Brief, Brash, Crude and Crass – the Songwriting of Family Plot

I’ve written and talked quite a bit about songwriting in the past. It’s my craft, my vocation. It’s where I do my best work, probably.

Yeah, I’m a performer, producer, engineer and all that stuff, too. And I’ve taken to referring to myself as an “Alt Rock Auteur,” endeavoring to become a strand of the lineage that includes people like Prince, Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, Paul McCartney, the Tame Impala guy and many others who insist on doing it all by themselves.

But honestly, if I had to pick just one skill to focus on, it would be songwriting.

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A Crucial Unnecessary Act

Songwriting is the act of completely unnecessary world building. It’s the process of taking a few simple, maybe even dumb, ideas and making a huge deal out of them when no one asked you to do that. It’s inappropriate and almost never called for. Ultimately, songwriting is a pretty unimportant job.

But also, the world runs on songs. No one wants to live in a world without them. No one wants to do much of anything without the accompaniment of music.

So I’m going to go forward, confident in the notion that even though it’s not what this world needs right now, songwriting is what I need to do in this world to survive. And the world needs songs whether its people acknowledge that fact or not.

These Wild Little Fucking Songs

Family Plot is a collection of songs that came together in the aftermath of tremendous personal tragedy. The album is a vital vehicle for my anger, and an expression of my desire to destroy the old to make it possible for the new to be built. Burn it all down and watch something beautiful grow in its place.

Its songs are short and sassy. They are full of curse words and crude sentiments. They are full of the truth.

No one asked for these songs, but they were demanded of me. And so now there they are. They are different from any songs I’ve ever written before. Certainly different from anything else I will write in the future, too.

These songs would not tolerate filler. They would refuse to include cliches, unless deployed ironically. They insisted on directness; they insisted on brevity.

They needed the world to know they were simultaneously serious and irreverent. These songs were not pretty, nor were they trying to be. They were proudly crass, as needed.

For Family Plot, I needed the songs to be completely devoid of preciousness. Absent anything sacred unless it got that way somehow via the profane. If it can’t be expressed in about two minutes, is it something that really needs to be expressed? This was my thinking.

The World Needs Unprovoked Creation

I’m so proud of these songs! For a while I thought of this album as a departure, a detour from my “serious” work as a songwriter, producer and artist. I thought I’d get these songs out of my system, purge the bile and move on with regularly scheduled programming. But I’ve really taken a liking to this music now.

I’m excited to have these songs accompany me and my life as I move forward. I’m eager to watch them grow, make friends and find their way in the world. They are not like their siblings, but that’s just another reason why they add so much richness to my repertoire.

The next project is already brewing. This next batch of songs does not represent a return to my pre Family Plot songwriting style, but it’s nothing like Family Plot, either. These new ideas seem to be coming from the future and the distant past simultaneously,, which is where all the best concepts originate from. But nothing is fully formed yet. A shape is shaping up, but it remains nebulous, mysterious. Possibly fleeting. Possibly bearing no fruit. But it’s all okay.

No one is asking me to write songs, but here I go writing songs again. And if you’re a creative person, I hope you go doing your thing even though no one is asking you to. This is me asking you to express yourself and build the world that exists between your ears in real life. We need you and your art. Most of us just don’t know it yet.


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