In April, Saar and I began writing music and lyrics for American Murder Song‘s next chapter: The Donner Party. In preparation, we read a couple of books and watched some documentaries on the subject. We even retraced parts of the ill-fated party’s historic journey on a research road trip. Once we felt that we had a firm grasp on The Donner Party story, we dove headfirst into our writing labors, and it’s been a nonstop creative treadmill ever since.
Saar’s and my writing process has always been an intense one. We routinely workshop the hell out of our concepts and songs, challenging ourselves to find new ways to tell compelling stories through words and music. The Donner Party writing process has been no different, but our timetable has been more expedited.
Early this year, we set some hefty goals for American Murder Song. To achieve those goals, we laid out a pretty demanding schedule of milestones that we needed to meet. One of those milestones was to be recording a The Donner Party album in June. June, as in this month.
Normally, when we’re in writing mode, we meet twice a week to discuss one or two song drafts, rough musical sketches that we each concoct during that same week. With our Donner work, we’ve been meeting every other day, and each writing a new song idea every single day. This has been going on without pause since April 2nd. To date, this schedule has produced roughly eighty distinct song drafts, with many more lyric revisions.
In February of last year, Saar and I were roughly at the same point in the creative process that we are now with American Murder Song‘s 1816 chapter. Feeling behind schedule at the time, we elected to a take a small excursion to Oceanside, California—a coastal city about two hours south of Los Angeles—for an uninterrupted two-day writing session (to read more about last year’s Oceanside frolic, check out my blog post titled, O Ye Who Trav’l In Blood!). The results of that coastal jaunt were so fruitful that we took another Oceanside excursion last week to get our Donner groove on, which yielded equally productive results.
I’m happy to announce that we just completed the songwriting process on The Donner Party, and we will be recording the album later this month. It’s some of the most audacious music we’ve written to date, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
As a bizarre side note: when in writing mode, I often become reclusive. During these periods, things like shaving often fall by the wayside, so it’s not uncommon for me to come up for air at the end of a creative sequestering with a wild, mountain man beard. This time, however, I discovered a new aspect of facial hair.
As many of you know, about six months ago I suffered from a bout of Alopecia. This autoimmune attack resulted in large patches of hair suddenly disappearing from my head and jaw, which ultimately led to my decision to shave my head.
My chin was one of the Alopecia casualty areas: two large bald spots formed around my cleft. Because of the odd look this created, I’d been shaving my chin whiskers on a more frequent basis than I normally would, but I had noticed over the months that fine, baby-like hairs had been slowly sprouting in the afflicted areas on my face and head.
When I went into The Donner Party writing/no-shave zone, I discovered that my beard had all but returned, but with the once missing areas now a stark white instead of brown. The pattern created by my new two-toned beard looked like something out of a comic book. What do you think of Ra’s al Z’unich?
Beard or no beard, I hope you’re excited for the new American Murder Song music. If you’ll be in Northern California this weekend, come by and pester me for sordid details on the new tunes at Stockton’s Sinister Creature Con. I’ll be at a table all Saturday and Sunday with pictures and Sharpees, so please drop by and say hi.
I’m also planning on bringing a couple of pieces of original artwork from Repo! The Genetic Opera‘s comic book sequences to the convention. These will be two of the most popular images from the film, images that have been locked away since the movie’s release in 2008. They won’t be cheap, but if there’s a super collector out there who’s readin’ this, this’ll be your chance to walk away with an original piece of cult cinema history. The artwork will be on display for all to view. And I’ll be there too, as a consolation prize. Hope to see you there!