Sunday, March 11, 2012


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A Weird Find

So for those who know me, you might have noticed that I am into fashion. Not in a material trend way, but more in a 90's grunge, art, whatever I want to do way. I see clothes as art and as a way to express yourself. Which brings me to thrifting. It has got to be one of my favorite things to do. I love finding weird clothes that somebody else didn't want.
So the other day I decided to go to Avalon, and while they are usually expensive, I had a little thing called store credit on my side. 11 dollars of store credit, which there doesn't get you very far, but all in all it's still a nice place to go to once in a blue moon. 
While looking through the clothes, I tried on a few things. One included a dress that looked like a wedding dress, but I 'm not sure it was.

And the other was a letter jacket. Letter jackets have always reminded me of zombies and scary horror movies for some reason, so I decided to try it on. While in the dressing room, I put my hands in the pockets to test out the fit and all that, and to my surprise pulled out this:

It's not everyday that you find a pair of zombie teeth in a letter jacket. So I promptly put the teeth in my bag, brought the jacket up to the counter, bought it without paying a cent and walked out with a smile.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cold, Underemployed, and in Good Spirits

So that gas smell in the apartment that Morgan mentioned in her last post?  Turns out the gas smell was gas.  Long story short, we didn't have heat yesterday and don't have it today.  Morgan's nice and toasty at work, but I haven't been getting many jobs lately (apparently the most popular New Years resolution was to stop having your piano tuned), so I have nowhere to go.  I'll probably head to a coffee shop in a bit, but for now I'll keep the Lou dog company and bundle up.

I can handle being cold and underemployed with such exciting things happening with this band.  Last night's AcoustiCafe was a great, full night of music, but we couldn't get on until 10:20.  By that point, the crowd was rowdy and pretty drunk, so we figured, oh well, it might not be our night, but we enjoyed hanging out.  We played a newer song called "Hell," and by the time we finished we could hear a pin drop.  It's a great feeling to feel the crowd's energy right alongside ours.  We got a great response, so thanks for that if you were there!

Just checked the band email, and our single, "Wait," has been selling all over the world!  We only get info on iTunes sales every 6 weeks or so, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see we're racking up sales all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia.  Africa and Antarctica are the last holdouts, but we'll work on those.

The album is really starting to sound like we've been envisioning it.  In some ways, even better.  We truly cannot wait to share it with all of you on June 1.

I think we'll check out a new open mic tonight at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy.  Come hang out with us!

That's all for now.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Day In The Life of a Broken Fence.

I've been thinking about thinking...which is weird. This is what happens when you have a day completely to yourself. Usually for me, thinking leads to the darkest of places, and causes fear and suffering to reign. Today I am determined not to let that happen.

Guy went to Indiana today to see his sister's opera. He left early this morning, and I left no time to settle in to the couch and turn into a mess. I went out, went to some thrift stores and bought even more grungy style clothing, went to Whole Foods to get my newest addiction; those delicious little rice snacks, and turned a 180 at the bank when I saw that the line went from here to Nantucket. Then came home again and wrote a brand new Broken Fences song. Took the dog for a long walk, started to feel that anxiety and am now sitting in a coffee shop writing this.

The coffee shop. What an interesting place. It's like a big living room! I came here because I didn't want to be alone anymore and just wanted to be around people, but not have to talk to anyone. Here one can observe how other people exist and get pointers on how to do so. It's just nice to be reminded that you are not the only person alive. And everyone has issues, big or small. Every single person in this coffee shop has an issue of some sort, and that's comforting in a weird way. If I can just keep that in mind, then I can relax and not be paranoid that the small smell of gas in our apartment just poisoned me.

I decided to order a cup of lemon ginger tea and a small piece of coffee cake. The coffee cake caught my eye because my grandma used to have coffee cake at her house almost every time I went over there. I miss my grandmas coffee cake, even if it was just store bought. It was the best because it was from her..

Nirvana plays in my headphones. Out of all the high school bands that I discovered, Nirvana has stuck with me to this day. I will forever listen to them I feel and could never get sick of them. They are a part of me more than any other band. Its my comfort food. And Kurt Cobain is my comfort zone. Some people may laugh or think I am lame, but we all have something that comforts us, I'm just not afraid to admit it.

Where will this night end? I'm not sure. It might end with hanging out with our good friends, Nathan Zoob and Emily. It might end with a movie. Who knows. All I know is that I don't want to go to that dark place that calls my name every second of the day. Not today, ok?

For now, I'm just going to sit here with my tea and stay on the computer and read my magazines, and everything will be ok.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Trippers: Broken Fences live radio debut

Me driving on US-22

Yesterday was a very scaled-down taste of what's to come for us when we go on the road.  It was only for a day, and less than 200 miles round trip, but it meant something to us.  We did an hour-long radio interview and performance with WIUP-FM in Indiana, PA.

I've never done live radio before, and I believe Morgan has only once, so if we're being completely honest, we were nervous.  More about the talking than the playing... we've done podcasts before, but those aren't LIVE.  If you say something stupid on the radio it's just out there for everyone to hear.  Fortunately, the folks interviewing us made us feel at home, and after awhile we forgot the conversation was even on the airwaves-- that is, until the twitter questions started coming in.  We had so much fun doing it we didn't want that hour to end.  The best part was getting to play so many songs-- we did 7 or 8 all together.  I know a lot of you got to stream it live, but you can hear it again HERE.  The day culminated with a gorgeous, mountainous central-Pennsylvania sunset, and we rode the light all the way home.  I am thrilled to say I am no longer intimidated by live radio.

Until next time,
I imagine this is how Louie spent most of his day

Friday, February 24, 2012

No Finish Line

The other day I was running with the dog, listening to music, in my own world.  On my route there’s a completely blind spot where a building ends and a parking lot exit begins. I always kind of slow down and lean forward to make sure it’s clear before passing, but I don’t really stop.  This particular time, an SUV was driving too fast for me to see on my glance, and as soon as I passed the building it looked like that was about it for me and the Lou dog. 

Thankfully, the driver was guilty of speeding, but not distracted driving.  He slammed on his brakes and we lived to see another day.

I wouldn’t call it a near-death experience... but if that driver had been, say texting, or fixing his GPS, it would have, at the very least, changed everything for me, the driver, and everyone close to us.  It’s one of those wake-up calls where you realize you don’t have as much control as you think.

We’re all racing towards something.  Right now for us it’s the record release and after that, touring. I always do this: I delude myself into thinking my life has finish lines while I'm alive. What’s more is that I honestly believe I have control over them.  In my head, the finish line that is the record release goes something like this: the room is at capacity, the audience is rapt, and look, Danger Mouse is here and he wants to do his next project with us!  Then of course there’s Grammy Awards and sold-out stadiums, etc. But that isn’t how it works, and I’m not sure it’s even what I want.  No, when the album is finished and we’re back from touring, we figure out how we’re going to do it all again.  And again, and again.  Hopefully we keep growing as artists, and keep connecting with more and more people everywhere we go.  When I stop and think about it, I’m grateful that there are no finish lines.  

John Lennon sang one of my favorite lyrics of all time: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  I’ll try to live more.


P.S. If anyone knows Danger Mouse please tell him our record release is June 1, 2012 at Club Cafe.  Thanks.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Nobody Knows You When You Down and Out"

Sometimes a broken lightbulb can be fixed, but when you flicker out, even for a moment, it's like no one wants to know you. And can you blame them really? Everyone's just looking for happiness, be that material, love, money, selfless volunteer. Sometimes you get stuck in a cycle of self-doubt, self-blame, and self-hate. And then it's like the muddiest area to stand in, hard to get out of, and messy to be in. I personally own a house in that muddy land, paid off and mine. Though the other day, something snapped inside me. Not the bad kind of snap where I lose it and go crazy on Pittsburgh (I hate that word "crazy"), but a good snap, one where something just clicked in my brain. Frustrated and bored with how my everyday had turned in to an endless stream of bad days, my brain and body almost decided by itself that it had had enough. So I packed up practically nothing from my house in the mud, locked the door, and went into the sun. I used to hate the sun as a teenager. I grew so pale and felt like I didn't deserve those rays. My mother desperately wanted some sun in my life, she even got one of those sunlights and would ask me to sit under it for a few minutes (which I never did). Now I almost crave the sun. It just makes you feel better. Not to mention if you are always cold like I am, it's a sure way to warm up. Now while you still won't find me sunbathing at the beach or on anyone's rooftop, I now feel the suns purpose for happiness.
Another thing that switched in my head was something that Guy said. He said, "Don't scratch that itch" Itch meaning phobia, panic attack, jealousy, self-doubt or anything negative that you need reassurance on. That reassurance will only feed that negativity so it will be stronger next time. Just let it burn out and it will disappear and you will realize the real things that matter.
Now I don't want any of you to worry, I'm not turning into a bundle of extreme happiness and stop writing the sad songs that I write haha I still have alot of sadness that needs to come out through song and will probably last me the rest of my life. I'm just saying that it's exhausting to live everyday under such a dark cloud. I mean, it sucks when it rains everyday right? It's like getting cabin fever in your head. Let me out. I'll still have days when I'll go walking back to my house and sit there for a bit, but I don't have the desire to stay there anymore. Why do that, when life really is so short in the long run. There's so much good music, good food, places to visit, things to try, people to meet, shows to play. Alright, I'm going to sign off before I smile myself to death. Goodnight and sweet dreams.

~Morgan Erina

Bessie Smith "Nobody Knows You When You Down And Out"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is happening to my brain?

First of all, quick plug: if you haven't heard, the album release date is set.  It's going to be June 1, 2012 at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh. Moving on...
I thought this was funny until I remembered the eTrade commercials.
I've been thinking a lot lately about technology and social networks' effects on our psychology.  I recently got into a brief, friendly debate with someone on Twitter (I can't believe I just said that... three weeks ago I still hardly knew what Twitter was) about whether smart phones stifle creativity and imagination.  I was making the devil's advocate case that maybe the technology we have can actually enhance our creativity by freeing us up from spending, for instance, three hours looking something up at a library that we can now just wikipedia on our iphone in ten seconds.  I think we agreed that the problem lies in the addictive nature of things like Twitter and Facebook, and the fact that smart phones mean we're constantly connected.  The user argued the need for silence and I agreed.

When I'm reading or writing a song or playing piano or exercising, I usually have the discipline to turn my phone off.  But I got my first cell phone when I was 17, so I had already made it past adolescence with most of those habits intact.  Today's kids get their first phones way earlier-- this article says the average age is 8.  I know my younger cousins are no exceptions, and that's exactly who I was thinking about when my mom forwarded me an article about my cousin Austin Glass, who is in 6th grade.  Apparently Austin showed up at a school board meeting and submitted a proposal he'd come up with to increase revenue in his school district.  Once again, Austin is in 6th grade.  Here's an excerpt from the article on

Glass proposed HATLO, or the Hempfield Alumni Tradition Lives On, which he hopes will save classes, field trips, athletics and other programs from the fiscal chopping block.

"Graduates must recognize the need to reinvest in the school district that equipped them for success," he wrote in a handout to school directors. "We have top-notch programs and educators here at Hempfield and they cannot be maintained in this economy unless alumni give back."

He suggested the district set up an online network of alumni -- social media such as Facebook and Twitter are free, he noted, unlike costly bulk mailings -- and "politely ask these graduates for donations to help close the gap."

Cousin or not, that's pretty impressive conscientiousness, creativity, and imagination for a kid that age.  It's not the same kind of creativity I personally engage in, but in a way he's creating art.  He's using his mind and thinking outside of the box that the school board was stuck in.  He is not being a passive technological stimulus-addict.

Let me end with a survey I posted on Facebook a few nights ago when I couldn't sleep:

Everyone seems to be plugged in to the social media right now, and I'm definitely not excluding myself. What do you think it's doing to us psychologically? It's not a new question, but I haven't thought about it in awhile (I've been too busy figuring out twitter to think about these things). Anyone out there also on Facebook on a Friday night can vote: 
Is social media... 
A. Good 
B. Bad 
C. Just kind of weird 
D. Other (specify)

You can vote for more than one

My stance is much the same as most issues: all things in moderation.  Let's make creative and productive use of all this technology to improve our lives, reach more people, and change the world, but let's all turn off our iPhones once in awhile.  It can be good, it can be bad, and it's definitely weird. I vote A, B, and C.  Feel free to leave a comment with your vote.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A learned sheep is still a sheep

When I think about how much my life has changed since I graduated from college two years ago, I often wonder what would happen if me circa 2009 and me today met for coffee.

This is nothing new and I'm sure I'm not alone.  My entire life I've looked back at my former self with pretty harsh judgement.  I'd see yearbook pictures, read old journals, or listen to tapes I'd made and think, "Thank God I'm not like that anymore.  What a tool."  And then, of course, a year later I look back at the kid who said that, and say "Man I thought I was cool then?  What a tool."  It never really stops.  If I read this blog post in 2013 (for some reason), I can be sure the reaction would be pretty much the same: "Tool." The only way I can salvage my ego from general devastation is remembering that pretty much everyone I know feels the same way.  Like most people, I'm completely un-self-aware, and I pray that the way I see myself, past and present, is not how the world sees me.

But I'm actually talking about something sightly different.  My character has shifted since college, but probably not much more than any other two year period in my life.  The more drastic changes has been to my worldview.

I was good at school.  Pretty much my entire life, but especially from high school on.  I got good grades, did well on the SATs, and pretty much cruised through my college classes at Carnegie Mellon University with straight As.  In no way am I saying this to boast, just trying to show the whole picture.  I admit, I subscribed to the theory that my grades and test scores entitled me to something from life.  I'm not sure exactly what, but I always had the sense that I'd be okay, because  look at my SAT scores!  I wasn't the hardest worker but I tried to stay on top of things. I think my talent was figuring out what was expected and delivering exactly that. It was artless and boring.  My senior year of college, when pretty much every student in my percentile was applying to grad school or $100K-a-year jobs, I ran and hid from it all.  I couldn't do more school.  I had grown so numb to the rote method I'd been applying, and to the meaningless success I was having.

So instead of filling out applications I spent my time tinkering with pianos, writing songs, and playing guitar.  Irresponsible, right?

Well, in the short term it actually was pretty irresponsible.  I had a degree from a top university and nothing else.  It turned out no one really wanted to hire a linguistics/music major, regardless of GPA.  So I worked jobs I could have gotten right out of high school.  Remember the 2010 Census?  Those people who knocked on your door if you forgot to send in your forms?  I was that guy.  I had some fun with it and go off-script, too.  I'd knock and say, "Ma'am, I'm from the government," which was technically true, and just watch their faces.  Then there was the Starbucks musician cliche.  Yeah, I might have made you a latte between June of 2010 and May of 2011. A lot of good my education did me.

Since graduating I've come to believe, as Seth Godin's writes in Linchpin, "Being good at school is kind of like being good at Frisbee."  It's great to have, but it's not the answer. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to my parents for making my education possible.  If I could do it again I wouldn't change anything because I couldn't have known what I know now; I had to go through that to discover it.  I'm questioning the whole system of institutional education, not anyone's decision to exist in it.  The truth is I've learned more since graduating college-- about music, culture, and life-- than in the four years I was there.  Meeting people, collaborating with Morgan, and playing in this band taught me much more than formal education ever did.  To quote Billy Costigan in The Departed, "All due respect, Mr. Costello, school's out."  Amen.  Thank you, Music, for saving my life.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Keep going...

Its no secret that we all suffer at some point. I used to think I should keep it to myself, and not let anyone in...but that's no way to live. It's better to be honest, even if that truth hurts you and others. I really want to talk about panic attacks. This shouldn't be a subject that is taboo. Many people have panic attacks, and being one of them, I feel like I should say a few words on the subject.
First off, here is the definition of panic attacks: A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that develops for no apparent reason and that triggers severe physical reactions.

That pretty much sums it up in a little nutshell, but it's so much more. It's definitely hard to describe a panic attack, especially when it's different for everyone. So I can only describe it from my point of view.  It's a tightness in the chest, and a choking in your throat. It's heart hammering, it's spacing out. It's shaking, and irrational thought. It's a mind moving so fast you can't see straight. The more you think about it once you're in it, the worse it gets.

Just like everything, to get better, the mind needs to be trained. And I am/have been working on this for a while now. There are some days when I feel like it's all better, and some days where I take a million steps back and feel like I've made no progress at all.

To train ones mind takes alot of hard work and patience. It doesn't happen overnight, as much as you or your friends want it to. It takes coping mechanisms such as breathing steady, and placing your hand on your chest to help slow down your heart. Figuring out why they even happen in the first place can be frustrating. As for me, I believe that it's just genetic. Which on some days, seems like the worst. Would it be better for it to have been just one traumatic experience, that you could fix and be done with it? Mostly I  think so, but at the same time, I have been through some extremely tough experiences. So maybe it's just a bunch of traumatic spells that led me here. The best thing that I have found that helps is distracting myself with a movie, or cooking, or playing guitar. But sometimes they are so bad that I forget everything completely. I forget that I can even play guitar. It's like you get lost in a long tunnel and you are scratching at the ceiling, trying to get out, but you can't because the ceiling is made out of brick.
It's not fair to me or to loved ones.

I feel like this is a topic that I should discuss because one of the most important things to me is not feeling alone, and I don't want anyone to feel alone. Don't get me wrong, it's good to have alone time. I'm talking about loneliness and feeling separate. It eats me up inside knowing that I've made others feel alone because I withdraw while having an attack. But it also eats me up when I'm feeling alone whilst in the attack or not. I have found great relief from just reading about others online who go through this. I love reading their stories and finding myself agreeing with everything they are saying. They are going through the exact same things as myself, and I find comfort in the fact that there are others out there who deal with this every day. Which brings me back to why I wanted to discuss this subject. I'm not going to hide this fact about me because I want to bring that relief to someone else. My greatest dream is to while not only succeed with my band and in music, but to help people with it. So I made a pledge with myself a long time ago that I wasn't going to hide these things about me. What if one day, a young girl or boy hears a song of mine, and then reads up on me, and they find out that I suffer from panic attacks, and they do too. What a relief it will be for them, to know that someone goes through this but they have also made a life.

I imagine a life full of warmth, music, dogs, and love. If I read that sentence about three years ago, I would not recognize myself. But I do think that I have served my time and deserve that warmth and magic that I so desperately crave. No one should have to suffer forever. I'm not better yet, but I'm hunkering down to work hard at losing this part of me. Perhaps I will read this very post on days that I feel like the world is ending, and I hope others do as well.

I am thankful for my friends who stay on the phone with me, and who come over when I need them too. I am thankful for Guy and his patience. I am thank for Louie, the dog, for just being a great dog. I am thankful for a good, very zen job. And I am thankful for myself, because I have alot of music to offer, and love to give.

We should all learn to be lighter (in our hearts, NOT in our weight, ha)
Enough with heavy hearts, it's time to shine and be free.

p.s. I'm interested in getting a tattoo to remind me to be free, if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to message me on facebook, or email me at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AcoustiCafe: Pittsburgh's Treasure

There's a weekly gem in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is called AcoustiCafe.  It is really nothing more than an open mic...
Morgan on the cover of the City Paper playing at AcoustiCafe

I know, I know: most artists hear "open mic" and immediately tune out--myself included.  You think of lousy crowds of self-centered, competitive musicians, a shallow talent pool, and an overall lame time.  Or, at best, a good time with a few other musicians, but with nobody else really listening.

But ask any touring artist who happens to be passing through Pittsburgh on a Monday night, and they'll tell you: AcoustiCafe is unlike the rest.  The consistent level of talent we see on a weekly basis from locals and touring acts is remarkable. But what makes it truly special are all the non-performers who come every week just to listen.  Without them, I have no doubt AcoustiCafe would deteriorate into another low-rent talent show.  The crowd has a musical sense that I find is uncommon in the music club scene: they know when to sing and when to shout, but they also know when to shut up.  When Morgan and I have a good set, there can be nearly a hundred people in the room and you can hear a pin drop, yet if it's a sing-a-long, every voice joins in.

And the mainstays that make up the community of artists-- Mark Dignam, Brad Yoder, Judith Avers, Joy Ike, Paul Luc, Bear Cub, Pete Bush and the Hoi Palloi, Joel Lindsey, Jimbo Jackson, Clinton Clegg, Ben Shannon, Tim Ruff-- I could keep going, but I'll inevitably leave great acts out.  There are dozens.  These are brilliant artists and these are great friends.   Not only do we listen to each other, we play and sing with each other.  Eric George (the resident "drum slut") and Nathan Zoob (the guitar man) have been known to play on more acts than not on a given evening, making it decidedly difficult for them to get drunk (I feel for you, dudes).  Morgan and I are often invited up to sing songs we've never even heard before.  I'm incredibly grateful for this communal atmosphere.  We really owe Broken Fences itself to AcoustiCafe.  It was the common denominator that led to this band forming last year.

We're hosting this Monday, Feb. 13, so come out and play, listen, drink, and have a good time.  The theme is relationship songs that are NOT love songs.  See you there from 7-11.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Going it alone (DIY or DI-die)

Am I going to look in the mirror in five years and see a musician or a sleazy marketer?

Start with the obvious: the music industry has changed and continues to do so.  Music bloggers and advice-givers often talk about the old model versus the new model.  In the old model, you write your songs, play where you can, and hope you get heard by the right person and eventually hand-picked for a record label.  It was kind of like winning the lottery.  As a band or singer-songwriter playing your own music you really had no shot to make a living without distribution, and record labels were the ticket-holders.

That model still holds, but only for a very small minority of artists, and sadly only a small minority of those artists end up benefiting from the relationship in any lasting economic way.  So it should come as good news to artists like us that we need not depend on major labels anymore to "make it," but can do it ourselves.  The new model consists of establishing a fan base through a combination of live performing and social media marketing, and then monetizing the relationship with your fans.  The big buzz-acronyms are DIY (do-it-yourself) and DTF (direct-to-fan).  The new way to make a living playing music.

The problem with all of this is that there's a reason they stuck with the old model for 80+ years:

Artists SUCK at marketing. They just want to play their tunes.

We're no exception.  If we haven't made it clear up to this point in writing this blog, making our music is our motivation for just about everything we do; we live and breathe for it.  So I'm sitting here TWEETING (never thought I'd be saying that), wondering, is this poisoning my creativity?  Am I "selling out"?  Don't get me wrong, nothing makes me feel warmer and fuzzier than hearing from and engaging with fans.  Whether on social media or in person, there's nothing I'd rather do than talk to someone who was moved by our music.  But it's all the politics, the "who you know," the branding, the website building, merch ordering, and yes, ass-kissing that, if left unchecked, can really wear on the spirit.  We have to keep after all this and keep our live act in shape and keep writing songs and work our day jobs, and dishes and laundry and groceries and exercise and vet visits and taxes and I'M JUST ONE PERSON!

Quit bitching.  Lots of people have it harder.  You get to play music.

Phew, that was close.

I found this article of Jack White quotes, which helps me power through, and I always have good old Louis C.K. to keep things in perspective when I turn into a winey, spoiled hipster.  Don't want to be that guy.

I think I'll play guitar now.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Half Written Song

We've all left things half-finished. Usually it doesn't feel good to do so. And then usually you forget about it and move on to something else. Songs are like that sometimes. I have a tendancy to just write a song in less than a minute, because sometimes things, feelings, thoughts, just need to get the hell out of me. But on occasion, I will start a song and then leave it half finished. Either I get fed up with not knowing which direction to take, or frustrated at the fact that I don't even know what I'm writing about. Or even that I just plain don't like what I'm doing. When this happens, it's best to just walk away and come back to it later. This goes for any project, or work assignment, or school essay. You just need to give it and yourself distance and space, and most likely you will feel inspired later in the day. Or the next day. With my songs left undone, when I come back to them, they usually turn into something that I like. It may not be my best song, and I might not even share it, but it's done and it's out of me. I wish I could do that with alot of things, not just songs. I tend to leave a lot of things half done. And it sucks. It doesn't feel good to do. So starting now, how about we all just see things through. We'll probably feel better about things in the end.

-Morgan Erina

P.S. Episode 2 of our video series is posted

Friday, January 27, 2012

Music: the elephant in the room

Before I get into the post I just want to let everyone know that you should read the last one from Morgan.  I think she captured the frustration and self-doubt a lot of us feel on a day to day basis, so check it out, it's not long.

I just got a text from our engineer/coproducer Dave:

"I did a super rough mix of 'listen to my voice'... get excited dude."

Dave's not one to gush or overreact, so needless to say that left me feeling warm and fuzzy.  We're zeroing in on a date and venue for the record release in May, so this concept is becoming more and more a reality.  Just wanted to share my excitement about that really quickly.

Being a artist, especially an aspiring band, is a different experience than most people have.  Many people have passions and hobbies, and that can even include making art, but there is a fundamental obsession, or belief, or mantra--I'm not sure what you call it--missing from "normal" people (no way could you call me or Morgan normal, or almost any other artist we know for that matter).  I'm sure Morgan and any real artist would agree that no matter what we're doing, even if it's something we enjoy, there's a voice telling us that if it's not music it's not really what we're supposed to be doing.  I love baseball and fishing, but if I had a choice between a week of baseball and fishing but no guitar and a week of making lattes (thank the gods those days are over) with the guitar waiting for me at home, I'd have to opt for the lattes.

In tuning and repairing pianos I am lucky to have found a way of making some money for myself that I can put up with and even utilize some of my musical skills.  Morgan has had more trouble on that front, in that every day job she's had to endure has been just so incredibly--not music.  It looks like now she's finally found a job she can take some personal pride in.  But, while we might not mind, and even sometimes enjoy the practical jobs that are facts of our lives, music is always the elephant in the room.
(yes, I google imaged "elephant in the room")

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

This is a reminder to myself and to everyone who has moments of feeling completely hopeless. Life doesn't stop immediatly just because you are down in luck, love, and money. As much as I wish I could be part of the priveleged, or that I could wake up and everything would be in it's place, free from worry, I know that this is not reality. The most important thing to remember when you are in this situation, is not to alienate the ones who care about you and who will care for you. This is something I have to keep reminding myself of, I might just get it tattooed on the inside of my hand. Being down doesn't last forever, even though it seems like that way. I'm reading this book on buddism that talks of happiness, real happiness, and that it comes from your state of mind. To be positive and free, and carefree in thinking, everyday, even when things go wrong, which things usually do, is hard to put into practice. But if someone on this earth did it, so can i. Yeah, I've got years and years of negative thinking to erase, but I dont want to give up hope just yet. What I want, that has nothing to do with stupid money: I want Broken Fences to go places, I want to tour and meet people I admire, I want to be someone people look to for help because I know excatly where the dark is. I've been down that rabbit hole a million times, and I've stayed down there for years. There's always a door open to me to go down there, I'm aware of this. It's fighting taking those easy steps down that are the hardest. I know I'll have to fight for my whole entire life not to get trapped down there again. I feel like right now, I'm sitting on the steps, just thinking. I can see the light, but it's not mine completely yet. and if it ever will be, who knows. But at least I know it's there. That's what I want to make other people realize. You can be in the dark, but not with the door closed. I still have the key to lock the door and not go outside, but even in this moment when I feel like I'm falling, I still want to walk outside. I hope my music can bring that message to a million others. That's all I want.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dinner of the Broken

I might be referring to my extreme lack of money, which I know I think about too much about and Guy has said that I need to stop. But I am also referring to the fact that this Broken Fence loves to cook. I know this is not talking about music, but at the moment, I am so hungry and being broke doesn't help that fact. For Christmas, Guy bought me a beautiful cook book for Vegetarians. I fell in love. It has the most amazing pictures and the instructions are easy to follow. So far though, I have only made one dish, Stuffed Peppers.  And then I lost my job and stopped making anything. But now with a new part time job and a need to start cooking again, I will pick out a new recipe to make. Maybe I should make the lovely lasagna, or the teriyaki noodle dish which looks amazing from the photo. Thing about cooking from a cook book though, is that it will not always look like the photo. I mean, come on, how many times did they have to make the damn dish to make it look that perfect. But you know what, it comes out looking pretty close, and tastes just the way it's supposed to. I'm looking forward to cooking dinner for us soon, I'll let you know what I make :)

Off to drink tea


Thursday, January 19, 2012

State of the Album in 2012

It's crazy how much music is changing with technology, and how fast it's happening.  Five years is now a lifetime in this industry.  People my age and older grew up listening to albums, whether in CD, tape, or vinyl form.  Growing up my school was 25 miles from home, and I used to pray for traffic so I could listen to the entirety of whatever album I had playing in my Discman.  The album was how the art of music was presented to me, and I spent my whole life dreaming of making my own albums.  I made a couple homemade, 10-song CDs by the time I got to college, but you couldn't call them albums.  I lost count of the  number of bands I played and recorded with, but Broken Fences is the first time it's felt like the real deal.  So finally I'm here, producing the medium I've always dreamed of producing, and what am I hearing?

"The album is on its way out, man.  No one listens to albums anymore."

With streaming music like Spotify and Pandora putting up outrageous numbers and record stores everywhere closing, it's kind of hard to argue.  But to me that's like Major League Baseball deciding to play one inning at a time instead of 9-inning games.  That mentality undermines everything we've been working towards; all the time, money, energy, and emotion.  When I hear people say things like that, it causes me to take a close look at myself as a musician and as a fan.

I realized that the statement above is really about commerce, not art.  Making this album, then, might not have been the best business decision we could have made, but damnit if we didn't need to make it anyway.  An album has an artistic energy to it that a compilation of singles just can't imitate.  We recorded all of these songs close together, using mostly the same musicians, spaces, and equipment, yet still trying to make each song stand out.  I like to think of it as a high-wire act, and the same can't be said for just a collection of songs.

We're planning to make the album available on vinyl, not because that's an efficient way to deliver our music to our fans, but because we know it'll mean more to someone than just a play on some streaming music service, even if that someone is in the minority.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in the album.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So, I'm finding it kind of ironic that on the day that I become unemployed, our single "Wait" is going to be played on a popular tv show. This show is called: Flashpoint. Channel? ION. TIME? 10pm. I will admit that Guy and I plan on sitting down and watching it. Even though we've seen the clip where our song plays, it will be neat to see it on live television. It will also be a confidence booster to yours truly, because I am trying my hardest not to freak out or get down about being back, yet again, on the unemployment line.

Enough about me, lets talk about how we got onto Flashpoint. We have a friend named Brad Yoder. He is basically a legend in the Pittsburgh music scene. He found an interest in our song and passed it along to Beth who works for a production company. She took our song, shopped it around and landed us a sweet deal on this show. And I know I will forever be grateful, as I'm sure Guy will be as well. Is it too soon though to say that I hope we get more and more? haha

I'm trying to think of what to write about. This day has just been a flurry of quitting jobs, Pittsburgh rain, driving my sister to the airport, and making lists to begin figuring out what the hell I'm going to do next. All I know though is that Broken Fences and music are my real jobs. Tonight we celebrate Broken Fences. It's only been a year and a half since we started this band, and we've come this far. We can only go farther...expecially once our debut album comes out! :p

Hope you all have a good night, and sleep well. I know I will.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Music Industry?

I'm back! Back from NYC, settling into snowy Pittsburgh once again. And settling into my new job (ugh). While I was at work today, making sandwiches, french toast, and endless, and I mean ENDLESS bacon egg and cheese on plain, wheat, onion what have you bagels, I was thinking, what am I doing? It's really hard, from my view point at least, to take steps towards making a living off my music. Yes, I should be playing more shows, with Broken Fences and solo shows as well, and I will get on that!, but also, promoting. Promoting is a difficult one. It's something that has never come naturally to me, I would rather sit on my bed and just write songs.  But unless I want to be serving food to strangers for the rest of my life, this is something that I have to, MUST work on. Guy and I have a very good friend named Tim Ruff. You've probably seen him walking around pittsburgh, or caught his video "Walking In Pittsburgh"

Anyway, he has a motivation that is to be envied. After talking to him about this, and getting some good pointers, I realized that it all just comes down to doing it. And that sounds so stupid. But part of doing it, is motivating yourself. He has been listening to this pod cast that he says is really helping him, and introducing him to new ideas. Guy has also listened to it, and sent a text today saying that he also was getting tons of ideas. I have not listened to it yet, but I should. and I am. I just have this stupid thing in my way called, being really good at escapism. This is something I have to take down a notch, rejoin the living, you know what I'm saying.

Another part of doing it, is having a team. Tim said this, thank you Tim. We musicians can't do this on our own. We have to have a team, a group of people we can put our trust into, and a group of people where each person brings something different to the table. Guy and I are very lucky to have a good team already. Zoob, Tim, Dave, not to mention the whole Club Cafe scene! Now all we need to add is a booking agent manager, and a great PR person. That will come, I'm sure it will, after our record is done and we tour with it and all of that.

I just have to keep telling myself that I will not be serving bagels or bread of whatever for the rest of my life, because damnit, I have music in me! It's my only real skill, really. So I kindof just, you know, have to make it. :p

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moving right along

I've been letting Morgan handle the whole blog operation thus far, but she's in NYC and I'm in the studio, so I figured I'd make myself useful.  Morgan and I have been fully hands-on through every aspect of this project to this point, but this is where we have to trust our producer/music production savant, Dave.  Looking over his shoulder at the color-coded sound waves on the screen in all their countless representations, it takes me about five minutes to get a handle on what he's actually doing at any given time, and by then he's moved on to the next editing task.  We wrote strings parts together, made GarageBand mock-ups of all the songs testing out bass and drums and keyboard parts, but this is where the musicians don't bring a whole lot to the table.  The great thing about Dave Hidek is he's a phenomenal musician himself so he can work in both worlds and sometimes translate engineer techy things into a language we in the band can understand.

Dave has shared Morgan's and my vision for this record from the start, and the same can still be said, but that's not to deny there are some disagreements.  But I prefer it that way.  Ultimately the goal is to capture the raw Broken Fences sound as purely as possible, but that can mean a lot of things.  Of course instrumentation can enhance a performance, but it can also detract from it, so we're finding the sweet spot.  Morgan and I wrote the songs, but the whole process as been so collaborative that I've learned even more than I expected.  Zoob's given tons of input Dave Throckmorton (drummer) was a true professional laying down his parts, and he really put his stamp on those songs.  Jason Rafalak (bass) couldn't have been easier to work with, and his parts sound phenomenal.

When I think about the record, my heart rate invariably skyrockets.  It's a pretty potent mix of emotions, the strongest of which are definitely excitement and anticipation, but there's an inevitable element of fear wrapped up in there.  We've invested so much into making this album, from the actual songwriting--songs are like children to most songwriters, remember--to the humbling Kickstarter experience that funded it, to the time and effort spent not only in the studio but all the obsessive planning, envisioning, and brainstorming we do when we should be working or sleeping.

I'm thrilled with how everything sounds.  I know we captured great performances of what I know are great songs.  Sometimes the obsession and anxiety that come along with it make me think, though.   It's so tempting to let this album define us as people.  I see it as a reflection of myself, shared with Morgan and Dave and Zoob and the other musicians---but at the core of it are me and Morgan, and that's a scary thing.  I feel exposed and vulnerable, but at the same time I'm desperate to show it.  It's tough to keep it all in perspective.

But enough psychoanalysis.  We're incredibly lucky to be doing this, honestly.  We're having the time of our lives here, playing music, doing what we love.  The generosity of our friends and fans, as well as Treelady Studios, has given us an enviable opportunity to be heard, and we're making the most of it.  Thanks, guys.  Now please enjoy this incredible video of Ray Lamontagne singing "Henry Nearly Killed Me":

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year

Hello again,

I'm am writing to you from an amtrak train on its way to New York City. At the same time, Guy is on a plane back Pittsburgh, coming from Texas. It's silly that I am leaving just as he is getting back, but it was the only time that I could find to take time off and visit my family. We've made a deal though, when I get back to Pittsburgh on Thursday, Broken Fences is going to "turn it up a notch" as Guy said in a lovely text. It is true that things have been slow on the Broken Fences front, and that hasn't felt good. So after this much needed vacation, I am diving into ambition for finishing the album, and no longer falling asleep in the studio on Dave's couch, and I'm sure Guy will do the same, though he never falls asleep there.
Speaking of the album, right now we are in the process of editing. It's sounding amazing so far, I can't wait till we can show it off. But all in due time. Guy and I are also in the process of finding a place to hold the release party in the Spring, which you will all be informed about, as we would like to make it a great big event.

Well I'm off to watch another movie and perhaps Guy is too.