The Next Big Project

30 Oct

In about 2 to 3 weeks i will have a meeting and based on how that meeting goes i will be able to confirm or deny what my next big project will be. I’m fairly certain it will come to pass as my level of obsession and excitement is at an all time high, comparable only to the unbridled obsession with which i wanted to make a steampunk opera.

It will be different then the past few years and the series of musical operas i’ve done, Dolls to Slenderman. If it’s greenlit i’ll likely start a new blog for it. It will not only be a different creature, but it’s time to embrace a new phase. I’ve gone as far as i can with the method i’ve come up with and employed from Dolls to Slenderman. I’m going to start becoming stale if i keep it up. Move forward or die.

So here is the likely next project, although this is just speculative rumor, this meeting hasn’t happened yet and the party i’m meeting with will have their own ideas and agenda i am not privvy to yet. Based on what i’ve been asked to do, this is what i’m presenting at the table:

I would be hired to create a rock opera. Easy, right? I mean, i’m definitely the guy. Unlike the past series of musicals i’ve been doing this one will be different in a number of aspects:

– this will not come out of my studio. The demo will, but this will be written for a hand picked, live rock band. About 5 musicians who will play the piece live at a large rock festival here in Europe. (Not to mention the singers) No big multitracked affair, five to 6 very good live musicians. Guitar, violin (ideally), keyboards, bass, drums. Could be either a second guitarist or keyboardist, but for now let’s stick to 5. I Played live, then recorded live. I will rehearse the band personally, although i may or may not actually play in it. (i’d prefer not too. The stress of the big live gig isn’t something i really want to deal with.)

– This will resemble my album The Fallen more than say, Dolls. Despite that it will certainly be a rock opera, with a clear storyline and characters, it will feature a lot more instrumental passages. From Dolls on, it’s been all singing all the time. This would have many more instrumental interludes, middles sections, solos, etc. Think The Wall or Lamb Lies Down. And there’d be a bunch of random prog elements much like Phish’s Gamehenge cycle. (Anyone who starts in with “but you said it’s an opera… therefor it must….” can please leave now. If genre boxes are a big thing to you, i’m surprised we made it this far, but perhaps we should give each other our keys back and take your toothbrush.

– The story will be simpler. Much simpler. Also, and i’ll probably lose a third of you right now, we’re going to skip most of the fantastic elements this time around. I’m not saying it won’t have any, i haven’t had the big conversation yet, but my vision is of a grounded piece. Real world. High emotions for sure, rock solid plot, but much simpler than usual.

On a side note, one of the best pieces of constructive criticism i got in the past few months, was from my buddy Kevin, who pointed out that there are so few actual arias in my operas. He’s right. There were some in Dolls, and then it went downhill from there (although there’s the giant, 7 minute one in Room). When a character has a big solo song it’s usually plot oriented or  all about character background. That’s not an aria. An aria is a character delivering a rumination on a particular subject. So Annabel’s Lament and Priscilla Considers are both arias. Annabel’s Lament taught me how to use a solo song as an opportunity to deliver character background and i began doing that exclusively. I’m going to heed this advice and there will once again be arias.

So, simpler story. Not fantastical, real world. Scale it all down. Although the music will be complex. Instead of lavish orhecstrations there will be lots of changes and dynamic juxtapositions and proggish flourishes. Once again, think The Fallen meets Gamehenge, although with a leaner, meaner, tighter band expressing that live energy.

The band will be stunning. I will have access to truly excellent musicians (through the gentleman i’ll have the meeting with). I intend to make use of them. There’s even a few Zappa improve techniques i’m working on.

– OK Computer meets The Wall meets Phish’s Gamehenge Cycle meets post rock meets Lamb Lies Down meets vocals from Jesus Christ Superstar. THAT is what i’m going to make and while it will be very different from what i’ve been doing and some will long for New Albion (and i love you for it), it will never the less be one of the handful of things i’ll be remembered for after i’m dead. For those who like the type of thing i’m going for, i’m going to do it REALLY, REALLY, REALLY well. One of the best you’ve ever heard. And it will sound like a band. Like a band RIPPING shit to SHREDS while singers pull and push your reproductive groin bits into your stomach and kiss you as you moan and weep.

The reason i think this is because once in a blue moon i get inspired like this. A new idea, just sort of presented to me… sure, yeah,. sounds okay… and then a few hours later it begins out of nowhere. I find myself composing the music in my head. Obsessively. I don’t have anything to go on, i don’t even have a speculation about what anything is about, i just start composing music in my head and can’t stop. For DAYS. I just keep going at it. I don’t mean to. There;’s nothing here to go at, this isn’t even a real thing yet. But still i keep playing with ideas and they just keep coming.

Maybe. Like i said, this is just speculation. Nothing is confirmed. Meeting is still a couple weeks away. But i want this with the same fury i wanted Dolls to happens. I will bend reality to my will. I can’t do that often, but every few years when a truly new opportunity excites me…

Not all with me now may wish to come along for the ride. (Or may come but not enjoy it).  I will miss you, i love you, and we will meet up soon enough. For those that are into it, come. There is a new world we are going to go to. It will be different then the ones we’ve just played in a for the past few years, (although let’s be honest, i am me, and there is only so much i can change stylistically) but i am going to make something new and different and one of the best things i’ve ever done or die trying.


Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “The Next Big Project

  1. Julien

    October 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Well, I won’t deny that I will still long for New Albion, but I wish you the best of luck with the new project and the meeting you are going to have. Even if I find myself trembling in trepidation: with a stunning band at your hand, what will ever make me stop listening to your music when sitting at my holiday job again? I’m still starting to randomly hum songs from the Dolls when I wait at the traffic lights~
    I really hope you will have a great ride with the new projects and new ideas! And I guess even those of us who are most nostalgic had seen it coming….and can still hope. As you wrote:

    so say our goodbyes to this dear city
    will we return here, who’s to say?

    And I hope quoting you, does not make you annoyed as it makes some writers, I really wouldn’t want that.

    • paulms

      October 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Oh, you can quote me all you like. Thank you.

      • J

        October 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm

        Well, in that vein… The future my friends, is on its way.

        Looking forward to hearing more of these plans. I love me a good rock opera. Even the ones which are ultimately more simple “human” stories (Ayreon’s “The Human Equation” anyone?) compared to the fantastical nature of New Albion and Slendy. And given that The Fallen is my second favorite album ever across all artists, anything which you say might resemble it – even to just a little extent – certainly grabs my attention.

        I should probably stop now before I go off into far too many paragraphs of discussions of rock operas/metal operas/musicals/concept albums. I could talk for days. In the meantime, hope the meeting goes well!

  2. Justin Blackwell

    November 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    While I admit (like others) I selfishly wish for more New Albion, I have the utmost respect for your decision to move on rather than milk the series to death. Looking forward to more of your amazing work.

  3. alexanderchesebro

    November 13, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    I’m thrilled to hear about this next project! Including more arias also sounds like an excellent idea. The arias in the New albion series were some of the most powerful numbers for me and always sparked a moment of deep rumination and reflection.

    Best of luck in this latest endeavor!

  4. Juliet Rellis

    December 7, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Dear Paul Shapera,
    I would like to say 2 things to you as a musician, singer, and above all, as a fan.
    First, I want to say thank you for your blessed work. The lyrics speak to me in a way that no one else would. Your work had followed me through my 18th birthday.
    I would also like to say lastly that I am going to record a solo and send it to you, my favorite music teacher, and other people who admire my musical talent or made it all possible as a Christmas present.
    Thank you, Paul Shapera.
    Juliet Rellis


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