No Way Back
I first started working on these songs in the summer of 2002. I was writing at the pace of one new song every week. They came to me in small fragments, each in a very different style and mood. I quickly found that I could combine them into larger songs with multiple sections and I started coming up with stories that fit the mood of each piece. They became like mini-suites, a musical journey that took the listener through a short story. Some sections had echoes of blues and hard rock, some elements of classical, some elements of Americana and jazz chords, even some funk and reggae. But they all fit very smoothly together, with almost unnoticeable transitions. Most of 2003 was spent practicing the material. I worked dilligently in the basement of the Conservatory of Music, making the songs tighter and expanding on the arrangements. Musical passages became longer or shorter and the songs slowly became cemented. By mid-2004, I was ready to record. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts with my band kept coming up and the recording sessions kept getting pushed farther and farther back. By the end of 2004, it seemed like the album would never be recorded. Finally, I decided in the beginning of 2005 that I would go about recording the whole album by myself. I started by laying down the drums sounds for the whole album, playing to a metronome. Then I followed by adding the bass tracks to each song. Now that I had put down a rythmn section, I added acoustic guitars in multiple layers, sometimes as many as ten per song. Then came electric guitars in dozens of layers, both for rythmn and lead. Then came the multiple piano tracks. Then came banjos, mandolin, accordian, theremin, slide whistle and kazoo, war drums, and Chinese Pipa. I even wrote an orchestral score to one song featuring a Cello, Violins, French horn and Oboe. I hired the orchestra musicians and added it to the album, layering the parts multiple times. Finally, I added lead vocals and four part harmonies for the backup vocals. The recording process was finished by the summer of 2006. By this time, each song had as many as seventy different tracks. The album was mixed in the fall of 2006 and finally released in December. With this album, I feel like I was able to accomplish what I set out to make. It's a record that takes the listener through many different styles and moods. The reoccurring theme that comes through is that there is no way back to sanctuary. So many people live their lives in the past, feeling that things were better then. The characters in these songs each find in different ways that there is no way back home.