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Fitting the pieces together

Aug 27 2014

Sometimes, there is nothing that comes close to the high you get from really being productive, really getting a lot done. I have spoken with a number of musical groups lately, in writing features for my freelance online magazine(s), and sometimes I can tell where the article should go – what the main story is for the group or the performer – before I sit down to write – sometimes. Other times, like this past week, it takes a while to put the picture together.

I was asked to cover a band that was planning on heading up north from their home in Tucson to play at a First Friday show in Phoenix. I was very excited – I was not familiar with the group, but when I started listening to them, I certainly liked what I heard. Not to mention, one of the band members was a fellow writer, and I am a huge fan of his work – his writing style resembles my own. Not knowing much about the group heading in, I simply do what I always do for a new group – listen to the music, read through the lyrics, and look for the story they want to tell with their music, which often in turn helps direct the story I tell about them.

But I was having trouble with this one. A very eclectic mix of songs, tone, and style awaited me on first listen. Some albums in the past have told one story, with twists and turns, but with a certain kind of message (I love listening to songs critically, trying to ask what they are trying to say with this song). This new album did not. Anyway, I reached out to the group, and set up a few phone chats with the members. I talked with one, and as usual, while he spoke, I furiously scribbled notes that more resemble ancient hieroglyphs or secret code than English words. My wife and family never let me hear the end of it. (Well, you try recording a normal-speed conversation verbatim – if you actually practice enough to pull it off, show me what your notes look like. You will understand.)

I had notes now from a source, but I hadn't formed enough of a story. I set up another chat with a different band member, and I heard a couple juicy tidbits I wanted to put into the story – but that story still wasn't complete.

It wasn't until I spoke with my last person – the third and last band member I reached out to – that everything clicked. The skies opened, a light shone onto the paper, and it all fit together so perfectly in my mind… it already was forming. He had said they were in the studio working on a second album. And yes, the first was very eclectic, and yes, they planned on having a consistent message for this new album. And what’s more, they were adding a new member to their group!

I was starting to put it together. A few had mentioned this new group member, and wanted it off the record, so far. I promised them I wouldn’t spill the beans. But this past weekend, they shared on their social media pages the great news of their new addition, so I confirmed with them it was okay, and wrote it right in there. I wrote about new beginnings for the group – both a new direction and new voice for their sound, as well as a new name added onto their roster.

My pen flew across the page. I scribbled until my hand ached, then I kept on going. I didn't stop until I turned it in to my editors. I stood up, victorious. Sometimes you need a few different perspectives, and everything will all fit together.

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Meet Matt Marn

Matt is an experienced journalist living in Surprise, Arizona. He is currently freelancing, reporting on people, organizations, and events that help change the community around us for the better. With his feature style of writing, he shows the deeper side of the story. Matt also writes on local musical performers and groups around Phoenix, thanks in no small part to his newly deepened love for music. Within the last few years, he has picked up the guitar, and moved on to play in jam sessions around the Valley. He uses his growing network of musical connections to help continue to tell the stories of people around the community who have a great story to tell – and in this case, a great song to sing.

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