Monthly Archives: September 2017

Chasing the Dream, Part 2: The Mission

In my previous blog, “Chasing the Dream, 3 Years Later,” I reviewed my accomplishments over the last 3 1/2 years after I took a layoff from my IT job to work on music full-time.  In this blog– Part 2– I discuss what’s next– my musical mission– both musical and lyrical– and what type of music I want to play, and what type of bands I need to play that music.

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What’s next for Rob Roper music?  I gave this a lot of thought over the past year.  I decided to start at the top– the goal– and work down to the details.

What should be my goal?
Be happy.

What makes me happy?
Creating and playing music with and for people.

What kind of music?
Rock and folk.

Played how?
In a band.

Do you want to compose music, write songs, record or perform music live?
Yes.

Who is your audience?  Who does your music serve?
Misfits.

What is my Mission?

My mission is to create, record and perform music that I like, with and for other people, in order to serve my fellow misfits.

(You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to compose that one sentence.)

I first realized that serving misfits should be my musical mission back in 2010, while choosing songs for my album by that name.  Nothing has happened to cause me to reconsider that.  In fact, my views on that have been strengthened in these last years.  Scroll down to see my poem, “My People” elsewhere in this blog, written last May, see see how I define “misfits.”  If anything, I feel like I haven’t served my people well enough in the past.  I feel like I’ve been too conservative, both musically and lyrically.  But that’s been changing over the past 3 years.  Have you heard my songs, “I Didn’t Believe?”  Or “Metadata?”

What is Misfit Music?

Non-mainstream, original, interesting rock and folk, mixed with other types occasionally.  Musically, I strive to combine various musical genres I like into a unique style.  I want it to be difficult for people to describe my music.  Lyrically, I like lyrics about both personal and social/political struggles, done with good emotion and sometimes humor.

Solo Artist?  Or in a band?

Although I enjoy playing my songs solo at times, I prefer playing with other people.  This is true whether I play in a rock group or an acoustic group.  I just like the interplay of the different instruments and musicians, and how they add to the song.

When I took up songwriting seriously in 2004, I did it mostly on acoustic guitar.  So when I started playing my original songs in 2007, it was done in the singer-songwriter or folk environment.

But for the past 3 years or so, I’ve focused on writing rock songs.  In 2016 I released two rock albums, Word and Roses.  Continuing to write rock music, and forming a rock band to play that music, is a top priority for this next year or so.

But don’t worry, my folk friends.  I’m still writing acoustic songs, and I will continue to play my acoustic music live.

So I need a minimum of two bands– one rock and one acoustic.

I have the acoustic band– Scupanon– which is violinist Paul Ermisch and myself, and whatever other musicians pass through.

My rock band has a name– Total Flower Chaos– but no band members yet.  I’m looking for them.  It’s been a little difficult, because the music is not mainstream and neither are my lyrics.  But I’ll find them.  I’m focusing on recording home demos of my new songs so other musicians will be able to hear my musical and lyrical vision for this band.

Meanwhile I’ve been having fun playing with 3 excellent rock musicians, Paul Webb, Sean Mullen and Jay Meikrantz, with my friend Janet Lipson on backing vocals.  They like my older songs from the Misfit and The Other Side of Nowhere albums, as well as some of my newer songs, like “3-Legged Dog.”  We’ve played two gigs so far and plan to play more.

Speaking of new songs, I have more than enough for a new album.  In fact, I have more than enough for two albums– one electric and one acoustic.  What I don’t have is funding.  Recording in a professional studio takes thousands of dollars.  I have enough experience now, after recording 5 albums in studios, to be able to estimate the cost pretty accurately now.  I have given a lot of thought to this question, and that will be the subject of Part 3 of this blog.

–Rob Roper, September 29, 2017

 

 

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Chasing the Dream, 3 Years Later

In my song, “The Other Side of Nowhere,” the mentor criticizes the student for “doing what you should, not what you want.”

I did what I should for 40 years.  I’ve been doing what I want for the past 3 1/2 years.

The plan was hatched around the time I wrote “The Other Side of Nowhere” in 2009.  I cut expenses and began saving my money.  I had no illusions that I’d be able to make a living at music, although, I confess, I did have that hope– or dream.  But I knew it was a longshot.  I just wanted to see how much I could accomplish with music if I didn’t have to spend 8 or more hours a day working for a corporation.

I left my IT job in March, 2014 and have been studying, writing, composing, recording and performing music full-time since then.

What surprised me was the praise I got from so many people.  “You’re chasing the dream!” they said.  One friend said she was living her life vicariously through me.  When I ran a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 for my Total Flower Chaos recording project, support for “chasing the dream” was cited by many people as a reason for their contribution.

I didn’t expect that.  If anything, I expected the opposite.  “I have to work.  Why should you be happy?” was more the reaction I expected.  I’m still trying to understand this.  I think it says something about our society, when people admire a person just for doing what they want to do.

But all good things come to an end.  My savings is about gone, so I have to take a day job again.  It was a good run.  So what did I accomplish?  Was it worth it?

In the last 3 1/2 years, I did the following:

  • I wrote several new songs, started dozens more, and recorded several home demos of the new songs.  Although I wrote some in the acoustic singer-songwriter style, I focused on writing rock music.  This was important to me, because I love rock music, but I hadn’t really figured out how to write in that style.  I feel like I’m starting to get it now.
  • I released a 3-song spoken word over rock music EP, “Word.”  This was also a radical departure from my previous acoustic singer-songwriter-oriented recordings.
  • I released a 5-song instrumental rock CD called “Roses,” under the band name of Total Flower Chaos.  I really went out on a limb here.  At the time the project began, I had never written even one instrumental rock piece.  I had never even composed a melody on guitar.  I was conscious at the time that I might fall flat on my face with this, but I did it anyway.  I grew as a composer and musician as a result.
  • I went back to school for 2 years to study music theory, piano and composition.  I learned how to put circles and lines on paper and make them sing.  But I learned much more.  I learned what professional musicians go through;  the sacrifices and hard work it takes to become a professional musician.  I can speak their language now.  I learned how to practice.  I learned discipline.  You don’t feel like practicing tonight?  Tired?  Too bad, you have a test tomorrow.  Get your ass on the piano and practice.
  • I continued to perform live in my acoustic singer-songwriter group, Scupanon.  Despite my commitments to rock music and classical music theory, I still love to play folk music.

But all good things must end.  My savings is running out, so I am going to have to take a day job soon.  I hope that’s not too big a disappointment to those of you who have been living vicariously through me.  It doesn’t mean I failed.  Making a living at music was never an expectation, only a dream.

So one chapter of my life is coming to a close and a new one begins.  I will once again sell my labor power to a corporation for money to live on.  I will still create, record and perform music, although I will have much less time for it.  What’s the plan?  That’s the subject of my next blog.

–Rob Roper, September 12, 2017

 

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