Photo by Caleb Barnhart

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breaking the silence...about the demos

Hey folks,
I've been promising to post some of my more recent demos on the blog for months and this time I mean it. I had been meaning to do just that, I really had, but by now I've lived with the songs and played them out for long enough that I want to demo them again before I post them.
So, I will sit down in the next week and start recording new versions of these unreleased songs for the sole purpose of posting them here on the blog.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Friends Make Good Music: Lyle King

I've known Lyle King for over 12 years. I first met Lyle when he introduced himself and asked to get together and play music sometime. When we got together I discovered that Lyle could play pretty much all my songs; in some cases better than I could. Lyle also writes his own music. Lyle writes great music. We often get compared and I am flattered by the comparison.
In 1999, Lyle helped me record Some Things Never Change. Not only did he run the boards on many of the recording sessions, but he also contributed all the 2nd guitar parts and some background vocals. To truly appreciate his contribution, simply listen to Enfield, NH or Soon. The additional guitar parts help build and shape the performance.
In 2000, I returned the favor and wrote and recorded harmonies for Lyle's first official release, Left Standing. I've always loved writing harmonies and that was something I was missing since the break-up of Three Mile Limit. Left Standing also features the amazing cello of my former musical partner, Ana Jesse. This record has a variety of styles and transitions easily from thoughtful ballad to acoustic rocker.
In 2003, Lyle released the acoustic EP, 5 A.M. Six songs that leave little doubt that he is continuing to progress and grow as a songwriter.
Here is a link to Lyle's website
Here is a link to Lyle's music on I-Tunes:
Lyle King

Losing The Game is a song off Left Standing. Lyle allowed me to write harmonies for it and so I harmonized the entire song. I'm very proud of the harmonies on this song.

Leap of Faith is the first track of 5 A.M..

Monday, March 1, 2010

Other People's Songs: Round Here

When August and Everything After came out, it changed how I wrote music; That's not an overstatement. No artist has influenced me more in my writing than Adam Duritz. When I was first writing songs, I blatantly stole from him. I would try to be subtle about it, but there were always specific lines in my songs or certain turns of phrase that would totally have been borrowed from one of their songs or were obviously in their style. Gradually, I found my own writing voice, but my affection for that record has never left me.
Round Here is a particular favorite. The song is beautiful and it rips my heart out even all these years later. One of the things I love about it is that it became a hit and yet it doesn't fit with the rules of radio. It's well over the 3:30 mark of most radio songs, and the song structure defies the rhyme and meter expectation. That's one of the things I love about Duritz's lyrics, they run more like poetry than rocks songs and yet they still work. Add his tendency towards the melancholy and you can see why I count him as such a big influence; The first is something I strive for and the second is something I come by naturally and have hard time overcoming.
Round Here was one of the first covers Three Mile Limit learned when we started busking on Church St. There is no amplification allowed when one busks, so it is necessary to find songs that are popular and that fall in a good vocal range to really carry and get noticed. I have a naturally loud voice and this song allows me to really let loose. It proved to be one of our most popular songs and one that always drew a good crowd and made us pretty good money.
This version was recorded at The Bee's Knees in Morrisville, VT on August 14, 2005. I played a bunch of shows up the East Coast that month in support of Moving Day. At the Vermont gigs I was joined by my good friend, Lyle King, a fantastic Singer-Songwriter in his own right. Lyle was gracious enough to play lead guitar and sing background vocals for me. This recording suffers from a great deal of crowd noise, a common problem for most musicians unfortunately, but I like the version anyway.
Round Here

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Story Behind The Song: Driveway

Driveway was written in the fall of 1998 for the eponymous album, Chris Titchner and Sunday Rain Dog. This was the first album I recorded without my former band and therefore all the songs on the record were going to be solely mine. I had been writing on guitar for a few years at that point, and wanted to write a few 'radio songs', songs that were catchy and more pop focused. In addition, I had been receiving feedback that I needed to be less of the nice guy in my songs and have a bit more swagger.
This song seemed to have what I was looking for, but there was a problem: I couldn't finish the damn thing. I had the first two versus and the chorus and I believed the song was strong, but I couldn't come up with a bridge or a final verse. I struggled for months. One day when I was playing music with my friend, Neil, I told him I needed chords for a bridge. Without hearing the song, and only knowing the key, he suggested A / B / G / F#. It was in an odd fit; The song is in f# minor, and the B major and F# major struck me as odd. However, I didn't have anything else, so I stuck it in as a place holder at least.
The recording dates got closer and the song remained unfinished. I was running songs with the bassist and drummer and we played the song through at every rehearsal with no vocals on the bridge or final verse. I was starting to panic, but was still unwilling to take the song off the record.
Finally, the night before we were going into the studio, I took my guitar and sat on the floor in the hallway of my apartment, just outside my bedroom door. I played the song over and over and tried to figure out how it should end. They say that desperation is the mother of invention, and in this case that cliche proved true.
The first thing that happened was that I was reminded of an old unreleased Three Mile Limit song called Crash and Burn. Mike, Tom, Pat and I wrote it one weekend at Colby College before a gig we were playing there. All I remember about that weekend is that we rehearsed in a tiny cement storage room under the pool, you could see underwater through a tiny window near the top of the wall; I had such a bad cold I could only hear partially out of one ear; and during our rehearsal we wrote the entire song. I wrote the lyrics and most of the melody/harmony. The rest of the guys handled most of the arrangement and made good suggestions.
Crash and Burn has a similar theme to Driveway: Boy attempts to win over girl and convince her to spend the night. In that song, the protagonist makes a good pitch, but discovers that the girl has heard it so many times that she's bulletproof. Crash and Burn was inspired by a great deal of listening to Ben Folds Five, and we attempt a BF5 type harmony on the chorus.
While thinking about this other song, I realized that the lyrics for the chorus in that song would fit well in the bridge of Driveway. So, I stole from myself and put them in. Once the bridge was finished, the last verse fell into place. You'll notice that even when attempting a good swagger, the true me slips in. That final verse reveals that the whole song up to the last line of that final verse was in the protagonist's mind, and that before he ever gets to say how he feels, the girl is already out of the car and headed into her apartment.
Driveway slipped in under the gun and made that CD, but I always thought it should have been more of a rocker. The song was recorded as trio, just my acoustic along with bass and drums. When I began to plan for recording Moving Day and realized that it had the potential to be more of a rock album, Driveway quickly made the short list.
The recording of the song on Moving Day is much closer to the way I've always heard it in my head. The great guitar hook, the freight train drums, the organ, and the great distorted bass part on the bridge, all come together to make a pretty good song.

Listen to Driveway from the album, Moving Day:

Here is the unreleased Three Mile Limit song, Crash and Burn

It should be noted that this song is performed by Chris Titchner on vocals, Mike Lawrence on guitar and vocals, Pat Doyle on drums (he also plays drums on Moving Day), Neil Lawrence on guitar and vocals, and Aaron Brown on Trumpet.
Tom Williams helped write the song, but had left the band by the time we actually recorded it.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Mike....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome to the New Blog

So, I've finally decided to move the blog from myspace over to an actual blog site. Hopefully the ability to access this site more readily will inspire me to post more often. Time will tell...
I'm keeping the old blog up for a bit, it ran from June 2005 to January 2010.
To read the old blog go here: