Music, musings and more from the mind of Ben Averch.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions



It's the last day of the year and I thought I'd put together a few thoughts on the year that's passed and what I'm looking forward to in 2011. This year I spent a lot of time reflecting inward and trying to gain a better understanding of myself as a person -- my motivations, my fears and my idea of what it means to succeed. I read a whole lot of books on psychology, spirituality and relationships, including "The Five Things We Cannot Change" by David Richo, and a bunch more by him and a bunch of other stuff in a similar vein.

It has been a fruitful time -- I feel generally lighter-hearted and more self-assured so that's pretty nice. I got the chance to do a lot of jamming (and all these jams were recorded!) with a Korean guitarist named Jeff Lee, an immensely talented guy and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Jeff contributed some guitar solos for a couple songs that I had been working on, and I had some of the best times ever backing him on drums or bass, or backing him on guitar while he soloed like a demon. Great fun.

Regarding my own music, during the year I completed my "Fortune Cookie" record, which was received very well, and was a very satisfying way to draw the curtain on the thematic arc that started with my "Start at the Beginning" record back in 2008.

It was a lot of fun to complete the album, and to see people respond to it -- and one of things that struck me was how people seemed to notice the emotional directness of the record, which maybe goes against the grain of a lot of "tongue-in-cheek" modern rock music. Not quite as emotionally direct as, say, American Music Club, but I'm not sure the world (or me) is ready for that!

Basically immediately after I finished "Fortune Cookie", I set to work on a new record, looking to leave behind a lot of the heaviness of the subject matter of the last two records, and over the last six months or so I've recorded a lot of new material. I wrote about ten new songs and brought back a couple from the archives, and they're in varying states of doneness. But one of the things I really want to do with this new record (working title "E.S.P.") is just make something that sounds HUGE. I'm maybe 80% done with the writing and recording for this new record, but with any project like this, the tendency for perfectionism (and admitted lack of a real deadline) could allow this process to stretch out for another year if I'm not careful. But early indications are that this record should be pretty good, if you like that kind of thing.

So that brings me to the coming year and what I (and you, the listener) can look forward to. Obviously the new solo record is something that I am hugely excited about, but one of the other really exciting things going on is that I've been working on some material from deep in the archives with good friend producer Ed Becker. This is work I did with my brother Mike and includes some of our favorite psychedelic rock anthems like the Resident Evil-inspired "What Happened to Jill and Wesker?" and my personal favorite a wistful, dynamic powerhouse called "Memory Man". Mike wrote the music and played the guitars on these songs, I provided the lyrics, played drums and bass and vocals, and played a little bit of extra guitars in a few songs.

Having these older songs (all recorded between 1998 and 2005) back in action is really fun, and Ed is taking them to another level with his mixes and restoration. So I'm excited for this 'bonus album' of material. It's great to hear my brother's guitar playing -- it's very ambient, melodic and textured, so when the heavy parts happen it's very intense and cool. Mike and I have had for a long time a strong intuitive sense about the other's musical ideas and cool places they could go to. We have been a good team, so while it's kind of sad that we don't get to work together on music that much, when we do work it's very productive, and enjoyable.

So I'm hoping to finish the "E.S.P." record, finish the "Mike and Ben Archives" record, get those released and do some collaborations with some more artists. If 2010 was a year of reflection and growth, I'm hoping to just exponentially increase the output in 2011 and really attack hard in terms of my creativity and productivity musically. Get into "harvest mode" from all these ideas and learnings that have hopefully taken root from the last year.

So that's what I'm planning, or hoping for. Happy New Year everyone!!!!

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