The Making of the Video: A Devil on Both Shoulders 

This video was an idea I had in my head since I finished the recording. I will first start by explaining the concept of the song. This song was written at a time in my life when I was cold, heartless and basically fed up with relationships in general. I would not let anyone close to me whatsoever. I was tired of the 3 month relationships that I was going through time and time again. I knew that every time I looked to my shoulders to make a decision, there was not an angel on one side and a devil on the other. There was a devil on both shoulders. I was waiting for an angel to come along and change this perspective.

Now that the concept of the song has been explained, we have to see the underlying story in this video. The story with the guitars is a true story but it is also a metaphor for these relationships. I bought this acoustic guitar in 2006, an Alvarez acoustic-electric that I purchased online from the refurb center. It had a crack that was fixed in the factory and how I got it for half the normal retail price. The guitar sounded like crap, both acoustic and plugged in electric.  I sounded thin and cheap, not like a warm, full sound an acoustic is meant to represent. I played the guitar for several years because I had no other acoustic that plugged in and no budget to buy another one. In 2010, I bought a Taylor and absolutely fell in love with it. The sound of it acoustically, the electrical expression system and the ease of playability instantly made it my favorite acoustic I've ever owned. It is the guitar you hear throughout my new album.

So once we wanted to start shooting this video. I wanted to use this underlying story with my guitars the represent the feeling of the song. I also did not want to have to hire or find females to play the parts of the video that translate the song onto the screen. So we see this terrible "relationship" I am having with this guitar, that in real life I truly was frustrated with, that represents these broken relationships I was going through. The first two verses and choruses amplify this resentment in both stories. I am frustrated. I am angry. I'm fed up. During the guitar solo, you see me shoot, blow up and destroy this guitar, which in itself represents, getting the "devil" on my shoulders. During the last verse when I ask "When will my angel come and show me the way", you now see me falling in love with my new Taylor, skipping rocks across the lake, laughing, and having a great time. Overall the video has a literal translation of the story of these guitars, but represents what I went through to get to where I am today. I am in a relationship of almost 3 years. I am happy. I am content. And I am in love.

When I got together with Jay Saint, a rap music and video producer from Harrisburg, I had an outline and a plan for where to shoot each scene. Jay was excited that I had a concept and a story planned out. It helped make the shooting process and the editing process as efficient as possible. We shot at several locations, including Little Buffalo State Park, the North Hanover Grille in Carlisle, PA, and a few friend's houses with private property out in the country. During the day we shot a Little buffalo, the park was packed with people everywhere. We did not have permission to use the stage, but the people and even the park rangers assumed we did. People were smiling and waving at us, walking around us out of our way, and a park ranger even stopped us to ask how we were doing. It was a great fall day and we had a lot of fun. The North Hanover Grille was closed the day we shot on location. We hung out and drank beer while arranging and lighting each shot just perfect. You even see my guitar having a beer! The funniest part of the that day was while we were filming on the street, someone yelled "PENIS" while driving by. Little did the idiot know, the sound from the camera was not being used anyway. The studio version of the song is the soundtrack.

The day we went to shoot up and blow up this guitar, we went deep into the country. We used an explosive called Tannerite which has to be shot by a high velocity rifle bullet to explode. We tested a half pound of this explosive on a 5 gallon plastic bucket, which totally annihilated it. We knew we were good to go with the other half pund of Tannerite. We filmed that scene in HD slow motion so you could really see what happens. We used a modified M14 assault rifle to filmed the scenes where I shoot this guitar. It was a day of "man" fun!

The last scene we shot was the setting of the fire and the guitar solo shots, which we shot deep in the country at my friend Blumenschein's A-Frame. We poured lighter fluid onto it and when it went up, I damn near burnt my eyebrows off! We only had 1 chance of getting this shot right, so I had to totally remain calm and walk away into the darkness as this scene was intended to be. It actually start flurrying that day and you can see some of the snow flakes in the shots blowing around in the wind. It was cold! Very cold! So we were happy once that guitar was burning!

I have to give shout outs to where they are needed. First and foremost, I thank J. Saint for being a saint and one hell of a video director. It would not have been possible without his expertise. I'd like to thank Little Buffalo for unofficially letting us use their park. A big thank you to Chris Petsinis at the North Hanover Grille for letting us use his fantastic restaurant downtown Carlisle. Thanks to Derek Sweger for letting us shoot and blow stuff up on his land. Thanks to Jason Blumenshein for being a great shot with is rifle and letting use the A-Frame fire pit to sacrilegiously burn a guitar. And one final thanks to Todd Fisher for his cameo performance as another patron at the bar and Alicia Spanos for taking her Sunday off to let us in and serve us beer.

Charlie Don't Surf Recording Process 

Welcome to my new blog, where I will be writing articles, notes, and other anecdotes on my music career. I will try to keep adding new articles weekly. Hopeyfully there will be enough stuff happening in my career to keep this blog going!

This album, Charlie Don't Surf, is long time coming and years in the making. I started the ambition to make this album in 2008 when I was temporarily living in my parent's old farm house. At the time I only had a mixing board, a PC, and 8-track recording machine, and a program called Ableton Live. I had no real know-how or real knowledge of any of this process, just a drive, a dream and goal to produce some of the many songs I had been writing over the years. I started by creating drum patterns, counted out to exact length, and started recording into this ancient 8-track from my PC, playing along with my acoustic guitar. The sound was horrible, the mix was terrible, and the process was lengthy and cumbersome to say the least. I knew at this point, I did not have the right equipment to make a professionally sound recording, and started to purchase what I really needed.

I ended up buying new PC, a new version of the software, a condenser microphone, and a firewire recording box a year or so later. I was finally able to start really diving into this project. I finally started to learn how to use the software and get decent sounding recordings. I spent countless hours on nights, days, and weekends pounding out guitar riffs, bass licks, and vocal harmonies to many of these songs. After a full year of multi-track recording, I thought I had a pretty good sounding production of this album, but I still was nowhere near what professionally recordings sound like. I was amateur. I was novice. I was lacking in the education these sound engineers spent years in school studying. And I knew it. At one point, I actually thought I was done and started letting very close friends download and listen to the album. My focus group, as I called it, provided the feedback I didn't want to hear, but needed to hear. It was terrible. The songs were great, but the sound quality was lacking that professional edge. I needed help.

I sought the help of a highly recommended sound engineer, Marshall Deasy. Marshall ran his own studio downtown Harrisburg for years called Stress Free Studios and was currently working with Progressive Enterprises Studios. I had met Marshall a few times and knew of him through other musicians and friends, but no idea how to really contact him. A chance encounter during a random happy hour at the Mechanicsburg GingerBread Man broke the ice and Marshall stepped in to help. He saw the quality of the songwriting and wanted to help me make this recording sound the best it possibly could. He started with providing notes, advice and settings to help me try and narrow down where I needed to be on the final mix. I still wasn't getting where I needed to be. Marshall started spending time with me at my place showing me the steps that are needed to really make a mix fit in the pocket. He taught me how not to overload and saturate the sound, how to set compressors, EQs and reverbs to enhance the vocals, not deplete them, and how to use stereo panning to really isolate and separate each instrument and voice, yet still keep everything sounding uniform and together. After almost a year of this process, he finally had a mix he could work with during the mastering process. After few months in and out of the studio, using high quality compressors, limiters, and EQs, this project has finally been completed. It finally sounds reproducable, radio-friendly, and overall great.

So I've basically spent about 4 years in the self-taught college of sound engineering and song production. I went through a 1-year crash course in the Marshall Deasy School of Sound Engineering. I now feel confident and secure now moving forward with future recordings. I have started my own record company, Hoke Street Records, in hopes to help other artists in the future who strive to record and produce their own songs. I will hopefully be buying a house in 2013 and building a studio to be able to offer this service and to produce future Wes Hoke albums. It has been a long road to get to where I am now, but I am happy and thrilled to be able to release this album to the public. I hope it sells well, plays on the radio, and overall gets my music out there and people enjoy it.

A huge thanks to Marshall for the knowledge and expertise he has contributed to this album. Kudos to Dawn McLaren for awesome photography for this CD, my website and social media sites. A huge shout out to my father for always pushing me to better my music career. Big mention for my Root 74 bandmates, Jamie Aston and Mike Springer for always being a solid rhythm section during live performances. A huge hug to my girlfriend Kelly Stewart, for believing in me and putting up with the noise in house and having to listen to the same songs over and over again. Thank you to all my family, friends and fans who support my songwriting and music career. Without all that support and love, this would all be meaningless.

- Wes