Category: music

soft rock reverie

Have you ever been driving at night or lying on your bed on a Saturday, listening to music, when a certain song comes on that enhances your senses?

There’s something about the percussion that perks up the awareness, the strumming of strings that solicits a nervous system response, the melody that molds the shape of your haunts and desires.

It becomes the soundtrack that lays the groundwork for your grief, gives stability and tangibility to your joy, like plugging an amplifier into your heart.

That certain song comes on and suddenly I’m a poet. The lines fade from my face and I’m strong and wise and innocent. My head is the world, my eyes a telescope, my tongue a trumpet. I’m talented and I know what it feels like to be in love, to kiss and be heartbroken, to be in bed with someone special.

The music dances atop my senses, grabs my arms and pulls me into everything, connecting me with all emotion and every person that plods through this planet. I’m no longer small or inconsequential. I am more than myself, a part of something timeless and ethereal.

The song is a vessel, a simulation of the senses, and I can explore the ups and downs of life and love and forget about my own downs, to surge from love to heartache back to love again, all within those musical moments, within the safety of my sheets or steering wheel. I’m not lonely as long as the music massages my ears. No matter the emotion, I am connected to the music because the music feels the same way I do, has the same aspirations and needs.

We ride along together, hand-in-hand, an expression, a moment of connection, a reverie to release the pressure.

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digital portrait

Since I bought a lot of Adobe products about two years ago and then never touched them, I thought I should probably get some use out of the 2,000 dollars worth of software chilling on my computer.  So, I did my first digital painting.

I spent 8 straight hours on it the first day and then several hours over the course of the next several days.  I didn’t really keep track of total hours put into it but I’m guessing it took close to 20-30 hours.  Eventually, I stopped.  Not because I was done but because I wasn’t sure what else I could do to improve it.  I feel like I never finish a work because there’s always improvements to make but I’m not at the skill level I need to be to actually make those improvements so I usually just stop before I make it worse by trying to “fix” it.

Here’s the reference picture:

And here’s my “interpretation” of the picture.

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zombie vomit bag

“I have heard it said love endures all things, now I know that it’s true, 
stronger than the grave, death can’t put it out, here I am, the walking dead, 
still next to you…”
-Showbread, George Romero will be at our Wedding

We decorated Valentine bags at work so everyone could put goodies in them.  Everyone decorated their bags with sticker hearts and puff paint, which is all well and good but I wanted to do something a bit different.

 I designed my bag around the Showbread song George Romero will be at our Wedding.  It’s about a zombie who vomits up a wedding ring and realizes he ate his wife.  He eventually finds her, zombified, and they stay together, despite them both being dead.  It’s about how love can overcome all things, even death.  It’s actually a really meaningful message beneath all the entrails. 

I wanted to draw a vomiting zombie on the bag but then I thought I’d put Photoshop to good use and designed the zombie dude in the program and printed him out.  I taped him to the bag, which gave a nice 3D effect.  And instead of just drawing vomit, I made it interactive so you can spin the vomit around.

 I also created a QR code which links to the song and on the back of the bag, I printed the song lyrics.  So you’ve got your physical, visual, and auditory interaction, which I thought was pretty neat.

 

Here’s what the bag looks like.

Here’s the back of the bag with the song lyrics.

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It’s OK to Dance

Repeat

Raw Rock Kills!

Saturday night, I dragged an acquaintance of mine, Rebekah, with me two hours to go see Showbread play. Their new album, The Fear of God, released last week and it’s amazing! I have to be honest, I wasn’t feeling it at first. I usually fall in love with their stuff at first listen but this album took a bit longer to like but I’m fine with that. As I’ve always said, the songs that are catchy at first get old the fastest but the ones that take a little longer to appreciate are the ones that have staying power.

So, we get there and we were the oldest two up in that joint! I swear, the average age was a ripe seventeen years old! And talk about hipsters! They don’t have that many tight leggings in ballets. Needless to say, I felt very out of place. You know those guys in their mid-thirties that tries way too hard to be hip and hangs out with the young kids and slaughters contemporary slang? Yeah, I was that dude. I was so glad Rebekah came with me because at least I had someone to talk to.

There were five other bands before Showbread played and they were all actually really good. At the last couple of Showbread shows, the opening bands ranged from alright to garbage so I was glad to see they had some good people playing. There was a local band that especially intrigued me. Very Paramore-ish. The girl even sounded like the delicious Hayley and had that whole “hair shake” thing down pat. They were the best but unfortunately, every time she said their name I couldn’t catch it. I’m sure if I did some online investigation, I could track them down. I would like to hear more from them but I’m too lazy at the moment so I’ll probably put it off until I forget about them entirely. Eh.

It was time for Showbread to play and it was the best show I’ve seen them do. Not only did they play songs from their new album but pulled out some oldies from their former albums. It was so awesome to hear all the old songs I had listened to for so many years being played live. It was like a greatest hits performance. It was intense and loud and jarring to the heart and fantastic! After their performance, I tracked a lot of them down and had my picture taken with them, all except for Patrick. I forgot about him entirely. I had really just intended to take a picture with Josh Dies ‘cause I have during all the other times I’ve seen them so I figured I’d make a tradition out of it but since they were all clumped together I didn’t want to be rude and push them all aside to just take a picture with Josh so when I had my picture taken with a few of them I decided to go ahead and get all of them. Since it was a spontaneous decision, I wasn’t thinking about who all I had gotten but it’s okay, I’ll get them all next time! Unfortunately, the pictures came out horrible. Not that there was anything wrong with any of the pictures, I just wasn’t happy with how my appearance came out is all. Oh well. I’ll just keep them for my own private collection or whatever. I didn’t want to keep anyone from seeing any other fans, I kind of quickly flagged them all one by one, snapped a picture, told them how raw they were, and sent them on their way. But one of the newer guys took the time to talk with me for a bit, which was pretty cool. He was really nice and seemed genuinely excited for Rebekah and I to be there.

Their new album, The Fear of God, is out now and I would encourage everyone to pick it up. As always, even if you don’t love the music, you should read their lyrics. Absolutely incredible. In fact, I’ll be super nice and provide the link for you. Click here! The stuff from Anorexia Nervosa and The Fear of God is my favorite material. Enjoy.

The Showbread Experience

Showbread is, hands down, my favorite band. I actually found out about them in a horror movie message board, which I find perfect for my situation. Someone had asked if there were any songs written about horror movies and a respondent chimed in and said Showbread had written a song about the Evil Dead trilogy called “Dead by Dawn.” Being a huge fan of the Evil Dead movies, I was intrigued. He then said, “Ironically, they’re a Christian band.” I was even more intrigued. So, I downloaded the song and thought it wasn’t half bad. It was pretty screamo, something I wasn’t accustomed to listening to at the time but I gave it a chance and listened to it until I fell in love with it. I then proceeded to check out some more of their other songs until I finally just bought the entire album. It quickly became my favorite album and the one I was most proud of owning. Up until that time, I was just into generic pop and I wasn’t very adventurous with my music. But Showbread opened up a whole new world of music variety for me, for which I am very thankful. The cool part about them is they never do the same album twice. While their album No Sir, Nihilism is not Practical was electronic and screamo, their album Age of Reptiles was more melodic hard rock. Showbread themselves don’t even really know what their music can be defined as so they just use the term “Raw Rock” which I think couldn’t be more perfect. After listening to their music, I tried to expand my tastes by finding bands in a similar style to them. While it was a nice venture, nothing was ever as good as Showbread.

I have a thing. When I am interested in something, be it music or movies or an actor or whatever the case may be, I’m going to do my research and find out as much as I can about it. So, I looked up as much stuff about Showbread as I could. I found out that the lead singer, Josh Dies (how cool is that name?) loves horror movies, zombie movies in particular. I was liking the band more and more! I also found out they were from the Savannah, GA area which was super awesome to me because that’s where I wanted to go to school. I figured I could catch a lot of their shows there. Also, I was inspired Josh Dies to get my lip pierced ‘cause I always thought his lip piercing was cool and I wanted to have one like it.

They were unlike any Christian band I had encountered before. They screamed. They were covered in tattoos and piercings. They sang about zombies and loved watching horror movies. The band’s inspiration comes from non-Christian bands like Nine Inch Nails and of all people, Marilyn Manson! And the Christian thing wasn’t just a label they threw on themselves. When you read anything Josh Dies writes, his beliefs and intentions are always blatant. They don’t allude to religion in their songs, opting instead to come right out with their intentions. Even the zombie songs have a religious connotation weaved within the words. The whole band’s main mission is to spread the word of God. They just do it in their own way and I respect them for that. Because of their songs, style of music and even dress (Josh Dies likes to wear fishnets and eye makeup on stage and during press photos), they have been accused of not being Christian. I find it kind of sad that both Christians and non-Christians alike both have this incredibly narrow view of how Christianity should be and how a person that is a Christian should be, all the way up to how they should praise God. I felt like the band really expanded my ideas of Christianity and made me more comfortable with how I was as a Christian. Being someone who also loves horror movies and is pierced and is just generally into the darker side of life (and death), I realized it was okay to be who I was. I can watch people being killed by Freddy Krueger. I can wear a black shirt and listen to singers like Marilyn Manson without having to worry if I’m crossing some kind of line. Being into what I’m into does not have to compromise my Christianity. The band actually strengthened my beliefs to a major degree, another thing I am thankful for.

Although I fell in love with Showbread’s previous albums, I was most excited about their double concept album, Anorexia Nervosa. The premise was so epic in concept and scope that there was no way it wasn’t going to be amazing. To give you a gist, the two albums are a soundtrack of sorts to a story that was created. The story is about two twin sisters, Anorexia and Nervosa, as they try to find some sense of purpose in life. Anorexia thinks to reach the sky is the greatest honor there is to know so she builds a tower. Anorexia thinks to submerge herself into the depravity of the dirt would be the greatest adventure there is to know so she digs a hole in the ground. Each album is named after a sister and each song on each album accompanies a chapter in each one of the sisters’ story. The really awesome part of the whole concept is each song is timed to correspond with what’s happening within the story. Each chapter comes with time markers that correspond to different times in the song so as you listen to the songs and read the stories simultaneously, the sound of the song will change depending on the change of mood or action in the story. Of course, when I received both albums, I immediately locked myself in my room, put away my homework, transferred the songs to my iPod, opened up the story and started up the music and immersed myself in the world of these two sisters. I was absolutely blown away. Not only was the story dark and beautiful and the concept amazing but the lyrics spoke to my heart in a way that no other song, no other poem, no other piece of writing ever has.

After the release of Showbread’s double concept album, Anorexia Nervosa, I knew I had to see one of their shows. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to two of their shows last summer. I know, last summer…and I’m just now getting around to writing about it. I suck. The first show was in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, I was butt deep in finals at the time of the concert but I did not let that concern me. I drove the two hours it took to get to the show and had a blast! It was my first kinda indie concert, I guess you’d say. It wasn’t some huge production like a big name star would have. It was a small, intimate club setting. It was very chill. In fact, Josh Dies came out when I was at the merch table and asked if anyone wanted to finish his milkshake. Some guy immediately raised his hand and Josh handed him the half empty cup. He then darted back from where he came. Now, I have never seen a celebrity before and for most people, Josh would hardly be considered a celebrity but he was in my mind because I had admired him for so long. So, to see him up close, even if only for the few seconds it took him to pass along his drink, it caught me off guard.

I stood through a few other opening bands before Showbread came on and when they did, it was amazing. I walked up to the open area in front of the stage as they began the show. Being around other people that were fans like me, feeling the music flowing through me, seeing these guys who I have looked up to so much, up there in the flesh. All that energy that’s put into their music is personified on stage with everyone getting lost in the music, stumbling around and head banging, bodies flailing, lights blinding and flashing erratically, drums pounding in my chest, screams rattling my ears, energy affecting my mind, body and spirit. It was just incredible to see all of that live and in person. At the end of the set, a few of the band members stayed on stage and jammed on their instruments. They seriously went on for like a good half an hour straight just free styling, almost like they were in a competition with each other to see who could go the longest. That was a show in itself. At one point, Josh came back out again and unplugged their instruments so they’d stop playing. Later, they all came back out and trashed the stage. It was awesome.

Then it was time to meet the guys in the band. I felt so nervous, like I was going out on a date or something. Firstly, I met Ivory. He’s a former vocalist of the band and had announced a few weeks earlier that he’d be stepping down. I was kind of bummed about his departure and wondered how it would work without him being there. He sang guest vocals on one of the songs on the Nervosa album, I believe it is, and when the band began playing the song, Ivory showed up on stage and performed his vocals! It totally caught me off guard because I didn’t expect he’d be there since he left the band but I guess it was a special occasion because that show was their first one in their “You Can’t Save Yourself” tour. When he got up on the stage, everyone went nuts! It was great.

As I said, he was the first one I met. It was so surreal just seeing him stand there, just like any regular guy. I shook his hand and we engaged in a bit of small talk. I told him I was going to school in Savannah and he told me that’s where he was living and like a geeky fanboy I was like, “I KNOW!” Haha. He was interesting and I got my picture taken with him, of course.

I also met Patrick, who plays bass and is Josh’s brother. I shook his hand and told him this was the first show I had been to and that I was glad that it was a Showbread show and he smiled at me and told me that was cool. And then it was time to meet Josh. I waited close to the stage for him to come out and after he finished talking to a bunch of people, he came up to me and I shook his hand. I was such a freaking dork. I told him my name was Brannon and he was like, “Nice to meet you, Brannon.”

“Oh, awesome, you got my name right. People usually get it wrong and call me Brandon.”

“Well, I listen!” he responded.

Then I kind of went into this dumb spiel about how he was incredibly inspirational to me and all of that and he seemed genuinely touched by my lame sentiments so that was nice. And then I asked to take a picture with him and since no one was around I took the picture myself but of course, I was so nervous I didn’t know how to operate the camera. So, after some fumbling, I took the picture and after some more groveling, I let him get back to whatever he was gonna do before I showed up like an overzealous fan. Gosh, I said some other dumb things that I can’t even remember anymore. Heck, I couldn’t even remember them right after I said them. I felt like I had come off as a real nerd. I guess I just wanted to seem cool, wanted him to like me, and we all know that when we try to be cool, we are at our lamest. That was no truer than that night. I had to get away from him before I said something really dumb.

Two months later, they did a show in Mobile, Alabama and I had to drive two hours once again to get there but it was totally worth it! I even took a friend with me and she enjoyed the show as well. I met up with Josh again and got him to sign my wallet and had my friend snap a picture of us! It was great! And the best part was that he remembered me! I know it had only been two months but he had been touring that whole time and probably saw a lot of people. Maybe I stood out in his mind as being the dorkiest. Ah, I try not to worry about that stuff. I just think it’s cool that he remembered me and hopefully he sees me not as a dork but just as a guy that has been touched and changed by his band’s music and he can look at me (and all the rest of the Showbread fans) as people that are positively affected by what they do and are receiving the word of God and are better for it.

I think most of all, Showbread and specifically Josh Dies, since he’s the main lyricist, has inspired the way I write. The band’s lyrics are so dense and dark and beautifully black and somewhere in all the intricate relgious references and allusions to literature, some songs are so beautiful and filled with redemption and love and it’s some of the most moving stuff I’ve read/heard. Every time I go to write a poem or essay, I always try to write like him. And as a Christian, I sometimes feel like there are certain feelings that I feel guilty for feeling about. A lot of people have the misconception that if someone is a Christian or has God in their life that their life should be so much better, that everything should be perfect. It’s not that way at all. At times, I have a real crisis of faith. At times, I feel absolutely miserable. I’ve been to some really dark places in my life concerning my mental and spiritual states and what I love about the band is the fact that they explore those dark places. A lot of what Josh communicates in his songs is imperfection. He explores those feelings of hopelessness, even in the presence of God. He explores greed and selfishness and how we all fall short of the glory of God. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t there. And it feels good to know other people of faith feel this same way. I’ll leave you with a few links to some Showbread info if you are incline to learn more about them. I also want to post some of the lyrics that have really spoken to me.

May raw rock kill you forever and ever, amen.

From “The Pig” (Anorexia):
Why does it seem that all is slipping further from me?
I build and build and reaching up my arms can not reach anything
Give me something, anything
Why is it bleak and barren?
Don’t I deserve the world after building building building?
You dangle happiness before me yet keep it out of reach
My well is dry and still I try to fill it up I seek and seek and seek
Nothing lasts except the empty swallowing my soul
But I will rise above this world and I will fill my holes

From “The Death” (Anorexia):
When I was a baby I could close the world up in fleshy pink mitts
Now the world flays the infant palms and the bones drip out in its spit
When I was small I reached up so high and grasped at the morning star
Now the wormwood topples down on me and smashes all my parts
When I was a child my bones spread out like peacock feathers alive
Now the feathers wilt like cancerous boils leaving sagging pores in my hide
When I was of age I saw a gate so wide and a path so broad for the taking
But the road to everything led to a cliff where I sprawled out naked and aching
Now that I’m old I see the light and I see it was never there
Everything leads to nothing nowhere and I don’t even care

From “The End” (Anorexia):
Where is the light that I thought I was promised?
Where is the truth, and the hope and the way?
I’ve lost my footing, my spine, my eyes
Everything keeps slipping away
Where is the storybook ending
The love, the joy, the laughter?
Is all there is just nothing at all
Is there anything that matters
Is this all we get for our lives?
And after everything, why is it still so lonely
So blank, so dry, so numb
Are we brought up just to crack and bleed out
Unravel, coming undone
Is this all we get?
Is this all we get for our lives?
Is this all we get?

From “The Vulture” (Nervosa):
Ask me how dying feels so good
Do you ever wish you’d never been born?
Ask me
Do you ever wish you’d never been born?
That’s me
The resonance becomes a fist and numbs my face, my teeth, my backbone
I’m learning that it gets easy to shut it out
And soon the life comes leaking out, it throws in death and dies alone
Tastes like copper losing taste smeared on my mouth
So speak to me my little child
You dying baby
Stooped in ink, formaldehyde, the bubbles pop
Why can’t you grow?
I want to know
Am I so far gone?
Just writhing in the dirt
I’m lost and going on

From “The Pig” (Nervosa):
there was a time when i was blank and see-through
but never white as snow
just made of rippled glass
i thought that it was sealed, but now i know
in goes a tiny seed that splits open with rotten spice and sage
and then the numbness is consuming me
just like a sweeping plague
my soul is cheap, lay on top of me
I peel myself up off the floor
Say “I can’t do this anymore”
But then my soul has run away
So I lay down another day

From “The Dirt (Alpha)” (Nervosa):
Before there was anything
I loved you endlessly
There are no words to make way for this truth
This love for you inside of Me
And if I paint a sky with bronze
Or blanket you with stars
It’s not enough to prove to you
This love inside My heart
What if I knit you together
Inside your mother, with artistry?
Crafted in My very image
Because I need you here with Me
What if I gave everything
Just to have you close to Me?
What if My love was the only truth
Would you believe it could set you free?
There isn’t anything
That you could ever do
Not death or life, not depth or height
Can ever take My love from you
There is no greater love than this
That a man should lay his life
Down for his friends
And though I already have
I’d do it all again
Regenerative are My bones and My skin
My nerves are dismayed by intrusion
Yet if you are gone, for short or for long
It all aches with no sought restitution
I would do anything for you
It’s obvious and in plain view
Like the life that I’ve laid before you
Everything that I’ve done is for you
So look for me with open eyes
Knock and I will open the door
I have loved you before there was time
And I will love you forever more