in the palm of our hand. Sitting, starring, ignoring one another, tapping on a small plate of glass… I have to ask again, this is the future that was waiting for us? I’d rather have a house on the moon than Twitter, I’m just saying. #futurefail

Weekend Recap

In case you missed any of my posts over the weekend I thought I’d share them collectively for you right here along with a few other pics that haven’t been posted yet. If you see a link, click on it to enhance your blog viewing experience.

"This is what being ready to go by 5:30a.m looks like to me." - instagram: bradleyjames2011

“This is what being ready to go by 5:30a.m looks like to me.” – instagram: bradleyjames2011

Friday evening I performed at Penn State University supporting the talented Eric Hutchinson. It was a fun show, good crowd, and hopefully I made some new friends and fans. Since I became a dad my touring schedule has switched from a constant travel back and forth across the U.S., to being home most of the time and flying out to do a few one-off shows here and there. I’ve been okay with that simply because I want to be here for my son, especially during these early years.  On the other hand I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss performing as much as I used to, so it’s always nice to get back on stage these days. One-offs, to me, are like a 36 hour marathon race. As soon as you wake up early in the morning you’re off, non stop. First leg is getting to the airport, second is the flight, third is the layover and the other flight, then getting the rental car, checking into the hotel, getting to the show, so on and so on until you’re back where you started, home. I usually set my iPhone alarm for three different times, each serving a specific purpose. The first alarm goes off about 15 minutes before I actually get up. This is like a nudge just to say “Hey, you’re going to have to get up soon.” The second alarm goes off  only 5 minutes later but allows my brain to get what feels like 30 more minutes of sleep. The third alarm is what I call the “parent alarm” because it reminds me of the last time your mom or dad would wake you up for school in the morning. “Get up RIGHT NOW or you’re going to miss the bus, I’m not telling you again!” So, three alarms, I’m good with that.

Now, the process of getting through the airport and actually getting on the plane is going to have to be another blog at some other time. There’s way to much to complain about and criticize. I’m only saying this as a professional traveler, so if you don’t fly very much you probably haven’t noticed the inconsistencies from one security line to the next. Either way, I’ll save it all for a  stand up comedy routine like everyone else with strong opinions on airport travel. Once I got checked in and settled at my gate I made this Vine. Obviously I was bored, but at least I got to share it with the entire world.

bent propeller blades

bent propeller blades

I had a quick layover at Washington Dulles airport. The second plane was what you’d call lil’. It was a lil’ plane with very lil’ space to relax. Interestingly enough, during the flight while taking “I’m bored on a small plane” pics, I found out looking through the screen on my phone that the propeller blades became warped. I think this was from a combination of the camera’s capture speed and the  curve of the plane’s window, but, it looked weird enough so I snapped a shot of it for you (seen left). You can thank me later for blowing your mind.

Once we landed I went to pick up my rental car. I have to say, never once have I reserved a compact car and actually received a compact car. I’m always told “We’re out of compact cars at the moment so I’m going to upgrade you at no extra charge.” I guess I’m supposed to be like “Oh thanks, that’s nice of you,” but this happens ALL the time. Maybe I don’t want a bigger car, maybe I just want what I asked for. What if psychologically I couldn’t handle a bigger car? What if I was a short person who felt more comfortable in a smaller size vehicle? These are not really the issues, but you don’t know me car rental place, get your act together and get me what I reserved; a vehicle with no automatic locks, no CD player, and a weird dent on the driver side door that I have to take note of so you don’t charge me for it upon return. I mean, come on.

So, I checked into the hotel. This is the point at which I usually restring my guitar, warm up, make the set list, and eventually make my way to the venue. I utilized my Vine account once again to make this action packed video. Side note, it’s hard to make a Vine video of something you normally do with two hands while having to film with one. Anyway, I also made a video with Instagram which was easier than Vine since you can important pre-recorded video. Either way, make sure you follow me on both Vine and Instagram if you have the apps so you don’t miss this stuff.

Everybody at the Penn State show was great. The crowd was fun, the students who put on the event were helpful and made sure I was taken care. If you were there, thanks so much for inviting me to play. I hope to see you again soon! If you weren’t there, here’s the setlist:

Thank you Penn State! instagram: bradleyjames2011

Thank you Penn State! instagram: bradleyjames2011

Do It Again
We’ll Fall In Love Tonight
Save It For Later
Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover)
Love The Way
Up To Me
My Girl (The Temptations Cover)
Roll Into You
Better With You
Audience of Zero

I actually didn’t have Roll Into You in the set, but a couple of girls yelled for it so I threw it in. Hey, I aim to please. So, it was a good time. Eric Hutchinson put on a great show with hip tunes and has an awesome live band. Check him out if you haven’t yet. We had a chance to say hi to one another after a show and he was nice. I like it when the other act is nice, sometimes they’re not.

In the morning before I left the hotel I walked out to the parking lot and mistakingly packed my suitcase and guitar in another white rental car that happened to be unlocked. It wasn’t until I tried to put the key into the ignition did I realize “Woops, not my car!”

My flights back were way more interesting than the flights on the way out, mainly thanks to this guy. I think when a situation like this occurs there is an unspoken agreement that if you are going to sleep on my shoulder I get to put a video of it online, so I did. Thank you for that opportunity, Instagram. I also took a picture with my new buddy…

yeah, I don't know you guy...

yeah, I don’t know you, guy.

So that was weird.

Anyway, I’m back in Texas and ready to get back to work on a few projects, one of them being a new Five Times August album. Talk to you soon.

– Brad