We’ve got 4 people and 4 cats occupying a (barely) 2 bedroom house in Echo Park.
2 of us have just relocated permanently from Portland and Dallas, respectively.
2 of us had never met previous to this experience.Only one of us is fully employed.
We owe our producer $2700, our videographer $1000, and our strings director $500.
We owe our fans t-shirts, hoodies, canvas prints, and an EP.
I love shows like I Survived, and I Shouldn’t be Alive. Some of my favorite moments are when survivors recall their long treks from deep in the mountain range to a toasty log cabin or a spring of clean water. Along their journey, they saw the mountain in front of them and despite the long odds, were determined to climb to the other side, only to see miles of mountainous landscape still between them and survival at the summit.
How overwhelmingly discouraging that must have been. How tempting it must have been to simply step into the great crevasse below and spare themselves the pain, hopelessness, and seemingly inevitable slow, bitter death.
All 4 of us over here on Team emberghost LA have wondered whether we’re going to make it through the great wilderness we find ourselves hopelessly entrenched in. Our biggest enemies being discouragement, doubt, financial strain, personal conflict, and of course … ourselves. Can emberghost survive this?
Of course we can.
And one day we’ll tell this story in interviews, how we were crammed into a small house with no money and piles of debt, how we gave up everything and moved across the country and struggled in Hollywood like every other aspiring artist, and how we wrote music and played it anyway. And when we played it, people listened and were touched and moved and inspired and they couldn’t wait to see what we were going to do next.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably among the more dedicated of emberghost fans. We appreciate you, and we know we’ve asked a lot of you and you’ve responded. We’re not going to give up … in fact, things are just about to get really good.
The fear of failure, drug addiction, and depression: all things I’ve been dealing with for the past six or seven years.
Since the band broke up I have been chasing just about anything that could help make life just … disappear. The moment that Parker asked me to be a part of emberghost again, that feeling, the one I had lost 6 years ago, came back.
I quit my job in order to be in the studio for the NLFTE sessions in Portland and Virginia. As a result, I lost my car and my house. On top of that, I’m preparing to move to Los Angeles, a thousand miles away from everything I have ever known.
All this to be a part of the only thing that ever truly made me happy.
As you might imagine, I have had a hard time getting my family to be supportive of this. But the minute they heard NLFTE, they understood; I could see it in their eyes.
Anyway, I just want to thank everyone who has supported us in making this all happen again.
LOST. I miss that show so much. And despite incredible television still being made with shows like Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Parks & Recreation, there will never again be a show so beloved, so hotly discussed, and so beautifully imagined and executed as LOST.
In the pilot episode, during Jack and Kate’s debut interaction, Kate must stitch up a gaping wound Jack received when the plan went down. Kate is reluctant, woozy, but reassured when Jack tells a story about letting the fear in.
Take a look:
… but only for 5 seconds … 1, 2, 3, 4 … 5.
Kate later uses this tactic during her first terrifying encounter with the smoke monster.
Thursday’s show at Good Hurt was terrible. Well, it wasn’t terrible, but … it wasn’t perfect. Things didn’t go as planned, and for me … that’s terrible. We had received the physical copies of NLFTE literally minutes before we needed to leave emberghost HQ, some great French bands were going to be playing, quite a few of my friends were coming out, Alex Ramone would be singing with me, and in the vastness of my vivid imagination, I saw an adoring crowd and a long line at the merch table.
The venue didn’t let us in until 15 minutes before I was supposed to go onstage (despite instructing us via email to be there an hour before our set), and I wasn’t allowed to soundcheck until literally 2 minutes before I played. Most of the bands hadn’t arrived yet, and it was just a few of my friends in an otherwise empty venue, which, if you’re a performer, you know that it’s a lonely way to play. Still, if I was only playing for my friends, I was going to give them a good show.
I opened with My Wilderness, a new song that I’d never played before, and it went well. Very well. I even caught myself admiring in real time how great it sounded. Afterwards, I invited Alex onstage so that she could sing the female vocal for What Should be Familiar. She forgot a few of the lyrics, but it was an otherwise solid performance.
That’s when my vocal processor started acting up. See, I like to have control over the effects and ambiance on my voice; some songs need more reverb and delay, others less … either way, I hate having to rely on some disgruntled soundman that is sick of wannabe divas demanding more vocal in the monitor. Anyway … the thing just shut off.
I knew this was going to happen. I knew it. I should have just bought that power adapter (it was running on AA batteries).
Sweating profusely in an awkwardly silent room, I fiddled and fiddled, wasting about 10 minutes of my settime until I just decided to sing straight thru the house system and have soundguy throw some reverb on my voice for Monsters (I had skipped Marching and Battlefield, which was terribly disappointing for me). I sang uncomfortably throughout the song, and was painfully aware that my ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend had witnessed my meltdown/lack of professionalism/technical difficulties … what a nightmare. By the time the song had concluded, so had my allotted set time.
My friends mercifully cheered me on for more, but it was a no-go, insisted disgruntled soundguy.
I thanked the audience and made awkward statements about our CD being for sale, all with a flustered, defeated lack of confidence. And despite having sweated a fifth of my body weight off, I put on my hoodie, and in a Charlie Pace-esque defense mechanism, I pulled the hood up over my head in a futile effort to hide from everyone in the room while I broke down my gear.
I needed an exit like Jason Bourne in an embassy …
I futilely hid in the car before I realized that, you know, cars have windows. I walked across the street to nowhere in particular in the creepy Venice darkness, hoping to shake the shame and disappointment, fighting flattering text messages along the way:
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You sounded great.
I sounded like a bumbling idiot.
Stop it. Everyone is telling me how impressed they were with you. Others said they thought you were amazing. And it was a technical issue, it wasn’t you.
Thanks, but I’m not going to be convinced otherwise.
I called up partner-in-crime Daniel Alden to vent my frustration, and in his ever-disarming-way, he cooled me down and told me to head back in and have a beer with my friends and try to enjoy the night. We discussed a show we had played years ago in Tacoma, which to this day, is still the most awful show we’ve ever played. But instead of moping all night, we opted to drive up to Seattle and try to have as much fun as possible. We did. Total anarchy ensued, including getting chased by custodial staff under the Space Needle, and running amok in the hotel hallways in our underwear. It remains one of the best nights of my life.
So with some prompting from Nare, I made my humble way back to the venue. There I explained my brief disappearance to my friends, including aforementioned ex and her BF, who responded with empathy and understanding.
There will always be bad shows. There will always be technical issues. There will always be disgruntled soundguy.
These things I cannot control. What I can control is how I deal with it, and if the sound system explodes, I need to learn how to bust out the acoustic and serenade the audience in the dark …
And when the show is bad, when no one cared, when I performed poorly, etc., I still need to come out to the merch table and greet friends and fans enthusiastically and with a smile on my face and sell some f—-in records. Because unless we’re selling records and making fans, we can’t keep the lights on in this operation.
So from this moment forth is decreed the Five-Minute Rule, wherein Parker will receive exactly 5 minutes, no more/no less, in complete, undisturbed isolation to mope/cry/scream/punch walls/kick babies/tear hair out/panic/be insecure and neurotic/laugh maniacally/etc. Once the allotted five minutes is concluded, Parker will then reemerge refreshed and ready to conquer.
5 minutes to let it in, to let it take over … but that’s all I’m gonna give it.
If you’re reading this, you probably know that emberghost lost its co-vocalist and keyboardist Sarah Jennings to brain cancer 2 years ago. As explained in the Kickstarter video, it was at her celebration-of-life service that I got the idea for NLFTE. In fact, Sarah’s voice even makes distant appearances on a few of the songs, and she is credited in the liner notes.
Now, we haven’t received any criticism regarding us connecting Sarah to this project, but it wasn’t without reservations that we used her name at all. Since we were raising money, name-dropping the deceased can come across as exploitive and/or emotionally manipulative. And while we intended neither, we wanted to be sensitive to those that cherish her memory.
See, Sarah wasn’t actually in emberghost when she passed away. In fact, the band hadn’t existed in years. But the work we did with her was our best, and it was special. NLFTE is an attempt to celebrate that, and I believe it is most certainly worth celebrating. But before we got the party started, we had to take a few important steps:
The Family’s Blessing Before we even flew Lindsey out from Florida to do the Kickstarter video, I needed to have a conversation with Karen (Sarah’s mom). In that conversation, I laid out to her exactly what we intended to do, how we intended to do it, and what we would do with the results of that accomplishment. Like every conversation I have with Karen, it was tearful throughout. Before she could offer her blessing, she would then need to discuss the idea with John (Sarah’s dad) and Eric (Sarah’s fiance), and then extend that blessing on their behalf. A few days later, Karen called me andhappily endorsed the project.
While I was thrilled with the blessing, NLFTE would have moved forward regardless. The difference is that we would have omitted Sarah’s name from all aspects of it out of respect for her family. Thankfully, we didn’t have to do that as I truly hope that what we are doing, and have done so far, celebrates Sarah’s talent and beauty and that it honors her memory.
The Featured Guest Vocalist As we’ve announced, Kristen Randall has officially joined the new lineup, but not as Sarah’s replacement. emberghost has always had girls in the band; in fact, we’ve had 6 different girls over the years. The new lineup may or may not feature two girls!
But it was important to bring in someone who would not be a part of the new lineup to carry the weight of Sarah’s vocal parts. It was also important that this person’s voice be in stark contrast to Sarah’s. Channing has a delicate, broken texture to her voice that meets this criteria perfectly, and is quite different than Sarah’s powerful, dominant and stylized vocal style.
Inviting the Others Along While neither Sean (guitar) or David (drums) ended up participating with us on NLFTE, they were invited. It wasn’t exclusively Sarah that made that particular emberghost lineup special, but rather the combination of those 5 individuals that gave us that lightning-in-a-bottle appeal that drew our crowds to the Roseland.
And though we would have loved to have had them on board, we understand that we’re all in very different places in life right now, and we wish them both well.
Sarah was a juggernaut of talent with a fiery disposition. She was compassionate and outspoken, and deserves to be celebrated. It was her life and death that inspired NLFTE, and she deserves credit for that. Her animal rights advocacy lives on in Parker, who she helped transition from bloodlustful carnivore to dedicated vegan. Alden and Parker regularly reference her humor while distracting our producers in the studio, and when we’re on the road we lament about how she always had to have the front seat.
We miss Sarah. Writing this makes me sad. We hope we’ve honored her with what we’re doing without being exploitive, which, honestly … can be a difficult distinction. I even expressed these concerns to Karen and with my friends. But gauging the reaction we’ve received from those that loved her, I think we’re doing something good here.
This here, folks, is a comprehensive list regarding KS merchandising fulfillment FAQs.
When should I expect my copy of NLFTE in the mail?
While NLFTE will be officially released Oct. 30, we will not have the physical copy in our possession until Nov. 8th or 9th, meaning that depending on where you live, you should get yours somewhere between Nov. 11th and the 15th. The hangup is a result of multiple delays in final production and minor duplication issues. Discmakers, our duplicator, has assured us that they will ship from their HQ on Nov. 6th. The good news is that the digital copy will still be available as promised on the 30th. A download code will be made available to you via email, and is included if you opted for a package on KS that included a physical copy of NLFTE. This whole project was a major undertaking, and we appreciate your patience and support.
When should I expect my copy of IFLSV in the mail?
IFLSV is available in digital form. The physical copy, however, will not be mailed out until early December, as it still needs to be duplicated.
When should I expect my t-shirt/hoodie/canvas print/pin/etc.?
Our goal is to have all merchandising orders owed to KS backers fulfilled by Christmas, which should make the holiday that much more joyful for you. We would have loved to get all the orders fulfilled immediately, but we had to allocate that money towards the album completion when we went overbudget. A good portion of the sales of NLFTE and IFLSV are going towards getting the rest of the merchandise created.
The shirts offered as incentives on the KS page are different than the ones we had printed. The KS shirts are 3 colors on black, which is substantially more expensive than the simple white-on-black we had printed (by about $500). We opted for the simple shirt investment in order to help cover our recording expenses with the revenue they generated. If you responded to the KS request for address information, then we’ve got you in our order fulfillment spreadsheet (we’re very organized, believe it or not), and we will begin shipping literally the day we get our hands on whatever merchandise we promised you.
The final cover for NLFTE. We had some sizing issues during the duplication process, so we had to start from scratch. We emphasized keeping the original concept in mind, and relied less on effects and more on the photographs themselves. This gives it much more dimension and allows it a “children’s book” aesthetic.
We removed the black stroke around the moon; the moon, as it turns out, reflects light and therefore does not have a black line around it. Now our moon glows! Most notably, we opted to leave off the titles. They’ll still be on the spine of the album, but this allows the artwork to stand completely on its own; there are no words to distract the viewer from the mood of the piece.
I was frustrated that we had to tweak our original, but with this as the end result, I’m grateful that it happened.