Nov 20, 2014

Monster Crushes - Songs From The Last Q*Ball Album

Do you believe in passion? 

Do you believe in that overwhelming "duhhh...derrrr" feeling that you get for someone?  I did.  I've had my fair share of those type of feelings throughout the years and I've - sometimes helplessly - fully embraced them.

But are those feelings real?  Are they love or merely the infatuations of a passionate madman?

"Monster Crushes" represents one point-of-view.

Because my most recent romantic experiences have reminded me that the more you invest your heart in someone, the more you uncover.  And the more you uncover, the more you discover.  And sometimes those discoveries can be ugly and unforgivable.  Sometimes those discoveries serve to obliterate all those good feelings you felt in those better, more innocent moments.

But "Monster Crushes" is also about having feelings for someone you already know to be a monster.  And yet you love them anyway.  You make excuses for their misbehavior, sometimes you're even complicit in it.  You accept their shortcomings and in doing so, you lose respect for your own self.  You overlook their selfishness and their deceit because there's something inside you that just. can't. let. go.

That was my last relationship, that was my last love.  It was phony.  It was an orchestrated fraud.

It was just another one of those monster crushes.

I just had a birthday.  And an anniversary.  Sandy.  Two years since the waters came, since I started rebuilding.


My Mom reached out via e-mail with some typical sage wisdom.

"Don’t waste your time looking back for what you have lost, move on for life wasn’t meant to be traveled backwards."

Mom was probably referring to my autographed Nine Inch Nails tour poster, my Pez collection, my Led Zeppelin albums, my Microkorg, Nana's ancient Christmas ornaments.  They were certainly lost two years ago, amongst most of my worldly possessions.  I lost the house too.  But Mom's pretty savvy - she was probably looking beyond the material stuff.

And yet, my new album is about what my mother wants me to reject - Looking Back at all the Loss.  But The Last Q*Ball Album isn't my pity party.  It's also about moving on.  It's one final look back at the romantic nonsense I endured before and after Sandy put her stamp on my timeline.

The Last Q*Ball Album, in its own little way, is one giant leap forward.

"Don't touch a hot stove," a younger-yet-wiser friend advised me last summer.  And yet I returned for more.  Because no one knew how I felt.  No one could advise me because no one was standing where I was, no one knew what I was up against, no one knew what I had been through after that storm had taken all my crap and usurped me from my comfortable, if somewhat uninspiring, existence.

No one truly understood how badly I wanted it.

That passion, that intimacy - it fueled me, it consumed me.  So I ran towards the flames instead of away from the fire.  I ran towards that hot stove with a can of gasoline strapped to my back and I wound up getting burned again.

And yet I bear no scars.  Because I am free of those feelings.  Because as amazing and overwhelming as that 'duhh...derrr' feeling is in the moment, when you are finally able to step out of that place and see what you were so consumed by for what it truly is - when your eyes are finally all the way open - it is easier to forget.  Love is a long-term commitment, it's a long haul - not just over years or months, but over the course of a simple day.  And if you can't give that to someone else - through thick and through thin - well, then you're not in love.

And this is why we write songs.  Musicians.  Love's fools.  This is why we make albums even if we won't make endless bags of money for doing so.  Because we can bottle all those hurt feelings up or we can scream them out at the piano, at the guitar, in front of a microphone, in front of an audience.  I would argue with my mother that it's okay to look back at the past as a lesson for the present, for the future.  Because I look back and I don't lament it.  Instead, I try to make some beauty out of all the ugliness.  And in doing so - whether here in this space or in 40 minutes over the span of 10 songs - I can let the other passionate, hopeless romantics out there know that they're not alone. 

In doing so, I can accept that if I 'm not in love, I can still be okay with my life.  I can still be happy.

I find that passion returning again, only more cautious.  And cautious is okay.  Maybe cautious is necessary at this point, because there are phonies everywhere.  We live in an interactive world where lies and embellishment have become commonplace, where trickery has become simple, where loyalty has become challenging.  

But the truth comes out.  What lies beneath ultimately rises to the surface.  And at the end of the day, nobody likes a phony even if a lot of us like monsters.

In the wake of this most recent romantic challenge, I went out looking for apartments in Brooklyn (usually when your roommate is lying to your face about cheating on you, that's a sign to start looking for a new place to live, just an FYI for y'all) and I met my buddy Joe for dinner.

We talked about a lot of things over some delicious barbeque and some whiskey, we talked about making this album.  At some point, the conversation steered towards morality and desire and I asked Joe to weigh in on why I had put myself in this position to get hurt, why I laid it all out on the line again only to have my heart laid to waste.

"Because you're Ron Scalzo," he responded before devouring a rib tip.  His answer didn't need further explaining.  It was profound.  This is who I am. 

So maybe my passion has been foolhardy, maybe it has even been a bit of a curse.  But it comes with integrity.  It's pure, even if it has sometimes been misguided.   

It's real.

I'd like to think that's what makes it romantic.  And so I'm gonna hold on to it for a bit longer.  I'm gonna hold out a little more hope. 

I'm moving forward, Mom.  Can't wait to see what happens next.


The Last Q*Ball Album by Ron Scalzo - available now on iTunes and Amazon


I'm not in love
You have to keep telling yourself
I'm not in love
I don't wanna date a girl that I know anything about
You'll just ruin it
It's just another one of those monster crushes
Do you think I'll stick around
Once I find out the truth?
I'm not in love
You have to keep selling yourself
I'm not enough
I don't wanna date a girl that I know anything about
You'll just ruin it
It's just another one of those monster crushes
Do you think I'll stick around
Once I find out the truth?
So 'Ha Ha!'
'Ha! Ha!'
Yeah you did it again!


Ron Scalzo - piano, synths, vocals
Joseph Milazzo - vocals
Alexa Criscitiello - vocals
John Philippidis - bass guitar
Theodore Pagano - drums and percussion

Music and words by Ron Scalzo.  Copyright 2014 Bald Freak Music (ASCAP)

Artwork by Joseph Milazzo

Recorded at Thump Studios and Teddy's Basement, Brooklyn, NY

Engineered and mixed by Chris Montgomery
Mastered by Michael Judeh at Dubway Studios, NYC