Every thought I’ve had since 10 years ago.
Written on Jan 17, 2019. Posted late due to malaise.
On this day in 2009 my debut solo album Every Thought I’ve Had Since I Was Ten was released in stores and online, nationwide through MGM. It was a dream come true. Streaming services weren’t a thing and distribution wasn’t all that easy to get. My own work, with my name on the front (incredible artwork by Josh Gleeson) sitting on the shelves of JB HI-FI etc. It felt incredible.
I’d had a record released nationally before. My first band, Mightyboy, tasted some success while I was too young to really appreciate it. It was largely my brother’s endeavour, he was responsible for the band’s success, I was along for the amazing ride, and contributing to rehearsals, recording and shows. Beyond those things, I did very little of the nitty-gritty. I was still in school and I’m pretty sure my mum and dad told my brother not to let it ruin my education. Meanwhile, our manager kept telling me he might need to pull me out of school. That was, of course, any time he wasn’t criticising my hair or forcing me to wear my brother’s clothes instead of my own. The years I spent in that band taught me incredible things, also probably had me drinking and smoking in bars a little earlier than one probably should? By the time I was starting my own band outside of high school I was fortunate to already know so much about how the industry worked. Something not every high school grad is afforded.
Between 18 and 23 I was in Mightyboy a couple more years, and I was the lead singer of my own band The Doggy Paddle Scandal. Doggy Paddle was tonnes of fun, we played some great shows, and I’m super fond of the songs we wrote. But, ultimately, it would be a fruitless venture. During the life span of those bands, I was falling in love with Jason Mraz, Bushwalla, Steve Poltz and Gregory Page. They were all solo artists, something that was slightly unknown to me at the time, and I was becoming increasingly influenced by them. I would sit at home and I would write one song for The Doggy Paddle Scandal, and then one just for me. I would continue to do that until writing for Doggy Paddle became so much harder than writing for me, and getting shows organised for 4 guys was much harder than just organising myself. So the day came that I broke the news to the guys that I wanted to quit The Doggy Paddle Scandal. I still wanted those guys to play with me, but I wanted them to be the band for my solo material. They all agreed. Despite agreeing, we were all still pretty sad about the end of The Doggy Paddle Scandal. I cried.
I released a couple of home-recorded pieces of trash (read: EP’s) and played a bunch of shows on my own or with Easy to find my legs, and become a slightly better singer, because, since I was no longer hidden behind a wall of noise, I had to improve. I met amazing people like Faye Blais, Nicholas Roy and Sivan and Todd in April Maze and felt like I was ready to book a studio and record an album. Look, I probably wasn’t. But chasing that feeling led me to a bunch of cool stuff.
Every Thought I’ve had Since I was Ten was a friendship extravaganza that took shape in bits and pieces from 2006 – 2008 whenever I could afford the studio time. My good pal Davin Pidoto engineered and produced it (He would go on to engineer all my following records). Half the songs had Easy from Doggy Paddle on drums, the other half had Greez from Mightyboy. My brother played bass and sang on some tracks. Gimpy from Doggy Paddle sang on it. I filled a room with family and friends to group sing on a song called You Can Dance at Any Age. Which was my first solo song on Rage. My friend Mickey Cooper engineered that group session and he sang on We Can Dream. The Aquinas College A Capella group performed a four-part ensemble vocal line written by Sally McKenzie for the opening song of the album. Luke and Jono James played horns on Trying, Always Changing. My friend C-Bo came in toward the end to sing on a song I’d written when I was 15, it was the oldest song on the album and 15 year old me had fantasised about having a female vocal in the second verse… the session in which she put that down for me is one of my favourite memories. I sat for hours with Davin just chasing musical whimsies in many small windows of time over 18 months. And at the end of it all, me and the Doggy Paddle guys recorded an audio commentary for the album. I maintain that I was the first I ever knew of to do this. Who knows though. The whole process was a myriad of dreams coming true.
To cap it off, Gimpy and I had always had a dream that if we secured national distribution for an album of ours we would get a tattoo to celebrate it. Even though this was a ‘solo’ album, it was really everything but that and once it was released nationally, gimpy felt enough involvement with it that he agreed to get the tattoo with me. That meant the world to me. The birds on the tattoo are sitting on the notes corresponding to the initials of the guys in the band
A week after it’s release I sold out Manchester Lane for its launch. A dream I’d held since seeing Jason Mraz there in 2005.
Looking back and listening to it now… there are a lot of things I don’t like about the album. Mostly my vocal performance. I became an infinitely better singer after it’s release. But that is really because the album opened a few doors for me and I played a tonne of shows. So the album holds in it a lot of things I am proud of and thankful for. I’m still proud of some of the songwriting. Though at the time an industry big wig suggested that too many of the tracks sound like two or three songs in one and that the vibe and the themes flip flop all over the place. Back then, I was like “that’s art, man”. Pretty soon after, while developing my second album, and definitely looking back now, I absolutely agree with him. But that’s young naive creatives for you; often shotguns, rarely lasers.
Three of the songs ranked in Triple J Unearthed at the same time. They reached numbers 2 5 and 8 in the overall charts and 1 2 and 5 in the pop (or folk? I can’t remember) charts (I have screenshots still blue-tacked to bedroom wall at mum and dads house)
One of its songs got me a meeting with Matt O’Connor, which led me to work for the A&R department, which led me to meet Sean Carey. Sean was a legend, and he and I bonded immediately over the love of the same records. Me for the artists, him for the producer. So naturally, he mixed my second album and years later he would produce my self titled EP and helped me make what I think is my best work. Sean introduced me to Don Bartley, who mastered my second and third releases. Don was a particularly special part of the story because Don is an absolute mythical man in the industry, google the records he has mastered. You’ll be amazed. One of his surprisingly lesser known records was Whispering Jack by John Farnham, which is a song I loved so much as a child that I took it in the bath with me and ruined it. I then wrote a song about that, and then Don mastered that song. What a ride.
The shows I played and people I met after releasing the album led me to book my first trip to San Diego where I played 27 shows in 23 days and met some of the best people in my life (also was threatened by a blind woman, but that’s another story). I got to meet all of those heroes listed above. After meeting Bushwalla, he and I wrote ‘You Are My Friend‘ together for my second album.
To be honest, this is the album I always tell people to skip if they ask where to find my music online. Or at least listen to it last. It’s the only album I don’t have control over in terms of its distribution online, so I can’t just take it down like I can with all the others. I could probably make a call but I’m lazy… and why deny a part of my history I guess? I’m embarrassed by how I sound as a singer on it but, right now, I am celebrating it for all that it led to and the incredible experiences I’ve had in the last decade since it was released.
During the making of this album, I was young and dumb. It’s release and the entirety of 2009 that followed was one of the biggest periods of growth in my life. There are people that contributed to that growth and the album itself that I should have mentioned in this nostalgia, I’m sure of it. To those people left out of this. I’m sorry… but you’re likely in the liner notes of this album or the next one. Because I am very particular about liner notes. If you want to be reminded of how important you were to this period of time 10 years ago, check those out. I still have copies if you want one. Lol you got a CD player?
This weird collection of young idiot love songs gave me a lot of things and taught me a lot of lessons. The most important one being that bringing people together and making something is what I love most about making art of any form. (I say that as I sit alone writing this and hating it.) Up until the date of its release, this was the biggest whimsy’s I’d ever chased. It taught me to continue to do just that, chase big whimsy’s and live the dreams I’d been dreaming.
Thanks for your time.