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too long

Wow, I can’t believe how slack I’ve been with this blog for the past year. Please forgive me. Moving back to the States several months ago put a lot of things out of sync for me.

For now, though, let me say this:
The new album is ready, and has been for a few months now. I just ended up with some rather important unrelated things (taking the GRE, applying to graduate programs) to complete before releasing the album. Now that those are done, I’ll be able to get back to the new album release.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you check out the below Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music site. The Cranberries, one of my favorite bands from the 90s, does a smart little set. I would say that their music was revelatory for me in the mid-90s. Possibly even life-changing. I remember where I was the first time I heard “Zombie”: I was stuck at a stoplight on Falls of the Neuse Road in Raleigh, NC. I was just blown away by that guitar tone, and by the passion in Dolores O’Riordan voice. I had grown up mostly on acoustic music, except for listening to The Beatles every day for about 18 months when I was 13 and 14.

So much of the power behind the production of “Zombie” is influenced by the work of producer Stephen Street, who also produced The Smiths. “Zombie” is one of those iconic productions where the dynamic goes from really soft in the verses to really loud in the choruses. Ironically, perhaps, The Cranberries paved my way into finally listening to Nirvana in later years, who used that same production style in “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The Pixies did those kinds of productions, too. It’s a powerful production style, and one we don’t see much of today.

Anyways, it’s great to see Dolores and the rest of the crew performing again. “Zombie” hits around the 12:15 mark.

And they have a new album that comes out TODAY called Roses. Oh, and go check the official Cranberries site.

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William Hayden project

Friday, March 4, 2011 1:56 PM American Samoa Time

Since in my last post you learned that it’s still going to be a little longer until my new album is released, I wanted to tell you what else I’ve been doing musically over the past year. It’s another album I’ve produced, and I’m really pleased with it and proud of the work that went into it.

The artist’s name is William Hayden, and the project is pretty unique. I met William one random day in Durham, NC. He was looking for someone to record/produce/mix a couple of songs for him, so I gave him my info, and shortly after that, we did one song together. Dale Baker played drums, and we recorded him in Dale and Carole’s house. (incidentally, Carole is an amazing visual artist.)

Anyway, “a couple” songs turned into ten songs, and we did a whole album together. We recorded some of it in Durham, but I did most of it here at the studio in Alega, American Samoa. The album is unique because the talented Mr. Hayden does not actually sing. He asked me to do that for him. Generally what would happen is that he would bring in lyrics, and sometimes a general melody. I would then pull together the vocal melody and phrasing from his suggestions. Then we’d lay down some basic scratch tracks, and then build the song from there. I ended up playing a lot of guitar and bass, as well as doing drum arrangements. William would work on some parts at his home studio, send them to me via Dropbox, I would import them into my sessions and build on them, and then I’d send him a mix.

It was a really cool process, actually. Harnessing the power of the interweb to produce an album literally on the other side of the planet. Pretty wild.

Anyway, please go check out Hayden’s website and listen to the project. It’s gotten really good reviews so far from the likes of Annie Reuter (Rolling Stone and MTV.com featured reviewer). That’s exciting!
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Album updates

Friday, March 4, 2011 1:02 PM American Samoa Time

Hi everyone,
OK, apologies are in order. I let things go far too long without a progress report. I had originally planned for a December release for the new album, but obviously that didn’t happen. Honestly, it didn’t make sense for it to happen, since I’m still living in the Samoan islands. That could feel a little like, “if an album is released in the jungle, and no one hears it, is it really an album?” Or something like that. Very Zen.

Anyways, I am still here living in the jungle, and it’s only quite recently that we’ve figured out the leave-date, which will be at the very end of this month. So I’m trying to finish up the album by then, and it looks like that will probably happen. I’m polishing up the mix for the tenth song right now, in fact. I still have a couple more songs I’m trying to throw at the project, just to see if they stick. Hopefully at least one of them will, if not both. One is a cover of a Bob Dylan song called “Chimes of Freedom.” Dylan has really sustained me throughout the course of the past 4-5 years, so recording one of his songs feels appropriate to me.

So the album has been a bit delayed, and I’m guessing that before it’s all said and done, we’re looking at a late Spring release. Probably late April/early May. I’ll post all the details here once I have a firm release date.

As always, thanks for listening, everyone.
I’ll be in touch soon.

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One Year Later

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:15 PM American Samoa Time

Today is the one year anniversary of the killer tsunami that struck us here in American Samoa.

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a whole year.

To an outsider, it would appear as though very little rebuilding has taken place. There are still dozens of families living in tents on the western side of Tutuila. The power station for the eastern side of the island is still in ruins. Along the main strip in Pago Pago, there are still collapsed buildings and broken cars. There is still garbage everywhere, and the emotional scarring will, of course, last for years.

But as frightening as that is, consider the following:

One year later, there is still no warning siren system in place.
ONE YEAR LATER!

One year later, there are still no regular tsunami drills taking place in the schools.
ONE YEAR LATER!

Incredible! Last year children actually DIED in the tsunami because the administration at some local schools simply did not know to send the kids to higher ground. Unbelievable, I know. One principal actually just took off after the earthquake, leaving the kids behind to fend for themselves. And nothing has been done. NOTHING has been done to these people, these cowards. One principal sent the kids home right after the earthquake last year, even though most of the kids lived in lower-lying areas than the school itself. Unreal. Some children lost their lives because of inept school leadership, and there has been no formal apology offered, no investigation of what went wrong, and no task force on how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. And again, in at least some schools, they’re not even doing tsunami drills. We used to do tornado drills in NC when I was a kid on a regular basis, and we did fire drills like once a month. And yet here in American Samoa, the schools aren’t doing tsunami drills. The attitude is one of, “if you feel an earthquake, run! Oh, and good luck!”

One year later, one million dollars have been raised through completely private donations to a tsunami relief fund held by the local American Samoa government. $1,000,000! This is not a US Government relief fund. It is a fund of private donations. And the American Samoa Government is supposed to oversee it. Guess how much of the money has been disbursed one year later? If you guessed $0.00, you’re right! Not even one cent of the private donations intended for tsunami victims has actually made it to the tsunami victims. I know this may sound unbelievable to you. I know it sounds like this is simply not possible. But I assure you, it is possible. It is possible here, in American Samoa.

Today the Governor led a service of remembrance down in Utulei. But he still leads a government that has been unresponsive to the real needs of real people on the ground here.

What happened here one year ago today is a tragedy.

What has happened here in the year since then is simply criminal.

For those of you who missed it last year, here is a video/music montage that I put together. The music is from a never-released live studio session from several years ago, and the images are photos that Katrina shot on 9/29 and 9/30, 2009. I apologize in advance for the poor audio compression. I do have a high-res version available, but this is all I can seem to fit on YouTube...


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Coca-Cola Song Contest Winner

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 6:46 PM American Samoa Time

Wow, great news!
A couple weeks ago I won a song competition with one of the new songs from the upcoming (unreleased) album. The song is called “Be With You.” As part of the competition, they shot a music video for the song. The video’s director was Tulaga Whitcombe of whitcombemedia.com. Tulaga is a super nice guy, and has done numerous other music videos. Check out his site for more stuff. Believe it or not, we shot the whole video (more or less) in our village, Alega. And now, without further ado...


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