Mike's Musical Odyssey

365 songs. 365 days.

Just wanna congratulate you.

I’m not a song writer or musician. I’m a filmmaker so, I don’t have a song or any musical goods to show you. But your sister told me of this amazing odyssey you are on and that you’re a day away from completion. Great Job! Most people can’t stick with something for week let alone a whole year. I was thinking today of what could I do everyday for a year. As I came up with a few things I found myself resistance to do any of them, but then I said to myself well Mike Cionni did it. So, here’s my Odyssey: For 365 days I’m gonna write 40 words a day on one of my screenplays starting today September 12th, 2011. Making this proclamation scares me but that’s part of why I know I gotta do this. You’ve inspired me and telling you, I think will give me the leverage I need to make me successful. So, here I go. My journey starts now.

Stay Awesome,

Kevin Dowell

Day 364 - Fall For Me

I figured, since I want to write songs for other artists and eventually produce albums with other artists, I should try and write something a little more out of my range of experience. I was going for some sort of Lady Gaga/Katy Perry type female pop song. Something energetic, full of attitude, and electronic. I feel like the 4 on the floor with triplified hi-hats has the perfect movement for that kind of music. Keep in mind, this is a very very rough demo, produced with a few Garageband instruments. I was thinking about singing this myself, but then thought it might be a better idea to ask Meghann to sing it. Although I could have rocked that black Halloween wig pretty hard for this tune. I’m not completely satisfied with the melody, and there would be a lot more harmonies, layers, etc., but this is good for one day’s work. I can see that there’s a lot of room for improvement with these types of songs, but the base is there and this is something to work with. One day left.

Day 363 - Fire It Up

I’ve always wanted to write a real smooth, real simple, campfire blues song. Or front porch blues song, if you will. I’ve played this riff for a long time, and it’s still one of my favorite licks. I wanted the words to mimic the feeling I get from the music, so a doob on the front porch, a wilderness party in a pickup truck (a la Dazed and Confused), basically anything cool people in the 70’s would do. I’m not saying I’ve even SEEN a doob, let alone SMOKED ONE, but 70’s me might have. Future Mike? Who knows what he’s going to get into. He’s a crazy mug. As for the Kumbaya nature of the song, it culminates in a big open-chord chorus of Ooo’s. There’s no better way to capture the vibe. Capture it. 

Day 362 - Biscuits

Man, after recording two songs yesterday, I had a tough time recording Biscuits. So many falsetto voice cracks. I do love this song though. And I do love biscuits. I’ve recorded a demo of this song with Hank Whitaker playing leads, and it’s pretty nasty, so I’ll post that as well. When writing this song, I was single for the first time in a long time, and I was starting to think to myself, “Yeah. She’d be totally bummed out if she saw you now.” Look what she’s missing. Then again, I was recording demos by myself in the Gaksterbatorium (my carriage room attached to my shitty room in my shitty house). Although I was thinking about how much better off I was, I was also thinking fondly of her, hence, “I’m making biscuits for you.” That was my way of saying there’s still something soft and butter in the oven, baby. I was going for a real Weezer feel with this song, since that was what everyone was telling me my old band, White Roberts, sounded like. People said Sublime too, but I didn’t hear that. Maybe if we sounded like Sublime, I would’ve written yesterday’s song. But anyways, I love this tune, and I hope to keep playing it as I get my band lined up these next couple months. I’m in San Diego now, sitting in hotel room, and I could really go for a beer or five. Anybody care to join? 

Day 361 - One Acquaintance To Another

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m completely burnt out writing songs on acoustic guitar. So this morning, I did my song from bed. I deserve it. My back’s been killing me, and I’m one song away from carpal tunnel. With a little midi controller and garageband, the possibilities are endless, and this drum groove was the first thing to grab my attention. I soon matched it with a funky bassline with a SICK synth bass from garageband. Then muted guitar, and I’ve got this Sublime song. The other day we were listening to Sublime on the roof, and someone mentioned how it’s such good summer music, which it is. So, I figured I’d go for some goodtimeshanginout music today. I leave for San Diego tomorrow morning early, and I’ll be working there through Saturday, so I’ll have to get two more songs done before I leave. DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUN! Anyways, this song is about a creepy little man who sells some dank ass sleeping pills and has a really hot daughter, obviously. Something tells me my descriptions don’t make sense anymore, and I blame the frantic nature of this project.

Day 360 - One in a Million

I just wrote a damn description, and then the internet went out, so when I saved it, I lost it. So that’s great. I don’t remember a day I was more frustrated than I was today. I thought the end of the Odyssey would pick up speed as I realized I was going to accomplish my goal, but it’s nothing like that. Imagine you’re bench pressin’, bro. If you’re going for 10 reps, the last few are always the hardest. It’s like the last couple weeks of school before summer. They just drag on, and that’s how these songs are starting to feel. That being said, there is some promising stuff in this song. However, I’m so glad to be done with it and I never want to think about it again because it reminds me of such a poor day. It’s built around the chorus, which I finally came up with around 3pm. Once I had the chorus figured out, I tried to create some sort of verse with a different energy to change things up. I got frustrated and took a shower, where I came up with what turned out to be a pretty lame verse. I do like some of the fingerpicking sections though, and like I said, there’s some stuff here worth keeping. It’s just a skeleton, like most of these songs. 

Day 359 - Friend of a Friend

It’s always a sad moment when I realize I’m wearing the same shirt I recorded in yesterday. But it’s okay. You’ll forgive me for not being 100% supaclean. I put a capo on my favorite fret today in order to some up with some fun chords and open riffs. I ended up playing these chords and jamming around for a long time before anything seemed to stick. Initially, I was cycling through the progression very slow, fingerpicking the chords. Then, when the two chords that became the verse were paired together for the first time, I realized this song needs to be fast and full of energy. I imagine a rocking arrangement would fill out this song quite nicely, and I was going for a lazy vocal performance to soften the blow that would be the instrumentals. The song itself is all about infidelity and the deceipt that takes place between two lovers-in-hate. Once you open that door of unfaithfulness, especially when both people stray, shit can get ugly, and weird. 

Day 358 - Beach House

This song is all about how great it would be to live on the beach. Every time I go down to Hermosa, I’m jealous that my friends live right there at the ocean. As soon as I can smell the salt and feel that soft, warm air, I’m instantly at ease, and even when it’s dark out, it’s so energizing being near the water. Beach days are my favorite, and when I can afford it, I’m getting a place at the beach. Or at least near it. After a day of intense partying for Jeff’s birthday, embarrassing myself in the sun with my pink glitter cupcake temporary tat on my ribs, and waking up at 7AM on the big red couch sweating after a dream of a citywide epidemic that turned my family and friends into little gooey monsters that eat souls, I was able to throw together a song that I think would be a righteous jam with a full band. It’s kind of surfy, it’s very poppy, and there would be some SICK tambourine. For real for real. Although I wish I felt healthier and more with it today, we salvaged a ditty. A doo-dah-ditty. A doo-dah-ditty-ditty-dum-ditty-doo. 

By the way. Check out the talented wordsmith Phil Brody’s bLAh blog at http://philbrodyblah.tumblr.com/  , where his article, “It’s Who You Know,” includes a little write-up on myself and my sister! 

Day 357 - 100 Days to California

I started writing this song back before I moved to California. 100 days before I moved. COOL! Today is my friend Jeff D’Agostino’s birthday, so I figured I could polish off an old tune so that I could get up to the pool to party all day today. So here it is. I whipped out the standard A riff for this jam, and I always wanted to play it with the live band. It could rock, and the chorus felt real Wilco-ish, which was right up my alley at the time. Probably still is. I’m a little drunk, so I’m going to stop talking.

Day 356 - All Mine

Finally, we’ve got a rehearsal space where we can jam all day without anybody telling us to quiet down. We figured that deserved a celebratory song for the Odyssey, and after a grind of a jam session, we shaped a song out of an old riff we used to groove on. Originally, we planned to have some really atmospheric vocals throughout the verses saying “Alllllll Miiinnnne”, just to outline what this song’s REALLY about. It’s nice to finally have this space, because we’ve got a place now that belongs to the music we make, the music we will make, and probably some music other people have made. Now, to think of a name for it.