Divided States

It has been almost five years since the release of my last album. It isn’t that I wanted to wait that long before releasing another one, I just had a really bad case of writer’s block. I mean really bad. As mentioned in my previous blog post, in addition to the election on Donald Trump, I was also coming to terms with the death of my mother and navigating my new fatherhood duties, along with some other personal challenges that I was going through. I really wanted to make another album, but my proverbial well was bone dry.

Then in March of 2020, the pandemic hit and I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands, and a room full of instruments. The writer’s block that had plagued me the last couple of years suddenly was lifted, and I started cranking out songs again as if the creative dam had burst open. Truth be told, I was still scared the writer’s block would come back so I didn’t want to stop writing in case it did.

A younger, less refined version of myself, lying down during a performance.

I can point to two events that heavily influenced this album. The first event was reuniting with the members of my high school rock band to play a concert. Even though it had been so long since we had played together, that special musical connection we had together had not changed one bit.

After the reunion, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia and soon after began exploring a lot of the albums that were popular during the time that we were playing together, but that I didn’t have the money to purchase. This is before the days of streaming music, you had to actually buy a physical thing called an album. I rediscovered bands such as Nerf Herder, MXPX, Lagwagon, Guttermouth, Less Than Jake, Bruce Lee Band, Goldfinger, The Used, Save Ferris, The Aquabats, Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, Mustard Plug, and countless others from the 1990s punk/ska craze.

The second event is related to rediscovering these bands. I came across a band called Bracket that I had heard of but never actually listened to. I instantly fell in love with their sound and realized how incredibly under appreciated they were. Their albums were like the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds of punk rock. Built on the foundation that Nirvana laid, with the ornamentation The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

An older, more refined version of myself, enjoying Bracket.

In February of 2020 they just happened to be having a reunion show and I made sure I was there to see it. It was an incredible night (Mercy Music and Decent Criminal who also were on the bill that night), and though I did not know it at the time, it would be the last chance I would see live music for a very long time. While working on the songs, whenever I felt like I was getting stuck, I would close my eyes and think back to seeing Bracket play and try to recreate that experience. I’d also tried to write parts that I could see my high school bandmates playing.

I guess I’m also having a bit of a Willie Nelson moment too. I really hate singing. I really don’t like the way my voice sounds. But I’ve been encouraged by friends who think I have a unique voice to use it. After all, these are my songs and I guess I am most qualified to sing them. Still, it is hard for me to hear my voice, especially after having worked with so many great singers.

In the end, I hope that longhaired, teenaged me would be proud of folicly-challenged middle-age me. I figure at some point a person is probably just too old to play punk rock music without looking ridiculous. Hopefully I’m not too late as this music is such a part of who I am and always will be.

About Monk Turner
“Monk Turner’s name might as well be synonymous with awesome, catchy and creative music. His exciting concept albums have always garnered a positive response.” -FrostClick "This prolific/eclectic artist/producer uses a spectrum of styles, generating entire concept albums. Turner is both daring and melodically gifted..." -Music Connection Magazine Monk Turner has produced more than 25 concept albums using a collective of musicians who share his passion for creating freeform, genre-defying music. Among some of his accomplishments, Turner's composition with musician Fascinoma won a competition held by radio station WFMU and the Free Music Archive for an alternative version of the popular “Happy Birthday to You,” entitled, “It’s Your Birthday!” In addition to his prolific catalog, his songs have been featured in movies, television programs and advertisements. The track “Judicious Jason” from Instrumental Friends Part 3 broke a Guinness World Record when 2,231 students chose the song to do history’s largest choreographed ribbon dance. His albums are available for free download via Creative Commons license on Bandcamp, Free Music Archive, and Archive.org. They can also be streamed via Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube Music, and Beats/MediaNet.

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