Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Dear Internet,

In honor of the season I have made my album, The Antikythera Mechanism, a gift for you. For today and tomorrow it is priced at $0 (as a name your own price sale) on our bandcamp page. If you already have the album do please feel free to share this link with anyone you think might like the music. You can even send it as a gift through bandcamp.

If you haven't got the album already, go get it! It's free! Because I like you!

But make sure to do it before the end of the day tomorrow (that is, Christmas, for those of you who celebrate it) because on the 26th I will once again be surrounded by the fires of avarice and will demand your filthy lucre in exchange for my music once again! I gotta make a living, you know. :)

But still: go to the link below and grab the music. And if you feel compelled to send me a message telling me what you think about it I would appreciate that, too!

Take care, drive safe, and give someone you love a hug from me.


Monday, August 4, 2014



There's really no other way to start this post: all caps with an exclamation point. I'm gonna be there with Tempest and the rest of the band and we're totally going to play some music for you!

I expect there to be some dancing, some shenanigans, and some reconnections with a lot of old friends and bandmates. You be there and it'll make the event complete! We'll be based in the usual place in the downstairs lobby of the Marriott with all the other bands. We'll have new album(s), shirts, and other assorted stuff for your listening/wearing pleasure. We might have the occasional late-night dance party because that's what you do at midnight at the merch booth.

We'll also be sitting in on a few panels and playing a few shows.

I just received the tentative schedule show and it looks like this:

Thursday 7:30pm - THE BIG STAGE SHOW - The Atrium Ballroom - Marriott
    We're sharing a 2.5 hour block with The Ghosts Project. We play. They play, you dance.

Saturday 4pm - CONCOURSE SET ONE - Concourse II - Hilton
    We're playing a somewhat acoustic somewhat electric set of our favorite songs!

Sunday 1pm - CONCOURSE SET TWO - Concourse II - Hilton
    We're playing a DIFFERENT somewhat acoustic somewhat electric set.

Sunday 10pm - THE MECHANICAL MASQUERADE - Peachtree Ballroom A-F - Westin
    This is the big deal Steampunk bash. Parade your finest gear and gadgetry and DANCE!

We've got FOUR SHOWS at Dragoncon. This means that you will have plenty of chances to hear our new songs and get hugs and stuff.

We're still working up our panel schedule. We'll make a post of that once we have all our panel appearances confirmed.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Flight of the Ikarus!

Our airship shanty!

I mean, really. If you're a steampunk band you kinda need to have your own airship shanty. It's like how every 80's hair metal band has that one power ballad. Personally, I'd rather have the airship shanty than the power ballad. :)

I kinda feel like I cheated on this one, though. There I was, a veritable Tom Sawyer with a fence to paint - I had an idea, and my friends all showed up and did most of the work for me!

First off, there was Alyssa who dropped some lyrics into my lap. We'd been discussing the various myths that resonated with us and the story of Ikarus was one that we both wanted to include. And as we were brainstorming the album we both knew that our airship shanty had to reference that story. And, of course, if you're going to write a story about an airship called The Ikarus you just know how it's going to go. The lyrics she sent are, in my most humble of opinions, absolutely perfect. She just nails it. I love the story. I love the unnamed captain who thirsts for glory. And the refrain is so much fun to sing!

I immediately recorded a demo that, thankfully, will never, ever see the light of day. It had too many guitars, was too fast, and totally F-ing metal. Think over the top heavy guitar madness.

I played it for Kate hoping that she'd be up for singing and she was all, "Ok. I think I can work with this. Let's see how the words flow." So we stepped into the studio and began poring over the lyrics to tidy up some of the syllable counts. It was just Kate, me, and my classical guitar (which is what was handy at the time). We fixed up the words and laid down a quick demo of her singing with me playing flamenco-esque rhythm on my guitar.

When we reviewed the recording we both knew instantly that that metal demo I recorded wasn't a thing and this new orchestration would totally work.

So I put down some guitar, ukulele, bass, and Kate's vocals. But at that point we decided we needed something else. At which point Kate tells me that she recently met this guy who played accordion and was pretty good.

And this is where I meet Evan Evanovich. Not only does he play accordion he also plays some pretty kickin' clarinet! There is a moment in the song where I was so enthused by how it was going I shouted out "It's alive!" a la Victor Fankenstein forgetting that the tape was still rolling. It only seemed natural to leave it in the mix. (

We sent the resulting mess to Tom Coyne. He's my secret weapon. He lives in a magical land of rock and roll recording studios and has a killer drum habit. A few days later I received his tracks and they were utterly perfect!

FYI: for this song I recorded 5 different guitar parts. Not one of them is in the song. In fact, there is no guitar in it at all. It is: voice, ukulele, bass, accordion, clarinet, and drums. The bass is all me, though. I think in another life I would have been a bassist.

Alyssa's two cents: This is one of my favorites and one of the best sets of lyrics I have done for the album. Interestingly, this one took a really long time for me to write. The chorus came quickly but the story took a long time to reveal itself. I had this female captain and I wanted to know why she would go ahead and fly that close to the sun, bringing in the Ikarus myth….and the easy way out was some heartbreak or some tragedy…but… I wanted a different story for a heroine that did not involve a love story of any kind. Also…Ikarus was about pride and folly. So I took our proud captain and made her wildly over-confident after her very successful rise to glory. She was bold, brave, proud, a little arrogant, and unable to see her own folly until it was too late. In other words, she was human.
Then Kate and Nathan took the story and infused it with its heart and soul. Kate truly makes it come alive with her evocative vocals. The Spanish guitar version is actually one of my favorite arrangements and I’d love to see someone do a cover of this with some delicious Spanish guitar!

I shall tell you the tale of the good ship Ikarus
The pride of Alexander’s skies
She sailed round the world on the winds unfurled
O'er ocean and desert alike

Her captain was a lass of twenty and eight
Sun browned with star filled eyes
Stern in command, ready smile at hand
Adventure her only prize 

    So raise the wreck of the airship Ikarus
    Her glory days long past
    She flew phoenix bright toward the daystar light
    And her captain would never look back (repeat)

With each tale of her strength and wits
Her fame spread like fire
Glory never feeds it creates bigger needs
Daring she rise ever higher

Alexander sent a challenge across the land
He would rule beyond Earth’s door
Whoever can bring him the Olympus gates
Shall history save in the stars
    So raise the wreck of the airship Ikarus
    Her glory days long past
    She flew phoenix bright toward the daystar light
    And her captain would never look back
She smiled, our lass, our captain so dear
“Tis us who can win this task
Raise sail to the wind, let the race begin,
Though no one will be in our class”

So strong our captain, so brave, so true
But glory had blinded us all
We raced on alone, a field of one
For the rest had wisely withdrawn

    So raise the wreck of the airship Ikarus
    Her glory days long past
    She flew phoenix bright toward the daystar light
    And her captain would never look back

No friend of the land, but a child of air
The captain she had but one goal
Meet Alexander’s quest, not one of, but the best
But pride always takes it's toll

No mortal may touch the godly realm
Lord Helios burns too bright
Our captain would not abandon her helm
Though blinded and seared by his might

    Raise the wreck of the airship Ikarus
    Her glory days long past
    She flew phoenix bright toward the daystar light
    And her captain would never look back

With wings aflame, she plummeted down
The sea quenched all her fire
Blackened in blue, she sank out of view
A watery grave for her pyre (repeat)

It’s all long ago, but the legend lives on
In the end she would not be denied
Though no long lived life, in death she'd survive
In the stars her fame would reside

    So raise the wreck of the airship Ikarus
    Her glory days long past
    She flew phoenix bright toward the daystar light
    And her captain would never looked back
    And her captain would never looked back
    And her captain would never looked back

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Flyover Country

This was one of the first songs written for the album. I was in a melancholy and reflective mood when I first put words to paper.

Once upon a time I fell in love with a lady who lived too many miles away. When I first laid eyes on her she was dancing and I was dumbstruck. Looking back on it, I must have been crazy - long distance relationships really suck. That's just an unfortunate reality. And yet, here I was pining for a woman in a different time zone.

It's a common theme nowadays, though. So many of us are not able to be with our loved ones. Whether it's work, school, a deployment, whatever. So many of us have to negotiate the emotional mine-field of distance and love. I hate it. But. At the same time I wouldn't want to let distance be the end of things.

The story of Odysseus and Penelope has always struck me as being about the wrong thing. Sure there's heroism, epic journeys, and monsters and all that. But to me the biggest story is how they kept their love alive in the face of 20 years apart. How the hell do you do that?

PS - My mom is convinced that this is the breakout song on the album. I think she's nuts. Clearly, Snugglefish is going to be the hit of the album. What do you think?

Alyssa:  This song began as a song about a breakup, about how the distance became too much and the person singing it needed a closeness that was not possible.  However, he did not look back on it in anger, but instead in fond remembrance.  As we played with the themes of the album, it became clear that this was Odysseus pining for Penelope.  Remember in those times, communication was either very slow or nonexistent so neither really knew if the other even lived.  So we changed it up and the result was Odysseus, thinking of his love, wishing he could get to her and working desperately to return…and hoping, hoping that she would wait for him.

Thudding beats throbbing bass
In darkened room I saw your face
Dancing close with smiling eyes
Dancing close with smiling eyes

There's very little to discuss
As the music swirls around us
Dancing close your smiling eyes
Dancing close your smiling eyes

    Flyover country
    Lies between you and me
    The heart of your city
    In your voice calls to me

    The heart of your city
    Calling sweetly

Far is near with you my dear
Our love will bridge and never fear
Can’t you see it in my eyes
Can’t you see it in my eyes

But distance wounds which cannot heal
And lonely beds, I need you here
Can’t you see it in my eyes
I've got to look into your eyes

    Flyover country
    Lies between you and me
    The heart of your city
    In your voice calls to me

    The heart of your city
    Calling sweetly

    I’m calling
    I’m calling
    I'm calling
    Can’t you hear me
    Come home to me

My absence grew as did concern
That you’d be gone when I returned
A memory of smiling eyes
A memory of smiling eyes

Though I’m gone, don’t acquiesce
Our time’s not done, please reminisce
in memory of smiling eyes
in memory of smiling eyes

    Flyover country
    Lies between you and me
    The heart of your city
    In your voice calls to me

    The heart of your city
    Calling sweetly

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dance With Me - An exercise in ebullient nihilism

It seems that everywhere I turn I see bad news. Every time I look at the internet I see evidence of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: war is over here slaughtering millions, plague is over there insinuating himself into cities and nations, and famine is evident all over. Admittedly, I haven't heard anything from pestilence but I'm sure he's out there doing is level best to ruin someone's day.

On top of that we have all the tales of near misses in the world around us. Apparently we were only just narrowly missed by a massive solar flare two years ago. If it hadn't missed, our world's entire power grid would have collapsed and we'd have descended into barbarism. And then theres that super volcano rumbling to itself under the state of Wyoming. Apparently, it goes off every 70,000 years or so and it's overdue.

It wears on me sometimes. Ok, pretty much all the time. But what the hell can I do? I'm just this guy who writes songs with his friends. My solitary vote is pretty insignificant. Compared to the captions of industry by own economic potential is practically microscopic.

There comes a time when the world is so big and the dangers so massive that it defies reason. When the sun decides to puke on your little planet, when the state of Wyoming decides to explode, and when the ocean swallows up your island … it might as well be one of the Gods punting your sorry ass over the horizon.

Imagine yourself living on the island of Thera in Ancient Greece. Your world is coming to an end as far as you know it. You're standing there with a bottle of fine wine and the love of your life standing next to you. One last kiss. One last swig of wine and perhaps one last dance. What the hell else are you going to do?

That's where my mind was when I wrote the song. I try to adopt the mindset that you can't account for acts of god, so why try? Just do what you can, when you can, and enjoy whatever pleasures there are to be had.

The words came in a rush of ebullient nihilism. Alyssa offered up a few choice lines that brought it all home. I expect there to be dancing!

Alyssa:  When I began working on this song, I thought of a Doctor Who episode where the Doctor takes Rose to watch the end of Earth.  It is a tourist attraction, watching the natural ends of planets…are party as such.  I wanted to capture that scene in some of the lyrical imagery.  I combined this with the end of a great love, “Casablanca”, and a few choice Firefly easter eggs.  I thought of this mostly as resignation to mortality and the choice to celebrate the end, rather than mourn it, if there is nothing left you can do. 

Tell me my darling, my love did you hear?
Our total destruction is ever so near
But we've got naught to fear but fear
And the end-- the end of time

Soon the explosions will light up the night
And our lives will flicker out like fireflies
But we'll find serenity in our demise
So dance with me to the end of time
Dance with me to the end of time

Dance with me, dance with me 'neath burning skies
Dance in my arms 'til we laugh instead of cry
Dance till it hurts and then we'll dance through the pain
Oh, yes let's dance on again
One last dance and again


Dance with me, dance with me 'neath burning skies
Dance in my arms 'til we laugh 'stead of cry
Dance till it hurts and then we'll dance through the pain
Oh, yes let's dance on again
One last dance and again

The dread riders shadows darken our door
Famine and Death,  Pestilence, War
So play it again Sam, and give me a pour--
Of the wine, blood red and fine
While we dance to the end of time

Dance with me, dance with me 'neath burning skies
Dance in my arms till we laugh instead of cry
Dance till it hurts 'cause we're all going to die
While we dance to the end of time
It's you and me to the end of time

Dance with me, dance with me 'neath burning skies
Dance in my arms till we laugh instead of cry
Dance till it hurts 'cause we're all going to die
While we dance to the end of time
It's you and me to the end of time
We shall dance to the end of time

Friday, July 25, 2014

A random data point to explain my obsession with music

This is a reblog of something I posted several years ago. A friend suggested that I put it here as a more accessible record of my experience:

In late 2001, my hands broke. Not in the dynamic snapping of bones way but in the dull throbbing pain every time I tried to do anything music or computer related. Using a computer mouse was an excrutiating exercise in masochism. Playing a single scale on a piano was agony. Alas, even playing guitar was painful.

It was, as my specialist called it, a Repetitive Strain Injury in both hands. Basically that meant that he didn't know exactly what it was but that if I wanted to heal, I had to stop doing a lot of things. I had to quit piano. I had to seriously cut back on computer time. I had to (and this was the hardest one for me...) quit playing guitar.

I was a wreck. I was confronted by the very real possibility that I would never be able to play guitar again.

I soldiered on as best I could for a few months but I couldn't take it. In desperation, I went out and spent $400 I didn't have on a left handed guitar and tried it out. Because it used a set of muscles and tendons that I hadn't used and abused into oblivion already, I was able to play it without pain. Alas, I was not able to play with any kind of skill. So I practiced. And practiced.

I sucked really badly for over a year.

But then I found myself getting to the point where the southpaw fumblings began to sound like music. I was learning some really crazy jazz chords and was jamming with a bassist friend whenever I could. I was learning stuff I'd never been able to play right handed. I was actually getting to the point where I was as good as a lefty as I had been as a righty. Well, I never quite got the fluid speed down - my left handed picking was still a bit clunky but my right hand took to fretting really well.

In the fall of 2003, I tried one of my right-handed guitars again and found myself able to play it without pain. It seems that the time spend away from it was enough to let my hands heal. I started playing that more regularly and found that while I lost a little bit of the ease and facility with the instrument, I never lost the spark. Soon enough I was playing right handed exclusively and never went back to the lefty.

I still can't play the piano. When I try, my hands got sore really quickly. But that's ok. I was never a pianist. I was a guitarist.

So now. Whenever I pick up my guitar. I know that one day I may have to put it down again for good. Happily that's not today. And for as long as it's not today, I'm gonna play that thing like there's no tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A bit of my musical background and the song Steam (Prometheus)

When I was a wee lad, oh, around the age of 11 or 12, my musical world was pretty much defined by my older brother. He was, after all, the arbiter of all that was cool. He introduced me to bands like Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, and others from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. On the basis of his say so, I went out and tracked down albums by these bands and absorbed them into my very psyche.

Eventually, he would move of to college and I ran afoul of bands like XTC, Bauhaus, The Cult, Siouxsie, Shriekback, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and all the other bands of the early 80's. But this isn't about them, really. This is about that list in the previous paragraph.

That heavy guitar-oriented rock stayed in my style. It was kind of like the reptilian hind-brain of my musical self. Wherever my musical tastes took me, there was always that heaviness. Even as I descended into new-wave, I still had that inner metal head at the very roots.

Somewhere in the development of The Antikythera Mechanism Alyssa sent me a lyric about Prometheus. And we went back and forth on it a few times. I loved the words but none of the music that I came up with seemed right. I was thinking that I might have to hold off on those words and was kinda bummed about it.

That's when I happened to be in the local used CD shop and saw Black Sabbath's 1st album sitting right there on the counter. It was only five bucks and I'd not had a copy of it in years so I went ahead and got it. As I drove home I popped it into the CD player and my musical youth exploded into my head. I'd forgotten how much I loved that album. It was some serious blues rock. Iommi was on fire!

And that was when I knew what I had to do for Steam. I had to go back to my 12-year-old self and learn the song through his eyes. The result is a little more early Def Leppard than Sabbath. There's a hint of early Rush in there too. So yeah. That song is totally the song that I would have written if I'd known how to play guitar when i was 12.

And as far as the credit where credit is due goes: I don't play any of the guitar. Guitarist Adam Bratman plays that blistering solo in the middle while Jean-Paul Mayden lays down the rhythm. The bass is totally me, though. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another band mate blog post!

So last summer I totally poached Kate McKnight from her other band, Dogwood. That sounds pretty douchey until you realize that her other band was just her and a ukulele. Thankfully, she still is in that band and does plenty of shows as and when the opportunity presents itself. I've even been one of her side men at a few of them. Woot! She's got an amazing voice and also can throw down on the ukulele.

Here's one of my favorite tracks off our album The Antikythere Mechanism: One of the deals we made last year is that once we have a pause in the business of recording my newest album and doing a few shows on it we'd take the time to record an album of her stuff so that when she eventually takes her act on the road she'd have a CD to share. So throughout the past year I've been hearing her songs get written and we've been talking about how to orchestrate them. It's been an ear-opening experience and I can't wait to see this stuff get out there. She's a natural talent and her songs really impress me.

Those of you who saw us at Clockwork Alchemy and the Steampunk World's Fair have seen her in action. At SPWF we performed one of her songs during our set: Persephone. I love her songs and I think you will to.

For the past few weeks, Kate and I have been demoing out the songs for her upcoming album Persephone is Dead, Long Live Persephone. We've put down vocals, ukulele, some guitar, and some percussion. The next step is to hire our friend Tom to put down some drums and get the rest of the band in order. After that we're going to mix and master and make a bunch of CDs. We plan to have the CD done in time for our show here in Seattle: Steamposium on Sept. 26.

We'll post some of these new demos next week with information about the fundraiser we'll be starting to fund it. Be on the lookout!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Persephone Rises, Thoughts and Lyrics

Since Tempest wrote the lyrics for this one I think it best that she write this:

This song was written in the week of the Vernal Equinox – the official beginning of Spring. Springtime always makes me think of Persephone rising from the Underworld, bringing back life from the grips of Winter. 

I have had a fascination with the myth of Persephone for over twenty years. As I grew up and experienced life, I could not help but find a personal parallel in the root of the myth. With the passing of time, my understanding of the myth changed, deepened, and unfolded. 

Myths are stories that evolved to explain the forces of nature and time upon the human condition – and our relationship to the divine. At the root of the Persephone myth is an explanation of the seasons – that she cycles through this world and the Underworld, her presence on Earth bringing Spring and Summer while her descent marked the marching of Autumn and Winter. The changes of the seasons are caused by the emotional state of her mother Demeter – goddess of earth, fertility, and life – celebrating the return of her daughter and then in turn mourning her loss.

The most common, traditional telling of the tale depicts Persephone as a victim – an innocent pretty young thing stolen from her mother's side. She was said to have been taken against her will, dragged down to the Underworld and defiled. In this story, she is essentially stripped of any agency or power, and needs to be rescued, in order for the world to be saved. 

The more I reflected upon the myth, the more I wondered if Persephone did indeed have a hand in her own fate. What if she hadn't been kidnapped by Hades, but instead had gone willingly, her heart full of love and desire? Maybe she was a willful young woman, disobedient and a bit reckless, as we tend to be as teenagers. We think we know everything, and the hormones do nothing to dissuade us of this folly. Then the reality of the situation sinks in, and we must realize that there is much responsibility that comes along with our choices. Whether in the end, her match with Hades is one made in heaven or in hell, she accepts the consequences, and helps to find a balance amongst the needs of her mother, her husband, the other gods, and humanity – as well as her own. 

So when I wrote the lyrics for Persephone Rises, I was not considering that hapless victim, bystander to her own fate – but a strong and determined woman, striving for balance, and most definitely owning her power.

Back to Nathan:

This song comes from the same place as Stone Women: that hypothetical folk metal bellydance album. There's a Discipline-era King Crimson vibe to this one that I really, really love. Erik just kills it on the melodic breaks and the bass groove. I kind of wish that I was able to play a Chapman Stick and could go all Tony Levin on this song but, hey, I can't have everything! :p

When Tempest showed me the lyrics I could hear that this music would work before even finishing her draft. The orchestration is much sparser that is usual for me. Just bass, percussion, and a touch of synth. A bit like Who Mourns Eos? in that respect. It's a vibe that I think I will revisit in the future.

The Lyrics

Out of the dark
Out of the night
Here she comes
Bringing the light

Tell you how it is I came to be
Kore, Maiden, Persephone
Child of Earth and Air, symbol of life
In a bed of poppies, I became death's wife

His burning eyes dark, heart of steel
Trapped my spirit, my dreams unreal
Six tiny seeds of jewel-tone red
Made me queen of all that is dead

Hekate above, show me the way

Hades my love, my path 'not delay

Oh mother dear I see your face
From below I rise, not a moment to waste

The gods conspired to keep me hid
The secrets ours, betrothal forbid
But earth withered, the mortals cried
My mother's grief could not be denied

And so a deal on Olympus was made
The divine, the mortals, the earth all saved
Six months in the land of the sun 

And the rest beyond Styx undone

Hekate above, show me the way

Hades my love, my path 'not delay

Oh mother dear I see your face
From below I rise, not a moment to waste

I Persephone, Hades' wife
I bring you love, I bring you life
I arise, set the clock and gear
I bring forth the lighter part of the year!

Out of the dark
Out of the night
Here she comes
Bringing the light

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spotlight on Mr. Erik Brown, Bass Monster

So one of the really neat things about my band is that they are all incredibly talented, self-starting types who are already well-established in their own music trajectories. That makes it all the more awesome when see fit to set their own projects down every now and then so that they can support me in my composition and development as a composer and band leader. As I've been doing the occasional blog post about the songs from The Antikythera Mechanism I'm going to highlight some of the amazing musicians that I am lucky enough the jam with.

My current bass player, Mr. Erik Brown came to the ensemble originally as a percussionist. His percussion is all over the place on both Narratives and The Antikythera Mechanism. Any of the world-music type hand drums you hear are most likely his work. He's a straight-up virtuoso on the doumbek. It wasn't until I'd already been working with him that he let slip that he was a bass-player too.


Go listen to Stone Woman, Persephone Rises, and Dance With Me. That's all his work. No lies, there's no way I could have played that stuff myself.

He's got his own project that he manages here in Seattle: House of Tarab.

They've also got a Bandcamp Page.

They remain one of my very favorite bands to see play live. They are incredibly tight and are clearly having fun at their shows. I had the great joy of seeing my darling wife Tempest do a 30 minute set with them at one of their shows a while back. I so rarely get so see her from the audience seat. It was lovely!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thoughts on Stone Woman

This started out with two different trains of thought.

Train #1: In the summer of 2013, Erik and I came up with the idea of doing a folk metal bellydance album. He had come up with several baselines that just needed to have music added around them. We demo'd out three songs in just a couple of weeks and then we got really busy with shows, other recording projects, and before we knew it we were deep in the process of recording the Antikythera Mechanism album. With each new album track reaching completion I could hear those three tracks crying out for attention. They were too good not to use and, realistically, that metal bellydance album had been pushed too far off into the future.

So I talked with Erik and we both agreed that we could put words to the tracks and incorporate them into the Antikythera Mechanism.

Train #2: At the beginning of my own brainstorming at the beginning of the album song-writing process I had a plaintive voice in my ear. I was imagining the voice of a young lady cursed beyond comprehension and wondering why. I'd imagined Medusa not as a harsh voice or a monster of vengeance but rather as a soft heart trapped in the cold monstrous shell.

I sent the words off to Alyssa and she took the idea and turned it on its head. This young woman wasn't the shrinking violet lamenting her fate. No. This young women was well aware of the injustice committed and was not about to go off quietly into the night. I got chills reading the words.

The collision: When I went back to the metal bellydance tunes I found the music for Stone Woman right away. The anger and aggression was right there. At first under a veil of quiet anger and then showing forth with clear intent. When Kate came into the studio and laid down her vocals I was flabbergasted. I had no idea that she could channel that kind of rage. It scared me just a little bit, actually.

Alyssa: The story of Medusa is a rough one.  Once a beautiful woman, she is raped by Poseidon.  Because this happened in one of Athena’s temples, Athena is enraged and (wrongly) punishes Medusa (instead of Poseidon) by transforming Medusa’s hair into snakes and her face into one so hideous that people would turn to stone by looking at it.  This would make anyone angry, to be punished for something terrible that happened to her and was not her fault.  I also pulled from the story of Medea and Jason, another tale of a woman thrown away, where her only crime was loving and trusting the wrong person.  No wonder there are stone hearted monsters, products of the lies and abuse they endured.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thoughts on the song Stardust

Nathan: Stardust sprang fully formed in my head the minute Alyssa showed me the words. The words and song structure would eventually morph (but only a little). I took the last verse of her original poem and altered it (only slightly!) into a chorus. It's definitely one of my favorites to play live.

For me it's all about the bass line. That tone and that energy sums up everything I wanted to put into the song. For the longest time the song consisted of bass, drums, and vocals. I eventually decided that it need a little help from guitar and keys but still … that bass line make my blood rumble!

Two bands that really inspired my views on bass and tone are Bauhaus and Motorhead. Both bands have baselines that are gritty and very forward in the mix and yet are simple and at times can be very minimalist. The line I wrote for Stardust is raw, no-frills rock and roll.

Alyssa:  Stardust was originally a poem that I wrote for my husband, Shawn.  We are not religious people but I very much believe in the idea that everything is connected.  So I formulated this idea that perhaps the atoms that make up Shawn and I were once previously together in the heart of a distant star.  When that star exploded, our atoms traveled across the galaxy to eventually make up the bodies, hearts, and minds of Shawn and I.  And since our molecules had previously been together, we were naturally drawn together again, such that our love was “written in the stars” as it were.  Nathan took those words and made it into a fabulous song!  The original poem is below.


Once I burned
Phoenix bright
Molten waters
Exuding light
And you were there
Lover true
How high the heat
Of Me and you

Dwarfen might
Unblacked hole
Endless night
Chemically timed
With gravity's hold
So we collapse
To then explode

Scattered my love
'Cross film noir
Motes of dust
But settled ours
In earthen vessels
With beating hearts
Starry eyes
Of Blue and dark

Your atoms mine
As you to me
So I am thine
Lucky chance or
Fates direction
Forged again in
Love convection

To you my dear
Pledge love and lust
Till we return
Once more stardust

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thoughts on the song Epitaph

I could not have done this one without my friends. I'd been in mourning for my friend Annie and decided that the best way to deal with it was to make something that celebrates life. In one weekend, my friends and I gathered together and raised our voices in song.

The music comes from a grave marker that dates back 2000 years. It's the oldest known complete musical work. It's a timeless melody and the words are relevant even today. I used the following translation of the original Greek inscription.

While you live, shine
Seek no trouble or sorrow at all
For we are here just a short while
And time will always demand its toll.

I wish that I could go back and change things so that Annie was still here and that we'd not had to make this song. But I can't do that so I ask this of you: please share this song with anyone and everyone. It is available as a free download here:

For further information on the song, check this:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Who Mourns Eos? - Thoughts and Lyrics

Nathaniel: There's been so much apocalyptic stuff in the news lately - global warming, war on terror, and genocide in those countries over there (which can, all too soon, turn into countries right here). After getting my daily dose of bad news on the internet I had to get out and go for a walk. Thankfully, there's a park near my house where the trees and critters are able to obscure the sights and most of the sounds of the city.

As I sat there I was reminded of a poem that I read many years ago: Sara Teasdale's There Will Come Soft Rains. Here's the text of the poem:

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
and swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
and wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war,
not one
will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
of mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
could scarcely know that we were gone.

It was written in 1920 and was a direct result of the carnage of WWI.

In recent times, I've been thinking about where our species is going. Perhaps it won't be war that does us in. Perhaps it's the environment? The latest super-virus? Zombies? Aliens? These are things that aren't necessarily the result of someone pushing the button to launch the missile but are certainly things that we as a species really should be taking steps to ameliorate. Apparently, the US Government is already planning for a Zombie Apocalypse:

It the nuclear dread of the 50's has turned into the ravening cannibal horde dread of the modern day.

An aside: if not for the bravery of one Russian soldier, we all would have died in a nuclear holocaust in 1983. Seriously. Check this link: Scary as hell, that.

Anyway. I didn't mean for this song to be quite as dark as it is but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by it. If we disappear, the sun will still rise. The seasons with still cycle. And critters the world over will still live and, hopefully, thrive. Maybe we can pull our collective asses out of the fire. I remain hopeful.

When Alyssa sent me her first draft of the lyrics she included an iPhone recording of her singing the melody. I popped that into Cubase and it was so good I was just going to keep that as the final take for the album. Alas, we changed the words so we had to fly her to Seattle to have her record on a real mic.

Tempest: Nathan asked me to listen to a melody that he was working on, and what imagery I saw in it. The vision that came to mind as I listened was hazy, but strong morning light illuminating a large empty bed in room with open doors looking out to a similarly empty patio. Morning had come to an empty world, with no one to welcome it. In explaining this picture, I remembered one of Ray Bradbury's short stories I had read half a lifetime ago – of an electronic house in a post-apocalyptic time. Everything was still running as normal, but there was no one there left alive to witness it. Growing up in the era of the Cold War, I was keenly aware that that nuclear devastation loomed possibly just around the corner, and Bradbury's story embedded itself into my subconscious. As I described it, Nathan knew exactly which one I meant.

Alyssa: I am constantly in awe of how insignificant the human race is in the grand scheme of the universe, how we are just moments in time, though we desperately attempt to achieve immortality through what we build and what we destroy. The song started as a tune Nathan sent me and the chorus flowed rather easily….as I continued, the dichotomy of a childhood rhyme that has been linked (though incorrectly) to the black plague that killed a quarter of Europe’s population, seemed a natural fit. And of course, if you listen closely, I left a few easter eggs in the lyrics that are nods to Whedonesque philosophies. There is a vastness of space and we are screaming into the void, but who is left to hear us when we are ourselves are gone?

Who mourns Eos?
Ring around the rosy
Light preceeds the sound
Flashes, Ashes
We all fall down

It’s raining, it’s raining on the home
Standing, still standing all alone
No crying, no crying can erase
The shadows that lie burned ‘cross it’s face.

One, we all fall down
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Who mourns Eos
Who mourns the dawn
Who cries for creation
When the ending's begun

Destruction in the birthing
Death in the morn
Here lies poor Eos
But who’s left to see the dawn

The bridges, the cities, tumbling down
The tides are all rising, soon they’ll drown
Flora and fauna move to reclaim
They’ll never think of the human race

One, we all fall down
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

A mad man, a trigger, missiles fly
No time for a question, time to hide
The mushrooms are growing, cloud the sun
There’s nowhere, there's nowhere, left to run

One, we all fall down
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Who mourns Eos
Who mourns the dawn
Who cries for creation
When the ending's begun

Destruction in the birthing
Death in the morn
Here lies poor Eos
But who’s left to see the dawn

A moment, a minute, all we are
And there is so much black 'tween the stars
The lesson left unlearned to survive
It’s much harder to live than to die

One, we all fall down
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thoughts about the song Snugglefish

We'd just finished our weekend in Old Tucson at the Wild Wild West Convention in March of 2014. We had woken up too early after a night that went too late and we were punch drunk and would laugh at pretty much anything. When we were standing in line at the security checkpoint I decided that it would be a good idea to ask the internet for words that rhymed with "tentacles." No, i don't know why. I blame the coffee.

Anyway, the response was lightning fast and suddenly I had a thriving FB thread full of suggestions. By the time we'd sat down in our seats on the plane I knew that we needed to write a song with this. Kate, Tempest, and I passed my notebook back and forth and the rest of the song materialized in about 15 minutes. I'm sure the other passengers were plenty irritated by our silliness.

The third verse came a few days later, after I'd sent the song-in-progress to Alyssa. She totally nailed the idea. I loved the Frog & Toad reference!

I don't know what a Snugglefish looks like. I've seen a couple of artist renderings and each one is unique and awesome.


Oh, those dreary days
In my world down below
The sea where I sit
To watch the world's show

The mortals, full of hubris
To their Gods' respect is lackin'
There's just nothing left to do
But shout, “Release the Kraken!”

But I know that deep inside
Your fleshy, squirmy, slimy hide
A heart of gold resides ...

You're my fierce and fanged Snugglefish
My toothy, scaly Snugglefish
The mortals fear you, Snugglefish
As they're gobbled by you, Snugglefish

Lord Zeus says you're nonsensicle
Because of all your tentacles
Residing in my ventricles
Are nothing but respectacles

For you …

My little Snugglefish
My little Cuddlefish

For the Lord of the Sea
It's such a lonely lot
That sometimes I feel
Like you are all I've got

And it pains me ever so
When mortal respect is lackin'
And there's nothing left to say
But, “Release the Kraken!”

Because you've shown me, deep inside
Your fleshy, squirmy, slimy hide
A heart of gold resides …


Instrumental Interlude - DUELING KAZOOS! How cool is that??

You're man’s most dreaded enemy
My best friend, not frenemy
Frog and toad will always be
Envious of you and me

So when you feel down and out
Like all the world’s attackin'
Never worry, I will shout
Hey “Release that Kraken”

Because you've shown me, deep inside
Your fleshy, squirmy, slimy hide
A heart of gold resides …


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Introducing my new album, The Antikythera Mechanism!

To be released on Memorial Day Weekend! Our CD release show will be at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA. 

This all started about 6 months ago when I read an article about the sophisticated science and technology of Ancient Greece. Reportedly, they had death rays, steam technology, and were making clockwork devices that rival the elegance of modern Swiss watch makers. Our whole world is thick with the influence of Greek art, music, knowledge and philosophy. For instance, the oldest known complete musical composition is from Greece (it's dated to somewhere between 200BC to 100AD).

The title of the album comes from an ancient artifact found in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900-1901. The corroded bronze object had obvious gear work and, after years of care and investigation was found to be a device used to predict the movements of the heavenly bodies - eclipses, the phase of the moon, the wanderings of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury through the heavens. Scholars and scientists today are still puzzling over the complexities that the mechanism has to offer. The sophistication required to make this was lost and didn't reappear again until nearly 1500 years later. Seriously, go google it and have your mind be blown.

So, anyway, as I was pondering this incredible find I began to hear music in my head. From there it was just a matter of time before I knew that I had an album's worth of material. I pitched the idea to my friend and collaborator Alyssa Rosenbloom and she agreed that this would be a thing! Several weeks and chat conversations later we had enough lyrics for the whole album! It seems like not a day would go by but that there would be a new lyric in my email box. We hashed out songs about Medusa, Cassandra, Eos, the goddess of the dawn, Aphrodite, and a whole bunch of others.

Of course, seeing as we're both totally steampunks we knew that we had to add some science fiction to the project. So we've taken a few 'liberties' with the stories. If you've heard our previous album, Narrative, you'll get what I mean.

I'm deep in the recording process even now and plan to have everything done by the end of March. Mixing, mastering, and manufacturing is all scheduled for April. I plan to have the album release in late May with a special show at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA. We'll be performing on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.

And the cool thing is that I somehow managed to convince Phil Foglio that drawing my album cover was a thing he wanted to do! I don't know about you but … holy hell! Phil Foglio! I've only been a fan of his work since the early issues of Dragon Magazine back in the 80's. <insert van squee here>

Ahem …

So, yeah.

Like our previous release, Narratives, we're doing a fund raiser to help cover the costs for The Antikythera Mechanism. I can do a lot of the work myself but I can't play all the instruments, nor have I learned that special magic sauce known as mastering. We're going to press an initial run of 1000 CDs with all the beautiful art and layout you'd expect.

Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting song samples, bits of art, and some discussion about the songs. We will also be offering some spiffy swag for your help with our fundraiser. We’ll get the fund raiser page up in the next day or so. I just couldn’t wait any longer to share all this!

Thank you!