Mystique

I’ve been told many times that i come off mysterious. I think I’ve gotten better at shaking that vibe, but I do understand why that might be. When I was younger it was because I was legitimately a mystery at all times even to myself. I had an insane life and was basically off the grid and involved in drugs/crime and just general passed out and came to in many different places. I tell my stories to people now and they look at me in disbelief which is really nice because that obviously means I’ve grown enough to where people that didn’t know me then can’t even picture me like that.

Somehow the mysterious thing has lasted long into me being clean with the exception of very recently I really haven’t heard it much, but I’d like to debunk whatever amount of mystery that still persists. I don’t live a secret life or anything, but i do lead a double or even triple life and two parts of that are things that I’m not too publically loud about. On one hand yeah I’m very loud and transparent about the fact that I’m a recovering drug addict. I love making my posts about having seven years clean and all that and sharing some Hope here and there and blogging about the growth stuff of what it was and what it is now, but on the other hand i preserve the anonymity of the place where I recover and most of my activity with it, which happens to be the things that I spend most of my time doing. Im part of a program and I maintain that program in my life and have a lot of involvement with that program. I work with three homies from that program and we go to meetings after work a lot and try our best to help ourselves get better and help the next person trying to get clean to be able to stay long enough to get it. So that’s one panel or maybe two if you count work. Then another one is some service stuff I do outside of that program that’s just for me to feel like I participate in my community. It’s for me so I don’t talk about it much and it’s just a quiet thing. I go back and forth in my mind over whether it’s better to silently serve and try to be humble about it or if those things should be shared so that people have examples of things to do to feel better about their lives. One could argue either way but for now it’s just one of my things. The other thing is hanging with musicians. A lot of that stuff I don’t talk about much because I feel like it takes away from certain experiences. Like I watch musicians treat every single cool thing we do like an opportunity to promote ourselves and I know I’ve been getting a better attitude about the fact that looking cool is important and shit but just simply hangin and not having the goddamn phones out constantly is just important and I know that my closest friends and I share that value and I appreciate them for it too. 

So the mystery is gone. I’m living the dream, you’re probably living the dream. Goodnight

Delicate Lines

A huge underlying concept that we’re constantly mindful of when writing our new album is trusting the listener to understand and comprehend things without a bunch of explanation. If we want to “trim the fat” with the music and especially the lyrics then there needs to be some trust in the listener to be able to fill in the space between the lines. I typically start out writing a part and have about two paragraphs worth of ideas to cram into two to four lines with 8-16 syllables per line. Less words hit harder and i just have to trust you to fill in the details for yourself.


Aside from the trust thing there’s also the delicate balance between artsy and bold with the overall picture we’re creating. Most artists like ourselves who have a diverse catalog of influences want to bring in a little bit of everything and just make one huge pile of everything we love about music. The problem with that is that it can be become too “artsy” or cumbersome and can actually work against the articulation of an idea. The process of layering up then trimming fat is tedious and sucks the life out of me a lot. It’s much like the lyrics where I want to say eighty thousand things but I only have a few short lines to say it in. So we shave off a layer here and shave some notes out of a guitar part there. Then we make the rhythm guitar less choppy and push it down in the mix to make it more subtle and bring a string/synth/pad more to the front to smooth out that middle section, and the bass tone is perfected to be the massive slab of body that holds it all up. More important than anything the drums. Less is always more with all of these layers, but especially the drums. Percussion is the most important part of any music and is the one thing that can make or break the BEST musical arrangements on earth. Not only does a drummer have to be the overall balanced and strong and subtle and dynamic and particular, but a lot of the “trimming the fat” stuff in this area makes the biggest differences on the overall sound. Simply put, less hits equals bigger sound. More hits equals more articulate but less size typically, though there are exceptions sometimes.


So it all just comes down to balancing boldness and articulation for us, and on this new album we’ve been working overtime to make sure we can create the picture we’ve always known we were capable of creating. This LP will be what we consider to be our first and is the recognition of our full potential. We’re excited about this and hope you are too.

New Friends

I made a new friend on Long Island last night. Solid dude that was kind of outcasting on the fringes at the show. I haven’t been blogging because I started seeing it as this overly intense/overly wordy thing that serves no higher purpose than for me to wax philosophical and talk about myself(which is basically true) , but this dude I met last night really made me rethink that. I walked up to him because I realized he wasn’t with anyone and he was singing every word during our set but hadn’t came up to talk or anything. I assumed he was like me and just gets a bit shy. So we chatted a little bit but were cut off by my other friend who was pretty drunk and talkative. I was glad that later on after the show ended my new friend came up was like “hey you got a minute I have some personal questions about your blog”. Anyone that knows me knows i really love having intense conversations about real things so my ears immediately perked up and we ran out back to smoke cigs and talk. He asked me personal questions and requested elaborations on some specifics with my blog and my personal posting. It came up that he too had struggled with many similar things and that he was a musician and seeking comfort with playing music again and change and stuff. I presumed that he was getting clean or recently got clean too so it was really personal and cool, but he also raised questions where I really had to think and be like “yeah i might seem like I’m good at that but it took work”. People that know me now think I’m some sort of natural social butterfly, but I’m really not. My natural state and most comfortable state is complete isolation and anti-social. My natural inclination is to disqualify other humans from being worthy of my time and to disqualify myself from joy and connection. I have no clue why I’m like that but it’s fine and i don’t act on it anymore and it doesn’t hold me back from saying hey to a stranger anymore or staring at people like I’m sizing them up anymore. And I’m not uncomfortable on stage and writing music and being vulnerable with a large group of people because I’ve consistently done it since I was 13 years old. Time takes time in life and comfort comes in seasons in different areas of my life. My current vibe is just flowing and accepting the connection and viewing a quiet stranger as an opportunity to practice social skills. So life’s good

Warm Again

So much going on right now it’s hard to keep up. I haven’t really blogged much because I’m enjoying the constant interaction with everybody on Twitter more now. It’s less of a one-sided statement now and more of a conversation. I feel like I should update everyone from time to time though so here’s the scoop...

We’re gearing up to record an album that will basically be our first true album. We wrote it together and we’re going to a really nice studio with an amazing producer for a full month to make it perfect for you. I don’t want to get too long winded so I’ll just say that the album is still emotional, it just recognizes more than two emotions now. The world of Rich People has gotten very colorful and expanded greatly and this whole process has really just revolutionized my personal life and made me excited to create a new album that is a full cinematic experience in sound. We’ve been working CONSTANTLY on everything because there’s a lot of completely new elements with keys and strings and other random world instruments. We don’t want to just be another rock band and we never really did it was just comfortable writing a certain type of song because it was all we ever knew how to do. We believe we did it well though and now it’s time to grow. So expect something totally new from us this summer.


There’s also a tour coming up this year that will be announced in a few months that will be huge for us. A couple friends know what I’m talking about and you know how monumental this is for us. We’ll keep the lid on that for now though because I don’t want to tease anybody, but you can expect us to see the entire US for our first time sometime later in the year.


Finally let’s talk about right now. Right now we have four shows coming up(plus a random last minute acoustic solo set near my apartment in West Philly on Thursday with Absinthe Father). These shows are huge because it’s the last time we will see everyone in our hometown for a Rich People show for a while. We won’t be around through Spring and Summer so this is it. We still gotta sell a bunch of merch to finish paying for recording, but we appreciate everyone who has already been supporting us with buying merch and stuff. It’s the only thing that pays for us to sustain this right now. We hardly make ends meet, but they do meet at the end of the day and that’s all thanks to you. So this is mostly just a thank you and also if you ordered merch in the past year you can expect some mail sometime soon from yours truly. Hopefully none of your mailing addresses have changed!

Stepping Back

I had to step away from blogging for a minute because I needed a mental reset on it.We started this band under a certain tone and since our formation our personalities have changed a lot. I was in a dark place when I started writing Jacob’s Ladder and when this blog started and I struggled a lot with it especially because I had been clean for four years and thought I had done a sufficient amount of work to create a more fulfilling life. I tried my entire life to prove self-sufficiency and figure everything out on my own, and that didn’t stop after I learned it didnt have to be that way and after I comprehended and accepted that on a surface level. It took years for the idea of allowing people into my life on a deeper level to travel from my head to my heart. An “emo” band, at least in our case, can become a very tunnel visioned experience. The word emotional probably shouldn’t just imply negative emotions though, but it has for so long. I’ve already proved myself cool, edgey, and emo enough for one lifetime and it’s all just become so boring. About three years ago I moved to Philly and met some really amazing people who were just like me and it really opened me up to new possibilities and range of emotion. Being from a small, lower income suburb where the highest aspiration is to land a union job and drink away the weekends with fellow townies I just never felt at home. I was clean and felt isolated the same way I had felt that led me to use drugs in the first place. Then I moved and everything changed. Jacob’s Ladder came out and we played a shit ton of fun awesome shows. Attitudes started to change while writing Grace Session soonthereafter but Grace Session kind of just served as a transitional thought on the way out of the gloom of JL. We actually wrote and recorded that album about two years ago despite it just coming out in February, just to give you some context on the time frame. So we released that then things started to really change. Our tastes in music really started to bleed into eachother’s, we started trusting each other more in the writing process, and we started accepting that we might have a lot more potential than just being the most edgey emo band from Philly. Somebody recently referred to us as a band’s band and it was hard to read because it’s half true and it was no longer the thing I want to be. Sure we’ve been writing this totally different styled album for the past year, but nobody knows that. We are currently represented by a pair of EP’s that are just so near-sighted and blind to the colors of life I have accepted the past two years and I just want to reset. So that’s what we’re doing. I’m glad for everything that’s come in the wake of those EP’s, but we have some bigger stuff in mind.

When we started writing again we knew we had zero money to record and that it would take a miracle to record at all and that we didn’t want to lower our standard of quality or even stay at the same level of quality. There were no funds to do that though so we agreed to write as if we would magically find a place that would give us the best possible quality available for a dirt cheap rate. This is what’s called a pipe-dream. Somehow by some miracle a guy reached out to us who has a very very high end studio and wanted to record us for about 1/16 of his normal rate. We demoed a song with him in one day and walked away with a mix that sounds better than most band’s final masters. We’re going from Pop Punk quality to 1975 quality all because we stayed in position, worked hard, and connected with people. And that’s the whole point of everything. The past couple years I’ve just learned thru this band and thru hanging with other great bands and people like my recovery friends and Grayscale that life is all about connection. I don’t need to perfect my life alone in my apartment, I need to go out and embrace the hang and just stay in position to be happy and of service. This life is treating me very well and that’s all I have to report for now. I probably left a bunch of unfinished thoughts in here but there’s time for that. This is way too long and I have to go. Have great holidays.

The Artist and the Imitator

Simply put there are artists and there are imitators. Or maybe not? I believe that I can tell the difference the moment a track pops on whether it’s a Spotify radio/suggestion/playlist or if a homie is rolling their playlist in the van. Most people don’t even know why, we just know it feels real or doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with imitators and it’s not there fault and many imitators even do really well while many artists struggle and give up.

I think we’re all a little bit of both at different times. I imitated vocalists for many years, before actually becoming a singer, to the extent that people would applaud my imitations. A lot of how i explored music, guitar, production, vocals, and a good sound mix was by observing then imitating everyone who did it before me. Stage presence has also followed that formula. So what actually makes an artist an artist and is there actually a difference between an artist and an imitator or are musicians like me just dicks and always trying to tell people who don’t do it our way that they’re not real? I like to tell myself there is a difference but the more I experience, the less I think I know. Most of my belief systems from when I was younger are just misinformed and misdirected. Everything was about being too cool and different and edgy. That mostly bores me now. Artists are artists when they say their artists and I’m willing to accept it on face-value for right now until my opinion changes again in twenty minutes.

So what’s the real difference? Some artists just don’t put in enough effort to be good. And that is real. Is the title “artist” earned, and who can proclaim that title for someone? Can I pronounce myself an artist or does some hipster in Fishtown with the “Socially Woke” boyscout badge need to ceremoniously validate me with their attendance at a show? Idk

Intentions

So most of my adult life has basically been a shedding of misinformation and moving away from isolation, or at least I’ve intended to move in that direction and have set myself up some daily reminders of it. For me that looks like drug programs, a network of like-intentioned homies, and service work.


I have many intentions and I always have. I have self-awareness that allows me to see the venue of intentions in my life and relate it to others. I had great intentions while My entire life. From whatever worldview and with whatever information I currently had, I always did my best and had great intentions. Great intentions never stopped me from using hard drugs, destroying my family, becoming homeless, operating a moving vehicle while severely intoxicated, living in a hit house, getting arrested, committing and conspiring on violent crimes, and selling drugs etc etc etc.

So why me? Why did I get out and find a path toward aligning my intentions and my lifestyle? I’m not some “good guy”. I’m charming and have blue eyes and people are patient with me. I’d love to take a bunch of credit for where I am but the only consistent choice I’ve made since I got clean seven years ago is that I haven’t used and I’ve consistently sought experienced people’s perspectives on how to move away from isolation.


Because of all of this I’ve been awarded the very optimistic and seemingly naive worldview that people truly do the best they can with the current information and world view that they’ve been exposed to. I say this and write this in blog posts so often that it just feels like a personal cliche at this point and still somehow I sometimes feel like the only one who feels this way. I feel like I’ve been trying to inject my beliefs into a music scene that just doesn’t want to hear it, but that’s not true either. Our home shows and east coast shows are evidence to me that there is an atmosphere growing around us. I watch the way you all treat each other at our shows and it’s cool as hell because it just feels different. We have this small corner of the world together where we can just be ourselves and treat people well despite personalities. Sure as individuals we have beefs and tiffs and disagreements and breakups and all but as a group it’s apparent that this whole Rich People thing has transcended individuals including myself and the boys. Picture just under two hundred random strangers of all ages just striking up conversations. People with completely separate value systems, beliefs, and information. People who straight up disagree with each other singing Dream Envy and Common Sound and let the politics fall by the wayside.


We’ve been writing a new album and while I have a lot to say, I can’t always find the words. I’m not at a writer’s-block but I am at an action-block. I look out at the world and wonder if anything I’ll ever do will have a positive effect and if it should even matter to me whether or not it does. I try to accept my thoughts that say nothing matters and this world is shit and live in harmony and balance with them and my more optimistic outlooks. I try to find the middle and separate my truth from the misinformation and it’s going pretty well lately. So thank you for your patience.