(UPDATE): Okay, it's the last week of the book/album project! The other night, for the first time, I played a set comprised of songs I'm thinking of for the book's structure, in chronological order, connecting them with narrative as I went along. I ended with a couple of brand new songs. It all felt perfect.
It gave me an(other) idea: if we can get up to 300-ish people involved in this project, I'll book a special recording session with a full band made up of friends and collaborators. We'll record at least 9 songs from over the years/bands, that we'll all choose together, plus at least one brand new song. Everyone involved (that's you) will get a copy of whatever we make, along with everything else you want. It might be interesting to write about the studio experience while being in a session. Mostly, tho, it'll just be yet another collective adventure. So, let's see what we can do! Any level, doesn't matter. I just figure the more of us, the merrier.
No matter what, I'm going to give this book all I've got. I don't take for granted the time, energy and money it will take to make it happen. More importantly, I'll never take yr trust and kindness for granted.
Onward, with love.
I want Alone Rewinding to be as interactive, communal and personal as possible. Anyone that supports this project will have access to all sorts of archival audio and video footage that I dig up as I work on the book and the album. I’ll also share semi-regular podcasts comprised of observations and conversations that occur over the course of creating Alone Rewinding. As I work on everything over the next several months, I’d love to hear any questions and/or suggestions you have about the book, the album, anything. Everyone that chooses to be a part of this project will be sincerely and happily acknowledged in the credits and otherwise (only if you want to be, of course). Alright, here we go…
Fun fact: my nickname growing up was Bookman. Books have forever (and especially before music came along) been a much-needed refuge for me. I’ve dreamt of writing books of all sorts, for pretty literally my whole life. For so many reasons, this seems the perfect place, time, and way to finally dig in and make it happen. Alone Rewinding will be a collection of reflections on growing up, fatherhood, and playing music for a living, among many other things. It will feature conversations and recollections from people from all parts of my life; family & friends, fellow artists, people I’ve worked with and gotten to know through the music, people that have listened to the music, come to the shows, given me rides and places to stay, and let me and the music into their lives in so many ways. Through those conversations, I’ll address attempting to be a sustainable touring musician and a decent dad at the same time, how touring has affected my relationships for better and for worse, the stories of how various bands came together and fell apart, how major labels and indie labels and DIY and everything in between really works, how touring works and feels whether it’s in a bus or in basements, how to stay happy in what can sometimes feel like a a happiness-crushing world… you know, little things like that. As with everything I've ever made, I want Alone Rewinding to help me through -- and whatever’s going on in yr life, I want to it to help you through, too.
To accompany the book, I’ll be recording a collection of the songs that have meant the most to me over the years. I’m looking forward to re-meeting the music as I write the book. Each chapter of Alone Rewinding will be based around a song. I’m sure I’ll talk about the song itself some, of course. More than that, though, I’ll use the songs as jumping-off points, the proverbial breadcrumbs, little flags in the earth of wherever I was at the time. I’ll use memories of writing, performing and releasing the songs to help remember where I was living, who I was hanging out with, who I was in love with (and vice versa), who I was pissed off at (and vice versa), other songs that were happening at the time, any other ideas that were on my mind, just whatever comes up. I’ll look at where the songs led me, what they taught me. Through the songs as signposts, I’ll retrace my steps. Through the book, I’ll hear and feel the songs in whole new ways. I hope that people familiar with the songs will be affected in similar ways, and I hope that the combination of mediums will be illuminating to anyone reading and listening, no matter what their familiarity is with the music.
Aside from the immense amount of writing and editing and all that will be needed to make Alone Rewinding real, this project is also going to involve singing and recording (for the accompanying selection of songs), learning how to self-publish a high-quality book in both physical and digital forms, speaking intelligibly enough to record an audiobook (I'm particularly excited about that part), creating and distributing podcasts made of interesting conversations and reflections that happen along the way, and who knows what else. It’s definitely the most complex, long-term, emotionally and logistically challenging project I’ve ever taken on. I’m scared of all of it, and looking forward to all of it, and incredibly grateful for yr support as I see it through.
I know that writing and releasing Alone Rewinding isn’t something I can do by myself. Knowing that and saying it out loud is pretty much just as scary as the idea of writing the book itself. I’ve tended to be a pretty insular and self-sufficient creature, for better and for worse. Songs kind of lend themselves to that. They’re relatively small and contained, all about impulse and imagination, and pretty easily written (and released) alone. I’ve made a safe little world for myself with music, and while of course I love it, the scale of this project, all the unexplored terrain… it’s just overwhelming. Through the haze of self-doubt, I really like that feeling. Even if it was a novel or something like that, I could just hide in my imagination for a while and come up with something, but as far as I can tell, to really tell a decent truth about what’s actually happened requires reaching out. I don’t just want to hear from myself, about myself, for myself. I don’t think that makes for a clear and whole picture. I want to hear what other people heard and saw and felt over the last bunch of years; about me, about the music, about themselves. I guess even if I could figure it all out on my own, that just doesn’t interest me at this point in my life. It feels really good to feel and write that.
I think it’s really important to tell our stories as honestly as we can. I know that I’ve loved hearing and reading the stories of other people. Some of them have led lives kinda close to mine, some super-different. Just like with the songs, I’m not under any self-important illusions that the world needs to hear what I have to say in any mystical way. I just really like making things and sharing them.
Beyond the ideas themselves, my favorite thing is all the conversations that can happen within the creation of ideas, and then all the conversations that can come from ideas after they get out into the world. The community that’s evolved around the music has pretty literally kept me going, on logistical and emotional levels both. I’m looking for ALONE REWINDING to be a serious celebration of the infinite ways that music can become part of people's lives, and that lives can become part of music. I want to tell stories of the kindness I've received from countless people, from close relatives to relative strangers. I want yr questions, recollections and suggestions to be as much a part of it as mine. I’m looking forward to talking to people I’ve shared this adventure with in various ways, whether it's someone that I haven't talked to in way too long, or someone I meet as I make ALONE REWINDING. I'm so curious as to what will happen as I talk with people from bands I’ve been in and toured with, industry folks I’ve worked with (from local promoters to big managers and heads of labels), the people and families that have allowed me to be part of their weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, memorials, so many amazing occasions… and speaking of all this, I definitely want Alone Rewinding to include lots of you. I want to know what YOU want to know about, and I want yr help in illuminating so many dark and forgotten corners of my crowded, confused mind and memory.
I’ve known for a while that I’ll never be able to truly say how grateful I am that anyone has cared about any of this, much less helped me to make it happen. I often say at shows that I hope the songs and the energy I give to singing them shows my gratitude. In this case, I want the book -- and all of the time, energy and resources I’m going to give to writing it -- to be a reminder that I’ll never take for granted the fact that yr belief in me as an artist (and as a person) has supported me and saved me in ways I’ll likely never understand, much less be able to express properly. I will never stop trying.
Jonah Matranga, San Francisco, 1 Nov 2015
Risks and challenges
I'm going to be in a lot of unknown territory with this project, from writing the book itself, to figuring out DIY publishing stuff, to who-knows-what. That said, part of the whole point of this book is to talk about (and figure out) how I've been able to make a modest living making stuff, which has everything to do with letting in ideas, making them real, sharing them with people, making agreements, and following through. Fears and insecurities aside, I do know that I'm good at this. I've been following through for a long time now. I will not flake on you. For real.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)