Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kim Deal on Playing the Bass

I've been trying to find this article online for some time now and it magically popped up yesterday.

"The Pixies' Kim Deal Turns A Modest Approach Into A Big, Big Sound", Bass Player, November 2004 by Bill Leigh

"No chops" demanded the Boston-area MUSICIANS WANTED ad seeking a female bassist with vocals. It also mentioned an odd combination of preferred influences: folk trio Peter, Paul &Mary and punk rockers Hüsker Dü. "I thought that was funny," grins Kim Deal, recalling how her response to that 1986 listing led to the formation of the Pixies, a band that so inspired a generation of alt-rockers that 12 years after their last album and breakup, the recently reunited group's tour dates have been among the hottest tickets of 2004.

"I think they were really looking to meet rock chicks."

"No!" replies Kim's twin sister, Kelley, her bandmate in the Breeders, the side project turned successful main focus after the Pixies' demise. "You think?"

"Joey once told me so," laughs Kim. "Little did they know they'd end up with a married woman!"

Serially puffing smokes at Kelley's kitchen table, Kim simultaneously exudes a relaxed ease and a slightly nervous creative energy, not unlike her complex contribution to the Pixies' distinctive sound. On song after song, Kim pumps out picked eighth-note lines with a top-of-the-beat steadiness that both upholds and upends the jagged phrasing and bipolar dynamics of vocalist/guitarist Charles "Black Francis" Thompson, guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering. At the same time, she counters Francis's frantic whispers and screams with her own bright, almost girlish vocal harmonies and leads. The mixture brings as much earthiness and charm to the Pixies onstage as it did on their five albums, the first two of which credited Kim only as Mrs. John Murphy. "I lost my identity," she explains, smirking. "Not really. I was pretending that I lost my identity."

Deal had come to Boston with her then-husband, Mr. Murphy, from Dayton, Ohio, where she now lives a few neighborhoods away from her sister. It was in Dayton, as a 13-year-old, that Kim taught herself guitar by picking through her dad's tablature books. In a few years Kim and Kelley were performing covers and originals in bars they were too young to be in.
Soon after arriving in Boston, Kim answered the ad that led to the Pixies, but she hadn't really played bass before. She laughs, "I probably said, 'I play guitar but I'm sure I can play the bass-it's only got four strings!'"

The Pixies used their relative inexperience to develop a musical style that deliberately departed from the Spandex-wrapped rock chops prevalent in the late '80s-just like the ad said. "We weren't really good players back in the day," notes Kim. "And I think that's a good thing." Another ingredient in the Pixies recipe was a conscious eschewing of rock's blues bloodline as a way to avoid clichés. "How many friends do you have that pick up a guitar and start playing the blues?" she complains. "And I don't mean the rhythm of the blues-that stuff's cool. I'm talking about those little pussy two-and-a-half-second licks. Aaarggh, they make me cringe!

"But I guess it's more than just 'No blues licks,'" she continues, trying to clarify the Pixies philosophy. "It's 'Nothing standard.'" Odd-length phrases, strange lyrical themes, and a do-it-yourself attitude was the result, and Deal's own creative imprint was always there, from her bass-craft and vocal contribution on Pixies albums like Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, and Trompe le Monde to "Bam Thwok," the catchy, download-only Pixies ditty Kim wrote earlier this year.

Today the 43-year-old not only has years of bass-playing experience, she also has the knowledge that there's something about her playing approach that has inspired others to play and learn bass. "I tell you, for what I don't play on the bass, I can actually hear people making those same decisions on records. And people say nice things; [Concrete Blonde's] Johnette Napolitano told me she started playing bass again because of me. Even guys; they think, If she can do it, I can do it. That's a good thing, and if girls think the same way, it's really good. I think a lot of people say they learned to play bass because of me because there are plenty of songs on the records that are pretty easy to follow. It's not like I started with Rush songs."

Pixies songs have such a range of dynamics. How does that play out in your bass work?Not much. I don't play any harder or quieter. When you're building a song that has dynamics changes in it, the last thing you want is for people to actually play quietly on the quiet part. You just take stuff out. You build the song so the part is quieter; you don't play quieter. At least I wouldn't.

So it's a matter of layering.Exactly. As a bass player, I'm either in or out. The drums are either in or out; I don't think David is bashing any harder. He might use more cymbals on something that's louder, though.

You excel at one of the harder things to do as a bass player: to play eighth-notes really steadily. I am good at that, aren't I? It's not easy to do. A lot of players lag behind. It's so irritating. And they're playing with their fingers, so they never really get a good attack at the top, and one hit is louder than the other.

When you started out, were there certain things you were listening to that helped you develop that kind of playing?Since we started in the late '80s, I think we had a Joy Division or a Cure-like keyboard bass thing going on. Mainly I knew what I didn't like. I didn't like going with the kick drum. There are songs I do that with, but they don't irritate me like bar bands where the bass is constantly going with the kick drum, even when it's supposed to be a rocking number. I knew I didn't want to do whatever that was.

So early on you were thinking about what kind of a bass player you wanted to be?I wasn't really thinking about me as a bass player-it was more like I couldn't participate in a band that's going to sound like those bands. I knew there was no possible way I could stand there and do that. I would quit. I'm not a musician like that.

So that meant deciding not to play with the kick drum?It was more of an automatic knee-jerk response. I didn't want to just go with the kick drum because that's what the bass is supposed to do.

But you chose not to go with the guitar, either . . . .Oh, you mean doing the heavy metal riff when they all go together? That kind of stupidness is sometimes kind of fun. There's one song we do, "Planet of Sound," where we do that. It's fun. But it's supposed to be dumb fun.

What is your approach on bass with the Pixies?To play eighth-notes-not always, but most of the time. We're not a dance band. It would be awful to try to play some sort of interesting, intricate rhythm over a 4/4 drumbeat with the hi-hat constantly on the eighth-note. The bass in Pixies is just glue; that's all it is. It's not supposed to be something else.

Both the Pixies and the Breeders seem to come from that "do what you can do" punk style of music making.I'm all about that. If I see somebody up there onstage who's just playing scales really good and showing their dexterity, it's like watching somebody type! It's not like I'm a sucker for a-melodic stuff, either, but if it sounds pretty good, I'm way more into that than the virtuosos.

Is it harder to achieve that sort of visceral, feeling-based thing the more you know about music?I swear, I think I've done a pretty good job of blocking all knowledge from me. I purposely have used a lot of restraint when it comes to theory. I've made sure I did not know that if I played a certain chord, that the 5th belongs there instead of the 7th. Maybe some geniuses can see that a certain note belongs there and then be able to choose not to use it, but that kind of knowledge might just block me. I feel like I'd get lazy if I knew the 5th was supposed to go there. I'd just holler out, "Yeah, it's a 5th," instead of waiting until they make a mistake on it and hearing it. You can hear when something sounds good. Even when it's theoretically wrong, it can still sound really super.

But unfortunately, because I don't know any of that theory, I would barely be able to jam on a blues gig. I would make as many mistakes as the notes I hit.

Do you ever write by jamming?I have, but it's not like jamming on a blues song. It's more somebody coming in with an idea-even if it's two chords together, or even a drum beat-and then you try to find a cool rhythm or something within that. But if I did the other thing, to jam, you almost have to declare what music you're going to be in and the writing is already done in a way. If you're jamming on a blues, you already know you're playing a blues song.

What was your first bass?I borrowed Kelley's bass. It was an Aria Cardinal series. I thought it was so cool because it was just a piece of plank wood or something. It was the weirdest-sounding bass. At first I was always like, I'm playing a dumb bass; it's not a Fender, so it's not cool. But then we played with My Bloody Valentine, and that band's bass player had an Aria Pro, too.

When you first started with the Pixies, how did you decide whether to play with a pick or your fingers?I played guitar with a pick, so I just naturally played the bass with a pick. It was so much easier. At the time I didn't even know bass players played with their fingers so much.

Have you played with your fingers since?Yeah, I can if I practice. There's some stuff on the Breeders' Title TK I played with my fingers. I played standup bass on some songs, too.

Have you taken lessons on upright?No. I just use a little piece of tape to mark things, and then I play my thing.

With the Breeders, though, you've mainly played guitar. Why did you decide not to play bass in the Breeders?Because I write with the guitar, it never occurred to me not to play what I just wrote. The first Breeders thing came out in 1989, and I had been a bass player only for three or four years, so it didn't really feel like my instrument. It still doesn't feel like my instrument.

It doesn't?No, but I think I'm good at it.

Why?I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm not a bass fanatic. Maybe because I'm so detached from it I can step back and look at the instrument. And maybe the bass is the type of instrument that sounds good when people have that attitude towards it. Slapping and popping and all that stuff can sometimes sound really good, but if your ego is only validated when you get a chance to show your skills, you can pretty much ruin a song if the song can't support that rhythmically or melodically. I want to sound good, but I have no desire to show my virtuosity on bass. When I pick up the bass, my ego isn't tied to an attention-grabbing bass part. The bass sound I like is more of a static, groovy thing. I like bass lines that maintain the rhythm of the song. There's other bass playing I like where it's a lot of lead, but the lead is still on the scale of the song.

Like who?Like John Entwistle from the Who. With him, there's a lot of lead playing-there's hardly any rhythm going on-because he's gathered so many notes along the way. There's a lot of movement. I like [Tom Petersson's] bass playing in Cheap Trick, too.

I think my bass playing with the Pixies does sound different. It was in the late '80s before the 808 thing was involved in a lot of stuff, so the bass had a normal, pretty low range that wasn't earthquake-low. It wasn't subsonic stuff. [Ed Note: The Roland TR-808 was a drum-machine whose low, resonant kick-drum sound has been used in a lot of hip-hop, dance, and techno music.]

What's your main bass today?My main bass is a Fender Precision, and I plug it into an Ampeg SVT. I also have an Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay; I try to swap onstage but there's just no time between songs. The Precision is coral-colored, a classic custom color. It's a '62 reissue.

When did you switch from the Aria?We were working with [producer] Gil Norton for Doolittle, and he looked at my Aria bass and was like, "Uh, no." So I had to go to Boston and buy a bass because he refused to record mine!

How did you record back then?I usually brought my Peavey Combo 300, and I think I had a Marshall. I always thought it was cool to have a Marshall bass amp, but it never sounded good. The first two records were the Combo 300 and the Aria bass. I'd have a DI in addition to the miked combo, so I'd have something thin and something thick.

Usually we did what I think most bands did in the late '80s: You all got in your iso booths and played all together, hoping to keep the rhythm tracks. You decided which drum track you wanted, did a couple of punch-ins if the bass needed it, and then started working on guitars, which was a bit of a bigger deal since guitar players are so concerned with their sound. And usually they're stuck with the worst mics in the stupidest booths.

Are you concerned with your sound?Not so much with the Pixies stuff, because I feel like I can't grow. I have to sound like the records. I'd love to play this Gibson Thunderbird I got-it's so gorgeous-but the tone is way too big and beautiful and round. It's just not the same.

Did you keep using the Precision after Doolittle?No. I got a Music Man StingRay for Bossanova because it was active and had a different sound. I was experimenting with bass sounds then. I used the StingRay as my main instrument live, too. I don't know why. I think probably because it was a little less country-sounding than the Fender. And then, for Trompe le Monde, we were doing a song in the studio and whatever bass I was using was out of tune high up on the neck, which was bothering Gil, so I went and got a Steinberger. I played it on one song; it was kind of okay because it had this weird, organ-y sound, which I liked but I was really embarrassed to play it. It's odd; there's no headstock. I don't know why they do that. People were riding me because I didn't have a headstock. But my tech, Tommy, made me a cardboard headstock for it-not to fool people, just to make me feel even stupider!

There was a long break between those albums and the current tour. When you first started rehearsing, what was it like playing these tunes again? It was weird. I'd been playing the bass a little, but it's different than playing it for seven hours in one day like when we were rehearsing. I had these big blisters. I thought I wasn't going to remember the parts, but my fingers were just moving! Muscle memory really did kick in. But it's strange to go back and forth from bass to guitar. I remember when I first started playing guitar after the Pixies, I'd plug in and think, This guitar sounds so high-endy! And-ouch!-I was breaking strings; you have to be so delicate with it. I really missed the bass then. I like playing the bass.

So you hit it pretty hard?Yeah, with a pick you've got to hit it hard.

Do you pick by the pickup?It depends. Usually farther up, but if I'm doing a muffle, I'll lay my hand on the bridge and my pick will end up back there. Or sometimes I'll go back farther, but I'm usually in the middle.

Do you keep the tone all the way on?Yeah. Playing with a pick, and using a Fender in the first place, you can pretty much leave the tone all the way up. With the StingRay I roll off the treble a little.

Do you tweak the EQ knobs a certain way?No, usually the bass tech will. I just need it to be on and reasonably up, and the front-of-house guy will figure it out. It's an SVT-you're going to get the same sound. There's no pedals; there's no outboard gear at all.

Any special picks?The green Dunlops with the little turtle on them.

How about strings?Whatever anybody puts on. Hopefully they're old. I can't take new strings. I think I have a set of Dean Markley Blue Steels.

How do you approach singing and playing bass?It's so hard. It was so much different from playing rhythm guitar and singing. I really had to practice. Since what I sing with the Pixies is usually not the lead melody line, it doesn't always start at the top of the four-count, so that makes it hard, too. Also, for some reason, all of our guitar parts are kind of odd-maybe it's because of our "no blues" rule. So especially live, if we're playing on a stage where I can't hear the band, my bass is just going to sound like [makes a muffled, whooshing sound], and then Charles's guitar is going to sound like [makes a buzzing sound], and then I have the drummer. So the only pure note I have onstage to clue me in on the pitch is Joe's guitar [imitates smearing, twangy, double-string guitar bends]. So yeah, that was hard live. I'm better live now because I wear one earplug. But it was really odd-especially starting "Gigantic." Whatever I was singing would work, until the introduction of an actual note, that is.

As a songwriter, have you ever performed solo? I've never played a show solo. I would feel ridiculous. Why should I put that on anyone? I wouldn't want to make someone sit there for even five minutes. Maybe if I was doing covers, I would faithfully sing covers, but . . . .

This might be evidence that deep down you actually have more of a bass player's personality than a guitar player's.Absolutely-and whatever that guitar player thing is, I don't think it works well on bass. It's bad enough to do all that stuff on lead guitar, but on bass it's like, Oh, hell no. It's the same thing with funk players. Most of funk is playing where the holes are, anyway, so you have to be restrained enough to have the holes. And even bassists who you think are virtuosos, like reggae musicians, if you listen, there's not a lot of variation. They could play the shit out of it, but they use restraint. And isn't that what makes somebody good on an instrument, no matter what it is?

Monday, November 22, 2010


I don't think I've posted this here yet. It is my first successful, if slightly jerry-rigged, attempt at using Adobe Illustrator. It is also the first time I've come up with a decent logo concept...even if it is derivative...literally.

The original:

My take:

Friday, November 19, 2010

CJ Videos

I posted a link at the original show report, but here are the videos for the ENTIRE May 19th CJ show at the High Noon Saloon in the order that the songs were played. The videos turned out great and, with the exception of my vocal on Bone Machine (sadly, the first song), I'm pretty happy with my performance. The rest of the band sounds great, except of course, on Levitate Me, the encore, which we really hadn't finished working on yet and had not intended to play.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drum School Short Courses

Yesterday I got to thinking about intensive drum training courses. I don't want to go back to school full time and the whole private lesson thing...though valueable...doesn't provide quite the same sense of accomplishment as going to school. The middle ground would be a short, intensive, course.

It looks like the most of obvious choice is the short course intensives at The Drummer's Collective in New York City. They offer 5 day and 2, 3, or 4 week courses. The 5 day starts at $800 (plus room and board, which they do not provide). Really not a terrible price for such a thing. In fact, it makes paying $400 to go to Bonnaroo seem like a total waste of time.

The other main option is The Musician's Institute in LA, but it seems that their shortest course is 10 weeks...which is too long to be away.

There's also the Berklee Percussion Festival, but it is a little more expensive. It's 5 days, June 20-24, 2011.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tab and Assembling a Fake Book

So this Pixies thing has meant that, for the first time in my life, I've been seriously invested in learning a cover song exactly the way it was played by the original artist. Well...to be precise...in learning 88 songs that way.

The process has been a combination of looking up bass or guitar tab online, listening to recordings (studio and live), watching videos, and discussion with my bandmates. Typically the tab is a nice place to start, but it is usually wrong in some way.

So, in the process I've been assembling a personal fake book for the bass parts for all the Pixies songs. I think it is more accurate than what is currently available online. I'm thinking of cleaning it up, once I've got all 88 songs mastered, and putting it together in a format that I can share. Given that it's all copy righted music, I'm not looking to make money on it. But it was is a labor of love that feels worth preserving.

There's no rush, because we're probably six months away from completing the catalog (my personal goal anyway, don't know when or if the band thinks we'll get through everything). At this point I'm dedicated to learning all of the songs whether or not the band ever plays them all. I'm on a mission. I think that I'm going to start being a bit more careful in the formatting of the fakebook, though, making sure to preserve key bits and keeping things orderly. Then, when it's done, clean the whole thing up one last time and then either print it up at a copy shop, or maybe via Lulu or other outlet (again, only making it available for my personal use...not published with an ISBN and not for sale at a profit to others...I might make a link somewhere that people can buy copies from me at the cost of production and distribute them that way). Might even be worth prettying up with pics and such. Could be a fun project.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


CJ had its first rehearsal March 25, 2010 I believe. I first was aware of the potential of the band forming in January 2010 (prior to that knew nothing about The Pixies). Here's where I am at now:

Songs learned ("learned" means I can play it and have it memorized):
Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons (band hasn't learned it yet)
Bone Machine
Break My Body
Brick Is Red
Broken Face
Crackity Jones
Down To The Well
Ed Is Dead
Gouge Away
Here Comes Your Man
I Bleed
I'm Amazed
Into the White
Isla De Encanta
I've Been Tired
La La Love You
Levitate Me
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Mr Grieve
Nimrod's Son
No 13 Baby
Oh My Golly
River Euphrates
Sad Punk
Something Against You
The Holiday Song
There Goes My Gun
Tony's Theme
Wave Of Mutilation
Where Is My Mind?
TOTAL: 41 songs

In process (know how to play but not memorized yet):
Alec Eiffel
Dig For Fire
Head On (cover)
Winterlong (cover)
TOTAL: 5 songs

Still to Learn:
Ain't That Pretty at All (cover)
All Over The World
Bailey's Walk
Bam Thwok
Blown Away
Boom Chicka Boom
Born in Chicago (cover)
Build High
Cecilia Ann
Dancing The Mantra Ray
Distance Equals Rate Times Time
Evil Hearted You (cover)
Hang on to Your Ego (cover)
Hang Wire
I Can't Forget (cover)
In Heaven (cover)
Is She Weird
I've Been Waiting For You (cover)
Letter to Memphis
Lovely Day
Make Believe
Manta Ray
Motorway to Roswell
Navajo Know
Palace of the Brine
Planet of Sound
Rock A My Soul
Rock Music
Stormy Weather
The Happening
The Thing
Theme from Narc (cover)
Trompe le Monde
Velvety Instrumental Version
Wave of Mutilation (UK)...don't think bass varies significantly from original
Weird At My School
Wild Honey Pie (cover)
TOTAL: 42 songs

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kim Deal's Basses

So I play a Yamaha ATT Plus M bass:

Mine is lime green and a cheap knock off of some famous bass...I think Billy Sheehan's Yamaha Attitude Bass:

Don't know...looks more like a Fender Precision (P) Bass knock off to me. That's what I thought it was when I bought it. And I still don't really know who Billy Sheehan is (well NOW I do). I DO actually have a second bass...but it is also a P bass knockoff (or perhaps an Attitude knockoff)...only crappier (a Lotus).

So how does that compare to what Kim Deal plays? Both are closest, I think, to her 62 Fender reissue (though much crappier). See below.

From Kim Deal Wiki:

Bass guitars
Kim Deal generally plays four-string solid-body bass guitars and always uses a pick particularly the "green Dunlops with the little turtle on them" [28], although since the Pixies' reunion she has also been using custom green Dunlops with "KIM" written on them. She prefers having old strings on a bass.[28]

Aria Pro II Cardinal Series — The Pixies' first bass belonged to Kelley,[28] and is heard on Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa and seen on the Town & Country live video. It later reappeared in the Kelley Deal 6000.

1962 Fender Precision Reissue[27] — Acquired for use on Doolittle on Gil Norton's insistence.[28] It appears in the video for "Here Comes Your Man". On the Bossanova album, the Precision was used on "Dig for Fire" for its "lazier, growlier sound" that was "not as boingy-boingy-sproingy".[27]

Music Man Stingray — Added in time for Bossanova "because it was active and had a different sound" and became her main live bass "because it was a little less country-sounding than the Fender".[28] The instrument was afterwards played by Josephine Wiggs in The Breeders and Luis Lerma in The Amps.

Steinberger headless (but full-bodied, two-cutaway) bass — Bought during the recording of Trompe Le Monde because the other basses were out of tune on the higher frets. Deal described it as having a "weird, organ-y sound".[28]
[no photo...edit 12/1/2010...see below and here, this is the bass played on the Brixton shows 1991...white with black edging]

Gibson Thunderbird — more recently, her favorite bass that she did not use on the Pixies reunion, feeling she had to "sound like the records".[28] It is seen played upside-down (left-handed) by Mando Lopez in The Breeders.

Gots no idea what this is (edit 12/1/2010...this is the Steinberger headless):

or this (though this might just be the same Fender from above with a weird reflection on the pick guard)

Here's another Fender looking thing (a 2010 image late in the tour)...different profile from one directly above. Maybe there's more than one Fender floating around now, or she's changed the pick guard. The three red Fenders pictured here kind of look like three different instruments to me...but maybe it's just the angles. Hard to tell:


I've been working on this for days now and it's driving me a little bit nuts.

Start with THIS bass tab and THESE guitar chords. Now play along with the recording. It isn't quite right in a few spots. But what IS right?

How about THESE chords?

Now...watch this:

At 0:44 there's a key bit. In the bass tab and in the first of the guitar chords the bass would play E up to F. RS said that the piano sheet music HE had said I should play Ab to F. I assumed that he meant Ab up to F, but this seemed really wrong and akward.

But watching the video it is clear to me that there's no way she's playing E to F. Reason? She seems to like playing at the 7th and 8th fret. Most of the song (contrary to the bass tab online) she plays here. If the progression were E to F she could stay at the 7th and 8th frets. But she doesn't. She shifts down. Why would she shift down? To hit a lower note on the E String. So this supports the idea of playing Ab DOWN to F (rather than up). And if you listen carefully to the video, the bass DOES step down here even though the overall feeling of the music is tension and building UPWARD. It's counter-intuitive.

Got to sit down and rehash. But I think it's coming into focus.

Other videos...less helpful:

And nearly super helpful (Allison starts at 1:50...progression in question at 2:34), played on the Ernie Ball. Gots to get me one o them some day:

SSW, Wisco, 11/5/2010

The last of the three shows in 7 days.

Got started at 11pm and played 21 of the 23 songs that we know. Clocked out at an hour almost on the dot. I was pretty spot on. Used my own kit. PA was Wisco's...not bad. No monitors and J's vocals overwhelmed R's again (that damn Beta mic is too good for its own good). K kept the bass down and avoided blowing out his amp this time.

The band that headlined was...interesting.

Brought down $120 for two bands from $5 cover...$60 a piece per band. Wisco also threw in two pitchers of beer (three actually cause they gave us a free bottom of the barrel pitcher).



TD, Great Dane, 11/4/10

My performance went as well as I could have hoped.

Awesome ska band "4am" opened for us and brought in a crowd. I didn't drink a drop of alcohol before or during the set. Pretty much nailed the whole thing. J had some technical difficulties and some nervous energy, but overall we did ok. I really locked in with T and RS. Several songs got played way too fast (not my fault) but I was able to keep up, even with super hard "Easy Life." Still waiting for cash out, but the money will be good.

Debuted the bass drum head. It pleased the boys.

We got offered a house party on Dec 18th and a Jan gig at Dane. My predessor came and hid in the corner, but I'm told he was pleased. I'm glad.

Set list to follow.

Upgrading: The Snare

Picked up a used Pacific LX Maple snare last week. It's pretty sweet. It was the right size, wood, color, and price ($100) for what I'd been wanting. No compromises.

Details I didn't notice until further inspection:
-Ten lug (existing two steel snares I own only each have 6)
-Bearing edge seems to be peaked in center. Don't know what you call this, but I've read about it. The steel drums I have come to a peak at the outer edge of drum...this new one comes to peak in center of drum edge.
-Throw off feels sturdy and smooth

I played it Thursday and Friday night at gigs. Saturday I opened her up and inspected the inside, which all seems good. Lubricated the lugs and put on a newish Ambassador Hazy resonant head and Powerstroke 3 batter head. Also put on brand new snare wires that had been hanging around the house and moved the LX's snare wires to the better steel drum.

Essentially at this point I've done all the upgrading that I'd intended to do. Happened more quickly than I'd anticipated. I'm still trying to decide if I like the Sabian AA El Sabor Ride I picked up or if I want to get something different. That's essentially all I've got an eye out for at this point.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wax and Wane

To top off my suck-tastic bass playing from Saturday night (following a flawless Sat morning run through) and the fact that I didn't sit down at the drums on Saturday OR Sunday...I played a flawless rehearsal on drums Monday for the first time with the new crew.

This music stuff is just weird. I do not get the mind/body connection and how we learn and progress...and then digress.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Upgrading: Cymbals

Picked up two new cymbals off of Craig's List this weekend:

1. Sabian AA 17" Medium Crash, $65 ($189 new). It actually sounds a lot like my existing Colorsound, just a little deeper and with longer sustain. It fits in with the kit well, though I don't know if it was "needed." It allows me to have a crash on each side now if I want. Just seemed like a great deal. I can't pass up a decent cymbal for 60 bucks.

2. Sabian HH Duo 10" Splash, $60 ($139 new). I had thought about buying one of these when I was looking for a new splash (was looking at 12" at the time). I liked this model a lot, but couldn't bring myself to spend the money at the time. So I picked it up cause it was such a great deal. I don't really need a splash, but the 10" I have now is cracked, so it's sitting in reserve. Just couldn't pass it up.

Both in great condition. Passed on a 12" Cherry Mapex Black Panther snare for $100. Decided I shouldn't jump at it since it was a weird size, even if it was a great deal. Also, didn't want to spend the $100 after buying the cymbals. I need to pace myself.

Also, I'm learning more about how to play the Sabian AA El Sabor Ride that I picked up a few months ago. It has a very "tinny" sound that I've had trouble adjusting to. I REALLY love the bell. The bell is awesome. I think I'm figuring out that when I ride it, I need to play more on the shoulder, instead of the edge where I am used to. I like the sound better there. I'm not sure this cymbal is going to stay in the main mix. Again, it was a $60 deal ($245 new) that I couldn't pass up and I thought that I like the El Sabor line...but it doesn't fit well into the kit. Sounds discordant and, like I said "tinny". I'm going to keep my eye out for a Zildjian K series ride (any model). These are pricey (about $325 new for the basic 20" model) and you don't see them used too often. In the very least I want to play them at some stores. I know that will have a deeper, fuller tone. No tin there. I'll have to see if it goes too far the other way.

I am curious a bit about Zildjian A Ping Rides. I hear Ping Rides mentioned often in articles. I should play one and see what they sound like. A 20" is $265 new. The New Beat Hi Hats made me want to go with a full Zildjian A setup...but I kinda blew that by buying some Sabians. I have a feeling that, rather than upgrading my cymbals once, buying used cymbals on the cheap is going to become an ongoing hobby of mine. It's just really hard not to want to jump on a $50-60 quality cymbal...and it is so hard to know how something will sound with your kit until you get it home and try it. Luckily, there's always a resale market for quality...so if it gets out of control I can liquidate some. I probably should get a cymbal vault to store the extras in (or just set up a decent box to keep them in).

CJ, Mickey's, 10/30/10

I was really disappointed about this show. I thought it was gonna be great. But it was just weird. People were really drunk and moshing and falling down through the first two acts and it just was pissing me off. Then we took the stage. We had hoped to start at 12:30 but didn't start playing until about 1:15am. As a result we had to cut several songs.

I was borrowing an amp and when I got up there I couldn't get it to work. I also couldn't get either one of the two tuners I brought to work, and the bass had been in the car for hours in the cold. Well duh...bad cable. By the time I figured that out it was time to start...so I had to delay to tune. Then I was totally freaked out and it fucked with me for the rest of the show. My legs were shaking. I kept dropping notes...getting lost.

To make things worse, the bass amp was set up on the wrong side of the stage, so we stood in the wrong places. And the vocal monitors weren't working. My vocals went ok, not great, in light of this, cause I had the PA speaker right behind me.

Anyway...I was totally disappointed in my performance. Pissed me off cause I played the entire set that morning mistake-free. So it wasn't that I didn't know the songs. I also wasn't drunk at all.

It's so annoying that you work really hard at something and then when it comes time to show other people...all of these external factors fuck it up. You get a late start. The equipment fails. The turnover is too quick and you can't get settled and properly set up. You get freaked out and it blows the entire set for you. Sucks.

RS dressed as "Broken Face" CT dressed as "Where Is My Mind?" EH dressed as "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and I dressed as "No. 13 Baby". Photos to come.

VAMOS (skipped this for time)
CRACKITY JONES(skipped this for time)
MR. GRIEVES(skipped this for time)