Hey, Thanks!

At the moment I’m riding a delayed flight from LAX back to Houston to hopefully pick up my car and maneuver myself back to San Antonio through the flooded highways. At the same time, it’s important to note that as it stands we’re also roughly 16 Hours away from the release of our label debut ‘Works Of Progress’ and about a week away from our first tour in Europe. All exciting stuff right?

Well as cool as it all may be and sound, you might think I’m crazy to admit I’m not thinking about any of that in this moment. Yeah, that’s right none of it. Zero.

I’ll be real with you I almost feel guilty in a way, I know the significance of all this great stuff and how rare things like these happen to people like me & I definitely know we’ve worked a long way to get here but I still can’t help but feel a little undeserving. I know, I know this sounds a lot like humble brag but seriously the whole sentiment of all this awesome stuff coming my way hasn’t necessarily satisfied me in the way that I expected or that it should.

Bare with me here before you storm off about how ungrateful or naïve I might be sounding right now but honestly the thing that’s been dominating my thoughts the last week, the thing that’s been weighing me down in bringing me the most excitement/anxiety combined is the people.

The people that have sacrificed, invested, believed & busted their asses just so I could be here. You see, I recently came to the realization of something I probably already knew but didn’t necessarily accept until my visit out to LA…

The times that I’m happiest are the times I’m able to impact someone else life for the better.

In the band that means booking our tours and growing our brand, in my relationship that means taking my girlfriend to new places, as a son that means giving my parents something I hope they can be proud of me for.

Oddly enough its been particularly strange for me over the last year or so because I feel like now more than ever I’m taking more than I’m giving in the grand scheme of things. A lot of awesome stuff has been happening to me since the signing. It’s always about “SO I can succeed”, “SO I can put out a great album” “SO I can have this status of luxury but never about the people who are putting me in this position.

I can’t help but feel grimey about it. I know this is probably me feeding into the melodramatic emotional dude I am but it just feels unwarranted. In all honesty the more I think of the things I’m proudest of, the more I realize that my own personal responsibility in those things isn’t all that significant.

Let me elaborate:

  • I’ve only been fortunate to of had a great life and education because of my parents.
  • I have only had a constant drive to always try and better myself because of my girlfriend.
  • I’m only in a successful band because of the guys. The tech IQ and awareness of Jason, the work ethic and dedication of Cody, the musicianship and skill of Julio, the drop of the hat willingness of Jayy. All of that stuff is major.
  • Let’s take this a step further and say we’ve really just been able to write quality professional music because of the craftsmanship of Wade & the guidance of Shapiro.
  • It’s also important to note we only have this opportunity to release an album worldwide because of the passion of Markus coupled with the determination of Shawn and the work ethic of Sal. And that in and of itself is modest, not even mentioning the roles and significance of the entire staff spanning multiple countries…

The point I’m trying to make is that, contrary to popular belief it’s no coincidence that I got here. Look at the people around me, look at the work they’ve put in. It was never me, it was them… It is them.

That’s why as all these accolades and milestones start coming my way I can’t shake that bitter sweet feeling… It’s nice to be recognized and it’s cool to be the dude in front of the camera but you got the wrong guy!

Those people are the ones who should be praised. The people who believe in me, the people who constantly put themselves second so that I can prosper. The ones that are constantly grinding there asses of solely for the benefit of something other than themselves. The true unsung heroes.

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I haven’t written much in here recently because quite honestly I’ve been shook. Ive been asking myself at times recently if I’m doing the best job I can? If somehow I am letting these people down by getting a little to comfortable or enjoying my poisition just a little to much?

I don’t think most people understand just how much has been invested in my success, or just much has been sacrificed for the opportunity.

It’s sometimes daunting to think that I could fall short.

I wanna be the guy that always does right by everyone.

With the internal clock of the album release ticking down from months to weeks to days and now hours, I just hope that sentiment can ring true.

If there is one thing I wanna say before Works Of Progress comes out, it’s thank you.

All of you.

Even you reading this right now. 

There’s been countless people who have attributed to this single moment and I just hope you can share in the pride and glory of tomorrow just as much as I can, because honestly you deserve it.

I don’t know how it will be received or how many units it’ll sale but my only hope for this album remains the same as it’s always been.

I hope it inspires you.

I want to make it publicly known that aside from life in my band I hope to one day make a living out of helping other people conquer the once thought impossible.

I’m really interested in both the PR & A&R sides of the music business and I hope to one day pay forward even a portion of all that has been done for me.

Thanks for the read, see you in Europe.

 

Works of Progress

“A celebration of life.”

At first breath we are all presented a blank canvas.

Intimidating in size, daunting in mass it is much to take in! At this time we are not able to sketch let alone paint, the task seems impossible!

Nevertheless we are baptized by fire. Coached by our families, lectured by our teachers we slowly but surely come to understand what our canvas should be compromised of. Hues of empathy, fill our palettes.

We take our brushes; reluctantly. Stroke by stroke we attempt to outline the foundation for which our masterpiece shall be built upon. All of this is carefully monitored and regulated, never to be misconstrued, Every error to be repaired.

We fill the gaps between the lines.

From infancy through grade school we are supervised.

As we grow we are exposed to a grand collection of canvas’s just like ours that have been completed by millions of others! Some grungy and eloquent, some damaged & some pristine we now have a full understanding of the context of where our canvas shall fit in-between such other works of art. We celebrate the immaculate, we sneer at the damaged.

At 18 we are presented color and brush and we are left to put mind to paper.

Then, most often we fall astray, our colors robust, our strokes violent. Quickly we realize that creating a masterpiece isn’t as simple as following the sketches of others. Mistakes are frequent, lines are broken. This art that started as canvas soon becomes something far removed from what we envisioned after all.

We look at the celebrated work of others and we retreat discouraged. “I could never paint something so magnificent as my neighbor abroad.” We fear our mistakes are permanent, fatal as a plague. “I will never be able to recover from this.”

Days turn to nights, nights to weeks. We sulk. “I should of known better.” “Maybe if I would of done this, I could of avoided failure.” Fully settled in nadir we ponder. Hopeless & spitefully, bitter & reluctant we pick the brush back up.

Slowly we attempt to move forward. Not erasing our transgressions but burgeoning from them. All is not lost. Slowly but surely rhythm is found once more, the feeling in our fingertips restore, promise is re-instilled.

It is then that we truly discover the beauty of life.

Not in it’s perfection but in it’s adversity, Not in its permanence but in its uncertainty.

There is no set path, there is no failure. There is only opportunity.

If things aren’t going the way you originally envisioned, change them.

There is always more story to write, songs to sing & lessons to be learned.

We are all Works of Progress.

Behind the lyrics: 24 Hours

“Honest, Raw & Unapologetic, 24 Hours is one of the most aggressive tracks of the entire album & lyrically the most personal.”

So its been a while…

And man do we have a lot to catch up on. I feel like the last 4 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Country after country, flight after flight, limited internet & broken water heaters. Europe was wild! 

 


 

On another note, things have started to get really busy really quickly in the life of the band & all things Across the Atlantic. We’re gearing up for tour announcements, prepping distribution for the new album & yes, releasing new music videos!

As some of you guys may or may not know we released a music video for the first single of the new album “24 Hours”. This is undoubtedly a heavier jam but I feel it is as powerful as it is loud.  24 lyrically, is one of the most personal records on the album to me so I was excited to hear that this would be our true introduction to the world under Sharptone. In a nutshell, I’d like to think of the song as a time capsule of the last 2 years of my life & a nice prefix to a lot of the common themes that are going to be visited throughout the rest of the record.

“Writing 24 hours was an absolute necessity.”

For my self-confidence, for my wellbeing & for my spirit. This was a song that had to make the album. Originally entitled “24” this song is the direct response to life catching up to me & facing the impending challenge of balancing the pursuit of my dreams & fulfilling my responsibilities as a man.

Simply put, I feel like 24 is the age where people kinda expect you to get your shit together. When your younger you really get the benefit of the doubt (Shuffling through school or bouncing around jobs) but personally speaking, when I turned 24 I felt like I just got hit by a fucking freight train. It seemed like from one day to another everyone around me, all my friends & peers had found instant success. People were pursuing careers & buying houses, starting families and drinking expensive wine; WTF happened! It wasn’t that I felt envious or covetous of my friends, really I felt incapable.

 “2016 was the first time in my life I felt like I had fallen behind.”

I questioned my ambitions. I questioned my investment in the band. I questioned my judgement. Over those last 5 years I had no greater love than writing of songs & performance of music, was I being greedy by dedicating myself to pursuing my passion rather than living practical? These thoughts flooded the inner-workings of my head.  I started to feel a sense of guilt & embarrassment. So I dabbled with jobs & tried to focus a bit more at school, I tried any damn thing I could to find the passion in these “traditional roads of life”  that I had for music. There was no comparison. There was no alternative. Sitting in a cubicle from 6 to 3 made me lethargic. Day in and day out, I was making money but I was losing my heart. For 7 months I tried to convince myself that these were just growing pains & that I would eventually find that it was not so bad but such day never came. For 5 days out of the week I was much the same of a walking corpse, going through the motions, clocking in & clocking out, answering phone calls & spewing water-cooler rhetoric. I was out.

Believe it or not though, it got worse. I became even more disgusted with myself. I looked around and saw so many people loving their jobs, embracing the routine & I just felt inadequate, mentally broken I guess would be a better way to describe it. Why could I not just fall in line & find my own happiness while doing this traditional life like everyone else?

I pondered, I sulked, I contemplated & I surrendered. I accepted the fact that this was growing up. Worn & weary I sought to find some seasoned words of encouragement from my family and from my friends. I don’t know what exactly I wanted to hear but I guess I was searching for some sort of affirmation that I could eventually fall into this traditional life (without music) and find happiness. Reluctant and desperate I called.

Conversation after conversation, phone call after phone call. The stories were different but the sentiment was the same:

“Yeah it sucks but it’s just something we gotta do.”

“Well it could be a lot worse.”

“Welcome to the real world.”

“Time to grow up.”

“What kind of man are you?”

The common tone throughout these conversations was not one of favor.. or even content. It was best described as settlement.

I did not feel as though I was talking to the champion who had “won the fight” & paved his own lane of happiness but rather it was like I was talking to the fighter that had got his shit rocked for 12 full rounds and eventually just went numb. There was no passion in their tongues, no excitement in their bones. There was regret disguised as content. Victims of this trance like state that was clouded under words of sorrow and even resentment.

We then spoke of prior loves or passions in life. Ambitions they had to abandon, “Sacrifices” as they were commonly addressed as. I asked how hard it was to walk away? To essentially “Give Up” on their dreams in substitution for their livelihood.

“That’s just what happens when you grow up.”

“I was forced.”

“My father said, son your wasting your time.”

“It’s a part of life.”

“These conversations changed the trajectory of my life forever.”

Instantly, (I’m talking before the phone calls were even over) I was back. A light had been switched, I felt alive. I felt angry. At that moment, I knew that I was not going to quit.

For better or worse, if a deal came or not. I was going to ride this dream until I made the decision that it was time to walk away. Not my peers, not society or cultural norms, ME.

You see, I was enlightened. The most painful singularity between all the stories I had just heard was that the decision to walk away from their passions was never their own doing.

They were nudged; 

By their peers who said they were never good enough.

By the media who said they were to old.

By their parents who said they were wasting their time.

By society who said they did not fit.

By this predetermined notion of what constitutes “Success” in our country.


 

I thought deeply, about how it could be considered so inappropriate to pursue your dreams or how intolerable it was to be “different”. The hypocrisy of it all in “the land of opportunity.”

If you walk into a elementary school today & ask a child what they want to be when they grow up you will undoubtedly have hundreds and thousands of different responses; maybe a professional athlete or an astronaut, a lawyer or a doctor, a musician even…

No matter the reply though, In the voices of these children you will hear promise, you’ll hear conviction and you’ll hear excitement.

You see, when we’re young were told we can be anything, we can do anything.  The sky is the limit and anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and remain dedicated. But as time goes on, as we age, our hopes and our dreams are slowly corrupted. All of a sudden “You can do anything” becomes “You can do anything BUT..“. We are now hit with disclaimers & suppositions. 

We’re taught to dream… (But don’t dream too big).

Follow your heart.. (But only within reason.)

This half-hearted support system is crippling. And the irony is that our nation was founded by dreamers who shared the very same ambitions that we seek to discourage.

Somewhere a long the way we’ve lost our way.   We snicker at those who seek to do things differently, we doubt dreamers & our ambitions are now seized by glass ceilings.

24 Hours is a anthem for anyone who has ever been brave enough to do things their own way, no matter the odds & no matter the critics & It’s a middle finger to this hypocritical preconceived notion of what it means to be “successful” in America.

“We’re moving on to higher-ground, we’ve gone too far to turn back now.”

Sayonara.

“And so it begins”

Tomorrow I depart the country in route to Europe for the very first time in my life. I’m very excited/relieved to have finally made it to this point. School is finished, the album is done. I can exhale. Among other things I absolutely cannot wait to visit the Sharptone/Nuclear Blast offices in Germany & meet so many of the awesome people behind the scenes responsible for all that is about to happen next.

I’ am traveling “Across the Atlantic” (no pun intended) by way of cruise so the slower pace & abundance of food will be very well received after what seems like one of my most busiest years EVER. Stay tuned as I will be checking in bi-weekly with new content & stories as my journey continues.

… And please hope for my sake, I don’t over do it on the macaroons.

School’s Out

“A bittersweet farewell to an old friend”

 

It’s been a long time coming, for you & I.

We’ve had our quarrels & It’s been a ride.

 

You’ve brought me friends and Spring Break weeks,

You’ve taken my money & cost me some sleep.

20 years were lost & I cursed your name.

Tours were out, semesters back in.

I always thought I wasting my time,

Investing myself in this 6 letter lie.

But truthfully it was me, who had to learn,

I never quite gave you the credit deserved.

You gave me opportunity,

Inspiration & a hope to do right.

 

You introduced ambition, culture,

Understanding into my life.

& though its not the textbooks or the powerpoints that I’ll miss most,

I cant help but fight the feeling of grieving a path I never chose.

You knew who I was before I ever did,

You saw me through trials of real life & death.

You met me a boy & tailored a man,

A heartfelt Goodbye to my age old friend.

 

The Sharptone Story (Part 2.)

“Trust the Process”

It was 6am in Orlando Florida. We had about a week to the completion of the album, mostly finishing up things like extra vocals & little details, by that time in the process it seemed like days were never ending. Honestly, the only reason I was awake so early was because of the free breakfast in our hotel lobby. It was then, I got a call from a number who’s area code I’d never seen before. I was tempted to just let this one go to voicemail & proceed to enjoying the rest of my blueberry muffin but I did not. Skeptically, I answered. After hearing the heavy accent present on the other side of the phone I was 100% sure this had to be a prank call, it wasn’t. “Is this Jay? I really would like to talk about your band, are you free?”. This was my first contact with the Sharptone Records office located in Germany & the first event, in a chain of many that would change my life forever.

In that phone call lasting well over a hour I spoke with Shaprtone about who we were & our journey. I tried my hardest to do the cliff note version of the last 5 years & explain all that had occurred in a humbling fashion. It turns out though most of what I was saying they already knew about. Sharptone was familiar with the EP, they were familiar with the first album & they loved it. It was clear then, this hadn’t been a coincidental call or inquiry in the band they had been following us for quite some time. They had seen the tours, the member changes & the adversity. They had listened to records, watched the music videos & seen the promos. For virtually the first time, all our hard-work all we had built for was noticed by someone in a true position of prominence in the industry & that within itself was a powerful moment for me, personally.

“So your currently recording a new album?” Immediately they wanted to hear all that we had been working on over the last month at Wade’s. Which at that point in time, wasn’t mixed and wasn’t ready.  Ironically enough the only thing that was “The Prelude” or intro of the record. So ironically enough just how the public & you guys are getting exposed to the album now, the label did in the same order!

We sent over the intro & that was cool and all but of course they wanted the whole thing, the album in its entirety. At that point in time we still needed about 4 days (at the absolute least) to tie this thing up into a presentable fashion & we were already crunching down to the finish line trying to complete everything by the time we left Wade’s anyway.  But again, Andrew being the absolute robot that he is found a way to not only make it happen but make it happen beautifully & within 3 days.

I have to tell you though these were the longest 72hrs of my life!! The tension was so high amongst us 5 during that time that every email, every text, every phone call or every Facebook Message was like walking on eggshells. I wouldn’t say there was ever a disbelief in ourselves or in the album itself but there was just a healthy amount of skepticism that maybe the content of the record wouldn’t be quite match up to what they were looking for. You see it had become clear Sharptone loved the last album, they could tell us the names of the songs & the parts of the songs. It was crazy, literally felt like the twilight zone! And though this record definitely picks up where the last one left off, it also takes quite a few steps forward in new directions entirely. And like most things in life the thought of the unknown is intimidating.

Simply put, this was the album WE wanted to make. We had no prior idea or notion that these songs would be courted by labels or that it would even be commercially available we just sought out to make music that we liked. 100% free of any agenda. And much like our journey as a band the record was made inimitably diverse. Nothing was filtered & nothing was off limits. And the thought of that was fucking scary.

Night after night I was losing my sleep asking myself why now? Why couldn’t they of at least told us a month before so there would of been at least some collaboration possible to make this album attractive to them, What if they wanted more heavy songs? Or what if they wanted more pop songs? We truly were in a position where all our cards were on the table and the rest was up to fate.

Within 2 days we formally received our offer from Sharptone Records.

In retrospect, this was the only absolute way things could’ve possibly went down. It had to of been this way, our way. We made a album that I am confident in saying is filled with the best songs we’ve ever written and we made it all free of any judgement or outside influences. It was important that this partnership we were about to embark on with Sharptone not only suited them but suited us. We were very lucky to find a label that shares the same aspirations for our career as we do and I think the initial listen to the album and feedback characterized the support and allure of Sharptone. This connection and this significance was genuine.  Sharptone doesn’t just believe in us, they believe in our vision & our ambitions. We share the same goals, we share the commitment & we share the same love for music. And coming from a label, I don’t think theres anything more we can ask for.

For so many years and through so much bullshit it seemed like this day would literally never come. Time and time again we were passed on, overlooked, or downright rejected. It took a lot to continue, it took a lot to move forward. If you ask any of the guys in this band I am 100% sure they will tell you that quitting has never been an option but I know the mental toll of continuing this marathon with no real finish line in sight had weighed on all of us. But it also humbled us, success wasn’t granted overnight we didn’t get picked up our first year or second year. We had to grind, we had to sweat and we had to bleed for this and I think thats what makes this so much more valuable to us. As cliche as it sounds I feel as though things happened at the exact right time they were supposed to with who they were supposed to. The match with Sharptone feels tailor-made. From the international infrastructure, to the leadership & the team , to the roster and the innovation that is going on right now from such a young company we couldn’t of asked to be in a better position at a better time. I know there’s still a lot of work to be done and I know we’re still far from where we envision ourselves but I am fully confident in the band and in the team at Sharptone that the question at hand isnt a matter of “If” but “When“.

Always moving forward, always trusting the process, the best is yet to come!

Time to work.