[Photo Post] The Lees of Memory at Secret Stages

Back in my last Bachelor Chronicles post I talked about all the times I got in trouble for drumming too much and how often I played faux concerts for equally faux audiences. I thought for sure I’d be in a band once I got old enough — and actually learned how to play an instrument.

I got old enough but didn’t learn an instrument properly until I was in college. But even then it didn’t really matter — I was too introverted and self-conscious to ever step on stage with a band. Hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to approach a group of guys to start a band. Double hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to play my instrument in front of anyone but my girlfriend and mom.

Being in a band was just never going to happen for me. But I’ve always had an appreciation for the scene and wanted to be involved in it in any way I could. I’d spend the next decade or so doing freebee design work for local artists, most of which were never used (The Beat Officers changed their name after I made several t-shirt designs for them; Woe to the Inhabiters broke up after I made a custom painting and album cover design for them; Pink Carnage took my favorite graphic I ever designed and tossed it aside for someone else’s logo design that was merely a downloaded font colored pink).

Finally, a year or two ago, I got a pretty rewarding gig doing design and layout work for my friend’s band The Lees of Memory. The Lees are made up of John Davis, Brandon Fisher — both formerly of Superdrag, a band I’ve admired for years — and Davis’ Epic Ditch bandmate Nick Slack. The guys released a couple of full lengths — Sisyphus Says (2014; released by SideOneDummy) and Unnecessary Evil (2016; released independently) — and a few 7″ singles including 2015’s Soft Places / Within a Dream II, 2015’s Ain’t No Changing Baby’s Mind / Let’s Turn Our Love Up Loud and 2016’s All powerful You.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I got to help the guys out. I did center label design for their 7″ single Run Away to Here / Tears of Joy, center label and sleeve layout design for the 7″ single When The Roses Bloom/The River and finally, center label and gatefold layout design for the band’s most recent masterpiece, the double LP The Blinding White of Nothing at All.

While their band has three proper members, the nature of their sound requires a much larger band (read: 7-9 guys) to replicate in concert. A combination of this and the fact that the members all live in different towns means concerts are extremely difficult to organize if not impossible altogether. So when the band was invited to play Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 4, you’d be an idiot if you’d think I’d miss it.

And, of course, I took my camera. Small festival though it may have been, it was one of the coolest projects I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.

The band played at midnight to a sexy audience at the Hangar in Birmingham’s Avandale neighborhood. In addition to Brandon, John and Nick, the band was rounded out by Sam Powers (Superdrag alum) on bass, Dan Benningfield on keys, Jason Moore (of Nashville band The Katies) on guitar and musical powerhouse Ethan Luck (of too many noteworthy bands to list) on guitar.

Here are a few photos from the set. Everything was taken with my Canon EOS 77D with a 50mm lens. If you want to see more, as always, they’re on my Flickr page.

Secret Stages was a pretty rad weekend festival. While we were only in town for the afternoon/evening, we were still able to see a lot of great acts including Mobile, Alabama, hip hop act BassHead Jazz, electro-soundscape artist BÊNNÍ (New Orleans, Lousiana), midi sample composer Seth Graham (Dayton, Ohio) and wild-ass sexy rock and roll group Telefones (Nashville, Tennessee).

There are a ton of links above but I’ll go ahead and post them all again below and implore you to follow everything if you’re into music or art in general.

Reboot 59 Days Later: Layers, Progress and the Lees of Memory

I finished week 7 of Active’s Couch-to-5k program on Friday morning. When I arrived at the park, I was wearing my typical Adidas running shoes, some black mesh shorts, and a green moisture-wicking tank underneath my black and grey hoodie. I came out in just a tank earlier in the week and decided it was much too cold to start out that way, which is a weird enough thought to come from me in the first place, but this is why I threw on the hoodie. As the time changes, each morning when I get up to run seems to be a little bit darker, a little bit colder. I stood there Friday morning after stepping out of my car, gazing up at the waning crescent in the sky, the bright stars closing in on it from every direction and I wondered, When / how did it get so cold so quickly? I love the cold weather, though, and my spirits were lifted when I remembered that cold weather brings some of my favorite things: Halloween, Fall/Winter clothes and LAYERS. I decided to run my first mile with my hoodie on before losing it. I finished Friday at 2.61 miles. Only 2 weeks left and then we work on time. What an awesome feeling!

Less than 2 weeks until I go to my follow up doc’s appointment. I’m anxious to see what my hard work has done for me. I’ve lost 25 lbs and while I’ve not measured I’ve noticed a considerable about of inches lost around my waist, mostly by the belt notches I’ve tightened up, the way some of my hard-to-fit-in pants are now fitting, the way I can wear some shirts I used to not be able to.

Friday night I decided to debate in my mind the consequences of potential actions regarding a phone call I received by putting on The Lees of Memory’s debut record Sisyphus Says in the headphones as loud as they would go and laying in the driveway, again, gazing up at the night sky. The moon didn’t seem as bright as it was that morning but there were several clouds in the sky where there were none earlier. Planes flew back and forth, seemingly crossing over each other, neighbors drove in and out, headlights flooding my resting place every few minutes. I closed my eyes and rested for about 30 minutes or so, considering what I was hearing currently, what I’ve heard in the past, what I hope to hear in the future; thinking about who I am as a person, who I had been as a person, who I wanted to be as a person. In the end I reached zero conclusions except this album rocks and, after resting my hand on my chest feeling my heartbeat, I can tell my heart rate has gone down a LOT. I’ve not checked in a couple of weeks now but before that I noticed that my blood pressure readings were consistently low and lower than they’d ever been at that. While I’d like to lose more weight, I think I’ve got my health under control for the first time in a very long while.

I’ll end this short post with a plug for aforementioned band, The Lees Of Memory. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know and work with their guitar player, Brandon, and over the last few months he’s been able to hook me up with sneak peeks and stories behind the writing process of the album Sisyphus Says that dropped this week from SideOneDummy that has also been re-issuing vinyl releases of Brandon and bandmate John’s former band Superdrag’s 90’s freshman and sophomore releases. I picked up the vinyl release of Sisyphus on starburst which also came with a digital download code. Without going into a full-scale review I can honestly say that it’s a great experience on all mediums: cranked up full-blast on the record player, turned all the way up in the headphones playing on my phone or playing at a comfortable volume while riding in the car. These guys are infinitely talented and are worth your time for at least a listen if not a purchase. Below are shots of my record when I received it on Monday, the music video for their debut single We Are Siamese and some info on how to secure your own copy:



Buy Sisyphus Says at SideOneDummy
Buy Sisyphus Says at iTunes
The Lees of Memory on Facebook
The Lees of Memory on Twitter
The Lees of Memory on BandCamp

“Top Ten Running Songs” Lists Always Suck

One of my favorite things about the internet is Amazon’s monthly $5 MP3 albums selection. Here I’ve been able to beef up my music collection by grabbing old classics I haven’t heard in years or never owned while also checking out some bands I’ve always wanted to get into for super cheap. I don’t buy things every month and most months it’s only 2-3 albums but I’ve bought as many as 8 or 9 in the past when it’s a particularly good month.

This morning I picked up Slayer’s Reign In Blood, Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf, and Lou Reed’s Rock’n’Roll Animal all for a whopping $5 each. I’d call that a bargain!

While I’m a huge fan of vinyl and the CD (I have big collections of both) I’m also all about some digital music. I love being able to bring along with me a small portion of my collection everywhere I go. My car’s Bluetooth feature makes it way easy to play back that music from my iPhone so I don’t have to hear the same tired pop songs on the radio every day and I’m able to vary it enough that there’s always something on there that can fit my current mood.

Or current activity…

I’ve read several lists recently from the likes of Runner’s World, Men’s Health and LiveStrong that outline the “best” running songs of all time; songs that will get you pumped up, feet moving, heart racing and ready to knock out the next few miles. I look to these for ideas and motivation but just like the radio, these lists are made up of some of the most tired, overplayed songs you can imagine and some are only on the list because the word Run is in the song title.

I intend to switch up the music on my iPhone this weekend to add some of my recent acquisitions and a few others but I figured that since this list situation was bugging me so much that I’d share 10 songs that are my favorites – currently on my iPhone – that get me moving when I arrive at the track on those foggy mornings:

10. Superdrag – “I’m Expanding My Mind” from the album ‘Head Trip in Every Key (1998)
Not a super fast-paced song but it starts slow and has a great build-up. I like to put this on when I’m doing my warm-up walk.

9. Metallica – “Whiplash” from the album ‘Kill ’em All’ (1983)
Classic Metallica will always get a person moving. The rhythm in this song is like a locomotive that isn’t merely chugging along. It’s definitely enough to get me up that last hill.

8. Skrillex – “Bangarang” from the album ‘Bangarang’ (2011)
I’m almost hesitant to even admit that this is on my phone because I’m not totally a fan of Skrillex but the few songs of his that I can tolerate I jam and often loudly. The beat in this sets a good running pace but leaves you wondering if you’re not some kind of machine by the time it’s over.

7. dan le sac VS Scroobius Pip – “Thou Shalt Always Kill” from the album ‘Angles’ (2008)
Like the previous, this song has a beat that all but forces a nice running pace. I love everything I’ve heard from these guys even if they are “just a band”.

6. The Wonder Years – “The Bastards, The Vultures, the Wolves” from the album ‘The Greatest Generation’ (2013)
Erin likes to give this song a hard time because of the use of the word Bastards in the title but it’s really a great running song. With several different movements, this works out great during interval training.

5. Crash and the Boys – “We Hate You Please Die” from the album ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Official Soundtrack)’ (2010)
While not my favorite song from the soundtrack, this jam is great for hitting the track – while short in length it’s fast paced and intense enough to give you a nice burst of energy when you need it. I also love the cymbal count-off before each song half by the girl that’s a boy, too.

4. Tim Timebomb – “Concrete Jungle” from the album ‘Tim Timebomb and Friends’ (2012)
I’m a big Specials fan and this is a great song by them. I once had a lot of Specials on my iPhone but due to a very long story I don’t at the present. I DO, however, have the 30+ track Tim Timebomb and Friends by Rancid and Operation Ivy leader Tim Armstrong and he does a great job covering this song about having to constantly be on your toes in the city because your life is probably being threatened (therefore a pretty good reason to run!)

3. Bill Conti – “Going the Distance” from the album ‘Rocky (30th Anniversary Edition)[Original Motion Picture Score]’ (2006)
Listen, if watching the Rocky films doesn’t pump you up then you don’t love Jesus and you don’t support the troops. Heck, I even watched the training montage from Rocky I in the car before going to Spin on Thursday morning just to wake myself up and get me motivated to move. While ‘Going the Distance’ isn’t as obvious as ‘Gonna Fly Now’ I included this on the list because like the Superdrag cut above, it’s a great song to get warmed up go – maybe even the best song to get warmed up to.

2. TRV$-DJ AM – “Rock with American Boy” from the album ‘Fix Your Face’ (2008)
This may be cheating because this mashes up a few different songs – namely ‘Rock With You’ by the late Michael Jackson and British rapper Estelle’s hit ‘American Boy’. Both flow into each other so well it’s beyond pleasant and both include a foot-stomping boogie-down vibe that I could hear throughout my morning trek.

1. Girl Talk – “Oh No” from the album ‘All Day’ (2010)
Alright, just like number 2 this one may be cheating because it includes…Oh, I don’t know, about 19 or 20 songs mashed up. Firing up with a great mash of ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath and Ludacris’ ‘Move, Bitch’ with some 2 Pac ‘How Do You Want It’, and a double dose of Jay Z with ’99 Problems’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’ thrown in you end up getting some great hip hop lines and beats mashed with one of my favorite guitars in rock history all before the first minute of the song is complete. Throughout the 5 minute jam you’ll hear the likes of Jane’s Addiction, T.I., Color Me Badd, Slick Rick and the Doors before ending with a lovely a combo of The Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ with Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’ – now THAT is a moving combination!

Eh, like I said, I’m about to re-arrange my iPhone library to accommodate some new stuff / revive some old stuff so this list will be changing very soon. One thing I can guarantee is you’re not going to find ‘Born To Run’ on any of my lists – mostly because I don’t like the song but also because it’s a flat-out lie. And I hate lying (sometimes).

What song(s) get YOU moving?