Open Mics in Portland part 2 by Nick Arneson

I’ve been playing an open mic each week in PDX for the last three weeks, and am going to keep going until I run out of open mics. I’m not putting a list of which ones i’m playing, so don’t ask. It’s not about that. It’s about being able to look out into a (often empty) room and perform with all the gusto of a packed house. It’s fucking hard and it’s great for keeping it sharp. It' also really scratches the performance itch, oh it’s so fun. God damn, a good night of performing can clear away all the internal refuse.

It can be pretty fuckin entertaining as well. Tonight there were three dudes sitting in front who were so stoned they just looked at me, with blank expressions, for my allotted three songs. I played my ass off and did everything I could to get them to flinch, but they didn’t seem to have the ability any longer.

There were some drunk patrons who got pretty into it, and that’s all I need. There is definitely a tangible energy when you win someone or a crowd over. The murmur changes, the applause changes, it’s a whole new vibe. Suddenly they’re on your side, and going on the whole trip with you. It’s a sweet spot, tough to find sometimes. Can’t say I found it entirely tonight at the Triple Nickel (a wonderful establishment, thank you friends), but it was fun as hell.

Thanks for stopping by. I am working on so much new material. So. much. awesomeness. is. coming. Sit tight. Love you all.

Nick

Best evening snack - guaranteed by Nick Arneson

If you find yourself in the deep throws of the evening, and that famished feeling comes over you, i’ve got you covered. I’ve just discovered the perfect combination of flavors for that discerning, yet extremely hungry late night traveler. All measurements loose to the point of being nonsensical.

1 cup Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chip Granola

1 spoon (big) almond butter

1 spoon (big) nutella or any substitute works (maybe any chocolate works, i encourage experimentation here)

(action required) stir stir stir. this is the hardest part, and some granola will get on the counter. push through. it’s worth it.

1 cup Almond Milk. this is important, i think, but don’t really know why. i had a good reason.

let sit for 2:37. this time is very important to get correct. set a timer.

put on big headphones. put a placemat down or some table cover so you don’t put a ring in the wood. we’re grown ups after all.

find your best stoner album. my experience and approach is that the more cliche stoner album or song, the better it actually is for “stonerosity”. Stairway to Heaven for example? Fucking Awesome super stoned. i bet it’s been years since you’ve thought to put on those big pair of studio monitor headphones, smoke a massive joint (or one or two hits, these days weed is crazy strong), and listen to Stairway loud as fuck. it’s a cliche of stoner rock and roll for a reason: it’s one of the best listening experiences you’re bound to witness in your time here. it’s fucking awesome.

so by now it’s been 2:37, get back to the counter and grab your bowl/spoon combo. bring it to the table, pick your stoner route (carefully please). consumer treat while listening to rock and roll before you go to bed. it’s awesome.

side note: it’s very bad for your to eat right before bed all the time, so i try and do this just on saturday evenings. everything in moderation they say, even moderation - ha try that one out? weird little circular thing that i tried to pull, but didn’t really hit. maybe next time.

let me know what you think about these treats. i just had exactly this thing and did exactly what we’ve been discussing, and i can tell you first hand it’s pretty sweet. pretty sweet indeed.

Welp see you later. keep coming back and i’ll keep making weird shit like this blog post.

nick

Spiders and towels by Nick Arneson

I shook my pillow case out before changing it after pulling it out of the closet. I do it all the time without consciously thinking about and for some reason today it caught my attention. I think I do it to make sure there aren’t spiders in there. I do the same with towels before using them, like after a shower or yacht party or something. I’m not “scared” of spiders, but also not crazy about the feeling of them running up my back. It’s creepy. Didn’t someone ask about this? No? Shit. Welp see you later.  

Portland, I love you by Nick Arneson

Played an open mic last night just to keep it sharp up at the Ranger Station. I was swiftly reminded of two things. First, Portland is such a music town that on any random Thursday open mic you can be surrounded by creative, talented musicians. It’s inspiring. One dude had invented his own instrument and was performing it. Unbelievable. Secondly, the PDX music community can be very supporting and inclusive. I say can be, as i’ve been here for close to two decades and it isn’t always that way. When you hit the right pocket though, it’s incredible and I highly encourage it.

Either way, thank you Portland for all these great years. I’m going to be out playing in you much more frequently in 2019, i’m sure you’ll provide me plenty of interesting and awesome stories to add to my backlog. Love you.

Nick

Happy New Year Friends! by Nick Arneson

Happy New Year! 2018 was a big year, and 2019 will be bigger. For those of you unfamiliar with me and my history, 2018 was my first year as a public facing solo musician. I say public facing, because I toiled on my own for a long time before feeling it was ready. I was always a drummer in bands, and decided to abandon being in the back to put myself out front. It’s a tough decision, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and I appreciate all the support from those of you who have responded to the music in anyway. I even like the shit talkers, because it just means that you felt something.

In ‘19, I've got lots of plans. I’m going to put out 3 EP’s, back to back. They will all have different stylistic vibes (that’s all I’ll say for now). I will also release more music videos in the vain of the Ride With You. It was too much fun to not make a whole bunch more of those. I will continue on with the NAVH, though tighten it up a bit, and I will (most importantly) start playing live on a regular basis. It’s going to be a busy year of creating, performing and generally living a life full of robust creative activity. Hope you’re doing the same. There is no excuse for not doing what you love. If I can do it, with two kids and a demanding career, so can you. Get out there.

Thank you again. Feel blessed to have such a fortunate existence that i’m able to do any of this. Hope we all take a moment to recognize the luxury our lives afford us.

Happy New Years friends. Thanks for stopping by and as always - keep coming back and I’ll keep making cool shit.

Nick

My pledge(s) to you, the listener/fan by Nick Arneson

1. I will never put out music that I’m not proud of

2. I will never release music that isn’t 100% bullshit free

3. I will always give everyone who touches this work a proper shout  

4. I’m now and will forever be thankful that you took the time to both read this far and listen to my music. You’re rad. 

Keep coming back I’ll keep making cool shit.  

Nick

new single, video, barn sash and an album coming by Nick Arneson

I’m busy as shit right now - putting out a new single on December 14, a video tomorrow and i’m working on a new album (demo phase). I also had a fucking great barn sesh with a couple friends of mine (Aaron Burget and Archie Heald) and we got a fantastic version of Maggie May down (yes the Rod Stewart song don’t fucking knock until you hear it). I’m also planning on covering two of my previous bands’ songs for this next album out of complete love and respect for the songs. Frankly I miss playing them and hearing them and it’s going to be fun.

Either way, thanks for reading this and thanks for digging around over here. I appreciate the love and support. Keep coming back, i’ll keep making cool shit!

Nick

Videos, interviews and new material… by Nick Arneson

Hey friends. Been busy in the barn learning all kinds of new video tricks. Built a green screen yesterday, so be on the lookout for all sorts of stoner hare brained videos.

Recently was interviewed by MTM magazine out of Tennessee, it’s a good one. Check it out here.

I have been feeling the pull of new musical material of late, so if I disappear off the grid for a minute you’ll know why. Video is fun, but it’s not the same as making music. This next album will be a lot quicker than my last one, as the production side is getting more efficient. Give me two months. Maybe a Christmas record? Just kidding. Though I’m not ruling out releasing a record on my 40th birthday.

Stay tuned. Love you all.

MidLifeCrisis About by Nick Arneson

Below is what it's all about. Please allow the songs to also expand into your world, as they're meant to live loosely, aka the meanings are mine but the songs are now everyones (cheesy I know but I come from a long line of sensitive men). 

Track 1 on MidLifeCrisis - End. Theme of this song is existential in nature. I wrote this during the summer of '17 when fires in Oregon caused ash to rain down on Portland in my words "like a doomsday snow." Read between the lines on this one and I'm also writing about the point in a man's life when he realizes he can no longer run away, because what he has, he loves too much. It's a terrifying notion to think that half of the fight or flight option is now rendered useless. This song also has my favorite groove on the record. Try not to move while listening. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE. www.nickarnesonmusic.com

 

Track 2 on MidLifeCrisis – Once. This song is me talking to me. “Night Nick” as I jokingly refer to the side of me that tends to come out after dark. Quitting drinking allows me to look from a different perspective – the voice is a strong one, and this song is all about facing it down. “Alone and scared with that fire in your eyes.” It also revisits a common theme throughout the album of inertia and movement – something intrinsically tied to staying out too late and taking too much. This song has one of my favorite lines on the album – “the notes you hear won’t make a sound if you don’t move.” Obvious but effective, which is the best kind of lyric. www.nickarnesonmusic.com

 

Track 3 on MidLifeCrisis – Stay. We get a little personal on this track, though it’s also much broader. Being a man in a relationship is a dauntingly simple ordeal. We have very basic fears, and are easily assuaged. The simple realization of suddenly being left alone, the inability to communicate our feelings, and finally the pleading and desperate last stand as we feel it start to topple (likely due to our own dumb assedness). Guitar lick on this track by my friend Aaron Burget completely transformed the vibe. He’s a much better guitar player than I. www.nickarnesonmusic.com

 

Track 4 on MidLifeCrisis – Try. My love song. Re-wrote this one at least 20 times. My wife is a rock. She is a selfless, tireless person who absorbs suffering from others as she simultaneously heals them. This is my long winded way of telling her how much I love her, and how her existence gets me up in the morning and reminds me to keep fighting for whats right. www.nickarnesonmusic.com

 

Track 5 on MidLifeCrisis – Inertia. Things start elevating to higher levels, taking a macro view of our current state through the lens of a 39 year old stoner. The chorus has one of those lines that when they appear you can’t believe your luck – “the loneliness traps the truth and the heaviness forces the tell.” It’s the kind of line that I’m convinced I’ll never top, and I’m also certain I ripped it off from someone. This song explores my own selfishness but is also a blatant social commentary about the cynical and self-absorbed nature of all of us – even in the face of imminent demise. It’s also the only song ever written that uses the line “internet porn bill” I’m certain. www.nickarnesonmusic.com

 

Track 6 on MidLifeCrisis – Pop Song. A buddy of mine asked “have you ever heard a pop song?” I started this song on the drums, strangely, and retro fitted some lyrics I’d written. In my mind it was a soul song, though being a white guy from Portland it ended up just sounding like indie rock. Go figure. I try to be blunt here – “we’re all gonna die if we don’t start to try.” The bass / key / synth solo at the end is the sound of everything ending. I repeat “need to understand” at the end, really just hoping, of course we probably never will. 

 

Track 7 on MidLifeCrisis – Outsider. This song is about forever living on the fringes. There are people who have never struggled with self control, self esteem or belonging. I don’t understand this crowd. Never have, never will. There are those who have always felt slightly askew from most of society. These are my people. This song is for you, me and us. Let’s go ahead and stick together. Also the only song to ever use the term “schlocky fucker” in a song I’m certain.  www.nickarnesonmusic.com

Album - May by Nick Arneson

I’ll be putting out an album in May. I’ll start talking about it and previewing it in earnest once the album is finished. If I’m a little quieter than usual, it’s because I’m locked away in the Barn recording all the things. Stoked to share with you all. Selfie of me below because grown men should take more selfies  

 

 

Nick Arneson Photo

Nick Arneson Photo

The Message by Nick Arneson

Hello friends,

The message. A little tricky to clearly articulate. Let me give it a shot:

Optimism, hope, despair, helplessness. Fear and resolution.  My songs are intentionally built to have layers of meanings. Hopefully you find your layer. However, there are underlying themes that will resonate with some and not others. My earlier songs were filled with a helpless undertone - as if the world were driving me and I was complaining about it. My new material (coming soon) has a stronger tone. We're no less fucked, but we can't just go down sitting. We should eventually come to grips with the fact that we'll likely have to punch someone in the face to get the world to change. There are powers set on dismantling what we all hold dear, and writing songs with this as a red thread makes me feel more powerful than just listening to NPR and swearing to no one. 

It will, and should, sound like a cop out to say that my music is my contribution. Yes, right now I'm basically writing to myself. But this will change. With time and conviction, others will find me and I them. My music has already hit home with some, and it will with others as the message is more eloquently crafted and focused and pertinent to what we all are going through. Here's hoping you get something from what you hear or see on my various sites. Whether it's a laughing at how entirely worthless the Nick Arneson Variety Hour is or relating deeply to the hopeless and lost undertone of At the Age - my hope is that I can make you think and feel something. 

Finally, my message really is not for everyone. I don't want to alienate, but there is plenty of woeful, depressing music out there for the 18 - 24 year old crowd. My music is about the struggle of raising a family, facing a world on the brink, succeeding at life and not abandoning my creative side because the social pressure encourages me to hang it up.  Chances are, the aforementioned demographic won't relate, yet. Don't despair though, you'll get old too. Then you can dig into my entire catalog and live it all over again. 

Also, for those of you who have chosen to dedicate your time to hating entire swaths of people based on superficial or artificial reasons, or being so closed off that you feel compelled to lash out and attack those that prefer a stable, civil and morale society - your time is coming. Better get it out while you can. 

Thanks all. 

Nick

The Story Expanded by Nick Arneson

Hi Friends,

I'll be expanding on the who and why of my life in the coming days/weeks. I always like when artists allow people in a little, and while difficult, it's important. First The Story .... then The Message (coming soon). That way, there is no question as to what you're getting yourself into and our relationship can be that much healthier. 

I grew up playing music, piano, to start. I hated piano, and I credit my mom with forcing me to keep at it. All those god damn recitals, playing boring classical music (no offense) and working on posture and finger positioning. Awful. Later moved to drums in high school, and this was when the passion really kicked in. Drums are my true love, my first and primary instrument. It's probably why most of my shit actually sounds decent - rhythm section really makes a "band" sound pro. However, the narcissist in me always wanted to be up front. I was always jealous of the singers, and wanted that role. So, I taught myself how to play guitar and started playing piano again. Also, singing. Oh singing - the hardest instrument to get right and the most obvious when you don't. 

I'm self taught (save a few vocal lessons, 2 guitar lessons and a single drum lesson to be exact) and so far it's not fully worth bragging about. For you fellow belters out there, you know the struggle. My voice is slowly expanding and getting better - you'll hear it in this new round of songs. My falsetto is getting higher, brighter, lighter and more clear. My breath control is sloooooowly improving. My vibrato slowly coming under my control and not just showing up at random times.... "oh, hello!"

This next round of songs will have an intentionally external viewpoint. Not so much "woe is me" and much more "woe is the world." It's no less dark, just much bigger in scope. I'm also trying to sprinkle glimmers of hope throughout my work, as well as my writing - as simple despair is too easy. It's not what we need right now. We need to look each other in the eye. We need to take credit. We need to get off our fat asses and start to move the needle. 

Love you all. Tell someone you know that everything is going to be alright. Even if we don't believe it, the more we say it out loud, the more we'll start drifting towards that end. 

- Nick

Late night stories by Nick Arneson

I think I know what it feels like right before you die. 

When I was 20 or so I got in a gnarly car wreck. Going up I-5, I hit a trailer that had broken free from it's puller, going 70 or so. Crazy everything, spun around, sparks, pulling, tearing, screaming, remember specifically yelling "Holy Fuck" and coming to a stop. Damn thing sliced clear through the roof of my decently newish honda, and it really, honestly should have killed me. When I saw the car later, I was shocked and kinda stoked (I was 20) at the near totality of it's demise. I got some cash out of it, a bunch of pain killers (good timing - 20 and all) and the drum set I still play today. It's a beautiful Mapex Orion Classic. Sounds better today than when I bought it. Not sure the morale here, though it's a pretty good story. 

Well, see you later.

I can't keep closing that way as it's not mine, and Dumb and Dumber isn't cool to quote. 

Theories, currently listening to, etc by Nick Arneson

I think a lot about playing music, obviously, and the implications of doing it as you get older. It's been categorized as a young man's (woman's) game. Possibly due to the good young musicians so effectively capturing the chaotic nature of youth while still being good enough to express it. Possibly due to marketing. Working in marketing, I assume it's the latter. It's some powerful shit. Young people look better strutting around with instruments in their hands, writhing around in emotional turmoil, spilling their musical guts for all to hear.

I call bullshit though, and of course I understand that if 20 year old me read this he'd call bullshit on me. That is an assumed point, under all of these arguments I write. The point that this is my blog, and my opinions are likely stronger than they should be and often without much merit. You don't need to read this. Anyways. Bullshit because I'm 39, and have a full time career, two kids, and a marriage. Shit is REAL. If I stay up too late one night recording guitars and smoking weed, miss a meeting, lose my job - a lot of people get fucked not just me. It's easier to not play music at this age than it is to do it, especially if it's not your career. No one asks why, but people tell me they're "proud of me" a lot. A LOT. No one says that to a 23 guitar player. No one. I appreciate the sentiment, of course. 

Where the drive to do it comes from, who knows. The question and a lot related to it (likely existential in nature but tied to something tangible so my brain can get there) fuel my lyrics, which I will put up here as they come out, someday. 

My next record is progressing as they do. Fits, starts, emotional tantrums, plateaus, leveling up, euphoria, depression, anxiety.... all the shit that gets me up in the morning and keeps me up too late. Hope you all have something that you can fucking obsess about every damn minute. It's rad. 

Well, see you later. 

Currently listening to the new Dan Auerbach. Seems to be a channeling of the Traveling Wilburys, which I feel pretty good about. 

Been a minute by Nick Arneson

Hey friends. Got really stoned today (it's legal now, be cool) and felt like conjuring up a blog post about my process. I spend hours in the Barn making music, mostly solo, so it always feels like the story goes un reported. Probably mostly for the better, it's like that Arrested Development episode where the content ends up being super dry and not actually that interesting, so whatever. 

I'm working on a new album right now, not sure the format or how it will get "dropped" but likely have about 8 songs. To me, they're the best thing I've done musically. They feel good. They feel relevant and driving and kinda pissed, but also kind of optimistic (easy now), and overall solid. I have some new guys playing a couple parts but it's mostly me on everything. Spent a long time on the drums, getting the grooves perfect. Take after take after take after take after take after take. It's a fuckin rabbit hole. Felt good to really dig into to the drums though. 

New dude Archie came over a couple times and put down some bass lines. Bass is my achilles heel, I'm practicing but I suck. Archie doesn't suck. Holy smokes. Much like Jake (the guy on the last stuff) Archie sits right in the groove and makes you move when you hear him play. Try to sit still. It's impossible, you can't. Bass players and drummers are the unsung heroes of rock and roll. Try having a good band without a kick ass rhythm section. Doesn't exist. You're lying to yourself if you think it does. Also, a straight drum beat at a slow BPM is fucking hard to play smooth but when you get it right it's the sexiest think out there. Got a couple of those in this round of songs. 

Tangents on tangents. Hit me up with comments or emails if you ever want to know about the process more. Well, see you later. 

New Song on June 16th by Nick Arneson

I'll be posting a new song on June 16th titled "What A Week." It's somewhat political in nature, and while I generally avoid speaking about the meaning of my lyrics, it'll be no secret what it's about upon first listen. In essence, terror in where the world is going, and a general and constant anxiety in raising kids in a world as chaotic as ours. I'll post the lyrics closer to release date and sorry for the bummer of a rant post. 

Late night Thursday by Nick Arneson

It's late-ish. Random Thursday. Been practicing a lot, fingers are raw.

Blogs are weird - the concept that I'm just writing about myself in the hopes that someone will come along and say "hey this is interesting, I'm going to read about that guy"..... it's a strange idea. Bit of an ego thing, seems like. Yet here I am, posting to someone? Haha, maybe it's easier because I'm assuming no one (yet?) reads this. Build the callous in case people ever show.

Anyways, more about me. Got a new guitar pedal today, sounds like angels crying diamonds. It's beautiful. Nothing like a good guitar tone to really give you a good rehearsal. I keep coming up with these stupid fucking metaphors - "like angels crying diamond" and I almost wrote "like riding a wild unicorn into a choir of angels" - not sure where these are coming from. I'll try to stop, need to keep my readership up. I'd be happier if you just went and listened to some of my music, if we're being honest. Have you listened to any of the songs? Maybe do that, instead of read my blog. Once you listened to at least one all the way through, then you can come back and read this horse shit. 

Just kidding, you can hang for as long as you want. Bask in all of my narcissistic blog writing glory. 

I don't really have much to write about tonight obviously. Haha, keep coming back I'll keep posting stupid shit. 

Live show? What?! by Nick Arneson

Turns out I can't just hide in the Barn forever making music. There is an expectation that I will perform it! I'm as surprised as you. Well either way I'll be doing just that for a very short window of time on Sunday, May 7th at the Secret Society. I'll be opening up for my good friends in the Empty. They are releasing an album (maybe even a CD?!) and they're rad. Played in bands with a couple of the guys in the group. Should be a fun night. 

Anecdotally, this will be my first solo acoustic show. Maybe my first show not behind a drum kit? Don't tell anyone. I'm not nervous though, so don't worry about me....