017: David Obuchowski — The Creative Process and making a career in art for yourself
David Obuchowski is a freelance essayist whose work has been published in Jalopnik, Longreads, The Awl, Gawker, Deadspin, The Daily Beast, and others. He is the creator, host, writer, and producer of the acclaimed documentary podcast, Tempest. He has a TV show in development with award-winning film and television makers, and his fiction is published in several highly regarded literary journals. A musician as well, David's bands include Publicist UK (Relapse Records), Goes Cube (The End Records, Warner Music Group, Greenway Recordings, Old Flame Records), and Distant Correspondent (Hot Congress Records, Old Flame Records, Static Caravan Recordings).
In this episode we talk about:
how sending letters and tapes to New Bomb Turks helped to set him on his path as a musician
a story about a chance meeting with a drummer that was the begin of a lifelong relationship filled with a constant focus on betterment and growth
his different band projects from Goes Cube to Distant Correspondent to his most recent, Publicist UK
how a teacher caught him off guard and lit a fire for his writing that has yet to diminish
his podcast, Tempest, that offers moving stories about life, people, and cars
as well as his creative process, getting into the “flow state”, working through “writer’s block”, and knowing when something is done
Publicist UK: https://publicistuk.bandcamp.com/
Distant Correspondent: https://oldflamerecords.bandcamp.com/album/distant-correspondent-distant-correspondent
Goes Cube: https://goescube.bandcamp.com/
The Arlook Group: http://www.arlookgroup.com/
Tempest podcast (Jalopnik): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tempest/id1360060569
The Awl: https://www.theawl.com/
The Daily Beast: https://www.thedailybeast.com/
New Bomb Turks: https://newbombturks.com/
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David O: 00:00:00 And he read a story, called “The Box”, and it turns out it was nonfiction. It was creative nonfiction, and that was a pivotal experience, a pivotal moment in my life. I sat and listen to that story and that. Keep in mind I wanted to hate the guy. I left that class realizing I was in the presence of somebody who has just changed my life.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:29 Welcome to The Vitalic Project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right. I'm stoked. Let's get to it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:57 Hey guys, thanks so much for joining me on another episode of the vitalic project. Today you're about to meet David Obuchowski. What a fantastic conversation. I was introduced to David through Heather Crank and Greg Amanti, who I just had on the last episode and Heather had actually said, you know, I really hope you could have David on the show and I could see why. Uh, I really have just, I'm just enamored with this guy. I mean, he is such a multi-talented artist from musician, songwriter to writer of fiction, nonfiction, and he has a podcast called tempest. I mean, it was just, that's just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, this guy just can't quit. I mean, it's this awesome. I just had such a fun time talking with David and really enjoyed our conversation. I know we could have talked for another couple hours. I mean, easy.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:03 He couldn't quit with the great stories in the episode. We talk about so many fun things. Uh, he shares how when he was young and getting started in his early punk bands, he would send letters and tapes off to bands like the New Bomb Turks who were a huge part in inspiring him. And he ended up befriending them and they helped to set him on a path that has not deterred whatsoever. And he shares a story about a chance meeting with a drummer who he met when he was young and has ended up being this lifelong relationship that, you know, it's just, they're just constantly trying to impress each other but in this very authentic way. Not to just show off, but to just continue to push each other and, and to, you know, surprise and delight. And he talks about the different projects he's been in Goes Cube, Distant Correspondent and his most recent project Publicist UK and he also shares this really great story when we shift gears to talking about writing from music can he talks about when he was just starting to get into writing.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:03:32 And one of the catalysts for that was a teacher that caught him off guard and ended up lighting a fire under him for his writing and, and it really made a pivotal impact in his life and it's fantastic story. Then we also move into his podcasts, a tempest that it is focused around moving stories about life. And people and cars. And he and I both share a passion for cars and, and so it was, it was really fun to talk about that and I really wanted to dive into that even more, but we only had so much time. So finally, you know, we, we talked about it a bunch of other fun stuff like his creative process and you know, kind of the modern style of, of how you can work on music with friends that may not even live in the city you live in.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:26 And we talk about getting into the flow state. We talk about writer's block and we also talk about knowing when something is done, whether it's a song, an album, you know, uh, a piece of fiction, whatever it is, just knowing what that, what that's like and when it's done. And you know, it's different for different people. The trend I keep hearing is that we just intuitively as creatives, and I love talking about some of these topics in my episodes because I love unpacking this with different artists and just hearing like how they message it or how they think about it. You know, some people believe in writer's block, some people don't. And you know, all the different things like that. How we approach being an artist. And that's one of the things I love about this show is hearing these different stories and the different takes that that we all have on being an artist.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:19 And I really hope that you know that these stories are lifting you up and inspiring you and making you laugh and making you think of, you know, your mentors from your childhood or, or as you were getting older and getting more serious about your work and you know, things like that. I really hope that, you know, these, these stories are inspiring you and you know, as you're driving to work or as you're running in the park, you know, I really hope that these stories are helping you to feel like you're not alone out there because there's many of us out there. The creative army is as far and wide and we're not going anywhere. So keep it up. Don't let the man get you down. And now it is my pleasure to introduce you to David Obuchowski. David, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the vitalic project. I'm so excited to have you here, brother.
David O: 00:06:28 Hey, I am honored to be here. Thanks so much for having me on.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:06:31 So I thought I would start off with where you start off. Where did you start this journey of yours as an artist? Where did it begin?
David O: 00:06:40 I suppose I began in New Jersey where I was growing up. I think it was around the same time when I was about 11 years old. I gained a real strong interest in creative writing and also music. And in fact I taught myself how to play guitar and then I started writing, you know, as you can imagine, very terrible short stories. But um, you know, from the front in the beginning I just knew they guitar, I looked at it and I had some connection to it immediately understood how it worked. I didn't necessarily know how to tune it or do anything like that, but you know, I immediately understood instinctively you put your fingers between these metal things, you pluck the string like that. And I, you know, in a matter of hours, I've just on one string was teaching myself all these rifts and, you know, and then at the same time, again, I don't know why I think I had picked up up, found a book or something.
David O: 00:07:35 So I read animal farm pretty young and then I found a copy of the stranger and I read that and I was probably around 11 or 12 years old and I read that and I still have the coffee. I've held onto it. I mean, it was in terrible shape back then. And you can imagine now I'm, I just turned 40. So we're talking, talking about almost 30 years later. And this thing is practically disintegrated. But it's been, it was so meaningful to me. I, I, so that was it all around the same time. I just was like, wow, this writing and music, you know? So yeah. Did you grow up in a creative household? Yes and no. My mother was a teacher. She was an elementary school teacher and um, she about sort of all of the subjects at fourth grade primarily. Um, and she was a very passionate teacher.
David O: 00:08:24 She was inventive. It sounded like sat around and wrote poetry or anything like that. My Dad worked for the bell system and then after that a t and, t he was, he's a numbers guy. He was an, he was in, you know, finance. Basically. He was always working on the numbers that said he was and continues to be one of the best storytellers. He just has a great way of doing it. And you know, he could just keep people react with his stories and then has a very quick wit. He didn't play any music or anything. Like, I mean he didn't know how to play music. He was never a musician, but he loved music, loves music. And um, I grew up in a house filled with doowop, you know, my parents are both from New Jersey Patterson or my mom would get mad if I said she's from Patterson, she's from, she's from East Patterson. Um, my dad is from Patterson and I'm just a lot of do off and all that stuff. And so there was always a lot of music around, even though it was never, it was never suggested that we should learn how to play instruments or anything like that. My Mom's a teacher, my dad was in internal auditing, so I don't think I would necessarily say it was a creative household filled with artists or anything like that. But I would say it was a house and cars filled with music and, and just great stories.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:43 Nice. That's fantastic. I totally connect with that. My mom was also a teacher, teacher's aide in elementary school and she, she focused on that same age group and just loved being in, you know, working with kids in that age group. She was actually a drummer and played violin for a little while and was also, she was an illustrator and you know, uh, just pencil drawings and things like that. Yeah. I didn't know. I ended up becoming a drummer myself and uh, yeah, I'm following in mom's footsteps, not dads. I was like, Whoa, a female drummer. That's really cool. That's it. Yeah. Yeah. Not, not too many people can say that. You know, it's usually, you know, you've got the Ringo Starrs and Danny Carreys and everything in between out there and it's like usually male oriented. So definitely something to be pretty proud of. Can you speak to mentors in your life? Do you have any specific mentors you can speak to that have helped guide you on your way?
David O: 00:10:45 On the music side, in addition to things like, you know, big stuff like The Smiths and all that stuff. I fell in love with some pretty obscure punk rock back then. This is the early to mid nineties you know, before the Internet, or at least that I knew there was an intern. I didn't even, I didn't even have a computer. But anyway, you had to search hard and by the records you had to mail money at through the mail and then you get records back or tapes. Columbia House. Yeah or no, I mean really the label labels and or the bands themselves. And they would come on tour and they might play for 200 people. And to me that seemed huge. But because of that, the New Bomb Turks became one of my favorite bands. They were in Columbus, Ohio, and I was in New Jersey and I would write to them and they would write back.
David O: 00:11:31 They would write, you know, really nice letters and then I would start mailing them tapes. And in fact, in a, um, I think it was sophomore year in high school, I had a four track tape recorder and I recorded a drum track and then I recorded guitar. And then I had my best friend who he played bass on it. And then I recorded vocals. I remember a song called moderation that I had written. And I don't even know why I called it that. It was nonsense words that I remember feeling like, this is it. I just wrote my first good song and it was, you know, it was kind of a rip off of the New Bomb Turks in this kind of punk rock, but it was, uh, it was a pretty good rip off for a kid who's sophomore in high school. And I nailed the tape, was probably my 10th date, my mail to them.
David O: 00:12:18 And the singer listened to it and he said, this is really good and I'm putting out a compilation, I'd like to include it. Wow. So that was a huge thing for me. Um, that compilation did an upcoming out. By the time it came out, my van had gotten much better. And so we actually switched the song, but then they would come to town and they would have my band opened for them. And then, you know, they knew other big bands that I loved and they, and you know, well they're coming to New York, you know, you can open for them too. And so in terms of mentors, I would look at Eric Davidson, the singer of the New Bomb Turks is being, you know, such a huge mentor. I mean, he was an advocate on the music side. And you know, it's funny because at no one's ever asked me on the writing side if I ever had a mentor and I don't think I ever really did. There was one professor I had at the very end of college who probably had a bigger impact on me than anyone else in that capacity. But I wouldn't say I've ever had a mentor in terms of writing and I'm, maybe I'm, maybe I'm forgetting somebody and um, that's a total insult or something. But I feel like the writing thing has been a more of a difficult, complex journey and um, and one that I'm further back on then music even. Yeah,
Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:34 I totally get that too. Similarly, I mean, the guy that you just brought up so many old memories. I mean, I remember going to see, you know, eight bands for eight bucks and you've seen, you know, metal and punk bands. And it was funny that I mentioned, uh, the, the whole thing when you were talking about, you know, sending off to these bands like the new bomb Turks. I, I just, it brought up Columbia House for me. I just went back to that old place of like, yeah, it just took me back to this old dirty place. Um, you know, a little backstory on me. I was a music buyer. I bought vinyl for almost a decade. I wanted to open my own store and I love, I miss that. I love going to just route through the racks, you know, and like whether it's vinyl or it was cassettes back in the day, cds, you know, those big long boxes and all that stuff.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:14:24 Like, Oh yeah, right. Just hunting and you know, buying tapes for the band at the show and it like all written in Sharpie or something or other like a pen and takes you back to some little shit. I remember seeing my life with a thrill kill colt at this random dirty place in Knoxville, Tennessee. Wow. And yeah, and I mean, it just, you know, they were just these vivid memories of just how raw, you know, shows were back then and they didn't have ticket master and all that stuff like we have now. It's gotten so much more refined. But yeah. You know, just being able to, you know, send a letter to it's, I mean, it's, what a great story to be able to send your, your letter off to New Bomb Turks and, and uh, have Eric, right. You, you know, have them write you back and then end up being not only actually following up with you, but then also helping you, you know, putting your, your band's song on a comp and then, you know, connecting with other bands.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:15:29 I mean, that's what a great story. That's awesome man. That's awesome. So let's go ahead and jump into that section then. You know, as a cause, as I was saying before we started to record, you know, you've done so much, I had to break out your questions to categories. So, you know, let's jump into the music. Uh, I totally connect with that. Talk about those early songs. You know, when you were figuring that out, I mean, what was that process like as you were starting to go from the, you know, the, the figuring out the guitar to actually songwriting? What was that like?
David O: 00:16:02 I immediately became just sort of taken by the guitar. And you know, I got books on Chord figures and sort of doing, I still don't know how to read music or anything, but I, I started playing and I very quickly lost interest in playing other people's songs. I mean, within an hour I had Frederick figured out smoke on the water and I think a led Zeppelin song, I can't remember which one. And then I sort of moved on and I, you know, and I did that and it was like, it was almost like a novelty in some ways. Like, oh cool, I can check this out, I can play this. And um, and then there was just, this very quickly became like, no, I don't want to play other people. So I mean, I mean like how do you do your own songs? What are Solos, Guitar Solos?
David O: 00:16:49 Are they just a lot of notes now? They're not there, you know what I mean? And why do some solos sound different? So I started just sort of wanting to understand the creation of guitar music. And as luck would have it, I was playing in a soccer team or something. And this kid whose name I'm not going to name that, he was like, yeah, I want to be in a band and I need to, I need a guitar player. I'm the singer and I also play guitar. He didn't, he had a lot of guitars. He held them behind his back look cool. And these were these by like thousand dollar guitar as well. I was playing a, you know, $40 court. Anyway, that guy, I know who you're talking about. Yeah, there's, there's many of us, there's no shortage of that guy in this world. But he said, you know, I know a drummer and I'm trying to put this band together.
David O: 00:17:45 So the drummer was Kenny, this guy, that's how we, and Kenny was just really in a death metal and you know, here we are, 1112 years old and he was a year older and he is into this death metal. And I had come out of classic rock and I was discovering the smiths and punk rock at the same time. And you know, and then grunge is breaking and all that. And so I was, we were very different, or at least we thought we were back then. And yet, like, you know, I mean I would go to his house and it'd be like, check this out, this is Cannibal corpse. And I would look at the cover and it would like literally scare me and be like, what the Hell is wrong with you? Like this is disgusting. This is like, you know, the cover art depicts like this grotesque thing.
David O: 00:18:33 And um, but we, we really liked each other and he heard things in the music that I liked that, you know, he appreciated, I heard things in death metal, which I didn't like, but that I, you know, I appreciated and instead of fighting each other, we really played to impress each other. So I tried, you know, writing instead of punk songs, I was trying to write more metal songs. They weren't good. And he was bringing this sort of nettle style of drumming. He was also self taught but not, you know, but doing it to try and apply punk sort of beats to it anyway, the abandoned in the last all that long. But we had an immediate chemistry and so we, we were the only two people at band practice ever. And so later he joined goes cube in New York, which was sort of the first band that I had where I was like, I am going to really try to make this happen in terms of a career or maybe arguably the second man.
David O: 00:19:35 But that chemistry was still there and it still is to this day. We have a new project together. So from a very early age that was really, really important in terms of the music thing. And I think that finding collaboratives or that, that chemistry has been, you know, and, and different viewpoints has really been an important thing. So yeah. Yeah. I know with a shoreline dream that's been one of our, you know, that's been one of our binding agents with the group is just how we all have a lot of overlapping songs and styles and genres that we love. But how we each bring our own little uniqueness to make something that's it's own, you know, it's its own thing. Uh, as a, you know, one thing I love about each one of the guys, I mean they just, the way Eric comes at it with his guitar style and the way that Ryan comes out of that with his writing style and his guitar style and you know, and then we meet in the middle with where I come from and, and just, you know, cause I'm also really, I'm a Dj and a producer, so I also enjoy electronic and that has been a big part
Gabe Ratliff: 00:20:48 in my life. And I love how that plays a part with like scoring and more ambient towel type stuff all the way to, you know, full on dance music and you know, just how we all kind of meet in that place has been just, it's beautiful, right? Like it's this beautiful thing when you find, I mean, I love hearing that story about how you guys met and you know, do you have this different styles, but you just click and you just know. Okay. And, and there's that devotion, right? That commitment of like you were saying, you know, you're the only two people there but you're always there and trying to one up each other and like, you know, you know, and you're also paying a little homage to each other. Right. And it's like pushing you and it's actually you look back and it's like expanded your, your catalog, right? Because you've learned these other genres that just keep kind of pushing the boundaries of where you're going as a group. Cause you're India individually growing, but you're kind of push. It's through pushing each other. That's awesome.
David O: 00:21:48 Yeah. I mean with Kenny in particular, his, you know, he, I think he, I think his approach to the drums as much was similar to mine with a guitar, which was, you know, passion and energy first and sort of, you know, creating sounds from that, not from technique, but then the more we played music together and then, so we, there was sort of this gap as long gap, but then we came back together with Ngos Cube and the more we were both feeling like, okay, now let's really get our techniques better. But we really, I mean we would goes cube the band that formed in New York, Kenny and I lived together and um, goes cube would practice, uh, at least three days a week we would practice at least, I'm trying to think. So at least 15 hours a week we, we practiced 15 to 24 hours a week when we weren't touring on set schedules because we've got to run a practice space, you know, share it with other bands anyways.
David O: 00:22:51 And then Kenny and I would come back to our apartment and you know, he, he would play on the couch. You know, on the futon mattress with his drumsticks and I would have my guitar and it was just, we would go to bars sometimes and do the same thing. We would, I would, you know, have my guitar hold my electric guitar, I'll unplugged and he would have his drumsticks or sometimes just as hands. And we would, we were constantly doing this with each other, but it was always this push to have, not just to, to create something good, but to impress each other, which is, which is good. I think that's a sign of a good musical collaborator is when you can, you know, when you, when you say, I really want to impress this person who I'm playing with. Um, yeah. Not, not show off for the person, but, but have them say, wow, that was really cool. What you just did.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:23:42 It's it that, that's a good, that's a good thing. Yeah, it is. It's a special bond that we have, you know, as artists that I think is this really beautiful, you know, and I think it's akin to like, cause I, I was Kinda like you, like I tried sports. Like I played soccer and you know, different team sports, but I feel like it's very akin to that. You know, it's, it's like that kind of bond that you get on a team, but it's just in a different place. It's a very different kind of bond in a, not dissimilar but just a very different type of bond. So I wonder if we move forward a little bit now. I'd love to hear a little bit about district correspondent, which is interestingly, I worked with Michael so I actually go, yeah, I know Michael Lingual. So can you talk about sort of the transitioning from, you know, with goes cube to distant correspondent and what that was like?
David O: 00:24:30 So goes cube formed in 2003 in New York and um, from the get go it was, you know, aggressive heavy music and Kenny joined in late 2004, we got heavier and heavier goes cube signed with Warner music group. That was our first thing that we signed to which, which wasn't a smart decision. And we were, we were a young band in New York and we were doing our best to make a career of it and we spent more money than I would ever care to calculate, sell financing tours and in the fees. Then there we start some deals that were very good that that took more time and expense to sort of, you know, you kind of, we couldn't even get out of the man to run the clock out and, but we still did a lot of things, um, which I'll be eternally proud of. So then in 2010 I moved from New York.
David O: 00:25:30 I had got Scott and married and uh, we decided, my wife and I will want to start a family. We could never afford to do that in New York. And we decided to move to Colorado. We did that goes cube at this point had released countless eps, one full length on the end records, which we toured on and was, did a good amount of traction. And then we were, I actually think the way that worked out was we had already recorded our second album right before we moved. And then it was released after he moved, but so it was almost a decade of nothing but, and I guess I said 15 to 21 hours a week of, of just, you know, whatever you, whatever kind of music we were, post metal, post hardcore, whatever it was called, just this heavy aggressive music. And I really loved other stuff too.
David O: 00:26:25 And I think that you could hear glimpses of it every once in a while, but, you know, move to Colorado and then having some space from it goes cube didn't break up. But it was an opportunity for me to just sort of take a step back and say, all right, I don't want to stop playing music. You know, I'm away from my bandmates so I want to make some different music now. And so I started experimenting with different things and I, I called it just in correspondent because I was all of a sudden very far away from all of my friends. And um, and so it w I literally felt like a district correspondent. So I started writing this stuff and then I gradually started coming up with this like reconnecting without any conscious decision to do so with this influence of, I mean, you know, the smiths and Cocteau twins and Shelley, an orphan and all of these beautiful new wave lush things and love it.
David O: 00:27:25 Yeah. And around this time, this was when we just had our son, our first born, he was a baby and you know, sort of feeling the pressure now of being like, okay, I can't just sort of say, oh well it didn't make much money this month. You know, I got to make sure I'm responsible. And so I attempted to take, uh, to do a full time job at lasted all four months before I quit as a copywriter with the company where Michael lingual work and were Heather worked. So this is also a high, I met Heather. I immediately knew from looking at her, I was like, I'm going to get along with her. And I wrote, I wrote this like wild promo that somehow I was like my first week at work there. And somehow I convinced the entire company and the production team to go out and we got this crazy like short film basically out at a park in Denver.
David O: 00:28:21 And Heather was really cool about it. She was like, this is really interesting. And, and I, the funny thing is I saw her and I thought to myself, I know she likes Kate Bush. I, she has to like flush. I love Kate Bush. So I started singing Kate Bush around her all the time. And I don't have icing in some of my bands. I'm not claiming I sing well, but I do sing at least, but I don't think Kate Bush well and want see that. So I would be like screeching Kate Bush and she would just be like, didn't even know my name and she would like, stop. You're killing Kate Bush.
David O: 00:29:07 That's how I met Heather. Oh, I love it. Yeah. So from there we just became such good friends. And then I, I don't know, Michael was at work and I, we were talking about music and he mentioned you played drums and he played this other stuff. And I thought, what the hell, I'm going to email you some this weird guitar stuff I've been doing. And like the next day he sent back drums to it and it was this crazy weird time signature he had come up with. I listened to it a hundred times and loved it and I was just couldn't figure out what time signature and he was playing and that that was all I needed. And I just started, we started just collaborating and just doing all this music. And I don't think Michael quite annuity is getting into with me because I was just like, all right, this is it.
David O: 00:30:03 You know, like we're, we're doing this. And then he and I shared the base duties so he would, and you can really hear the different styles on the song. So half the songs he played bass, how the other half I played Bay and then now all of a sudden there's this music and it's like, because none of that is done in a, you know, in the practice space, it's all done over the studio. I'm doing, you know, 80 guitar tracks on them and just, we're just kind of like, well this is crazy. Let's, let's just keep going with us. And then I said, well, I'm going to use this opportunity to get people to collaborate who I never dreamed of collaborating with and they don't need to live here. So I decided to track down the vocalist of meanwhile back in communist Russia who I've loved since I first heard him in college.
David O: 00:30:52 They had already broken up at that point. They were in Oxford, England band, Beautiful Post punk music. Instead of singing, they had a, uh, a vocalist who did these extremely dramatic spoken word pieces of music. Nice. And her name is Emily Gray. She was just totally under the, like off the grid, very, very private person. And it took me months to track her down and I did. And she agreed to do some spoken word on it. And then we got, I got Edith frost involved. I was a huge fan of Edith frosts stuffed, you know, she put out a bunch of records and drag city and she was retired at that point. But I, I guess I just figured I'll get in touch and I'll say, here's some crazy music that sounds like nothing that you do, but you want to do it. And to my surprise, she was all about it and suddenly we were just doing cranking out, I mean this in correspondent put out one album, we probably have closer to three or four albums worth of material.
David O: 00:31:57 Well, so it was a lot of stuff. It came together sort of gradually, but then once the momentum was there, it went very, very quickly. Probably too much that the band could ever sustain. You know, we did a tour to took Michael on tour and uh, and uh, we had our good friend Tyler come in and join his bass player because we were starting to play live. Yeah. So that's a, that's a distant correspondent was, was this thing. And then it was funny because the only big piece of press that distant correspondent got was basically this write up that was like, this is really great. Pretty music. When is David going to start doing metal again? And it was, it was, it was like such a weird thing for me. Like goes cube did not sell a lot of records and we would go on tour and play for three people and you know, to have someone suggest like when's he going to get back to metal?
David O: 00:33:03 It was like for who? You know, like who is waiting around, you know, he did mean, I did go back to the heavy stuff anyways, just some correspondence. Well and that leads us to publicist UK and then so that kind of follows the same correspondence. So just some correspondent does this record, we'd go on tour and then we kind of put things aside for a few different reasons and then goes cube is due, it's still doing stuff. And then I had recorded a whole bunch of other very, what I kind of considered good but weird and ultimately didn't know what it wanted to be music. And I was just sitting there, a whole album and I, on the distant correspondent tour, we played in New York City and I asked this guy who was the singer of fresh kills to Dj the show, his name is Zack Lopez and he writes for vice and all that stuff and fresh kills and goes cubies to tour together all the time.
David O: 00:34:05 So we knew each other from there. Fresh kills and goes cube. We're very different. But um, I said to Zach fresh Kells had just broken up and he and I kind of were joking around that night and said like, well, he saw the way distant correspondent was just doing everything over email. And he was like, well one of you and I going to do a project. And I was like, well, what? I get home, I'll just email you stuff. So I did that. I got home and I emailed him this sort of these, some of these songs from this weird album I had recorded myself and not done anything with. I even played the drums to it. And right around the same time, I had a beer with the bass player of the band east of the wall named Brett Bamberger. He is no longer in east the wall and now he's in rev the vacation.
David O: 00:34:51 But he was touring now with, he had just joined revocation but east of the wall and goes Cuba. Dorie always toured together, fresh kills and eats the wall, did not know each other but goes cube toward with these to the wall, goes cube toward with fresh kills, very, very tight with east of the wall as well. And I'm having a beer with Brett and he's like, yeah, I'm in revocation now and we're playing thousands of people and we're on metal blade. And they're huge saying congratulations. And he's like, yeah, the only thing is is I'm just playing revocation now east of the wall. We played the weirdest stuff from the world and he said that exact same thing exact. He was like, so when are you gonna email me stuff? And I said, well, it's funny you say that. I just started doing this thing and I played him something right at the bar and he was like, that's crazy.
David O: 00:35:40 Email it to me. And I did. He got back to me and he was like, he just texts me and he goes, hey, okay, if Dave would, he joins the band. And I was like, I texted back and the Dave witty, now, Dave Woody, I did not know, but I knew of him because he was a drummer apart by the sun and at and the drummer of municipal waste. So like a legend in the metal world. And um, I did not know that Brett knew him well. He's like, I've played it for Dave woody. He loves it. So all of a sudden, like there's this band, and then I had the tech stack and go, oh, by the way, I just said, Dave woody could join our band. I hope you're all right.
David O: 00:36:29 And Dave Witty is put out, you know, he played drums from elk banana. He's again burnt by the sun and he's worked with all of these labels. And that starts coming together. And then Dave woody suggested, you know, we should do a record for real. And I said, any chance we could do one in relapse? You know, cause he put up a records on relapse and he was like, oh, you like relapse. And I was like, like relapse. He was like, no problem. I'll uh, I'll drop them an email. And it worked out. I mean, which was crazy. So, uh, yeah, that was, um, that was, that was crazy. So most of forgive yourself, which is publicist you case, you know, debut album. I really good. Yeah. Thank you. I'd say most of that were songs that I wrote in 2009, 2010 and then a few more. I wrote a few more in 2014, 2015. So it's, it's weird when I hear that because I'm hearing II and there's even guitar tracks. I mean, it's not even like I wrote the songs and then we rerecorded them. I wrote the songs, recorded them. And then we use the guitar tracks as basis for the actual studio tracks. So the original 2010 playing in a basement recording the guitars are actually in the tracks there. So. Wow. Yeah.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:37:58 I love how the universe provides. I just was just smiling as you were talking about how, you know, it's like you go and you have a pint with a buddy and then it's like, hey, or check this out. And then you know, a couple of emails go back and forth and it's like, Oh hey, by the way. Yeah, the drummer too. Yeah. And you might know him now, man. That's awesome. And it's I, yeah, and I love that album. It's, it's awesome. That kind of leads me into what I want to start getting into now is around your process because I, I find this fascinating, you know, we're in a totally new, we're a totally new
David O: 00:38:35 style of being able to work together. I mean, I just am curious about that process because it's so fascinating to me how the music writing process has evolved even further these days. For me, I don't like jamming. I never have liked jamming. I don't like jam band music. I don't like. Um, I really appreciate jazz. Like I appreciate it and, and I'd like listening to some of it. I'm not well listened to it. I should be better at it. I do not like music where people are just improving. Uh, it's not, uh, I'm not saying I, it's not good. I'm not making a judgment on it. I don't like it. I do not like jamming. Um, I do not like getting in a room with people and plugging the guitar Annan and fucking around and being like, well, this is cool and I'll just keep playing.
David O: 00:39:31 I, I don't like it. I don't think it's fun. I think it's tedious. I think it's frustrating. I think it's a waste of time for me. This is all me. There's one person in the world. What I like Jan timing with and that's Kenny. Kenny. Yeah. I mean Kenny and I get in the room and we have this way of sort of immediately hitting on a riff and instead of playing the riff a million times over and like whatever, we ha we sort of stop and go, what is that riff? Let's play it enough to where we remember it, what do we want to do after the roof and, and we sort of do this building process that's unique. That's just me and Kenny. My process for writing has always been sitting by myself and playing the guitar and piecing things together that I like.
David O: 00:40:26 I like the way they sound, you know, I used to do it on a four track and I still do it on a four track occasionally, but sometimes I just do it digitally now and being able to multitrack things. Now. The flip side of that is that when I was younger in high school and the sick, terrific nosebleeds, my high school band that signed to a few different punk labels, I would be playing the drums. I would be telling my friend, this is the notes to play on base and you know, then when we got a drummer, I would tell the drummer, this is what you should play. The beat is like this. What's changed is that I am not interested at all in what I, in hearing the drums that I hear in my head, the drums that I hear in my head are there only as a placeholder.
David O: 00:41:17 Michael Langle and Kenny and Dave Witty. These are people where, who have surprised me in terms of like, here's the guitar and I'm, I'm highlighting the drums here only because that typically comes next. And then the in particular Brett Bamberger's a bass player is you could never predict, see what he's going to say, which is great, but uh, what he's going to play. But, um, the drums, I love being surprised. And Dave woody in particular will sometimes ask me, what do you hearing for the song? And I'll, I'm so reluctant to even tell him, well, it's kind of like this and my, you know, my answers are always so pedestrian in some ways. Like, you know, Oh, I'm hearing whatever. I know I can't even give an example right now, but I'm not interested in hearing what I hear because that's only my brain as far as I'm concerned.
David O: 00:42:14 Like I'm collaborating with people who are so talented and so wouldn't I like it's a cumulative thing. It's an aggregate thing. It's like, oh, I mean, it may sound egotistical. I don't think I'm a great technical guitar player, but I think that I'm an interest in guitar player. I think I'm a good songwriter. I frankly wouldn't do it if I didn't think so. But I don't think I'm a good drummer. I don't think I'm a good bass player. I occasionally think I'm, I think I'm good at writing lyrics for the things that I feel inspired by. But Zach Lopez is an amazing writer and I would never presume to write lyrics for something he's going to sing. I have written lyrics republishes UK, the US because he's asked me to or because he liked the demo version of the old song I did where I had my own words to it and he said, let's use that.
David O: 00:43:04 So, um, I don't like dictating to my collaborators to play something. I, there's nothing more exciting to me than working on a song, getting it out to your collaborators and then getting a text message saying, hey about to email you the reference file. And I'm just like, yes, this is like, this is so exciting. Like, like can't wait to hear what they did. And really more than 90% of the time I'm just like, I'm surprised and I'm just like, that is amazing. I mean one of the things that I hear from musicians a lot, it's like, oh, I don't like listening to my own music, which I can appreciate. But one of the cool things about, I think the way that my process for writing and then the process, the what comes as a result of it is that it's hard for me to hear it as this is David [inaudible] listening to David over Chesky. It doesn't feel like that to me. It feels like in some ways it changes the guitar so much. It almost is like, Holy Shit, I played that. So to me it's like I'm, I'm listening to this great band that I, this is a song I've never heard before because I'm, you know, I don't ever want to listen to my high school punk band. That's just me doing stuff. But I love listening to publicists UK because, you know, I'm only 25% of what's going on, this 75% of people who I think are brilliant. So.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:44:33 Well that leads me to my next question around how do you know when a song is done or, or for that matter an album as well? Cause I always love hearing that, how people's impression of that is from other groups.
David O: 00:44:47 Good question. I don't know. Uh, sometimes it's a sort of a, I don't know about in terms of the song, I don't know. And I'm not saying that, I think there's a lot of people who have answers who say things like whether it's about re writing or, um, like, you know, like their literary writing or about music. Like, like, you know, it's never really done. Or You read it and you're like, Oh, I could've done this better, or whatever. I'm not saying I don't have that feeling, but I don't know. I think there's just a feeling that you get where you're like, I mean I know when I come to the end of it, I guess I just know, I mean it's funny cause I'm working on the next publicist UK record and yeah. And I knew immediately when I, when I wrote the last song, not only the last song, but I also knew when I wrote the last song of the record, I don't like, I know it'll, all of this will sound so much different with all the other instruments in and everything like that. I know this song is going to be the last song on the record. I knew it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:45:56 Yeah. That's all. I love it. Yeah. So we grew up in the air, you know, of albums and where they had a progression. And I, that was part of what got me into deejaying was I love taking people on a journey, whether it's with an album, as an artist or as a DJ, a with a mix or add an actual live event. How do you go about, you know, you knew that song was the end. How do you go about handling the order of tracks on an album and you know, how those fit in. Is that important to you or do you just kind of, I almost exclusively listened to music by album in sequence. The thought of putting on a record and hitting shuffle on it to me is like
David O: 00:46:44 heretical to me. In some ways. It's like, yes, you're going to go so far. I mean it's one thing to be like, I'm going to put on the smiths and I'm going to hit shuffle because cool. Get, you know, let's just listen to the smiths. Right. It'd be another thing for me to be like, okay, like I have all these Smith's records to choose from. I'm going to choose this record, but then I'm not going to listen to it in sequence. Yeah. Is like, is almost as like a crazy thing that I wouldn't even consider doing. I, my wife and I, we listened to vinyl. Like mostly that's the way we listen to music, um, is on vinyl and it sounds pretentious, but the fact of the matter is is our car isn't new enough to have Bluetooth where we can use our music on our phones.
David O: 00:47:32 The cable we have to plug our phone in is busted. So it only comes in through one channel, which is, that's annoying. I can't listen to just per channel APP. That just drives me nuts. Like in the car we listened to cds or the radio, like as in like NPR. Right. And then at home it's like, you know, either I'm listening to my own personal collection while I work, but we have date night every Friday night and that we just listened to albums on vinyl when we eat dinner at night, we listened to the album, we listened to albums on vinyl. When we're cleaning the house, we put albums on vinyl on and that's what we're listening to. That's our main mode of listening to music. So even better than a CD you can, you don't just advanced the track. My wife always likes to say half.
David O: 00:48:18 The reason why she likes to listen to vinyl is it forces you to listen to the bad songs. You know, it forces you to consider like, wow, they like put this song on this record it, is it a good song and I don't get it or is it a shitty song and it's just filler like that's an interesting question. So in terms of sequence, that's an important thing for me. Whatever modern way we listened to music does not affect drawn to it for me because I guess I just don't listen to him that way anyways. But my thing when it comes to sequences that I am always, and I'm not saying my bandmates agree with me and I don't get my way necessarily, but I am all about contrast. I'm all about contrast and my writing. I'm all of that contrast within song structures and I am all about contrast in a sequence.
David O: 00:49:11 If even with goes cube where it's all, it's all heavy, every song is some or songs were super fast, some are super slow summer, do me some or whatever. I think it would be weird to be like, let's put all the fast songs here and then we'll put the slow songs here and then whatever. It's like to me, let's just have all dynamics. Let's have contrast. So my approach to sequencing an album is sort of, you know, this sort of journey where you're going to be going, we're going to, I'm going to take you up, I'm going to take you down, we're going to get really energetic, we're going to get really introspective. And part of that is just to keep it interesting.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:49:50 Yeah, I love hearing that. I'm so glad to hear that. Cause I agree 100% I mean we, we have always put a lot of thought into that journey and those dynamics and in a song and in the album so that, you know, you are going on some kind of a track through this journey of music that we've created. But I love hearing that people still care about putting an album out and it being an album and you know, it having, it's, it's, it's a finiteness. Yeah, totally connect with that. Yeah.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:25 This episode is brought to you by Gutha. Laura, are you an artist, creator, entrepreneur that creates with purpose and wants to make the world a better place? If so, go thorugh is your media company. We tell the world about your brand through storytelling rather than sales pitches like most other companies get. Thor has committed to getting to the heart of your brand and its mission. So you don't just have fans but super fans that will support you for years to come. Let us tell your story today. Learn more at [inaudible] dot com well, so I'm going to switch gears now. I'd love to kind of shift over to about your writing. You know, I'd love to kind of now shift back to, you know, when did that story begin? When did you start telling stories and writing fiction and nonfiction?
David O: 00:51:13 I guess technically you could say I started writing fiction and like middle school or something. Not In any not. I wish I could tell you I had some early moment of success or something. I didn't, I just tried it. And then in college I will tell you that when everyone else was getting babies, sort of the beer, money, jobs in college, you know, you're, you know, maybe they're working at if they're flipping burgers or they're doing whatever. I mean I knew I wanted it to be a writer, I guess to kind of connect it a little bit to the music really quick. My band six [inaudible] nose nosebleeds in high school. I have this, you know, I had this thought that I wasn't going to go to college because we had put out some singles on some labels. We were on some compilations, we were opening for big bands in New York City.
David O: 00:52:02 We got signed to sympathy for the record industry, which was a huge label, huge punk label. And we were supposed to have a split 10 inch and we went into this amazing studio in Brooklyn. We recorded with a producer who produced the new bomb Turks record, destroy a boy, which is like one of the most influential albums for me. And we recorded it in a day and mixed in a day. And then, you know, we delivered it to the label and then it was like senior year and our drummer will was a junior and our bass player was senior, but he was going to Ohio state and I didn't think about the practical nus like implications of having a band that is going to become a career you need to tour on the record, you know? And so it was like when the label is like asking about the plan, I can't remember at this point and how that conversation went, but essentially it was like, oh you guys are graduating high school and the band is going to sort of disintegrate.
David O: 00:53:01 We're not, the label was like, well we're not putting out the record. I mean that would be insane. That would be it. I can't blame them. But I was a total shock to me at the time. It was like, wait, what? Like we've just recorded this thing. It's awesome. So that never came out. I was heartbroken. And my dad had, you know, my parents weren't happy about like the fact that I was like, I don't want to go to college. I just want to do this, but my dad, to his credit was like, show me how you're going to make a career of music instead of going to college. He's a working man. My Dad was working at US steel at a factory in a steel mill right out of high school, so he related to it. My mom was not happy, but my dad was like, okay, I'll support you if you can explain to me how you're going to draw a paycheck like I did at the factory.
David O: 00:53:56 Then okay, well as soon as it was like, well, they're not going to put out the album because you know, our drummer know it'd be, it quickly fell apart, so I was heartbroken. So I went to college and I was like, boy, I've always liked writing or I've always wanted to be a writer, so fucking music. That was the most heartbreaking experience I've ever had. I don't want to play music. I want to be a writer. That's really where I would say it started for me and I was an English major because I didn't really know what, I didn't know that you could major in rhetoric. It turns out you could have, so I could totally like major. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but I did know that I want it to be a writer. And so I went around to these local businesses and in college and I said, my pitch was this.
David O: 00:54:51 Everyone looks at the local television commercials that you put out and they think they're horrible. They laugh at you, they don't sell anything because they're stupid. Well, in five years or four years or whatever, I'm going to be on Madison Avenue writing like, you know, the Volkswagen commercials back then that was like, you know, the Volkswagen television ads where we're like, you know, oh, they were great. And um, you know, and you're going to have to pay, you know, untold thousands of dollars if not millions to get the kind of writing. And I'm going to do well, I will do it for you now for whatever you'll pay me for. And most businesses threw me out because I was insulting their commercials. One car dealership took me on and said like, okay kid, you know you want to be writer, we'll, we'll do it. And that was my first professional writing job and I started writing, I was writing these television scripts for their commercials and it was like they were a used car dealer.
David O: 00:55:57 I mean their commercials were like a guy standing in a parking lot with the flat colorful banners and the balloons and I'm gone, come on down this weekend we got 15% off or whatever it was. I, so then I'm submitting the scripts and it's like black and white strat on 16 millimeter film. The camera is on double yellow lines, street level silence, nothing but black and white for 20 seconds. And then a car drives over it and then voiceover edits, it says the name of the dealership, whatever it was. And they would read these things and be like, yeah, not going to happen. You know, like, I mean I'm sitting here like, you know, I'm going to turn, I'm going to transform their television commercials into like the cinema in any way. And indie films. Yeah. I love it. Oh yeah. You were like, I am the author tour.
David O: 00:57:05 Yeah. I mean I'm coming at this like, like, oh your is going to premiere at the Angelika. So I guess I did some amount of work for them that earned me something. I had to pay me something. And at the end of all that, the guy at the end of the summer, he was like, well, I'll tell you what, I can either pay you for your work or um, I noticed that your car is always broken. He's like, I can take your car and trade, which I'll give you scrap for. And then I'll give you the balance toward another car on the lot. And that's how I got my second car was, was writing for that car dealership. And at the same time I got a, a column in the daily and [inaudible], which was the independently run student newspaper at University of Illinois. And it was a humor column and it wasn't any good.
David O: 00:57:57 I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but I had to write, you know, a thousand words every week that we're going to be published. And I had it editors to contend with, which was, which was good. So that's where the writing thing started. By the end of college I was writing radio commercials, not only for the local media company but for a small national ad agency and was like, okay, I need to get into production now because when I hear what they do with my scripts, I don't like it and I want to have more creative control over it and I want to execute him. And I was, I think I was actually doing fairly interesting stuff for the radio and yeah, so it, by the time I graduated college, I had already national ad campaigns on the air and was writing for newspapers and it was like cool.
David O: 00:58:42 Like now I can say I have professional writing experience when I go into the workforce and I started freelancing and writing for magazines and copywriting all the while trying to work on my fiction. And I had, I had one, the University of Illinois fiction contest for a short story that gave me a little bit of validation and tried to continue doing that. So that's where the writing thing came in. That's great. Long Story. That's no, I that I noted it down. I was like, that is a great story. I love that. Well and I, I love the idealism, right? Like just like a true punker you know, like you are just like
Gabe Ratliff: 00:59:22 going for it. But I love the, the drive, you know, it's, it's just all of your work is oozing with drive, right? Like whether it's your music, you're just constantly just spewing music out of your being. And then similarly you have the same really, I love that sort of gorilla punk style going out to these, cause I remember having the same thoughts of like these local used car dealerships have such shitty commercials and just thinking like, ah, I could do so much better but I'm the same way. I'm like I would take it totally. You know, I studied film so I would totally take it. I love that this the 16 Mil Black and white, cause I, I got, I was able to actually, when I first started studying film was able to shoot and make 60 millimeter film. So I remember sitting in the cutting room, you know, for hours cutting pieces together, you know, and I would totally go that way with it, you know, and he ended up turning into this like, you know, Hitchcockian styled thriller or something.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:00:29 And they're like, no, we're selling used cars. Really. Right, exactly. It's so great. When would you say that you develop your own style of writing? You were fortunate to, to jump in and start getting work through college and you know, getting work that you were saying it was pushing you and having editors and all these things. So that obviously elevated you. Was there a point where you recognize where you started to come out regardless of writing for other publications and whatnot or commercials, but where you started to come out, you were talking about working on fiction and you've also grown in nonfiction. What did that all start to come into place? So I wrote a story,
David O: 01:01:05 the one that won the contest, I was in this, this creative writing class, and the professor came in and he said, he came in like the first day. Any he, I don't remember what he said, but he, you know, he used the f word, he was just like, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, he, he had a very east coast accent and he said something like, uh, you know, like, you think you're gonna come in here and do something like that, you know, fuck you and I, all the kids were, all the students were like, oh, this guy is so cool. And I remember thinking like, what an asshole. Like this guy thinks that he's going to come in here and he's gonna like shock us with is like using the f word and all that stuff. And you know, this guy, I didn't, I've never, I was never a great student.
David O: 01:02:00 And so part of that I think is maybe an authority problem or something, you know? And also just the stubbornness of like, I, you know, I do things my way. And so I just was just like whatever. And um, he, he kicked off the, the class was literally just that everyone wrote short stories and then workshop them. So there wasn't like assigned reading, but the first class he was like, obviously we have nothing to work shop right now. So I'm going to start off by reading you one of my stories. And again, I thought, oh great, here we go. So this guy's gonna walk in here. You know, it's going to shock us all by using the f word, and now he's going to sit down and he's going to give us a reading of his stuff. Like here we go. And he he, his name is Michael Madonna, and he read a story called the box and it turns out it was nonfiction. It was creative nonfiction, and that was a pivotal experience, a pivotal moment in my life. I sat and listened to that story and that keep in mind I wanted to hate the guy. I left that class realizing I was in the presence of somebody who had just changed my life
David O: 01:03:21 and it was, the writing was beautiful, but the writing was honest and there was a rhythm to it that maybe it was because he's from where I'm from. We're very geographically speaking and there's maybe a cadence in the way it was speaking, but there was a way of expressing that was at once artistic and dramatic, but extremely raw and it spoke to me, which is such a stupid phrase. It spoke to me, but it's true. And it connected with me in a way that I just,
David O: 01:03:58 I just to this day, I get chills thinking about it and I wrote a story. It wasn't anything like his, it's not like I, you know, tried to mimic it, but I wrote a story and I knew when I got done with it that I had done something interesting. It was the same feeling when I had written that song moderation. And I was like, oh my God, I just wrote a song. It was almost like I wrote my first song, even though it was my a hundred 50th and I called him up as his house and I was like, or I called him up at night at his house and I said, I just finished a story and uh, and I, you gotta read it and I know that I'm supposed to bring it to class. I don't give a shit. You got to read it before that.
David O: 01:04:42 And he was annoyed with me for calling his house, so he said, okay, I'll read it. You're going to be in my office tomorrow at six in the morning, you know, college student making, making them get up at 6:00 AM and I was like deal. So I got in there, he got done reading it. He didn't say anything and he just put it down and he just, he just said fuck you. And I went, wow, you know, and he said, fuck you. And that's a great story. And Wow. He pushed me on a few things and he has really good suggestions. But that was the start of, he was think the first person who helped me understand what made something good in terms of it wasn't, I mean it was mostly luck. I've considered that story to be luck. Like I almost, even though I wrote it, it's almost like I had written a hundred things and then I wrote a hundred things after it. That sucked too. So it almost felt like just lucky that I happened to string these words together, but he helped me understand why it was good, which I've drawn from. So that was the first moment where I felt like I was writing as me in my voice. And even though that voice differs a little bit depending on what I'm writing, that was when it was my voice. And I take that to fiction. I take that to nonfiction.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:07 Well that's a good, another great story. You really are good at this. Thank you. He also sounds like one of your mentors you were struggling to come up with earlier, you know, as you say,
David O: 01:06:21 maybe he is. I think he would be the person. If I had to say one was a mentor, he would probably be it. But, um, unfortunately he and I have lost touch. I remember when my band came through on tour and when we played champagne, I'm met him for coffee and I was wanting him to be proud of me, like here, my bands on tour. And he was like, what are you doing with this band? Shit. You know, his reaction to it was sort of like, like fuck you doing with this, why aren't you writing? And I was kind of like, well, I'm trying it right. But you know, I'm doing this too and it's not like we got into a fight, but in some ways I wondered if he kind of lost respect for me in that way. And I have sent him things.
David O: 01:07:04 I had a half that a good year in terms of having my, my short fiction published and I've, I've tried emailing him and saying, hey look at this essay I wrote, Hey look at this short story. And I think he runs the, like, I think he now runs the masters, the MFA Creative Writing Program. So it may be nothing more than he's just a busy guy. Hopefully it's not because he's ill. I don't know. We never had a falling out, but we haven't been in touch. And I tend to think that if you're going to be someone's mentor, there's some sort of an ongoing relationship. And I think in the case of, of as I, he just, I used to just call him Madonna. I would not call him professor Madonna or any, I just call him, Hey Madonna, Madonna and I, it was a really intense moment. Yeah. Which invaluable. I'm not discounting it,
Gabe Ratliff: 01:07:56 but yeah. Well, I mean I, speaking to that, I similarly have had people like that come into my life that were these inspirational figures that pushed me. One of mine is, his name's Sean Bell. He's actually head of Ux at Amazon now.
David O: 01:08:15 Okay. I was going to say it, it sounds familiar.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:18 Yeah. And he, he pushed me really hard when I was early in because I'm also a designer or I don't really so much anymore, but I used to be a designer in, you know, first startups and, and uh, in corporate. And he would push me in like design thinking and you know, really we, I would do like solution architecture for websites and things and, and he was pushing me to think critically. And I still use those things today, you know, and it's still, it's one, one of the things I ended up finding about loving doing this show is it pushes you to ask questions even more than you would and like how to think about thinking of questions and how you get from a to B and all of these things. And I still cherish that. You know, we don't connect as often as we used to.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:05 Same Story. But I look at him as one of those people. I still call him a mentor because he was such a pivotal figure in my life and a time that got me where I am today, you know? So I totally connect with that. That's awesome. I love that story. I love it. I love that too. That it started off with this like you know this like discernment, right when you first met him but then he shared work with you and then you're like, Whoa, hold on. I want to not like this guy. But they, you know, but then like fueled you creatively to go off and write something that, and I love that when you showed it to him and he read it, he's just like, man fuck you. You know that was really good cause you did the same thing back to him like that, that like symbiotic relationship of creativity. That's so great man. That's awesome. So let's move forward into, you know, how do you, when you're, when you're writing, how do, you will have two parts to this question. How do you get into like your flow state with your writing and then on the flip side, how do you manage writer's block or do you even believe in it? Some people don't.
David O: 01:10:15 I mean I believe in writers but I'm brighters but it is what it is. I mean, and honestly it's not for me to say whether or not it exists. If someone says they have writer's block, they have writer's block. So I mean I have blocks on things and I'm, I manage it by doing other things. Sometimes I need with, there are some things that I run and it's not like I have, there's some consistency to what these things are. But for me, I always have a lot of things going. I'm writing music, I am working on various writing projects. I all, I want to be doing all of them at one time. Typically speaking, I can't do all of them at one time and frequently I can't even do one of them at one time because there's something else going on that's life. So I guess sort of, not to answer the question, but to add another thing in is maybe will change at some point.
David O: 01:11:14 But my current obstacle isn't writer's block. It is. It's the inability to even be able to have the time, right or not. I have a lot of time to write. It's my job. My job is to write, it's what I do all day, 10 hours a day. But I have different projects. So it's like I would like to be able to spend 60 hours this week on one writing project. I can't do that. I can't even, I, I'll lucky I'll be lucky if I can spend six hours on that project. So that is the obstacle that I have in the situation. In the event, the times when I do have, when I can sit down and say, okay, I can work on this project and then nothing is coming, I instead of dwelling on it and getting into the sort of, I have writer's block, I can't work, I'm going to stare at my screen.
David O: 01:12:06 What I usually do is either I just write it anyway and it sucks, but at least I've broken the seal so to speak. Or I just start doing the other project and going like, well I know I want to write this story or I, you know, whatever it is, but that's just not clicking for me right now. So I'm going to write this other thing. So that is how I manage that. In terms of how I get into the flow, again, it's uh, it's, it's a process of trying to, if I have the time, I don't really have to consciously get into the flow. I just do it. Sometimes I do it with music, sometimes I do it without music. And this is the same for making music is as well as writing. Sometimes I'll get into such a rhythm with it that I can say I'm gonna wake up at four o'clock in the morning and I'm going to write from four to six on this thing.
David O: 01:12:55 And sometimes that that works. Um, other times it's more of an ad hoc process. But you know, if my wife goes out to meet with friends one evening, I'm always, I always tell myself the kids are going to be in bed, my wife's going to be out, I'm going to, I'm going to watch some boring documentary that she does not want to watch. And invariably what ends up happening, I just end up writing and I don't even necessarily want to, I just am like, I'm sitting there and all of a sudden I'm writing because I'm just like, ah, Shit. I got, I've got two hours right now. And all of a sudden I've had a moment to think and I better write this down. I mean it, I'm not saying I'm, there are times when I'll be, well, I mean I was walking through the airport the other day, like dictating into my phone, the beginning of a short story that I had in mind and I haven't had a chance to touch it since. But you know, that was the first, I mean just thinking, well what the hell? I mean I've, I'm walking and uh, I don't have to talk to anybody else so I might as well. Right. You know, so anything that I can do to get words out, that's awesome. Well that's great that you, you're, you're
Gabe Ratliff: 01:14:12 using your time in that way, right? Like you could be. I was, I was, I was glad to hear it. That's how the story went cause I was like, oh, is he going to say he's going to do the documentary? But you were like, no, I, I find myself writing, you know, and taking that time and that obviously shows how passionate you are about it. Yeah. To see you crave it.
David O: 01:14:33 Yeah. The, the only thing that I'll say that I have to be aware of as a father and I, you know, and, and a husband is that, um, you know, and I, I think probably I'm not in danger of doing this, but I, you know, it's like, it's, I guess it's important we can always feel like you need more and more time and um, you know, like, I need more time to do this. Like I need to work on this thing and, and I need more hours for it. And you, I think sometimes it's important to make the decision to say, it's one thing for me to say, look, I'm the, I can open up a beer and I can watch a documentary or I can open up a beer and I can write like that's, I think unless I really need a break, it's a good choice for me to open up a beer and, right.
David O: 01:15:27 You know, at night when I, you know, instead of vegging. Now, there are times when you can say like, I can go to the grocery store with my kids and it's just the grocery store or I can write for a half an hour and I try to make the decision to go to the grocery store with my kids because I fucking love hanging out with my kids. And also, I mean, I, I, I think that, you know, the concept of the workaholic parent, you know, is usually framed in terms of the sort of corporate thing. And I think that people who choose creative lifestyles, it's an, it's, it's, it's tough. It's one of the toughest ones for a lot of reasons. And one of them is the, uh, you know, the feeling that this is somehow more of a virtuous, which it's not, by the way, like the creative, I don't think the creative life is necessarily any more or less virtuous than any life.
David O: 01:16:26 I mean, the virtuousness virtue comes from the, the person. So, you know, but there can be this idea that, you know, well, I'm not working in a cubicle, so I'm dedicating myself to my art. And so to do that as this virtuous thing. Well Bullshit. I mean, you know, you have to, if you're a parent, you, you have, do you have children? You know, I mean if you're in a relationship, you have a partner. And so I think that it's important that we as creative people as artists, you know, check ourselves and say like big deal. So you make music or you write things like that doesn't make you some better person. And if you're, you know, if your kids are sitting there like bored and missing you, I mean every once in a while make it, it'll be like, like, oh I miss you. And I'm like, I work from home. That's crazy. How can you miss me? That's right. Cause I'm in my office all the time. That's what I think it's important to say. Like, come on kids. Like we're just going to go run errands together. So yeah.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:28 Nice. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, it is tough. It's tough for us. So I want to switch gears again to another passion of yours that I'm really excited to talk about your podcast. Ah, yes, I am truly fascinated with this concept because I'm also a fan of cars. Maybe not as much as you are, but your show tempest. I would love to hear about, you know, the show and where did that idea come from and how did that all come about? Cause that's kind of another whole arena for you. Yeah. So the tempest,
David O: 01:18:03 uh, came, came about the, I had mentioned to you already that I had a background in broadcasting. In fact, it predated the college writing radio commercials thing. I got my FCC license when I was a sophomore in high school. So I've always liked radio and I was already writing these sort of deep human interest stories. I was writing some of them about cars and some not about cars already and You know, these are great stories. And sometimes as you know, when you're talking to someone, you feel like this is going to read really well, this is good, this good stuff. Then there's part of you that thinks, man, that person said this thing in this way that I could spend 50 hours on capturing that quote. And explain it exactly how they said it, but if someone could just hear it, you know, and um, that was the genesis of the tempest was feeling like, you know, some people are just great storytellers and some things lend themselves to this kind of more cinematic way of telling stories. And I pitched it to my editor at Jalopnik and he's was like, oh, that sounds interesting. And so then I've just, just didn't wait for anyone that asks me for it. I just cut together an eight minute long mock episode.
David O: 01:19:22 And in fact I did was like called my dad and I said, Hey dad, tell me the story about the tempest. You know? And I didn't tell him I was recording it, uh, quite ethical of me and then I wasn't gonna say anything. Yeah. So I, I recorded him and then I got my mom, I, she got her on the phone and then I got together an eight minute long version of that episode and I sent it to my editor and he was immediately like, oh, okay, I get it now. Uh, let you know soon I'm going to send this up the chain and it got approval and then they, they ordered a full season of it in fact that episode with the tempest and they named the show after it, um, because of that episode. And that original interview is the footage of that is in that episode.
David O: 01:20:12 If you haven't heard it, there's an episode in there. Uh, it's like called Mister Hot rod 61 10th test or something. So that's how that came about. And then I, you know, it was, they ordered a seven episode season, I delivered on it and yeah, and I'm in pre production on the second, on the second season now. It was Jalopnik podcast in name only and that I, I pitched it to them and to see if they wanted to fund it and put their name on it. So I found a graded it hosted, wrote it, all that stuff. Of course you did. I mean, and I'm not trying to say that in the sort of egotistical way. I'm just saying that, you know, tempest is this thing that I created and I sort of had a decision to make. Do I want to do this on my own or do I want to just try to maybe get some funding for it.
David O: 01:21:03 So that's how that happened with Jalopnik. That's awesome. So we were going to start winding down. I know you have to go soon, but I have just a few more wrap up questions. I'd love to. That was, I had several others but I didn't want to honor your time. So what would you say is your, the biggest challenge you've had as a writer and a songwriter? I think, you know, we've spent all this time mostly talking about, you know, the things that we see in that are, you know, arguably successes and that's that. That's interesting right then and there because a lot of these things, you know goes cube didn't sell a lot of records. Distinct correspondent didn't sell a lot of records at all level six UK as much as that, you know, that record, I mean I'm proud of all these records but in terms of you know, success or whatever, I mean, you know, it's like these, a lot of these things it's like, well you know, not a lot of people were at the shows on the tours or they lost money.
David O: 01:22:08 When I'm getting at is that, and I don't mean to sound like a downer, is that I think this life of being a writer or being a musician unfortunately is mostly bad news. There's a lot of rejection involved and when there isn't rejection and things do gets, you know, picked up or they do get approved or whatever, you know, there's no money in it or it didn't sell as well or not as not as many people came to it or you know, the experience of working with other people maybe on the business side was frustrating and you feel like maybe people took advantage of you. I know that's happened a lot more to me as a writer than I expected. I kind of expected it. And the music business and music business is known for being shitty and you know, I'm in a new world now cause I have a TV show in development and I'm working with great people.
David O: 01:23:02 They're brilliant artists and everything. But I'm also, you know, I'm meeting with really these, you know, I'm dealing with agents and managers now and I'm in, I'm out of my depth and my guard is up even more and I'm going and it's, it's been going on for a year. And so I think it's dealing with things like rejection and dealing with things like frustrations. And when you get into the point of saying, I'm going to make a career or living out of being a creative, then you have to contend with the fact that you have to deal with the business aspect of things, which is usually, especially in the media world, is just fucking awful. I mean, it's just this, it's just bad. I mean it's, it's bad. I, and sometimes it's because people are but add and other times it's because the industry is in flux, you know?
David O: 01:23:57 I mean, look at, uh, Jalopnik is a great publication filled with great people. They were a part of Gawker media and then Gawker media had the hole. The whole Hogan fiasco happened and then it was bought by Univision and Univision had their own priorities and whether or not they were funded well enough, I don't know. I'm not a staff. Well now they got bought by a private equity firm. You know, these things are not disconnected from the people in the trenches. I'm not even a staff person. I'm a freelancer and we feel these things. We feel them in terms of where they're shifting priorities. We feel them in terms of how they fund things and the allocate budgets we feel I'm in terms of, you know, demanding rights and saying you as a creator, you know, we want to pay you for this and we're going to pay you well for it, but we also want the rights for it.
David O: 01:24:53 And you know, I can't tell you how many different times without being specific in different industries, music, writing, whatever, where people have said, no, I own the rights to this or I have you in a contract and I'm not gonna do anything with it. I am not going to give you money for it. I am not going to support you anything. But if another organization says, well I see the value in it, I want to pay you for that, let's get this going. They say, no, we have the rights to it. Or we have you under contract. We're not letting you out. And there's not even any good reason. I mean what it comes down to is always greed. But, and I used to say these are good problems to have. They are good problems to have because it means that you're doing something, you, you've done something good enough that someone wants to keep you under contract but the stakes get higher and that shit is hard and there's no, there's no manual for how to deal with it.
David O: 01:25:54 And there are days where, you know, as a grade Iv we, we deal with writer's block or, or you know, whatever you want to call it, you know, lack of time or I'm not feeling inspired or I spent two hours in this and it didn't work. I pitched a story and it got rejected. I wrote a great short story. I sent an that's 20 places it got rejected by all of them. You know, an editor wrote back and said they loved it but there's no room for it in the issue. And that breaks your heart. But then on top of it all, you know it's like, and then you find out that some bullshit happened with funding or with the rights and it's just like, it's a hard, hard thing. And those are the challenges. And it's funny because when these things happen and you know, you'll have people say, don't give up.
David O: 01:26:39 And you're like, that's the problem. I couldn't give up if I tried to give up. It's almost like a curse, you know, they to give up sounds great. I just couldn't do it if I tried. So it's a, it's, it's, it's tough. It's tough industry. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Last couple of questions. What on the flip side would you say is the biggest thing that has helped you? It's been a positive, well, a couple of things, you know. Um, first of all, I have a very, very supportive family and that's important. You know, my wife is not frustrated or, or sort of wishing that I'd go out and get a job. She, you know, I had a meeting for our, for my TV show on our 10th anniversary and I was all set to be home for our 10th anniversary and it turned out I had to do this meeting and she was the one who said like, we'll celebrate our 10th anniversary in other day.
David O: 01:27:37 You need to do this meeting, go make this happen, go get this TV show. So that is huge. And then the other thing, and this sounds like a cliche, but it is not, oh my God, is it not? The other thing is readers and listeners, I mean, you know, I have more readers than I ever had listeners, but you know, particularly I know goes cube is at it for a while and we, we heard people say they love our music. Publicist UK is the biggest, most high profile thing. I did it very, very fortunate to have people come to those shows and buy those records and tell me how much the music means. And then writing, having, especially with, uh, outlets like Jalopnik where there's such an active community of commenters and the podcasts, tempest getting tons of e of, I mean, I, when that was on the, during the first season, that was seven weeks, I, my, I couldn't keep up with the emails I got from people.
David O: 01:28:34 I mean, that keeps me going way more than the checks did. And that's the other thing is of course, you know, during those, those downtimes, it's like the business and you should be worried about the business and make sure the contracts are good and make sure you're getting paid well and, and all this stuff. And then you're doing it and you're kind of like, oh, screw it. I don't care if this person said they love what I wrote. Like A, that's it matters now. You know, it's, it matters to me. And so, but getting that feedback, I mean that's, that's important. I, I read, I read every comment that I get, you know, I respond to most of them too, so.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:29:09 Awesome. Well thank you so much David. I appreciate your time. I know you have to go. Last thing is, are there any final parting words that you have to share with any other budding artists out there? Musicians, writers,
David O: 01:29:23 you know, I would say keep at it. Don't give up, but I think true creatives and artists or musicians or whatever they are, are going to, they are going to keep that out. They don't need me to tell them. I think what I would say is, um, instead of keep at it, because I know you will understand how much, how much of this is failure. If when you're looking at defining success, find it in small in small ways, you know, don't define it by saying, you know, success is that I make x amount of, you know, I make $150,000 a year or whatever to find it. As I booked this Gig, define it as I wrote, I still remember the first piece of press goes, cube got, and it was not even anything that was over. It wasn't even anything particularly glowing. It was a mildly positive one sentence in the village voice and I still remember that and I remember saying to myself, that's it.
David O: 01:30:23 I finally got it. We got our first piece of press. That as a success, there's so much failure, there's so much frustration, there's so much rejection in the creative fields that I think it's important to make successes a little easier for yourself by defining them and more attainable ways. And then you continually then say, okay, good. I got my first piece of press. Now my next thing is to say I want it to be a whole page of press, not just a sentence or I want it to be in this publication. However it is. You know, you can, you can set things up where you're, it's, you set a goal that's both attainable but that keeps you striving. And I think that's the balance. Don't set it so far that you're going to be discouraged because you're never going to reach it. Don't set it, you know, so shallow that all of a sudden you just become complacent and you can just do it in your sleep. So that's what I think it is. Try to focus on the successes while knowing that there's going to be a lot of hardships around along the way.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:31:28 There's nothing else to say. That was amazing. Thank you so much David. Where can people find you on online and if they want to follow you and the things that you have coming out?
David O: 01:31:37 Probably. I'm terrible at social media. I, I am on Twitter at, at David o from Nj David o from New Jersey. Uh, so David [inaudible] from Nj as my Twitter handle. I am trying to keep active on that to keep people posted on stuff. I do have a website, David obuchowski.com that every once in a while I remember to update two links, newly published essays published just UK is on Twitter. It's also on Instagram. And uh, I, I should have a better answer for that. Some day I'm going to be successful enough where I have my own Paul publicist and I'll talk to that guy, you know.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:32:13 Right. Well and I'll be sure to, just so you know, I'll be sure to put links to, you know, publicists UK and like on your Bandcamp page, your website, all those things. So I'll be linking to in the show notes so that people can get to it. So cool. Cause I definitely want to honor you and support you with what you have going on and if you will also let me know about the, you know, the show that you're developing or any of these other things. Uh, I can also update that on your page for this episode so that people can link off to that too, as those things are coming out. Well, thank you again.
David O: 01:32:45 Hey, thanks so much.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:32:51 Well, that's it for this episode. If this is your first time listening, thank you so much for being here. I really hope you enjoyed the show. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment and all links and show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and leave a rating or review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone, that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. If you want to follow us, you can find us online by searching @vitalicproject. And thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep being vitaliic!