Half A Decade
Dissect The Recall is five years old this week. As the album launched and my music career got underway, I imagined things would be a bit different at this point.
First, I figured we’d be on masterful full-length concept album number three or four by now, not on our second release, a sixteen-minute, four-song EP. I also envisioned tours, music videos, adoring fans, and sold out shows. It is possible I underestimated the amount of work required, but I was willing to do whatever it took. I believed in those songs, in our band, and in myself.
Fast-forward five years, and those dreams have given way to a stark reality: we are a little-known band that averages two shows a year and whose members live 360 miles apart. No music videos. Rarely a headliner. Nary a sold out show. What happened?
Life happened, as it tends to do, and my priorities shifted. I got married, got a bachelor's degree, and lived in four cities in three states (Ames, St. Louis, Iowa City, and now Chicago). While the past five years have been rewarding, things could be pretty bleak from an artistic standpoint.
There were certainly ups: Playing some great, raucous shows; learning how to spell “dissect;” playing live on Iowa Public Radio; getting lost in that disconnected, songwriting head-space; and most importantly, I think, feeling like I was accomplishing something of importance to myself.
More and more as time went on, though, music got placed on the back burner. I would become disenfranchised with the business side of music, and often neglected creation. My interest in a music career would ebb and flow, sometimes fervently writing songs only to be stifled by the realities of logistics and net losses. How could we make a long-distance band work? Is the album art a fair representation of this collection of songs? Are the margins on this flyer too wide? What should I tweet? Why should I tweet? Does any of that matter?
And then there were the more existential questions: Why should I care about others’ reactions to my music? Shouldn't creating music for myself be satisfactory? Does worrying about marketing and image lessen my quality and authenticity as an artist? Once again, does any of that matter?
I have yet to reach any conclusions on those points, but a discontent lifted as I was working on Echoes In Me. I rediscovered the joy of of creation, and I think maybe that is all that matters. For me there is no replacement for writing, recording, and playing music, and it is a vital part of my happiness.
Echoes In Me is a declaration to myself to continue creating music for the joy it brings me, a reminder that I am not whole without that element in my life. It is also a reminder not to focus too much on the things that aren't directly related to the music, to let image and voice emerge and evolve organically. I don’t know if it will take another five years or just five months to put out another album, but there will always be another song, and it will be worth it.