This song was written over the span of one hour on Facebook live video. We combined our own ideas with the suggestions of the friends who were watching. The song isn't great, but the process was a lot of fun, and we know it's gonna get better the more we do it! <3<3
By relocating to New York City, we had ripped the rug out from under our own feet, and even though I could feel the tension rising (made worse by having just a couple hundred bucks to my name), I was confident that the two of us would grow from the move.
I knew that healthy habits would be a big way to manage stress and face the city’s constant trials. I kept up with exercise, studying, writing, coffee drinking, and applying for jobs. We had hit the reset button, and at that point had just a few clothes, a couple notepads, our laptops, some key books, and certain personal treasures (double rainbow maker).
A week passed, and I noticed that most people on the hiring side of the job market only really started biting when I met them in person. I also began to realize that landing a salaried position--or even an interview for one--seems to require either a ton of luck, a mutual friend, or both (I had neither), but I was running out of cash so I took a couple part-time jobs to cover my bases.
Soon we were asked by our hosts to either fork over some money or ship out, and, unable to fulfill the former option, we took the latter and began playing shelter by ear. Often, Jake and I split paths only to reconvene the next day to fill each other in. By some stroke of luck, a very generous friend welcomed us to what space she had. Three weeks into our NYC batventure, we each had some part-time wages coming in.
One hostel, two sublets, one closet, four couches, and four weeks later, we toured a windowless bedroom in Bushwick. We pooled every last dollar we had together, and put down a payment on it the next morning.
We still don't have a mattress or windows, but we’ve got a roof, instruments, power outlets, bookshelves, and a little privacy: batcave sweet batcave.
Chicago acted as a hibernation period for The Pizza Bats. As fate would have it, Jake and I were extremely fortunate not to need full-time jobs during our 8 months there (from Jake: idk if you’d necessarily consider selling your car and/or all of your saxophones “fortunate”, but that was fortune nonetheless).
This was a challenge to maneuver because, quite simply, without the forced routine of an employer expecting me to be somewhere on time nor the motivating factor of getting paid to be somewhere, it’s easy to waste time just by being plain disorganized.
In order to combat the stagnation, I set out to take control of my habits and beef up my inner nerd. One of the hardest things to do was quit reading fiction and watching TV (though there were some exceptions, including Rick and Morty and The Walking Dead), but I had faith it would be worth it for the sake of my own personal growth.
Having begun Tai Lopez’s Accelerator course, it became apparent to me that anything I didn’t understand, had fear of, or had disdain for was generally a topic that I didn’t have enough knowledge about. That, and when you want to increase your knowledge on a topic, there’s p much books written about everything. My goal became reading a book a week, and now I read three books a day.
I have learned that reading a book in its entirety is not totally necessary, and can actually hold you back from the true goal of reading, which is education. By developing the habit of only reading until you’ve learned one new idea, fact, or concept, you give yourself more time to process the information, and it is ultimately more directly applied. It has transformed the way I gather information, and I believe it can be helpful to anybody willing to give it a try!
When Syd and I were living in Chicago, we landed a regular gig at this place called Irish Eyes. Irish Eyes is a sports bar over by DePaul where college-aged (and usually quite a few older people, too) came to get drunk and sing along to live covers of pop tunes. The Pizza Bats played two-and-a-half hours of songs, and in a lot of ways the gig was tyte. It really helped us stay motivated to learn and rehearse new songs as well as test and improve our performance stamina, but after a just a short while doing the gig, it became clear that we needed to do something more creative and writing-focused.
While their regular late-night performer--a cat named Dylan Hankey who’s basically a bottomless superhuman jukebox--rocked out, I passed Sydney a note that said something along the lines of, “Hey, aren’t we writers? We should be in New York or Nashville or LA, right?” and we proceeded to pass the note back-and-forth to each other, adding a little more to the conversation with each pass. We decided that night that we would move to New York City ASAP. The next day, we told our roommates we were moving out and bought one-way tickets to the city.
One of the key influences in our pursuits has been an entrepreneur and educator named Tai Lopez. Jake had been following him for months by the time I heard about him, and I was a little put off by his SoCal cool-confident air, but with a just a bit of attention I began to realize that his ultimate goal, teaching others how to achieve “the good life”, contained a lot of wisdom.
A major part of Tai’s philosophy is based on what he calls the four pillars: Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness. In each area, he asserts that (if you’re like most people with dreams of being a whatever-it-is that haven’t come true yet) you’ve got to first challenge your paradigm, the lens through which you see life. This can best be accomplished by learning from the best, and if you can’t meet them in person then the best solution is to read books by or about them.
Today I use books as stepping stones to build up the pillars where I’m lacking or imbalanced (and it shifts everyday). I read about the achievements of others and the wisdom of leaders, and I explore my own habits and patterns of coping. It’s come to a point where I don’t feel fear or confusion about my future: success is no longer a question or hopeful yearning, and as I build knowledge and habits each day, I am confident that I will get myself to where I want to be!
When we agreed to perform at The Foxiest Birthday, we didn’t know exactly how we were going to pull it off. We had just taken up our new instruments about a month before the party and could hardly even play them while singing, but after making that fateful decision a plan began to come together.
The first thing we decided to do was take a walk to our neighborhood coffee shop, get silly on caffeine, and hash it out. We compiled a list of what would soon become the foundation of our repertoire starting with each of us choosing ten of our favorite songs to learn (songs from Fiona Apple, Johnny Cash, The Doors, Nirvana). That list became our homework for what turned into weekly YouTube updates.
That initial series of YouTube videos helped us out in a lot of ways. It kept us accountable, helped us design and maintain a practice regimen, allowed us to step into the medium of video, showed us our charisma (or lack thereof?), created a very real source of feedback for us, and helped us develop video and audio editing skills.
In making these videos, we discovered what worked for us. There was some drama, there was some stress, there were many hotdogs eaten (we made a tradition of eating veggie dogs on nights we recorded video), and ultimately we learned that we were capable of a lot more than we thought going in. Now we understand better how to work together, how to behave in front of a camera, how to play together, how to rehearse and learn songs more effectively, and, most importantly, that meeting goals you set for yourself is one of the most rewarding things in life.
The Pizza Bats
The Pizza Bats’ concept was born of a dear friendship that came to be while Jake and I were living in Chicago. This friend (who we'll call Ms. Fox) lived in an apartment that had sweet rooftop access overlooking Lake Michigan, and on a fateful warm summer’s evening, we decided to join her and her boyfriend (who is also one of our most beloved friends) for pizza and orange soda on Ms. Fox’s roof.
As the sun slowly sank below the horizon, the sky grew purple and bats began to fly overhead. As if by fate, a pair of bats swooped down over our open pizza boxes and zipped off into the twilight. Ms. Fox shouted, “pizza bats!” and that slip of the tongue beget a band name, and commitment to that band name beget what will eventually be the masterwork that is The Pizza Bats.
Ms. Fox’s 30th birthday was coming up, and we decided we would throw her a party at our apartment where she could invite all her friends, and as a part of the festivities The Pizza Bats would perform (our first gig!).
The Pizza Bats’ first performance took place in our old Chicago living room, an unusually large space with no neighbors (save for the tattoo parlor downstairs, and they DGAF) that enabled the group of musicians living there to hold concerts, rehearsals, or practice at nearly any time of day or night. Jake and I had prepared a set of ten songs playing instruments we had only begun to study about 30 days before.
While we knew that we were unpolished and inexperienced, the surprising outcome was that the guests had a great time, showering the two of us with unexpected compliments. That night, we learned that most people respect being brave enough to perform in front of people (something the two of us were so used to that we thought little of it), and that most people respond more to how you feel about what you are doing than the actual technicality of the performance. Because Jake and I were enjoying ourselves, the audience enjoyed themselves, we met a ton of great people, and Ms. Fox’s birthday party was one for the ages!
Love and Nostalgia,
In the Oklahoma summer heat, with sweat beading and running down our faces, arms, and pretty much anywhere else there was skin, we Tetris’d all of our stuff into a big yellow Penske van and headed north.
I relocated to Tulsa after finishing college in Oregon. From there I aimed to team up with a friend or two and try life in a new city. No one wanted to leave, and I was still there two years later.
Jake had moved up from Texas and we tried dating in the same town. Well, that turned out to be really positive for both of us, so I agreed to accompany him to Chicago.
Ten-hour road trips with one other person are psychological experiments; you must maintain blood sugar but ration the supplies to avoid pulling over before the next fill-up. Mild highway hypnotism is inevitable and must be countered with music suitable to the mood and time of day. If you've travelled like this, you understand it is an art.
Following a hospitable pit stop in St. Louis with Jake’s good friend (and accomplished singer-songwriter) Elliot Liebman, we hit I-55 bound for Chicago. That evening, we pulled up in front of our new place and shoveled our things out of the Penske truck and up a flight of stairs into our new home.
In this dingy, music-weed-and-beer-powered apartment, we lived for several months in a cramped bedroom with a rickety lofted bed. We questioned our pasts and planned our futures, experimented with routine and creative expression, struggled for independence and intimacy, and worked on our mental and physical health.
Chicago turned out to be temporary.
Love and Adventure,
Honestly, I was going through a major crisis involving my desire to play saxophone, and came to the painful realization that ultimately what I wanted to do had little to do with playing the saxophone and almost entirely to do with singing and playing songs. Simultaneously, Syd realized that she didn’t want to hold a front-and-center role as she always had when performing, whether with her group, The S Band, or as a solo singer-songwriter. We decided that we would change things up and I would play guitar, she would play bass, and we’d both sing.
We knew it was going to take plenty of time and motivation to make this transition work so we got to planning. We heard a friend of ours (the very friend who coined the name “The Pizza Bats”) was planning their 30th birthday party, and, with this knowledge, pounced on the opportunity to host a house show/shindig at our apartment.
We immediately went to work drafting a list of tunes we [always] wanted to learn, and set to the painstaking-yet-fun task of learning them, using a YouTube channel as a means for documenting our development and keeping ourselves moving forward. We soon settled into an effective practice, rehearsal, and recording routine that got us familiar with our instruments and helped The ‘Bats lay our repertory foundation.
Nothin' but love,
Greetings friends of The Pizza Bats!
In February of 2015, Sydney visited me in Denton on her way to Mardi Gras in New Orleans; she was going to meet up with our old friend Clark to explore, party, and busk in the French Quarter. We sat across the table from each other at Thai Ocha discussing the prospect of my going with her, and, after some gentle persuasion, I decided to tag along.
I packed a suitcase, grabbed my sax, called a cat-sitter, and we headed for Louisiana. We spent the journey listening to classic jazz albums (notably, Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley) and reading aloud to each other from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.
Upon arriving in NOLA, we met up with Clark and his friend Rose at the Amtrak station--the two having train-hopped from Oregon--got a beer, and secured shelter (an historic squat house called The Termite and Vine which was inhabited by creative punks, loving pups, and also a couple whose seeming life’s purpose was to watch every VHS tape in the house’s collection).
The trip was incredible. We played tons of music (Clark made a sign dubbing us “Big Red and Her Juicy Fruits”), made enough cash to cover booze, ate catfish poboys to no end, had some psychedelic experiences, marched in an unofficial parade, and met a bunch of excellent folks. I knew after I got back to Denton that Sydney and I had something very special, both musically and romantically, and that we ought to explore it to its full potential.
Love you lots,