Blowups, Setbacks, Recalibrations, and the Impossibility of Holding Art To A Strict Schedule
I Fight Dragons almost broke up this week.
I'm not trying to scare you, but I want to be honest, and I think you deserve the truth since you signed up to be a part of this crazy journey with us, and it has certainly been a crazy one so far.
Before I go any further I want to start by saying that Project Atma is still 100% on, that I Fight Dragons is still together with all 5 of us on board, and that we're moving forward in a way that excites all of us immensely.
So what happened?
Well, the central issue is one of time. When I (Brian) set the schedule for the entire kickstarter, I put us into a bit of a quandary. Specifically, I only left under two months of real writing time for myself, and only 6 weeks of recording. Plus, with the running of the kickstarter itself, the fulfilling of rewards, and all the day to day duties of running the band (now that we don't have a label I am our label, manager, web designer, merch coordinator, marketer, and I do all our social media), that time began to seem even shorter.
Still, when the time came to hit the recording studio on August 12th, we took the songs I had written and dove in. However, it turns out this album is a BEAST. I deliberately left the demos very sparse, so that means there's a lot more work to be done in the arrangement and fleshing out of everything, not to mention that one side of the record is a freaking song cycle, with some crazy instrumentation and a ridiculous amount of possible avenues to go down recording-wise.
As the weeks went by and we forged onward, my bandmates started feeling like we hadn't given ourselves the time to make this album the right way. We began making decisions in the studio in the name of expediency, and people began to admit they didn't like the way the entire process was going. Being a ridiculously stubborn individual, I ignored those signs and just kept pushing, doggedly telling myself we had to get this album done, on budget and on schedule, no matter what.
Still, this didn't do anything to address the underlying problems, and matters finally came to a head on Monday when the rest of the band called a meeting and confronted me. I still insisted that we had no choice, that we had spent the money for the producer and studio and we had a schedule and we had to stick to it, no matter what. I argued that backers had expectations, and that I didn't want to be one of those kickstarters that let people down. They obviously disagreed strongly, arguing that the real backer expectations were for a great I Fight Dragons album, and that I was the one letting fans down by insisting we move forward on the path we were on. Tempers flared, words were said in anger, and while we were smart enough not to make any decisions in the heat of the moment, no one backed down and the way we left it that night was that I Fight Dragons was likely done.
None of us slept much on Monday night. I personally got no sleep at all.
But, by the time the sun came up I realized that they were right. This was our band, this was our record, and I had been pushing everyone else away in my drive to stick to an arbitrary schedule that ultimately would hurt everyone, including you, since the record itself would be the real casualty.
So, I swallowed my pride and apologized. We all got together on Tuesday night and discussed how we could make this record the right way. To be blunt, it involves pushing the timetable back. It involves producing it ourselves, the way we did Cool Is Just A Number. It involves making sure that the entire band is working as a unit, and that everyone is adding the artistic piece that only they can add.
We've spent the rest of the week planning how to move forward, and here are the salient points:
1- The record release itself will be pushed back a few months. I wish I could give a firm date, but the truth is my desire to do so is what got us into this position in the first place. What I can say is that we'll keep you updated every step of the way (via our daily blog and these monthly updates), and we'll be as open and honest as we can with you about the process. I will not let you down, I promise you we will get there, and it will be worth the wait.
2- The Flexi-Discs are going out to EVERYONE on Sept. 16. We experienced some long delays in their production, but they're almost here, and we'll be signing all of them. Also, you heard correctly, we're going to spend the money to send them to international backers as well. It's the least we can do to make sure you have a cool slice of Project Atma to tide you over while we make this album the ridiculous magnum opus we know it will be.
3- This is a hard one. We're not going to be able to make the documentary right now. This was a decision that had to be made in light of the high costs of physical production, the climbing financial costs of shipping, and the current need for more studio time. It is still my hope to make a documentary at some point, and when we do everyone who backed Project Atma will still have the opportunity to be in it, but the massive costs of these amazing physical LP/picture-disc/graphic-novel/poster creations we're making combined with the rising shipping costs and now the extra studio time have meant that we can't do it right now. This was a really hard decision, and one we had to make for the sake of the album. I hope you can forgive us, because in the end all the work we're doing in this crazy saga is to try and make sure that the creation we put into your hands at the end is so magical that you will weep tears of redemption upon opening it up for the first time.
And believe me, it WILL get there. It's well on its way. Making great art is never easy, it involves sweat and blood and anger and joy and sadness and turmoil and reconciliation and hunger and doubt and luck and persistence and time. So, in the name of art, we humbly petition you for a little more time. It will be worth it. We promise.
Thank you again for taking this crazy journey with us.
-Brian, Hari, Packy, Bill, and Chad
I Fight Dragons