[FAWM-Blog 2016] Leap Year

This year I completely failed at February Album Writing Month. The goal is to write 14 new songs in 28 days and I only finished 4. In the past I’ve blogged about this challenge and I’ve enjoyed most aspects of the process (2011)(2012). It’s a tough but rewarding month.

I don’t know where exactly I went wrong this time around. I’ve never had issues like this in the past. I took the first day off work, I made time, I had the home recording studio set up, and yet I failed. Motivation probably had a lot to do with it. We haven’t been playing many shows lately, so my desire to try new material has waned. Also, I haven’t really learned many new techniques or scales or playing styles or instruments, so I’ve been stuck doing the same few guitar tricks for the past several years and feel a bit bored, like I’m just repeating myself. Another thing is that I bought a new guitar on sale at the end of January that I was really excited about trying and writing with. It just didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t great, so I returned it. That really slowed me down and was somewhat depressing.

Creating isn’t about perfection, it’s about the process.

Hopefully in 2017 I force myself to just sit and finish each song, regardless of how bad or weird each one seems at first. I also miss collaborating.

Better luck next year, I guess. Hopefully future Michael reads this and gets motivated and doesn’t fall into the same rut.

South of the Border – Looking back

Andrew and I wrote this song, South of the Border, five years ago today, on 2011-02-04.

It was a part of February Album Writing Month. That session was one of the most organic and natural writing sessions I’ve ever been a part of. We planned to write a song and record a demo in a few hours, and we did it. We wrote out the ideas and the structure and then filled it in. We also checked a map to make sure the geography we mentioned was correct.

This is how Battleshy Youths played it:

This is how The Honey Badgers have played it:

(Featuring Emkeev & Shane Palko)


I also saw in my Timehop this morning that I first did FAWM seven (!) years ago. I remember living in Gilbert Hall at UD (which doesn’t even exist now) and struggling to use Pro Tools and get a decent sound. I was too worried about the audio and not worried enough about writing decent songs.


Life is so much different now. This FAWM it has been hard for me to focus on music. I’m still hoping to write the fourteen (and a half) songs this month, but I want them to be good. If I worry too much about that, then I won’t finish. I should just push myself to write constantly and hope that a few turn out to be decent. I think I just motivated myself.

this one isn’t spam

2015-11-28_Sunrise_IMG_4427_lowres

This site was hacked a few hours ago via a different user’s account. Sorry if you received any (11) emails/tweets about new spammy posts. I restored yesterday’s backup, generated new security keys, and changed some permissions so it should be fixed now.

Edit 1, 2016-01-14: Then two more snuck through somehow. This is weird. I disabled subscriber emails, updated all plugins, and generated new security keys. Weird. I’ll keep monitoring and might just re-install WordPress.

Edit 2, 2016-01-15: 3 more posts were generated, 2 from a different user and one from my user account. Don’t want to deal with this. Pulled everything from the server and started with a fresh WordPress install. Looked at the 391MB access log and noticed a lot of changes to my xmlrpc.php file on 2016-01-11. Weird. Seems like a brute force attack. Changed all passwords and security keys. Picked a new theme too because why not.

(Hello & good morning)

I will be participating in February Album Writing Month again this year. The goal is 14.5 songs in the 29 days of February (it’s a leap year). It’ll be my 8th time. I am looking forward to it.

2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year full of many new things.

On Tuesday night (2016-01-12) we played a show at the Newark Bike Project with The Promise is Hope and Shane Palko. TPIH is from Massachusetts and they’re a really wonderful duo. Shane was celebrating a birthday and the end of his east coast tour and will be departing for his Asia & Australia tour soon. It was a fun night filled with bagels and a mini snowstorm and many friends and family. I am glad to be a part of this community.

how I fawm

February Album Writing Month 2013 is complete. I was severely lacking in my writing this year because being an adult is the worst thing ever. My final paper for my first graduate class was due Sunday night, so I was spending most of my time on that.

Today is Friday. On Tuesday morning, I had only posted four out of fourteen songs. Somehow I ended up with sixteen.

Tuesday night I recorded Erin’s song, “Lullaby for Little Bird” at her apartment. All I did was play guitar, so I don’t count that much as writing a song, but it was a fun collaboration and it’s an incredible song:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/81355206″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Wednesday night after work I completed a song skirmish (where a bunch of people all write and record a song with the same title in under an hour) called “Underneath” (#5)

Thursday morning I woke up and wrote “Kind of Girl” (#6) at 6:30am on banjo. You can tell that my roommates were probably beginning to love me more than previously.

After work it was game time. Eight more songs to write and record before 7am? Yes please.

Keep Everything” was mostly written, it just needed a melody. “Vision of the Future” is some geeky humor about Google Glass. That’s #7 and #8.

Then Erin came over so that we could record “As One” – a tune I originally wrote on mandolin on Tuesday afternoon I think. We had to change the key for our voices, so the mandolin part got too complicated on account of my huge fingers on a tiny mandolin fretboard. #9.

Erin singing for "As One" chorus harmonies yay
Erin singing for “As One” chorus harmonies yay

Then I uploaded a minute long “Tweetable Song” that was only 140 characters long. That’s #10.

Nathan Surles had written some lyrics creating a story out of my “Doug the Stink Bug” character and his Avocado song. In “Doug and the Damsel Fly,” the stink bug sings with The Honey Badgers and falls in love with a damsel fly. That’s stink bug song #2 and collaboration #3. Since I only wrote the melody and music for this, I didn’t count it for my 14 songs.

This is where things started to get weird. “Scrapple is the Best Breakfast Meat Ever” was song #11 and I have no idea where it came from. Probably the pot of coffee that I had already consumed so far.

I was really pleased with how “At Both Ends” turned out. It was a combination of some different pieces of advice that I’ve been given over the past few years. Harmonica playing at 2am = #12.

Kill All the Stink Bugs” was the last song that I recorded for the night. #13 was stink bug song #3. Stink bugs really annoy me if you can’t tell.

My last song is called “Two Tons” and is sort of about people not paying attention while they’re driving and is written in the style of The Mountain Goats, so I really did not want to be yelling and waking people up at 3am. So I created song #14 (really #16 on the site) and called it a night. Hopefully I can track that demo this weekend ^_^ Finished FAWM!!

Here are some of the songs that I uploaded to my Soundcloud account:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/3899007″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

I sort of wish that I had taken some vacation in order to relax and have the free time available to write without rushing and more importantly to collaborate. I had been planning to write more with Erin. I was also hoping to have collaborated with Em McKeever and Matthew Halley (they are both incredible), but time did not allow for it. Hopefully next year. Or before then ^_^

2013 was my fifth FAWM and was, like always, completely different than every other year. I’m really looking forward to our annual FAWM showcase event (hosted by the amazing Emkeev). This year it will be on Saturday 3/16 at 7pm at the Film Brothers Co-op on North Market Street in Wilmington. Excited.