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.
The universe keeps coming through for me at the right time.
There have been times my friends have called me Even Steven – referring to this classic Seinfeld episode http://youtu.be/prvm5ZFPIrE (they’re all classic, really)
It’s not really that accurate, but it’s still funny. I mean I’ve lost 18 basketball Grand Finals and never won one… That was been the cause of much heart ache that I’ve never truly recovered from.
I won’t bother chronicaling every devine moment I’ve experienced, and, that I’ve maybe read too much in to, but I will talk about this particular time.
Three nights ago I got up on stage at a story telling event run by The Moth
I followed my whimsies and signed up last minute (coincidentally, ‘Last Minute’ was their topic for the evening). I was arguably the least prepared as I’d approached the event without even the knowledge you could sign up to tell your own story. My friend Michael and I, I assume, were the only two in that position. He also told a super story. If you’d like to hear my story – I’ve attached it here, it’s an extremely abridged version of rather lengthy ordeal. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDhDyKtVoWQ
The results were wonderful, I was in the lead for the entire event after the judges voted me 27.1 out of 30. I lost to a guy named James who spoke last and scored 27.7 while I was in the toilet getting rid of some hot wings I’d eaten earlier (sorry about that visual). So I don’t even know his story, but I was okay with losing, as the winner would have to re-tell their story on the 2nd of December and I was not going to be in America at that time.
The next day I flew from Chicago and the high of that evening to Austin and the vast expansive lands it offers.
I’d not realised their were no trains here. Nor did I realise that things were spaced out.
Luckily for me, my friends Kaci and Roy are so damn wonderful and seem pretty willing to just drop me off at things and pick me up from them when I’m ready. They are beautiful people. So I went to an Improv jam
Now, I haven’t written in my blog for a damn long time – and that’s probably a result of what I’m about to talk about. So my friends in the interwebs might not even be entirely aware that in the past 18 months I’ve been consumed by Improv. Consumed by it so completely that I worked my way up to teaching it in Melbourne… Which – wows me. I love it. Opening up people’s mind to life’s virtues through improv comedy is one of the greatest whimsies I ever chased. But I’d need to have been blogging consistently for the last 18 months to make it clear how I’ve started having to juggle improv and music in my life
At this time I’m splitting my time on my annual visit to the U.S. between improv and music.
Anyway, the jam, here it is – it was all over the shop, and for one of the first times in my life chasing my creative whimsies I felt like I shouldn’t get up on stage with them, I had no idea why. I started to question if I wanted it bad enough.
A couple of weeks ago I was with my friend Kenny before a show in San Diego, and we were discussing a couple of my tours before this one and he said ‘you were really hustling back then’ (one year I came to San Diego and played 27 times in 23 days.) – that quote from him has stuck with my for the last 3 weeks. Am I not hustling anymore?
I’ve questioned this each time I’ve sat alone at a bar in New York, Chicago, and now Austin. Where in the past I feel I may have tried to spark up conversations and meet new friends.
I used to push and push until people became friends and I found extra stage time… And do I just not want it anymore? Enough? Do I feel less worthy? I haven’t written a song I LOVE in a while…have I lost it?
Then I listed to Amy Poehlers audio book YES PLEASE, and in chapter 25, Amy starts talking about ambivalence being the key to success, and that you should chase your creativity but try to care less about your career.
Oh man – I mean, listen to it… Because I won’t explain its profound impact on me well enough. All I’ll say is, I believe the rate at which I was listening to this audiobook (letting other podcasts interrupt it as I wandered the streets of Chicago etc) was meant to be. I was SUPPOSED to listen to that chapter today, the day I was extra worrying that I don’t hustle enough anymore.
Thank you Amy, thank you Universe.
Trust the path you are on, everyone. Take it easy. Chase your whimsies and live your dreams
Catching up on the challenge.
The holiday season always gets the best of me. I always start off thinking I’m going to get heaps done while the world is standing still. But then I end up standing still, too.
The gang took a couple weeks off from the challenge because without a little order it was hard to sit down and write the weeks song. And we all would have owed a lot of beer had we tried to continue. Props to Kenny and Isaac, they still managed to get one in.
Then we kicked back into gear a couple of weeks go, but i forgot to blog about them and today another one is due.
So here they are.
Last weeks topic: Wishing you were somewhere else
My song: Charlie and Simone (we would live in LA)
Charlie and Simone were best friends in high school. Both of them, big time musical theatre nerds.
Charlie was the competent musician, Simone the seemingly seasoned veteran of acting.
They would help each other with their weaknesses, and would encourage each other to use their strengths. Simone would sign Charlie up for acting auditions and force him to go. Charlie would write show tunes for Simone and gather audiences for her.
They both drove each other, and dreamed of a day after graduation they would move to LA and sink their teeth into acting and music. Classically waiting tables and just scraping by. This was their dream, and with the drive they instilled in each other, this would soon become their reality.
One night after a party Charlie suggested Simone come home with him, rather than one of her less responsible friends.
Sadly, that night, Simone passed away in a car accident.
Charlie was lost. His extraverted and ambitious nature had flipped.
Without the pushing from Simone, Charlie felt no urge to follow through with their plan.
A couple of years later Charlie wrote this song for Simone.
Here it is – Charlie and Simone (we would live in LA)
This weeks topic: Rob Deez eloquently put it “not having enough time to do shit”
My song: Show someone some love
This is a bit of a re-work of a song I’ve had in the pipeline for about 18 months. I’ve just never really known where to take it. This weeks topic sort of allowed me to make an old half song new.
Life gets busy…
Here it is – Show someone some love
Hope you guys enjoy. Please feel free to leave feedback.
And enjoy the entries from the other guys
A Song a Week Challenge with @robdeez and @kennyeng – Week 3 – Ambition/Wishing you were better at something
Whilst growing up, i was pretty decent at basketball, but pretty horrible at most other physical things.
Once, in grade 6, playing interschool football against St. Lukes, and wearing my long 90’s grunge locks (pretty cool for a 12 year old) tied back, I kicked the ball off the ground, which in this league, was against the rules.
As Glen Tucker from St. Lukes shouted and complained at the umpire/referee, i heard him say “calm down guys, let it go, it’s just a girl”
Yeah, that happened.
I’m still friends with a few ‘jocks’ – if you will. We often laugh and poke fun at our very obvious differences, i make fun of their bogan ‘change room’ blokey accents and they make fun of me for being just generally pretty weird. I like the juxtaposition in our friendship.
which is why, outside of the format of a 3 minute song, i could have written about 70 verses in this, because i observe sporty dudes every day.
However, i really got kick started on this song when i saw an instagram pic of 2 guys dressed exactly the same, tight shorts, way above the knee, tight singlets letting their pectorals pop, and shiny crucifixes around their neck. It made me laugh… that they seemed blistfully unaware of how exactly alike they look was amusing to me. But damn, they rocked those shorts pretty well.
So this song is a little tongue in cheek. It’s very silly, and it will probably never venture outside my soundcloud. But nevertheless, it’s my entry this week to the Song a Week Challenge.
I had the exact change for my coffee today – in my pocket.
She said $4.85 and I said ‘ill see if I have 85 cents. Out of my
pocket I pulled every coin I had… $4.85.
What a great pseudo start to the day. It completely outshone the ultra
sound I had just had on my kidneys and bladder.
I drove back to work. With jelly on my belly and coffee in my hand.
She also didn’t charge me for the shot of mint I had in the double
mocha. Why? Because I’ve been asking them to get mint back for about 3
months and they finally did. My barrista was elated to inform me.
I too was ecstatic.
As opposed to my friend Pat who is an ex static. (that is an in joke for any of
my friends who know the band ‘the statics’ sorry)
Why did I put mint in?
In San Diego at one of my favourite places in the world – a cafe
called Lestats. They serve a drink called a ‘mintsicle’ which
features, you guessed it… Mint.
I can’t seem to find anywhere that consistently stocks mint syrup here
and I’m on a perpetual flavour hunt that might afford my taste buds a
momentary trip to Southern California.
Speaking of which. I am invited to 2 weddings in San Diego. Great
excuse to go back. Unfortunately I’ll miss the first one because they
were inconsiderate and didn’t put it close to the second one. (just
kidding, if you’re reading, I’m sorry I’ll miss out)
So my friend Rob Deez and I are going to organize a tour for September.
If you have a venue/living room you’d like us to play in, please get
in touch through www.bronimusic.com
One more thing – TOMORROW AFTERNOON i’ll be doing the unofficial launch of my latest single ‘you are my friends’ which is starting to stir around town.
I say unofficial because it’s not official. as in – I’m not having a launch… so in it’s place i’m playing at what might as well be my living room at this point the Wesley Anne.
check it out…
Bonnie Piesse and Broni
Saturday 3rd March
250 High st Northcote.
Did you know Bonnie was Beru Lars in Star Wars episode 2 and 3?… So you could just come because that’s cool.
plus i’ll have a very limited amount of my new singles with me… with an exclusive b-side.
plus i’ll have a guest singer with me to sing you a super fun song of ours.
plus… it’s cheap and we will laugh together.
Heaps of other really cool stuff happening at the moment. Some of it
is quite substantially blowing my mind. But I’m keeping it close to my
chest to surprise you all.
Please if you’re bored, go and rate/review the single at http://www.triplejunearthed.com it will really mean a lot to me.
Love you lots!
Keep yer heart young.