Is Pomplamoose REALLY okay?

Yes. We just put out an EP, Hey It’s Pomplamoose! But in all honesty Pomplamoose went through a real rough patch, and I’m going to try to explain why that happened.

Life truly is what happens while you’re busy planning other things. For the last several months I’ve been rigorously planning the release of my album. Jack has been devotedly learning about and creating electronic music. And meanwhile life has been happening, bank accounts have been emptying, pets have been aging (but not people, certainly not people), and suddenly you realize that it’s time to STOP planning, and start PUTTING STUFF OUT.

Pondering the best to go about things is a luxury and a waste of time. The EP that Pomplamoose put out today is a compilation of things we were previously afraid to put out. “Why?” you might ask. “It’s just a few jingles and some songs you wrote over the last couple years.” That’s exactly right, imaginary fan! And that’s EXACTLY why we were afraid to put it out!

Please allow me to explain the semi-paralysis that Pomplamoose has experienced during the last two years. The band had a pretty big year in 2010 – we put out a couple successful albums, did the Hyundai holiday commercials and the Richmond book drive. It was a busy year, and people got pretty excited. We were excited too. So we started “planning.” And that was our mistake. We started thinking about “the best way to go about things.” We started taking advice from people and getting really scared about our next record, because it had to be amazing. It had to be the best fucking record of all time. We had to do something INCREDIBLE and SURPRISE people, but not TOO much, and then GO ON TOUR and then GO ON A BIGGER TOUR.

So we got to work, trying to write amazing songs, and very soon felt like it was more work than fun. We were feeling overwhelmed by the business side of things, the social media, the licensing opportunities. It was all about what Pomplamoose should be. Should it be more serious? Should it have more profound lyrics? Should we ditch the toy piano? We became nitpicky and paranoid, and Pomplamoose was quickly starting to lose its charm. At least for us. So we did the necessary thing. We took a step back from it. Started working on our own stuff. And that felt pretty good. Because in case you haven’t heard, neither Jack’s nor my solo projects are as big as Pomplamoose. So there was less pressure and less interest, and we were less bogged down by “people’s expectations” (an imaginary concept that bands make up when they’re freaking out about their “next step” which is also an imaginary concept.)

A couple weeks ago, we reluctantly went back into the studio. And we had a GREAT time. It honestly felt just like the old days. The only unfortunate thing is that they really do feel like the “old days” at this point. We haven’t been consistently putting stuff out, and our EP is mostly material from the last two years, so we’re in what some people would call “a rather terrifying position.” We just don’t know how our fans feel about our music anymore. And we don’t know how they’ll feel when we start making new stuff.

The GREAT news is that we’ve gotten over the whole “people’s expectations” thing. We’ve also learned from our last freak out that there is no “best way to go about things” and that Pomplamoose is supposed to be a FUN outlet for us. When Jack and I go into the studio, we are there to have a good time: nothing more, nothing less. So in the future, we’re not going to strive to make hit songs, and we’re certainly not going to pretend like people expect our music to change the world. The OTHER great news is that our music has always been super polarizing, so we look forward to some people loving it and other people hating it. Really, it’s okay! We don’t mind! We’re just gonna get back to having a good time.

Thank you, Tina Fey.

I just finished reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants (months after everyone else in the world, I’m very aware), and boy was it ever a mixed bag of emotions when I got to the final sentence of the Acknowledgements. Yes, I was that desperate: I read the Acknowledgements. After which, these feelings ensued: sadness, because of the cruel, white, witless page, that I turned hopefully only to reread the back inner-ear of the hardcover slip. Loneliness, finding myself once again book-less and mentor-less after months of what felt like (but was not) Tina speaking directly to me. Gratitude that I had read the book at just the right time in my life. Naturally, this was followed by an acute sense of inferiority, because Tina is after all the best of the best. This sentiment was in turn followed by panic because what if I forget something, or fail, or the plane crashes, or I discover that I’m a man? But what has remained with me since finishing Bossypants is an incredible sense of empowerment. For which I would like to take the time to thank Tina right now.

The last few months have not been the easiest for reasons that I won’t delve into at the moment/ever. Let’s just say that I’ve been very conflicted. No. Better yet, let’s use the appropriate word. I have been “blorft”. This is a word Tina invented that means “completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.” Normally, I lead a very functional life despite my constant state of blorftness, but occasionally I just lose it. Why am I telling you this? Because I want sympathy? Because I’m trying to sell you something? Because I had a little too much wine at dinner? Nope. I’m telling you this because writing this blog is the only productive thing I wanted to do tonight. And I’m so damn determined that I’m actually REWRITING it after it was completely erased due to a shitty hotel Internet connection.

Yesterday, I broke down just a little bit in the stall of a Las Vegas airport bathroom. I then moved the sob party over to Jack (who comforted me because he is wonderful), ate a very large slice of pepperoni pizza, boarded my flight home and read the last few chapters of Bossypants. I doubt that Tina Fey will every read this blog, and if she does I hope that she won’t find it creepy that I am writing her a public thank you note. But my folks raised me to write thank yous (even for stuff I didn’t really care for), and I am extremely grateful for the time that Tina put into writing and publishing her thoughts. I considered going through every chapter and giving a point-by-point analysis of why the book was so enthralling. Then I realized how boring that would be for all non-self-indulgent-parties reading this blog. So here is my slightly-less-self-indulgent list of reasons why I am grateful for this book. (But let’s be honest. This is a blog. Written by a singer/songwriter. How selfless can you expect this shit to be?)

Tina Fey, I would like to thank you for…

Reminding me how blessed I am to have parents who love and support me wholeheartedly even though we don’t see eye to eye on all matters. Parents much like yours, who taught me to have high standards, to enjoy life, to be myself and to fight for what I believe in.

Your no-nonsense approach to doing business in a man’s world. I only hope to fall into the category of “crazy” women you describe. You know, the type who “keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.” It’s always terrified me that women in the show/music biz have such a short stage-life expectancy. There just aren’t many Madonnas or Bonnie Raitts out there. But that’s still the sort of longevity I’m aiming for.

Reiterating how crucial it is to NOT react publicly to critics and haters. At least not until I write a book of my own.

Making me laugh out loud repeatedly by myself and in public. I even drooled once. I don’t remember what prompted it, but I sure did look stupid.

And last but not least thank you, Tina Fey, for reminding me that everything is going to be okay. That I can release my back and neck muscles because my work is not a matter of life and death. That I will not go hungry and that I will always have friends, clothes and a roof over my head. And most of all that I am the luckiest person in the world because I am doing my dream job, and I’m surrounded by people I love. Even if it does mean being a little bit blorft for the rest of my life.

To do before album comes out (OR ditch project and use Kickstarter funds to flee to Mexico)

Oh wait. Can’t flee. Money’s spent. Guess I have to follow through with the whole album release thing.

This is just so you know everything that’s running through my head right now… Here’s what I plan to do before the album comes out. Naturally, I assume that lacking to complete any one of these items could potentially trigger the whole Mayan-end-of-the-world-prediction.

  • Keep fans up to date on progress (or stagnation) through blogging, social networking and shows on Stageit (like the one I’m doing on May 14!)
  • Fulfill Kickstarter orders. This includes printing t-shirts, posters and CDs, signing everything, writing lyrics on posters, doing two oil paintings and recording, filming and editing five more VideoSongs.
  • Release covers album.
  • Coordinate with photographer and designer (Jeff Marini) on album art.
  • Figure out ways to harness the power of Pomplamoose for personal gain (is there a nicer way to phrase that?)
  • Organize and edit footage for TEN VIDEOS that will be coming out with the album. Fortunately, I don’t have to edit all of them before the release, and I’m outsourcing most of the work to China. But in all seriousness, I’d like to release a couple videos along with singles before the album comes out.
  • Release singles.
  • Coordinate with iTunes regarding release date.
  • Set a release date maybe? Oh that’s right! I can’t do that until I:
  • Figure out whether or not I’ll be doing the release with a label. Big decision. Requires flipping a coin at least three times.
  • Either sign with competent management team or find way to clone self.
  • Get a good sync person on board for licensing music to film, TV and commercials. You know, because I’m a sellout.
  • Marketing, marketing, marketing…what to do about marketing? I will ask either cloned self or management.
  • Work with agent to set up nationwide tour.
  • Work with publicist to set up nationwide fame.
  • Take over the world.

Is that it?

I felt like there was more…

How to make a living as an artist (and not get screwed)

1. Don’t sign anything that has a 99% chance of screwing you over.

2. Don’t do things just because that’s how other musicians have done it in the past.

3. Don’t get excited about shortcuts: they don’t lead to anything worthwhile.

4. Work your ass off. If you think that anyone is going to run the business for you, you’re wrong. Do as much as you can on your own, and when you can’t anymore, delegate the work to people you trust.

5. Have high expectations for yourself and for the people you work with.

6. In the words of my indispensable counterpart, Jack Conte, think like a start-up. If someone asks for 15% or 75% of your income, feel free to say, “ok, but if that’s what you want, what are you going to do for me?” And then get it in writing.

7. Hire people who you trust and who have a good work ethic, and do your best to keep them on board once you have them.

8. Don’t burn bridges. Even if you don’t end up working with someone, keep in mind that they have a voice and that the music industry is a small world.

9. Hire a good lawyer. They’re really the only thing between you and getting screwed most of the time.

10. Be careful with your time. You only have so long to achieve what you want out of life. So don’t let yourself get bogged down. Things will always fall through the cracks. Balls will get dropped. You can only do so much. So choose those activities wisely. And like I said before, if you really think that someone else will help you achieve your goals, hire them (but first refer to points 1, 6, 7 and 9).

11. Start with what you have. You won’t like what you’ve made ten years from now anyways, so don’t be precious about it. Put stuff out now. Use the mics you have, the computer you have, the instruments you have. More “stuff” won’t make you a better artist.

12. Be good to your fans. If you’re lucky, they’re in it for the long run. And they may be the only people out there who actually care whether or not you’re making music 30 years from now.

Is Pomplamoose okay???

If by that question you mean, “is Jack still alive?” the answer is yes. If you’re wondering if our relationship is okay, if we’re still getting along, eating meals together, living under the same roof, the answer is also yes. If you’re wondering whether or not we’ve dissolved the band, the answer is happily no. Or not. I’m not sure which one is grammatically correct. I’m going to go with “no”.

The trick, when you’re in a relationship with someone with whom you also work (and trust me, I know all the tricks), is balance. Actually, balance might just be the key to life in general. Forgive me for amazing you with my profound life advice. As you may know, (PLUG ALBUM HERE) Jack and I have been working together a lot over the last five months. He has been producing and orchestrating How I Knew Her, working closely with the mixer and basically dedicating all his time to my project, for which I am eternally grateful. Trust me, no producer in the world would have put this much effort into my album.

As you can imagine, working so closely with someone for so long on a single project can get a little old. Not because he doesn’t like me or the album, but because for goodness sake when will it be over?! WHEN, GOD?!?! WHEN WILL IT BE DONE???? PLEASE, LET IT BE DONE!!!!

Sorry.

My feelings just sort of happened there. But seriously, even though we haven’t been putting out Pomplamoose songs, we have been working together very closely for a while, and the guy deserves a break, you know? He deserves to work on his own music for a bit. Maybe put out an EP or something. Maybe more! Who knows! All I know is that the whole “balance” thing that I was referring to earlier is important for us as individuals and for the life of the band. It’s important that Jack and I be able to make things outside of Pomplamoose, despite the fact that many of our fans desire more music. I know that it’s frustrating that we haven’t put anything out in a while, but I promise that the odds of us staying together as a band increase exponentially when we are allowed to put time into our solo projects as well.

That said, Jack and I have recently been getting pretty pumped about ideas for our next EP. I can’t tell you when it will be out yet, but it I can tell you that it will be fun and new and up-beat and different and possibly the best album of the year. We haven’t written any of the songs yet, but sometimes you just know…you know? Like how I knew Adele would win album of the year, and not that other person who didn’t sell as many albums. (Forgive me, Mr. Grammy for questioning your unbiased method of selection. I’m probably just a jealous hag.)

What was I talking about? Oh right. The band. Suffice it to say that we haven’t forgotten about Pomplamoose. The band is alive and well, and still dedicated to providing fresh and interesting content to the fans that make our music possible. Thank you for your patience in the meantime. See you at the Grammys….or on YouTube. If not the Grammys, definitely YouTube.

Ryan Effing Lerman

Today is great because I’m in the studio with Ryan Lerman. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be working with such ridiculously talented and dedicated people. Ryan truly is brilliant. He’s an excellent producer, mixer, singer and musician. He may very well be the best guitarist in the world, but he’s not showy about it. Right now he’s laying down synth bass for the Liz Fanora Jones cover we’re working on. By the time I got to his place yesterday, he’d already recorded drums, piano and worked out the form of the song. Seriously, this guy works hard. And I’ve watched his music go from great to amazing. I’ve gotten a sneak peek of some of the tracks on his upcoming album and they are constantly stuck in my head. If you’re subscribed to this blog or my twitter or facebook you will find out as soon as it’s available, because I couldn’t be a bigger fan of this guy. Yes, he does have some sort of illness that causes him to constantly make horrible puns, but despite this handicap, he ranks among my favorite people in the world.

Working on Kickstarter…

As you may know, I’ve got quite a few Kickstarter-related items to check off my list before releasing the album.

The ones that keep me up at night are the more thoughtful projects, in particular the three oil paintings (they take forever to dry so I really need to get going on them) and the five covers. I have three months to complete these before the album comes out. I’ve also got a lot of footage to edit so that when the album comes out there will be videos for each song. I’ve basically got my work cut out for me for the next few months.

Someone suggested that when I’m done with the covers, I release a covers album and give it away for free. You know, just as an extra thank you to the fans who’ve made this all possible. I think that’s a good idea. I might make people give me their email addresses in exchange for it though…you know…for spam. And tour updates. Mostly tour updates.

That’s right! I’ll be going on tour in the fall as well! No dates so far, but it’s somewhere on the horizon. So that’s on my mind too. But right now, I’m going to focus on making this kick-ass cover of Liz Fanora Jones’ “I Love to be with You” with my ol’ buddy Ryan Lerman!

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To sign or not to sign – Part 1

Eh-hem.

So, it appears that me posting this blog in the midst of a negotiation was bad form. I don’t want to lose all of the comments, because I appreciate the time and care that you put into your responses. So I am deleting the post for the time being, and will henceforth keep the specifics of any contracts private.

I apologize if this offends you. After speaking with my wonderful lawyer and publicist, it became clear to me that as much as I want to have a transparent relationship with my fans, one is not supposed to talk about these things so openly until they are settled.

So, in the meantime, suffice it to say that I am in negotiation with an excellent label, and I will let you know if anything comes of it!

Thank you for your support and advice. I feel blessed to have you as my fans and will do my best to keep you informed.

I’m no Eve.

I’m faced with a conundrum. I’m at the divide where personal life intersects with music business, and I’m not sure how much of the former I should reveal. I’m going to err on the side of discretion for now, but there’s one thing I’m just gonna put out there.

My dad has been fighting lymphoma for a couple years. I’m not sharing this information for sympathy, and I won’t ever going to go into detail on the illness. I just want people to understand that that’s a big part of my life right now. As focused as I am on the release of my album, I spend a lot of time in the hospital and with my family, so I frequently fall behind on work. It’s hard to be consistent with everything when things are so up in the air. Not that I’m complaining! I am glad that my job allows me to be there for my family. I doubt that I’ll mention it again, and I hope you won’t be offended if I don’t reply when you ask me how he’s doing. I really don’t want this bit of information to become a lens through which people view me and my music. Just know that if I say that I’m at a hospital or going to LA, that’s probably why.

Moving right along…those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I was recently auditioning for a role in a movie/musical. That musical was Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl. I did not get the part. Not to my surprise, to be honest. I haven’t ever been in a movie and I was auditioning for the lead role. And as we all know, everyone get’s the lead role on their first try. It was a really fun process though. I enjoyed auditioning, and it’s a good thing that I didn’t get it because I would have had to delay the release of my album, which would have probably irritated some people. On the plus side, they said that I gave one of the best vocal performance they heard (which really makes me feel like I’ve chosen the right career path), but that I just wasn’t right for the part. I took it like a champ. Believe it or not, this isn’t the first rejection I’ve suffered in my life. I’m still really looking forward to finding out who get’s to be Eve, and can’t wait to see the musical! I wish Stuart, Barry, the cast and everyone else involved the best of luck!

You may be wondering why I am sharing this story of rejection with you. It’s because I believe that coping with rejection is something that anyone who wants to be successful in business has to be able to do. I can’t tell you how many times throughout the course of making the album someone has said, “no I can’t do this” or “no you can’t do that” or “that’s not how people to this” or “you can’t say that on national television!” (I made up that last one.) It sucks every time, and I’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions, but that’s just what you have to do when you want to make something happen. Because no one will care if you quit. No one will give a shit. Someone else will succeed in your place.

That’s not to say that hard work guarantees success. I have no idea whether or not this album will be successful. But I will do everything in my power to make sure that it gets heard.

Ok, power talk is over. I’ll be in the lobby signing books if anyone needs me.

Have you heard the one about the nun in the parking lot?

So I’m scouting for a spot in a pretty small lot, and I can see that there’s one other shark moving slowly in the distance. As I round the corner and enter the next row of cars, I come head-to-head with my competition.

Lo and behold, she is a nun in full habit. She’s waving her hands at me in a sort of ex-motion mouthing the words, “There’s nothing! No parking!” and I think to myself, “What, does she think I’m a novice? Does she think this is the first time I’ve ever hunted for parking here?” But deep down, I know that God is on her side.

I continue to browse for a few minutes and eventually give up and head to valet. As I arrive, the nun exits the vehicle a few cars ahead of mine, and I feel a little bit reassured. I mean, maybe these are just really tough times if not even God’s little ladies can get a break. I follow suit and hand in my keys just barely catching the elevator to the sixth floor.

Our Lady of the Full Lot gets off at the fourth floor but before she does I’m able to have a few words with her. She is explaining the dire parking situation to a young man and recognizes me from our tête-a-tête. She expresses her frustration saying, “Wasn’t it terrible? I just kept going around in circles!” I agreed and told her that I gave up because I figured that if anyone was going to get a spot, it would be her. She laughed and raised her hands in an act of supplication, gazing heavenward and said, “Sorry, Lord! So much for poverty when there’s valet!”