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October 23, 2012

Final Mix

October 23, 2012 | By | No Comments

Last night I was able to get to bed at a decent hour, and so I am now awake and fully functional before 9am which, unfortunately, is a rarity these days. I like to think of myself is something of an early bird, but working late nights disrupts the routine I became accustomed to after college, and prevents me from enjoying the peaceful early hours of the day. Oh well.

For me the mornings are important because that’s when I am able to do a lot of my writing and practicing in solitude. However today (this whole week, I should say) is a bit different. Yesterday my band mate and business partner, Tommy Sklut, and I went over see Mike Hari, our producer and engineer, and to hear the final round of mixes for our upcoming EP. The thing is five tracks long, was written and performed entirely by Tommy and me (with the exception of our good friend and percussion virtuoso, Brett Sleeman who, for a small fee, hammered down some solid drum basics and sent the project off on the right foot), and is the culmination of almost two years of collaboration. We have just the rest of the day to make final suggestions to the mixes, and then everything gets printed and is off to mastering by Nov. 1. Needless to say, we have some decisions to be made.

I would love to say that I could ask for your feedback on these, but I’m afraid that posting the incomplete versions online would warrant some strong language and very disappointed dispositions from both Mike and Tommy, so I’ll have to trust my own ears today. As for the final mixes, I trust that you will certainly give them a listen and give some honest feedback. I, myself, would be disappointed if you didn’t. For now, you can listen to the linked live version of Memories (performed almost a year ago) and get excited for the masters to come back.

Spread the Good Word,




August 28, 2012

Take Me Back Home

August 28, 2012 | By | No Comments

Part of my daily routine is to get up, do some object writing, brain teasers, and practice. I know, I know. Nerdy. But, one of the greatest things about consistently doing object writing in particular is that the entire focus is on sensation and being as descriptive as possible. I’ve found that if it’s done early in the day it can tune the mind to – and focus it on – details and creative ways to look at normal things that happen every day.

For me, writing lyrics is a challenge, and, at times I’ll admit that it’s even a chore. Far too many times I have shelved a perfectly good song just because I couldn’t get the lyrics right. Take Me Back Home almost endured that same fate.

The musical hook popped in my head when I was driving home one night from work. In the usual late-night, post-work buzz I excitedly and frantically scribbled it down, found some chords, sounded out some vowels, and recorded a quick take. I didn’t touch it for weeks, until I saw the file sitting on my desktop.

However, instead of worrying about getting the song done, I just enjoyed writing it. I played with different rhyme schemes, I changed the story multiple times, I tried to find the meaning in the “Take Me Back Home” line (why did it just pop into my head?). If you write, you probably know that this is normal.

In this draft, I think the story is almost there. It’s psychological, which might be why some of the lines and imagery seem a bit abstract. Also, I can already see how some of the lines are still really place-holders. The last verse I pushed out in 30 min or so, and there are obvious tweaks that need to be made.

Hell, maybe the whole thing could be done better.

That being said, it’s a sketch.


Here are the lyrics:

Take Me Back Home

::I’m standing in a storm, alone. missing out on love::

I found myself a-standing out in the cold rain.
Was wondering how I wound up there alone again.
It’s true: I was in trouble,
But that’s nothing new,
Alone is all that I can be, without you

::The grim reaper comes to claim my life::

There came a shadow in the distance; a small devil in disguise.
He floated still, and called for me to say my goodbyes.
I said the time was not right,
Oh, but he disagreed.
He picked me up, I turned around, said what I need.

::Instead of claiming me for dead, I beg him to bring me back home::

Take Me Back Home, Oh, Take Me Back Home.
See I’ve been out here, waiting alone so long.
Take Me Back Home, Oh, Take Me Back Home
But, help me face the storms screaming at my door.

::I wake up alone at a new home, but with scars::

When I got there I was bleeding; seams born onto my chest,
I laid there, cold and dripping; tried to find some rest.
But, nothing can be something,
Oh, If something isn’t true/their.
And, loneliness is nothing but a blind pain to look through.



August 16, 2012

The Masquerade

August 16, 2012 | By | No Comments

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of masks and costumes. Not in a Halloween or an Eyes Wide Shut kind of way, but that it’s paradoxical for someone to present themselves as something they aren’t and then proceed to get to know others around them. I think it’s done all of the time, though. And, not just in the form of a costume party. Children pretend and imagine what it’s like to be Power Rangers and princesses, teenagers vicariously experience sex and drugs through the exaggerated stories of their friends (or their own), and adults sometimes lie or exaggerate qualifications on their resumes. Of course, these are all generalizations. But, for whatever reason, people often like other people to view them as different or better than they view themselves. It’s even more interesting when people do it as a means of impressing someone or trying to become accepted. It doesn’t make sense, right? But, we all do it.

In The Masquerade I was thinking about this idea as it applies to a breakup – when each is going back – trying to be how they used to be; when each is still trying/pretending to be who they once were, but aren’t anymore.




July 31, 2012

Band From the 1960s

July 31, 2012 | By | No Comments

Last night a friend of mine, and expecting father, said that parents should just “tell their kids to go listen to The Beatles”. More or less, that’s what mine did. I remember sitting in the dark, listening to John Lennon’s tight, electric, drug-fueled harmonies cutting through a microphone, tape, and, decades later, the plastic playground of my cutting-edge 3-disk CD player – and it was better than drugs ever could be. I remember the first time I really listened to The Beatles and how intoxicating it was. They reminded me that it was okay for music to be exciting, or edgy, or quirky, or smart, or depressing, or frantic, or creepy, or gorgeous, or just plain weird. Or anything. Or all of them at once.

Like an addict, I couldn’t quit it. There was always more, and it was always new. It dove to depths and reached heights that I, myself, could not have conceived existed. And, at the same time, it was always strangely familiar. I learned every bit of it – it was always so wonderfully constructed that learning it seemed effortless -, and, at the same time, I was (and still am) always surprised and impressed that it was never obvious. Almost none of the ideas seemed to be recycled (I’ve since learned that many were), or forced; it never seemed insincere.

Now, for one reason or another (for many reasons, really), I feel like a lot of music is insincere, forced, and lazily recycled. It’s upsetting.

This is my ode to the sound of the 1960s (The Beatles, in particular) and the never-lonely nights sitting in the dark, listening…



July 30, 2012

John Charles

July 30, 2012 | By | No Comments

I am excited to introduce you to my new webpage. On this site you will find information about current musical projects that I am involved in, collaborations with other musicians that I am working with, demos and full-blown recordings of songs I have written, performed on, or have been involved with creating, and contact information for music lessons.

I have no specific agenda with this site other than to provide a fun, creative outlet for sharing and exposing my daily work and ideas, and receiving feedback and comments. I hope you find it as fun and exciting as I do.