Bet you’re wondering why you haven’t heard any new songs from us in several months. I think it’s time I told you the truth: Palette-Swap Ninja is…not breaking up. It’s true. We love working together, and we’re totally committed to making more silly music in the future. We are neither bored nor uninspired. Sometimes, when a band has been together for a while, you know, they get closer and even more dedicated. It happens. And when it does, you have to simply accept it: Things are just going to keep getting better.
Boy, I feel better just saying that out loud.
However, there are some concrete reasons behind our unintentional hiatus. A lot of people have looked at all the things I’m involved in and asked “How do you find the time?” Well, lately, the answer has been “Actually, I don’t, but I’m still looking.” This is not meant as whining, it’s meant as explaining. But factors include:
- New software. After recording the last few songs in GarageBand, we both became acutely aware of that program’s limitations, especially for two people who play real instruments. I think it’s great if you want to create music by using loops, but when it comes to live recordings of vocals and guitars — or even advanced MIDI recordings of keyboards — its scope is rather limited. So we both switched to Logic Express (GarageBand’s big brother, with compatible file formats and everything) and found a dramatic increase in both flexibility and power…but the same goes for the learning curve. I had to buy a book and I haven’t finished it yet. The result is that the tools sort of got in the way of the building. Logic Express is still more appropriate for what we do in the long run, but I find myself dipping back into GarageBand just to get the ideas out without hitting the tech wall.
- Hard drive failure. My recording drive for PSwap stuff — the only thing the drive is used for — failed twice in three months. I mean, total stick-it-in-the-trash wipeout. I had backups for everything (and even better organized backups when the second drive failed) but that frustration mounts and makes you not want to face the hassle of getting up and running. I am hoping the third time (and 1TB) is the charm.
- Work, work, work. As you may know, my job as editor-in-chief of World of Warcraft: The Magazine is something of a big career move for me. It’s also been chaos, as setting up a magazine is incredibly difficult. With learn-as-we-go approaches to tone of voice, design, and the approvals process, my job has been an enormous emotional and creative time sink. The last thing I want to do when I get home is fight with a crashed hard drive and an alien computer interface; it’s easier to strum a few JoCo songs and play Batman: Arkham Asylum. What’s more, I’m not out of the woods yet on the magazine, so it may be a little longer before I can share my brain’s bandwidth with anything else.
- Too many ideas. This one may surprise you, but it’s true. When we finished up “Vista Drivers,” Jude and I came up with two ideas at once, and we decided to work on both to see which would bear fruit first. We picked the front-runner and decided to work on song 1 over song 2. Then we got to talking about a big idea for something we hoped to do in 2010, which we’ll call Project K (for reasons that may not be revealed for many months). So a few ideas were sketched out for that at the expense of songs 1 and 2. Then we were approached by a third party and invited to work a special project, so song 3 was born — but it came with its own set of unique challenges, so it’s not done yet either. And then tonight, I had a flash for song 4, which made me a little giddy. But what that really gives us is four and a half songs in the creative hopper simultaneously, with no clear vision of which one should take priority. This is a solvable problem, but it’s still a problem.
You may respond to all of the above with a simple “Oh, so sorry to hear your expensive computoys cause you such grief and you can’t stop living your awesome high-powered lifestyle long enough to make people laugh.” And I don’t blame you if you do. But I look at the above as more reasons than excuses. It’s also good for me to step back and realize just what factors have been involved, so I can set about realistic plans to remove those barriers.
The takeaway: I don’t know when we’ll have new songs to share, but we will have new songs to share. The immediate future looks a little messy from my perspective, but I absolutely see Palette-Swap Ninja in that future — no question. We love doing this and it blows our mind that six or seven of you out there really dig what we do.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet, go play Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s really good.