theformat (theformat) wrote,
theformat
theformat

"im floating with the birds im talking to the weeds look what youve done to me"

hi,

sitting on my couch...watching espn...damn its good to be home...things have been pretty crazy the last 6 months...as a lot of you know, we were dropped by our label...we went and recorded a new record...labels became interested...we decided to release it ourselves...we went on tour...and now im...now im home for the next week...my first week off in six months...what do i do?...well, my roomate and i got memberships to the ymca down the street from our house, its an amazing place...downtown phoenix is pretty much an amazing place...its not like the rest of the state...speaking of which...im declaring war on scottsdale...its the opposite of downtown phoenix.

anways, so i wake up at 9am every morning...i dont know what it is really...ive been a "pro" musician for about 3 years now...we are supposed to wake up at 11 or 12...i know some dudes that wake up at 1...but no...since ive been home the last few days ive been going to bed at 1 and waking up at 9...my roomate has a job...i think it has to do with that...see, there are 3 showers total in our house...i have the big bedroom so i have the big shower...since ive been off on tour and recording he has gotten used to the nice shower in my room (which is fine...anyone thats gotten close to me knows im not too fond of showers...so its not like i use it that much)...so every morning around 845 i wake up to my door opening and my roomate going through my room to use the shower...you know what its like when youre half asleep but you want to act like youre awake so as not to freak someone out with all the crazy babble, but you just end up saying all the same crazy babble...i do that every morning..i turn and look at him and try to act like i wasnt just dreaming about tootsie rolls and parrots that shatter like glass..."hey nate, that was some game last nite"...thats usually what comes out of my mouth...something to that extent..and i think he feels sorry for me...but continues to walk right into my bathroom, and use the shower...at this point im awake...i usually have to pee...and i have to then use his restroom...its a terrible swap...and it always ends with me wide awake on my front porch (har har)...smoking a cigarette and wondering how the hell im gonna fall back asleep when the air conditioning is broke...ah what a wonderful life at home...thats the weird thing..i love it...now we wake up and we go to the y...we run, we play basketball, we jump in the pool...we play pool basketball...we get yelled at for dunking the ball...we dont use soap before we go into the sauna...and the nite usually ends with a poker tournament...this is the life i love to live when im away from the road...it too is the opposite of scottsdale...its who i am...its pretty much who ive become.

see..for the last 23 years its been about the highs and the lows for the me...ive got an addictive personality...i stay away from a lot of things because of this...however, when i find things i get generally excited...i go crazy...its all i think about and all i do for the next howeverlong...for the first 23 years it was either talking non stop...or locking myself in my room...its either great or terrible...not good or bad...dog problems changed that...initially dog problems was supposed to be that...the original concept of dog problems was to be 2 sides of music...the first half taking over where interventions had left off..."we'll be together in the morning"...

we werent...in fact...we were over before interventions was even released...we were over two weeks after it was recorded...i spent the next 2 years feeling terrible...we got back together...we broke up...we got dogs...we broke up...we got back together and got dogs...i was still miserable...but i wanted dog problems to get me through everything...i wanted it to help me...not anyone else...just me...the first side was supposed to be me down in the dumps...everything that went down...how the two of us were dealing with it differently...the second half was supposed to be a realization...

the first inkling of realization was a day we were on tour... we were all laughing about something im sure marko or adam said...here i was supposed to be depressed...but the fact that i can spend all of my days in different states with my best friends...all of us doing what we love...that was major!...then my mom called...ive got my parents!...my friends...what else could i possibly need?....at that point i felt as if a relationship in a michael bolton sort of way didnt mean anything...it was the people you surrounded yourself with...those were the people that made the difference...and that was going to be side two...i was convinced that when i just closed my eyes and thought about the wonderful people around me...i was going to be great...not good...great...

i didnt get that far..no...i got back into the relationship...i was sure it was going to work...at that point life would be perfect...and we all want perfection right?....things went right back to far from perfect...things went to terrible...i couldnt stop feeling sorry for myself...but i had a concept...at that point i figured that even by singing and recording these positive songs i was going to feel better...so sam showed me what was then just a short acoustic guitar version of snails...this was it...this was my first chance to prove to myself that life can be beautiful...the things is...i had never been more miserable...i remember writing the lyrics to snails...my roomate was at work...i was on the bed...on my night stand was a giant bottle of booze...and somewhere off in california she wasnt calling me back on a friday nite...so i went to work...listened over and over...i wanted to get it right...i wanted to be positive...i passed out...then i woke up the next morning...big headache (p.s. drinking is not really that cool...its cool when you condemn it for the first 22 years of your life...then it becomes not cool...then it becomes ok when you moderate yourself)...and i started writing...everything positive i could think of...i started writing it...snails was, in sams mind, supposed to be a 2 minute kids song...i wrote so much that there was no going back...i thought that was it...snails solved all of my problems.

it didnt get that far either...nothing could shake the depression...i really started to worry about myself...here i want to feel great...but i only feel terrible...a few months later it got really really bad...i had to go to my parents house that nite...i didnt want to be at my house...i wanted to feel like a kid...its funny how we always want to be adults when we're younger...we want to drive cars...we want to have girlfriends...i still didnt consider myself an adult...all i wanted was to come home...be tucked in...know that everything was going to be alright...i woke up the next day...she met someone new...ive got to figure myself out...

in the meantime we've got 4 songs we are recording over at our friend aarons house...(he is an amazing producer..and an amazing musician...and his house and his roomates have gotten me through a lot of tough times...theyre some of the only people i know who would rather spend their saturdays getting dinner and watching a movie instead of going to a party..i like that)...all of this turmoil in my relationship was going on at the time...and i was trying to write side two...i couldnt...there was more fuel to side one....these songs have to be done...so i wrote about what i knew...and at that point i knew how to feel terrible...so much for side two...dog problems is going to be one giant mess of depression and "look what youve done to me".

atlantic got those four songs...as well as a few others...they were not psyched...to say the least...but some people at the label actually cared about it enough to say "go record"...so we were able to pick our producer....we met with a few people...talked to a few more...things were looking up...dog problems was going to happen...i remember meeting steve mcdonald at his house...sam and i were excited to be at his house because we knew his wife anna would prolly be there...anna was the lead singer/songwriter for a band we used to obsess about called "that dog"...her brother was one of the ten drummers in the world that i actually liked...so steve couldnt be so bad...and he wanted to produce our record...so he had to be pretty cool....he was just that...and more...sam and i were eating every word that came out of his mouth...he had stories...he was young, hip, energetic...and yet very all knowing...we saw someone that was going to let us do whatever we wanted to do...and in the meantime he was going to make us laugh...and make sure we didnt lose our minds...from that point on i knew there was someone i could always trust...i made a friend pretty quick.

things were moving forward...steve mcdonald was to be the producer...i hated los angeles so there was no way in hell i was going to record there...we decided palm springs would be perfect...weird...but perfect...i had a phone conversation with steve that night and we were finalizing everything...i was going to call atlantic in the morning and let them know just how everything was going to work....i didnt get that far...i was sleeping in a blowup bed at the house when my phone rang...i didnt wake up and answer like it was my roomate and he was coming into my room to use my shower...this call felt different...right away i was awake...it was our manager: "youve been dropped"...when i heard that, the first thought going through my mind wasnt "oh man...how are we going to be famous now and make boat loads of money?"...it was more like "fuck...but dog problems..we were supposed to go make dog problems"...the thing is...atlantic wasnt into dog problems...they were into whatever it was they thought we were...never had "the first single" made more sense...what was supposed to be a song about getting the band started and doing something with it, had actually turned into a song about how stuck we were in the labels eyes because of the song...i was past that...we're proud of something we wrote when we were 19 and 20...but when i think of music i think of progression...i think of all of the wonderful records i had been introduced to when i had nothing to do riding in a van....i think of all of the new influences...all the instruments...all of the "how did they do that?"...and i think of how much it gets me through everything...music has been the consecutive great thing in my life...its been that one thing...and with dog problems it wasnt about "i want everyone to sing along because i can write a catchy song" it was about feeling...it was paying tribute to all of the bands that we obsessively listened to...it was for harry nilsson and van dyke parks, it was for jellyfish and xtc, it was our way of saying thanks for making our lives better...whether it be lyrically or musically...it was never about being something...being told something...and sticking to something...it was an adventure...for the artist and for the listener....they didnt get that...they wanted the old record...the old songs...just with different words...and few different chords here and there...they didnt care about "snails" or "dog problems"...what it meant to write those songs...they knew it wasnt going to be huge...the guitars werent big enough (if big guitars are your thing thats fine...its just not really our thing right now)...it wasnt going to be competitive...and so they dropped us...and rightfully so...we werent going to change...and obviously the major label business is never going to change...now it comes down to who goes down first...and we werent ready to go down....sam and i had conversations about it...whether the business end of things have been fucking with us so much that we'll never be sane enough to just enjoy it...we thought about getting out...it wasnt cause we hated each other...or the songs...it was because we hated the business...

steve called to let us know that he was still onboard...label or not...we let him know we were still on board...we were going to make this record...i was going to feel great!....but the record was going to cost something...how could we afford it?...we were lucky that we had a management company like nettwerk...not only are they the most forward thinking music business people around...theyre also (for the most part) canadian...oh and they care a shit load about the music we make...they could have waited for the ship to sink...but they told us they would pay for the record if need be...fortunately we were able to get money for getting dropped...atlantic actually paid us to leave...so we could afford the recording ourselves...the only stipulation was that it had to be done quicker..and when you want something quick...you have to go to the "right here, right now" capitol of the world...los angeles...i was a little irked at the thought at first...then steve said it was his personal goal to make la a wonderful city for me...like i said...i would jump off a cliff if steve said it was the best way to get coffee...but i wasnt jumping off of cliffs...i was too excited to make dog problems...la it was...

sam and i moved to the "silver palace" in silverlake california in the middle of december...we found an amazing studio in burbank california and an amazing engineer in ken sluiter...and our goal was to just do everything free from a record label...and someone constantly messing up the recording process by saying things like "thats not high octane enough"...the only pressure we had at all was from our manager saying "you have a tour you accepted in march...get it done by then"...other then that it was me, sam, steve, and ken working 13 hours a day for 6 days a week...it became our lives...we were putting so much of ourselves into...everyone that worked and played on the record was the same way when they were there contributing...i would leave the studio at 2 in the morning and wake up at 10 to be at the studio by 11...there was no free time...the four of us were so invested into this...we all bought into the concept...in the meantime things outside of the studio were getting interesting...we had a lot of labels calling and constantly asking about it...during one week of recording i remember at least 3 different label people coming down to the studio...our minds werent made up as to what we were doing with the record once it was recorded...all we wanted to do was finish it...but we kept our options open and let people sit in the big chair and listen to what we had been working on...the response was overwhelmingly positive...but we didnt really think about it too much beyond the compliments we were receiving...sam and i got used to la...i was 10 minutes away from where i had been the previous summer when i was back" on" in my" on and off" relationship...i was ten minutes from her...she was calling every day...i was singing about it...but how was it not getting to me? why did i not care?

my phone was off...i woke up in silverlake one morning and started wondering why for the last month i had a smile on my face...sure i was down at times...but the thing that had been brining me down for 3 years was now the last thing on my mind...apparently it had been that way for awhile...something that took 3 years to get over...i was finally just ok with it...no big realization...just the fact that things happen...people make mistakes...and i came out of it alright...i was good...not great...i was good...and that felt good...i wasnt looking for great anymore...i was ok...the last song on dog problems is all about that...here this record was supposed to be the downs...and the ups...and it ended with the middle...the realization that i dont need to be talking...i dont need to be locked in my room...i need to enjoy whats going on around me...and if things go wrong...they go wrong...theres always tomorrow...dog problems means so much to me in so many different ways...ive never been more proud of anything in my life...i cried so many times during the making of the record...all the money i had spent on therapy....and all i had to do was go make a record...realize that im alright...and realize that i made something that ill forever be proud of...

shit...the record was supposed to be about how california can change you for the worse.....it played a huge part in doing the opposite!

so as we were putting the finishing touches on the record (all our friends came in and recorded, a ton of people we admired came and worked on the record...all of their responses were so positive that its hard not to get an ego about it...these are the people i worship...theyre the ones i wanted to pay tribute to...and they think we've made something unique and special...its like michael jordan telling you that you have a nice jump shot (no more sports references...i swear im done)) and we started to think about what we were going to do with it...how we were going to release it...labels were getting pretty into it...and we knew we would have to make a decision soon....after much debate and discussion we decided that the record was something we had made completely on our own...so why not release it completely on our own...nettwerk was going to take care of the distribution...so it would have major label distro...it would be inside all of the best buys....what more did we want? we didnt want a big fat check...we did that last time..it made us miserable...and nothing came out of it...barely anyone at the labels helped us....we werent making music videos...our songs werent on the radio....so why would we take their criticism...after all...everything that weve done...any success weve had is from being real people who make music....from showing up to play....from 3 years on the road...on interventions there might have been an elektra logo on the back of the record...but it ended right there...we were the ones SHOWING people who we were...i wouldnt have it any other way...no one knows us better then ourselves...so why not release it ourselves...to me its not only a testament to the hard work we put into the band (mike, don, marko, toco, everyone else involved in putting these songs to life....you guys are the best thing we have...its pretty special when your best friends are some of the most talented musicians)...but i really feel like the people who come to our shows are such good people that they dont give a fuck what label its on...they are there because we are doing something positive...and because we care about them as much as they care about us...so for the time being we've said "fuck the middleman"...we're the only people we can blame at this point....im so tired of even talking about major labels and the split and everything like this...the music is the only thing i care about...dog problems is the only thing i care about....so why let someone else ruin it?

the vanity label was born.

the record got finished...we had no time to rehearse...and we had to go right back out to tour...our first show before the motion city soundtrack tour was in nashville...i remember the last time we were in nashville there were about ten kids....reubens accomplice kept asking them why they hate whales...so we figured why not go there and get some of the rust out of the way...after all....we havent toured in a year so there should be like 3 kids there...we can mess up if need be...

unfortunately we were not allowed to mess up...on a sunday nite in nashville...with ted leo playing across the street (i <3 ted)...our first headlining show outside of arizona in almost a year was over sold out....what the fuck happened? we thought we were going to have to play for another 3 years just to get back to where we were when we left...and yet its sold out on a sunday nite?....it didnt end there either...the whole tour went like that...nite after nite ("nite after nite?")...i couldnt believe it...as if having dog problems wasnt enough...now we have people showing their support in the most positive way...coming to the shows...being there from the only thing they knew before...those two months were such good months...it was the last thing i expected...thanks so much to all the bands that played with us...and thanks so much for everyone that came to the shows and sang along...we'll be back in july.

in the meantime things were going great on the vanity label front...business actually felt natural...we are shooting a video with the directors we had always dreamed of doing a video with (it wont be serious...no pouty face)...there were magazines like ap and online magazines like ap taking notice...supporting the whole idea and concept....we actually took press photos....ive never been through any of this before...its exciting...i dont think its going to change who we are...not one bit...but its still exciting to see people who can help out actually help out.

so where does that leave me now?...sitting on my bed...ive rambled for hours...the air still doesnt work...and ive been told that dog problems...(something that isnt supposed to come out till july)... has been leaked..not the best news when you just got out of the pool...but it happens...i freaked out at first...i thought i was going to lock myself in my room...after all...this is something that we spent over two years making....its something that you have to take the time...listen to in headphones...play loud....listen to in order of the tracks...the artwork....sam did the best artwork he has ever done...the packaging is something we paid extra for because sams concept was so brilliant...and now....its leaked on the internet?....i was locking my door...then our manager called....

"hello" "we're releasing it on the website today" "wow"

so....here goes...youve read enough...i shouldnt have to go on about it anymore...but i will say...if you wanna wait for the full hard copy release then do so...its july 11...we are gonna be touring right after that...but if you want to get it now....please do it by purchasing it right here...we released it...its our money...its our little baby...you should take the time to listen to it all the way through...free of distraction...you should turn the songs into your own...its an adventure...and its something that we put everything we have into...and if anyone deserves it first...its you guys who have been here with us all along.

without further ado...

"dog problems"

-nate
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