After almost two years of writing, editing, rewriting, second-guessing, and third-guessing, my book, Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road is out in the world. I can’t change it. I can’t sugarcoat it. I can’t take it back.
Jim Brown put together this book trailer and some ads to help promote the book.
Not everyone will love the book, not everyone will approve of what we did or I did, or of some things that I say. They may be right. I wrote this book directly after Chuck’s death, so things were fresh and raw in my mind. There was a temptation to edit it, now that my mind is slightly clearer, but in the end I decided to put it out as-is with a few more recent updates.
I would appreciate your help in spreading the word on the book and I am available to answer any questions you might have, to expand on the stories, to clarify details, or to contact for review copies: douglas at douglasesper.com. Don’t hesitate to follow this blog or my twitter @douglasesper.
This isn’t the end all be all book about Chuck’s life, but it is about as close to what I could share via my point of view from my time with him. There are a lot of people to mention and thank, which I plan on doing as time goes by.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Chuck’s music, memories, shows, or on the book in the comments.
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After performing with Skipline in early 1998, I started considering singing more seriously than I had before. I anxiously awaited the weekly Scene magazine, which had band member wanted ads near the back of each issue. I found reasons not to call most of them, and didn’t hear back from the ones I did want to pursue. This was a meandering, weird time, and I don’t blame you if you decide to skip ahead to part three of my journey 🙂
I bought a PA system with a powered amp and two speakers. I set up a keyboard, a drum machine, a microphone, rack mounted effects, and a fostex four track recorder in my parent’s basement. I made random noise and tested out my limited vocal range. I spent hours sampling dumb tv and movie clips and then running them through echo, delay, and distortion until they were unrecognizable. I brought over friends to add their two cents and the project was eventually called Maslar, named after a prank phone call I made from a pizza shop in town.
I don’t recommend listening, but: (Also there is swearing, so maybe don’t play it at work or school or your house or your car or in public)
It was a fun, safe place to test out how well I could communicate what I heard in my head to the outside world. It was a great excuse to be obnoxious:
In late 1998 my buddy Pooch was trying out to play guitar in a band. He asked me to come along to one of his auditions. He knew the bassist of the band who came from our town, but the other guys were from around the west side of Cleveland. We met the singer and bassist at the singer’s place and the three of them started discussing songs and style and sound, while I read old Nintendo power magazines and whispering vocal ideas I got from the riffs. At one point Pooch was messing around with his guitar, so the guys asked if I wanted to try singing and the singer would play drums. I ran through a few songs ad-libbing lyrics from the Nintendo Power magazine I had been reading. Metroid, Super Mario brothers, and Zelda were the main ones I recall. The music was a mix of metal and hardcore and the PA wasn’t really powerful enough to compete with the loud music in the tiny room, so nothing I did could really stand out. They did like that I tried mixing yelling with singing rather than just yelling and screaming all the time. The singer, Eric, thought maybe the band could use two singers.
We played one of the songs several times and I had a melodic chorus where I repeated a land from one of the Nintendo games, over and over. The place was called Indoria. I don’t recall which of the games had it though. I liked the word and the peaceful landscape, so it stuck with me. Afterward Pooch, the bassist, Adam, and I went to Applebees and bonded over all you can eat riblets.
The band fizzled without much more progress being made as the drummer dropped out and Eric had another project going, but Adam and I stayed in touch and eventually I played him some of the Maslar stuff. He and I collaborated on a few more noise things and also dabbled in some hip hop-ish tracks.
We used the Indoria refrain for an intro to a song and we came up with another tune that used a sample of The A-Team as the hook. Adam had sampled it from a spoken word part in the theme song where the guy says, “they survive as soldiers of fortune.”
Adam was in a female fronted pop/rock band called Cat5 at the time and their main songwriter recorded at his house. One night we took my beat, his sample, some keyboard ideas, and some shoddy lyrics to the studio, along with Eric to try and cobble something together. The first version of Soldier of Fortune was born. I don’t have a recording of it anymore, so I’ll just assure you that it sounded amazing. The one thing that became clear that night was Eric, for as charismatic and cool to hang out with as he was, he wasn’t really into what we were trying. I think that was the last time we included him in our project.
After that Adam and I retreated back to my parents basement to attempt cobbling a few more things together, but nothing came of them. Well, we had a lot of incomplete demos and ideas, but as far as I know it was all lost.
At the end of 1998 I went to go see Snapcase, Quicksand, and The Deftones at the Agora in Cleveland. It was the only time I’ve ever been jumped and beaten up…
All through the night there were weird electrical currents running through the crowd, like someone had forgotten to ground a wire properly or something, so as you were in the pit you’d get mini shocks out of nowhere. During the Deftones’ set Chino jumped out in the crowd and I helped catch him. We held him up and pushed him back toward the stage, but at some point he reached down toward me and started screaming at me. I couldn’t understand why. When he got back onstage he explained that someone had tried to steal his shoe. I guess he thought it was me. It wasn’t. Shortly after pointing in my direction I got jumped by a swarm of shirtless frat boys. They took out my leg and my knee dislocated. when I hit the ground the guys quickly surrounded me and started punching as fast as they could. All I could do was hold up my hands and take it.
Luckily, my friend saw me on the ground and he did his best to beat the guys back…moments later he was laying next to me getting it just as bad. Security came in and dragged me to the edge of the pit. I popped my knee back in place and allowed two guys in the crowd to help me up. They said I looked familiar and asked if I was a singer. I nodded as I caught my breath.
It was Sean, the drummer from the first band I had tried out for the previous year, and his buddy, Chris. I knew Chris’ older brother from other shows as a dude with a million bootleg tapes. In fact, I had a VHS tape he gave me of an Incubus show from earlier that year. They had a new project, but needed a singer. I agreed to come try out and I vowed not to chicken out this time.
Now, I know this chapter was a little dry and bland without more music and photos, but as far as I can tell, I don’t have any photos from this era, and the less amount of Maslar stuff, the better it will be for my reputation. Here is something Adam and I did mixing our various goofball stuff together:
Here is a video I cobbled together of Take This Bottle by Chuck Mosley, originally by Faith No More (Big Thrilling), which will appear on a limited edition seven inch called Joe Haze Session #2 April 13th 2019 as part of Record Store Day. BlocGlobal is celebrating their first release and I am really proud of everyone involved with making this happen. I wish Chuck was here to tell me why the video sucks and to see the awesome response his music is getting.
I’m late to the party, but I wanted to gather and share the good news in one place. Chuck Mosley’s covers single is coming out april 13th 2019 via record store day and blocglobal records. It is an a seven inch vinyl limited to 1000 copies. Here’s what we have so far. If you see/hear anything, please send it our way!
Jim Brown, who runs faithnomorefollowers.com put together a short teaser for the release: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=417124452377108
BlocGlobal released a press blurb about it: https://www.facebook.com/blocsonic/posts/10158372126672576
FaithNoMoreFollowers did an interview with me: http://www.faithnomorefollowers.com/2019/02/exclusive-chuck-mosley-record-store-day.html
LouderSound included us in the must-haves list alongside giants and legends of music! https://www.loudersound.com/features/record-store-day-2019-the-best-137-releases-you-can-buy
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For some unknown reason I popped awake at 6 a.m. on a saturday. Perhaps it was the late-night onion rings. Thanks mom. I am not a morning person, hell, I’m barely a brunch person, but there I was staring at the ceiling. I flipped on the movie, Knight of Cups, which had waited in my Amazon Prime queue for over a couple of years. The cast is full of familiar names and faces, though most of the dialogue is delivered via whispered narration and the action rarely matches the words. The cast could be anyone…anyone rich and beautiful and searching for more. Even the burn victims have plenty to smile about.
The cinematography is stunning, subduing, morose, relatable, angst-filled, and full of character and yet following the thread of story proved difficult. An hour into the film I felt like I was watching several cologne commercials edited together.
My mind drifted, hypnotized by the movie’s delicate messages of longing, and doubt, and frustration and, directionlessness (is that a word?). I thought about my writing, in particular a manuscript I wrote about four teens who embark on an adventure. It’s the first thing I’ve completed that I felt had grown into my initial vision for it, but since it’s still sitting on my harddrive, doubt has crept in.
You can always second and third and fourth-guess your decisions on POV, character gender fitting the market, the clarity of your overall message, and thousands of word choices, but at some point you just have to step off the ledge and believe you’ve taken the correct path.
Christian Bale plays a writer who has lost a brother and he can’t get a grip on his new reality. He awakes during an earthquake, quickly showing the audience how shaky his foundation has become. He slips and slides through parties, business meetings, writer’s rooms, and various women searching for his place. He confronts his other brother and his father about what they could’ve/should’ve done to keep their brother alive and how to keep on going.
Synths and relaxing music and atmosphere rise and fall like the the waves in low tide as Christian’s character, Rick, visits an art gallery or a zen garden full of feng shui elements presumably maintained by an elder man speaking with a bass-toned voice, relaxing and full of experience. Rick’s Australian stripper girlfriend glides over a crowd on a zipline. A gathering of hollywood elite brings Antonio Banderas and Ryan O’Neal briefly into the fold, but aside from background bits of dialogue, I was left with little to cling to and wondered how long this commercial could last. Beautiful women and men dance and prance and laugh and strive and thrive and come and go and through it all I drifted.
Though I doubt Terrance Malik, the film’s director, intended to send viewers soul-searching during the movie, I reflected on past and current mistakes, failures, missed opportunities, and all that damn self doubt. Have I squandered my chances to create music and art and stories? Did I build walls around myself to avoid the work? Have I abused my escapist impulses to stray too far from regular life?
Sometimes I see the world as it’s portrayed in King of Cups, or at least I view myself as an extra in it. I’m there. I see what’s happening around me. I can relate to the joy, the sadness, the victory, the excitement, the danger and yet, I have no idea how to become a part of it.
For better or worse, I look to art and music and stories to find a connection to everything and everyone else. In theory, I love you all and want to share these moments with you. In practice, I spend a lot of time reading books, watching movies, and staring at paintings by myself. Call it awkwardness, call me a space case, but please never feel like I want to keep my distance. I have a constant barrage of stories playing out in my head in, through, and around the songs bubbling there, so excuse my distant stare. I am listening.
Throughout the film we are kept distant from the characters. Emotions, plot, decisions, thoughts are all portrayed through facial expressions and body motion. At times, powerful and at others frustrating. How can we sympathize if we have no backstory? How can we feel for the burning frustration etched on Rick’s face as he contemplates the future alone out in the wild? Then again, we’ve all been there, right? Do they want us to internalize and reflect on our own story, regardless of how different our lives have played out from the characters in the film?
These people seem illuminated, enriched via their burning desire to live each moment. Questions are posed about happiness, fulfillment, creativity’s role in society. One character states, “nothing lasts forever.” Another tells Rick, “Let’s live like no one has before.” And Rick, a writer with very little to say in this movie, shares, “See the palm trees? They tell you anything’s possible.”
As satisfied as they appear, the characters are hellbent on excess, on indulging, on exploring the limits of connection with each other and with themselves. Is the high fashion L.A. scene enough? Can love conquer over a barrage of temptation? Does it need to?
I write to communicate how I see the world in the hope that people can digest my words and converse about it. Bring us together. Find common ground. When I think about pulling away from everything for weeks and months at a time to type 80,000 words about people and places and plots that don’t exist in the hope that it brings me closer to you, it seems quite insane. How could that make sense?
Rick meets with his brother, who repeatedly punches and pushes Rick, goading him with calls of, “I gotta feel something” and “Come on, feel it.”. A direct approach that I hadn’t thought to try.
Rick asks, “Why do you hold back?” Don’t we all? I paused the movie to seek an answer to the question. I come back to the same, tired self doubt, or is it that I haven’t held back, and the lack of connection is a commentary on a lack of success? Of course creativity isn’t about success, its just the measure used by others to judge its worth rather than the actual content. I wrote a book, I am successful. I played a concert, I am successful. I found a wife, I am successful. I followed the guidelines, I am successful. I avoided the guidelines, I am successful. It’s a beautiful saturday morning and my kids are playing with dinosaurs while I type away and watch a film by myself…I am successful? I am a fool? I didn’t need this third cup of coffee.
The screen shows snapshots of beautiful things and broken things and refuses to allow for the souring and rusting and heartache and respect and dedication and stress and appreciation and power that comes with committing to life for more than a moment. Is that view due to my own cynicism? Am I too jaded and negative to simply enjoy the ride, to appreciate the work that went in to highlighting thousands of moments that happen everyday, which go unnoticed. A man clips and shapes a bush in the midst of a concrete jungle, a woman walks on the beach and takes in her surroundings, a man kneels in prayer and fights his aging body to stand back up, Rick and a woman share a bonfire in the mountains, these are all real, but we don’t see the ripples they cause. Every moment is beautiful when seen singularly, even when Rick’s girlfriend sobs on a sunlit balcony.
Questions are posed and questions are posed and questions are posed, but as the film ends, I don’t find any answers. Hell, I still have no idea which cologne they want me to buy.