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Epic bio for an epic band: Bury the Machines (conquering writer’s block)

31 Oct

A few weeks back I was tasked to write a bio for a new musical group called: Bury the Machines. I don’t usually do writing like this so I was a little hesitant and voiced my concern. However, I was assured they were familiar with my writing and all would go well. We’ll see, I thought. Though, the name alone was enticing enough to to peak my interest: Bury the Machines! What’s that about – what could it be about?

My friend John Bomher, the brainchild behind this duo (which includes Mark Serpico) sent me an early preview of their debut track, “Mutant Magnet.” He added that it was inspired about people going into the desert and building homes out of garbage called “Earth Ships“. Then he tossed the lyrics my way and touched on a few personal moments and influences to which I was familiar and said go to town.

Some of you will know that music is a big part of my writing process. When I write, it is almost exclusively while listening to a playlist over and over again. I also spent an earlier part of my life in the local music scene managing a Stoner Rock band (I Decline). John Bomher was a part of that scene, but has since moved out to Los Angeles. Bomher is a musician and all around sound guru who is also associated with Horse Drawn Productions. At some point Bomher had a collaboration project with my other long time friend John Doyle (I Decline). You might recall, that the two of them agreed to let me use music from their collaboration for the book trailer that was developed for “Curious Anomalies“.

When I donned my headphones to start my writing process for this project I began by perusing the lyrics Bomher had sent me for Mutant Magnet. The words strode out bold and defiant and filled my mind with desert images, old rusted out machines and these strange Earth Ships. As the sands blew about inside my head, I also thought back to my past with Bomher and some of the touchstones we shared. I let my mind wander. The music was heavy, filled with a dirge of emotion. The beats and melody came fast, the song cried out like voices lost in the wind. A wash of electronic sounds, pulsing beats and striving riffs. Definitely something I could sink my teeth into.

However, I had recently been struggling through a stretch of writer’s block. Words just hadn’t been coming lately and I was very rusty. I hoped this project would break me though that. I was worried that it wouldn’t.

At first I let my consciousness run wild and chased all the ideas I could grasp. They frittered about like loose kite strings flying free on a windy day. Words came–as they will do–and I occasionally grabbed hold of the strings and yanked the kites backward and upward. Yearning to bring them into proper place. Still, there were many kites and the wind kept changing directions. Writer’s block sometimes means that you sit at a computer (or pad of paper) and stare at nothing, other times you do actually write, but it’s hard-pressed crap. Not the usual self-doubting crap, where you’re just questioning the level of your talent but real blockage. You put words on paper, but they seem to mean nothing and refuse to go anywhere. Real blockage. Like trying to unclog a toilet by flushing again (sometimes it works, but sometimes it becomes a real mess).

Oftentimes, as a writer, it’s best to just let these things happen when you’re starting something new. Stream of consciousness writing can be fruitful for getting all your ideas out to see what you have and unblock the stopgaps. After you do this for a bit you hope that workable patterns and themes will form. This time, the useful parts didn’t come so easily. My mind seemed to be going in lots of directions at once. I pushed on. There were lots of false starts. Things got longer and longer. And seemingly less coherent.

I’m primarily a fiction writer and I wasn’t going to write a straight-forward bio. I wasn’t charged with that. So I searched over all the themes and events I had explored, trying to find a meaningful thread to pull them together.The process took longer than I expected (though I knew the recent bout of writer’s block would be a struggle), and I feared I wasn’t going to have anything useful. In the end I spoke to Bomher and set a deadline for myself. That seemed to help. I managed a first draft and sent it to Bomher who gave me some input and encouraged me forward.

Slowly the story pieces revealed themselves like rocks surfacing in the desert sands. The more I worked at it the bigger and more polished the stones became. In the end, I had the story. It’s part personal, part abstract. A little long too, but I think the voice comes through. So, if you’re interested in knowing more about this band, take a look at the bio I wrote.

Here’s a short teaser, but you can see the whole bio at the band’s website (www.burythemachines.com):

“Bury the Machines is born from the flames of a February tragedy. The proclivities of a mind gone to rot. Cold stirred ashes, reinvigorated from the burning remnants of life, destroyed in heinous depravity. Endings swallowing endings. A terrible and hopeless act of desperate violence. Unbearable waves of grief and unanswerable questions. John Bomher, in one phone call, found out that his long-time, road brother had put a decidedly definitive end to their friendship…”

The other awesome thing is that the band is releasing new tracks at scheduled intervals online. The first track is “Mutant Magnet” which Bomher let me listen to it while I wrote the bio. The Track is being released today so you should go check it out now!

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