[Note from Shay: Christian's post has a lot of pictures, so if you want to see the band members and get the full effect, I would recommend heading over to his personal stream. You can find it here.]
Oh my. It’s so nice to see you all.
Some of you are newcomers, and some of you are veterans of the Spire Choir, but I’d like to welcome you all to round 2. When I last left you, I thought I had finished writing for something like this. The journey itself was far from over, but I was relatively certain that the availability of time or platform to chronicle the whole thing had disappeared. Thank God I was wrong.
In a way, it’s fitting that SpireSpire returned to me at this time. When I was first asked to do Spire, I was 17 years old and scared to death. I was a young musician, and I dreamt about writing songs that resonated with other people. The reason that this scared me so much is that I listened to music that I respected and related to, but I was writing material that received too much positive feedback, and too little criticism.
This sounds like a favorable situation to most people, but it was horrifying to me. In my mind, it meant that my music wasn’t being taken seriously. All I had were comments like ‘wow, you sang good in this!’ or ‘hey, cool guitar part!’ when what I wanted was an in-depth commentary and discussion amongst listeners that could possibly workshop my writing into something on par with those bands that I revered so much.
Like many other people, music helped keep me out of trouble and connected me with some of my best friends to this day; mine is a familiar story. It’s something you probably recognize, like the worn-out flavor of a local hamburger or something like that. However, something in my story distinguishes the taste from others. Though my shortcomings probably outnumbered my redeeming qualities as a kid, I’ve felt one constant throughout my entire life that has seeped into my craft: I think hard about the mechanics, esthetics and revelations that materialize in my life.
I’ve never really understood the movement, but it became really trendy in the suburbs I grew up in to claim, “Yeah, I over-think everything” as if it were an exclusive club for those kids who shouldered the burden of enlightenment for the rest of us. Needless to say, as I was looking for companionship in people who shared my rabid interest in self-examination, I gave everyone a chance—only to find that those who widely claim deep introspection don’t know what it means. The true thinkers are the men and women who want to do something spectacular with their thoughts. This led me to SpireSpire the first and second time.
I wrote in my very last post of last year: “Musicians analyze the best and worst parts of you and me with it. So pay attention.” And earlier on in the year I made the claim that “My music is wholly personal and obviously belongs to me. It is also utterly and irrevocably yours. I write for myself and I write for you, because none of us are so different that our lives can't relate.” So finally, I recognized my need for impact, and I used Spire to convert all of that fearful energy into a productivity that helped me write better and more meaningful music. Not only that, but I made good on several sub-goals throughout the year, while discovering new ones along the way. One of those sub-goals has now become the focal point around this new Spire adventure.
“Form a cohesive and standard group of musicians to help you perform your songs.” When I last left you, Sun Brother was in its infancy. Upon returning, I have some catching up for you guys. The direction of the band has changed…into an actual band. Instead of writing all of the parts and teaching them to the other guys, I asked the boys if they would want to start writing their own parts and forming the songs together. This was a huge deal for me, but I trust them. And now it’s time to introduce you to the people I’ll be mentioning most this year:
This is Max Anderson. It’s fitting that he’s first in the introductions because he’s the reason I met all the other guys except one. Max plays guitar and sings, writing music that is pretty different from my own, though his intuition as a musician and friend has thus far been integral in the success of the band. Without him, I doubt any of us would understand each other on not only a musical level but on a personal level as well.
Welcome to the world of Ryan Moore. He was the only person in the band that actually introduced himself to me. Probably the most diversified instrumentalist of the group, Ryan is an accomplished pianist, guitarist and singer. He writes his own music that relies heavily on acoustic guitar and fingerpicking, but involves other instrumentation as well—it’s rad. He's also probably the coolest and sweetest one out of all of us.
I hate Shane Bradley.
Finally we have Zach Jackson. He’s one of the goofiest dudes I’ve ever met, but you wouldn’t guess it from the intensity and rawness of his music. He’s not a bass player. He’s a bassist. Give him a bass, and there’s no longer just a guy and an instrument. It’s an entirely different entity entirely. He was the last addition to Sun Brother, and my Mom loves him.
I’m just kidding about Shane. He’s the band’s older brother, even though Ryan is the oldest. Although his role is technically the ‘drummer’, most of Shane’s suggestions regarding structure or parts in the music have stuck and are appearing on the new record, pointing towards his obvious passion and attention towards his craft. He’s an absolute necessity.
If you were paying attention during all of that, you’d notice that I mentioned a new record. Yep. A full length-record is currently in the mixing process with Spencer Walters, a full-time student, musician and all-around nice guy. We’ll be releasing a single in the upcoming months, so look out for all of that.
When I was thinking up possible long-range final goals for this round, I was unsure of how I was going to focus the entire project on just me. I had already established the band at Bradley, and didn’t want to become the ‘face’ of it—that’s not the point of forming a band. So after discussing it with the rest of the guys, we’ve collectively decided upon one goal. We need a way to support the record when it comes out, and we’ve been looking for more shows, so we decided on making a tour the final goal.
This being said, much of this year will still focus on writing of new songs and of honing the band’s directive. I’ll be the only one writing for Spire so I’ll basically be giving readers an inside look at my own personal journey through this group and year. It will be almost the same as last year, for those of you who followed me then, but instead of “Christian Lyon is commenting on Christian Lyon’s music”, it will be “Christian Lyon is commenting on Sun Brother’s music.”
Painless transition, right?
I’m still developing the sub-goals for this year because my own personal goals for the band may be different from the other guys, but there are a few things that I know for a fact will be included:
1. Write a new song every other month, if not more. That should equal out to 6 or more songs this year.
2. Find more venues to play that are outside of Peoria. Some of the most rewarding shows I played last year were when I was outside of my element. And this time, I won’t be doing it alone.
3. Talk with some of the contacts I’ve made through the past 2 years to get good advice on how to survive as a band in the industry.
4. Send out the new record to places and people that seem impossibly too good to be true. Darien Williams, my drummer from high school, is now in Young Man. Jessica Blanchet, a girl featured in two of my YouTube videos, was just awarded ‘BEST NEW TRACK’ on Pitchfork. Cool things happen.
5. Get a track (or the album) reviewed on websites like Pitchfork.
6. Perform on AudioTreeLive.
7. Perform on DayTrotter.
8. Perform with a signed band.
When I said that it was fitting for Spire to return to me at this time, I had this in mind. The first time it showed up, I was terrified. The second time, I was electrified. There is a venue called ‘The Rhythm Kitchen’ in Peoria. It’s an old warehouse bought about by a man named Percy Jackson. Mr. Jackson turned the top floor into a live art gallery where people can watch artists work on their sculptures, paintings, etc. He is rarely there because he’s such an accomplished artist, but he happened to be there that night, and I happened to find myself in his gallery. We spoke for 20 minutes about art and music, and how we each gain inspiration. It was absolutely intimidating and exhilarating to speak to someone so experienced and accomplished about the creative process, and it left me feeling invigorated and ready to start working on something. Not 3 minutes later, cue SpireSpire’s rearing head.
Let’s do it.