Monday, November 29, 2004

Finally - a Rock Band

Well, had a pretty peaceful Thanksgiving weekend. Ate too much, laxed around and did nothing mostly, but I finished it off with a session today - a 4 piece "modern rock" band. Their name is Silhouette, and they're a bunch of young kids, but they're really good. Their sound to me is reminiscent of Uncle Tupelo or Wilco, with some Soul Asylum thrown in. Good stuff.
I hope to be able to say I knew them before they were famous.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Little Funny Things

Okay, not much happening at the studio this week. I've got bookings later in the week. Meanwhile, here's a couple of funny things I saw:

Looking at a job listing, and next to "salary/wage", it said, and I'm not kidding, "Comiserate with experience [sic]". Seriously. I couldn't make that up.

Today, driving around running errands, I saw one of those little SUV's that had been lowered, had fancy wheels installed, those wacky looking wipers, and in the windshield, it had visor that said "FIESTY [sic]". Kind of takes away some of the intended impact, don't you think?

More later in the week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I Should Have Died, Epsiode 1, prelude

In keeping with my idea of posting interesting stories from my past, here's the first of several in the "I Should Have Died" series:

When I was sixteen, I had a 1966 VW Beetle. At the time, it was about 17 or 18 years old, which isn't ancient, but it was old. Also, over the years, lots of redundancy and safety features have been added to cars - the 1966 VW Beetle had almost none of those. When I got it, it had lap belts, front seat only.
Now, in this car, the engine is in the back, so all that's in front of you is a trunk; and the windshield is literally like, 6" in front of your face. And 2" away from your chect is a pointy, non-collapsing steering column. In short, this is not a car you want to be driving if you get into an accident.
Another major safety improvement modern cars have is that they basically have two (some even have four!) braking systems - one for the front, and one for the back. The idea is that if you get a leak in one end, your car will still stop at least a little, so that you can get safely off the road, or to a shop. And this is also another safety feature missing from the '66 Volkswagen. If there's a problem anywhere in the brakes on a '66 VW, the whole system goes out. All of this intersects to create the interesting story in my next installment....

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wacky Anecdotes

Slow week in the studio this week, so it occurred to me I could post some funny/interesting anecdotes from my past. Kind of give you a peek into the experiences athat combined to make me.
Here's the first one:

This story happened in the 8th grade, which, for me, is the '78 - '79 Timeframe.
In our neighborhood, the token thugs that everybody was frightened of were the Meltmars... Phillip, and his older brother, Chuck. If there was a cat killed, a
window broken, a bike stolen, you could be sure the Meltmars were
behind it. They were just bad news. For starters, their parents were
divorced, and they lived with their mom. Now, I know that today,
that's almost de rigueur; but in 1977, it was still pretty unusual. I
only knew two or three people whose parents were divorced back then.
Anyway, one wintery January morning, we were waiting at the bus stop,
going back to school after Christmas break. It was cold. So cold,
everything actually sounded crisp. Unless you've lived through a
Midwest winter, you probably can't comprehend exactly how cold it was,
so just imagine the coldest thing you can think of, and double it.
There was a big elm tree at the bus stop, and as we were all standing
around, a piece of the bark on the elm tree near me popped off, as if
it had exploded. I thought that was a little weird. A few seconds
later, another piece popped off, and then another.
The third time, I heard the small "crack" sound from about 200 yards
away, just a second before the bark popped off the tree. I looked
toward the sound, and saw Chuck Meltmar up in his window, but didn't
think a lot about it. Just then, the bus rolled up, and we all got on.
Later that day, when I got home from school, my Mom told me that Chuck
Meltmar had been arrested. His grandfather had apparently gotten him a
.22 caliber rifle for Christmas, and Chuck had apparently been taking
pot shots with it out his bedroom window.
Never was entirely sure if Chuck was shooting at the tree, or at me. I wasn't exactly his favorite person...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Today's Session

Another Rap Session. Same guy who came in last Saturday. I hate rap, but I gotta say that this guy does have a work ethic. Gets the job done, and his songs are a litte more hummable than most.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Whoa! A Metal Session...

... for a change. It was kind of a train wreck, though. The guy was the guitarist from a metal band who recorded here before. He's since dumped his band, and got bored trying to find another band, so he decided he'd record on his own.
Incidentally, his former band is the source of one of my funnier studio anecdotes.
After about the 6th take of a song, this guy turns to the other guitarist, and asks,

Guitarist 1: "What chord are you playing there??"
Guitarist 2: "F#"
G1: "It's not F#, it's F!!
G2: "I've been playing F# for three f7cking years!
G1: "Well, then, you've been playing it wrong for three f7cking years!!"

I couldn't make that stuff up if I had to.

So, anyway, this guy came to the studio today, and obviously didn't know the song as well as he did. The guitar tracks are a punch-o-rama.
Then came the bass parts. Dude bought a bass one hour before the session, and wanted to use it. Nevermind that he didn't know how the controls on the bass worked. Nevermind that it already had light strings on it, and then he proceeded to tune it down a whole step...


Monday, November 08, 2004

Rap, Rap, Rap

Well, yesterday, another rap session. At least, this guy was moer talented than usual, and his "beatz" had some melody to them. I can actually hum these.

Today was guitar lesson day #1 for the week. 10 year-old girl. I was skeptical at first, but I gotta say, this little girl is driven. She was supposed to learn to tune using her tuner, and learn three chords. Well, I think she learned about a dozen. She's doing really well, and she's definitely got the enthusiasm. If she keeps it up, she'll be the next Yngwie.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

My New Amp Got Here Today

... and it is sweet! Once again, I have a Marshall in my stable, and all is well. That's about all that happened today. I voted. Other than that, pretty quiet day.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

My Latest Nothing Post

Yeah, still not much exciting happening around here. It's been dead in the studio, dead on the job front, dead all around.
Bought a new amp this week, which ought to be here Tuesday, so I'm excited about that. I've actually been without a Marshall for almost six months for the first time in over ten years. Before that, I didn't use Marhsalls, so that didn't count...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to that.
Around home, we're both still sick, and this weekend, we're tackling putting a tile backsplash up in the the kitchen, complete with custom cut decorative medallion design, so that's been keeping us busy. Hopefully, we'll finish that tomorrow, 'cause the tile saw has to go back.
I've been thinking about more covers to do. I've already got "He's a Whore" mostly done, and I've started "Oldest Story in the World" (though I need better drums for both).
I was thinking next of doing a Posies song, or maybe re-doing "It's My Life". Yes, I know No Doubt covered it; but that song deserves better than they gave it. They screwed up or completely omitted too many parts. I want to do a version that keeps the spirit of the original.
That's it for now.
Hopefully, next week when Lisa's back to work, I'll actually have some time to do some of my work...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Not Much New

Yeah, so I haven't posted in a few days. I'm not a religious blog keeper, and I'm not one of those guys who feels like I have to apologize if I don't make an entry every day. Just hasn't been a lot going on this week. I've been sick most of it, and I spent most of the week either in bed, or on the couch.
Maybe this week, there'll be more going on...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Have I Mentioned that PC's Suck??

Well, I've got the PC back up and running, after resorting to a format and reinstall of Windows to get it to recognize the firewir drives again.
Guess what? It still doesn't recognize them...
I have no idea what to try next. It's driving me crazy.
Well, I'm sure my system is much claner than it was.
In addition to the firewire drives still not working, I think I also lost the card reader, which allowed me to plug Smart Media straight into a slot on the PC and read it, rather than using proprietary transfer software.

Monday, October 18, 2004

PC's Suck, Part 2

I'm posting this from my Mac, as I try yet another thing on my PC to fix my firewire problem. I'm re-installing Windows in repair mode. It's the last step before I wipe tje disk and start again...

Windows sucks...

I am so done with the PC platform. I have a PC and a Mac in my studio. The Mac does all the tracking work with ProTools, and I use the PC for mastering and disc sequencing, because Sony/Sonic Foundry's tools are way better than any Mac equivalents.
Now, I started on the PC 14 years ago, so if anything, I should be biased in favor of them, but when I look at how much grief I get with crashing drivers, devices not being recognized, and so forth, I could never use a PC again, and be thrilled.
The latest is that Windows has stopped recognizing firewire drives plugged in to it. It sort of started happening about the same time that I installed XP service pack 2, so I backed that out, hoping to get my disks back - no luck.
I'm going to have to do a re-install yet, you watch.
I say again, PC's suck. If I had the $$ to do it, I'd dump this thing in a second in favor of a dual G5, and just get Virtual PC to run the couple of PC-only apps I need.
End of rant - for now...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Outdoor Party Gig

Tonight was an outdoor party our bass player has every year and we play it every year. This year, though, he dedicated it to his newphew, who just got back from Iraq. So, his nephew was there, and his nephew's entire company of Marines. So, anyway, I had been requested to do a version of The Star Spangled Banner at the end of our second set. I was kind of worried that it might seem a little trite, but I said "okay". Now, really, it's a pretty boring song to play - making it interesting is all in the presentation. I took some ideas from Hendrix, and effected the hell out of it. So I go to play, and I'm expecting to do a little solo piece. What actually happened was that the entire company of Marines came up on stage, and started singing along.
Apparently, they liked it.

There was all kinds of other standard party action - keg stands, shots, a bonfire, fireworks, and the eventual appearance of the police. Wouldn't have been a party without them...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Went to a Metal Show

Tonight was fun. I got roped into sponsoring a benefit for the local metal radio show. So, as sponsor, it was my duty to go down and see the bands, as well as be on hand for the plugs, in case someone wanted to ask me questions, and so forth.
Now, modern metal, of any kind, really isn't specifically my bag, but I can appreciate it when it's done well, and I saw five bands tonight ranging from pretty good to pretty damned good. The last band was more in the Pantera vein than what's considered "metal" these days, and they had the entire place moshing. I was even "moshed" at one point.

As much as I may not dig newer metal much, if I step back and realize that my "work" for tonight was to go to a bar and watch a bunch of bands play... I mean, come on. How bad is my life??

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I Don't Charge Enough for This...

Today's session was a real hoot. First off, this guy can't be held to an appointment time. We'll make an appointment for 2:00, and he'll show up at noon. I think he thinks the actual appointment time is like, some kind of limit, or something...

We first met a couple of weeks ago, because he wanted to record an eleven minute (!!!) R&B song he had written.

Now, right off, I expected trouble. Newbies tend to like to write waaay too many lyrics, and they tend to just sort of ramble in a street of consciousness sort of fashion, rather than have any kin d of structure to their songs, like verse, chorus, bridge, etc.

He needed a "beat" to sing to, so I created him one, and sent him off with it and told him to practice singing to it, and check the timing of his lyrics, to make sure they'd fit a beat. The other endemic symptom of these people is that they write lyrics that are impossible to squeeze into any meter.

Well, he came back today to try a take of the vocals, and not only had he taken none of my advice, he is without a doubt one of the worst singers I've ever heard. He makes William Hung look like Andrea Boccelli. One of the more excruciating hours I've ever spent. Hence the title of the post.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I Hate Rap...

Well, not really. I just hate some rap, and I hate the generic "gangsta" rap that comprises most of what comes in to my studio. I loved the old school stuff by artists like Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Sugar Hill Gang, and Melle Mel. I even liked the first generation of gangsters - Public Enemy, NWA, even Snoop and Dre. But it's just all been so done....

How many "songs" can be written about the exact same subjects? I challenge a rapper to come in to my studio, and record a rap which does not include Escalades, Expeditions, Excursions, 20" (or any other size) wheels, "gettin' money", "caps", "2 to the dome", "spltting wigs", bitches, ho's, or playas.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Back to (mostly) Normal

Spent part of the day taking _down_ the "missing cat" posters I spent most of yesterday putting _up_, and working on "anti cat escape" measures.

But, back to music, I cut a lead on a blues jam track. Something musically productive for a change. You can check it out here, if you want.

Tomorrow, I have a job interview, and then some yard work to do. Tomorrow night, Synergism has a practice for the annual Neffstock gig - our only practice before the gig on Saturday... Oh, well, most of the audience on Saturday will be so ripped they won't care...

Sweet Joe, She's Back, Cousin!

Whew!! My ass was up at the crack of 10:00 today, out and about in the neighborhood, sticking "Lost Cat" flyers in people's doors, looking all over for her, to no avail.
Tonight, we looked again in all the usual places. Again, nothing. I reall was starting to think she might be gone for good, that maybe something got a hold of her.

Well, I work at night, mostly. So, tonight, I was cutting some guitars, and every hour or so, I'd take a break, and make another circuit around the house, calling her, to see if she was back.
Finally, as I was 3/4 done with the "2:30 lap", my light caught something moving off well ahead of me, hauling ass toward my back patio. As I headed that way, I started hearing what I call the "Juice howl of doom". It's a noise she only makes when she's in trouble. I started to get hopeful. As I got to the patio, my light caught her familiar silhouette. Holy shit, it _was_ her!!
She was freaked, but good, but I snagged her, and got her in the door.
Man... I don't ever want to go through that again...

Now, I can concentrate on what this blog is _supposed_ to be about... More tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Lost Cat... 8-(

Well, the idea of this blog was to record thoughts on music, situations in my studio, in my life, etc. This is certainly an inauspicious way to start... Our cat, Juice, who's just about 1-1/2, raised from a 3-week old stray, disappeared.
She's an indoor-outdoor cat, but the yard is fenced, and she's always been very good about staying, or at least coming back.
Tonight, she went out and didn't come back in. Searched all over the neighborhood - nothing.
I've gone outside to find her and not been able to, but she'd turn up a couple of minutes later. This time, nothing.
Here's hoping she shows up on her own.

Is This Thing On??

If I did that right, I just set up a blog. Now all I have to do is find something to put in it. Woohoo!!