It’s New Years; What Are You Waiting For?

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/vxEZbxjjHAo

Remember December 12, 2012? When you told yourself that by the end of this year, you were going to have it all figured out? That by the end of this year you were going to be completely without a doubt and your path was gonna be clear and your future was gonna be easy and love was gonna be near and your back was gonna be breezy, from the wind at it? do you remember that?

Me neither. So come on from all that. After all, it’s gonna be 2014.

Like an explosion of possibility.
Like a reborn reality.
Like a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, two-thousand, fourteenth chance.
God damn.

We’ve all got it, this year,
all those thing that we said that we’d be,
we’ve got it, this year,
I’ll be bold and I’ll be in love and I’ll be 23.

isn’t this the same schtick that we planned but were wrong? 
isn’t this the same old damn December 31 song? 
what did I do this year, was I even awake?
what kind of time did I spend? what kind of dreams did I chase? 

2013 was great. 
It was the best of our lives,
and of these things I am sure: 

Some people are gonna fall in love.
Some people are gonna fall out of it.

Some friend out there will be Jesus,
Some friend will be Judas Iscariot.

Some one will come in our lives and change everything,
even if we’re not aware of it,

But just know that this year will belong to the people 
who decide that they’re not gonna be scared of it.

We’ve got it, what are you waiting for? 

Happy 2014.

Battle Scars Acoustic & In the Round Tour Ticket Links

February 4 // Old Rock House // St Louis, MO // ON SALE NOW
http://oldrockhouse.com/paradise-fears

February 5 // Bottom Lounge // Chicago, IL // ON SALE 12 PM CST
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3980024&pl=bl)

February 6 // The Basement // Columbus, OH //  ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketmaster.com/paradise-fears-columbus-ohio-02-06-2014/event/05004B92C139B58E?artistid=1530843&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=1

February 7 // Altar Bar // Pittsburgh, PA // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/453245

February 8 // Vernors Room @ The Crofoot // Pontiac, MI // ON SALE NOW
www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3974664

February 10 // Hard Luck Bar // Toronto, ON // ON SALE NOW http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/451745/tfly

February 11 // The Waiting Room // Buffalo, NY // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/451183

February 13 // The Barbary // Philadelphia, PA // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/451915

February 14 // Cafe 939 at Berklee // Boston, MA // ON SALE NOW
https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=d63ea2542ad8669f96aca3c4af7019e6

February 15 // Marlin Room @ Webster Hall // New York City, NY // 
2ND SHOW ON SALE LATER TONIGHT.

February 16 // Jammin’ Java // Vienna, VA // ON SALE NOW
https://jamminjava.com/events/paradise-fears

February 17 // Purgatory @ The Masquerade // Atlanta, GA // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketmaster.com/paradise-fears-atlanta-georgia-02-17-2014/event/0E004B93C725CAD1?artistid=1530843

February 18 // Wills Pub // Orlando, FL // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/452253

February 20 // House of Blues Bronze Peacock // Houston, TX // ON SALE NOW
http://concerts.livenation.com/event/0C004B8D1B7A6839

February 21 // Elm Street Bar // Dallas, TX // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/451657

February 23 // Nile Underground // Mesa, AZ // ON SALE NOW
http://pconcerts.ticketforce.com/ordertickets.asp?p=251

February 25 // Chain Reaction // Anaheim, CA // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/454003?utm_medium=bks

February 26 // Assembly // Sacramento, CA // ON SALE LATER TODAY

February 27 // Kilby Court // Salt Lake City, UT // ON SALE NOW
http://www.24tix.com/event.html?show_id=T28209959192820995919211

February 28 // Marquis Theatre // Denver, CO // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3978694

March 7 // Encore // Sioux Falls, SD // ON SALE NOW
http://store.thecollectiveeffortsunion.com/index.php?module=product&file=product_detail&product_id=3594

March 8 // The Garage // Burnsville, MN // ON SALE NOW
http://www.ticketfly.com/event/453433-paradise-fears-acoustic-in-burnsville/

Fortunes I Take for Granted in Life

I’ve been home all week, so I haven’t had much time to write, but seeing as it is Thanksgiving, I want to post this, from back when far fewer people were reading my blog posts. Happy Thanksgiving! 

The other day, while wandering around Richmond, VA, I met (or rather, observed) a woman who, at 9 pm, was putting gas in a very old mini-van that had clearly seen better days. She wore a stained nurse’s uniform, her name-tag still clipped to her front pocket. Two children clung to her legs, wearing tattered coats, with tattered hats, and tattered mittens. Their mom wasn’t as lucky – nothing shielded her from the 10 degree weather.

As she paid in crumpled bills and change, her son’s eye caught some M&M’s…and it was as if he’d never seen anything so majestic in his entire life. He asked his unheralded caretaker if he could bring them home. She was graceful. She assured him that next time, next time he would get his prize. Next time he would get all of the M&M’s he wanted. Next time he’d be able to eat M&M’s until he was sick.

He nodded, then he smiled, then he grabbed his Mom’s hand.

Then my heart sank.I was standing behind her in line, wearing a $100 jacket, listening to a $400 iPhone on $200 headphones. Worst of all, in addition to several other snacks, I held in my hand not 1, but 2 packets of M&M’s.

I was upset that day: I had spent a frustrating day on the phone with my health insurance provider, and my in-ear monitors hadn’t functioned properly at a rock show that my band was paid to play. She was smiling. He was smiling. I wasn’t.

Even in writing this, I can’t comprehend how lucky I am to have the necessities and luxuries that I never notice. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.  I sleep in rooms where I can adjust the temperature with the push of a button.  If I hear a song I like, I can go listen to it. My diet, my clothes, and my location are entirely of my own choosing. If I get sick, I can go see a doctor, and when the bill comes, I have insurance that helps me pay for it.

I don’t know if it’s possible to fully appreciate these things unless you’ve gone without them, but this year, as a kind of Thanksgiving pledge, I’m going to try harder. I’m going to try to understand that the small-minded difficulty that I call “hardship,” doesn’t even scratch the surface of the “hardship” that millions of people wake up to every day.

Because if that woman can keep a smile on her face while she put her son’s M&M’s back, then so can I. If that 8-year-old kid can smile back, and understand, then so can I.  If he gets it, I can too. If they can stare into true hardship with that kind of unflinching optimism, then so will I.  And next time, we’ll all get our M&M’s.

305 Willow Street.

Since I rather enjoy writing, and I’ve been reading a lot of Ray Bradbury lately, I’ve been writing short stories for sport, and I figured I’d share one as my blog tonight. It’s a little weird, and I realize that it’s probably not for everyone, but I am anxious for feedback, and curious to see how much you get out of it, so tweet me! @samtwomiller 

305 Willow Street.

“Damn fools,” he thought, as he watched their moving truck drive away.

“Sherry!” he called. “Another one!”

From the perch of his 2nd floor window, through binoculars and eyes blurred by confusion, he saw what looked like a normal family carrying boxes into 305 Willow St.

Neighbors came across the street with cookies to welcome the normal, happy family. He turned to the wall across from his 2nd floor window and identified them as the neighbors from 312 Willow by their photographs.

“Sherry!” he called. “The neighbors from 312 are bringing them cookies.”

But she said nothing.

He had to warn them. He rushed down the stairs, out the door, all the way to the intersection of Willow and Pine, where the 200 block ended and the 300 block began. He stopped abruptly. He called out to them. He tried to warn them. They couldn’t hear them.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped onto the 300 block, and his foot landed on the 400 block. 

He was disappointed, but he wasn’t surprised. For as long as he and Sherry had lived at 222 Willow Street, that was the way it had always been. It didn’t matter if he traveled by foot or by bike or by car of by ski. It didn’t matter if it was the early morning or Twilight. 222 Willow, 230 Willow, 238 Willow, 404 Willow, 420 Willow. He could see the 300 block, but he couldn’t get to it.

He had tried it all.

If he had known this was the case when he and Sherry had moved into 222 Willow St, he wouldn’t have moved. But what choice did he have now? He hated the mystery of it, but he had to solve it. Back to the window to watch and study.

More neighbors brought over some type of baked good covered by aluminum foil. No need to turn to the wall for this one. It was the neighbor from 301 and his beautiful wife.

As far as he could tell, the 300 block had it perfect. They never fought, not like he and Sherry did anyway. Their leaves changed color together perfectly every year, not like his leaves. The recycling truck picked up their trash even when it wasn’t properly sorted, not like their recycling truck. 

“Sherry!” he called. “The neighbors from 301 are bringing them something.”

But his empty house said nothing.

ALMOST DOESN’T COUNT spoken word.

A lot of people have been asking, so I wrote it. Seemed to fit the song, and I mean, it’s pretty quick: 

"Even the darkest nights have dawn, even the darkest clouds hide sun,

Even when their stage is crumbling, even the darkest shows go on,

You say that music saved you? no you saved you, you’re the one who picked it up when every thing was falling through, 

Say you almost lost it, or you almost gave up,

Don’t forget that you’re more than almost strong enough,

you’ve got a battle scar for your sleeve, that’s where we wear it,

I could be the soundtrack to the moment that you doubt and then we’ll make it through the way we do when every in is out, I swear it,

You’re the one who told yourself that everything’d be better if you never let yourself forget how much your life is meant for,

And if this was gonna be your ticket out, it wasn’t, cause we made it through it and that’s all that counts, almost doesn’t.”

Infinite Ideas.

WARNING: this blog is going to tell you something you already know. I just think it helps to hear it every now and then. 

I think it’s a popular and convenient belief that if you attempt a creative endeavor too much, or too many times, that you’ll run out of good ideas. I hear it all of the time: “quality over quantity, better to write 1 good song than 10 bad ones, so I’ll just save my good ideas for the really good song.”

This thought persists across a broad range of creative activities, but I’m going to focus on song-writing because that’s the one I have a little experience with.

From what I’ve seen, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth. From what I’ve seen, quantity creates quality. Better to write 10 songs, because the 11th is going to be a little better, and the 12th usually a little better than that, and by the 100th, well then you’re really cooking with gas.

Every successful song-writer that I know writes songs constantly. Usually every day, if not multiple every day. Whether or not they started out more talented than the leagues of unsuccessful song-writers, I don’t know, but they’ve certainly become that way, through commitment to their craft

I was once told that the wildly successful song-writers, the ones writing all of the monster, radio-dominating singles, are able to write so many successful songs because they write SO MANY SONGS. An incredible song-writer gets maybe 20-30 great songs every year that are used. If you write a song a day, 6 days a week, excluding holidays, then you’re looking at 300 songs by the end of the year. That means that for even the best songwriters, only 10% of songs will end up great. Think you could hit that mark now? Imagine how good you’d be after spending a few years at it. Write that much that consistently over a couple of years and I’ll have one question for you: will you write with my band? 

It’s important to not that they weren’t born with the innate ability to create chart-topping music. Dig into the past of most of the biggest names of the song-writing world and you’ll usually find a nice, garage-punk band they used to play in. Certainly an art form in its own right, but it doesn’t sound anything like the chart-topping hits they’re producing now: 

From the producer/ co-writer of “Royals” and “Team” by Lorde: http://youtu.be/gLKeKqzRXL8

From the writer of writer of 16 billboard #1 hits: http://youtu.be/PAgfcHggwLA

Outside of creative endeavors, this is an understood concept. No Quarterback says “no, practicing won’t help me much, I don’t want to waste all of my good throws before the game.” No surgeon neglects trial runs because they don’t want to waste their good luck for when they’re actually operating on someone.

I recently read Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing,” where he details his writing history and process. When he started, to press himself into the creative process, he set a personal goal of writing 1,000 words every day. At the time he was writing short stories, so it was 1 short story every week for 52 weeks of the year. For 8 years, he sold next to nothing, made almost no money. Time wasted? Of course not. He was learning to write, he says. And sure enough, not long after that, his luck came around when a collection of his short stories became “The Martian Chronicles” and a short story called “The Fire Man” became a novel called “Farenheit 451.” They both ended up being pretty popular books. Also worth noting that many of those stories written during his 8 years of being “unsuccessful” were later put in collections that sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Creativity is an inexhaustible resource. Ideas are infinite. Your bones will get tired, your mind will  grow stronger. If you want to create something beautiful, lasting, timeless, than you’ve got to start by creating something. 

You already knew that though.  So why aren’t you doing it?

"Team" / "Royals" - Lorde (Paradise Fears Mash-Up Cover with Original Verse)

Celebrity Culture.

I don’t think I like celebrity culture. 

I like celebrities. I love them, in fact. Most of them anyway.

But I don’t like the culture that has been built around the exploitation of the most shocking and outrageous aspects of their personal lives. I don’t like that the revenue model for most successful artists now (be it movies, music, television) involves making your personal life accessible for the rest of us to inspect and judge and gossip about.

I don’t know whose fault it is, and I’m certainly part of the problem, because I gobbled the Jimmy Kimmel-Kanye West shit up like it was Waffle Crisp (it’s a really good cereal - you’d gobble it up as well). But it’s less about feeling bad for the celebrities (I do that sometimes too), and more about what it does to individuals within the broader culture of gossip consumption.

Here’s my problem: I think critiquing and celebrating artist’s personal lives over their art reinforces the idea in all of us that we are the centers of our own individual universes. Kanye West makes albums so people can listen to music, which regardless of how it is motivated is a pretty selfless endeavor. But when we make it about Kanye, and not his music, then we’re aspiring to be scandalous people, not creative artists. And with the rise of reality television came the rise of reality-television-based-reality, or people who live to what they see on the screen. People became convinced that they could all be just as famous as the stars of Jersey Shore if they just acted like them and found someone to point a damn camera. 

So in a culture where all you have to do to be adored is be wildly interesting, people adjust their lifestyles according to what sells. Sex sells, scandal sells, whatever you have to do to make people talk about you. And people will do anything, say anything, pretend anything, fake any tragedy, all for the sake of attention. 

Don’t get me wrong: I love a good personal narrative. My Drake listening experience is enhanced by knowing his story, his past, his path to success, his insecurities and best friends’ names. But those are all traits that derived from his art, for the purpose of enhancing his art. Seems like that’s a pretty distinct difference between the marketing of gossip and obsession with scandal.

That’s all. Just a quick observation. I figured that would be nice context to provide for the verse that I added to our Lorde cover…that will be available on Tuesday.

“You’re the most terrible person, but here’s the funniest thing about you.”

Earlier this week, comedian/ actor Russell Brand did an interview with Jeremy Paxman of BBC, who could be described as a rather serious man, where he, between joke after joke after light-hearted joke, managed to fully indict just about everything about the current state of two-party politics. 

While the way he framed thinking about politics in this pro-revolution interview was very exciting, I don’t think it’s much worth it to blog about it here - he does a plenty good job of explaining what and how he thinks in the interview here: http://gawker.com/russell-brand-may-have-started-a-revolution-last-night-1451318185

AND the article he wrote for the New Statesmen, here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/10/russell-brand-on-revolution

But what stuck with me just as much as the things he said was the way that he said them: never without a sense of humor. Discussing what could be considered some very serious topics (economic inequality, drug abuse, to name a few) with a serious man on a serious news show, he never lost his ability to pivot 180 degrees into a punch line. 

And I think that’s why it was so easy to listen and understand him. And there’s a moment where he explains why he approaches problems the way he does. If you don’t have time to watch the interview, it goes like this: 

Paxman: Well now you’re being facetious.

Brand: Well, facetiousness has as much value as seriousness. I think you’re making the mistake of mistaking seriousness from solemnity.

Paxman: Well you’re not going to solve world problems with facetiousness.

Brand: We’re not going to solve them with the current system, but at least facetiousness is funny.

….[and later]…

Paxman: I’m asking why we should take you seriously, when you’re so unspecific?

Brand: Firstly, I don’t know if you take me seriously. I’m here just to draw attention to a few ideas. I just want to have a little bit of a laugh.

And that stuck with me. Because the things they’re discussing, and the purpose of their interview, is exactly the kind of thing that an average person would consider to be “too serious for comedy.” But why? Why do we feel like, when we’re talking about important things, there’s no room to be funny? Why can’t we laugh at them and laugh at ourselves? 

I understand the need for being solemn because to be otherwise is socially faux pas. If someone is in misery and would be offended by a joke, probably don’t do it. I don’t think there’s any need to ever intentionally offend anyone. But for the offended party (and trust me, you will be the offended party at some point in your life), I think it’s important to realize that being upset with someone for making a joke when you’re upset is to be mad at someone for being happy; and what good has that ever done anyone? You can help it. You don’t have to be angry about it.

I was talking to a family friend about this idea, and he took it a step further, using it to solve interpersonal anger. He told me of an experience where he was so upset with someone that he literally thought of telling them that they were “the most terrible person.” But, in the heat of his rage, he appreciated the comedy of someone being that ridiculous. He thought “you’re the most terrible person, but here’s the funniest thing about you.” 

So I’m trying out a new theory: there is no situation where a joke isn’t fully appropriate. No emotion should ever stand in the way of comedy. Laugh as often as you breathe. Being solemn is fine, being serious is overrated. 

I don’t know. Seems like a fun thing to try. After all, I’m sick of sad songs and fixation on misery. I just want to have a little bit of a laugh.

WHEN YOU COME HOME lyrics.

You may cross the world all by yourself,
you tell me that everything you want is somewhere else,
but when you make it back around,
and your shoes are all worn down,
I’ll be waiting for you when you come home,

Singing ooh,
If you need some safer ground,
Ooh,
I hope you turn your ship around,

You may spend your time with someone else,
You may say he’s everything you wanted for yourself,
He may be perfect now,
But I swear someday he’ll walk out,
And I’ll be waiting for you when you come home,

Singing ooh,
If you need some safer ground,
Ooh,
I hope you turn your ship around,

You may find yourself out in the stars,
Knowing you, you’ve probably got a plan for all you want,
But if someday soon,
You’re on the dark side of the moon,
Oh I’ll be waiting for you when you come home,



Available now on iTunes



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