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2007-03-26


Well, looks like I've officially finished my second solo album. How weird. It all feels so real now.

It felt like a fantasy up until last night at midnight. That's when the mastering and editing of the album was done. And, that's when he handed me a copy of the actual CD. (As well as a DVD containing all the audio tracks, instrumental versions of each song, and outtakes!)

I'd been depressed about this project for many months. It's hard to start a project and then have it put on a shelf for several months at a time. I felt like my music career was at a standstill. (It wasn't, really. But, it felt like it was. It's funny how the way I feel isn't necessarily connected to the way life actually is.)


Bjarne, David Meijer, Trine, and Jade came up from Copenhagen to stay with me at Gubben's Hus for the weekend. The point of it was to have Bjarne come and shoot footage for a documentary about the album. But, that happened very little, actually. I mean, how many hours of me talking can anyone bear to film and listen to? Not many. SO BORING.

Since Christoffer was mixing and mastering, there really wasn't anything at all to do for me. So, I got to just hang out with my friends. It was definitely a refreshing experience. Normally I spend most of the time in the studio bored out of my skull—reading, typing emails, making phone calls, writing lists. Basically, I keep myself busy so I don't feel like I'm wasting valuable studio time, since it's kinda wildly expensive and really far away.

The thing is that I actually do need to be there. It's more like I'm on call —like a doctor. I need to be around just in case Christoffer has to ask me something or needs me to play or sing something. But, mostly I end up eating a lot of pickled herring and cold smoked salmon, reading in my Swedish book, and taking naps.

Alone.


So, it was WONDERFUL to have four friends to hang out and be bored with me! Hooray! Since we were in Scandinavia, it mostly meant drinking and talking for hours and hours. I can't really complain about that. I felt like I got some really good new connections with David and Bjarne. I learned a lot more about Jade and her personality. (It's a little startling to think that I'll officiate their wedding in New Orleans in June!) Trine is still something of a mystery to me. She's not exactly shy. It's just that she doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve like David and Bjarne do.

So, the first few days in the studio I did NOTHING at all. Actually, I did plenty of eating and napping and reading. I just didn't do anything having to do with music. It wasn't until yesterday that I actually got VERY busy.


I had to create the order of the songs, work with Christoffer on the final masters, suggest changes, and basically manage the creation of this big, new piece of art. Days like that make all the boring days worth it.

Yesterday I actually got do some recording, even! We wanted to have a funeral march version of Leaving This Town. So, this was going to mean Christoffer and I were going to have to do about 10-20 overdubs of us marching and singing the song with the horn sections. BORING.

Luckily, the whole gang showed up (having driven the grueling one kilometer from Gubben's Hus) right when we were about to record. I walked outside to meet them. With a big smile on my face I waved my arms and told them they arriced just in time to sing on my album!'

They had no idea that they would have to carefully march in time to the tempo AND sing the same lyrics for Leaving This Town about ten times in a row. They were all naïve and excited. Perfect.


Christoffer managed the group like a professional camp counselor. "OK. Justin: Write a lyric sheet for them. Write large so they can read it from a music stand in the big room of the studio. Everyone else, come into the control room for your rehearsal."

It's really satisfying to make non-musicians suffer through zillions of takes to get a recording right. And, it was a satisfying day. We had to do ten takes of the march version of Leaving This Town. It felt like a thousand, though. Singing the same stupid song over and over is effortless. Marching in time with three non-musicians, however, borders on physically impossible.

But, we pulled it off. And, we kept all the takes and they'll be on the record. So, Jade, Trine, and David are now officially guest vocalists on my album.

Guest vocalist is really a nice way of saying that someone is your slave. They have to do whatever you tell them. It's usually painful. It usually takes a long time. And, it's unlikely they're going to get paid at all.


"I'm the USA. And, the rest of you are Mexico. Now, what that means is that you're (almost) free labor. So, get in that studio and start singing for me for free, slaves!"

What's funny is that they thought it would be really fun to sing on a record. They had no idea how physically challenging it would actually be. They had to sing an entire song all the way through ten times without a break. It's way harder than it sounds. Afterwards Trine complained that she was exhausted and out of breath. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

I knew exactly what she meant. Being in the studio and making a proper record is about 75% boredom and 25% intense, slavish 24-hour labor. It felt really satisfying to have some friends that actually experienced first hand what it's like to be be in my life.


Bjarne took some great photos during his visit. So did Trine and David. It was great to have three semi-professsional photographers running around with cameras far more expensive than mine. I felt like I was on vacation, really, since it wasn't my responsibility to photograph things—they had it covered!


Bjarne made me lay down in the entry way where everyone takes off their shoes. "Lay down in the shoes!" Then he stacked headphones on me. Just think: this is what being a recording artist for 15 years gets me.

So, I've listened to the album many times now on my iPod. It's kind of incredible, which is just what I'd hoped for. Spectacular is probably the most appropriate word to describe it. (Although 'pretentious' would also do it justice.) It's a giant record, with big horn sections and even bigger string sections.

I can't help feeling a little starstruck each time I think that the horn players from The Mopeds actually played on my album! It makes me so excited I want to piss in the face of an infant! Again! Today!

I'm currently on a very long, boring flight from Copenhagen to Washington, DC. I really hope I miss my flight in DC, since then I would get to hang out with Ellie instead of coming home and being bored and falling asleep.

I wish I had my own pony shooting gallery. Ponies would get flung up into the air so that the guests—which would basically be me and my friends—would be able to shoot them with handguns or whatever.

Of course, we wouldn't bother to shoot them in midair. That would be boring. We'd wait until they hit the ground and were stunned from all their freshly broken bones. Then we could walk right up to them and shoot them in their sweet, kind, gentle pony face.

There are those that insist shooting a wild animal is a sport. (I think it's only a reasonable sport of the animal is also armed with a firearm.)

But, I hate sports. I only care about comedy and laughter. And, nothing is funnier than a trebuchet that flings ponies into the air—only so they can crash to the earth and get shot in the head point blank with a hand gun.

Or whatever.

I've never actually shot a pony. I imagine it would be sort of funny. (This is only 'sort of funny' to me. Actually funny would require catapulting a helpless, adorable, albino orphan human (holding a basket of newborn kittens) into a live volcano. But, I have to be realistic: that might not happen in my life.

Shooting a tame, gentle pony in the face, however, is pretty attainable. Ponies are common and docile—which means they're easy to hit with cinder blocks. And if you can smash them with a cinder block then how could even the most 'developmentally disabled' not manage to shoot an adorable pony in its innocent face?

I could shoot a pony, but only if it had a lovable name, like "Baby Sweet Adorable Hugs Pony Love Cloud Dancer Princess Queen Pony Hearts Pony." And, as long as its owner is a ten-year old girl and she has to watch while I shoot it her pony in the face with loud, delicious, pony-destroying lead bullets of pony destroying AWESOMENESS.

Of death.

It's not that I want to make little girls cry.

It's just that I think it's funny to destroy anything with such a funny name. Making little kids cry is sort of a bonus.

I don't want to shoot any other animals, I promise. Like cows. I don't care a bit about cows. Cows aren't that funny. Their name is SO boring. Horses aren't really funny, either.

But, ponies: wow. hilarious.


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