Alongside thoughts of grandeur and battles with my own lucid expectations of penetrating the lives of others and challenging music when I approached Act I, I have since returned to the very place I created it in order to gather the strength and energy to produce the next chapter.
Where its predecessor brimmed with the notions of death, spirituality and angels, Act II was poised to play to the opposite end of the spectrum. I had initially intended on focusing this albumís concept on the idea of ghosts and spirits, but as I began the writing process and research, peculiar things began to happen. I encountered a number of ghastly dreams and often awoke to visions of entities that werenít actually there. Many times these ghosts simply vanished from the room after striking eye contact with me. In between these events, I beheld continuous unexplained and blatant noises, witnessed equipment in the studio curiously malfunctioning, and lost a number of tracks on tape, which seemingly disappeared with no plausible account. Perhaps in all my research and writing I was attracting spirits. Unenthused about being haunted, I dropped the concept and began devising new ideas. Immediately, it came to me: the subject matter of a ceaseless existence, everlasting life, the undead and its symbolism through our life flow in its purest form, blood. In my mad ramblings on the topic, I penned nearly sixty songs, about thirty of which went on into production, and fifteen of which were chosen for the final album. This is what became Act II: The Blood And The Life Eternal.
These recordings were committed to tape in the same fashion as the earlier works, in my home studio with what I had available at the time. This gave us the innocence and spirit, and made things romantic, but it also placed limits on important factors and built boundaries around what could be done, ultimately forcing me to become more creative and giving the product something unique. I realize now it has become exactly what it was supposed to be: a sonically rich and heavily textured album soaked in melody and not without attention to detail. Itís bigger, faster, stronger and more epic and lush than the first album. Amidst the sawdust and slivers, we paid more attention to the little things, and put care into each note. I begged, borrowed and stole most of the gear where I had the chance, and recorded piano parts in churches moments before being chased out of them.
Production came to include choirs, strings, trash, scattered fragments of vocals and ambient keyboard sounds, all floating in the abyss of a would-be song. I also wasnít afraid of the reverb knob, and I took direct production inspiration from many lost 80ís balladeers like George Michael and Phil Collins. There was a beauty to that era that we never got back, and I wanted to find it and put it out there.
The success from the first album was a surprise, but a welcome one. I wasnít expecting to tackle the mainstream so soon in my career, as I wanted to establish my place in music slowly; however, that album spawned a hit song (ďThe GraceĒ featuring Dallas Green of Alexisonfire and City & Colour), large enough to change lives and win me awards for Best New Band and Favorite Single of the Year (Radio Music Awards and Independent Music Awards respectively), a #1 chart position on MuchMusicís Countdown, and a Juno Nomination for Best New Artist Of The Year. The fan base grew, and our live concerts got larger. After a cross-country arena tour opening for Our Lady Peace and watching myself chase angels on television, I quickly learned to grow into my new shoes. And, actually, they fit quite well. This was the moment I walked off stage, past fans, opened my studio door and picked up the guitar to pen the new record. 400 exhausting days later, itís finished.