Wade Into Love 7/3 – 2020
Seclusion has an upside. So many silent nights in my early days in Twin Peaks were spent cooking and writing music. My solitude guided my way into reflections of times that came before it all. I could clearly.view experiences that shaped me prior to climbing the mountain without any attachment. That solitude gave me a different kind of clarity I had not had before. There were times I went weeks without speaking to anyone besides the cashiers at the local supermarket. Sometimes I found myself speaking to them a little longer than usual and holding up the people behind me. I had forced my life into transformation once again. Change was my co-pilot and the wind in the trees became the daily discussion.
When I began writing Mercylane songs it all felt disjointed and disconnected (sometimes it still does). It’s going on nearly 3 decades that I have actually played music with others in a real way. And those “others” were giants. That’s pretty much all I ever knew before this. The God Machine always had this invisible glue between us that sonic-ally seamed it all together. It’s that invisible space that you can not just make up or plan to happen, it just is. It’s the same between players who can sway and swing like the tide together. There is a force there that is unheard and unseen. A hand that guides the spirit between players when they are in the zone. That invisible hand always seemed huge to me. A guiding force that filled me with tribal beats and gentle expressions. For me, that is when the music felt great to play. Those deep improvisations and parts in the tracks allowing that energy in. Sections of songs set up to heighten that energy and emotion and feed on it. For me, slamming the skins within that energy was what it was all about. I loved being lost in it.
Drafting songs on my own has really forced my imaginary mind to visualize what it would be like to be with other players. In those early days, I tried to write with the intention of being able to have a full band perform the songs. I would write with a visual image in my mind of how a song could sound and unfold live. Wade is one of those songs. It is of a series of the first songs I wrote in Twin Peaks. It came into being right about the time I learned to sing and play guitar at the same time. It was the hardest thing for me to do. It never worked and I really couldn’t understand why. Playing drums requires all these different movements simultaneously, so why was it so difficult? Then one day, I let go. It clicked like a switch in my brain and Wade was soon to follow.
My transformational journey to Twin Peaks stripped me of mostly all attachments. It removed me from any social situation I was a part of. It was the first time I lived long term in a country-like environment. I left friends behind and transitioned my life into a totally different perspective again. Spending the afternoon in the forest with my dog and the ravens, day after day took me to a place inside where there is silence. It allowed me to see a clearer picture of what is and has been in my life and it made so many harbored positions wash away. Only the important things remained, my daughter, my dog and my music. My teenage daughter lives in Austria full time and is about to arrive for our 4th summer in the mountains. She is becoming a young woman fast.
Lyrically, Wade became a cautionary tale. It comes from a place in me that sees my daughter transform into a beautiful young woman in a rapidly changing world. A place that anticipates her heartbreak and love-life challenges. A place I’m reminded of my own experiences. A place that sees our world hurting one another rather than truly loving and caring for one another. A place I see that ‘love for one another’ taken advantage of, exploited and buried in the grave of hyped ideologies. A place I see the selfish few flooding our consciousness with their hate and thirst for control. For me Wade is about the opposite of love and I can’t wait to play it live one day.
When you’re trapped in the water I’m gonna drag you on under.
One Day 6/1 – 2020
My Father, Ronald Lynn Austin, was a bass player in the 60s. From what I remember being told, he played in a few different bands around the San Diego area. When I think about the times he grew up in, I feel universes away from that era today. For so many, the 60s/70s were when music and imagination-rich-ideas flowed in all directions. Mass LSD experiences and drug induced euphoria dominated the culture he grew up in and he dove deeply into it. I was born when he was 16yrs old and I entered into a quite turbulent landscape for the years to come. The destruction of a marriage and government funded poverty were the foundations laid in my early life.
Because of my father’s decadent decline into the culture of the time and his spiral into alcoholism and addiction, I was usually discouraged from forging a musical path while growing up. I was told it would “lead me to drugs” and I’ll “end up just like him”. That was hard for me to understand. As a child I never got to know my father very well. He was never around. All I really knew is that he was a man who could not control the demons he harbored. The opinion of some who cared about me considered him a bad man, a dangerous man, a destroyed man. Some considered him kind and thoughtful. As a child I didn’t really know. I didn’t have the experience with him or with the world to truly understand who or what he was. All I really knew is that I was from him. And from the start I had some inclination toward an imaginative life.
I got to know my father pretty well when I was a teenager. He lived deep in the woods and lava fields of the Mt Shasta area of Northern California. I spent three summers with him when I was 15/16 yrs old. Unforgettable times filled with sun soaked river adventures, gold mining and psychedelic hikes. I became a claim jumper, dredging gold from rivers deep in the isolated landscapes. He worked in a roadside bar on the Klamath river. A community center for the hardcore mountain folk and hippie-biker-60s era expats. It was a dark place you can get beer and a burger, play pool, listen to country music oozing out the juke and watch the river flow. That is where I got to know the pleasure of drinking an ice cold beer. That is where I got to see the demons he harbored. It was true, they were there, attached to him and they loved drugs and alcohol. Other than that he was the kind and thoughtful person I was told he was. He was a really good guy. He told me of the abuse he suffered as a child and I could see clearly how it shaped him.
At this time in June, just days before I graduated from high school, he overdosed on heroin. He was 34 yrs old. I often wonder what it would be like if he were still around. I have finally taught myself to sing and play guitar at the same time and I’m sure we would have got down on some ripe hillbilly jams together. Sometimes I write songs on my acoustic and think… damn, my dad would get in on this jam so smooth. If he were alive I would have him ‘in the band’ and get him on some songs for sure. Or at least sing some Led Zeppelin covers together by the fireplace.
Moving up to the mountain area of Southern California somehow connects me to that time I spent in Northern California. One Day was the first full song I recorded up here. It has gone through different incarnations over time and I changed the lyrics twice. Last year I felt the song wanted a different melodic and lyrical structure, so I improvised and considered what my father would want to say if he could. In a way, One Day answers some questions for me. And it’s the song that has launched me on this path of rediscovery.
so stand in the light you want
for the long haul day son
stand in the life you want
till the day is done one day
Get One Day at BANDCAMP
PRELUDE 5/23 – 2020
It was a late night about a month after I moved to Twin Peaks. It was fog season up in the mountains and I had just rescued and adopted my dog Kika from a high kill shelter in the desert and my daughter Hannah was soon to arrive from Austria for the summer. So much had happened in my life up to this point. I had been bouncing around cities between New York, London, Vienna, Los Angeles for several years in an unnecessary personal war. A war that encompassed and affected nearly everything I was exposed to. I drove across the USA (again) with all my possessions and ended up in Los Angeles.
When I moved to Los Angeles my friend Michael Gladis showed up at my arts district loft. I opened the door and he was holding an acoustic guitar case.. I think he said ‘stick em up’. It was great to see him and he gifted me his Epiphone Masterbuit acoustic. I’ve never had a friend gift me a guitar before. I’m not very good at guitar but this gift from Michael was a surprise and became an important part of my journey when I got to Twin Peaks.
I had been out hiking in the fog with my dog on Dragon’s Peak. It’s so dream-like in the forest with the thick fog. It just takes you to this subconscious place where your instincts and senses are full-on heightened. I was in an unfamiliar place and in an unfamiliar life. The trees that line that part the peak are some of the oldest I have seen on the mountain. They are on the rim and twisted and stretched in surreal ways from decades of wind rushing up over the edge. I relied on day dreams in those first days. I would imagine using my living room to set up a music studio so I could focus my new found solitude. I had to adjust my senses to the prolonged silence I experienced every night. I was far from the East Village in New York City or the Arts District in LA.
I set up a less than modest recording station in my living room with an old mac computer I used for my video production company years before. Connected to that was an old midi keyboard Robin had left behind at my LA loft when he stayed with me while working on his song The Drifter. It was all less than modest. After that long hike in the fog I started thinking about drafting actual songs. I sat at the recording station that evening and had no idea where to begin. Just dropping a beat and having some fun playing along was no longer my thinking. After all these years I had to ask myself, what the hell kind of music would I truly make now? What would be the sound?
I recalled that God Machine session when we created the Piano Song for the Scenes record. How it was just a simple and pure improvisation born from spontaneity and atmosphere. I remembered sitting at the piano while the studio was being packed up and Jimmy grabbing the note and going along. Robin had the foresight to run the tape and keep the atmosphere intact. I remembered that moment as some kind of perfection that expressed how we made music in the most basic way. Attuned to energy, emotion and sonic impact rather than instrumental technical skill.
Prelude is a solo attempt to connect to that way of making. It’s all basic, done in single, improvised takes, quickly and spontaneous. It was the first thing I memorialized here in the mountains. A gateway to the road I was about to travel in attempting to write actual songs (on my own) for the first time in my life. For me one thing is certain, I will never be able to reach those magical heights TGM did back then. I knew that then and I still know that today. I have found I play drums the same and I still like loud guitars and a driving beat but in no way could I even get close.