Friday, November 24, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
SUBMITTING SONGS TO BIG TIME RUSH
Originally Posted: 09-14-2012 4:46 PM
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It's always good to have a friend like Brandon. When we first met, he was a Milwaukeean 15 year old working on one of the bigger Blink-182 fan-run websites with his 16 year old Los Angeleno friend, Arthur. My work with Blink-182 on their self-titled album, also known as the “smiley face” album, led the two to contact me for a web interview and then a few years later, some filmed interviews for their site.

The day we filmed was when I finally met Brandon, one of Blink-182's hugest fans, face to face. And by huge, I mean 6'3”. Over time, I came to learn that the only thing larger than Brandon's shadow is his heart. Emo to the core but full of hope is how I always think of the now 24 year old who's basic drive to help other people has allowed him to be in the company of some of his biggest heroes in the music business.

In recent years, Arthur went on to become a California Highway Patrol officer (“no Dave, I cannot fix your tickets”) and Brandon now works as a Washington D.C. firefighter. When he's not saving lives, Brandon still immerses himself in the music scene at every possibility and acts as a music scout for me, keeping his ear to the street. Once or twice a year, he'll call me with a tip on someone he thinks I'd be interested in working with.

This time around, his suggestion was a bit larger than the average fledging artist looking for a boost from a producer with a name. In 2011, Brandon told me about an opportunity he had to work as a personal assistant for one of the members of the Nickelodeon boy-band sensation ‘Big Time Rush' (BTR) who's a great friend of his. While he hasn't committed to it yet, he keeps in good contact with the group and now that the band has inked a deal for a fourth season of their series and a third album, Brandon's decided that I should be writing songs for them.

As a result, the band comped me into their recent show at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids to get a taste of what they're all about. BTR's stage was tailor-made for arena shows and was a mixture of big rock concert with hints of a Nickelodeon stage set. Multi-floor beam and girder stage design, elevated band positions, poles for the singers to slide down from top all contributed to a striking visual.

However, with BTR, the typical center stage drum position was replaced by a stealthy trampoline platform, which the band used throughout the show to jump up to the next center level. This may sound silly, but it was great fun to watch. And their use of the poles? Actually, very cool.

Musically, the group's songs were a combination of vocal rich pop music, heavy ¼ note downbeats, hints of hip hop rhythms and the occasional odd dubstep sound. Stage presence and physicality were strong and forefront while their voices were a great example of millennial blue-eyed soul. Not aimless riffing, but good soulful leads and harmonies.

The audience, mostly tweens and young teens and their chaperones, loved this group. The way they participated as a crowd was setup very well in advance, with those in the know hoisting countless hand-made signs as high toward the heavens as young arms could stretch, either with or without the occasional aid of Dad's shoulder boost. BTR-branded ‘light sabers' illuminated the stadium darkness and became part of the interactive fun when the group called for the left half of the audience to set sabers to red and the right half to green.

OK look, this isn't an Eminem concert, but it was fun for anyone who wasn't too much of a hipster or music snob to be in the moment. “When surrounded by entertainment, be entertained” is my motto.

In terms of the pop-culture impact, a stadium filled with shrieking girls never fails to call to mind Beatles comparisons. They aren't yet this decade's heir apparent, as none of them yet play instruments in the show. However, if I were pushed to figure out which one Paul is, it would probably be James Maslow. He struck me as the “cute one” in the group and the one whose ballad voice grabbed my attention most. John? I'd say Kendall. After a quick glimpse at some web commentary, it appears my summation reflects the general consensus.

After being immersed in the BTR supernova for a few hours, the drive home under the black Michigan sky started the incubation process on ideas for the group's third release. As a songwriter, my job will be to come up with material that'll transition them into their next career stage, as more mature artists.

Thanks Brandon for thinking of me and suggesting that BTR & I combine forces. Looks like I owe you dinner...

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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