Monday, March 21, 2005

One United Generation, the Story

WARNING: In the past few weeks, I’ve been adding some shameless plugs at the bottom of my postings. This one might feel like one big shameless plug, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Last Saturday was the culmination of a four year journey and a twenty + year dream for me. That morning I got the image files from my designer, and that evening I began printing and assembling my first CD. My second collection of my own songs, but the first to really be retail ready. Let me share the journey with you, my blog friends.

I discovered rock music in high school. Before that I was mainly into classical. But I picked up the guitar and wanted to learn it. Actually, I started on bass, but I learned them both pretty much concurrently.

I played in various bands through high school and early college. I also started writing songs early on. Really bad ones. I know everyone says that, but in my case it was really true. All through this time I was into all kinds of what we now call “classic rock” (boy that tells you how old I am). Boston, Yes, Kansas, Nazareth, Ozzy, BOC, all that stuff that young rockers are supposed to be interested in.

I remember at about that same time, or maybe a little earlier, the CES (Church Educational System) came out with a CD called “Like Unto Us”. It was schmaltzy and had lots of cheesy pop organ in it, and it drove me nuts, but it also inspired me. Someone was doing pop music for mormons. From that early beginning, I knew I wanted to do LDS rock.

After my mission, I read about a school that taught recording and sound engineering. My parents hesitated, but were willing to cough up the tuition, and I went. I learned a LOT. But not enough to get a job. But I kept looking, and did some independent work here and there.

Along the way, I was formulating the idea of doing LDS rock. I had actually written a bunch of songs, so I started a band. There were only two of us that were actually members of the church, but everyone else seemed to be open to the idea of playing religious rock, so we went ahead with it. This was in Indiana, so we didn’t have a stake center on every street. Visualize a city the size of Provo with only one LDS chapel, and that was Terre Haute. There were seven church members in my graduating class. Made dating tough.

But anyway, the band… I named the band “Covenant”, and we did some local gigs. I was getting on in age, and at 24, it was getting to be time to leave the nest. My sister (who had been living in SLC for years) invited to put me up while I found a job and an apartment. I figured that the valley was the best place to find LDS musicians.

So, I moved to Salt Lake, and immediately (after finding housing and employment) started putting up flyers in music stores. A guitarist named Larry contacted me, and he and I became fast friends. He’s a killer player still, and a great guy. His wife’s best friend was Jodi, and she and I were married about a year after I moved to the valley. Marrying her was the smartest thing I ever did, but that’s another story!

Right after we got married, I started trying to get myself worked into the Salt Lake Valley music and recording scene, with varying levels of success. I was helped along in the early stages by some great people. Chance Thomas, another great friend, who now has a name for himself for scoring the Lord of the Rings computer game. Jim Anglesey, who founded the recording program at BYU. Clive Romney, now of Enoch Train and head of Little Stream records and pretty much the nicest guy in the entire LDS music world. My grandfather, Rulon Brimhall (I was named after him, Rulon Mark Hansen), who bought me a 4 track cassette recorder. Dan Whitley, of Sun, Shade and Rain, who set me up in his studio.

It was while I was working with Dan, that I recorded and released my first collection, a cassette tape, called “A Joyful Noise”. It had a bunch of songs, many of which were truly only demo quality. I ran about 250 copies, sold precious few, and gave most of them away to family and friends. I currently only have one archive copy left in my possession.

That came out in 1993.

Soon after that, I took a hiatus from the music world. I needed a break. Then I got a job as an internet business mentor in 1998. My supervisor, Anne, in advising me to pursue my passions in business, got me to rethink my web businesses that I’d been involved in up to that point, and I resurrected my songs. The mp3 phenomenon was just beginning to perk up on the web, so I started posting my songs at a rate of one each month. Some were old, from the cassette, others were new ones that I had begun writing and recording.

Finally, four years ago, I took a plunge. I sold off much of my gear, gave away other parts of it, and bought a computer with Cubase recording software. I went digital. I decided at that point that it was time to make something of real quality and go for a CD release, ready for retail. This was to be more than just a demo, but rather, a full-blown production, as best I could create.

At that point, I had a collection of about 80 songs that I had written. I looked them over to pick which ones to record and re-record. I ended up making the decision to move ahead with new songs. I wanted to keep looking forward. Plus, the newer ones were better tunes, anyway.

The process of creating the CD has its ups and downs. Some times I was working like a man possessed, other times, weeks would go by before I played a note. All the while, I’d be playing a gig or two here and there. Usually about once a month.

Then, about a year ago, I found I had 11 songs, almost completed. A redo of one track here, fix this there. But nothing was in the can yet. So, I decided that I would move forward one song at a time. Finish it. Move on. I set the goal to have the music done by the end of ’04, and I succeeded. You can read along with the process in my studio blog

Now, the graphics are done, the duplication is happening, and the goal is reached. The CD is ready. I’m pleased to announce that, and thanks for the chance to tell the story. I don’t know of any other CD, written with original tunes for the LDS market, that rocks this hard. I’m proud of it, even though I hear all the flaws. Check it out at my site. Let me know what you think.

The offer, BTW, to other LDS bloggers who’d like a copy to review still stands! Email me!

Mark Hansen

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