Original Twee design by Edward Bignar for Workerbee Buttons
I returned from the Qatar shortly after the Jenny Boyle interview and immediately went on a 6 week vacation across the beautiful Northwest. Somewhere in between cities and sea towns I found myself meeting in person the man I consider to be my greatest boss to date. I finally met face to face with Andy Fenstermaker, founder and editor of Fensepost.com. Fensepost has been, and continues to be, my main base and terminal for most of the writing I have done since the winter of 2008 when I dropped this cat an e-mail with a couple of reviews for two of my favorite band’s releases (Westfold & No Go Know), and I began to feel the itch, and the rest is history. Somewhere between crab quesadillas and local draft beers in Mt. VernonI presented the rough draft circling in my brain about this book that would soon be known as Children of Mercy. His reactions were directly on par with what I was hoping for. He seemed enthusiastic and supportive. This was definitely a push in the right direction considering how much I looked up to this cat. I decided somewhere around that moment that this might actually be plausible. But still, being pessimistic by nature is a hard thing to avoid. I still wasn’t entirely sure.
It wasn’t until I returned from said vacation that I finally got the spark I had been looking for. It was a late August night, the kids were all in bed and the wife and I were rocking our respected laptops. I had just received a massive bag of promo’s from Fense during our visit, and I was trying to wrap my mind around where to start. And just like any true professional writer would do, I had Facebook up as well. Little did I know that an instant message conversation with my good friend Chris Eaves would really kick things into gear. He asked me if I had ever considered doing a collection of album reviews and features I had written over the last two years. I said no…but….and the idea came again. He was ecstatic and also extremely supportive. I decided then and there that this was worth a shot. This was also when I decided that this would be a charity based project for two main reasons: (1) I seriously enjoy doing things for others, as corny as it sounds, it’s true and (2) How in the hell else could I get a shit ton of starving artists, writers, dj’s, etc to contribute to a project in which they will not be getting paid? It was settled, the beginnings were in motion.
I sat down that very night and dug through my digital Rolodex looking for interested souls. A bit of nervousness started to develop when I realized that I might be in over my head considering I don’t exactly know as many folks as I thought I would need to make this thing work. But, after a quart of whiskey, anything began to seem possible, and I jumped for it. And let’s just say that several of the folks I wrote are either actually featured directly in the book, on the album, or in a roundabout way still directly related to this project. Some expressed interest, but never showed up to the big show. But, someone everyone managed to contribute in their own way. A whole lot of love has to be given to Andy Fenstermaker once again. I wouldn’t have even heard of several of these fine artists and writers had it not been for him hiring me on at Fensepost. And in even greater retrospect, Christopher B of Series II Records seems to be one of the most influential figures in independent music! Once Chris should interest in the project, and relayed the news on his Myspace page, shit hit the fan in an amazing way. Offers for contributions where coming in all over the damn place from people I had never even heard of, or only heard their music indirectly. And again, several of the folks he mentioned this project, are in there as well. I could go on for an entire series of blogs thanking each and every individual involved and what they have done to make this project a success. And I might just do that here at Trainwreck’d. But, later.
When the e-mails sent, I shuffled off the bed with whiskey and dreams rattling through my head. I still had no idea what I was really going to do. I didn’t have any real direction. All I had was a headful of scattered ideas and a very vague e-mail asking people to write some essays about something that could be anything, for a charitable cause that was still unknown. Moments before passing out from the world, I realized that I might be in over my head, and these silly pipe dreams might have to be saved for another day. But, then I woke up. And I received some amazing news. Nearly everyone I had written in the wee hours of the night was on board. Of course, they had some serious questions and concerns about what exactly the hell I was REALLY looking to do with this. Nonetheless, they were responsive, and that was all I really needed.
Banner for Children Of Mercy Blog designed by Melissa Trembath
Over the next couple of weeks, I began receiving e-mails from Denmark, Croatia, England, Missouri, Nebraska, California, Portland, Italy, England, and more. People were digging it. Soon enough, a real direction was developed, and the suggestion of doing a companion compilation album was introduced. We were a go. I really couldn’t believe it. Some old friends like Robin Grey, Thom Carter, Elsa Faith, Michael Phillips, and more were on board as well! It was going well. I will admit here to you the fine reader(s) of Trainwreck’d Society. I was indeed looking for a “name” to be included in this project. And in a look for somebody who know’s somebody who know’s somebody who knows a guy that once knew…..kind of way, I was close to acquiring at least one member of a well-known Portland based band who may or may have not been featured in the film Dig! Again, a pipe dream that I am actually glad didn’t happened. I couldn’t imagine who would have been worthy of replacing in the end to include Mr. Two Last Names. I can’t think of one who I would want to.
Obviously there were some issues that still needed to be ironed out. Money being a big one. We also needed a title, maybe? And how about getting that damn charity picked? All things that seemed entirely miniscule after I received our very first submission submitted by one of my favorite singer/songwriters and net label sensation Thom Carter. For those of you who have already tuned into the book, you know his essay was terrific and very intelligent. You may also know how crucial his songs would be to this project. And just how all around awesome it has been to have him as a part of this team. And yes, he was also the first feature on this lovely website.
And with offers still flooding in, and a real mailing list created that was loaded with so many great artists, things were looking up. But, things wouldn’t truly kick into gear until mid September when I was whisked away for work down to Wichita Falls, Texas. It was in a shabby motel room that Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music and the Children of Mercy Compilation would truly begin full-fledged production.
Two weeks in Texas would prove to provide some very nice updates. Including a few more fine folks being included to the roster (two before I even got on the first plane ride out of Spokane!) including the lady we all know and love…Anna Lynne Williams.
More on this in Part Three: Production. Coming Soon!