Greetings Tumblr followers… as I near closer to releasing new music I will be switching over to WordPress, so all future posts can be found there, please follow along if you have a WordPress account and if not, just bookmark it to your favs. Hope to see you there!
Remembering Davy Jones… I couldn’t think of a specific Monkees song to share in retrospect to Davy Jones life, as there are just so many great tunes from the band, and many that will be plenty repeated anyway. So, I wanted to share this rare bonus track from the later era album “The Monkees Present” - it’s a poem called “The Good Earth” spoken by Mr. Jones and I think it represents some nice parting words from a great voice and entertainer.
In celebration of the new year the $1 album sale is back for two days, and TWO DAYS ONLY! Dec. 31st and Jan. 1st get any Five Times August album from http://fivetimesaugust.bandcamp.com/ for ONE DOLLAR with the exception of the newly released 31 track collection “Rare, Live, & Unreleased” which is still only $9.61! Take advantage of this HUGE deal and share with your friends! Deal ends in two days!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
31 Days of Five Times August: Rare, Live, & Unreleased
Celebrate 10 years of Five Times August and join me on Bandcamp.com this December for the release of “Rare, Live, & Unreleased” - 31 Days, 31 songs, 31 cents each! Every day during the month a new track from the FTA vaults will be available to fans everywhere (but, exclusively via Bandcamp.com). These tracks will include never before heard demos, alternate versions of songs, live band and acoustic performances, cover songs and much more!
Short paragraphs about each track will be provided on each song’s download page as a running commentary for the collection.
I have set up two options for obtaining the tracks on “Rare, Live, & Unreleased.” You can follow along daily and download each track for 31 cents a piece, or, you can pre-order the entire collection for $9.61. If you pre-order you will have access to download every song as they are posted, but this way you can check in and download at your leisure. Mainly it guarantees you all the tracks in case you miss a day! Also, on December 31st you will be emailed the full album download link once the final track is posted. After the final day all songs will resume a sale price at 89 cents, so don’t hesitate to follow each and every day as songs are posted!
Last week while in Hollywood I had the chance to stop by one of my favorite landmarks in the city, the Jim Henson Company. Actually, long before it was the Jim Henson Company it was silent film star Charlie Chaplin's production studio. Built in 1917, it is now 94 years old! Little known fact about me, I'm a huge Chaplin admirer. You're likely to find me watching one of his films before any reality show on TV. And, if you ever wondered why we named our dog Charlie, now you know!
The corner of La Brea Avenue and De Longpre is where Chaplin’s defining work was made. “The Kid,” “The Gold Rush,” “City Lights,” “Modern Times,” “The Great Dictator,” were all filmed inside this very studio. In fact, there is actually some footage of the studio in a rare short film he made called “How To Make Movies.” I always thought it would be a fun project to superimpose still images from that film into current pictures of the studio, as it is today. So, during my visit I decided to make that happen, what a cool way to experience history!
(Click on the pictures to see larger resolution)
In the beginning of “How To Make Movies” a title card reads “La Brea Avenue & De Longpre” opening up to a shot of Chaplin out of costume standing on the corner…
A genie appears in smoke and bows to Chaplin, followed by another title card reading “A Dream comes true. His own studio.”
After a quick montage of still images depicting a time lapse of the studio’s construction phases, the pictures conclude with a shot of the studio complete. A car drives down La Brea Avenue and turns left on to De Longpre to drop Chaplin off.
Chaplin gets out of the car to greet you at the steps of his new studio.
Chaplin then hops up the steps and heads inside where the rest of the film is a humorous “mocumentary” on his daily life of film making.
Another of Chaplin’s films to include that side entrance is the short “A Day’s Pleasure,” filmed in 1919. Here are a few more images, featuring Chaplin actually in costume as The Tramp.
Unfortunately the studio does not allow personal tours so I have never been inside passed the front gates. However, there are several Jim Henson employee videos on YouTube that tell a decent history of the space.
If you’re a Chaplin fan like me, I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you are new to Chaplin, look into his work and give it a chance. It may seem old fashioned to my generation, but the character and stories of The Tramp are still relatable and very relevant today. Here are some of my favorites:
I haven’t written a legitimate blog entry in a while so I thought today would be as good a day as any. Other than the release of “Acoustic Sessions Volume 2" and a recent online mini-show at StageIt.com I’ve been pretty quiet online. The last few months have been very hectic, surprising, and flat out busy. If you were one of the online attendees to the concert last Friday I filled you in on that a little bit, but for the rest of you who haven’t been watching my Facebook and Twitter statuses, I thought I should bring you up to speed.
Last summer Kelly and I spent a lot of our time packing up boxes and having garage sales. We sold A LOT of our belongings in an effort to downsize our life and move into a RV. The idea was that since we spent so much time on the road anyway, we might as well leave our house behind and upgrade from the ol’ 12 passenger express van to a RV. The entire experience was actually filmed for an episode of HGTV’s “My First Sale” which aired earlier this year and if you’re lucky might be able to still catch a rerun of if you have cable TV. Initially we planned to sell our house but because of the poor economy and housing market we had a lot of trouble finding a buyer, and eventually ended up leasing out the house. So, late August/early September we found ourselves on tour again, this time in a much more comfortable vehicle, but without an official place to call home! To make a move like that might sound crazy to most people, but impulsive risk taking decisions are made when you are willing to do anything to live out your dreams. I like to believe Kelly and I are the ultimate example of that, and I hope we have inspired at least a few people out there!
So the tour came and went like any other tour. Some great weather, some horrible weather, some great shows, some not so great shows. Ironically, even after letting go of our home and all our stuff I felt like I was going through the motions again. It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying myself at the shows, or happy to be traveling, but after six years of a constant “on the go” lifestyle it hit me like a ton of bricks one morning… I need to do something new, start over, and move forward down another path. I decided a decade was long enough for Five Times August and began winding down my work with the project. The Acoustic Sessions Vol.2 album will be the last installment of the FTA catalogue before beginning work on a new music project, simply as “Bradley James" (my first and middle name). It’s taken a while for me to get to this point, but I am finally at a place where I can focus on writing and recording for it, and I am super excited to experiment with new ideas and sounds. I know I’ve already announced the project a few times in the past, a very minimal website has been up for a while, but in the coming months you should expect to finally see some decent content added.
So, the timing couldn’t have worked out any better. We actually just moved back into our house last week (unfortunately with a lot less stuff!) and we are starting over here. My studio room is set up again (as it was the first room set up LAST TIME!) and ready to be put to work. I am thankful fate did not lead us to selling the house a year ago because we get a second chance to enjoy our home, this time with a more “settled” lifestyle. Speaking of “timing is everything” - not long after we decided to move back in to the house did we find out we would be having a baby. So, I am officially going to be a daddy and Kelly a mommy! It’s unbelievable and surreal, but again, thankful to have a place to come back to and raise a child properly. I don’t think the RV would have been the best place for a poopy diaper!!
Anyway, in between setting up the house again, writing, recording, and waiting for a baby to develop in Kelly’s belly (ha, “Kelly’s Belly”), I’ll also be spending time working with my brother on his website ScrewAttack.com. Craig is owner of an entertaining and well established video game site which I’ll be seen on every now and again as a personality. I’ve actually appeared in the past on the site as a character named “Unaware Steve” - a guy who hasn’t played a video game since 1992 and is on a quest to learn about the new era of gaming. The character actually isn’t too far off from the truth… I really don’t know that much about video games these days! So anyway, keep an eye out for me on the site to see a different, awkward, and slightly weirder side of me!
So, I guess the only thing to address is touring… will I be touring again, or am I off the road for good? Right now there are no plans to hit the road soon… but I definitely will be back out on the road as Bradley James once I get a new record done. Most likely, until then you should join me at StageIt.com where I will be performing mini-shows from my home studio and probably debuting new songs as they are written. Should be a lot of fun so I hope to see you there!!
That’s all for now friends,
P.S. The picture up top is from our first sonogram two weeks ago, one inch long!
I am officially “off the road” after finishing up a four month long tour. Unfortunately the last two weeks were a mess of fly out dates and show cancelations due to weather and other personal reasons. We had to cancel more shows in the last 14 days than we have in the entire touring history of FTA! We always did our best not to have to cancel, even after a major surgery in 2006 I proceeded to do a show the very next day! So, to those that were expecting to see me live and didn’t, my sincere apologies for not being there.
With that said, if you’ve never been to a Five Times August concert and always wanted to I must say the chances from here on out will be fairly slim. As I begin work on my next project I’ll be taking an extended amount of time off from traveling to focus on a much needed new collection of songs. By the time I hit the road again I’ll be performing simply as “Bradley James" and not Five Times August. Until then you may catch me in a few "one off" dates from time to time if you keep a close eye on my tweets. I also have plans to set up a few online concerts for FTA fans at StageIt.com to give anyone across the globe a chance to interact with a live performance. FTA has been fortunate to garner fans all around the world and while I haven’t ever had the proper funding or promotion to get to other countries, I hope this will suffice as it is all I have to offer! Dates for the online StageIt shows will be announced on the FTA website as confirmed. Until then, check out the StageIt website and sign up!
Anyway, aside from that I will be heading to the studio in a few weeks to record “Acoustic Sessions Volume 2” as the final installment to the FTA catalogue before starting work on Music By Bradley James. AC2 will feature stripped versions of fan favs that weren’t featured on Volume 1 and several unreleased songs and covers that never found a home on previous albums.
Today I begin a month of solitude. After spending almost five straight years on the road with Kelly at my side, I’ll be finishing out the last month of this tour on my own. Kelly is currently heading back to Texas with our dog Charlie as I write this. It was a very emotional and hard day. This will be the longest Kelly and I have spent time apart from one another, four entire weeks — one whole month!! That might not seem like very long to some people, especially if you’re married and in the military. However, in the eight years we’ve known each other we’ve never spent more than a few days apart. It’s only been about six hours and it already feels so weird! It’s so quiet in the RV, it’s creepy.
So, why did she head back to Texas and why am I doing the rest of the tour myself? Well, it’s not what you think. We didn’t get in a fight and decide to hate each other or anything like that. Quite the opposite, actually. As many of you know, we’ve been living in a RV since August of last year. We realized for as much as we travel we actually weren’t even living in our actual house most of the year so we leased it out, sold all our furniture and many of our belongings, put the rest in storage and bought the RV. Basically, we are crazy.
Most people wouldn’t do that sort of thing. When you work hard to build a home for yourself and your family you don’t ever think to yourself “hmm…double or nothing” to risk it all for a bigger goal. But, that’s Kelly and me. We’re fools on a mission. This time around we’re doing the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, peel ourselves apart and step out of our comfort zone. We decided that as I begin writing for the new Bradley James album I need to do just that, step out of my comfort zone, dig deep, do some hippy soul searching and see what I can achieve in this type of seclusion.
I realized today that am now at a point in my career where I can confidently say “I risked everything to do it.” I don’t know why I have the passion to write, perform and record music like I do, but it’s instilled in my blood to do whatever it takes to keep going, to keep getting better, to keep moving forward. I’m so thankful and lucky to have a wife and partner at my side who not only accepts that, but nurtures it. The thing is, though, she doesn’t do it to be a good wife. She does it because she truly believes in me and my talents. That makes me feel invincible. Everything up to this point; traveling in a van for four years, sleeping in negative degree weather, selling our belongings, leasing our house, living in the RV, losing money in albums that never turned a profit, being away from our families for months at a time - it’s all been hard, but there was at least the comfort in having Kelly at my side. We did it all together. It’s a story that most people don’t know but it’s real and true.
It sounds sad in a way, you’d think with that list of obstacles we would have given up by now. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve looked at each other and said “Alright, is the universe just telling us to give it up already?!” But - we haven’t. We keep moving forward because we know deep down it will all be worth it one day. We keep moving forward because, well, we love it. We love it so much we are willing to separate for a month if it means I’m going to write the best music I’ve ever written, if it means those songs will make the best album I’ve ever made, and well, that’s what I’m going to do. I have somebody in my life that believes in what I do so much it makes me believe in myself when I’m at my most scared and uncertain. So, here I am in a RV, alone, scared, and uncertain… Kelly, the next 30 days are for you.
Last week I sent out my first newsletter blast to the Bradley James mailing list at http://musicbybradleyjames.com - To those that haven’t signed up *yet* I strongly encourage you to do so soon! Here’s the update from last week if you missed it or signed up after it was sent out. This new project will gradually start involving fans on the list exclusively so let’s connect, yes?
Greetings Friends & Fans,
First of all, I want to thank you for signing up and seeking interest in my new project as Bradley James. The idea of this venture has been in my head for some time now and I am extremely excited to start work on it this year. You are among the first to know about it and from here on out will be the very first to know about a lot of Bradley James happenings. I hope you’re excited to follow me on this journey as I start a musical rebranding of sorts. I know plenty of you have had questions so I thought I would attempt to fill you in with a more defined answer as to what this whole thing is about…
2011 will mark my tenth year as Five Times August. One could assume that reflecting on a decade of work would ignite a lot of emotional energy and for me, well, it has. I guess without getting too heavy into it, you could simply say I’ve grown up a lot. Artistically I feel like it’s time to remove the mask and create music that reflects who I am now, not who I was then. I’m very proud of all those songs, and even more, I’m proud of what they have accomplished. But in truth, I actually don’t think Kelly and I could do more for Five Times August than what has already been done. Two people can really only do so much. So, it’s time to grow. That’s really what this is all about, growth.
As a music lover I’ve been listening to a wider variety of genres than I ever have in my life and it’s influenced me greatly. As a guitar player I’m taking a lot more time to develop my knowledge of music theory and technique. As a singer I am exercising to expand my vocal range. In turn, as a recording artist I will be applying all this new found knowledge and skill to develop and experiment with sounds intended to push my creativity into a realm I haven’t charted before. And, with that, I hope to bring back a certain class and dignity to music that I feel has been mostly lost and forgotten about in the current music market. I know the term “new direction” can scare fans when a band or artist mentions those words, but rest assured when I say if you like what I did before, you’ll like what I do next…… maybe… (hey, I make no guarantees!)
So the plan right now is to write until summer, that’s when I’ll start work recording the actual album. In the meantime I’ll also be recording demos while finishing the current Five Times August tour and perhaps tossing some of the new songs in the set lists at random. It will certainly be a process of trial and error but excitingly enough you’ll be involved along the way. On that note, the Bradley James website has been updated with a small “donate” link if you’d like to help move things along financially. It’s basically just there for fans to give as much or as little as they want. Your donation will go into a Paypal account that will go untouched until the summer recording sessions. I’m not going to sell you on it or make a big deal of it, but hey, it’s there if your heart is in it and I certainly appreciate it.
One last thing, I have many upon many ideas to develop the Bradley James website and online community so keep in mind that even though the website is bare bones at the moment it will eventually expand into a mega site of musical explosion for the fans (*ahem* to say the least).
Again, thank you all so much for including yourself in this newsletter. I’m excited to move on to this new musical chapter with you.
If you’ve been watching my Twitter and Facebook posts the last few weeks you may have noticed a new website I’ve been promoting, http://musicbybradleyjames.com. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it so I thought I’d take a moment to explain the new project…
2011 will mark the ten year anniversary of when I started Five Times August. Whoa, ten years… I can’t believe it!! I’ve had many fans say “I’ve been a fan since you first came out in 2004.” Sometimes it’s 2006, 2007, 2008, etc… the truth is Five Times August has been around since 2001, it certainly hasn’t been an overnight success story. I started this project at the age of 18, fresh out of high school and haven’t looked back since. It’s been a wild and unpredictable ride. I often find myself wondering if I told myself back then all the things I would accomplish as a completely independent artist, would I believe it? Probably not… when I began this journey the idea was to get the major record label deal, hit single, screaming fans, yada, yada, yada… pipe dreams really. Rather, I found a wife, best friend, and business partner along the way. We developed a model for my music that actually worked as a sustainable job without the help of a label, and we broke some barriers as an unsigned act that hadn’t been accomplished before. I’m very proud of that.
Most people don’t understand how hard it is to make a living as a songwriter and performer, especially in today’s music world. I won’t try to explain it, the best I could do to express myself in that regard are in the lyrics of “Fix Me,” which was an open letter from artist to fan. Some of you got what I was saying, though many overlooked it (and hey, that’s okay). I guess my point is I never thought I would have to work so hard. My advice to aspiring songwriter’s is to not let your talents persuade your mind that you are owed something. If you think you’ve written great music get it out there yourself, and work at it until enough people recognize your gift. Don’t ever assume “the right person” will find you. I never believed that and I think that philosophy has served me well. My other advice is to write for yourself. I’ve never written a song that didn’t pertain to my own life experience and I think that’s a major reason people connect with it.
So, what now? Ten years have passed and I’ve learned a great deal. I was once a love longing 18 year old kid and now I’m married at 27, talking with my wife about the possibility of babies! This whole adventure all started from a young immature broken heart and I wrote many many songs about it, from one girlfriend to the next until I found the perfect girl. When you find that kind of love I think your view on life changes. So, why write about heartbreak when your heart isn’t broken? I don’t feel like I need to do that anymore. I’m sure there are plenty of nice love songs deep within the depths of my brain, but where I am now, I don’t think they’ll be Five Times August songs. I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do with FTA, and then some. I’ve hit the ceiling and it’s time to see what’s on the other side. What if I removed that mask and started over with new music? Well… that’s what I intend to do.
Next year I’ll be touring once more as Five Times August. There’s still work in the world of FTA that needs to be done! However, a transition will begin as I introduce new songs into my set lists. Over the holiday break I will be recording a new album as Bradley James (my first and middle names for those wondering). I plan to record and produce this album entirely by myself, performing as much of it as I can myself. The process will be much like it was when I started FTA if you’ve heard my earliest recordings. However, I also plan to experiment a lot with new sounds and songwriting technique. Some of you will like it, some of you may not. All I can do is hope you’ll follow me to the next chapter of my life. So I invite you, visit http://musicbybradleyjames.com and sign up on the mailing list for updates. There’s not much on the site yet, but I have a lot of really great plans and ideas in store for the new project, many of them fan related. I strongly encourage you to join the mailing list, the new community will be catered to in an abundance of exclusives as I get more in depth into the music.
So this begs the question most of you have been asking… “Is Five Times August completely over?!?” No, FTA is not over. I’ve worked way too long and hard the last ten years to just end something I’m so proud of, especially since it’s still growing! I’m just ready to try on a new jacket and see how it fits.
So, that’s it. I just wanted to take a moment and explain a little bit about my plans for 2011. I hope this has peaked your interested, there is a lot more to follow…