A note about the new album...
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 6:34PM
Ethan Ballinger

It is a strange feeling to be writing about my new album now that is completed.  It was an unusual and unpredictable journey that has led me here, thinking long and hard about how much specific info I really want to unveil.  The truth is that this was never the plan, or rather there was no plan at all, at least in the beginning.  

I suppose it all started back around 2008, when I had just finished a pretty ambitious instrumental acoustic album and was ready to do something completely different.  I moved in with two amazing musicians, a drummer and bass player, and we decided to form a kind of hypothetical rock band; one that we would talk about and put a good deal of energy into, but never actually play a single show, for various reasons.  I started writing all these edgy grunge rock pop tunes, and started writing lyrics as well, something I had not really ever previously done with any seriousness.  It was never my intention to sing these songs, seeing as I had vowed early in life to never ever sing ever.  I’m an instrumentalist, by god!  But it became apparent that if I wasn’t going to sing these songs, nobody was.  This was also an interesting period in my life, when everything seemed to be changing rapidly and drastically, and I was experiencing a lot of new things and feelings, both good and bad. 

After a couple years of touring and playing with different people, all the while dreaming and desperately needing to create my own music again, I bought some recording gear and started recording some songs I had written.  I still thought I was writing for a band, even though it was clear that some of it was all over the place and it didn’t all belong together.  But I had a lot of songs and ideas that I felt were burning a hole inside of me, and a manic creative energy that had been ignored for too long and was affecting my mental state.  On a personal level the stakes felt high, I was feeling a little lost and unstable, but I was able to channel it into music.  I started recording songs sporadically in my room, with no intentions of ever letting anyone hear them.  Drums were recorded in my living room (see below).  For some songs I would lay down a scratch acoustic guitar as a foundation and add some effects to it, thinking I would later replace it with electric guitars.  After a while an aesthetic and direction developed from avoiding electric guitars and instead using heavily affected and layered acoustic guitars as the main sound.  Then thematically I started seeing how there were songs that were fitting together, and I wanted to create a sort of concept album about depression.  I wrote the song “Don’t Lose It” and quickly recorded it; it was in the middle of Tennessee’s cicada infestation, and they were so loud that I had no choice but to use them in the track.  It was all fast and intuitive, and it seemed to tie everything together I had been doing up to that point. 

I did a bluegrass tour in Japan and had a lot of time to think on the bullet trains, piecing together the puzzle that would form an album.  Eventually I scrapped the “concept album” idea, favoring something less obvious.  I liked the idea that maybe on the surface it seemed like a bunch of love songs, and then by the end you might get the sense that there’s a little more going on underneath, something fragile and on the verge of falling apart.  Together the songs represent a period of questioning and losing trust in yourself and others; confusion taking over rational thoughts; watching relationships thrive and disintegrate; living an exciting but isolated and sometimes fast life on the road; questioning your sanity; self medicating; living with consequences.

But ultimately the album is whatever you want it or need it to be.  I think we take from art what we need from it, and in some ways everything I do is a tribute to the music or art that has deeply touched me and helped me through.  It is a huge weight off my shoulders to let these songs out, and I’m inspired, excited and ready to move on to whatever is next.  Music is everything to me, I would not be here without it, and I owe everything I have to it.  Thank you so much for listening.

Article originally appeared on Ethan Ballinger Music (http://ethanballinger.com/).
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