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The Past Few Days in Cologne… A Bad Dream?

The Past Few Days in Cologne… A Bad Dream?

Hey,

I hope you’re doing great! It’s early Sunday morning right now, I just grabbed my tablet as I woke up feeling an urge to write this missive down since the past few days have simply been quite the opposite of what I expected, had planned, hoped for and worked on for so long…! 

I prepared some coffee, grabbed my headphones and plugged into Beak>’s new album, >>>>! As soon as I pressed play, I couldn’t write down a single letter, since the first song truly got me! I hope you’ll enjoy it!

The light is slowly unshying itself from the darkness and the birds are already generously sharing their good mood as the promises of a new day unfold. I’m starting to slowly lose myself in my thoughts about the past few days… Since our last communication, life reached a paroxysm, some kind of enlightenment almost; coming back from the Freak Valley Festival, being broadcasted on the legendary Rockpalast TV station, what could possibly go wrong?! Well, what about everything..! 

Like Bono said:

“The less you know, the more you believe. We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong. My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them. The job of art is to chase ugliness away.”

Chase ugliness away…! The most fascinating thing about being in a band, at least our band, is what Alex and I really like to discuss about; what we call the intangible, or things and situations that are not capable of being thought of as matter or substance. For example, what we’ve witnessed everyday since February 24, 2022, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, how inspiring the Ukrainians have been under the incredible and now legendary leadership of Volodymir Zelensky, who is still traveling the world, meeting its leaders and bringing a huge part of the world behind their cause. 

No one could have predicted or measured their courage, their determination, their will to fight and defend their very young and independent country, but they’re still doing it by giving everything they have. Their greatest strength; faith, unity and courage – all intangible. Of course, they need to be properly armed, but victory, sometimes, doesn’t only go to the best, but to the ones who believe in it the most. 

As Alex had to go back to Montreal last week to go through some already-planned medical tests, The Long Shadows gathered in our new small and dusty rehearsal room, which is the complete opposite of our Montreal former Catholic Church HQ in every possible way. It sadly brought back old ghosts, evil spirits, the ugliest roots of our human nature, which I thought were buried with our former band Your Favorite Enemies. But darkness also has intangibles, tragically… 

I don’t want to get too spiritual or mystical, maybe it’s the book I’m still reading or the city of Cologne itself that inspire this with its huge religious background around the Dome or the 12 Romanesque Churches, or maybe the 10th century St. Ursula’s virgin martyrs spirits and myths still roaming around the city at night, still looking for justice! 

While walking through the city the other night, I learned about the master builder, Gerhard. He moved to Cologne with his family, looking for inspiration for his new cathedral – no easy task. One evening, walking along the Rhine, he got tired and fell asleep on a stone, but not just any stone. It was the devil’s stone! I was told that this is the reason why Cologne Cathedral was never completed. Every time the builders think the end is near, a new issue is discovered, proving this building will never be finished, not by its original master planner nor anyone else. 

Well… Too many similarities around the story of our band, of our unit, of our family, and last week has been nothing shy of its demonstration. Some say “new level, new devil”. For us, it’s more “new level, old devil resurfacing”. Alex gave us musical and artistic directions to work around and explore new songs he’d like to try as he was coming back on Wednesday, giving us two full days to hopefully complete the task. While some entered the rehearsal room excited to reach new and never-explored territories, others were more inclined to slow the process down and embrace our worst enemy as artists, as creators; status quo. 

The vibe was thick and heavy, something we knew all too well and by heart, a place we never want to go back to. Sadly, a huge confrontation was not only necessary, but it was the only way to keep evolving into what we’ve been working so hard to establish for the last 5 years. 

For Alex and I, love is a choice, not something we feel deep inside, or butterflies in our stomach, and so on! The idea that "love is a choice rather than a feeling" emphasizes the proactive, intentional aspects of love rather than just its emotional or spontaneous components, and in my opinion, it makes it way more real and beautiful by definition!

Love as a choice encourages personal growth. It involves self-reflection and a willingness to adapt and improve oneself for the sake of the relationship. Relationships inevitably face challenges, especially in a band where we’re always digging for truth, for what’s real, for honesty and greatness. Viewing love as a choice means actively working through difficulties rather than giving up when feelings vanish. 

Feelings can be transient, but choosing to love means committing to the relationship for the long haul, through both good and bad times. Small, everyday choices, like listening attentively, expressing appreciation, and being considerate involves being mindful and intentional in your actions, ensuring they align with the commitment to the relationship – the band in this situation. 

Love also manifests itself in daily choices by choosing patience, forgiveness, and understanding over frustration, resentment, and indifference, or the worst part for me; status quo. When those daily choices are replaced by feelings, perspectives and self-proclaimed truths, it becomes harder and harder to move forward, to grow, and to keep building something special and unique… Far from perfect, which has never been the goal in the first place, but a living organism truthfully rooted in something way greater than our own selves. This is what makes everything possible and honest, no matter what you believe in, your social background, or your ethnicity. 

We spent our whole Saturday and Sunday (I had to leave before I finished writing this, it’s now 6pm/18h on Sunday) having a so-called “band meeting” which is the worst thing to do as a band member after the act of rehearsing, since nothing creative comes out of either one. But they’re equally more than necessary in order to evolve into a “healthy” environment or living organism. Life creates life, as much as death creates death, and the intangible makes the whole difference, separating these fine lines in a band. We managed to open up on what was wrong, and why we ended up at the exact same place we all promised ourselves we wouldn’t go to again, but now, a week ahead of our next concert at La Fête de la Musique in Dudelange, Luxembourg, next Saturday, we have a long personal and collective journey to embark on. 

I strongly hope and wish music will transform us all, once again, and that light will outshine darkness in a powerful way, gathering and inspiring everyone who will attend that concert in a unique and memorable way, as this is why we’re doing all of this…! 

To be continued… Time to ask the right questions! 

Let’s be great to one another!

Your Host and Friend, 
Jeff 

LOVE IS A DECISION THAT NEEDS TO BE MADE EVERYDAY
photo taken on Sunday night, after our so-called band meetings

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