Thursday, October 4, 2018

Moving and writing and learning

I realized today that it's been a year since we made a big announcement about doing something every day to work on our music. The announcement was supposed to be a way of holding us accountable, because we said it publicly.

Turns out that saying it publicly doesn't actually mean you do it.

Yeah. Disappointing, right? So, we haven't done something on our music every day, but we've done tons of other stuff, know...there's that.

One monkey wrench in not only songwriting but also in blogging has been that we (Johnny and Suzy) moved this summer. We'd been in the same house for nine years, so moving was a pretty big deal, and it kind of took over our lives for entire summer - moving stuff into storage, doing some renovation, painting, moving stuff out of storage, turning on all new utilities, making landscaping changes, etc.

Note: Even if you live in a tiny house, you have more stuff than you think you do.

One of the music-positive results of our move, though, is that we have a more substantial studio now. We got some new equipment, and we can actually keep all of our studio equipment up and ready to go. It's taken us a while to get everything set up and functioning the way we'd like, but we are now locked and loaded to record new stuff on a moment's notice!

Aaaaand, thanks to completing the studio and participating recently in a songwriting challenge that kicked us back into gear with composing, we've been busy in recent weeks writing several new songs. So, we should have some new tunes ready to release before the end of the year.

Lesson learned from the last year: don't make any big proclamations about doing something every day, or writing a certain number of songs every month, etc., because you never know when something big is going to interrupt your plan. But as long as you come back around, it's all good.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A new love song...for the dangerous ones

How do you feel about Valentine's Day? Do you love it and think it's a beautiful celebration of love? Do you hate it and feel like it's just a commercialized made-up holiday designed to sell cards and flowers?

Or do you forget about it until you log on to Facebook and see everyone professing their love for their significant other - or bragging about the amazing dinner out they had the night before and suddenly realizing you're in trouble with your spouse?

We know - love is a battlefield, Pat Benatar.

And sometimes you fall in love with someone who's no good for you. It's a fine line between passion and peril.

Take Bonnie & Clyde for example. They had passion in spades. Young lovers with eyes for only each other, adventure and excitement. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, it was the two of them in it together, come what may. It's the "it" that was the problem.

If only they could have been into a circus life together, or a hardware business, or a band.

They went another way, though. And it ended, as we all know, with a hail of bullets, the two of them slumped in a car - together.

The stuff of legend and Hollywood. So, we wrote a song about it! And we released it this week on Valentine's Day (see - I wrapped it back around). We present for your listening pleasure "Bonnie & Clyde":

If you stream music, please add it to your favorite play list. And if you enjoy actually owning your music so you can play it even if you don't have a wifi signal, you can buy a copy at our CD Baby site for a mere $1.29. Now, that's a bargain!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A decade together - kind of

Well, I can hardly believe we're in 2018, but that's an exciting landmark for The Staylyns. This year marks a decade since we started making music together...okay, not the whole band, but at least 2/3 of The Staylyns...and not AS The Staylyns. Okay, so it was a decade ago that the groundwork was laid for The Staylyns!

Here's the story. In 2008, Johnny was in a band called Leatherhand with two of his brothers.

Leatherhand had been active on the Austin scene for several years, but the band was starting to fracture, as bands often do. Years of arguing about drinking, drugs, the band's direction, the band's power dynamic, etc. was taking its toll, but they still believed something great could happen.

They were all living together in a little compound in East Austin, and Johnny had started dating Suzy a few months before, and everything felt like it was at a crossroads. The band discussed moving to Las Vegas to shake things up, and Suzy was pulling Johnny in the opposite direction and asking him to get more serious about their relationship in Austin. Johnny had a decision to make. He made the wrong one.

Well, no, not THAT wrong.
Johnny ditched Suzy and made a renewed push with the band. That lasted just over a month. One night, after a gig and several hours of drinking and debauchery, the band had one final implosion when Johnny found himself locked out of his own house on a cold night, sleeping in his van because his brothers had locked him out and passed out inside. That was it. He was done. He called Suzy.

Johnny started a solo project, Johnny Austin. He started adding band members, and within a couple of months, Suzy joined the band. The rest, as they say, is history.

It would be February 2009 before Joe joined the band, and we rebranded as The Staylyns in 2011, but it was 2008 when the magic began. We can't wait to see what the next 10 years brings!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Our first Christmas song

It's hard to believe we've been making music together for almost 10 years and we've never written a Christmas song, but there it is. Until now!!!

That's right - The Staylyns have written a Christmas song, and it's available just in time for the holidays for your listening, sharing, downloading pleasure. Please to enjoy, Christmas Christmas (The Bestest Time of Year):

This song is a great example of how songs sometimes have a mind of their own. I started writing it with the intention of writing something sentimental - something you might here on a Hallmark commercial.

(Like John Mayer needed the money, right? Choose indie music!)

But as I started writing, it just...took a turn. I'm not sure why it veered into "fun" instead warm fuzzies, but what can I tell you? The creative process is a mystery. 

All I can tell you is we really got a kick out of it once it was finished. We even had some trouble getting through the first rehearsals because we kept laughing. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we do.

So, grab a cup of cocoa and enjoy a little fun Christmas music - something for when you're getting ready to watch "Elf." Because Christmas really is the bestest time of year!

And Merry Everything, everyone!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Holiday gigs and a new rig

Well, they're here - the holidays! A lot of people think of "the holidays" as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I like to think it starts with Halloween and ends with New Years Day. That means we've been in full-on holiday mode for at least two weeks. And now that I think about it, I haven't had anything pumpkin-flavored yet, so I'm dropping the ball.

For the band, this time of year often means a shift in our gigs. Some of regular gigs get booted, either for weather or because the venues we play are hosting private parties. But we also usually end up playing a party or two ourselves, so it all works out.

This year, we've got a few party gig possibilities, but we're most excited about the show we'll be playing New Years Eve. We've been hired to play at the new Culinary Dropout in Tucson, Arizona - ROAD TRIP!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Holding ourselves accountable

Well, hello, there. I know - it's been a while. But sometimes you need a break. You're not feelin' it. Things are just "meh."

You get it.
Joe's been keeping busy with lots of projects, but Johnny and I have been having some trouble breaking out of the vortex of "meh."
So we took a vacation. It was awesome, and we documented some of the highlights on our Facebook and Instagram pages. It was a great way to reboot some of the hard drives, but as we headed for home, with a gig coming up the following week, we knew we weren't quite there yet with regard to our music. We still needed to do something to get the musical meh's to take a hike.

So, we decided to make a pact. For one year, we're going to practice every single day. Now, that could mean working on new material, just doing jams or exercises, or it could be practicing songs already in our catalog. It could mean each of us working on our own, or it could be playing together. It could be for 10 minutes or an hour - just whatever the day calls for. But every day, we do something.

It's been 16 days, and...we've already missed one day. We realized it as we were getting ready for bed, and we didn't have the energy to play at that point. But despite that one misstep, we're sticking with it. And we can actually feel the difference already.

Well, I'm not sure it's amazing. But we're definitely feeling a boost in our energy, and the two gigs we've played since we started our pact have been surprisingly smooth. After a three-week break, we would normally be really rusty. But instead everything has felt really easy. Not perfect, but just...easy.

So, hopefully as we go forward, we'll start seeing some other great results. I'd love to get some new music in the pipeline, and most importantly, it'd be great just to keep those meh's away. We are really lucky to get to do what we love. We meet people all the time who tell us they'd love to be doing what we're doing. So, let's keep the music going and the good energy flowing!

I know, Debra. I know.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The importance of a big set list

We recently had someone comment on how large our catalog is - how many songs we know. We've got about 120 songs in our catalog (and still growing), which is less than some bands but more than many. Having that many songs in our repertoire has been a real advantage in getting shows since we can fill so much time without repeating songs.

Some bands that know more songs than we do don't actually know the songs, meaning they have them memorized. They use iPads or song binders to tip them off about chords and lyrics. That can be a good way to help you build enough material to fill time especially when you're starting out, but if you do that, make sure you get a stand of some kind to hold your binder/tablet.

But we don't use reminder devices, other than each other, which sometimes leads to awkward moments of brain freeze or one of us stumbling through a song that we've played a million times because all of a sudden your mind and fingers just aren't cooperating. But we figure that's part of the fun. We're flying through the air without a net, y'all!