supermodel photoshoot, and studio progress

Here's a picture of rockstar photographer Ryan Torma taking a photo of me as I take a photo of him. Ryan, a fellow Finnish-American Lutheran, came over on Saturday to shoot some new promotional pictures of me. It's been over two years since I had new promo pics, and Ryan did such a great job shooting me back in 2005, we decided to try again.

Seemed to go pretty well from in front of the camera, although I'm afraid my hair might have been a bit too fluffy and preppy, and my jacket might a have been too bunchy. We'll see when Ryan gets some prints in a week or so.

Here's an example (shot on my basic digital camera) of what images Ryan's shots may include. I wanted to avoid the typical rock-band promo photo locations (old warehouse, railroad yard, grungy alley, brick wall), so instead we focused on my "suburban Dad" existence. Hopefully it'll be cool and provocative, and not confusing and lame. We got some neat stuff inside the house, too, and down in my studio. After dozens and dozens of pictures taken, I'm hoping for 3 or 4 keepers. Any more than that and I'll be thrilled. Photoshoots are fun to do, but I'm just not consistent in my own face...I can't smile for the camera without looking like a total clown, and I can't create a dependable facial expression on's just shoot, and hope for the best.

Today (Sunday) I did what I haven't done in over a year: I spent hours tracking ProTools sessions in the studio. It was SO FUN I couldn't quite believe it. Oh, to have privacy, and creative time, and to come up with cool new musical ideas! This is a near-impossible situation to achieve while parenting, so thanks Dawn for managing both kiddos for most of the day.

I've had dozens of half-finished songs sitting on my studio computer doing nothing for the past 5-7 years, and today I put a HUGE dent in 'em! Here's a preview of some songs you may hear in the future:

QUIET SOUND: a duet written and recorded with my cousin Bruce Rundman, this recording appears on Bruce's 2003 album True North. (Hey, have you seen Bruce's new MySpace page?) I wanted to create a different mix of this recording, so I dug into the original tracks and removed the drum kit, resulting in a really sweet acoustic version. I like title of this refers to a ferry ride Bruce and I took across Puget Sound from Shelton, WA to Seattle. This could be a lost Rembrandts tune.

LIBERTY ISLAND: another duet written and recorded with Bruce, and also first appearing on his True North album. This one was a serious overhaul of the original recording. I removed all acoustic guitars, replaced them with Wurlitzer electric piano, and sang my first home-studio lead vocal since my tonsils came out. Felt good to sing again down in Verkstad Studio. Then I cut and pasted Bruce's original vocals around mine, so he got to sing the harmony parts. It worked out great. I've been picking away at this re-recording for the past 4 years, adding drum machine, chopping up the arrangement, and really changing it around. I realized today that I can hear a Styx influence in this tune...maybe something JY would've written, like "Ms. America" or "Half-Penny Two-Penny." And the synthesizer soloing my me and Bruce will bring tears to the eyes of prog-rockers everywhere.

NO MORE WALLS 1994: Yes, it's the first song I ever wrote on my own when I was a junior in high school, and it's appeared about 5 times on different albums of mine over the years. I made this recording in a garage in Springfield, Oregon, back in the Summer of 1994 at the dawn of the OJ Simpson hearings. Lowell Michelson played drums, and eventually my cousin Bruce provided harmony vocals for its appearance on the cassette-release of The Chandlers album. The original album version is SUUUUPER lo-fi, and almost unlistenable, but there are some decent elements within. Amazingly, I had preserved those original rhythm tracks from 1994, so a few years ago I dumped 'em in my computer. Two years ago when Bruce was visiting, I had him re-sing his harmony part, and about the same time I had John Kerns play a new bass guitar track. Those ancient drum/vocal tracks were starting to sound decent! So today I played a new acoustic guitar track (in a first take, thank you very much). Later this week I'm gonna match a new vocal performance with the original, play a melodica solo, and boom, I'll have a "20th anniversary mix" of the song for 2008.

WORSE FOR YOU: this obscure tune appeared on my 1997 album Recital, and never really caught on with the listening public. There were some obvious flaws in my performance on the original version, so I dug into those original files, fixed the goofs, cleaned up the timing problems, and man, it really turned around nicely. This will probably appear soon as a free download. I always loved this song (it contains one of my only uses of a major-7 chord!) and me and my Chicagoland bandmates Andy Deitrich and Benji Derrick did a killer live version of it. 'Tis a lyrical theme I would revisit later in the song "The Loneliness of Happiness."

and finally, my most exciting moment of the day:
ALIVE AND SLEEP-DEPRIVED: oh, the journey of this tune. The initial recording was made way back in Summer of 2000 with me on drums and my brother Tim on guitar, captured in the bedrooms of our parents' house on Westwood Circle in Ishpeming, MI. For the past seven years I gradually added bass, percussion, and Hammond organ. It evolved into a total '70s rock prog-hard-rock stomp. I had a lyric idea that never really clicked, so tonight I vowed I would write a new and final lyric for it. A couple weeks ago I wrote down the phrase "Alive and Sleep-deprived," and I really liked it...boom, that line fit perfectly as the chorus. I chilled out in the living room with Dawn this evening, and as we talked, I was able to write two complete verses and a bridge for this new idea! It was really cool, and I walked back to the studio and sang the entire vocal. This tune is a departure for's certainly one of the more hard rock tunes I've ever's like Deep Purple meets Kansas or something. I'm really excited to get this baby mixed and sounding HUGE. I think I have a prog-rock record developing for future release....


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