Bleed Out is an album that was years in the making. Some of the songs are nearly a decade old, and between the time I wrote them and when I actually recorded them, I had changed significantly, many times over. The fact that these songs stayed with me through everything is proof of their importance to me personally; the songs have changed with me, they’ve grown and remained relevant to who I was and who I am now. Not all songs do that. I throw away a lot of songs because they just don't feel real to me anymore.
The whole album is a story. It’s dark, sometimes violent, deeply introspective, and intensely personal. It reflects on my struggles with drugs, depression, and toxic relationships. It deals with self doubt, the dichotomy of my narcism vs self hatred, and slightly touches on my new life of sobriety and stability. Bleed Out explores many different styles of music: it’s a rock album, though there are many types of genres that can be heard.
I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts detailing each specific song on the album, individually, in album order. These posts will give insight to anyone who wants to know the backstory of the album and the songs: who I was when I wrote them, how the songs evolved and made it onto the album, and how they’ve changed since their first conception.
Let me start from the beginning. I wrote the song "October" when I was 21 years old. I was living in Boulder, Colorado, trying to make it with my band "the Shoes!", living in the drummer's parent's house. Strange and difficult times; we lived together for a year, and in that year we played a lot of shows, and drank and fought way too much. Everything seemed to fall apart. The band eventually split, and "October" is the only song I wrote during that year that I kept. I wrote it on the first day of October 2008 (hence the title, go figure), in a kind of Chili Peppers/Dispatch groove. Fall has always been an intoxicating time of year for me. It’s symbolic in the change of seasons; trees start to die, night comes sooner, days grow colder. There’s a kind of rush that October brings me every year. It’s darkly fascinating and intoxicating. The song stayed with me after I left Boulder and moved to California, though I rarely ever played it—it was just a painful reminder of that time period, which I perceived as a failed attempt at musical success.
Years later, I was giving a radio interview for KKUP, in Cupertino, California, and in a spur of the moment decision, I decided to play the song live on the radio. I stated, "I think this is going to be the opening track on my next album." It seemed to make sense at the time; it just slipped out, and I eventually followed through with that promise when Bleed Out became a real project.
“October” was the very beginning of the creative process that would become the Bleed Out Room Recordings. I had just started putting together my home recording studio after finally getting sober, and I began to work on the different parts of the song, playing the guitar, bass, and drums individually, and working on the vocals and harmonies. It was essentially a practice in experimentation that allowed me to work on the song’s parts while getting comfortable with my new studio recording equipment. I had separated from my bassist Bob Lanz just prior to the early recordings of the track, which left me to compose and record the bass myself. Months later, my drum and bass parts still left a lot to be desired, which is where drummer Austin Vidonn and bassist Keith Shacklett came in.
Keith Shacklett is a bass virtuoso, a Berklee College of Music grad, and an amazing musician overall. He and I recorded together years ago in Colorado, when we did early demos of “Upper Hermosa Mtn Blues,” “Near Death,” and a few other songs I had written. I reconnected with him during the early stages of the album’s creation, and although he was too busy to actually record the album with me, Keith helped out significantly with ideas, ideas that I used while recording the bass tracks on the album. Keith told me with confidence, “I’m sure you can just record the bass yourself, Casey.” So I stepped up and did exactly that. The bass line for “October” was the hardest on the entire album for me to figure out and play. The amount of notes and the speed with which I play them was a serious challenge. “October” definitely turned me into a bassist during the creation and recording of the album.
So now, nearly ten years later, I finally recorded the definitive version of the song. Austin’s drum line is far better than anything I could’ve come up with, though we worked on most of the parts together. I was mainly stuck on the verse section, which Austin figured out prior to recording in the studio. To start the whole album out with this song was very symbolic for me; being able to take a song that was once too painful to play, and turning it into the lead track for my entire album.
Keep in mind,
all I ever wanted was to tell myself that I'm just fine
in these signs of times
these dead leaves send shivers up my spine
but they're just passing by
and I'm seeing ghosts out the corner of my eyes
maybe one last time
this whole thing's gonna make me lose my mind
and I take my time
all I ever wanted was to tell myself that I'm a man
that can comprehend
all these things that make me what I am
and that this master plan
will bring me love and the beauty of my friends
which never ends
time won't break and neither will it bend
and I look within
keep in line
what I miss the most about you must be your eyes
I'm just killing time
trees they scream and birds refuse to fly
under these red skies
am I right, or did I miss these signs
right before my eyes
in my bed unconscious I will lie
for another time
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