So here I sit on the eve of the first birthday of my 2nd album. My current state in many ways is no different from usual; "don't know how you're supposed to find me lately," ever borrowing from my most cherished chapter [Estranged] from my most enduring bible that could quite possibly never not be Use Your Illusion II. But I will finally concede something: during the entirety of this most recent blip that time allegedly purports to have been "one year," my quality-over-quantity inner circle of trusted folk has been consistently persistent in urging me to take a step back and "celebrate" this thing on which I broke ground in April of 2012, laid down the last track in January of 2017 (Joe and I working feverishly to get all the bass down for "Irked" before David Ivory needed his studio back), and spent the next year working my ass off to properly set up release for February 2nd, 2018. Costing - and representing - more than 5 years of life (although to remain congruent with my unyielding assertion that music IS life, yes, the album indeed is a heart-on-sleeve reflection of my very own existence throughout not only this time, but years both before and, eerily, now subsequent to, its completion...), any normal Hu-Man (in the formidable words of Devin Townsend's Ziltoid) would easily head straight for the beach, put his [or her] toes in the sand with drink in hand, and rejoice. As you may know by my 18 thus-far realized autobiographical no-holds-barred musical manifestations, while I have come a long way with many things in life, the ability to relax continues to evade (at least, as of this writing). So, if "celebrate" may be a little extreme for my vocabulary... the concession? Finally finding myself looking down from above - even if slightly - I do find my body willing to take a fleeting moment and do something this post-release (and still full-of-promotional-hustle, mind you) year has heretofore prohibited: breathe.
I did not set out to produce a work with multiple 10-minute "epics" - or whatever you want to call them. I needed to make this one count, but the last thing I wanted to do was rival the production schedule of "Chinese Democracy" (and with about a 14 million dollar budget difference to boot, mind you!) - for a 2nd time in a row. In the initial sketching stages, "Irked" might be 6 1/2 minutes even with the extended piano solo, "The End" - or the second movement of Slow Suite - might touch 7, and juggernaut "Drain" would at most top off around 8 (I know, none of those are bright prospects for radio in the current musical landscape, regardless...). Thing is, songs don't release you from their vice-grip and tell you they're done until they're ... well, done. People ask why I don't go write more targeted and functionally deliberate songs so as to help serve the means-to-the-end. And yes, where Queen's catalogue champions gems like "'39," "Spread your Wings" & "Long Away," I have been quite outspoken about my own "Minimalism," "B.P.M.S.," "Swansong" & "Good Day" as still-representative-of-me "RAUSCH songs" to complete the well-balanced-diet that is a full ALBUM [and just FYI I'm not stopping anyone from exploiting them commercially, ehem ehem...]. At the same time, I believe in every piece I compose as an equally vital organ that fails the entire system if compromised. I have so many stories about "The End" I don't know where to start. Maybe on the beach (ha!) in 2007 when I was first possessed by this sudden specter in the key of EM7#5 with the Silent Lucid (double 'ha'!) lines "It all falls apart / It all strips away." Or maybe 5 years later, when the burden of mapping out (or more accurately, perpetually extending by "just one more" 4-bar phrase) the coda in Pro Tools felt like carrying my ball-n-chain just one more mile, then another, then another, in an endless desert, until its circadian rhythm at long last surrendered to the laws of symmetry.
When the Big Release Weekend came, it was one of those things where I was too "in it" to be able to appreciate just what was really unfolding. I was too busy "letting one bad apple spoil the whole damn bunch" (sorry, I warned you about those Use Your Illusions...) in that there was still no tour shaping up and I needed to make this one count. Precious new fans were appearing left and right, but I was a laser-focused slave to that unending next step. My Boromir ["give him a moment for pity's sake"] was no match for my Aragorn. Like a mother who would die for her child, I was doing anything and everything I possibly could to get this thing every further inch of reach possible. I was aware of what I accomplished - make no mistake, big difference between "not being able to take it all in" vs. still being DAMN proud of what I'd just created - but all-the-more reason I needed to protect it. For better or worse, the naked truth was, getting as far as I did was an honest-to-God miracle, especially in view of everything I had to navigate through in order to get this far [not to cry in my beer - I hate beer].
While at last aware & appreciative of my life's capacity to contribute, the pessimist-at-heart in me continues to maintain that time simply moves too fast. Hey, in conversation with him a few years ago, even the mightily prolific Jordan Rudess agreed ('there's so little time on this earth to really get anything done' - I'm paraphrasing). Meanwhile, my dear friend and colleague, Sir Gary Wehrkamp, submits that one can get control of time via the power of perspective. My jury's still out. At the very least, this music will still be here when I'm gone, and at the end of the day, I suppose that's where an artist is eventually blessed with irrefutable meaning. Meanwhile - just as a song doesn't release me of a binding blood-oath until it says so - I suppose that the all-evasive accoutrements of celebration, commemoration, reflection, whatever you want to call it... well they all just add up to one more straw on that remarkably resilient Camel's [super-obscure prog reference, forgive me] back of things unable to control. And I wrote "Good Day" before all this happened! Is it my fault or is it my fate. There, I took a breath.