Thoughts

Trying to Fix My Damned Eye 

As a lot of you probably know, my eye is pretty messed up. There’s no lense, the pupil is stretched out, it’s a different color and there’s scar tissue on the cornea. I’ve been living with this injury for 22 years now and don’t remember what it’s like to see with two eyes. Because the vision is so bad, my brain pretty much ignores what that eye sees. Well, now I’m thinking that if anything happened to my right eye, I’d be pretty screwed. So, I’ve decided to do something about it. 

I’ve had a few visits with an eye doctor that involved a lot of poking, prodding, blinding lasers, uncomfortable straining and eye drops. That’s all fine, I’ve been here before. The result of all this is a very thick, and uncomfortable contact lens. It feels very strange to have something in my damned eye all the time. It’s also very rigid, so I can feel it when I blink or look all the way in any direction. I’m hoping that’s something I’ll get used to. 

What I’m having a VERY hard time getting used to is seeing from that eye. The vision is still bad, about 20/60, though it’s good enough that my brain’s all “hey, let’s use that thing!”. Seems great, though the scar tissue on my cornea has made everything look cloudy. Like someone’s been chains smoking in every room I step into. Also, because my eye has been ignored for so long, I’ve got some serious double vision, which is giving me headaches, and some pretty persistent nausea. I’ve been driving with an eye-patch, which presents its own challenges. 

So far, working in front of a computer screen has been tough. My eyes hurt, it’s hard to see what I’m clicking on and the intensity of the double vision makes the nausea even worse. Man, it sucks. I’m trying to push through it to record April, but it’s tough. Hopefully it will get better, but if I can’t align the images from my eyes, this might not be worth it. At any rate, I need glasses too. A light (very light) prescription for my good eye, and mostly to protect it. Also, with how rigid this lens is, if something were to whack me pretty good in the bad one, I’m pretty sure it’d act like a cookie cutter and take a core sample of my cornea. I’d like to avoid that…

Pneumonia, depth perception and March 

March started off a bit rough. I waffled a lot on the songs I wanted to put on this  month’s album, which resulted in a bit of wasted time, unfortunately. Normally, that’s something I can easily recover from though in the last weekend I came down with a gnarly case of pneumonia, which has sapped a good amount of energy out of me. Lots of waking up in the middle of the night, hacking until I gag. Not exactly ideal for trying to record a batch of mellower folk based songs as I had intended to do for this album. The Pneumonia is lingering, though I was able to finish the album this morning before heading to the eye doctor. 

I’ve been seeing a doctor about regaining the vision in my left eye. He seems confident that he can get the vision to 25/20, though the image will always be distorted due to scar tissue and my irregular pupil. Just having a lens over the eye today and looking around was very, very strange. There was some semblance of depth, something I have not been able to perceive for 22 years. That eye also sees with a sort of glow around everything, especially around the edges of objects, almost like a colorful outline. That color depends on what I’m looking at. Because my brain just ignores that eye at the moment, I wonder if that glow will always be there when I have the proper lens. The other issue is that because my brain has ignored that eye for so many years, the images don’t line up anymore. (I have permanent double vision). I’ll have to go through some physical therapy to try and make that happen, though there’s a chance it never will and this’ll all be for nothing. Here’s hoping. 

Other than vocals, the tracking for March went pretty well, and quickly. The only rough patch came on the day I was to record drums with Charley McGowan. I’ve known him since I was about 11, and have played with him in a high school band. He’s a great drummer. More than that, he’s the most “stoked” person I’ve ever met. He’s just so excited, generally, about the things he likes. That enthusiasm is infectious, and made for an awesome day of drums. The issues came from the technical side. We used a bunch of equipment I’d never tried before. We had a rocky start, but started cruising at about noon. I can’t wait to get some better sounds for April and onward. Tracking drums is a challenge, but FUN. 

The Pneumonia is still lingering and goes from better to worse and back on a daily basis. Hopefully by the time I start doing vocals for April it’ll have cleared up a bit. The next batch of songs is more lively, and complicated. They range in mood, tempo and content quite a bit. I’m very excited to jump in this batch. …I think I’ll start tonight.

Music video, March and onwards.  

March is proving to be much more difficult than expected. The songs themselves are quite simple by nature, which means are are much fewer elements to play with in order to enhance the dynamics of the songs. I find I’m also doing a lot of re-writing with a couple of the songs. I was hoping this one would be a bit easier so I could get a bit of a head-start on April, but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen. I think I just need to accept the fact that it’s gonna be a hard push for another 10 months! And you know what? I’m totally fine with that. As long as I get to sleep at some point, I’ll be alright. 

We worked on the video for In My Room  all weekend. I’m very excited to get it out there. We’re hoping to be finished this evening, but as with anything creative, strange problems tend to present themselves right as you’re trying to complete a project. The video itself looks fucking GREAT. My brother (Finley Mulligan) crushed it in terms of production, the lighting especially. There are a few pretty darn neat special effects as well. Looking at the next week, I’ve got to buckle down, play some open mics and record as much as i can.

February is done! 

This last weekend was a sprint. Thursday night, I was feeling supremely insecure about whether or not I could finish this batch of songs in time to get it off for mastering. That is, until Bremen McKinney came over to record some accordion tracks. Right away, I was washed over with a sense of relief and could picture in my mind how some of these songs could come together. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Bremen worked quickly, taking direction as well as improvising in his own way to help craft some of the more interesting elements that ended up in those particular songs. Not only that, but he’s a good buddy, and it was nice to have a couple beers and screw around with something musical. That night, I went to bed feeling pretty jacked up about what we had done, and ready to tackle the next piece of the puzzle: saxophone. 

For that, I called in Dan Nelson. Co-worker and tenor saxophonist. I don’t know Dan very well, aside from the occasional at-work small talk about shared interests. This was to be the first time that I’d every worked musically with someone I hadn’t first been good friends with. Which made me a bit nervous that it just might not work. After a few instructions, he was ready and standing in front of the mic. 

Right away, Dan nailed his parts and improvised like a pro. To “say like a pro” makes it sound like he’s not. I want to be clear, the man is a pro. He crushed it. Everything I could have wanted from those saxophone parts, he delivered and then some. There’s one part in particular, a somewhat jazzy solo section where it was like he just cracked my head open and played what was rattling around in there. That was one of the easiest recording experiences I’ve had with a musician that I wasn’t in a band with. 

I’m very much excited to get this album out into the world. It’s quite a bit different from January  in pacing and feel, though many of the same themes are touched upon. It is a bit of a strange album and I hope you all get a good chance to listen start to finish with a good set of headphones, or some excellent speakers… there are lot of little elements to be noticed! 

The release date should be on the 23rd of this month; a little ahead of schedule but we wanted to release on the last Friday of February, so, there it is.

Progress 

January is out there, and released. It feels good to have this project moving. February started off very well. In the first weekend I recorded the base tracks for nine of the ten songs. That being said, the demos for this batch of tunes are a lot more incomplete than those of January. I’m finding that to complete this album, I’m having to do a lot more writing than expected. This is making for a lot of experimentation, exciting new directions, and hefty dose of second-guessing. More than anything, time running out and I feel as though I’ve got a million things to do. By sunday, all tracking needs to be done, and there’s so much I want to do with it. I know I can get there, it’s just gonna mean very little sleep! 

Tomorrow I should have a friend coming over to lay down some accordion, which I think should make some of these tunes feel more complete. The songs themselves are more experimental and odd as well. They are from a period when I was really enjoying experimenting with moods and letting songs do what they will in the writing process. That means now, I’ve got to do a little reigning in. So, expect an eclectic batch of songs which dive into some deep personal areas and sometimes fall suddenly into experimental breaks. 

Part of the spirit of this project is allowing myself to experiment with production, arrangement and the recording process. What makes a song sound complete? How can analog sounds feel as though they exist in the same sonic world as electronic and digital instruments? Does something actually sound good, or would an experienced maker of electronic music hear some of these sounds and scoff? “Oh, he’s using such and such synth sound… that’s so 2007.” Most of the electronic music world is new to me, so I’m flying very much by the seat of my pants, and enjoying the process of introducing electronic elements into these songs which started their lives as simple acoustic tunes. February is gonna be a strange one, but that is exciting to me.

One down, eleven to go.  

After much trial and error as well as a steep learning curve with regards to mixing, the first album is done. I ended up recording it three times... with each new technique I learned I wanted to scrap the old versions and start the whole process over. Hopefully, that won't happen with every album, but who knows. Digging through these old songs is nostalgic and brings up so many forgotten experiences. It's nice digging through these strange sonic scrapbooks, though not everything I find is pleasant to remember. I started tracking February last night, it's sounding even stranger than January! Can't wait to #getthemoffmychest. 

Keep an eye out January 26th for the release of January through www.quinnhenrymulligan.com as well as iTunes and Spotify

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