A Perfect Cliché -Passing the Collection Plate…

Music is not my career.  I would posit that it is my forté, although some would argue that smoking brisket might hold that title.  It is certainly my ‘passion’ for whatever that is worth… If, at any point after first hearing those chiming notes of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ as a teenager up to this day in my late 40s, you gave me one choice of how I could actually make a living, my answer, with no hesitation, would be ‘rock star’. In the rearview mirror of my grown-up-ness, what that really means is to live, as much as is humanly possible, in a state of pure creative expression.  

Maybe a better name for what music means to me is to say that it is my ‘religion’.  I go to it for solace, for comfort, for meditation– I pine for it when I am away. I seek truth in it’s ephemera and lore, I find my community in congregations of fellow true believers…  

I did pursue a music career in earnest at one point– I had a high school punk band and I moved to Austin to ‘get the band back together’ in ‘92 or ‘93 or so.  After a few years of beer soaked bar gigs and countless hours of what definitely felt like wasted effort, that dream was slowly sucked out of my heart by the long sharp catheter of rent, bills, hangovers and regrets.  Eventually I burned every damn bridge I saw with a tune on it and moved to California.

Where music failed me, cooking carried me– by cooking, I paid bills and I found a creative outlet, travel, love, even a measure of success… But like any stiff, harsh shot of misdirected hopes and dreams, cooking always needed a chaser to make it palatable– for me that was with a connection to some core value… such as veganism (for a time), organics, craft, storytelling, and eventually even the stressful adventure of business ownership.  For much of my career, cooking was the road but not necessarily the destination.

In California, I kept the spiny monster of my musical dreams in a cage by going to bed every night with headphones on, listening to the indie rock cds I could finally afford to buy.  In those years, it was never in my own music that I found my peace — With a conscious, almost maniacal effort, I wrote no songs after I left Austin. I was determined to exorcise every last gram of musical hope from my twice shy soul.  

Then, ten years after leaving music behind, the monster escaped.  Almost by accident, I began writing songs again. Falling in love with music again.  I formed a new band, released a couple of records. The monster escaped and became my best friend.  My saviour.

Now there is a new record on the way… And if those first two records were me rebuilding the bridges I burned in Austin so I could come back across, this new record is me, arrived.  It is as if, instead of just collecting, I had been the one recording the indie rock albums that used to put me to bed every night on my headphones back in California…

When I started writing this record, I was coming in earnest into both fatherhood and sobriety, in a weird twist, I even left my business and my trade (for a time)… These changes shook me and made me question my identity in ways that I had never expected.  As a result, with this record, I honestly feel that I wrote something that is both powerful and important. These are the stories I need to share right now… these songs are at times angular and weird but also lush and beautiful. In over a year of recording sessions, Ben Mullin has gone above and beyond on instrumentation, arrangement and production– Brad Turcotte (‘Brad Sucks’) has pitched in on the mixing and mastering– (Juno winner) Keith Glass, Jon Dillabough, Amanda Giles, Doug Hendry and Josh Hofmann have all contributed with exquisite musical moments…  

About halfway through recording, I also realized that this album was more than a collection of songs, it was a ‘piece’ that could be presented as a story with a beginning, a middle and an end… At that point, long after the fact, I decided to craft a narrative of sorts to accompany it.  The sounds, the narrative, even the art I collected from my old notebooks to accompany each song, are all part of something new and different for me. Something that I’m proud of. Something that I absolutely believe has real, actual value.

So, speaking of value… We are in a weird place with making money or even recouping costs on recorded music right now; there is no longer a practical physical format (vinyl, cassette, cd) on which it can be sold — music is digital and more and more people, (and I include myself in this), are streaming and listening differently.  But by now, you’ve also all seen the stories of how those streams translate for folks like me– fractions of pennies adding up to nickels and quarters over months and years…I considered burning cds again this time but with the way things are going, I honestly can’t justify the cost. Also, my inner environmentalist feels a little weird making more plastic in a time when most of us might buy the hard copy for it’s visceral qualities, but only ever actually listen to the album in a digital library.

So my plan is to release it, well, here.  Wherever you are reading this.

So what does this mean?  Well, to begin over the next week or two I am going to roll out the eleven tracks of this album one song at a time using Bandcamp, a wonderful artist friendly platform that will give you the option to pay us as much or as little as you like and as you go.  There will be links on my website and each of my social platforms. Watch whatever space you are reading this message on and you will see a daily link to the song and the artwork with the story fragment. Once all eleven songs have been released here, I will put the whole album up on all the other platforms (Spotify, Amazon, iTunes…) where you are welcome to download to your digital library, purchase, or stream to your heart’s content…

So what can you do?  Here are the three things I would most like to happen, in order:

1. Listen

That is why I wrote this and why Ben and I laboured over recording it.  More than anything, I want folks to listen to the product we have created.

2. Share it, like it, tell people about it.

This is the true currency of our age– if streams are to be the only way to get paid over time then we need to spread the word and hope that more people hear about it.  It will also help drive more people to my live shows and help them make more sense.

3. Pitch in.

Since I won’t have a physical product to hand you, I will only have to hope that enough of you can come along with this idea and pitch in enough to help me cover the costs of producing it.  If paying Bandcamp weirds you out, you can also send me an etransfer (bruceenloemusic@gmail.com), mail me a cheque (Box 1502, Kemptville, K0G 1J0) , or even walk up to me on the street and hand me cash.  I also accept donations of food, clothing (size XXL) or even airplane toys for Abigail… Pay me what you like but by my calculation if as many people give me $10 (that’s less than $1 per song) for this release as gave me $20 for the last cd then I will be able to at least recoup the costs of recording, and for this, I will be immensely grateful… Pitch in more and I’ll play a tune in your living room… Even more and I’ll write you a song.  Name it, I’m willing to try it. If the price is high enough, I’ll even bring along a brisket…

Music is not my career, it is my passion, my ‘religion’.  And by that logic, this is me passing the collection plate.  I do believe that my music has value. I can only hope that you will listen and agree…


A Perfect Cliche


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