I knew that it was time for me to really delve into the craft of songwriting. I’ve always loved creating music, but never really put the time into writing lyrics. I started setting up co-writes left and right earlier in the summer with whoever wanted to work with me, not knowing what would happen, but determined to grow as an artist.
One such person I reached out to was Ben Cramer, aka Old Sea Brigade. I knew him from high school - well I knew his younger brother in high school. Anyways, we had gotten lunch here and there over the last couple years, and I watched as his career with Old Sea Brigade took off. This summer, we finally got together for a write. We wrote a pretty cool song and found we worked well together. We agreed to write again soon.
So a few weeks later we sat down in a room together again and I showed him a few ideas that I had from jamming with the band. We liked a chord progression, but weren't sold on the sound and feel. Ben was playing his Juno and found a cool patch and we started running with this new idea. Same key, different arrangement, different feel.
With this I II VI (and then the V and IV on the fourth pass) progression looping in the background, we started talking about moving away from our shared home of Atlanta, how times had changed, and what a toll ‘growing up’ and chasing a dream can take. We related on shared feelings of nostalgia, hindsight, and also on an appreciation for what was to come. Finally, we came up with a first verse and chorus. I wasn’t sure about it, I liked the words, I liked the melody - it was something.
'well it's hot / out here in the desert / you may think / love always looks better on the screen / there's an ocean that has dried up / maybe it's just a twenty first century thing / lost because i can't find a friend / ran away and hopped the fence / i won't look back / there's gotta be more to life than that / i never knew / how much time i really wasted / all of the people and the places / i almost missed / i'll start to move on from this.'
After about three hours of chasing this budding song, we decided to reconnect at a later date - it was a cool idea with a really catchy chorus. But before leaving, Ben set up a mic and had me record the vocals. We only sort of had a melody in mind so I improvised my way through the first verse and chorus. No pop filter, just doing it to get the idea down. That take ended up being the one we used in the song that's out now. It was raw, improvised, and, to me in looking back, a true expression of what I was feeling.
Ben sent me a bounce of the song and when I listened it finally hit me: we had something really cool and special. There was something there. In retrospect, I think Ben knew that all along - had it not been for him I’m not sure I would have continued with the idea… that’s what I get for being young and impatient.
Eventually we got back in Ben's studio and worked more. We figured out the structure, some more synths, and textures. Lyrics didn’t really come for awhile. Around the time we got to this point, Miles and Noah got back in town and we hit the studio with Owen Lewis at The Shoebox in Nashville. The song really came to life there, it was powerful, and most importantly, it became Hardcastle. It transitioned from a cool production to a sound that was our own that we had as a band.
Val returned soon after and we tracked some more guitar - he really took it to another level. Truly one of the most magical things about this song is the way the each member of the band brought it to life, really exemplifying what 'Hardcastle' is.
So here we are. The song is finally out and you are hearing it. It took a long time, it’s the first song from the 25+ that I've written these last three months that we have reocrded and put out. I’m very proud of it. I love it for myself. I hope that it has something for you too. This song has been a lot of uncertainties and accidents brought to life from a passionate group of people. I trusted the process and the people I surround myself with. I’m so glad that you too can now hear I Never Knew.