I'm working on my last album.
This week - in between horror movie watching and marathon training - I will begin mixing and tweaking the songs I've recorded over the past 2+ years.
Q*Ball was born right after the turn of the century, an intended solo project I started with my friend Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, who was gracious enough to contribute not only as a guitarist but also as an engineering and producing mentor. We did three albums together, and Ron's expertise and patience behind the mixing board are something I have never been able to match as an independent electronic musician. And while Q*Ball has never achieved mainstream success, I was always encouraged by Ron's (mostly) positive response to the songs we were working on.
As a non-touring, barely-show-playing artist over the last decade, I certainly didn't have a ton of fans, but enough to validate the project's existence. I made some surprisingly decent money thru various licensing deals and used that money to start a record label so I could put myself in charge of the destiny of my own musical adventures.
A decade later, my life has changed tremendously. The music industry has imploded. Most attempts to put a live show together have fallen flat, and the ones that did come together were almost always underwhelming. Bumblefoot joined Guns N' Roses, effectively downsizing his commitment to the project.
It's been tough. I don't lament any of that. Shit happens, you learn and grow. My big regret is not getting infinitely better at recording the music myself - I can point fingers at other people or circumstances that prevented that from happening. Pointing fingers is pointless. Instead, I'm learning how to be self-sufficient as an artist and as a producer. I still have a lot of work to do.
The time is now, the past is the past, and it's time to FOCUS.
So I need a focus group. What's a focus group? A select group of people who tell you what's good and what's shite.
It's difficult to trust my own instincts after a decade of frustrating mediocrity and with no band mates, so I welcome the guidance - I'm not sure how good these new tunes are, or if they're any good at all. Maybe they're all in the key of D minor and I haven't even noticed. Maybe they sound like they're all about the same girl (they're not). Maybe some need more cowbell.
These are the songs currently in contention for inclusion on the new album, and there are about a dozen more in demo form, another half dozen still being worked on. It will be refreshing to, for once, be selective about what songs to include and save the rest for the B-side bin (or perhaps the trash bin).
I feel a strong urge to put these new songs out there, but in today's musical Wild West show, I'm not even sure what format to release them in. CDs are relics, vinyl is awesome but super expensive and restrictive as far as content, and digital is an invitation for a speedy burnout. These songs tell the story of my life over the past few years - my struggles to maintain and then escape a shitty marriage, my struggles to find myself again as a single thirtysomething guy, my struggles to trust my own deceptive heart and deal with the deceptions of the alluring females who have entered and exited my new existence. Some Q*Ball songs may be intentionally goofy, but most of the rest are about women. Fact is, before I started Q*Ball, I was romantically as happy as I've ever been; afterwards, not so much.
Q*Ball may have once been my destiny, but now it's my therapy. I need a few musical shrinks to work out the kinks - so far I have secured two spots, including my friend JJ Kincaid, talented afternoon drive jock at Z100 whose musical tastes I greatly respect (along with his often inappropriate sense of humor). It would be great to add 3-4 more people into the mix, preferably a female fan, an industry female, and two fellow musicians. Focus groups have rules, apparently, but I'll take what I can get. If you're interested, please contact me via Facebook or Twitter, or thru this blog.
Basically, I'll send works-in-progress, demos, final mixes thru SoundCloud on a weekly (or so) basis and ask for honest critiques and answers to specific questions. It's as simple as that. In exchange, a big THANK YOU in my liner notes, a free copy of the finished product, and my eternal gratitude. If that's not enough, we can always talk sexual favors or free drugs.
Regular album updates and videos will appear here and at www.baldfreak.com over the next few months. Thank you for listening.