Bunker Heights Trailer

So, the trailer for Bunker Heights, a cool movie I did some work on dropped a while back and I wanted to share it. The film was developed by Drew Fortier (Dwellers) and he gathered a heck of a team, including co-producer and actress Hannah Fierman to pull this movie off. It is much larger in scope than anything else I’ve filmed on to date. Can’t wait to see the final edit. Have you seen any great movies lately?

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Take This Bottle video. A Faith No More cover by Chuck Mosley

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.

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In The Watershed – “coming soon”

Ages and ages ago, I wrote a mystery/thriller book based on the stories I grew up reading from Agatha Christie, Les Roberts, and Dan Simmons mixed with more modern bits. The book was ‘finished’ around 2014…

At the same time I wrote/edited/shopped a coming of age sports book called A Life of Inches. I signed with a small publisher for that book in late 2014 and the rest of that story is a head-scratching series of frustrating events, leading to the book arriving DOA. As I floundered, trying to promote the book and shop my mystery novel (set in the same world), I took a two year detour to play conga for Chuck Mosley. When he passed away in 2017, I was knocked back a million steps and felt completely lost and broken.

To help me make sense of the world, I started writing a book about my 20 year friendship with Chuck. It was around this time I tried explaining to my wife my many failings and how I still didn’t understand how to navigate a world in which I had failed so many times in so many ways.

In 2019, five years after finishing my mystery/thriller, I filmed a part in a found footage movie “Dwellers’, which helped me refocus on my creativity. I took another look at my mystery/thriller and realized I had much more life experience to inject into the story. This time, when I sent it out to agents, I got more interest, and signed on with one. She delivered the manuscript to a handful of publishers and we got a few rejections peppered with decent feedback. One publisher (a big one) expressed some interest and asked me to outline a potential sequel to the book.

I spent the Winter watching my Chuck book get released and fall on deaf ears, another gut-wrenching failure while I excitedly outlined a sequel/a book I hadn’t planned on being a thing. I really got excited over the set up and felt high hopes as I turned it in.

The publisher passed in the Spring of 2020 as the world shut down…many publishers suspended new manuscript procurement for an indefinite time. I jumped in to help my friend finish a hastily-made quarantine short film, “The Nutshell” which was fun, frustrating, and super educational for me. I also filmed a bit on a movie called “The Other Side of Darkness”.

As the world reopened in 2021, I reformed my old band The Firmary and tried like Hell to get the ball rolling (doesn’t anyone drum anymore?!). I lost touch with my agent, certainly getting the impression she had no desire to put anymore time into my mystery.

In 2023, Sara Panza roped me into filming a few clips for the Cleveland Auto Show to use on social media. Her being an editor and smart and all, i asked her to take a look at my mystery/thriller. She agreed and ended up sending me great notes for the first half of the book.

Now in 2024, ten years after the book was ‘completed’, I figure it is time to just push it out into the world and let it have a life outside of my head. I love this book, warts and all. I understand why it is harder to market then a traditional mystery, making it a tough sell to a traditional publisher, but I believe if people give it a chance they’ll dig it.

Skyler Willett over at Popgorn design created a kickass cover, which you can see below.

IN THE WATERSHED will be out in the world later this year. When? Good question. We have some more editing to do, but after that, out it comes. I’ll set up a presale link when I have a definite date, but I wanted to announce this now, so people could sign up to my email list and get the scoop. I plan on posting more about this book up through the release.

thanks all for sticking with this shell of a man as he tries to rejoin the living.

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25 years since the valentine’s day massacre.

My daughter and I were recently at a record shop on Valentine’s day, doing some last second shopping for my wife. While there Mara pointed to a KISS record and said, “Hey, I’ve seen them before.”

I asked, “Where?”

I was genuinely curious as, not being a big KISS fan myself, I wondered where she had come across them.

She said, “They were on an episode of Scooby Doo.”

Fair enough.

I asked her if she knew that once, her uncle Craig and his band had played a show dressed up in KISS makeup?

and then it hit me…That show was on Valtenine’s day 1998. 25 years to the day.

To most people, February 14th 1998 means nothing aside from another day to eat chocolates and spend a few bucks on roses. To a very, very, very, very small group of hardcore fans in Cleveland it was the date of a cool and memorable show. For me, it was my first time onstage performing. The show dubbed, the st. valentine’s day massacre.

My older brother was in a band called Skipline who, like most bands, came and went quickly with little fanfare, and yet they managed to cause a stir from time to time by playing after breaking up. My brother was a vocalist, sharing those duties with Bryan and Mark, who also played guitar. My brother had never been in a band and hasn’t been in one since. He was a born performer and had lungs, man, but he also battled a similar stage fright as many performers do. It always threw me for a loop because when he was up there he would and could do and say anything at any given time and he had crowds eating out of the palm of his hand. he was a presence. he was a loose cannon. man, he was cool.

His band had a “joke song called “louie” about Star Wars that they cobbled together quickly in the studio and tacked on to their debit cassette tape. The song was a highlight of the show, us all being nerds and this offered us a chance to sing and scream along about nein nunb, a character who deserves more credit (Right, Mike Quinn?)

My brother never committed to the band fully and eventually they went their separate ways, with mark taking over the vocals as the frontman. My brother moved a few hours away. On paper it was to attend college, but…

Anyway, they booked a show at the phantasy in Lakewood, Ohio where nine inch nails, faith no more, sound garden, Marilyn Manson, Mushroomhead and many others had played. The band wanted to make the show a spectacle, so they enlisted me and pooch, a friend of ours to aid in their entrance. When it was time for them to play, the club shut off all the lights and, if I recall, they had smoke machines going…but I might be totally making that up. I was kneeling in the darkness in front of Jim’s bass, while Pooch was stationed near mark’s guitar. They had the instruments set to run through various trippy effects. When the time was right, pooch and I started “playing” and making weird noises. He was actually a guitarist. I was…well, I delivered pizza back then.

As we played, a pre-recorded loop of a KISS song blasted through the sound system. The guys in the band crept to their spots in the darkness. Still in darkness the guys geared up and I stood near the back by the drums. The lights kicked on, the band started playing and as they ripped into the first song, I stage dove for the first and only time.

Oh, did I forget to mention I am overweight? I was back then as well, though less so.

I flew through the air for half a second and saw the fear in the eyes of those under me as I crashed into the mosh pit. The band played a solid 30 minutes, which was about all the material they had, but they saved ‘Louie’ for last.

My brother announced that he needed help, beckoning Pooch, Bryan, Ryan, and myself to the stage to provide gang vocals throughout the song. We wore masks…stormtrooper, c3p0, and I had on a yoda mask and for some reason I wasn’t wearing a shirt. The first and also the last time I think I’ll ever be onstage without one.

With a quick intro from my brother we blasted into the song. We hadn’t practiced, hell, the band hadn’t played together in a couple years, but the song wasn’t made to be taken too seriously, right?

Partway in I “took the lead”on vocals during a death metal-type barking breakdown originally recorded by Mark. I didn’t know the words by heart nor had I ever really growled like that, but man it felt like fun.

Most, if not all, of these photos were taken side stage by Scott Badovick, who also got some backstage shots. I “sang” at the far side, so I dunno that I made it into many, if any, of the photos. There was one small one, which was used in the CD liner, but I am not sure I still have it. If I find myself with yoda mask on, I’ll post it. Here was me with the guys before the show:

Can you tell which one is me?

Ah, there it is. No shirt, yoda-masked doug, stage right with pooch in the middle.

There’s my brother meeting the crowd.

The song was over as quickly as it started, as was the show. Skipline had returned and the club buzzed with energy. I had gotten onstage and had a blast. I wanted more. I didn’t know how to play any instruments or sing, and I wasn’t attractive, physical enough to get crazy onstage or even knowledgable enough to create my own character/personality up there, but none of that mattered.

The show was captured with an audio recording, so I have the weird, wild, semi-cringy, first song I ever played for your enjoyment…at the end of the song you may catch some bad words/derogatory terms, which weren’t from me.

after this show, some of the guys stuck with music and found other projects to pass the time. you may have even heard some of them, but those bands weren’t a part of the st. valtentine’s massacre of 1998. Also, bryan passed away recently, an unforeseen tragedy. He was a couple years older than me, good friends with my brother for a time, but I didn’t know him as well. He was always cool to me and we had a few good fnm talks as well as sharing a bunch of nerdy sci-fi/star wars stories back then. condolences to his family and friends.

I tried out for a band later that year that dissolved before leaving the basement, but adam from that band and I have been working on music under the indoria name ever since (and he currently plays keys in the firmary).It wasn’t until the following year that I joined my first band that played out, recorded, and released original music. They were called fromandafly. Here I am, 25 years since the first time I took the stage and I’m still trying to figure out if I belong up there or if it’s just too fun to quit.

In two days, The Firmary releases our debut EP Soft Reboot and it’s at such a bad time. We are drummerless, my job is sucking my soul away, and we haven’t been able to promote this collection of songs at all. I have been performing for 25 years on and off (more off than on really), and I feel like there’s a lot more that I want to accomplish. I’d love my granddaughter to point to a photo at a record shop someday and ask Mara why gramps is shirtless onstage screaming about jawas.

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2023..acting, singing, and (maybe) writing)

Gosh, I didn’t intend for this Blog to become a once a year look back/glance forward, but here we are again…

2022 was a mixed bag…I started out eating good and exercising until covid hit the household in February and stuck around into April. By the time we all felt “healthy” I was starting a new job with a ton less freedom and way more stress…without any better money/benefits. You may be asking yourselves ‘then why take the job?’ which is what i’ve asked myself on repeat for the last 8 months.

I did get to film a fun bit for a film called, Trivial which was written and directed by James L. Edwards. He and I worked on Dwellers together and hit it off. This was a small yet interesting part that was written into the script late in the game. The cast and crew had been filming for some time before my part, so it was an interesting experience popping in, seeing how they had all meshed, and then performing my duties without getting in the way/slowing down their roll/ruining the vibe they established. It’s about energy, really. I could’ve played the part and said my lines many ways, and been “correct”, but you also need to jive with the tone and character and lighting and sound pallets already established. This is particularly difficult when I didn’t get to see/hear anything else filmed before i sat at a table in a basement and the camera rolled.

The director might not even know how it all gels until he sits down to edit the footage months later. I can say, for my part, I had a blast that day filming. I am not an actor, so each time I have done when of these parts I realize it could easily be the last time I get on camera or spend time with friends/strangers/friends on a set. I look forward to seeing the finished product, maybe in 2023?

Indoria released a single called “Sharks” this year, though it was recorded much earlier…maybe even 2020? Adam had a lot going on between moving, new job, and a kid starting school, so mixing had to wait. It felt great to get it out into the world. Michele sounds brilliant as always. Our previous song released was called “Foxes” and might be my favorite song we’ve done as a group. Donald, our guitarist, can step in and add emotion and intensity and layers and atmosphere without effort. I enjoy watching him play/record. I hope for more of that in the near future.

I tried doing guest vocals for a project in Scotland, but whatever I did didn’t move the needle enough to get the song released. It’s a bummer because i really enjoyed it and I wonder if the miscommunication was due to the software we tried using.

Christian ‘Opus’ Lawrence and I finished his book Break When I’m Dead and handed it in to Scoutmedia. It came out in the Fall to a really strong reaction for an independent book about an independent musician. I am enjoying the reactions to the book and am glad I took the plunge, even if we had no idea a pandemic was coming when I signed on. When you buy it, try doing it direct from the publisher or through Opus at a show, so they can turn a profit.

The Firmary was grinding all year. It’s the hardest I’ve ever had to work to keep things moving forward, inch by inch. We released a single “Gasp” along with a self-shot video in the Spring. We had to shoe-horn in footage of Eric on drums as he joined after we had shot most of the footage. Adam, who joined us on keys, didn’t make it into the video, but what a cool thing to have him in the band!

We played a handful of shows around town with friends in Phestur and Life Magnetic, while meeting new friends in Alec and the House Plants, Blue Antidote, Vera Bloom and others. Getting back onstage after so many years felt amazing, though I’ll admit I am still shaking off rust and finding my footing as the vocalist rather than the conga sidekick. 2023 should see us play more shows in more places. Would be fun to get out of town for a concert. Our first show of the year will be January 19th at Coda in Tremont. We’re opening for a touring drummer/producer who has a totally different vibe than us, so we just don’t want to scare off his fans, ha.

Our debut EP Soft Reboot comes out February 21st 2023. Aside from marriage or helping to raise kids, I’ve never worked longer/harder at something. Every delay/decision/obstacle piled on until I felt like I was carrying a lifetime of baggage through hip deep slime. I’m sure William felt a lot of the same things as he and I started this journey together back in 2003…2003!!! Though a couple of the songs were written over the last year or so, several of the tracks go back to our earliest days together. We had demoed and recorded and rerecorded and remixed a few of those songs a dozen or more times, so saying anything was “finished” felt like the biggest decision. The artwork was done by Erin Mulligan who went so far and beyond what i could’ve hoped for. The mix is split..two songs by Joe Haze and 5 songs by Richard Easterling. While not ideal to have the EP mixed by more than one person, they both did a great job with the songs they had. Mixing during/after covid from a distance has to be one of the more cumbersome and time consuming jobs. Dealing with bands in a studio when you can adjust levels on the spot is draining enough, but spitballing various mixes back and forth/rendering files over and over gets tedious. Much love to both those guys for seeing us to the finish line.

Is the EP perfect? You know, having it done feels perfect enough. There will always be mix issues, someone you forgot to thank, misspelled credits, and a million other things to fret over, but we created some kick ass songs that are now out in the world and I couldn’t feel more proud of everyone involved.

The obvious next step is to record, mix, release more new stuff before we can start to overthink it.

I haven’t written so few fiction words in any year since I was a young kid and I can’t explain quite why. there are reasons, but none of them justify it completely. I have several open ideas spinning around, but I think so much rejection of my other novels the last couple years and the inability to find a publisher for two in particular really killed the buzz and stunted my drive. I sincerely hope to regain my mojo in 2023, but if not I have to step back and fix the issue because life without spending time in other worlds and in other people’s brains feels empty 🙂

Some background guest vocals I recorded as part of a chorus over the Summer might be out later this year, but I don’t know what I am allowed to say about the project. I’ll just say, my buddy invited me to his studio with a dozen or so other people to sing some background parts on a tune and i had a good time working with strangers and friends alike.

In December I spent a weekend working with Director Richard Russell on his short film, It’ll Be Okay. The role was completely unexpected as the person cast had to drop out a couple weeks before production was scheduled to begin. I learned lines as fast as i could, but primarily just took each scene as it came. I was uncomfortable and self conscious and out of my element as the rest of the cast were trained actors who had had some prep time and meetings, but there were things in my performance that I enjoyed and I’d like to think I didn’t ruin the project with my presence 🙂 Look for a trailer soon-ish i think.

So, to look ahead, 2023 should include a small cameo in another short film A Family Matter, also by Richard Russell. Will it be my last acting gig? Maybe. It’s the last thing I have planned, that’s for sure. Though, as I type I am waiting for my dad to gather some outfits and head over so he and I can film content which I hope to use for a short untitled film I have rattling around in my brain. It’s a bit artsy and high-brow for my taste, but it has provided a good channel to lear and make mistakes in filming without blowing a bunch of time and energy and making a cast mad. Pro tip: Cast people with a lot of patience, like my dad, if you have no idea what you’re doing.

I plan to self-publish one or two novels that didn’t find a home, and to self publish an old novel that had a home, but I took it back when the contract ran out. Maybe purging old material and not having those books to re-edit and tinker with will help clear the mechanism and get me moving forward.

Oh, did I mention a movie The Other Side of Darkness that I had a small part in got over 1 million views this year?!?! Wow, congrats to Adam and Vinny and all the cast and crew.

I hope by year’s end, I find an audience for The Firmary and that I get to collaborate with you on a project. What are you cooking up? Let’s grab a coffee sometime and compare notes, yeah?

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Growing, not only in weight

So, part of the creative journey is to learn and explore and push and grow. Onward and upward, right? Sometimes that means glancing back and understanding that growth. It’s not the funnest aspect of the process, but can prove quite rewarding.

Six years ago I published a novel, A Life of Inches, via Limitless. The release was marred with bad timing, unkept promises, and a lack of hustle on my end for a few reasons. The book sat for the balance of the five year contract and collected dust. It broke my heart after all the work and sacrifice (especially by my wife) to see the effort wasted.

When I got hit with covid two weeks ago, I decided to sit down and read the book for the first time since it got released in 2015. I noticed many mistakes and lazy passages that I would never let slip today, but I surprised myself by enjoying the story.

I’m reworking the book to smooth out some amateur writing and hopefully make a smoother more enjoyable reading experience and then I plan on self publishing a digital version. I am only allowing small, subtle changes, but not messing with the characters or plot at all. This is mostly a mission to cut out the use of is/just/are and a few other overused words and underwhelming verbs.

I’m not shopping it or making a big deal out of the work, but I thought someone out there struggling with their creative process might appreciate hearing they aren’t alone in troubled waters.

Actually, I worked on guest vocals for a song the last couple months and found out the band isn’t going to use them after all. A bummer for sure, but a fun thing to work on and keep things fresh through the winter.

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