Onward! The Off Key on musical persistence


Photo by Kat Berger

Photo by Kat Berger

Words by Erin Wolf

Oh, writer’s block. Songwriters tend to write in stops and starts, for creativity and inspiration strikes at the oddest moments. There are few and far in between who have the guts and gumption to write day in, day out, plugging away even when afflicted with a blank-slate brain.

Aaron Schleicher/’The Off Key‘ is ditching the ‘stops’ and the ‘starts’ and is going in for the long haul. Schleicher, along with the help of his three brothers, is committed to bringing consistency to his songwriting, embarking on a year-long test of wills. Here’s why he’s hurdling over the musician’s most cantankerous enemy, and how he’ll do it for one year, to create a fifty-two song opus.

“The story behind the song is this: sitting around on New Year’s, I had two major goals that I wanted to accomplish in 2009. The first was to start a project I’d been kicking around in my head about recording a song a week, and posting it for the world to see.

“The second was to take on a more difficult task, and quit drinking. The first song of the year represents the latter. I was sitting around listening to old cassette tapes on New Year’s Eve, and was trying to convince myself that I should sit at home and stay away from the New Year’s bar scene. The song is about a few of those reasons that I decided to sit at home and go to sleep at 10 p.m.”

“Barfight”, The Off Key

Is the bar-fight in this song a real occurrence, or something that you created?

It’s a real occurrence. A night at the Swingin’ Door in Milwaukee, I made a joke that I wasn’t going to vote in this year’s election. A friend was a bit under the influence and blew cigar smoke in my face, and threw bar stools around as he stormed out the back door (the jukebox part is fictional, because there is no jukebox at the Swingin’ Door).

Have you ever told a joke to a drunk in a bar (like in your song’s lyrics) and had it go awry?

I don’t tell jokes in bars. I’m not very funny.

Most songs about bar-fights are dirty, gritty and end up glorifying the violence. Your take on it is way more subdued and thoughtful — what inspired you to take the subject on from that angle?

I think because it wasn’t a typical thug bar-fight. It was a friendly discussion between friends that went terribly wrong. He still cries to this day when he thinks about it.

Follow The Off Key’s song/week at his blog *here* where the songs will be posted. Enjoy them live at the Mad Planet (533 E. Center Street) this Saturday, February 7th. Also playing: Conrad Plymouth, Josh Scott and Time Since Western. 10 p.m. 21+
MP3: ‘Barfight,’ The Off Key


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