Songwriter’s journey

In the early days the very idea of making a melody that went with guitar chords seemed like something only people could do if they were raised by Andrew Lloyd Webber and they were descendent of Jean Sibelius.

So my first attempts were only after I had seen other people playing their songs as a bassist…a long time after that. I had also already played lots of other songs on my mom’s old classical guitar. Eventually my first attempts started. And they never used much more than four chords.

This song I released today was actually one of those. I was at a friend’s place and couldn’t sleep even though she and her baby daughter were. The guitar was there and I just started doing this “E minor” and “A minor” riff back and forth.

I was making music with a mod player called Scream Tracker which played sampled sounds in order and I tried putting the song there, ending up on my first 3 song demo CD.

Now twenty years later and hundreds of songs later I decided to try it out. That’s really my favorite thing. Give a song a real try and see the reaction.

My new album “The Goldblacks” was made up of mostly media favorites.

But yeah, if you have wanted to write just have pen, paper, instrument and maybe something to eventually record your ideas (way easier today with what devices can now do). Social media is a fun way to share your ideas and from the start you can grow your ideas by learning from the masters and just experimenting. I still do. Each one is me trying things out. It’s exciting, which you get swept up in.

Anyways here is my lastest as of literally this morning, Tattered Sails based on how my friend and I had gone through so much in our recent years.

Enjoy!

And if you want to write then find time you know you will be productive and go to it. As I said previously…just show up to the page. And again. You will be surprised!

☺️

Cheers,

Tom

☺️

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The upside of 1%

It is really easy to feel like to have plateaued in what you are doing and creative endeavors are no different for this. I don’t have lots of time as I’m writing this between gigs and I have the release for the single She Lives There literally in under 24 hours but I wanted to pass this along.

Any regular time spent working on something does have a positive effect, in fact anything you focus on regularly will become refined. I’ve noticed this over the month with, of all things, music production.

I don’t consider myself a music producer or engineer by any stretch, but I’ve sort of had to play that role while recording The Goldblacks CD and onwards since I still have the same gear. In doing that there’s little nuances that have improved or approaches I learned in the blur that was the album recording, like how to give myself plenty of virtual tracks of a take to lessen the stress, or my trick of singing backup to a temporary instrument track for guidance.

The point is you may only improve what you’re working on like 1% each day. But truth is that is actually huge because if keep doing that the difference in a year isn’t 365% because you will adding that percent to the day before. Your learning method will also become refined too, like in my recording example. I wasn’t trying to become an engineer, I was trying to make some songs, but the engineering advances came as a by product. Sometimes you can blow through plateaus through consistency, sometimes it comes thanks to an outside source but as long as you keep that focus and show up to the page each day like I said before, you will get there.

Some stuff isn’t easy or fun, but it can lead to more fun if you hold on. I like my new philosophy for being at the gym which works in creativity too. If you’ve shown up and you’re doing it you’ve succeeded. The effort takes you immediately past where you would have been, and anything you actually do is just a bonus.

Enjoy the journey!

Cheers,

Tom

Gut Wars, A New (leave the house) Hope

“It’s not very rock and roll…”

Andrew Fletcher Depeche Mode

(talking about his depression)

If you feel unwell all the time and feel the need to be near a washroom when you don’t actually need it then know right now that you are not alone.

Three years ago I got to the point that I felt gross and nauseated no matter what, especially if I ate something which being someone who performs regularly was just unbearable.

It had started a few months before that, with me going home sick frequently from both work (luckily for me I soon when self employed for a year so I could focus on it) and at least one rehearsal where I had to leave half way (only to feel better before I even got back home. Ugh.)

I had been to my doctor, walk in clinics and the emergency thing to see what was wrong. They started with tests and then prescriptions that didn’t work. I did that test you do at home that nobody wants to have to do involving saran wrap…yeah, that one. I won’t go there, but it didn’t help either.

Anyway cut to beginning of the year and I tried some anti anxiety meds that not only didn’t work but had the warning of “may cause nausea.” Yeah, right. More like “You’ll pray for the end.”

I was lying on the couch not wanting to move, not wanting to not move…playing Angry Birds made me feel gross.

“Oh, for fu.$@$ sakes!”

I don’t remember the exact moment, but (after quitting those horrible pills) I got my things and went out.

I walked.

I felt like hell doing it but I couldn’t stand not being able to walk around Victoria’s Inner Harbor so I just went there, guts whinging the whole damn way.

They subsided a bit, long enough for me to do this shot…

Yeah, I’m a dork. Anyways…

I wanted more of this and less of the other so I kept going with this, researching my absolute ass off.

I had gained weight after 30 as my usual red hot adhd metabolism had left town so that was a first port of call. I used the Calm meditation app and actually subscribed (I promise I don’t work for them, that’s not what this is about) and did a ten minute meditation practice each day.

I started with a 10 minute walk, 10 min jog, 10 minute jog daily, which eventually I supplemented with the gym membership (Goodlife and the fit fix program. General health training at the Y would be as good)

I discove1red ginger everything. Ginger mint or ginger turmeric teas are my favourite. I quit smoking eventually and tried to cut out pop as it only adds air to your gut (even ginger ale which I was bringing to gigs) Also fennel seeds in tea is ace. Do that. They do that at Indian restaurants for a reason. I have a fennel seed shaker. It is, as Fatboy Slim would say…the Weapon of Choice…

I used the Alkaline app to try and lessen the amount of acidic food. I know this is difficult but one gain was the wonder of steel cut oats with frozen blueberries which are great for digestion, alkaline and a superfood.

And then back to that difficult subject to discuss, but I’ll just say regularity. I cut down cheese consumption and started drinking four of my water bottles a day minimum. I am still working on all this to this day, as I want to keep the weight down and find the best exercise for my gut. I’m not a muscle bound type but at the gym my best machine is now the ab-crunch one. My longest jog is now over an hour but the war ain’t over.

I have noticed how I can be constipated before a run, ran anyways, and my body just puts it aside to bug me later. Just wacky.

So my next thing?

I’m gonna blog about and it’s gonna be this… The Celery Juice craze. I’ve done the cleanse drinks with cinnamon and apple cider vinegar. Now it’s this…

Cheers 🍻,

Tom

So near great distances

I always like those shows that talk about a character that is suddenly bumped out of their life into another reality. In truth, most movies are about that, the crossing of the threshold, but how often do we do that?

I genuinely believe that the human frames we inhabit are capable of more than we realize. You could be so many different people in one lifetime. This idea is sort of a mix of marrying the last few blogs plus how on Saturday I was going for a run and ended up at Gonzales Bay, soaking up sun and jumping in the water.

My run was going this way and then I saw this one road and was thinking how I never went that specific way. Ran up to the top of the observatory and down the other side which finished my 35 minute run.

It’s metaphoric to me about how little choices can suddenly put you a life you never would have expected, and then again. I didn’t have my bus pass so had to walk with my socks in my wet jogging shorts all through the sun of Fairfield’s streets. Walking always brings this thought to me, how you can take different roads on a whim and give you entirely different days.

Also kind of reminds me of how I mentioned that “Once you’re out there you will like it”. You can get swept up in the energy of a situation and you’re physical self is capable of either being worn out or springing to the most life.

Consider the story of Scott Rogers who had his leg horribly amputated in a shotgun accident. I mean, when it comes to reasons to just give up and watch tv with some nachos, hey that’s a good reason. He may have done that too (homemade nachos and actually watching Netflix all the way. Was laughing last night watching The Disaster Artist) but what he did do was become the first above-the-knee amputee to complete the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail.

If you spent all the money in the world you would never obtain a vehicle as intricate, fine tuned and powerful as the thing below your nose. You do what you can to keep it running as smooth as any GTO Judge

Thing of beauty, but nothing on you.

but then just know, that like that great car, it can truly surprise you when you “get out on the highway”.

From the quiet of a library where you read the thoughts of those who have made incredible distinctions, or found beauty in their artistic adventures to being in the shared energy of a live event

the living complexity of the world is there to explore and you’re most incredible machine is your portal to a million different realities, from five thousand miles away to a single inch.

Raise your hands and feel it.

You’re alive.

Today’s special for music is Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way

click here to listen 😉😄

Groove on and talk to you later!

Tom

Your own personal genius

Is there something you were meant to do that you haven’t discovered yet either? What I can tell you is that there is every chance you’re just around the corner from it, but what is it?

It seemed appropriate to start with a musical reference to this as the history of modern music is loaded with these life twists. Martin Gore was just a band member before the previous songwriter quit and he was thrust into the role as he already wrote one track for his band Depeche Mode.

There’s of course the story of how Phil Collins replaced the exiting Peter Gabriel because he had a go from his drum set and all the guys freaked right out. But what’s really interesting is often sparkling talents for a given instrument like how Jaco Pastorius was originally a drummer before the bassist quit and thought he’d try, and within weeks was on his way to being the greatest bassist in history.

It makes you wonder and what if it’s not confined to music? There’s every chance you are the world’s greatest cojone player but it could also be in some other realm beyond playing crazy cool world beats.

There’s the classic story of 3M, where the scientist was trying to make a permanent adhesive and instead got this stuff that was sticky but didn’t work at all. He realized the potential of a sticky note and the rest was history.

I like the idea that, put simply, the search continues and as you do, you follow what intrigues you. Jaco was in the right area. In fact, from his drum kit he only needed to be on the instrument a few feet to his right. It’s all “In the Meantime” as you search for your thing. How long can you search? I’m 44 and I’ve had bass students 20 years older than me. I know people older than that who are trying their hand at boatbuilding.

And you don’t have to… anything. You don’t have to be the world’s best to enjoy it. Sometimes it’s just fun. I’ve been digging into keyboard playing over the last few months because of a Christmas gig that had long breaks and a piano in the back. I started thinking (ironically) “You know, I think I get how that bit from Depeche Mode would go..”(I had a understanding of keys, but never tried to really play two-handed that much)

But isn’t talent reserved for some higher-blessed types? Possibly not. There is lots of study on this, in fact one book to look out for is called “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle where he slueths out world famous talent hotbeds around the world to find what’s going on. What he discovers is that it is less magically bestowed talent than it is simply how we approach learning something. Daniel has another book called the “Little book of Talent” which condenses this idea of deliberate practice which I won’t go into other than it’s about pushing into the weak spots of what you do, in a way that you can repeat with immediate feedback. Definitely check out his books which are available on the Hoopla app. And no, I don’t work for him, he’s just good.

So is there anything you’ve thought of trying your hand at recently.

Who knows? You might be the genius we’ve all been waiting for.

😉

Cheers,

Tom

Things

Interesting watching the building crumble across the road.

Hauled down by men with thick gloves, defiant to frost a foreman’s rough speech, the old

taskmaster.  They break center first, cutting, smashing

breaking and then sweeping, clearing away what was there before.

They spread to the wings.  It’s still going on now.  You wonder if it will ever

ever end, but it will.  And as it falls you know it will.   That part of the city

is alien land.  You see what’s it like when it’s cleared, when it’s fully cleared, before we.

ever set our devious plans.

 

One day the last stone will be swept

away.  It’s just a memory.  They’d have to convince you that you

drank coffee, bought that book on Vaudeville’s

fall.  New memories will be shaped

on the place the stones became powder.

 

demolition.jpg

If you could not fail…

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Everest

What would you do if you absolutely could not fail?  Would you climb to the heighest high and stand on the top of the world?  Take it further with the international space station?  Do stand up comedy at the Met?  Heavy weight champ?

And does it have to be so grand?  I had this question put to me and really what it questions is goals and dreams.  I don’t personally follow the “you can do it all” thought due to the hurtful nature contained within.  Something tells me that if I try my hardest I’m not going to make the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for 2016.  Even if I switch my latte to nonfat I’m pretty sure it’s outta my reach.  This is an obvious example but it’s best to stay in those goals, the reachable ones of what you want to do or feel you could if you put in that little extra time.  Mine is full time writer and musician.  I work on top of that but otherwise I’m already doing it. 

As to the failing side, what’s wrong with that?  We want to have experience and we like to receive experience but what is that?  Isn’t experience just the result of making mistakes and learning from that.  If you worked in a place where no one came in, yeah you’d be amazing at it and your work would be failure – proof but it would be 1) extremely boring and 2) over in less than a month. 

Some of the biggest failures have been the gateway to success as well.  Post its came from someone trying to create a superglue that totally failed.  New Order’s bassist just grabbed a bass and joined the band with no idea how to play the correct way so he created a style that became their signature sound.  The list of this goes on and on.

So get out there and try it.  Try it, suck at it and try it again.  Just keep hammering at it 🙂

Cheers,
Tom

Created by TomPogson.com

The art versus the artist

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Joy Division by Anton Corbijn

I could have just as easily put up a image of Robin Williams, Charles Dickens or Vincent Van Gogh.  Creativity doesn’t necessarily have to come from a dark place to be worthy of exposure.  Sometimes artists are in their best place when they create their best work.  An easy example of this would be A Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.  Miles and a group of incredible players went into the studio with only a few basic sketches of ideas and improvised what would soon be a classic.  I know for myself that being in a miserable intoxicated space doesn’t usually produce my best work (naturally I’m not going to place myself alongside these artists.  After watching Jaco Pastorius – Modern Electric Bass I always feel like the tribes least talented and clumsy Neanderthal.)  It is very likely that some of these struggling iconic figures were in their most lucid when they created their work. 

I don’t know if forms of mental illness create artistic genius.  I have known many extremely talented people who don’t have any visually crippling ailments (though not all ailments are as easily seen).  However there are plenty of examples you can find of genius residing in people with mental illnesses. 

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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War 2 struggled with depression, coining the phrase of the “Black Dog” that would visit him.  This image immediately brings forth the sound of another great Englishman (me and U.K culture again, I know…)
Strange version of Nick Drake’s Black Eyed Dog
Maybe it boils down to what Anthony Robbins said that the two things that move people are either inspiration or desperation.  Some success stories come from things fallen in place from a love of something and some come from the push of pain.  I personally believe that the main source of talent is a love for what you do that makes you pursue it daily, vigorously with your full mind and spirit.  People who suffer from mental illness often have grown up with the concept of struggle being inherent to existence and so perhaps their persistence is only amplified.  Perhaps the pleasure from the what they do (which doesn’t have to be necessarily in the arts) helps these people escape from their black eyed dogs.

But in response to the postaday prompt which I read today, I personally don’t look for the struggle or think that it means the art is better or worse.  To me the art and the artist are separate things.  The art is the body of work like any job done by a master’s hand.  The artist is the fragile master behind it, the craftsman with calluses.  The work lives on in the stars.

Created by TomPogson.com

The world of waiting

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I like the quote that Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode used to talk about the years he had already worked in the music business.   He got the quote from Keith Richards originally but I don’t think it’s only true for rock stars…

“It’s five years of work and the rest is waiting.”

We wait so much of our lives and you just know for a fact that there is…oh lots more to go.  As I write this (originally) I’m early for work and so I’m simply waiting as well.  Some folks naturally don’t like to wait.  I probably don’t much of the time as well as there is lots of things to do with creative work where it’s not one event after another.  So much of what I do is scheduling (as my many employers can understandably talk about) and that naturally leads to those in between times when you are simply waiting on the green light to get going.  But since we know that the waiting is going to happen I think that it’s almost empowering.
I mean, we now have these sometimes leash like mobile devices and if you “do social media” that is certainly one way to use up that time when we line up for a ticket, a coffee, purchasing a new shirt but there also just that opportunity to be more present in the moment.

This is one thing that is great about kids.  They are utterly self aware and in the moment.  They notice everything, and as we know, they are only too ready to tell you about it.  Ok, this shouldn’t be confused with patience as spending any time at a religious (or otherwise) service can tell you but that’s just because they have been told to quell their natural exuberance.  But as a busker, kids are awesome because they will often halt their parents who are cannoning from one very important thing to the next very important thing to pull at mom’s coat and exclaim…

“Mommy!  Look!  Guitar!”

I owe their union a lot of money for this.  It’s about being relaxed that things will work out and just setting off early so you’re not late.  Don’t line up if you can’t.   Don’t take on more than you can.  You don’t need to be perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to wait tomorrow too.

But then I’m probably just an early bird.  Victoria is wonderful first thing in the early morning.  Give yourself the time to enjoy those little details of her city because there is lots of them.  That’s actually one thing I’ve really enjoyed about working on my own twitter and my project accounts…when reaching out to the city to tell everybody that we are here I’ve learned how much is really going on that you can get involved in.  This city was founded on a Gold Rush and a sudden influx of people from all over the globe.  With a background like that set on the Pacific Coast there is always another thing to see.  So step out of your own blinders when you have no option but to wait.  You could be surprised to find out where your really standing.

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