A year ago this month, I sat down with producer Lew Richards of 17th Street Recording Studio in Costa Mesa, CA. I had written lyrics to the song "Progress" in November of 2015 and began developing the basic chords and structure immediately following. After testing it live at open mics in the South Bay area and receiving positive feedback from both musicians and audiences alike, I decided this would be the first song I would record professionally.
Being new to recording in such a large studio of high caliber quality, it took me some time to adjust to the quickness and feel of recording. For years, I have always been a live performer both in bands and solo, so recording in the studio was foreign to me. You become lines on a computer; everything must be perfect, and if it isn't, you redo until it is. It became a tug of war creatively -- you want to keep certain lines or parts in the song that you normally play with live. But once you get down to the root and theme of the song, you focus in on what matters without compromising your style. Lew was very good about that.
Once the foundations were laid, it was time to bring in other musicians. Despite the fact that there are really only three chords in the versus and five interchangeable ones in the chorus, I was impressed with how quickly and stylistically each musician brought to the table. Once Alex Vo (lead guitar/dobro) was familiar the guitar parts in the song, we decided to add a dobro to give it a dirty, southwestern feel. From there, the song came to life. It was at that moment that I realized we had something special.
Then came time to create the music video. Evelyn Hali'aaloha Roberts has been my manager ever since "Progress.” When she developed Good Evening Entertainment, we immediately started to raise money for the video. In autumn of last year, we decided to bring on Chelsea Lutz of Left Handed Pictures as a producer. Chelsea and I have worked on projects before, most notably a short film with Lacombe Productions that is still under development. Not only was she the most qualified person I could think of to take on this project, but she also came with her talented Left Handed Pictures partner and cinematographer Kenneth Bauer. That’s when Evelyn, myself, Chelsea, Kenny, and my brother Matthew sat down to develop schedules and shot lists.
Principal photography began in October of last year, and days into production, I fractured my right metacarpal down at The Wedge in Newport Beach. My hairline fracture was initially misdiagnosed and remained untreated, but we continued production anyway. Upon a visit to the orthopedic surgeon, they later updated my condition to a hairline fracture and casted my entire hand -- you may notice this in certain parts of the video. Being the positive and story-driven director he is, Matthew said, "Hey, it just looks like you woke up in the desert after a trip to the ER". Works for me!
The video is centered around the idea that our species has progressed to different stages throughout time, and that we are not only spinning our wheels, but in some cases, we’re moving backwards. This drug-using, mullet-sporting relic straight out of the 1980's is a man among a generation that is lost in a technological world. He awakens in a vast desert, only to realize that humanity hasn't changed – generations out of touch with other generations. We only progress when we rewind and focus on what lies ahead; only then can we move forward.
We hope you enjoyed the video! More projects stir in the pot for this new year and I look forward to sharing them all with you. Remember, like/follow/subscribe to my social media channels to get the latest updates in all things Michael Conrad Music related. Thank you so very much for watching and listening and we’ll see you in the next blog post!
Keep Moving FORWARD,