Welcome to Your Life
2009 NEW MEXICO MUSIC AWARD WINNERS *BEST POP CD - Welcome to Your Life *BEST PRODUCTION - Alternative Rock - I Am Not *BEST PRODUCTION - Electronica - Old Enough Illustrated Man was formed by three of the five members of the Albuquerque rock band Zero Hour. In the early 2000's Zero Hour called it a day and Seth Launer (guitars), Dereld Padilla (guitars) and John Wall (vocals) decided to keep on recording new songs as a trio under a new name with a new approach. Their first release, Music for Your Own Personal Drama (2004), was an all acoustic, almost folk-like collection that was a complete departure from the rock and roll riffs the three were used to when in the former band. On their newest release, Welcome to Your Life (2009), Illustrated Man have once again turned any expectations upside-down and come up with their most imaginative record to date. This concept album brought back some rock elements like electric guitar and drums, but also for the first time infused some electronic beats with even a hint of a hip hop style, all the while staying true to their roots of well thought out and emotional songs. A number of musicians outside the band also make appearances to flesh out the sound a bit more, but the three members aren't afraid to play several different instruments themselves throughout, making the CD, as well as the band, one of the most interesting independents you'll hear in a time of corporate, copycat rock. Illustrated Man -IM2- Welcome to Your Life "...and down he forgot as up he grew" -e.e. cummings We started this recording as an experiment. It had been three years at the time since we released "Music for Your Own Personal Drama," our all acoustic debut release as Illustrated Man. Now it was time to make the follow up and the only thing we knew was that we didn't want to make the same record twice. Early on, in pre-production stages, we began to ask each other what kind of album we wanted to make. We referred to the yet-to-be-named CD simply as IM2 -- short for Illustrated Man 2 -- our 2nd album. It turned out that this working title would be the very force behind what we would eventually create. Our thoughts started turning toward the idea of making a concept album; something that told a story from beginning to end with virtually no gaps between songs, and even redefining what a "song" or a track would be. It was then that "IM2" started taking on it's own life. What if we used that title as a play on words? I am two, or I am too, or...you get the idea. That led to the concept and we began writing. The first day of recording we had no songs, no lyrics, and no idea what sounds would be coming from the speakers. Just a vague direction of the story we wanted to tell. By the end of the first week we still had no songs, but we did have a whole mess of new and interesting sounds, beats, riffs, and samples to listen through. Over the next two years we would put those sounds together and Welcome to Your Life would be born. On the basic level this is a story about the journey from conception through birth, life, and eventually death (and possibly beyond?). Of course we are not the first band to do a concept album based on this premise. It's been done in many forms and fashions. Our take, however, does have a few different layers to it. There is an old philosophy that begs the question: what if your life was just someone else's dream? When they wake, this experience you call life is over. It was all simply their imagination. Make no mistake, we are not suggesting this to be true, necessarily. It is just a concept that always fascinated me. It is with this underlying thought in mind, amongst many other of life's absurdities, that the journey takes place. The album opens with pre-birth (conception perhaps?), which toys with the age old debate of when life begins. That is what the intro, "I Am" and following track "I Am Not" allude to. That is followed by the track that got us thinking about this album in the first place, "I Am 2" which is about being two years old, and slowly becoming aware that you somehow exist. From there it goes through all the things most of us go through: first day of school, first loves, first fights, jobs, adulthood, and so on until our eventual demise. Even then, though, there is a suggestion of the circle of life. That the end may be just another sort of beginning. The more you listen, the more you'll hear. Surely you will find in our fast-paced and short-on-time world that listening to this CD from front to back will be very difficult. No doubt you will pick your favorite track or two (hopefully you at least like that many!) and listen to those mostly. If you find yourself, however, with a spare 51 minutes and no distractions I think you'll see that we do take you on quite a journey indeed and you may enjoy the experience as if it were your own. Thanks for listening. -i'm Illustrated Man finds it home at Wall of Sound Studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico.