BK Bulletin: I’m back…with news!

Yours truly in his new, makeshift home studio.

Hello there…it’s been awhile. I hope every one is doing as well as they can given the circumstances of these crazy past 16 months.

I come to you with some news…I have just officially released music for the first time ever, in the form of a five-song EP titled A Matter of Time, under the project name Ferocious Designs (see below for an explanation). It’s basically a collection of five songs I’ve written and recorded in GarageBand on my Mac over the past eight years or so, but I cleaned them up a bit to the point that I felt reasonably comfortable releasing them for potential commercial consumption.

The EP is currently available via Bandcamp and will soon be on streaming/download services like Spotify, Amazon, Apple and YouTube via DistroKid.

Visit ferociousdesigns.com for more information.

I released the first single, “Lay It on the Line,” a song co-written with John LeMasney during our old Technology and the Arts podcasting days, on June 18 to coincide with Bandcamp’s Juneteenth fundraiser.

Then, something completely unexpected happened. Longtime New Jersey music journalist Bob Makin reached out to me and said he was going to make “Lay It on the Line” his Makin Waves Song of the Week for when the EP was released, which was last Friday (July 16). So, yes…something I created is the current (for another couple of days, anyway) Makin Waves Song of the Week. Crazy, right?

It gets even crazier. Here is how Makin’s write-up appears.

As you might have guessed, that Peter Gabriel reference made my day. My entire worldview changed when I saw Gabriel’s powerful performance of “Biko” to close out his set at the Amnesty International concert at Giants Stadium on June 15, 1986. As the entire stadium echoed the closing chant of the song, Gabriel commanded “the rest is up to you” before walking offstage. The crowd kept the chant going for a few more minutes, but I took that call to action to heart, and seeing a seasoned music writer compare a specific element of the first song I ever release into the world to my all-time No. 1 music hero was incredible validation of this endeavor.

I have made two music videos so far for the EP, one for “Lay It on the Line” and another for the faux title track “Years Go By,” for which I decided to have fun with green screen and stock video footage from Videezy.com.

So…you may be asking “Why the name Ferocious Designs?”

Well, I never imagined ever releasing music under my own name, even when I was dreaming of being in a band in high school. Back then, I was obsessed with the name Omnium Gatherum, meaning a miscellaneous collection of things or a hodgepodge. But that name has since been taken by a European death-metal band, so that was out.

But the phrase “ferocious designs” — a lyric from Marillion’s 1991 song “Cover My Eyes (Pain and Heaven)” — had always stuck with me as a possible title or project name, so that’s what I went with. Listen for it in the first verse below.

Before I go, I should mention that a lot of this was spawned by working with my friend Christian Beach on his music since late March 2020. Christian released an EP called DoubleLife around that time and we worked on a couple of music videos remotely while under stay-at-home protocols, including this one for the amazing “Food on the Table.”

At the start of 2021, Christian released an album of mostly previously unreleased demos called Basement Noise and we again worked on a video remotely for the first single from the album, “Platte Cove Road.”

For the song “Missing Link,” I came up with a video idea that required us to shoot on location at a park just outside of Trenton, N.J., that once was the site of a popular amusement park in the early 1900s. The video’s centerpiece was the remnant of a grand staircase on the side of a hill that was a literal “missing link” to a bygone era. 

Also, this past winter, Christian assembled his live backing band — both in-studio and remotely — to record a new version of his song “Paper Ships” at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, N.J. I recorded an organ part at home and sent it in to be added to the mix. Christian released the standalone single in April, accompanied by another music video we shot at Huddy Park in Toms River, N.J. Oddly enough, a 2015 live performance of “Paper Ships” recorded at Huddy Park was included on the Basement Noise album. 

Oh yeah, I also learned how to make paper boats and used the dead roses left from the flowers I gave Alison for Valentine’s Day to create the single’s cover art.

So…this is what I’ve been up to during the pandemic. Honestly, releasing this EP was mostly a 50th birthday present to myself. But it’s been well-received and I am feeling a bit more confident about doing more of it. I don’t know when that will be, but I will always write songs every now and then. I’ve been doing it for over three decades so there’s no reason to stop now. I have some strong ideas in my head right now, so I guess Ferocious Designs will continue to exist exclusively as a studio project. It just might be a few years until the next release.

OK…that’s all from me. Again, I hope all is well with everyone.

Take care.