Over three years in the making, a false start or three to figure out the best way to release the project; it’s finally arrived. I’m proud to say that the best album I’ve ever made is now available as a digital download. It wasn’t an easy process to complete but let’s go back in time and I’ll try my best to recall the story as it unfolded and give you a bit of the “behind the scenes” as to how this release finally became a reality.
The initial writings for the album began in the Fall of 2009 as we were preparing to stage a concert for the live in Austin DVD. I decided that we needed a few more upbeat numbers to add to the set list, I locked myself away in the studio for a day and came out with the first two songs that ultimately made their way to the Reaching Ground album; “Light it Up” and “Soldier On”. While “Light it Up” was completed in time for the DVD concert, for obvious reasons, “Soldier On” was put on hold until I could complete the entire suite. The real meat of the entire piece was written in that one day though. It wasn’t until November of 2010 that “Soldier On” was ready for the stage and was first performed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville, TN. Another song that also saw it’s debut at this concert was the song “Vanishing Umbra”.
By early spring 2011, I had quite a few recordings ready to go and decided it was time to really start assembling a compilation. It was also at this time that I initiated the help of Gavin Harrison to perform a drum track for the song “Alpha and Omega”, which I had just recently finished writing. While I was writing much of the Reaching Ground material, I truly was hearing Gavin’s drums in my head and trying to emulate his style of playing on the demos, so it was truly a thrill to find out he was available to do the track. I was so excited when it was done that I decided to go ahead and release it as a digital single, so “Alpha and Omega” was released in April of 2011, long long before the album that it would appear on, would ever be released.
So as I’m assembling all of this new material for the album, I discover that what I really had in front of me was two different albums. I could also tell pretty quickly that the album that was going to become Reaching Ground was the one that still needed the most work. It was around this time that I figured out it was a concept album and the concept really needed some more time to gel. As hard as it was, I put aside all of the material for the Reaching Ground project and tried to figure out what the other material should be.
What I ended up with was the album Lighthouse. Since this album had material that covered a number of years itself, I tried to make the project a bit more cohesive by adding a drum loop production style to much of the record. It’s not my goal to just release the same sounding album over and over again so I took the production in this direction for that reason. What emerged was material that was in stark contrast to the other material that was on Reaching Ground, but it’s still an album that I’m very proud of none the less. In retrospect, it may have been wiser to barrel ahead with the other project and shelve the Lighthouse material, if I had, I don’t think the Reaching Ground would have turned out anything like it has. Everything in time and everything for a reason. I’m glad I waited.
Still moving forward after the Lighthouse release, I worked diligently to iron out the details of the concept for the album, trying many different ideas before arriving at the story that it is today. It was also during this time that I spent quite a few months trying to come up with a new name for the band and it was actually this process that helped reveal many of the missing pieces to the concept to me. By way of discovering the name Reaching Ground and by writing the last of the songs that would appear on the album; everything finally started to fit together.
Literally two-thirds of the album was written before I knew how the story fit together but I was able to write the remaining material and weave it all together into what I feel is a cohesive musical journey. At one point I began test marketing a lot of the material under the band name Reaching Ground but when all was said and done, it made more sense to keep my name on the release and use the title of Reaching Ground as a name for the album.
It’s been a long and sorted journey to say the least to get the project here, but I believe this album is truly my best work to date as a musical artist and I can only hope that things keep getting better from here. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Thanks for being patient over the last two years as this project stewed and I tried many different things in social media. I know it all seemed a bit unfocused at times but that’s just the nature of the creative process I suppose and it’s all on public display now with Facebook and Twitter; you’re all along for the ride. One must truly take the time to nurture their ideas and let them mature; it’s a long process and not something that just happens on first draft.
It’s an all immersive process as well and while I wasn’t able to maintain a level social that I may have enjoyed, especially with all the other major changes taking place in my personal life, the artist isolating himself to focus on and complete a project does have to make some sacrifices. I have to do what I have to do as an artist and if it means hiding away and working like a Frankenstein, I suppose, for the finished projects sake, it was all worth it in the end and now I can get on with other things.
Until next time. Thanks for listening. I’m proud to turn the music over to you! Enjoy! – John