Monday, December 10, 2007

The Rentals

Not sure why (my guess is the Moog) but I am all about the Rentals these days. I have been listening to the debut and the EP nonstop, and have taught myself to play Friends of P on my Little Phatty (not as dirty as it sounds), which is quite an accomplishment, as it represents the first time I have picked out and played a melody by ear. A simple melody, sure, but I'm still pretty excited by the prospect.

Last night I took it further and worked out the violin part on my M-tron, then managed to switch back and forth between the two when necessary. It sounds really good, and the rest of the song is easy enough that I may record all this just to prove I can.

The main thing is that I'm playing again after about six months of nothing. Pretty exciting!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

vaguely disturbing...

saw a school bus driver talking on her cellphone behind the wheel yesterday...

from a press conference Tuesday...

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, that's not a diss on the front row, is it?

Q Not at all, sir.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

uh oh

A couple friends and I went to a driving range last night and hit a few (around 180 balls or so) and it looks like we are hooked. Whether we'll improve is up in the air, but I am mighty surprised at how much fun we had. And how sore I am today just from swinging a club around.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tools

I have a running bet with a friend. We are both creative people who are inherently lazy and can't seem to get anything done anymore outside of work, and we both say we want that to change. So by June 30, 2008, we shall each have created a good example of our particular interests: a five minute or so animated short for me... a painting or two from her. I suppose the key here is that it should be something we are actually proud of and not just crap we threw together to meet the deadline. I have started my usual gathering of tools that is the standard accompaniment of these endeavors. To that end I now possess the following:

Photoshop CS3 (for backgrounds and various visual manipulations)

Toonboom Studio 4.0 (the nuts and bolts animation software I will be utilizing)

Painter 8.0 (for experiments and possible limited rotoscoping)

A variety of reference books (to facilitate the actual process of animation)

A Wacom tablet (to draw the damn thing)

Aside from Photoshop, these are things I have owned for years (almost ten years for the Wacom) and have used almost never. (Except the books. I do love to read me some books.) It's fascinating to me how I pretty much have acquired everything I set out to acquire when I sat down in 1999 and decided what was necessary to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. Never mind that a pencil and piece of paper would probably work just as well. My lizard brain would have none of that. (Though a pencil and paper is where this project will start without a doubt.)

I guess the point here is that I am out of excuses. I have everything I could possibly need to make this thing happen. As usual with these pep talks I have with myself it comes down to an idea and my execution being the deciding factors.

Let's see where I am in eight months.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slumberland

It is thought that 140 years ago today, Winsor McKay was born. An incredible artist, he is also pretty much the father of film animation. The following is his first film, completed in 1910. The colors you see were painted on the frames by McKay. This film was the result of a gentleman's bet that he could not produce 4000 drawings in a month. The last two minutes you will see are the results of his efforts. Astonishing and incredibly inspiring.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

There are times when music affects me in such a way that I physically hurt, damaged by the emotion of the piece. The pain is double because I still feel deep down that I am incapable of producing such a thing myself. Trying to prove myself wrong is a constant exercise in frustration...

No A/C...

Hopefully Monday will see this turn around, but for now, I am hot as hell and not feeling too great...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

lately...

I have been contemplating the one man band scenario a bit more. Basically taking my laptop and Moog into tiny venues and playing a few tunes, a la Thomas Dolby. This would involve me singing, which is quite a leap for me, and a bit of work coming up with simplified arrangements of a few tunes. Or completing 4 or 5 of my own. Hrm.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Childhood's end...

So I'm going to be a dad soon, and I find myself taking stock of things. There are many aspects of my life that aren't what they could be at the moment... these are things that can be changed fairly easily, though. My marriage and family are good. The job is fine. The rest comes and goes. Musically, I'm dead in the water, and the weird thing is that I'm OK with that. I haven't played in a couple of months and I don't see that changing unless a band finds me. I'm just too tired after the last couple of years to bother looking anymore. I keep my hand in it, noodling on the piano and synth, but nothing of consequence these days. I am seriously considering selling everything: drums, guitars, microphones, recording equipment... all of it except my two keyboards and just stopping for a while. I've done this before. After I quit my first band in the mid-90s, I didn't seriously play again for five years or so. I came back to it refreshed and recharged but have been unable to sustain anything for more than a few months. I have even stopped listening to music for the most part, which is a little strange, too. Tomorrow I will see Rush for the first (and possibly only) time. No doubt it will be an incredible show, but I'm doubtful I will come away inspired. At this point, it seems more of a fitting end to a long, frustrating chapter of my life. Guess I'll soon know.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Band issues...

Two situations I've dealt with in the past year, repeatedly:

1. Music I love to play, but no personal connection. Basically, assholes who have weird little Napolean complexes run these projects. Usually they are older with no musical success, but attempt to exert control over things in such a manner that you would think they had a room full of platinum records and a proven track record of top 40 hits. Two very promising things imploded because of this bullshit last year, and I am sick of it.

2. This one is worse though. In these situations I enjoy hanging out with the people involved but am unmoved by the music. It sucks because I have a lot of fun at first, but see no future and am less likely to put in the work needed because I am indifferent to the music. So I bail, and basically lose out on some friendships because of it.

The only thing that is going to make me happy is to start my own band. But then, won't I just be one of the little Napoleans I hate so much? Maybe it would work better if I make it clear what my expectations are up front. No one does that, and it always leads to problems. Seems simple enough.

I am disappointed today because one of those guys (#1) who is obsessive compulsive to a ridiculous degree "recorded over" an incredible day's work from the last time we played together. If that's true, then he's a bigger jackass than I imagined, but no doubt he has it and just doesn't want me to have it. Either way: some of the best playing I have done on tape is lost to me. It just saddens me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another new addition...


Please welcome a Hohner Pianet T to my growing collection of keyboards. He joins his big brother (Little Phatty) in a steadily shrinking recording room. Isn't he cute?

Monday, May 7, 2007

new things

I have decided to simplify. I have been selling equipment I don't use anymore on ebay in an effort just to clear house. It's working. Along these lines, I am looking at what I have and what I actually use. Simplicity is definitely the order of the day, so more stuff will go before it's over. At the end, the house will be less cluttered, and with any luck, so will my process for creating.

I am debating on whether or not to buy another 4 track cassette recorder. I was almost convinced I should, but last night I just used my laptop and Garageband and got more done than I have in months. A small mixer would help, just so I wouldn't have to plug and unplug and replug, but it's not necessary. So my choice might be made. I would like to pick one up on the cheap to transfer my old tapes, but I'm not sure there's much on them worth saving really. For working, GB is probably the way forward.

Last night was the beginning of my next project. I completed an EP a while ago. It was a short collection of instrumental tracks. I think it came to around 11 minutes and it sounds pretty rough, but there are ideas on there that I really like, and I wanted to get them out. Even if it's in the extremely limited fashion of a few burned CDs to close friends, that music has been released. So I can let myself move on to other things.

Doing just that I spent the last year trying to join/start a band, and out of a half dozen false starts, partially succeeded twice in finding projects that were musically challenging and satisfying. Both of those imploded after a couple months and took with them my desire to try again. So now I am not playing drums. I just have no desire to play at all.

It will come back. In the meantime, I am concentrating on other instruments and voice. This new project will reflect that. I am using my Moog synth, an old Roland sampler for drums, my acoustic guitar, and my fake mellotron and nothing else. On top of these, I am attempting to sing, but I am a long way from happy with the results. Maybe that will change. No one else will hear it if it doesn't.

I have a list of songs I want to try. I will hopefully add one or two of my own. This is doable, and should be fun, if last night is any indication. As always, playing music for myself first. Covers maybe, but no compromises.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Drummer's Translation Guide

"Hey, we love your playing!"

-Shut up and play what we tell you.

"Welcome to the band!"

-We can't afford to pay a session guy, so we need someone who will play for free. Oh, and shut up and play what we tell you.


"Help us pick out a kit for the studio so we can save time and you won't have to carry so much stuff!"


-We're going to ignore your recommendations and buy you a kit that is more expensive for no good reason, smaller than you need, a different wood than you prefer, set up however we want. And you're an ass if you don't like it, because we're making your life easier. All you need is stuff to hit anyway, it's not like drums are a real musical instrument and drummers might make informed choices based on musical knowledge or past experience.


"Yeah, we're gonna have to disagree on that point."

-You're out of the band.


*SIGH*

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Eventful weekend!

Spent the last couple of days in Jackson, MS for St. Patty's Day. We met Lori's mom there and witnessed some Sweet Potato Queen debauchery. To wit:



And this, post, uh, lapdance...





Anyway, I also joined a band. Check them out here:

myspace.com/slychosisprog

Lots of goings on and such!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wow...

Van Halen's induction into the rock hall of fame was ridiculous. The most influential members weren't there (Eddie, Dave, and, yes, even Alex), leaving the two nice guys, Mike and Sammy, to pick up the slack. They were thrilled (Hagar embarassingly so) to be recognized as peers with the likes of REM and Patti Smith. It was obvious, however, that their induction was not accorded the same care as the other inductees. Instead of an emotional, informative declaration of their importance by someone who might have actually heard a Van Halen song before last week, we had Velvet Revolver read a two minute statement, each member taking half a line or so, about how they were a "party band." That was it. The VR performance was even less considered. Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love, a song my brother mastered on guitar when he was around 15 or 16 years old, a song well known as the simplest in Van Halen's entire catalogue, was butchered by Slash. Scott Weiland "sang" like he had never been on stage before. It looked like a high school band who had practiced, well, never before the performance. Then they segued into something that appeared to be an attempt at the song Runaround, but it was incomprehensible. What respect. Bah.

Sam and Mike came out with Dave Letterman's band to do an impromptu Why Can't This Be Love, which was OK. A horn section, a guitarist using single coil pickups, and Sam screeching his way through the high notes did them no favors, though.

All in all, the naysayers proved themselves right, and gave Van Halen the bare minimum associated with the "honor." Bah.

The only good thing that can come of this is that finally, it is over. The last twenty years may as well have never happened, and the last ten pretty much didn't. Ed needs to get his shit together and get to work. They are a laughing stock and have everything to prove all over again. I don't care who plays bass, but I think Ed, Alex, and Dave can come back from this and kick some ass again. Come on Ed. You can do it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Practice journal, entry one...

Alright. I started yesterday, as planned. The routine takes about two hours, though the last half hour is just playtime. I am starting slowly, and increasing the metronome by 2 increments each day. I am two days in, which means only 28 left to go. This is not a huge commitment, but it is already making a difference. I am fired up, and am going to finish this. So far so good.

Friday, February 16, 2007

happenings...

I'll revisit my concert posting at a later date, but this is a quick addition:

The Police are playing New Orleans. Oh, happy day!

Alright, what else?

Today starts my new practice routine. I'll be using Pete Sweeney's 30 Day Drum Workout as a guideline. There's a lot of good information in there and it is set up in such a way that as long as I can get the ball rolling, continuing is a no-brainer. So let's see how the next month goes. If I do succeed in practicing every day, it'll be the first time since I was in my teens that I have accomplished that. I was pretty good back then, too.

Three main goals:

1. Stop playing so tight. It's counterproductive, and limits me more the older I get.

2. Get my feet together. Double kick has remained out of my reach for a long time, mainly due to laziness. This will help me move forward. Why did I have to start listening to Dragonforce? Bastards.

3. Establish a practice routine and STAY WITH IT. This is priority one, even if it comes last on my list.

Jimmy Chamberlin said in an interview once that we all decide how good we want to be. I've floated for years on a lot of natural ability, but have not put in the work since I left home ten years ago. That fact, getting older, and the damage I did to myself on my little rubber pad e-kit have all accumulated into a huge mess now. I can play, yes. But I can't play like I did ten years ago without supreme effort. I want to get better, and correct my technique, so that ten years from NOW I will be talking about how far I've come. I can see it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Before... and after.



OK... maybe not.

My last post was me in crisis mode over this drum shit. Obviously. Things are better now. I have everything done but my kick, and they look incredible, but more importantly, they tuned up fine and sound great. That laid my fears to rest instantly. I still am concerned about my kick, but I am now optimistic that it will be fine. Amazing what 24 hours or so will do for you.

I took a couple of pics, but they don't do the kit justice at all, so I'll take some more and post them then. Yesterday I was upset and 75% happy with this whole thing. Today I am optimistic and around 90% pleased. If the kick drum turns out well, then it's all good. Indeed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Recovering project...

What have I learned?


I overpaid for the wrap.
I was entirely too worried about the "precut" sizes, to make the job easier. In truth, they don't fit well, and probably will need to be trimmed on at least 3 of my 6 drums.

The tape method is bullshit. Easier, yes, but I am not satisfied with how the larger drums are coming out. The wrap is tight around the body of the drum, but not against the edge, which may lead to problems with tuning. Since the tape is only on the very end of each piece of wrap, there is nothing to secure the edges to the drum. Disappointing.

I went with the tape because I didn't want the permanence of glue. I was thinking of rewrapping them in the future, blah blah blah. Given the expense and effort involved, I now know that was ridiculous. This is it. For what I paid for the privilege of flexibility, I could have had the job professionally done.

Now my heads don't fit anymore. Specifically, the 8 and 10 inch toms are fine, the 13 inch is tight, but the 12 inch tom no longer accepts Remo or Aquarian heads. Evans appear to fit just fine, but I play Remo Ebony Pinstripe. This sucks.

Is there a bright side?

Sure. They look spectacular. Really, really good, which was kind of the whole point here. I am just disappointed in the process. Mainly because I paid so much. This stuff is very expensive. Given the money involved, I know now that I should have paid a professional to do it, and then I wouldn't have had these problems. At a minimum, I should have sucked it up and used the glue method on the larger drums (I may yet). I will start replacing the hardware tomorrow, so I should know the final result by Sunday.

Not sure yet what I will do if all this ends with my drums being beautiful, but unplayable...