Jan 28, 2016

My Touring Mantra

Over the next few shows I traveled with the band north-east. We headed up slowly towards New York, which would be our first real time off. 

rene villanueva touring new york city
Relax. Walk. Stretch. Eat.  

The others had places to stay. Well almost all the others. I stayed on a bus, which is much creepier when no one else is on it.

I had time to find a comic shop. Shave. And think a little.

For me the performances had become a series of ups and downs. Not the guys or the music. We just hit some stage craziness. Every night seemed like something new was thrown at us. Feedback loops. Low-end wonkiness echoing across the stage, making everyone think the bass was out of tune, I still maintain I was on but you know... 

There were times when we hit a real groove, and times when we were on the verge of completely falling off the rails, and that was beautiful and exciting edge to walk. 

I remember so many shows looking at our drummer Fred, who has the most stone cold serious face for drumming ever, and there was such intensity in his eyes when he played, and never knowing if he was angry or extremely focused or what. His eyes are like stone. Nailing every beat. But stone. 

And there was me. Trying to get a laugh. Trying to break his character. I'd slide up next to him in-between the songs and say, "Never stop smiling." 

Somewhere between that first time I said it, to now, it has became my touring mantra. 

It's not literal... I take it to just mean: keep your composure. Let the show go on. 

Maybe it's always been my underlining philosophy.

The main speakers shut off
- Never stop smiling
 Radio stations start playing through an amp
- Never stop smiling
Band members (unnamed) not appearing on stage
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling
Musicians competing in a volume arm-race for loudest amp
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling
 Divas desperate for the spotlight
- Never stop smiling
Someone drank more than they should
- Never stop smiling
Someone drank not enough
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling

It sounds crazy. 

Maybe a little denial-ist. But that's missing the point. 

To perform on stage is to live a show. I exist like a character in a play exists. Or a TV show. There is me. And there is me on stage.

And I have a purpose. Something bigger than myself. Bigger than a fight I had on the phone. Bigger than my hunger pains from missing lunch. Bigger than pain from blisters on my hands or the trigger finger that kicks in every random show.

Most of the time, the problems, the stuff that is happening and so immediate and feels like the world is falling apart, goes unnoticed by the audience. WE are the only ones who see that. 

Who feel that. And if you let those things get to you, and you wear those problems than the crowd feels it. They can smell the trouble.

With this band, we always were able to tame it back. 
To hit a near-disaster and escape. 

I have seen so many shows where the band is just devoured by their own self-doubt. Ask me sometime about the time I saw The Darkness play at Stubb's in Austin.

So I hiked through Williamsburg, checking out the stores and food and people, and avoiding going back to the empty buss. Missing my little man and my wife. 

And the people around me with faces like, "Who's this long, tall Texan walking around? Doing nothing but smiling. He never stops smiling."


the grey sounds
a hollowness in me.
i am the vibration. the echo. 
bouncing through the city. alone

Jan 21, 2016

My Writing Practice

"She's not... She's not the love... not the love... you'd ever leave..."

I paced the room several times last night, feeling this burning anxiety running through my body. Like I was about to jump out of my own skin. Like my mind didn't want be in here anymore. And maybe if I kept moving, I could out run it, or shake it out of my system, or something. Change. And wrapped in that feeling were the words. A story that was starting. Maybe a song? This is how it begins.



The sounds falling against each other and pushing away. It's like trying to find the matching pieces to a puzzle. There is something here. Something that is trying to define itself. Fragments of rhythms.

"She's not... She's not the love... not the love... you'd ever leave?"

"What?" Rachel called to me softly from the bedroom, barely making it to the living room,"Sounded like you said something."

"No," I muttered, "Just... thinking..." my voice dropping off as I kept circling a track around the sofa.

"not the love... you'd ever leave. You can't da-da-dum, good memories..."

Just ideas that aren't growing. 

What is she? What is she to herself? What does she want? 

I lay down on the couch with these elusive ideas on me. This is all nothing. A Meditation for writing. My practice. Writing is raising the dead. Putting form to ghosts and vapors of ideas. Trying to fill them with weight. Trying to fill them with life. If they can't live and fell and act, in my mind, they will never survive in the world. 

Maybe that's why sometimes it feels like magic. A series of synapses firing in unison. Ideas from disparate lobes pushing together to make something. A color and a word. A feeling and texture. A taste and a sound. And they need to make her real.

"What is she?"



"It sounds like your talking?" her voice is low, 
she is half in a dream already.

I'm keeping her awake. "Sorry babe..." and I sincerely am.

I have a habit of talking out loud when I write. Rachel says it's a creepy sounding voice, I don't know what it sounds like, I don't even realize that I'm doing it. I have a habit of staying up late. I have a habit of disappearing mentally from conversations. I have a habit of sleep paralysis. I have a habit of saying yes to everything. Of wanting to do too much. Of getting carried away. Of being too detached. I have a lot of bad habits. I guess I'm saying, I'm too lucky to have a wife that puts up with me.

I wanted a new song done by tonight. But that wasn't happening. And some how I got the idea that I was better off watching some Netflix than keeping this up.

And I did. Or started to.

I spent a good amount of time, feet propped up, shirtless, flipping through menu, checking my phone when I get an update from some social media thing. Not finding anything.Thinking of all the things I need to get done this week. Edit the podcast, finish a mix of a new Idyll Green song that will debut soon, start edits on a song we are recording, get back to my novel. And these are all swirling around me. 

I closed my eyes.

There, I saw the time we lay
in her room. When I learned 
she was a prism. We were tossed 
sheets and legs and the sun came in 
to catch her. She turned a vision 
on the walls. She danced 
like she was. So clear. 
So open. like everything could be 


Jan 15, 2016

A Human Example

We are 14 days into the new year and I feel like I've been surrounded by death. Most recently: Lemmy, Bowie, Rickman. I know people are dying all the time not just celebrities, just like I know people born all the time, but it really feels immediate and heavy right now. 

Having also lost my mother to cancer maybe it all hits a little harder as the never ending news cycle rotates through the loss of artists I've looked up to. 

Not to mention this plague of public violence that seems to be getting worse every year, and the amount of strange and terrifyingly xenophobic rhetoric that is coming out of this election cycle. 

So it all makes me want to vent some thoughts on it, and this is my blog so...

Because Love is an Attachment and Attachment is Suffering. And so a million songs are sung. And a million poems are penned. 

I live in night. Always have. That's when I feel the world the most. Like the noise is turned down. The city moves quietly and I can finally think. I can let my mind can wander way beyond the limits of day.

When I was younger. In my early teens. I would stay up late. Lying in bed. Thinking about ideas of Forever. Trying to imagine the feeling of Nothingness. Blackness. Emptiness. Missing Time. Years passing by the thousands. Millions. Eons. The rise and fall of countless people and civilizations passing away. Worlds. Galaxies. The Universe born and expanding out forever then quietly burning out. I imagined life before I was born. The loves, the losses. How much happened. 

How much I missed.

I felt tuned into the endlessness of black space. It's wild stories of imagination. The air filled with folk songs of the past. Like a visionary radio station. Playing endless now gone music. From now gone voices.

It was on a night like that. When a voice came like the strum of a chord. And I sat up in bed. 

'What will they know about you?'

'I don't know what you're talking about,' I lied.

'What will they know about you?'

I sat still. Giving no answer.

'You... this body... when the flesh has worn off, and the maggots have tunneled through your eyes and out your ears, and the dirt has been packed and settled, and these things around here... This lamp. These books. These scribbled half-writings, and unfinished thoughts... everything you think is yours, when all of it has been sorted out into "things to be thrown away" and "things to be given away." What will be left of you? What will they know?' 

'I'm not sure,' the thoughts hurt more than I imagined. It was hollowing. 'I'm only 14.'

'14 now but that will pass quick. And age isn't an immunity from anything you know. Especially Death.'

'I know.'

'There are so many that have never lived to see a day much less 14 years.'

'I know.'

'And what have you done with it?'


'What have you done with your time? And how much more do you need? How many more years will it take to get you somewhere useful?'

And with an anger that comes with not having any answer. I tried to push out the thoughts. I snuck into the kitchen and drank a bottle of water. I paced the halls a bit. I stretched my body. Took deep breaths. I pulled out my CD player and put on Best of Beach Boys Vol.1. And for a moment I had forgotten those ideas. 

And the heaviness of sleep again fell on my brain. And I lay back in bed. And there was peace. 


'Go away.'

'How will they know you?'

'Go away.'

'You will only be the things you've done.'

'I am so much more than that. I am capable of,'
'Ha. That might actually earn you one tear. No one will know what you are capable of unless they see it. No one could ever know the secrets you keep for yourself.'

'Some know. They should know...'

'Maybe... but people won't remember that. Not long anyways... They mourn lost potential only for a moment. But what you say and do, that is your legacy. What you make... That is your memory. That is what people will carry. That is who you are. The things you make. That is all you are. If the action is great than your memory will be so much more. Potential is forgotten. Intentions are always lost. Dreams die with you. You will only be the things you've done.'

'And if I can't be great? If I can't make a legacy? If I'm only worth a single tear? What then?'

'What makes you think you can't be great?'

'You brought it up!' I fought back, 'You tell me what is great. Why don't you tell me!'



'Intentions are lost. Dreams die. You'll only be the things you've done.'

'You've said that already.'

Intentions, lost dreams, only.'

And that is how it left me. The voice in the darkness. I don't have to say I couldn't sleep well after that. 

That hollowness of confronting the feeling of Death has stayed with me. I think it haunts us all. And to this day, on a quiet night it might come back. 

These last few days maybe worse than I've had for a long time. I think that's what hits us harder about a celebrity dying. It makes the idea of something bigger seem small and human. It makes forever seem intimate. 

As I have gotten older I'm no longer worried about success on a grand scale. But I very much believe in the idea that we are our actions. And we can and should do great things with our brief moment of existence. Memorable things. For the world and especially for those around us, and that is more than enough to make a great legacy. 

To be a great human example.

American's may have an unhealthy obsession with celebrity, but it is a human one. Celebrities are avatars of our dreams and aspirations. Especially ones like Lemmy and Bowie. They are guys like us. They are the outsiders. The freaks. The strangers. And they succeeded in a fantasy way that we want. They say you could be this too. Or at the very least, you can be yourself and succeed. 

And they keep giving us more. Maybe this. This hollowness. This fear. Maybe it can be the motivator to make that one idea you've always had in the back of your mind. To say that one thing you've always wanted to say. To do whatever it is you want to do. To be yourself. 

You only have your actions. Live kindly. Make kindly. Share kindly. 

And what better way is there to be remembered?


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, facebook and twitter and R.I.P. to all the great ones famous or not. 

Jan 7, 2016

Late-Night Drinking

I'm writing this a little late, and more than a little foggy in my head. This has not been a good week for sleep. Sorry to my wife for all my restlessness, but those things come in waves. Just the consequence of living for music.

The last two weeks have been non-stop, so I took yesterday evening with the guys and stayed out late-night drinking, having talks that were way to involved, books, writing, race, all those fuzzy speeches, that spill out of late-night podiums from pseudo-philosophers like myself.

It's too much I know. But I can't help it sometimes.

I can say being that guy is all terrible. A lot of good ideas come from venting. Pushing out all the weird ideas I carry and letting them go.

It was when I got home, the house completely quiet and dark except for the light over the sink, that I took a long breath. 

It was good.

I threw off my shoes. Made a snack of cheese, hummus and a slice of bread, not very creative but delicious none the less, and ate standing over the stove top, humming a song, and thinking this was a really good place to be. And I didn't just mean snack-wise.

The tracks with Larry are sounding amazing. We will be finishing the last song on Saturday, before the Mixing phase. 

Idyll Green is putting together a song to give away which will be out soon along with some really cool visual stuff. 

Tuesday night we recorded the first episode of the podcast that I think came out great, and I have a lot more to do. 

So much that it is intimidating. 

And exhausting. 

And fun. 

Through all of the work. This whole experience of collaborating, building, and creating Idyll Green has been one of the most fun projects that I have done in a long time. And that's a lot to be thankful for. 

And last night I found that, in the dark of my house. Alone. Tired. Content.

until next week


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, facebook and twitter

Jan 1, 2016

On Our Way To Atlanta/ Our Eyes

On Our Way To Atlanta/ Our Eyes

"Where were you?" Those words were in the room, but I don't know who said them. Might have been me and I just don't remember.

But I knew as she turned to me. I knew her eyes, cause they were like mine. Everyone always said I had her eyes. And they watched me as I came through the door. And they watched me as I felt this grip tighten in my chest.

Excitement and Fear. 

I can't tell the difference when they're on me. 

"When..." I began but the words were held tight by that grip, "When did you get here?"

"I don't want to talk like that Rene?" she called me over to the couch. "I'm just stopping for a second."

I can think of a thousand things I wanted to say. But there in the living room was the same as the hospital. When she woke up for a moment between naps, and she looked at me. Normally she smiled when she woke up to one of us sitting by her. But this was more tired. This time she saw me. Her eyes. I remember the color.

Our color.

Excitement and fear. 

And again no words.

She always had words. She was stronger than me. Stronger than anyone I've known. So even if she only had a second she only asked about me. Asked about my life. My work. My family.

"Here," I said, like magic holding a photo in my hand to give her, "You would've loved it. I wish you could've seen it."

"I know," she said it gently as she looked over the picture.

I wonder that all the time. If she saw it. If she knew how it would be after she left. All the things she would miss. And all the things that would happen. She was so strong. I feel like she could've figured it out. That she dreamed it. She dreamed my wedding. She dreamed my son. Maybe more. She dreamed the music. She dreamed my old age. She dreamed my brothers. And my father. And generations unborn. Holidays make me think like this. And it keeps me up so many nights. But this night I was sleeping through it.

She took the photo. And I felt so light.

Right before the ground shook. And everything in the room was vibrating. 
Falling away. The dream disappearing.

And our eyes. Looking at me, in that tiny bus bathroom. I felt so tired. And I looked worse. Like I wasn't taking care of these eyes.

Wash Face. Brush Teeth. Contacts burning. Ibuprofen.

And I stumble out of the little stall as the bus pulls out. A few of the guys are sitting in the front lounge. Staring out windows. Quietly cell phoning. And I get a water bottle finding my seat. Watching the trees pass as we headed into Atlanta.

And thinking of my mothers voice. I could still feel that grip.

Fear. Excitement. Tiredness.

"How much further?" I asked Lindsay.

She was cuddled into a corner, reading. "30 mins. I think."

I put on my headphones. Look at the tree. The green. The hazel tint of fall. Our color. And the day ahead. 
Fear. Excitement. Tiredness.