shanks and the dreamers

of things which seemed impossible at first....

While doing a surface redesign of the site, I got a bit nostalgic when I ran across this item.  SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS "Instrumentals for Illegal Aliens" was the first bit of music I recorded as a conceptual whole, to be shipped out into the market. I did some soundtrack work for my film STILL LOVER, but the soundtrack was never intended to stand alone. The images drove the music.

The backstory to this record is one I will always cherish because of the many physical and emotional hurdles it entailed. It took much longer than a year to complete and I had no clue of the recording process. All of it was new.

And on top of that, I was completely self taught and didn't start playing instruments till later than most. At one point in my development, I was playing guitar for about 12 hours a day. My roommate at UCLA wanted to kill me, but he had no choice but to stay out of the apartment. I also surely skipped some classes, driven by my desire to understand how this damn thing worked.  

But, the recording process taught me a few lessons. One was that if you want something, you can make it happen regardless of the challenges. The other lesson was that setbacks don't mean anything in the long run. A hurdle is just a small physical barrier, or a psychological abstraction that is solvable. There will be many others to take its place along the way, but taken in small pieces, they don't amount to much. And they can almost always be defeated by ACTION.

Now, I know this isn't all that much, but for a kid who never had any musical experience, and without any knowledge of the tools of recording, I went from 0 to 1 pretty fast all because of a desire to try, learn, execute and ultimately, not give a shit of critical opinions. Because you cannot ship anything if your afraid of peoples reactions.

I'd love to hear your story. Send me message, and play this forward.

Also if you happen to need some introverted tracks to go along with your coffee, your creative work or a long drive, please pick up a digital copy of this ancient work (2007) right below:

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Summer of 08 - a throwback to a simpler mindframe

Adding to the universal catalogue of #tbt for the first time, I thought it a great opportunity to join in and contribute to the grand fall of civilization. 

Sometime in 2007 was my first time forming a band with more than one person in it.  And in the summer of '08, it was the first time I wrote songs with lyrics and the first time I tried to produce an album on my own.  My bandmate Art came aboard as well to try his hands behind the instruments as well.  And this was all first times for me because music is not my first endeavor.

I had co-produced my first instrumental Shanks and the Dreamers album (A DAY LATE; INSTRUMENTALS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS) a year before, but this was different.  This one had vocals, this one had songs.

It was a crazy time, and a crazy pursuit, since I didn't know much about the recording and post process (A DAY LATE was mostly recorded live with one takes).  I was also in grad school, doing film/video projects and maintaining a job that I might discuss at a later date. But, I went in and got down with recording anyways.  And I'll admit it, the overall mix is not very good.  But, that's with that hindsight knowledge.  That’s that aftermath bullshit.  

When we wrapped the mix, my bandmate Art traveled to NY to Masterdisk to get it mastered since my schedule wouldn't allow me.  And at the legendary Masterdisk no less, home of some of the best mastering engineers in the world.  I can only imagine their auditory horror at this lo-fi, hodgepodge, too often mono mixed, crazy bedroom album.  But, shit, they took the money.  And, it ended up sounding mostly better. And, I still love some tracks on that record.  

If I had waited to learn everything, I would never attempt to take it on with reckless abandon.  Once you think you've learned enough, the world starts to simultaneously slow down and speed up in the most inopportune ways.  You become overly cautious.  Don't do that to yourself.  Just get in, and do it.  Regret it later.  Learn from it.  And, take that leap again.  You'll never learn enough.  That's the idea, the beauty of creative pursuits.  

Once you become a PRO, you're an industry.  You appease the mass because you expect that paycheck, but you're no longer relevant in the absolute sense.  You're the status quo.  In the hip hop metaphor, you’re basically rhyming about mad money in every verse because that’s your only reference point.  The industry.  So, have fun in your obscurity.  It's the greatest time you have to take on the world. 

This was the video for HUSH from the SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS album MY DARLING DIA.  This was one of the better produced tracks.  Well, at least the stereo image is fuller.  It features my good friend Stephanie Lambert, was produced by myself and Art Toussi, and I shot it mostly in my bathroom.

If your still interested, these are some of my favorite tracks from that album; EXTRAORDINARY MACHINES, HUSH, CAMEL CRUSADER, 777, CHARLIE GET A JOB, WHITEHOUSE ( trivia, the instrumental for Whitehouse was used in Rick Curnutt's fantastic film, Free Lunch).