An Adulty Adipisci - Chris Bryers and Michelle Graf

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An Adulty Adipisci in pursuit of an Army of Children

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  1. Army of Children
  2. Cool Water for Drinking
  3. Bismuth Kisses
  4. Love will Cloud
  5. Appetite for Destruction
  6. The Souced Romantics
  7. Little Doorways Buried in the Ground
  8. Brave brave men interlude
  9. Lost in a Parking Lot Again


About An Adulty Adipisci and the lyrics

I made a production goal with my music hobby that I would do FOUR albums per decade, with the hopes that when I'm 80 years old I will have 24 finished music projects starting from my 20's, and a big handful of extras, such as the 400 or so songs I wrote while in High school and in college before "Overman". In the 90's, I released Racecar, Anthemunanthem, Thing and Nothing, and Essential Cubicle Nosepicker and made the goal. This decade I have two THD albums, this new one - An Adulty Adipisci - and about a year and 1/2 to finish my next one, The Crushing Gravity. I should make it just fine. You'd think, at least.

I began this new project when THE HUDSON DEBACLE broke up when Xavi and Chris moved away to pursue their respective careers. This would have been 2003 by the time we had wrapped up "Into the Monkey Oven" (although members would have already moved). I knew I was going to do another TASM project, as assembling a new band seem difficult as THD was more about friends than music. DAVE NASH and I would make some feeble attempts of finding a friend with a bass, going as far as buying Walter one.

I had some new tools and perspectives starting this new project, tentatively titled at the time "The Attack Dogs of Compassion". I now had a drum set and knew how to play a bit. I had learned some new songwriting techniques as well. The song "lost in a parking lot" (which would be re-imagined for this album) taught me how to start using seconds, sevenths, sixths and other non-root notes as starting and resolution points in melodies (hard to sing, but neat to listen to). Writing "Fuck fuck fuck fuck" had taught me a lot about altering arrangements under melody lines. I was also getting good at writing songs "right side up". When I was younger, I would develop riffs and then try to find melodies then finally lyrics to go over them. I now think in terms of "themes" where lyrics and vocal melody are the first thing written, and the rest of the song is constructed around the melody. The only exception to this writing style is "Appetite for destruction" which was written riff-first.

I also become less fussy about how purely original a song was in terms of borrowing titles, themes, music fragments, etc. In THD songs you can hear familiar bits within "Young and Handsome Gentlemen", "Lost in a Parking Lot", "Your Drunk Drunk Secretary" and "Hospital in the Ocean". I don't mean sampling, but just grabbing a few familiar notes. In some music genres, such as blues, this is routine.

I had first decided, especially after the casualness of THD, that I would try to write another "Thing and Nothing", except go even further in it's ambition, writing it for a real band and make it feature length (2 discs, or at least 90 minutes). I had begun on the book, or script, plotting out my own re-working of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead", keeping the story line and themes, but changing characters and other plot points. It was to be called "The Symbol of Power", and be about a righteous sculptor hired to build a new symbol for an energy company.

I wrote a bit of the script (which I later lost in a hard drive crash) and a few song fragments, but holy shit, are those things big projects to take on. Managing a story through music, managing inspiration in a forced structure, all of this, takes WAY more work than assembling a regular album. Not to mention that the music, like "Thing and Nothing" would have a lot of classical-sounding parts that are also difficult to write. I finally wimped out.

My personal time was also shifting pretty largely during this time. In 2004, I started a few new company concepts and left my safe, full time job to pursue my own writing and illustration business. In 2005 I would meet my new daughter and subsequently lose my studio space to a nursery. Also in 2005 I would buy a new house (with a HUGE studio space), in 2007 my company would do very well, and in 2008 my second child was born. I can't imagine what I did with all my time when all I had to do was go to work and watch television in a small condo.

I imagine during the time I was writing "Thing and Nothing" that I had all the time in the world, despite working constant over time at A. T. Kearney. I was also convinced, at the time, that I was doing something really special and unique, which undoubtedly motivated me. I was also under the impression that if you worked really hard on making some special music that people would find it. They don't. I now know to be happy selling just a few copies if you are not willing to do things a full-time musician must do (tour, network, publicize, give lessons, ugh)

Another company I started was called GleeCD, a business where a remote recording studio/crew would record community music, such as church choirs and high school plays. It required buying a portable recording studio, which Dave and I bought. We sort of knew that a worse case would be that we would have our own recording studio even if the business failed. That's what happened. After a successful demo project, we had trouble finding even a second, paying gig and the birth of Adie forced me to stop focusing on the business altogether.

The studio, though, would finally be used for this album. After a two year stint at Dave's house, the gleecd studio moved up North to my house.

The songs for "Attack dogs for compassion" were still written on the Windows 3.1 computer Dave and I had bought back in 1994. The computer (ole computy) has eight megs of RAM, a 50 mhz processor and a 400 meg hard drive. Despite this, an old version of Cubase can still run Midi (which is very thin) without a problem. I may have been the only person even using 3.1 in 2005 to write songs. I've since retired computy, and currently sit without a dedicated midi app in which to write.

I digress, but I'm using Reason 2.5 for a little bit, but I can't seem to figure out how to do a tempo change. There is only ONE tempo change on "An Adulty Adipisci" (AAA). If you listen to Thing and Nothing or, especially, The Essential Cubicle Nosepicker, the tempos changes all the time in nearly every single song. If for nothing else, to increase the tempo as the song progresses. Listen to "she made a simile" as a good example of using tempo changes.

I completed my first demo of "Attack dogs" in 2005, using midi drums, acoustic guitars, a real bass, and singing the tracks by myself. There were seven songs, including "Army of Children", "Cool Water for Drinking", "the Soused Romantics" and "Bismuth Kisses". Other songs included "The attack dogs of compassion", "The Day I woke up Old", and the first written post-Debacle "Fate Stepped out of her well".

This demo was to be used as a training tape for singers. I approached comedian and former roommate Stephen Lynch to sing on it, to which he agreed to. Besides having some great pipes, Steve's celebrity certainly couldn't have hurt getting a few more than 10 copies sold. Michelle was already mentally tagged for some of the songs, although at this time more of a support role in "soused romantics" was the only sure thing I knew I needed her for.

When I first start writing an album, I always figure that I will be the lead singer. I imagine the vocals being sung by this perfect version of my voice that exists only in my mind. As soon as I barf all over the demo, I often seek to find someone else. I think I'm going to sing my next album myself. We'll see.

After Steve signed up I began finishing the album, knowing that I would be re-tooling the whole thing, writing some new songs, and re-recording everything, most importantly with acoustic drums. I was also considering having parts completed by Chris Bryers and maybe Dave Grant, and for a while thought that I would get a bunch of people to sing on it.

I did this re-tooling of The Essential Cubicle Nosepicker as well. I have a very different first draft demo that someone might find interesting.

Part of this project was getting the same "band" sound through all the songs. I wanted all of the voices to be the same from song to song, so I used the same three or four keyboard voices (strings, bells, chorus, whistle, piano) on all the songs, plus the acoustic band of acoustic guitar, acoustic drums, and bass. I also wanted the music to feel like a band, and not like a midi project. I bought a 500meg piano sample where they sample each key on an expensive piano at eight different velocities. I ported all the Cubase midi into Reason to replace just about all of the old keyboard sounds into top-shelfish samples.

The 2006 demo eventually grew to 12 songs total. The ones listed above, plus: "Love will Cloud", "Little Doorways", "Daddy's Death Dream" (now "irredeemable"), "a Mindful Endeavor", and one written in 1999 called "The Whole Goddamn World", which I sang at Harvey's on the Mall for the 1999-2000 New Years Eve party. This demo had real drums and myself singing.

I first came up with the idea of having Chris Bryers sing before asking Lynch. I had also thought of using both of them, which I might do in the future. Steve was soon cast in the Wedding Singer on broadway, and while he never backed away from my project, I figured he'd be way too busy.

I had a copy of Chris' "Birds", which reminded me of a valuable lesson, that production could lag a bit as long as the songs and singing were superb, as they are on Birds.

I sent the 12 song demo to Chris in November 2006 asking if he wanted to do it. I figured since he had a home studio that he could do his vocals at his leisure and mail them to me, and I would re-compile the mix at my studio. This worked better than I could ever imagine, with no manual re-synching ever being needed, the vocals just pop right on.

The 12 songs proved to be too large of song list to get done in any reasonable time, especially given Chris and I's crimped schedules. I also needed Chris' tracks done first before Michelle's, as that was to be the template she would build her harmonies over. Chris was also working on "Hazel and the Black Rabbit". (we later put this out as the first album on the "leonstemple" label.) which was splitting his precious music time.

I split "Attack Dogs of Compassion" into two albums, with four or five of the pop songs for AAA. This would reduce Chris' singing burden. I had first asked Chris if I could re-record a few of the music tracks under "Birds", putting in new instrumentation while preserving his vocals, but Chris had lost the files. I later added the newly written "Appetite for Destruction" and a re-working of THD's 9/11 anti-anthem "Lost in a Parking Lot".

The other songs will be released on the next album "the Crushing Gravity..." which I plan on singing myself (I say that now).

I also surrendered the demos of Michelle's half of the album to Michelle, asking her to treat some of the songs as "blank slates" as far as melody and lyrics go. The resulting version of "Little Doorways..." is nearly all Michelle, with I only writing the accompanying music track. She took a same approach to "Appetite for Destruction", perhaps reworking 75% of the vocals. Michelle also went wild with harmonies, devising many new parts herself.

Chris was also no slouch in the harmony game either, inventing all of those lush end parts to "Army" and "Cool Water" and "Lost in a Parking Lot".

The lyrical themes are mostly about adult experiences such as family, work, and self-actualization. Unlike Essential Cubicle Nosepicker which was a frustration on these themes, AAA is more an observation of it. This said, the lyrics are a little eclectic in the sense that they don't order tightly around a story or themes like I have worked in the past.

If anyone misses my more colorful or dramatic lyrics, they would be excited to hear both the forthcoming "The Crushing Gravity..." (where the other half of the album ended up) and my plans for TASM Lab #9.

For a while, I had toyed with having every song having it's companion song, where a piece of the melody or theme would be re-imagined into a second related song. This happens twice, but it now stretches between AAA and The Crushing Gravity... "Army of Children" and "Love will Cloud" both have companion songs.

In January of 2007, I launched as a nostalgic community of the Kalamazoo music scene. I had wanted to do this for a while, and to some degree, was a de facto center of this. I also saw "Hazel" and talked to Brent and Geoff Halsey, and realized that people where definitely thinking about the "Band days" as something that had passed, but most still interested in writing and creating music. It made sense to put something like Leonstemple together, not only to save the old stuff, but to create a tiny springboard for new stuff.

I had Dave Nash in to do a guitar solo on "Cool Water for Drinking", but later cut it. I ended up recording about seven different solos for that song before landing on the super-simple on that is there.

Chris finished his four songs around the beginning of 2008. We ran out of time to do his vocal track on "Soused romantics", which is why my original demo vocal track is still there. Michelle came to the TASM studio to record her stuff on the spot. It had been 10 years since we recorded Essential Cubicle Nosepicker together, and about eight years since she relocated to Boston. Michelle had one clunker of a session the first time, but then came in to deliver two subsequent great sessions later over the next weeks.

The mystery word in the album's title "Adipisci" is a latin root meaning 'experience' or 'skill', so the album simply means "an adult experience", with "an Adulty Adipisci" being a fun mouthful of an alliteration. The title's extension, six different ways on the pressing, will be reused in style on the next one. I had briefly considered calling it "The Wind That Blows Through Trees", but my wife said that was both boring and meaningless (true).

I created a new painting, working very quickly. The painting would be a mock family portrait. It would also conveniently match my living room to be placed on an ornate easel my mother gave us.

The Lyrics

A. Army of Children (The Day I Woke Up Old)

Children will be a treasure, as they innocently create a cohort with death’s leash, time.

Here’s to the glum parade, here’s that tired refrain
Where they try and try but they fail and fail now
Here’s daddy’s fame, and it’s a drinking game
Where we toast our death for every hour that’s passed
So brave, brave men stand for themselves, and I’m brave like they are, Ulysses in the bottle, like Achilles in the field.

An army of children, beauty and grace, splendor and purity. Kisses, babies.
An army of children, a house full of love, a sensation of wellness takes you, and wakes you every time the wind blows through the trees.
There’s a Beautyrest in the master’s spire
Where they’ll spin and spin and they fall and fare well now
Here’s dumb tough luck, Here’s a fear of fate,
Here’s doped up pride. Here’s a drunken gait.
We’ll toast the men, all those damnedest handsome gents, who believe money and brains could save.
We’ll toast our deaths, we’ll pound our chests, to blazing success and shameless revelry

An army of children, beauty and grace, splendor and purity, kisses, babies.
An army of children, a house full of love, a sensation of wellness takes you, and shakes you every time the wind blows through trees.

B. Cool water for drinking

Theme: The pleasantness and saving qualities of water for the alcohol enthusiast. Or, boy its time to stop drinking. Response: you mean stop for tonight or stop forever? Let’s be reasonable.

Fear falls first for fools
She fears a fracas, and my faculty for making little storms
squall stall fall, and then crash down.
I’m a glum chum with a bottle, love, afraid, every time I go
Wild for a while
But when the night began to crash
When no one could really give a damn about it.
She gave only cool water for drinking, drinking drinking
She shush hush now, son, and you better shut it.
I felt like Hemingway with all his weaknesses. A speak-easiness
Some fun comes, then her scorn drags her groan into a growl.
I’m a tripsy careful dancing dog, wrong every time I go
Wild for a while
But when the night began to crash,
When no one could really give a damn about it.One, after one, as the doors began to close, when the lights went gray, began to fade away to a black sick black, spun onto the floor, when no one could really give a damn about it.
She gave only cool water for drinking, drinking drinking

C. Bismuth Kisses

Everything is great, but age makes our tummies hurt. Or, there is no talent in eating a steak, but it’s a profundity and a distinctive pleasure none the less.

There’s some coal in the stove where it glows and shows the rosy walls, and shines between the shadows.
There’s a star in the void, and it lights the sky so we toast it tonight. Named it our spirit star and our sun.
I’ll arrive with merry confidence
I’ll arrive with happy accident
Praise that swan in our pond who will squeeze and hug her ugly ducklings so tight that they will squeal at her site
Touch that grass with the past, where some lovers sang and drank all too late, and fooled around all night. They’re still lovers now…
I suspect that wealth could save us
I suspect that wealth could save anyone
Cause I’m a whale, and a whale is the scale I ought to be. You know, for me.
Why am I so lucky? Why am I so lucky now? Why am I so lucky?
So I know its cool to be after school with you.
Why am I so lucky? Why am I so lucky now, now, now?
Why am I so lucky?
Give me a kiss, give me a kiss with my favorite pink lips,
Tummy aches and pink shakes.
Curse our stomachs and their friends, who’s venomous appetites rage, a gift us our sole misery.
Love those babes in the crib who are slowly growing into our son, growing into our sons and daughters now.
I believe that wealth could save us
I believe that wealth could save anyone

F. Love Will Cloud

What does a tragic life count for if it ends painfully ordinary?

A scene obscene, her hair all wrapped in suede, and she stares at snaps from
Way back when, then cries like the baby she would lose.
Together with drinks she frays afraid, her fingers stained with blood, from the husband that she saw die young from the train, crashing through his mind’s despair.
A plume of brilliance shown, all her love will cloud
A reason to think unknown, all her love will cloud
Still when a heart shines loving dead men.
Still she mourns his soul
Still she dreams he sleeps there beside her.
Still she hears his voice call when wind blows
Still she sees him in shadows at night time.
Still she loves him so much
All her heartbreak aches, all her love will cloud.

4. Appetite for Destruction

Note: Michelle re-wrote the lyrics here and I haven't transcribed them yet. These are the old ones I wrote.

Too bad she
passed on all the baubles and the bibles of the visitors who came to our house to pray
I got fed up with thinking, started taking to the drinking to make the stupid conversation go away from the house
She’s stepping away from her anger
She’s pulling away from her charms
She’s stepping up on her liquor
And she could give a fuck if they were to stay or go
All the
stories and the queries of the annoying guests were bearing down, too bad they never saw
The missus with her wishes, as she bitches about her company who stays much too long

I. The Soused Romantics

There are cool summer nights on a breezy coastal area where between the wine and the moon, you are in the mood to fall in love forever.

Swoon from the spell of the moonbeams. The moonbeams.
Kissing you in the blue moonbeams, like the love scenes seen on the movie screens
Look now - twinkle stars above us every time we touch, every time we hush, any time we kiss…
Cool, we trip around like lovers,
just to fall into, somewhere near to you, just for touching you,
Holding hands and kicking sand tonight
Two lovers on a sound stage,
candid, unafraid. I could be the one, I could be your love
Holding hands and kicking sand and making plans to apprehend you…
I’m in the mood to give myself to you all the way, all the way
I’m in the mood to pledge my heart for always, always.

Little Doorways Buried in the Ground

Note: Michelle re-wrote the lyrics here and I haven't transcribed them yet. These are the old ones I wrote.

Light a little candle, write a little note
A baby first to sleep, and a daughter softly coughs
Draw small circles, draw small squares
Think of little doorways buried in the ground
Think of little doorways buried in the ground
I could breathe if she would move
We love her. We love her. We love her. We love her
Breath aloud so I’m allowed to believe that you’re alive alive.
Buy a little basket, make a little bed
Lie the little baby, rest her little head.
Draw small circles, draw small squares
Buy a little basket, make a little bed
Think of little doorways buried in the ground
I could breathe if she would move
Hold on, hold tight, hold through the dark soft night.
Breath aloud so I’m allowed to believe that you’re alive alive.
Alive for me, alive for us, hold through the dark soft night
We love her. We love her. We love her. We love her.

Lost in the Parking Lot Again

Stumble through your indignation, because after working death still remains.
We'll straighten out your bedspun hair, babe, and dress you up like whatever
Your business card read before your big surrender.
Pulled your flag down with failed endeavors.
The papers were saying it was your worst week ever
Your best new friend, your new bartender.
Your stupid signs of arrival rival driving drunk on empty streets.
But your symbols work like a shitpile of dirt when describing something as weird and vague as life.
Fire away, it was one disaster after another we were unprepared for.
Fire away one alcoholic beverage to go on automatic.
We will be afraid. We will be strong. We'll carry on, driving with one eye closed and one open for luck. We will urge the roads to cradle us safely home.
Put away your angry wishes, and drive and drive like driving drivers do.
One more glass of wine after all we've imbibed will only help us tolerate the ride.
We'll blow you away with a big surrender, filed away with failed endeavors.
Who would've guessed it your worst month ever, Your brand new boss your new bartender.
We will be afraid. We will be strong. We'll carry on, driving with one eye closed and one open for luck. We will urge the roads to cradle us safely home…
Where we fight the light of day streaming through the window panes like steam, like a scream from a dream urging you to take us down.
We will be afraid. We will be strong. We'll carry on with one eye closed and one open for luck. We will urge the roads to cradle us safely home again tonight tonight tonight. Here it comes.
Blow me away, are we lost forever?
My confidence broke, is it lost forever?
My will was smashed, is it lost forever?
Our senses were killed, are they lost forever?

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