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


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.


When I can take a step back from my emotional reaction to things I can take an objective perspective of things, and the objective for me is sanity and healing. I saw someone posting anti suicide stuff this morning and I’m not anti anti-suicide by any means, I just choose to try and not be anti anything. So maybe you’re thinking I support suicide, but no I don’t. I had a buddy in elementary and middle school. We had the same flip up hair and were into the same stuff. I thought we would be friends forever. In middle school we each gained new preferences and we naturally just shifted apart. A year or two into high school he killed himself. Since then a large number of my friends and acquaintances have taken the same approach whether it be intentional or via drugs. I would love to bury my head in the sand sometimes and in a way I have to some degree. I’m very numb about the whole thing and choose to put my emotions selectively through music and other creative outlets. I would be a full blown mess if I attached myself to everything that I’ve seen in my life pre-addiction, active addiction, and in recovery. People live long lives and never experience half of this shit. And I’m not worse off for it either and I’m definitely by no means pitiful about it. I have a perspective of life and mortality that yields an end result of a lot of peace and acceptance. It didn’t always feel like peace and acceptance but it definitely grew into those things.


I’m not anti-suicide, I’m just pro-living my life. I don’t know any serial-grievers who are of any great service to anyone. I’ve never read a pity post or a “where was everybody when they showed signs” post written by someone who wasn’t even close to someone who committed suicide, and though to myself damn this post is going to spark a lot of change and growth in the community. I get it. Religious interpretations woven deeply into the fabric of our nation’s mentality mixed in with the big pharma and therapeutic community’s billion dollar propaganda campaign it’s harder and harder every year for someone who’s truly lost to find a simple real solution.


I get it. I watched an episode of 90210 when I was a little kid and I asked my dad what heroin is. I had no social context for anything just that this dude said heroin on a TV show and was the coolest character on the show. My dad said heroin is a drug and once you do it you either die or go to jail. After that the only things I ever heard about it were exactly the same and reinforced this idea. I believed that once you do heroin you are never ever ever ever allowed back. By the time my depressed and confused adolescent self decided heroin was just the next logical step I was so beat up I just didn’t care if that was going to be the results. I lived in a self made prison that I was too misinformed and ignorant to get out of. Luckily I met some people that literally handed me a simple solution and proof that it works and then said oh yeah and here’s a blue print for a successful life since your brain sucks at it. Most people don’t have access to this but we’re sooooo fucked that the universe opened up a worm hole and passed us this program. I’m glad it’s not a cult and has no leaders or religious vibes or really much weird shit or I would have freaked out.


I went off on a tangent but bottom line I’m not anti suicide, I’m not anti addiction or anti-drug use, and I’m not really anti anything else because there’s no solution in anti. It’s like saying that our prison system and therapeutic community and big pharma is making our country a more peaceful loving mindful growing evolving empathetic unified place with less death drug use rape and crime. We got kids shooting kids in schools. But we’ll be screaming about how anti we are and how great the stats are on our anti efforts until the bitter ends. Hard to swallow some days but I’m coming into more peace the more I accept the world and it’s ways as just the contrast that I was meant to build my preferences from. I prefer to be happy and build things up and recognize and appreciate and amplify that shit.