The Acceptance Speech

September 15, 2013

I debated whether or not to post this, but I felt it was important to acknowledge that in the face of what some might consider a loss, I have had the pleasure of being a guest in yet another strange world. You don’t get to visit these places without offering a piece of yourself, you don’t get visit these places without accepting the possibility you may fall short of the grand prize. That said, I am so honored to have been given a seat at the table. Therefore I will deliver the acceptance speech I lied and said I didn’t write.

September 15, 2013

A quick list of amazing people who helped make this happen

*My parents, Lin and Brian

*My brothers and sisters

*Ron Perry, Matt Pincus and Carriane Marshall from SONGS publishing who signed off on this adventure

*Jen Ross for her guidance

*The fans, cast and crew of Smash especially, Josh Safran, for believing in me and inviting me into the amazing world of Broadway on T.V.

*To My Grandmother Barbara who is celebrating her 90th birthday today/ I love you Nan

*I accept this honor on behalf of the countless young adults facing the beast that is cancer/ I am living proof that if you keep fighting you can wind up on stages just like this one.

*And most importantly to my wife Kelly Ann; You are the voice I hear in my dreams.  You have seen me through illness, two bands, 13 years on the road and countless successes and failures. I cannot wait to meet our newborn baby. When they grow up we will be able to tell them

they walked the red carpet in their mothers belly on the night their daddy received his very first major award. I love you so much!

*Thank You*

 

Goodnight to you, my black and blue mannequin

June 24, 2013

Today marks the official release of Jack’s Mannequin’s “Live From the El Rey” concert film. I never expected it would take three albums, hundreds of shows and the retiring of a moniker to motivate this moment, but I’m glad it is here nevertheless. There is little I could say that hasn’t already been said, but for what it’s worth I loved those years; both as Jack’s Mannequin and as a member of the band Jack’s Mannequin became. If that doesn’t make sense I can live with that, knowing it makes perfect sense to me. Jack’s was a concept that shifted shapes from moment to moment and year to year. It is a summer on a beach, a summer in a hospital and half a decade attempting to reconcile the two. Jack’s Mannequin is, as I’ve said before, my brutal and beautifully confused 20′s set to music. Thank god it happened, thank god it’s over and thank god there is an artifact to prove it was real. I’m not sure I would believe it otherwise.

Moving Pictures

June 13, 2013

 

I have had the opportunity to make several music videos in my life. Full disclosure, it has never been my favorite part of releasing records. Nevertheless, my goal with the synesthesia video was to reclaim that process and allow it to be as free and joyful as creating the song itself. Searching for directors is always tricky, and as you might imagine, what you see in your minds eye is not always what someone else might see in there’s. For this song, one so deeply rooted in the idea of family and knowing where you come from, I invited two talented, young filmmakers to take on the task of directing. They also happened to be my cousins. When I reached out to Hamilton and Cooper Karl about synesthesia, I gave them a copy of the song, a copy of the album cover and a pretty simple directive that this should be a celebration of sorts. The next day they sent over their ideas and off we went. My meager budget meant a lot of favors from friends, and a sense of community began to spring up around our little project. From the amazing backyard we shot in, to the makeup artists and stylists,to the cast of characters who worked for little more than Coronas and Tequila, Cooper and Hamilton committed their vision to the screen, creating my favorite video of a video-filled career. We filmed the performance portion in Cooper’s apartment with a projector, a bare white wall, my cannon 7d, a few friends and a little absinthe to make things interesting. It was a moment of pride that after years of creating music in a fairly down and dirty fashion, the video process could now be similarly approached. My hat is off to Cooper, Hamilton and our producer Holly Adams for this video which I am so proud of. To me it proved that taking chances and collaborating with people who inspire you and want the best for your art is the only way to work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfm1Gvlz12U

Thank you to all who made this happen. Roll credits.

 

Directed by:

Hamilton Karl

Cooper Karl

 

Produced by:

Holly Adams, Arts & Recreation Group

Cooper Karl, Stasis Creative, Inc.

 

Cast:

Paige Bittner (lead)

Devon Graye (lead)

Devin Brooke

Brandon Crowder

Nadeem Marc

Annie Bowen

MacKenzie Rosman

Akira Peck

Alexis Nemeth

Elliot Crowe

 

Edited by:

Hamilton Karl

Cooper Karl

 

Photography:

Hamilton Karl

Cooper Karl

 

Additional Photography:

Garrett Kline

 

Styling/wardrobe:

Ashley Mahmoudian

Sara Iravani

 

Hair/Makeup:

Tehra Burton

 

Color correction:

Keith Lancaster

 

Special Thanks to:

Will Allen

Shaheen Davis

Jack’s Mannequin Live From The El Rey Theatre

May 30, 2013

For as long as Jack’s Mannequin existed I toyed with the idea of filming and releasing a live concert. For one reason or another it never felt quite right, but as the final shows approached it became clear it would be now or never. With a strong desire to honor the live performances Jack’s had become known for, we set out to capture the last two nights of a partnership that spanned seven years, four continents, three full length albums and hundreds of concerts. In all honesty I’m glad I waited. The two November nights that add up to “Live  From The El Rey” are a celebration of the strange history and myriad threads woven together to create what I now carry in my heart as Jack’s Mannequin. From the gathering of fans from all over the world, to a stage shared by friends whose contribution to the Jack’s legacy will define it, no other shows could have carried with them such a true connection between the band, our fans and the cameras that followed. Underscoring all of this is the purpose for our gathering at The El Rey for two last shows; the annual Dear Jack Foundation benefit to support young adults with cancer. The story of Jack’s Mannequin is tied closely to the disease that almost claimed my life in 2005 and it is with great pride that this final contribution be sold with 100 percent of the profits going to support the DJF mission to make the world a better place for young adults forced to grapple with the beast we know as cancer.

Unisom and Mariachi

May 19, 2013

England. Jet lagged in a budget hotel somewhere outside Kings cross. The room is a shoe box, nearly everything is purple. Purple carpets, purple drapes, a purple cover on a bed too big for the walls surrounding it. Outside my window, through a pail white shade I see brick churches and once council flats mingling among freshly blossomed spring trees. It is grey as the pacific dawn and I’m still waiting for the affects of my last sleeping pill to wear off. Through the thick walls and not so thick windows I can hear Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” blazing skyward, heaven-bound from the street below. My mind drifts to the newly released Phosphorescent cut which pays such haunting homage to the track now ricocheting between hotel walls and old church steeples. With haste the mariachi brilliance is cut short as a megaphoned man wretches commands both muffled and muscular in their delivery. It sounds like hate speech or religious proclamation. It’s hard for me to tell the difference these days. One way or another I was really enjoying that Johnny Cash song.

Eve of The Pop Underground

April 29, 2013

It is not lost on me that tonight is exceptional. Exceptional for many reasons. Exceptional because I am at peace. Exceptional because on evenings such as this, in other lives, I was a mess. I have spent many nights in terminals like this one; waiting on a trains or planes, dreaming of final destinations. Tonight is different though. A broad leather chair with wooden arms, one of many in LA’s union station, holds me close as I type these words. I am eager for the tracks and my wife on the other side, but I am glad to be here for now, if only for a moment.

Blonde headed girls and latin queens mingle amongst business men and transients heading to and from. Los Angeles was a home for me briefly but our relationship was sordid at best. I was not ready for this town. I came here to hide and oh the blame I placed on her, this fair, unsuspecting city. Still, I have come back to reclaim her. Tonight, I quietly prepare to release 4 simple songs, and I do so from this station in the center of her veiny heart. The same heart I claimed once did not exist.

The truth is, we are all on some crazy journey. We may not recognize ourselves in photographs from our past, but it does not mean we were different people. Sometimes it feels like that, but tonight I recognize myself. I recognize why I left my little corner of southern sand to hide in the sparkle of a million earthbound stars. It was all hills and pain and “maybe this didn’t happen” when I knew it did. I know it did now. So now it’s me and the train and the car parked underground, and “I’ll be home at nine for dinner” and I’ll be back here in the morning to tell some newsman the story, or what I remember of it. I’m okay with that.

Tonight is the evening of The Pop Underground. A night where I let what was be and let what is be discovered. I didn’t build an army to tell this story. I didn’t need to. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. Tomorrow I will wake up and follow these tracks the other direction. I will answer some questions and then disappear into the same studio where I wrote this little record of songs. I will meet two people for the first time and we will talk about life and art and try and write a new song. The next day I will do the same, because that’s what this is all about when it comes down to it. Not the song, or the train, or the studio, but the story, the craft and the risk of showing up. To all of you who listen, thank you. Thank you, because I love making things. Thank you, because this is what I’m meant to do and I’d be lost without it.

my head is a fishbowl

April 25, 2013

Clarity is hard to come by on a cocktail of cold meds and steroids, but clarity can be hard to pin down regardless, I suppose. The last 6 weeks will reach their conclusion in a second story night club; Atlanta, Georgia. I will leave this tour with much more than I expected. I had hoped this moment was coming for a long time. This shift, this freedom, this reclaiming of old lives and incubating of new. Still, when the call came it felt unexpected, even rushed. Reconciliation of the past is something I’ve tangled with my whole life. It is the ghost in my home, the tumbling waves in the prints of my fingers. Strangely though, as I have unpacked these songs night after night, old next to new, like mingling strangers in dance halls across America, something happened. These people I have been, these lives so alarmingly separate, slowly merged into one.

Opening Day

April 5, 2013

Pinned beneath the shadows cast, to think, there would be sun if not for these colossal towers. It is opening day in Detroit, a city known for it’s modern struggle. Still, the people wake electric, filling the streets and bars in preparation for their beloved Tigers. What I know of sports is very little, but perhaps baseball is truly America’s game.

Train, Bus, Tucson

March 11, 2013

It strikes me that today is a markedly different departure than others I have made. In the past I have longed for the road as an escape. These veins have always carried nomad blood and no doubt always will, but tonight I felt a pull towards home as the conductor made his final call from the back car of the Pacific Surfliner. It’s a moment I wear with pride. I doubt very much it is a signal I will travel less, but if nothing else it is a sign I am closer to being where, and being who I wish to be. This is a strange adventure as any true adventure is. I have been lucky to live as a songwriter and a troubadour. No doubt this is the dream of many, and with each new day I pay my respects to the blessing. Still, I have earned this right. I have bled for this gift. I have lost and gained much for the music I carry in my suitcase. This year I will play a hundred shows, I will release new music, I will attempt to reinvent myself ironically as myself. The truth is I’m winging it. Some of these shows will be great, some I will hate myself for. Some of these songs will be divine, some I’ll wish I had never played. The act of being human is only an artform if you really let it fly. Let’s fly!

Drive home

March 1, 2013

 

moon, the thumbnail of god

everything coming into focus

put family in the ground today

too much of this lately

still I am blessed

dinner, drinks and the hatching of a plan

the great escape

head down

music to be played

songs to be written

I am close but not there yet

Alt Press Interviews

November 24, 2012

My old friend Scott from Alt Press came by a recording session for an interview. Here are a few links to me talking way too much.

Part one: ending Jack’s Mannequin

Part two: Moving forward as a solo artist

Part three: Revisiting Something Corporate

The deconstructionist

November 13, 2012

sleepless, early morning, a rented room in Silverlake. Sun passes through curtains making orange jelly fish on a bathroom door. Somehow it’s ending like it began. Los Angeles, songs buzzing in the fibers, hopeful new beginnings gather in the valley smog and hills just beyond. I am  a deconstructionist; Perhaps not in the classic sense, but in some sense if ever there was any. I dream of the architecture, but my capacity to maintain it is fatal. I see my life inside the rooms I’ve lived. My years as a mannequin found me in many. It started in a flop house condo purchased with the first dollars my songs ever made me. I lived there with my best friends from high school and we drank and smoked and slept until noon. There was the swanky one bedroom in Beverly Hills I saw only in the dark of early morning and then again when the light filtered in reminding me it was time to drive to the studio again. My friend Bobby shared that room with me for a few weeks  one December. He took the bedroom and I took the couch in favor of a siren song from the apartment’s only television. Then there was the mannequin pad on sunset. The band would go out late and wake up with the mattress’s on the walls and the lamps all broken. There was the hotel room in seattle, the van that crossed the country, a red roof inn in Secaucus,  New Jersey and eventually a pair of matching hospital rooms on both coasts. In the mess of it all I returned to my parents home and the bedroom where I spent my last two years of high school. Climbing the stairs was hard then and my days were pills and short walks in warm clothes in the middle of the summer. When it was over I returned to the flop house briefly but soon after escaped to Los Angeles and the road to hide.There was the tour bus, the Linden Row inn and a hotel with a fire escape leading to a roof and a water tower I climbed.There was the tree house on Mulholland where we threw parties every weekend, partly to forget the preceding year and partly to avoid winding through the hills late at night knowing how drunk I planned on getting. It was the halo year and I loved staring out onto LA, pretending the sky had collapsed leaving the stars mapped on the ground below. In some way I think it actually had. Then there was the house with the green roof, so brand new and full of rooms I rarely sat in. There was coffee in the morning and writers block at night. There was something real and heavy always knocking at the door, so I built a fence and when it started knocking on the fence we moved. The first move was temporary, it was to a little guest studio behind the home of a potter named Paulette. I showed up there ill and coughing and she took my wife and i to the beach and said “stay here until you’re well again” and we did. Then there was the desert house. There were only three original mannequins left and we played music in the living room, climbed the hill every day and stared out at a past which seemed more like a movie than a life. We drank absinthe and hunted tarantulas at night and then returned home to make our final record. Eventually my wife and I sold the green roof house and found a little cottage of our own, back where we started drawing this circle so many years ago. Paulette came and helped us hang our pictures and put furniture in the right places. I don’t live on a hill anymore, and I don’t dream of life on the ground. These years and these rooms and houses have been filled with so much living, so much joy and complex emotion. When I think of them, I don’t see the walls and the windows, I hear the music they reflected; nor do I  see the tables or the chairs, but rather the people who filled them.

Get Out There and Cast Your Vote

November 6, 2012

We are very blessed to be in a position to vote. A lot of people in a lot of countries don’t have that option. I think we owe it to ourselves to make a choice, get out there, and let our voices be heard.

Get Out There and Cast Your Vote

Cleveland, morning

September 26, 2012

it’s raining in cleveland. A slow rain. the kind that feels good against your skin should you choose to travel without cover. that’s me these days. Traveling without cover. i’ve been waking up in new cities, if I went to sleep at all. meeting strange people and hearing new sounds. some people spend their whole lives in search of comfort and security, maybe all people, Maybe me. still, this drifting towards the wonder of what could be, this pushing at the unknown and uncomfortable, to me feels something like peace. blistering peace.

One last song from me and the jm band.

September 25, 2012

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/61157034" iframe="true" /]

 

one last song

 

I have been well aware, throughout my career, how rare it is for a musician to have such a genuine connection with the people who support them. The reaction to the final JM shows have certainly crystalized those realizations. There is little I could do to express my gratitude for this, but if anything, this is a small token. Late one night in Santa Monica I played my friend and long time producer, Jim Wirt, a demo of a song I wrote a few years back. No session was scheduled, but after a couple beers and some laughs we pulled out some microphones and cut it. The next day Jay and Bobby came through and did what they do best; selflessly and skillfully served the song. We weren’t making an album, and like the early days there was no label in place to release it. Just friends in a space playing music. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Wrecking Ball Heart

 

Paper chain is dwindling
We don’t talk much anymore
Everything’s forgiven
Fingertips at rest once more
You had your suspicion
I never gave you true romance
In light of your ambition
You stock pile ammunition
Though you never had a fighting chance

 

Just like an intruder now
You come and leave so quietly
You barely crack the door
Am I just confused
Or did our hearts that beat so wild and free
Forget who they beat for?

 

Red light just stopped blinking
Tied down but my hands are free
Some nights I still think of you
My digital calamity
Oh you were never real to me

 

Just like an intruder now
You come and leave so quietly
You barely cracked the door
Am I just confused
Or did our hearts that beat so wild and free
Forget who they beat for?

 

Ours is a mad mad heartache
And mine is a wrecking ball heart
Ours is a mad mad heartache
And mine is a wrecking ball heart

 

Oh I
I can’t be stopped
Sometimes the wrecking ball drops
I tear this house down to build it back up

 

Ours is a mad mad heartache
And mine is a wrecking ball heart
Ours is a mad mad heartache
And mine is a wrecking ball heart
Just a wrecking ball heart

 

Just like an intruder
You come and leave so quietly
You barely cracked the door
Am I just confused
Or did our hearts that beat so wild and free
Forget who they beat for?

Sleep tight tampa bay

September 21, 2012

frozen. in the absence of opening windows I am stuck with the air conditioner. the fan sounds like an engine with a loose belt, but what do I really know about engines? rattle, whir, squeak, teeth chatter, but the thermostat is a waste. in the battle of too hot, too cold; too cold and a blanket wins every time.

Art bender

September 9, 2012

of the last 68 hours I have been awake for  64. in that time I’ve ridden a wave of creativity unlike any other I’ve paddled out for in the past. So many songs, pictures and words now fill the gaps of my fading consciousness. sleep will be here shortly

10 times 3

September 3, 2012

as this evening comes to a close, the first of my thirtieth year, i am tempted to reflect and/or unwind something profound. temptation however, will not be getting the best of me tonight. tonight i’ll keep it simple. my 20′s we’re mad, break neck and beautiful; everything and nothing i could have ever expected. i am thankful for each moment and humbled by the unrelenting nature of the universe, fate and our astounding inability as humans to control either of the above and more. should i be so lucky to have the next ten years be as wild and fulfilling as the last, it will be this simple statement i offer on that night as well. thank you.

Hard drives

August 30, 2012

 

Today I went searching for a track I recently recorded. My intention was to have it mixed and posted on the site as soon as possible. All this worry circulating about the status of my music making could be so easily assuaged if only I were a bit more organized. As luck would not have it, the drive has gone missing. Not to worry though, if I can’t track it down in the next week or two I will bite the bullet and do what I have never, let you hear something less polished than I prefer. (a rough mix)

Staircase memory

August 26, 2012

Sitting on the landing, a staircase made of stone. The smell of jasmine and a million other earth bound flowers I could never name ease their way through the canyon on a wind reserved for these hills alone. This is the home of my friend. We met years ago when I was barely out of high school. At the time, he was the first  record executive I had come in contact with and his love for my band and our songs lead him to do a very strange thing. He befriended us. There was little talk initially of working together. The band was young and still growing and his instincts pointed to the long road. He was right. He offered insight upon insight, laughter and respect. In those days he had just moved to these hills and to this house whose staircase I find myself typing at, computer clinging to my cross-legged seat. Needless to say being invited to a place like this at a time like that was the teenage equivalent of making it, or at least the closest thing to it I had know. My band mates and I would come up on the weekends, listen to music, hear stories, meet the occasional celebrity and brag upon our return hoping to impress our friends back home. I remember this place like a dream. The view from the balcony, lit up at night with a million stars flickering from that flat land below. Years later, it’s the same home I recall, only now it’s filled with children, the trees are a little taller and there are a few more shining gold records dressing the walls and the hallways. I will always be grateful to my friend with the wooden castle and a staircase of stone; For his belief in me and my music, but more so for the kindness and wisdom he’s imparted so delicately over the years.  These days, I still camp out in his garage studio putting new songs together, sometimes for myself but more recently for another dear friend to whom I have lent a similar quiet guidance. There are moments I wonder if he sees this place the way I did, those early hope filled nights. Will he  look back one day and think of me the way I think of my old friend? And will the million man made stars now flickering below remind him of a future that may very well be his own.      I certainly hope so.