Update: All of the Things!
I know that there hasn't been an update to the site lately, but that's mostly because I've been working on a lot of stuff behind the scenes.
When I originally had a quick creative burst of a few new songs back in the fall, I'd written them with the idea that they and a few other, older, reworked songs would end up on a new album, tentatively titled Wilderness Amen. Then I came up with some more songs. And yet more.
At this point, I've written about ten new songs that haven't been recorded in any serious capacity yet. I plan on reworking a few songs from the past that never made it out on an album, and I'm carrying around about ten to fifteen song skeletons that are waiting to get filled in with lyrics, hopefully before summer starts. So, by the time I get to a point where I'm ready to settle down and record these new songs, I'm likely to have thirty or so songs, enough for three new albums instead of one.
So that's why things are going slowly. A few words about the new songs:
There's one that's a fingerpicked song with lyrics that are a retelling of a twelfth century French lai.
One is based on the "Harry Hood" outro progression and is the peppiest song I've ever written.
There's one called "I Love You (Or the Mountains)."
There's a Grateful Dead-style roadtrip song with a protagonist named after my dog.
There are a lot of metaphors where natural conditions stand in for signs of societal collapse.
There's a song I wrote as an invocation to a pretend deity of the highway.
One song is about the "bright girl" mentioned in "Hand In Hand" from Ghosts.
There's a nine-minute story song about me pretending to be Jack Kerouac during my junior year of college.
There's a ballad inspired by "Fire On the Mountain" called "Ice On the Mountain." Because I'm creative like that.
With this new burst of writing, I've been able to justify upgrading the studio space a little, which means I'll have some more toys to play with when I actually settle in to do dedicated recording. I bought a new Epiphone SG a few months ago, replaced the processor pedal I used during the last album with a much more versatile one, put a set of speakers into the room that I can use to listen back to recording takes without having to use laptop speakers or shitty headphones to test mix settings. Oh, and just bought an Epiphone ES-335 (pretty much my dream guitar) in the next few days so that I'll have a hollowbody guitar that's worth more than $150.
So it's been a really fun, productive time, but I likely won't have a solid recording plan for all of these songs until summer. Here's hoping at that point I can make the best use of my spare time and get at least one of these albums in the can before fall...
In the meantime, I just posted a pretty eclectic mix of older recordings on the Music page, under the title Past Is Prologue, which you can check out if you want to hear what I sounded like when I was even worse at music than I am now.
Also, I'm hoping to record an in-studio video session soon for the website and if things work out, I might be on the radio soon. Which is just hilarious.
On the nonfiction front, I've been reaching out to some people who actually know things about getting a book written and put out into the world to see what the next steps would look like for turning some of my mountaineering stories into a published collection. Reading books like Eiger Dreams was what motivated me to get off my ass and start driving around Washington and Oregon in search of peaks to scale in the first place, and I love the idea of contributing to that tradition as best I can, rather than just letting those stories rattle around in my head until I die someday. Besides, there's a way in which those stories are me, and I'd love for the opportunity to work on getting them written down in a more formal medium than this blog.
Would it be a print book? That seems like the obvious route, but it seems to me that my written stories are so deeply entangled with my photographs that it's hard to imagine publishing in a way that wouldn't include those photographs, too. That said, does anyone actually buy ebooks? Probably not.
Anyway, I've got lots of ideas for more mountain stories, and at the very least I'll keep posting them here. I just posted a brief new (old) one today, in fact!
This isn't properly related to the website, but I've also been looking into other ways to move from the tried-and-true Research, Present, Publish routine at work, and one that came to mind recently was to focus on making videos rather than writing journal articles. Academic publishing often just feels so empty and pointless to me, and as all my recent writing deals with the wilderness as it's portrayed in video games, it seems like I'd have a much bigger and more engaged audience for that kind of thing on YouTube than on some esoteric ecocriticism journal's website.
I've been really inspired by YouTube creators like Innuendo Studios in this regard, and though I don't know much about movie-making, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be terribly different than what I already do for conferences: make a bunch of multimedia slides, sync them up with me reading a paper, and voilà!
Again, perhaps nobody will care about this, but I'm expected to engage in what our university calls "outward facing creative works" as part of my job, and getting back into the research/publish grind at this point just seems agonizing. I like the idea of focusing more on nonfiction writing and game studies videos. They are projects I can actually envision myself honestly putting my energy into, instead of things that are just energy and creativity black holes (which is how I've typically felt in the past when writing this or that journal article).
Obviously, there's a lot of stuff happening right now. I'll try to have more regular updates, though, at least about the music. Thanks for reading!