Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Audition: The Drain

Nailed my audition with The Drain. They asked me to join. Now to learn the songs better.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CJ, Mickey's, 8/28/2010

I hadn't gotten good sleep all that week. Was pretty wiped out. Had a good dinner and a nap afternoon of the show. We went on about 11:45pm and played through bar time. Played an encore of Debaser.

I played pretty well. Goofed a few notes but nothing major. Vocals were ok, except at start of each set I had to adjust to monitors and was a little pitchy. Everyone else did really well...EH and CT both said they thought it was their best performances to date. T took some videos so I could finally review our performance. Other than feeling like I look a little goofy, I think we come off about the way I perceive us, which is well.

One beer before show, two during, one after. Also had a couple of glasses of water throughout and a little coffee before.

Crowd was nuts just like last time at Mickey's. Obviously big Pixies fans. Dancing, singing along, packed. It was Orton Park and lots of other stuff that day. Someone asked us to play Dockstock, but I have a conflict. Still, nice to be asked. Maybe that means word will spread amongst the underground scene and more invites will come.

Slyvia Beach opened and played a really short set. We gave them $90, tipped the bar $10, and we still cleared close to $50 each...so brought down a total of around $300 (tips and bar share, mostly bar share). A really good take for a show with no cover charge.


Set One:
The Holiday Song
Ed Is Dead
Oh My Golly!
Broken Face
Isla De Encanta
I Bleed
River Euphrates
Tony's Theme
Down to the Well
Nimrod's Son

Set Two:
Monkey Gone to Heaven
I'm Amazed
Brick Is Red
La La Love You
Here Comes Your Man
I've Been Tired
Levitate Me
Into the White
Bone Machine
Break My Body
Something Against You
Crackity Jones
Wave of Mutilation
Gouge Away
Where Is My Mind?
Encore: Debaser (again)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


So I've yet to get a call back on MB&SDY. I don't think it's intentional, I just think that they aren't very proactive. They have someone to fill in for now and they'll probably just go with that until and unless it goes wrong. I liked learning the songs, and they were a challenge, but honestly I was actually already getting bored with them, so maybe it's all for the best.

Drum chair at The Nod opened up again. Had a long email chat with the front man and came to the conclusion that I can't commit even if they wanted me. They want to gig every weekend and that just isn't on my agenda for a single band. And I don't think I really have the right demographics for them anyway...never mind that I might not even be able to play the tunes well enough.

Then, unexpectedly, a spot in The Drain opened. There's some drama surrounding it, but against my better judgement I'm auditioning on Monday. Got two of their disks last night. I'm busy all weekend, so I'll be cramming Thursday and Friday to see what I can put together.

I don't know why I feel compelled to add a third band, I just do. I want to do new and different drum stuff. And playing in an originals band again would be nice too.

Not sure where I'm at with the Pipe band. Had to beg off for several weeks due to work committments. Not sure if I'm going to want to do three band rehearsals per week plus pipe corps. Plus, the music is kind of stupid hard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SSW, Frequency 8/17/10

I waited too long and now I've forgotten most of the evening. I played well. Played my kit. We moved quickly from song to song and all went pretty well except Mr Suit, which was a little bit fucked up. Small crowd. Donated our money to touring band. Drank not much before...lots after. Had a burrito for dinner. Not much sleep night before, but it was an early show. I had practiced the new tunes more...played through set a few nights prior.


Lessons Week 76: LAST LESSON

Played some random stuff. Don't even remember now. Gonna miss him. But time for a break.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back in the Saddle

At CJ rehearsal last night all was well. Felt like there never was a problem.

Guess I just gotta remind myself more frequently how the tunes go.

Plan hatched to play all 33 songs we know (4 of those new as of yesterday: La, La Love You, Gouge Away, I Bleed, Subbacultcha) at Mickey's gig on Aug 28th.

Further plan hatched to play all of Doolittle for Oct 30th Halloween gig at Mickey's. That will mean learning an additional 6 songs: Tame, Dead, Mr. Grieves, No 13 Baby, There Goes My Gun, and Silver

That leaves only tunes off Bossanova (13 more), Trompe Le Monde (13 more), and B-sides/raries (22 more) left to learn. So 48 total left. Which means we're half way through the discography by Nov 1st...7 months in to this deal. We'll see how it progresses. I think a decent way to go is by album at this point. I know EH doesn't much like Bossanova, so we might skip it and go straight to Trompe. Or maybe pick up the B-sides of the Doolittle era first like the band itself is doing on the Doolittle anniversary tour. I speculate only.

I'm feeling good again, though.

I love playing in this band.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Update on SDY

I haven't gotten a "call back" yet. I didn't go to their show on Monday either...just feeling too bad after my lesson.

Ultimately, I don't know if I want to try to do this anymore. I like the music and I feel like I can play it at a basic level. But I don't know if I'm at a place where I could go off script and be great with this band. And, since I've learned most of the songs now...it might actually be kind of boring. They also don't seem to practice anymore (they used to) so I think I'd be on my own. Which kind of sucks for getting better...but also just isn't what I'm in it for. I'm in it for playing more frequently than a once a month performance.

Plus I feel like I need to strengthen my drum and bass practice for the two existing bands...and on fundamentals. I've learned a great deal from learning the SDY songs...and maybe as I played them more I'd learn even more...but maybe I'm done with it.

I'm not sure what I'll do at this point if he ever contacts me again. I feel like it is a great opportunity to play with some real pros...but I also feel like a poser. And like I've got plenty of other things to work on that cause less stress.

I don't know why I feel compelled to add a third band, but I do. I probably shouldn't. I really would like to play in a 70s cover band (to learn to "play big rock") or in a pop/punk/new wave/80s/90s/indie band (for the pure joy of it). SDY is neither of those things. (Note: I don't consider the Pipe band "adding a third band"...though I guess that I should. That feels more like learning patterns...which I ought to be doing as part of basic drum practice anyway).

Oh well. Maybe if I ignore the decision it will be taken out of my hands.

Lessons Week 75

I was kind of totally demoralized at this lesson. I was having independence issues. We played some Stanton Moore and some other New Orleans type stuff. Also some odd time signature stuff...in 9 I think. I left pretty down on myself.

First Pipe Band Practice

Went to Pipe and Drum practice last night.

The drums play the same thing for all songs in the same time signature for the most part. Parts are here. The exception is that they also do a competition medley, and those parts vary a bit.

They use special sticks...like these. They are SUPER light weight and really well balanced/weighted. I haven't tried playing with them yet, but compared to rock sticks they are going to seem super easy to play with.

Which I guess is required cause you're playing lots of 32nd notes, fast rolls, buzz rolls, and triplets. It's all too hard for me at the moment. But with practice I'm sure I could master it. And after that it's gonna seem really boring.

The years in the contra dance band will serve me well here...it's all scots/irish music and that's what we played back in the day. So all the traditional styles...jigs, hornpipes, etc.

They were pretty welcoming. Not over the top, but appropriately so. Pretty no nonsense.

I'm gonna give it a go and see how long it lasts before I get frustrated or...eventually if I work past the frustration...bored.

Monday, August 9, 2010


This weekend I went through the entire Pixies set and indeed I'd forgotten how half or more of them went. On Saturday I played the entire set and I struggled...on Sunday I had remembered nearly everything again just from Saturday's refresher. All was well.

This supports my theories that
#1 About 30 songs is where my brain starts to forget stuff
#2 If you play a song every day you remember it, less than that it gets fuzzy the less you play it.

Neither of these is revolutionary ideas.

In summary...if I get lazy I'm going to have more freakout moments on stage. You gotta put the work in to get the results, even after you think you've learned a song. Even if practice is boring, it has value.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Memo to Myself: Practice this Weekend

I've been in a funk and seriously slacking lately. I feel like the fog might be lifting, though. So I should get my ass in gear this weekend with practice.

To do:
1. Learn La, La, Love You; Gouge Away; I Bleed; Subbacultcha. That is to say...have the bass and vocals memorized. This is highest priority.
2. Play through entire Pixies set at least once.
3. Spend 30 minutes on Sat and Sun with the drum fill book and/or the latin rhythms EN gave me
4. Play the 3 or 4 newest SSW tunes at least once. Also play through 3 or 4 songs that we didn't do at last show at least once.
5. Try to play through the entire SDY setlist including "new" songs. This is lowest priority.

Pipes and Drums

So a few weeks ago I saw a posting on Craig's List for "rudimental drummers" and I was intrigued. Long story short, Madison Pipes and Drums is looking for snare drummers. They are a bagpipe band.

I'm no great fan of bagpipes...though I don't hate them either. I'm also no great fan of marching drums. I kind of DO actually hate marching drums. Marching snares have a different kind of head than a kit snare. Super tight and tough. The result is a serious crack sound. Many hundreds of feet away in the stands at a football game, this makes it so they sound clear and good. Standing next to them it makes so that your head might burst open. I don't like that. I get headaches easily.

So why would I care about this posting?

Well, much in the way that I regret that my parents never forced me to take piano lessons...I regret to some degree that I don't have formal marching drum training. I never wanted to be in band in school...but there's no denying that being forced to learn snare drum rudiments and being forced to play them every single day for 7-11 years maybe 1-3 hours per day gives a person serious chops. I lack those chops. I know that it is just a matter of sitting down with a practice pad every day and playing rudiments, but that's really a difficult thing to force yourself to do because it is boring and it is hard and it takes a long time of doing it to make any progress. I could take lessons from someone who would force me to do this. But I probably would want to kill that person and would quit.

The idea of working with this Pipe and Drum corps somehow seems less painful. Well...maybe MORE painful to my ear...but less painful to my psyche. And, since I've learned the glories of using good ear plugs, annoying loud noises bother me less.

So next Tuesday I'm heading down to their rehearsal to see what it's all about. Their website seemed really welcoming to newbies...but the guy I exchanged emails with was a little terse, so I'm not sure how the feel will be on balance. I don't actually have any interest in playing with the group, just in improving my skills on snare rudiments...so I can then translate that to better kit playing. I think they want a long term committment to play in competitions...so I'll have to see how things feel and whether that seems likely. I'd like to just go along and play it by ear. Not sure if I can be honest about that or not. Ultimately, if it is fun then I'd be ok playing with the group after I learn the basics. If it isn't fun then I'm not going to want to stick around. I can't imagine they could expect anyone to do any less.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CJ, 8/4/2010, Frequency

We played first at 8pm. I met the guys at the show at 6:30pm. I did vocal warmups in the car on the way over along with my cd from my singing class. I had two pints of Spotted Cow before the show, about half of a double Jager shot during, and three 12 ounce beers after the show. I at no time felt tipsy. Ate a good meal at 5pm. Ate cheese curds after the show.

We played a 45 minute set of all the hits. Attendance was sparse, but not terrible. We left before payout. We asked the bar to donate our take (10% of bar plus tips) to the touring band from MN that was headlining.

My mic malfunctioned and so the second song was a disaster for me. Debaser...which has already been causing me trouble. I sort of half played the song while I tried to get the mic fixed. The cable had come unhooked.

That kind of wrecked me for the first half of the set. My vocals went fine all night but I kept playing wrong notes on the bass. This is weird. It happened on Tuesday night at rehearsal too. I've been playing these songs pretty flawlessly for about 4 months now and all of the sudden I've got brain fart. It didn't have anything to do with drinking...I know the feeling of messing stuff up cause you're drunk. I didn't feel impaired at all. This was just totally brain fart. I don't get why it is happening all of the sudden. It's mostly on Here Comes Your Man and Debaser...which makes sense because those songs have a lot of notes and I play them mainly by muscle memory...but also on some of the easy tunes as well.

I'm going to chalk this up to the fact that, up until about a month ago, I was playing every single song that we know every single day. Now I pretty much only play what is in the set for the next gig...and I only play them on my own about once a week and with the band about once a week. And we didn't have a rehearsal last week. And I tend to skip the ones that bore me or that I think I know. So I'm thinking that all the repetition early on really did burn some serious muscle memory...and now that's faded. There's more songs and several of them are kind of similiar...and I just don't know them as well. It kind of surprises me that I would lose so much so quickly...but there it is.

I can't really go on playing every single song that we know every single day. We're over 30 songs now and I have to learn 4 new ones for the next show. There just isn't enough time in the day to do that AND practice drum stuff. I mean...there actually IS enough time in the day if I sit on the couch less. So I should suck it the fuck up. I ought to at least be playing the next shows set all the way through once every other day...once a day if possible. That's only 45-90 minutes depending on set length and I've got that time. I just have to use it. I've just gotten lazy and cocky.

Anyway...it beats exercising.

I think I was really excited when we first got started and super eager to prove myself...and now that's worn off some. Things have gotten routine and I've lost some interest. But I hate that feeling of getting lost in the middle of a song in front of people. So that's got to get fixed.

I don't really think anyone but me noticed any of this...as always I've got the micro-view on it. Overall things went fine. The second half of the set went pretty well even for me. I was left wanting to do better next time, though.

Oh...and then there's the fan report.

So I've gotten used to people freaking out about seeing a "female" drummer or bass player. It annoys me every single time, but I expect it. There's something else happening in this band, though. There's alot of people out there who have REALLY strong feelings about Kim Deal. They think she's sexy, cool, and generally awesome. Some people think she's god. I'm not kidding. That's what they say anyway.

The interesting thing to me about Kim Deal is that she plays really very simple, stripped down bass lines. I don't know if she does this on purpose or if it's all that she knows to do. In other words...is it genius or is it lameness? Does she play that way because it is what best serves the songs...or is it lack of training on the bass? Either way, it ends up sounding good. And I am grateful that she plays this way because it is what allows me...someone without much training or skill on the bass...to play bass in this band. And as for people who think she's a great bass player...do they REALLY know what they are talking about? It's the genius/lameness argument again...only on the listener.

Second weird thing about Kim Deal and the way people feel about her. They think she's cool and sexy. Certainly when she was young, she was a good looking woman. She still is...but in her youth she was even more so. But she's never been super thin...or dressed very fancy...or worn alot of makeup. In short, she doesn't seem to be trying to impress anyone. And I guess that's why people think she's cool. But in real life when you act like that...no one thinks you're cool and sexy. Which is weird. The theory of this kind of behavior is cool and sexy...the real life version gets ignored or disliked. And in a strange kind of support of that...Kim Deal is single and I get the feeling, from what little I know of her personal life, she doesn't really date.

So...the thing is...when I get on stage and play Pixies songs in the role of Kim Deal...people seem to project their feelings about her onto me. Especially strangers. So they come up to me after the show and tell me how awesome I am and how much they love Kim Deal. And they are a little frantic about it. They seem star-struck. And while it's nice to be appreciated...I get the feeling that it's got nothing to do with me and my actual performance. They are living out some weird fantasy where I'm Kim Deal.

That alone is strange. But then last night I got to thinking. If I really WAS Kim Deal...and people acted like this towards me...that would be weird too. I mean, she's just this person playing the bass and singing. Not even doing anything complicated on the bass. Playing the same 88 songs she's been playing for the last 24 years. Wearing t-shirts and no makeup and smoking and drinking too much...and then not smoking and drinking at all. And here are these people who tell her she's cool and sexy and a great bass player...or god. How weird is that?

Now, a certain kind of person hears these kinds of things and starts to believe them. And that's how celebrities turn into real assholes. But if you're someone like me...you hear that kind of thing and you don't believe a word of it. Part of that is low self-esteem on my part and an inability to believe or accept any compliment that I get. But these kinds of compliments seem different than the run of the mill daily kind that ought to be accepted. These kind of compliments are irrational.

I'm certainly guilty of celebrity worship...or even worship of people in my own social circle. So I know how it feels to raise someone up in a way that's probably got little to do with them. But where does that behavior COME from? In my case, with people I know, I think I am looking for validation from people whose opinion I somehow value more than my own. And I got over the celebrity thing after puberty was over.

But what's up with adults who worship celebrities? And how is the celebrity supposed to process that kind of thing? It's a strange relationship. It's a strange feedback loop.

For me, I've got to figure out how to process drunk people coming up and telling me I'm fantastic after I've just played a set that I'd say was worse than average. I try to graciously accept the compliment and move on...but often people really want to drive the point home of how great you are beyond just saying so once. I guess all that you can do when someone gets weird is walk away, which is what I do after the 3rd or 4th time of someone telling me how great I am. But the encounters trouble me afterwards.

Hopefully Kim Deal gets good energy from all of that (I suspect concert goers are less drunk than bar show goers, so maybe the adolation is less obnoxious)...but is able to keep perspective.

I often wish there was a way to generate enthusiasm for practicing music and playing it at a performance level without actually giving a performance. For me it is about playing...not performing for an audience. But it seems like it is hard to kick yourself in the pants enough to do your best work unless someone's watching.

Broken Face
Into the White
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Ed is Dead
Here Comes Your Man
River Euphrates
Isla de Encanta
Wave of Mutilation
Nimrod's Son
Crackity Jones
Where Is My Mind?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lessons Week 74

Two more lessons to go.

We went over a couple of groups...among them Medeski Martin and Wood. He's starting to repeat himself. That's ok though, cause last time he brought them up I couldn't play the song. Now I can. It's nice to see that I'm improving.

He talked some about playing over the bar. This is kind of a jazz/prog thing. I don't so much think it is useful for the kind of music that I want to play...but it is a useful skill in that it reveals an underlying sense of feel. In other words, I guess it's something that I'd like to be able to do because it would mean that I had a real grasp on what I was playing...that I wasn't about to lose it at any moment.

I feel like learning the SDY songs and also working on the fill exercises has really helped bring me along to a new place. It's subtle, but I feel more confident and can do things that I couldn't do a few months ago. It seems like I'm coming more into "feel" and less into "math". We'll see. It's just a glimmer...but it's something.