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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I Think I'm On To Something

I'm writing you, oh blog on the blogsphere, from my English drawing room. Technically it's not mine; I'm renting a room in my friend's place in North London. And technically, it's not a drawing room. Just 2 beat up brown couches, a mock persian rug featuring two roosters fighting over a butterfly, and a knock-off 15 inch flatscreen TV atop a small table, the kind used to hold incense in zen monasteries converted from NYC studio apartments (yes I tried meditation once). It's been a while since I addressed my virtual public with a semi-sarcastic diatribe. But it's not for lack of trying. I've started blogs in the past months, but abandoned them within two paragraphs. I can't articulate the reason for my silence, but I think it's got something to do with the old adage "if you don't have something nice to say, keep your pie hole shut". Now if only I learned that lesson with girlfriends...

I'm in London through the beginning of September, hanging around for my good friend and band mate Tom Richard's wedding (he's getting married in Oxford College, the backdrop to many famous films, most recently the Harry Potter franchise). Most importantly, I'm here putting the finishing touches on my next studio album, tentatively titled I Think I'm On To Something. I started writing and recording it over a year ago with two great talents, producer/writers Jerry Abbott and Grant Black. I've procured the drumming talents of Jeremy Stacey, as well as the mixing chops of my longtime collaborator, producer Steve Power of Robbie Williams fame. Steve was the secondary mastermind behind The Planeteer. The primary one being me. Of course.

The path to finishing this LP has been fraught with difficulty. For some reason, I find it impossible to make music in a fluid motion. Coming up in my early twenties, I had a vision of my future self as Tom Hulce in Amadeus, leaning over my pool table, effortlessly bouncing a ball off the bank, my quill in constant motion spewing out an inspired masterpiece. I don't know if it's my New York Jewish upbringing, the booming voice of my diabetic French father forever in my head, or that I'm fast becoming a cliche, but I don't think I'll ever create that way. Writing is a violent place for me filled with laughter, self-doubt, masochism, longing and the constant feeling of dissatisfaction. It's a fiery pit of despair and at the end of every album I have to be pulled from it screaming like a child torn away from the playground.

On top of my creative insanity, there's been serious financial hurdles to overcome. After being dropped from EMI in March 2009, I began writing songs with Jerry and Grant in an attempt to save my ass. Without corporate sponsorship, my time in England was limited. I'd hooked up with a new manager, Colin Lester of Twenty First Artists, and we were trying to get another deal. At the beginning of last summer, it looked as if we found a life raft in the form of Universal Music. But the music business is CRAZY, and that deal fell apart two weeks before signing. I was banished to my homeland that fall, the beginning of my six month decent into depression living at my parents place. By the way, I really do love my folks, my French diabetic father and my knitting obsessed, trivia champion mother. They were amazing to put up with me then. No one else would. I felt like the guy in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I grew a beard, wore a bathrobe and sweatpants constantly, ate a shitload of cereal.

With the new year came possibilities and inspiration. I returned to London this past Spring, and began to write for the album again. Through an amazing stroke of luck, I was given an opportunity to start my own label! My new album will be released on Planeteer Records in 2011. Planeteer has a staff of 3: Colin, Neil (who works for Colin) and Me. We're doing everything: the photo shoots, the design, the A&R, the budgeting, hiring the pluggers, etc. I know it sounds involved and boring, but what it means is that, at the tender age of 30, I have the freedom to make exactly the kind of music I want to make. And this new album is exactly that. I've created a true character, a cinematic element that lives in every song. I wouldn't go so far to say it's a concept album, more like an audio movie. Treat the tracks on the CD like chapters of a DVD. I wanted the title to sound like a film, some lost 70's/early 80's Woody Allen classic, made way before all that crap with Scarlett Jo. In I Think I'm On To Something JV plays a fearless, glamorous, slightly less neurotic version of himself. The sentimental private eye type (think Bogart meets Elliot Gould) who's famous in his own mind (The King Of Comedy meets The Long Goodbye) telling stories of lost love while celebrating his loneliness. I feel for the first time I've been able to take my sense of humor in shoot it straight into the music, without having it conflict with all the mushy gushy romance you people love.

Now that I'm not on the man's dime, the only expectations I have to live up to are my own. This fall I'm heading out to do my last bit of touring for The Planeteer, starting to weave the new songs in with the old. I'm bursting to share this new album with you guys. I'm even doing free shows in New York with a full 5-piece band. I must seriously have a screw loose. Or maybe for the first time in my career I'm having fun. God forbid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome, particularly the "your own label" part. Congratulations! Can't wait to hear the new album.