Null Paradox book interview on Jeff’s Album Review. Null Paradox Challenges The Decision Between Love & Destiny.
Reprinted by permission.
Null Paradox is the raindrop that encompasses the story Gertrude and Graces struggle to choose. Their story is told through a Book (Gertrude & Grace), Music album (The Onion and the Ants: Gertrude and Grace) and Live interactive show (Onion & Ants Live).
Throughout your life, you’ll make 35 million conscious decisions.
You’ll live for 2 billion seconds. And only one decision will count:
Will you choose the Love of your life (orange) or your Destiny (purple)?
Null Paradox music can be purchased HERE
Jeff’s Album Review – You were born and raised in Detroit?
Tom Libertiny – Actually, I was born and raised in Miami, Florida.
JAR – What brought you to Michigan?
TL – My dad was a teacher in Miami and he was moved to Chicago. While we were in Chicago he was doing some work for Ford Motor Company during the summer. Eventually they hired him and we moved to Detroit at that time.
JAR – Do you like it here opposed to Miami or Chicago?
TL – It’s a little colder. It’s definitely warmer than Chicago. Aside from that, Detroit is just great, especially the last two or three years with so many artists coming back to the City. You can start to tell everything is really beginning to turn around.
JAR – Are you music fan?
TL – I am.
JAR – Is that where the whole Null Paradox thing started for you? With music or was it the book?
TL – The book is really where it started for me. My friends and I all grew up as readers. We read everything from science fiction to my favorite writer, Franz Kafka. On top of that my family was really promoting both literature and music. My mom and dad forced me to take piano lessons when I was really young, which I hated. But today I am forever grateful. So I grew up with both, however the project really started with and continues to be focused on the book. The notion is each book would have an album and each chapter in the book would be equivalent to a song on the album (Song one, Chapter one and so on).
JAR – How did you become interested in music?
TL – Well besides my parents forcing me at really young age, the great thing was in elementary, middle and high school here in Detroit I had some really great teachers in public school. I couldn’t help but get enthusiastic about music. For example I started playing Cello in the orchestra in elementary school. It turned out my middle school music teacher was a student of my elementary school music teacher. They would always talk when we did concerts together. In elementary school we would go over to the middle school and put on these huge concerts with 200 students. We would all learn from each other. So because the teachers would talk, my middle school teacher would know who was deeply involved in music and who wasn’t. He came up to me one day and said,” You’re playing cello in the orchestra – do you want to learn how to play bass”? I always thought upright bass was cool, so I said “Sure”. He said “Ok, if you come in here for an extra hour after school I’ll teach you how to play bass”. I didn’t know he had this big plan that he wanted to do a jazz band as well. So for the first jazz band in middle school he bought a Fender Precision Bass Guitar and a Peavey Amplifier. He said “Congratulations you learned and I’d like you to play bass in the jazz band”. Of course going electric was awesome! It was just too much fun. So I give them both full credit.
JAR – How about writing?
TL – The day that I realized I really enjoyed writing was in 6th grade. I had to write a book report on Leonardo Da Vinci who has always been an idol of mine. Not only for being an engineer and we’re here in Detroit, but he was an amazing artist. The guy could really do everything. I was really interested so my teacher gave me a bunch of books and said, “Okay read up on him”. I did and I wrote and in depth book report on him. I re-read it and realized I was just a beginner (I still consider myself a beginner today), but it was an enjoyable process to research it and really find out about his life, then write about him in my own viewpoint. That’s really when I caught the bug in writing.
JAR- What gave you the idea to bring the two together?
TL – It was just the notion of writing both music and literature. They are both two loves of mine. When I thought about the book it didn’t dawn on me “Ok I’m going to make a music album related to this too”. Initially it was just going to be one huge book, which eventually I broke into three because it was just overwhelming. My wife and I, as we always do on New Year’s Eve, had this really deep conversation, similar to the one in the article you just wrote about the gentleman that did the film. She said, “What are you waiting for to do this book”? I was just doing bits and pieces here and there and we would all be 200 years old before I got done with it. She encouraged me to really devote my time to it. That’s when I pulled the two ideas together. There were other people decades before me doing concept albums, so I decided to take a look at that and try it.
JAR – How long did it take to complete the project from beginning to end?
TL – Well at this point we’re on ten and a half years right now. The book is in edit and we expect it will be launched in the first few months of 2013. It’s one of those things where I definitely bit off more than I anticipated. Many lessons were learned, and I know what I am going to differently for the second book.
JAR – Talk about how you want to keep your fan based involved in the project.
TL – The notion was to originally release the first book and the first album at the same time. Of course that went to hell (laughing) because my timing was off on both projects really. That was one of the lessons learned on the second book and album. We will release them at the same time. So to really answer your question, the characters through the lyrics and the songs on the CD kind of flush out the book and vice versa. When you read through the lyrics and listen to the songs it’s not verbatim to what’s written in the book, it’s additional information. That’s the same way that the book is. If you read the book it doesn’t tell you line for line the lyrics.
JAR – That sounds great. You’re going to keep people enticed all the time. If they hear the music they’re going to want to read the book and vice versa.
TL – Yes and our web site will be interactive and should launch next week (From time of interview, not posting). We get a lot of questions around the- what does this mean kind of thing. It’s a community area on our website that’s been under development for quite awhile. People can really get involved. We will have behind the scenes video from meetings with Rachel Koontz who is the books co-author and editor along with me as well with the band. We will ask people to get involved and we will answer their questions.
JAR – Without spoiling the complete story, can you give us an introduction?
TL – It’s set in the Victorian era 1920’s -1930’s timeframe. People were still young but they had to grow up faster than they would today. It’s based around two girls that are in High School. They have been best friends forever and their having a difficult relationship. Grace and Gertrude are the two characters and they are complete opposites. Gertrude is very much an introvert and is very content with life and Grace is kind of this bigger than life extrovert character and she realizes their relationship is in trouble and Gertrude does not. She is trying to convince Gertrude that they need start looking at what life is going to be like for them in the future (after graduation) as individuals, not just as best friends. Gertrude will have nothing to do with it. She’s a pretty damaged character; she has had a lot of issues growing up. She cannot focus on what Grace is trying to tell her. Gertrude has really fallen down for the first half of the book and Grace recognizes it and it’s kind of frustrating because she can’t convince her that she needs to look at the bigger picture of the world. It’s a convoluted story to begin with and it gets simpler as the book progresses.
JAR -What was the major hurdle you had to overcome to put a project of this nature together?
TL – The money thing is always an issue for anyone involved in art of any kind. The biggest hurdle I had was like you said, trying to envision stepping out of my comfort zone. Envisioning what an external perspective would be on love and destiny and really twist it so it’s an alien, dry look at issues that are really close to my heart. It goes back to a science fiction book I read as a kid, I think it was Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke… maybe written in the forties or fifties and it still kind of cracks me up that we have all these political issues and religious issues and this space craft comes from this great society in the sky and goes through 2000 years of humanity and man’s experience and says, “Well here are the solutions-It’s X, Y and Z… it’s really simple”. While I don’t think the answers are anywhere near that simple for love and destiny related issues. I think it’s kind of interesting to look toward what is the cut and dry. Are some of the things I worry about silly from another person’s perspective? And that was actually the biggest hurdle I had in writing because, well I joke with Rachel Matz, one of the singers in our band (she knows better than I do) you have nothing to hide behind. On stage she’s got a little mic stand to hide behind and in the book I have nothing to hide behind. It’s me. As an introvert that was very difficult. Same thing with the music, you’re just laying yourself out there for people to read. That was the biggest hurdle. Do I really want to give people that much insight into what’s going on? I’m really thankful for both Rachel’s, Chris Mick, Dave Ziozios, Eric Prater, Ana Cruz and the other people involved. They have been a huge support.
JAR – The artwork for the book (or at least the cover) is very cool. Who’s the artist?
TL – Ana Cruz who is from Portugal. This has become an international project. We had a group in the Philippines do our first book video as well. I stumbled across Ana’s artwork; she’s done illustrations for calendars. She worked originally on the CD with us doing some of the interior artwork. I went to her and said, “I’m finishing up this book, do you want to get involved with it”? She was all over it. She is just an amazing artist.
JAR – Do you have a publisher- who and talk about your experience in selling them on your project?
TL – We’re actually in all likelihood going to self publish the book, as we did with the album. Rachel Koontz is based out of Chicago. She’s a great editor and much more familiar with the publishing world. We’re going to release the book as a distribution deal with www.bookbaby.com and they have the contracts with Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble for selling. So you can download the book on any device you have and we will also sell hardcopies of the book on our website.
JAR – Who or what genres are your major influences (music and writers)?
TL – Classical music, which is what was played in my home and in a lot homes in the area, was a major influence. Beethoven and Bach I would listen to all the time on my family’s stereo. What really captured me was Bootsy Collins from Parliament Funkadelic as a bass player. A friend of mine from the track team first played it for me when we would take these long bus trips to different schools to run track events. I said “Man I got to learn how to play what Bootsy Collins is playing”. I bought everything he has ever recorded from Parliament to his own stuff. He’s just amazing. My top three favorite bass players are Bootsy, Geddy Lee from Rush and Probably Pink Floyds bass player Roger Waters.
JAR – What’s your in hip pocket for music at a local level? Who do you check out on the club scene?
TL – We just saw Ghosts of August and Ballz Deluxe at the Crowfoot in Pontiac. Both of them are amazing bands. I’m a huge fan of a band out of Detroit called half-life. Chris’s project The Black Hat Trio as well.
JAR – What’s next? Do you have another idea in mind upon completion of this one?
TL – I definitely would like to do a pure science fiction book. That would be a lot of fun. As an engineer, it’s always interesting to make it not so “Geeky” that it turns everyone off. Writing the dialogue is the biggest challenge. Musically I look forwarding to working with Chris’s project, The Black Hat Trio. My personal project would be writing and recording a funk album. Going back and capturing that Bootsy Collins feel in the Parliament era.
JAR – As we sit here now coming up on 2013 what would you say your biggest accomplishment is to date.
TL – Definitely getting this far on the book has been the biggest accomplishment. It’s been an interesting road and that coming to a close is going to be amazing.