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On how to name one's creative figurehead. - a cold glow when the lights are out [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
benjamin adrian

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On how to name one's creative figurehead. [Jan. 2nd, 2015|12:48 pm]
benjamin adrian
I have been going back and forth for a while on the idea of releasing music under my own name. A lot of people do it, and on the surface it seems like a very easy decision. For me, though, it's a bit more complex. Allow me to explain where I'm coming from.

In 1999 I got some better recording gear. I always liked to record my own bands, and I was also planning on getting more serious as a recording engineer for hire. Before I charged people to use this stuff I figured that it would be prudent to do some recordings to test of my setup and make sure everything was wired up correctly and working well. I began recording songs on my own; playing every instrument. Up until this point in my life I had only been in bands, with a band identity. In 1999 I was in two strongly established bands, and my musical identity was wrapped up in these bands. I didn't want to give the impression that I was "going solo" when I released these songs recorded for testing purposes and just to chase my creative tail. So, I decided to put them out under the name Guitar vs. Gravity. In essence, I'd hide myself inside the shell of a band, even though there was no band. I was just going to release this one thing and get band to my regular bands.

In late 2000 I moved from Indiana to the Bay Area. I quit or disbanded my serious bands in Indiana. I had not yet released the Guitar vs. Gravity album. It was almost done. I finished it in Oakland and released it under the band name as anticipated. I had the idea that maybe I should just make Guitar vs. Gravity a functioning band. So I went through a number of iterations, trying out people, even playing a few shows. I had joined Bay Area bands, but I never stopped writing for Guitar vs. Gravity. Finally in 2008 I had a solid, working lineup and started playing regular shows. I had written the songs, but I wanted the musicians to add their personal ideas. From 2008 until 2011 we were quite active and productive. It was still considered "Ben's band", but it was a working unit of three dudes.

In 2011 I relocated to Los Angeles. I finished up what I thought was going to be the last Guitar vs. Gravity release; traveling back to the Bay Area for a final band recording session. However, as this was happening, I began to write and record music at my house in L.A. It felt like a continuation of what I had been doing with Guitar vs. Gravity and since it started as a solo project, I figured why not just keep using the name?

For some reason those six songs took almost three years to record, mix, and release. During all of this I'm reevaluating myself as a musician. I was kind of afraid of using my own name for ego reasons. The idea used to make me quite uncomfortable. However, many of my favorite guitar players and musicians were now people who used their own name. I went back and forth, but since the material felt like a continuation of themes I'd explored in Guitar vs. Gravity, I decided to use that name for the release this past summer.

Now, I'm three months from turning 40, I have no band, I'm getting better as a solo guitarist, and I'm even sometimes scoring movies. Also, I kind of want to maybe be a sideman, do more composition, and perhaps drop myself into a variety of playing and recording situations. It seems to make a lot more sense to just be "Ben Adrian: musician" and not be "Guitar vs. Gravity: a band that is usually just Ben Adrian but is sometimes other people." Because of this, I've made a decision. I will be releasing one more EP that I have in the can as Guitar vs. Gravity, but my following EP will be release under my own name around my 40th birthday. From there on out, I plan to proudly make music under my own name. I'll still play in bands, but I won't feel like I need to hide my solo work inside a rock band framework. This excites me greatly and is producing a strong desire to get to work. Thanks!