Friday, December 30, 2011

December

There were two things that I intended to accomplish in December 2011.

The first was to not drink alcohol. Unless something really unexpected happens in the next 40 hours, I think I will manage to accomplish that. It seems like a small thing...to not drink for an entire calendar month...but it is a small thing that I don't think I've accomplished since...well probably at least since 2000 and probably more like since 1997 or 1998. It gets easier and harder every day and it probably will for a while yet until it just isn't as big a deal anymore. At least that's where I'm hoping things are headed.

The second thing I meant to do I did not accomplish...though I made a decent start and I should probably not be too hard on myself...give my self some credit...for making that good start. The goal was to multi-track record...all by myself playing all the parts...covers of about 15 Breeders songs. I first mentioned it here on October 21st, though I'd been thinking about doing it for a while before that. I don't really remember when the idea first hit me. Somewhere between being pissed at one of our early CJ shows probably in 2010 when someone said I should start a Breeders tribute ("dumb ass" I thought..."I can't play guitar or sing well enough like Kim Deal to pull that off...and I don't even think that I like their music") and when bought and started listening to the records likely in early to mid 2011. Though it is true that I DID suggest covering "Cannonball" to the grunge band back in late summer 2010...so my brain was starting to turn anyway.

I've recorded full tribute albums twice before, so I knew that I could do it. Usually this involves me learning a couple of songs over a long period of time...and then deciding to do it. After that it is a month or two of relatively concentrated effort to learn all of the parts to all of the songs (sometimes only moments before recording them) and then laying down tracks. And then all the bullshit with getting the tracks together right. This last step I've never been good at. As per the cult of done...there is no editing stage. I never said that I did things well...I just said that I get them done.

So I've been sort of absent-mindedly learning the parts to the songs since October or so I guess. A real sticking point was fear of my equipment. I have a Boss 1180cd multi-tracker. It has served me well. But it has always been a bit of a black box that I feared. At some point a few years ago an effect got stuck on that I couldn't turn off, rendering it useless. This fall I finally figured out how to turn it off...making the Breeders project possible. But I was still afraid of the thing. And it is just old enough of technology that it is hard of hard to use. Very user friendly for its time...now it is...well a black box. And the only way to get the data out is via burning to the internal cd (which takes forever and adds an unneccessary step) or to record to an external device via RCA connections (I don't have an external device to record to...and this still doesn't convert the files to something my computer can use and, say, post on the internet. But last night everything changed.

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, I started wondering if I could use the free software program Audacity to multitrack. This had never occurred to me before. I've only ever used the program to edit mp3s that I've recorded...to chop up a full concert performance into individual songs...or to cut off the noise at the start and end of a track. I mostly use it to clean up rehearsal recordings that I make with my $100 Zoom H1 Handy Recorder so I can email the files to the band or practice along with them on my laptop. But I thought to google "multitracking with Audacity" yesterday at work (work has been slow over the holidays) and *boom* the world opened up.

Still not believing it could be so cheap and easy (I've been debating buying a microphone/laptop interface and software for years) I went home last night and tried it out with "Do You Love Me Now"...a recent addition to the planned track list. I recorded rhythm guitar, vocal, and lead guitar separately with my Zoom and imported the mp3s each into Audacity. They come in as stereo tracks...but you can split them and delete one side. Then...line them up...clean up the noise...export as WAV or mp3...and you get a finished stereo file out the other end. I had a song done in less than an hour (though it was a scratch track totally and will have to be redone). I recorded the rhythm and the lead guitar on both electric with distortion through my GK Backline 115 bass amp and with an acoustic direct to air. I still have to work on how to keep the level of the recorded track high enough without clipping the mic...but it is an easy enough adjustment to make. Today I'm gonna goof with the test song more and see about adding effects and such. Last night I was able to remove the background noise and delete coughs and such...already way more than I was ever able to figure out with the Boss.

I know that people (including Kim Deal) bemoan the rise of Protools (Audacity is essentially a cheap version of the same kind of software). It makes it too easy to create an artificial performance and it allows people with no talent and no business recording music to do it. But I think it is pretty awesome. I'm not trying to make great art...I'm just a plumber with a keyboard.* I'm just passing time on earth and trying to amuse myself. For years I couldn't find bands to play with...and so I played music alone. Multi-tracking allowed me to be my own band. And that's better than getting drunk alone any day of the week. I bet even Kim Deal could agree with that.

*Footnote: The plumber with a keyboard. I had a music teacher in college, Michael Iautaro. He was a composer. In addition to playing cello in the school orchestra under him for four years, I took pretty much any music classes he offered. Theory...recording...a few other things I think. One day he went off on how the world was coming to an end because "now adays" even a plumber could make music in his basement with a keyboard. He thought this tragic...that no talent hacks would muddy up his precious performance and composition world. This really pissed me off...and in a subsequent paper I debated the fact with him. In the grading comments he wrote "Give you a soapbox and you take it home!" I've always remembered that. Mike's dead now. Cancer I think. I didn't always agree with him and I can't say that I'm aware of him having a HUGE influence on me as a musician...but none the less...here I am a plumber with a keyboard. And that's the most important thing in my life.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Song of the Year

I believe that the song of the year for 2012 will be *drum roll*...Heart Beat Faster by Anna Vogelzang

(listen to it here)

Lyrics:

Some background...I thought I had reposted this somewhere safe, but it only seems to live on a long dead website...so reposting here...

Since I was 14 years old I've had a New Year's tradition of picking a song to represent the coming year. Sometimes it is a pessimistic song...sometimes it is an optimistic song. Sometimes I am not even sure why I pick the song...but they almost always end up...one year later...to have been an excellent representation of the previous year.

The song is supposed to be the first song that I hear in the New Year (and the previous year's song is supposed to be the last song that I hear in the previous year). Of course, logistically this is not always possible, but usually it is.

Why do I do this? Who knows! But no sense in ruining a perfectly good tradition...

1985 Kids from Fame I Still Believe in Me
1986 Go West Don't Look Down
1987 Outfield Taking My Chances
1988 Police King of Pain
1989 U2 Where the Streets Have No Name
1990 Erasure Hideaway
1991 Aztec Camera Stray
1992 Erasure Home
1993 Kirt Kempter Standing on this Bridge
1994 John Wesley Harding End of Something
1995 Poi Dog Pondering Postcard from a Dream
1996 Indigo Girls Watershed
1997 Poi Dog Pondering Complicated
1998 Michelle Shocked The Hard Way
1999 Ani DiFranco Fuel
2000 The Nields Giving it Back to Susan
2001 Barenaked Ladies Falling for the First Time
2002 The Nields This Town is Wrong
2003 Fleetwood Mac Landslide
2004 Barenaked Ladies Go Home
2005 Barenaked Ladies For You
2006
2007 The Motor Primitives Favorite Dream
2008
2009 Barenaked Ladies Testing 1, 2, 3
2010 Barenaked Ladies Maybe You're Right
2011 The Breeders One Divine Hammer
2012 Anna Vogelzang Heart Beat Faster

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lately

Last night I sat down to try and play "Always Touched By Your Presence Dear." It's a Blondie tune that didn't make the set cut...and it was just as well because I couldn't get it. The thing that tripped me up was the hi hat foot. It's one of those things that, if we'd played it, I could have faked that part. But it bothered me that I never was able to do it. I did better at it last night, though still not perfect.

I haven't yet really figured out how to balance myself when playing the left foot. I think that I lean that way a bit and stabilize myself with my left leg being planted into the floor. If I only need to open the hi hat every so often, I can...but if I have to open it on every 8th note even for a stretch of three or so I lose my balance. I've been trying to work on playing all 8th notes on my left foot and on getting the independence with my other limbs while doing it...though mostly I've been air drumming this. To do it on the kit is still just so daunting and ridiculous.

I've also been trying to do some pad exercises. I've been having a hard time forcing myself to go to the kit over the last few weeks...so instead I've at least demanded a bit of practice pad time. Just the basic shit...paradiddles...singles...doubles...triplets. Trying to get my left hand to catch up to my right. Get it stronger and more consistent...and improve the technique. Not PC I know...but my left hand is retarded...truly. It is a spaz.

The saga of the bass pedal continues. I thought for sure I'd posted about this already...but maybe not. So I went along forever just fine using a Pulse bass pedal on my kit at home. And then one day it stopped working so well for me. It started feeling like I was bottoming out. Like I was banging metal against metal and the bottom of my stroke...and it was making my leg and knee hurt. I checked...and indeed that is what was happening...I was wearing the metal away. I tried various things to adjust the pedal, but came up that the chain needed to be shorter, and since it was a cheap pedal, that wasn't adjustable. So I got a different pedal. I had been eyeing up this Tama Camco 30th Anniversary Limited Edition pedal (at like $130), but ended up going with this Gibraltar Velocity 3311S strap drive pedal instead...on sale for like $29 at Guitar Center. I really like strap drive and I really like an open bottom frame pedal...so it was a no brainer.

I like the new pedal a lot. It's great. But now...I'm having a bounce issue. Basically my bass drum (and the attached rack toms) is bouncing too much. It's either the puffy carpet underneath or the bouncy old floor boards...but the thing is out of control. I've tried all kinds of adjustments and have managed to minimize it by raising the front spurs up so that the front of the hoop is off the ground. It works okay for mid-tempo songs...but for a fast punk tune with double kick type stuff...it's really hard on my leg. There's a bunch of energy dissipating in the bounce...it's like you hit the bass...it moves away from the beater...then it comes back. I'm debating some kind of riser or platform to press down the carpet, but I worry that it is really just the floor itself. I don't get why this started happening all of the sudden...it wasn't a problem literally for about 5 years.

Anyway, that makes me not want to play at home and makes practicing fast pedal work difficult.

Update: Huh...this is interesting. They talk about muffling with blanket, etc (have one small blanket) and adding a port (already got one) to reduce bounce. Also they mention that if you bury beater (I do, unfortunately, as it isn't great technique) bounce will be worse. I had already though that if I could bury it less the bounce would be more tolerable. I hadn't thought about adding more muffling to increase the WEIGHT and hold the thing down. Might be worth trying. They also talk about loosening pedal spring.

Hmmm...they also talk in a different place about using a two ply head to reduce bounce. They are talking about beater bounce more than kit bounce...but still. I totally forgot that I not only changed my tuning (I think I've tuned up...which will increase bounce)...I changed my drum head. I used to have a coated Emperor...that's a two ply head. Now I have a Powerstroke 3 (it came with a set of Pinstripes in a propack)...which is a single ply...and not coated. That might have made a difference. I have a falam slam on the Powerstroke3, and also had one on the Emperor, but it wasn't affixed as tightly because there was a sticky patch from using other brands of dots that didn't stay stuck.

A Powerstroke 4 would be two ply...or just going back to a coated two ply. Interesting.

So before I build a whole freaking new floor:
1. Detune batter head a bit. Screw around with different resonant/batter tuning combos (maybe test on that little 12 inch tom I have to see how bounce changes with different combos...cause tuning the bass drum is a pain with all the shit on it)
2. Add stuff to inside drum
3. Loosen pedal spring (don't really want to do this though)
4. Return to a 2 ply head.
5. Go with a fuzzier beater (but might reduce volume too much)

Pixies Bass Fakebook Update

A week alone in one's office can do strange things to a person. Like make you work on projects that you've been putting off since, apparently, last February (according to the last dated copy). I spent a ridiculous amount of time today updating the Pixies Bass Fakebook. There's still a few things missing or wrong (I'm in the process of revising my part for Mr. Grieves to more closely match the recording, for instance, but it isn't finished yet, so I left it in the Fakebook the old way). At some point I should double check all of the old standards from the first three records to make sure that the tab in the book is what I actually play...but after hours of working on the thing today I got to a point where I just couldn't look at the damn thing any longer.

Still, the thing is getting pretty close to done (or as done as it ever will be). I don't know exactly when I started working on it, but it was probably around January of 2010...since that's when the idea of being in a Pixies tribute band was first put into my mind (though not realized until March of 2010) and I bought the greatest hits record and sat down and taught myself Nimrod's Son by ear after listening to it on the bus on the way home from work. So yeah...two years spent working on learning and tabbing 89 songs.

For sure having tab to start from on most of these made things much easier. But I've poured a ton of work into it just the same...since the tab was pretty much wrong in part I'd say 100% of the time. Of course, some will say that my tab is wrong too. But the songs are playable this way I assure you.

Of those that are incomplete yet, only a couple are must-haves (aside from a perspective of ridiculous completeness)...which is to say there are only a few that the tribute band are ever likely to play. Those would be Lovely Day, and Weird at My School. The rest are entirely unneccessary and not even the Pixies are ever likely to play them again. Ain't That Pretty At All cracks me up and I'd play it if anyone was willing and we could figure it out...but this seems unlikely.

Remaining songs that are incomplete (17 songs):
Lovely Day (the only album based song left)
Rock A My Soul
Make Believe
Weird At My School
Velvety Instrumental
Santo
Bam Thwok
Boom Chicka Boom
Brackish Boy (unreleased)
Evil Hearted You (Yardbirds)
Theme from Narc
Wild Honey Pie (Beatles)...this is pretty close to ready
Ain't That Pretty at All (Warren Zevon)
I Can't Forget (Leonard Cohen)
Born in Chicago (Paul Butterfield Blues Band)
Hang on to Your Ego (Beach Boys)
I've Been Waiting For You (Neil Young)

A footnote: There are a fair number of the 89 songs that the band hasn't learned and played as a group yet aside from the 17 listed above. We know and have played live 51 of the songs and are adding three more (Bird, D=RxT, Blown Away) starting next week. That leaves the following that I've got ready to go that the band has yet to start or plan to start (18 songs):

All Over The World
Ana
Bailey's Walk
Cecilia Ann
Dancing The Mantra Ray
Hang Wire
Havalina
In Heaven
Lovely Day
Motorway to Roswell
Navajo Know
Rock Music
Space
Stormy Weather
The Happening
The Thing
Wave of Mutilation UK
Winterlong

True too that most of these aren't the most popular of their songs...they'll be needed to complete the albums and the more well known B-sides though. And we do stuff for no good reason, frankly.

UPDATE: Over nye weekend I finished Weird at My School...so the only meaningful song left to tab is Lovely Day

Friday, December 23, 2011

Looking for Breeders Chords

Huffer


Son of Three


Saints


Cannonball


Driving on 9

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Online Classes

Just a reminder here for me about the ArtistWorks Drum Academy. It's video lessons, but there is a bit of back and forth with the instructors. It's cheap...but I took a look and the sample lessons don't seem that helpful. I think that there are other people out there doing this better. After I finish my first Berklee class I should take a look at what is out there. If I can get video lessons for free or less than $50 per month...I should look into it. It requires more personal initiative...but Berklee is really pricey. Even if I like Berkleee and want to continue on...I might not be able to afford to take 4 classes a year (one per session). Other kinds of on-line video lessons could be a good gap filler. Less stressful than taking live lessons and possibly more helpful.

Friday, December 16, 2011

CJ, Frequency, 12/16/2011

The night after the Mr. Roberts gig, we played a benefit for Dane101. The lineup went like this:
5:15pm The Shabelles
6:00pm Bob Koch
6:40pm Bes Monde
7:30pm Prize giveaway
8:00pm Crackity Jones (Pixies Tribute band)
9:00pm Nick Brown
9:30pm Caustic
10:10pm Naked Girls Reading
10:45pm The German Art Students
11:40pm Prize giveaway
11:50pm Murder of Crowes (Black Crowes Tribute band)
12:30am Tiger Clutch

I was sick. I had taken the day off of work...pretty sure the entire band had the day off in fact. EH played the Shabelles kit (it was tiny and fancy) and I played through Tiger Clutch's bass amp head (it was loud and vibratory). I was in weird shadow on stage and couldn't see the dots on my bass neck...which I guess that I rely on more than I thought I did. I missed the same measure in Wave...don't know what that's about. Flubbed Mr Grieves, but doubt it was obvious. The rest was ok I guess. I had meant to do the Kim Deal banter from the Doolittle shows...but spaced most of it largely due to my cold. I did think to embarrass EH a bit before La La Love You though. Silver went well for the second time...I think RS was severely delaying coming in with the harmony, giving me plenty of time to nail the note. We'll probably never play the song again. We're taking time off until Jan 4th, but we discussed next tunes to learn and it'll be Bird Dream, D= RxT, and Blown Away. I cranked them all out today and will have them committed to memory in no time. Had good talks these last couple of days. I am thankful again for the boys and hope this ride continues on a while.

Best audience comment of the night: "I wasn't so sure about about coming to see a Pixies cover band. I didn't know what it was gonna sound like. But it sounds like the Pixies." Nice.

Also, a woman came up to me in the middle of the show to tell me that there was a piece of lint on one of my bass strings. I left it there just to spite her because it was such a ridiculous thing to interrupt someone on stage about.

Setlist:
Debaser
Tame
Wave
I Bleed
Here Comes
Dead
Monkey
Mr G
Crackity
La La Love
No 13
There Goes
Hey
Silver
Gouge

Here's the pre-show interview I did with Dane101:
Dane101: How did you come up with the name of your band?

Dar from Crackity Jones: We did a web search to see what other Pixies tribute bands had called themselves. Most of the obvious ones, like Nimrod’s Son, had been taken. We were trying not to duplicate. We wanted a song/album title or lyric. We looked at the list of songs and Crackity Jones was on it as a candidate that it seemed like no one had used yet. The song starts off “Jose Jones told me alone his story. He got friends like Paco Picopiedra.” I think Paco Picopiedra means Fred Flintstone…but we coopted it as our stage names. So we play under the names Jose Jones, Paco, Pico, and Piedra. Once that fell into place we had to go with Crackity Jones. Also “CJ” looks like a backwards “P” so it ended up making a nice play on the Pixies flying P logo…but that was just a happy accident.


Who is in your band and what are their backgrounds?

Dar: Well, as mentioned… Jose Jones, Paco, Pico, and Piedra. Jose, Paco, and Pico have been playing in bands together for over 15 years and all went to college together in Minnesota. Most recently, before Crackity Jones, they were The Escapists. Jose and Piedra also currently play in The Drain and The Seven Stone Weaklings.


If your band was a snack, what snack would it be and why?

Dar: Arby’s for sure. Because our practice space is near Arby’s and we regularly abuse our bodies there.


What was your favorite gig you played in Dane County and why?

Dar: That’s a hard one. Before Crackity Jones I think that all of us had grown accustomed to people just not giving a shit about our music. You would bust your ass to prepare for and play a show and no one would show up except your close friends. But pretty immediately when we started playing out as Crackity Jones the whole attitude was totally different. I remember at our second show ever at High Noon people sang along to “Where Is My Mind.” This wave of “oooo” hit us. That had never happened to me, or to any of us, I think before. It was surreal. People just love this music. We’ve had a great time at all of our shows, but I have to say that Mickey’s is like a second home to us. Liz has given us great opportunities there to play huge setlists and the crowd is always amazing.


What other bands/musicians/artists are you interested in checking out at the Fundraiser?

Dar: Tiger Clutch or German Art Students probably, though the whole lineup is awesome really.


Why have you decided to play this fundraiser for free? Is it simply for the free food?

Dar: Wait...there's free food? Is it Arby's? But seriously...we like to play this music. Simple as that. And we haven’t played the Frequency since our first gig in April 2010. We played all of Surfer Rosa at that first show. This time we return to play all of Doolittle. It comes full circle a bit.


You are preparing a special treat and playing the whole album "Doolittle." What do you like about that album so much?

Dar: To be honest I think that Surfer Rosa and Come on Pilgrim probably started off as bigger favorites of most of ours. Doolittle is just so popular in general that we’ve had to learn all the songs off of it over the last year and a half (except "Silver," which we’ll debut at this show). We’d never bothered to play them together before though. The return to the Frequency seemed like a great opportunity to do it. And plus, if playing the whole album is good enough for the real Pixies than who are we to turn up our noses? It is a truly great album for sure.


Do you have a youtube link we can post?

Dar: Our entire second show was filmed and is out there (as well as other performances here and there), but I think something more recent is probably a better representation of our evolution. Here’s a link to “Dead” from “Filth” at the Inferno this past spring.

CJ, Mr. Roberts, 12/15/2011

We played Psychoacoustics 20th birthday party at Mr Roberts. The Forward Marching Band opened and Beefus played last (Beefus...a kind of jokey funk band...is great. I forgot that we've played with them before. The drummer smiles the whole time. It cracks me up). We did 30 minutes live on air and another 45 to the room only. Let me tell you...you should never listen to a recording of yourself singing if you can avoid it...especially if you had a cold when you were singing and were nervous. Performance is best enjoyed in the moment....watching the game tapes will break your heart.

That said, during the show I thought it went ok. We had a kinda rough start. I was nervous and goofed up strange things...like the intro into the second verse of Wave. But nothing so major that I think anyone noticed. Lots of people told me my vocals were awesome...which is really hard to believe listening to the recording. I was too loud in the mix and my voice is really shaky from the cold.

Towards the end of the first set I started to settle down and I wasn't too nervous at all for the second set. More and more I think that I sound terrible singing Into the White and I wish that we wouldn't play it anymore. I just can't hit the low notes. I probably just need to rearrange the part so that I don't have to do that. Maybe I'll watch a hundred versions of her doing it live and see if she ever changes it up. Truly it is a stupid song to begin with and Charles probably would have thrown a guitar at me too cause I would have hated doing it every night for a million city tour. But the boys love it and it gives RS's voice a rest.

I was sober...had a head cold and a bad day at work. Ate McDonald's for dinner and later a salad. Had a little coffee right before we started. Been down in dumps all week but have had plenty of rest as a result. We loaded in at 6:45pm and didn't play until 10pm...but we went over to Monties and the boys ate from 8-9pm and that was good for us I think.

CT is starting to ask about Halloween more and more. Not sure how I feel about it. But I do dig playing with these guys...so I'll probably concede to the greater desire if they'll have me.

Setlist:

Set 1:
Debaser
Holiday
Allison
Wave
Here Comes
Vamos
Gigantic
Manta
Subb
Tame
Where

Set 2:
Caribou
Bone
Break
Monkey
Isla
Something
Planet
Alec
Into White
Cactus
Is She W
Head On
Ed
Nimrod
River E
Hey
Gouge

file pending upload https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/dsward2/web/tunes/CrackityJones/wort_111215_200001psycho

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pre-two-gig-thoughts

Tonight and tomorrow I've got back-to-back CJ gigs...

I have no sense of how tonight and tomorrow's shows will go...but if experience is any guide...from past back-to-back or nearly back-to-back gigs...tonight will suck a little and tomorrow will be better (though tomorrow I will be really tired). That said I'm utterly prepared except for being freaked out that my wild ear will fuck with me during Silver. If it took me a year and a half to get the harmony right on Ed is Dead I suppose this shouldn't surprise me if it happens though...and I should realize that #1) I survived fucking up the Ed is Dead harmony a dozen or more times live and #2) probably after tonight and tomorrow...I'll never have to sing Silver live again (unless we have a reunion tour in 20 years...bet Kim Deal thought the same thing once upon a time). Anyway...there's no accounting for sudden brain farts and memory lapses...but I can't say that I wasn't prepared. I know the songs now as well as I ever have.

This week has been totally bizarre emotionally. Work sucked today. I have a cold. If I were drinking I'd be ready to get drunk...but I don't have the desire at the moment (hopefully that will hold throughout the weekend). I don't know how these things will affect tonight and tomorrow...but I know that CJ is in the top five list of best things ever to happen to me. And for that reason I'm happy as hell to have these two shows. Some day this chapter of my life will have passed in all its nastiness...but CJ will have been a bright shining light long after it has ended no matter where it goes from here. Don't forget. Be glad.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SSW, Mickey's, 12/9/2011

Opened for Damidol and SirNoSir!

I borrowed a kit from SirNoSir's drummer...it was a nice 4 piece Gretsch...but the hardware kind of sucked. He had the left cymbal stand also supporting the "rack" tom and that made it really hard to adjust. And then that cymbal stand wouldn't hold solid so my splash kept moving and I had to tighten and adjust between every song. I brought my snare, throne, pedal, and cymbals. The cymbal stands on the right worked ok except they were reverse what I'm used to (the way I USED to play before Halloween, so I was able to adjust but it was still weird). It took forever to adjust the kit and as a result we got started way late. I was crammed against the wall in the center of the room. I was pretty distracted by the problems with the hardware and such, so really didn't have the energy to get nervous. I was sober and think that was good. The whole "increased headspace" effect of being sober more often and playing in rehearsal and out sober more often is just multiplying as time goes along. Two Pints, Too Drunk, and Suspect Device were stupid too fast and I'm not sure if that was my fault or not. I don't start any of these songs...so seems like it wouldn't be my fault...though I might have sped up too much too soon on Two Pints. I think I played well considering the circumstances...and don't feel too responsible for the mistakes that I DID make...it was circumstance not lack of ability or prep. I sang a greater number of songs at this show, in comparison to everyone else, than I ever had. Not my idea...but I suspect this will become more the case in the future...it just feels like the way that the wind is blowing.

Setlist:
Hate & War (D)
I Hate Rich (J)
Mr Suit (R)
Helicopter (D)
You Stupid Fucking Liberals (J)
I Am a Cliché (D)
New Rose (R)
You Drive Me Ape (J)
Teenaged Kicks (D)
One Track Mind (R)
Too Drunk (J)
Suspect Device (R)
Two Pints (R)
Warsaw (D)
We Are the Ones (R)
Fucked Up (J)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lately

Have been busy of late with self-improvement exercises, travel, work, and rehearsals. Apparently not reflecting much.

Something important to stop and note. At this week's TD rehearsal I felt like I was pretty in control. I was actually able to try new things and not get totally tangled up. It was a sensation I don't recall feeling before. Like I'd internalized the beat and could good around a bit. This is where I's like to grow towards...relaxed control and independence. Maybe it was a random thing that happened. But maybe, just maybe not drinking when I play is finally starting to pay off. At first not drinking made it harder...made it feel impossible...but now that it is becoming more a normal state I feel like the payoff is pretty huge. There's more available brain space. It's kind of remarkable. It IS harder to stay out of my head now...but that too is getting easier.

I've noticed a similiar thing with the bass. Extra head space. I notice things happening around me while I'm playing...it's weird. But it makes total sense.

It's good that I'm getting those effects...because I've not had much actual practice time lately. I feel like my days are scheduled to the moment and practice time hasn't made it in. But it is good for me to be scheduled right now. With the holidays will likely come time off from rehearsals...so maybe I'll start getting real practice time again.

There's been no time to work on the Breeders recording project either...but it is still on my to do list when I can start to carve more time out. Though that kind of time will soon be hard to find because...

A month from today I start classes via Berklee online. It was a fantasy that I'd been having for a while to take classes this way...but I never thought it would happen. And then I decided there was no reason not to try. With some significant financial aid from the sweetie I'm giving it a show and taking "Fundamentals of Drumkit". Time to get all the basics I never had. In theory at the end of 12 weeks I'll even be able to play some latin beats. Maybe the class won't end up being that good or won't work out for me...but it could be the beginning of something huge...the next stage in my development as a drummer and a musician.

It'll probably overtax everyone involved and backfire (well, everyone but me...I feel like I could play CJ all night every night and never get sick of it)...but we're doing 2 days of CJ shows back to back...3 sets in all...next week. I'm pretty happy about that. And there's talk of learning the rest of Bossanova and Trompe in spring...and I'm all for that as well. I think we're all a little burned out on Halloween...there's been some talk about next year...but I think at least 3 of us are leaning away from it...though not totally closing the door. Halloween was a good experience in many ways for me...but also really stressful and time consuming...and it kind of halted all forward movement on everything else for many months. It is the kind of thing that I might like to do every OTHER year...but every year might be too much. We'll see where things lead over the next few months.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

UPDATE: Gigs to Date

Here's the updated gig-ography. I've included all dates scheduled through the end of 2011 as well.

Seven Stone Weaklings
2011
12/9 Mickey's
6/16 WORT
4/14 Mr Roberts
3/10 Mr Roberts
2/13 Harmony
1/8 Crystal Corner Bar

2010
12/11 WYOU Fundraiser
11/5 Wisco
10/7 Mr. Roberts
8/17 Frequency
7/25 High Noon Saloon
4/24 Frequency
3/30 High Noon Saloon
2/25 Great Dane
2/14 Harmony Bar
1/22 Mickey's
1/8 Frequency

2009
12/19 High Noon
12/12 Mickey's
9/6 Slackfest private party
July Private party at my house (first show with RS)
5/14 Frequency
4/4 Glass Nickel


The Drain
2011
11/10 WORT
11/9 High Noon
9/22 Great Dane
8/26 The Wisco
7/9 Legend's
6/14 The Wisco
4/4 High Noon
2/25 Beaver Dam Best Western,
2/3 Great Dane

2010
12/31 Mickey's
11/4 Great Dane

Note: TD played many years of shows before I joined them.

Crackity Jones
2011
12/16 Frequency
12/15 Mr Roberts
10/28 High Noon as The Flaming Lips
9/9 Mickey's
5/27 Mr Roberts
5/21 Inferno
4/16 Mickey's
3/21 High Noon Saloon

2010
12/4 High Noon Saloon
10/30 Mickey's
8/28 Mickey's
8/4 Frequency
7/8 Great Dane
6/4 Mickey's
5/19 High Noon Saloon
4/24 Frequency

Other Bands
10/28 Peroxide at High Noon
10/1 Peroxide at Ladies Rock Camp at Madison Music Foundry
See also here for older, now defunct bands.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lately

CJ practiced for the first time in a long time last night. Since May we've only had one Pixies show and only practiced Pixies once or twice. The rest of the time it has been all Flaming Lips.

Last night we played all of Doolittle, including Silver (which is new to us), and about 15 or so other songs. The plan is to play Doolittle on Dec 16th and a mostly different set on Dec 15th. It is unclear if the set on Dec 15th needs to be 45 minutes, an hour, or longer. It could be as much as two 45 minute sets.

Overall I think we sounded great. I don't feel too proud to say that I sounded the best out of everyone. I think I've practiced more in the interium, including over the last couple of weeks...and I was once again stone cold sober while everyone else had at least one beer last night. Where being sober has felt hard for playing in recent weeks...if I can sustain it in the end it will certainly ultimately improve my playing (if not my feeling of being relaxed). I actually felt myself under utilizing my brain last night...I could wander off and read things on the wall while playing for instance. I guess it makes sense. If you can play a bass line after having drunk 5 beers...surely sober you'll have significantly more free brain space to play it and not totally have to focus on it.

Anyway, I'm happy to be back at the Pixies stuff and happy that everyone seems to have a new sense of dedication. A month ago I think we were all ready to go live under rocks for a while. I'm more optimistic about the future of the band now than I've been in a while. There was talk of learning Bossanova last night...which no one has ever been all that interested in. And three of us played "Distance" on a whim for the first time with no prior prep (while Paco was in the john) and nearly ran right into "Lovely Day" before realizing that we ought to refocus on the tunes at hand. I think that we're all ready to get back at this thing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

TD, WORT, 11/10/2011

It is yet another tail of two gigs. You'll (the universal "you" because I know that I'm the only one who reads this) recall my morbid dissatisfaction with the Wednesday gig. Well we played the exact same set the very next day on WORT for Psychoacoustics(in a different order because of curse words and "Safe Harbor" beginning at 10pm). It went great on Thursday. I was still stone cold sober. I am still hanging up a bit on Bodies R Burnin, One is for Man, and in a few other little spots in songs...but on balance it was perfectly presentable. And the feel amongst us all was just better too. J's tempos were better. Twan could hear. It was just better. Made a great new contact with the guy running sound too.

This made for the third time that week that we played this set all the way through...Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I was exhausted by Thursday from staying up late two nights in a row and moving our shit both nights. Touring, especially unsupported touring, must just be brutal. That said...one does gain confidence with repeated playing of the same set. Those bands must be air tight at the end of a tour.

There is a Realplayer playlist of the entire show at https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/dsward2/web/tunes/TheDrain/WORTpsychoacousticsNov102011/wort_Nov102011.pls (our performance starts around 1 hour 30 minutes and runs for just under an hour).

Setlist:
Sent It
Going Down Drain
At the Door
Better N Better
Gun in Your Grave
Bodies R Burnin
Jack
One is for Man
Gotta Tell U
It's Alright
HSUL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Memo to Myself About Gloom and Doom

I just looked and on Oct 18th I was totally happy with my drumming. Today I am pretty much the opposite. Today is the 10th of November. I am reminded that I have a personal monthly hormonal cycle, despite the fact that there is no obvious manifestation of that any longer. Typically, around the 10th of the month I get irritated, depressed, and down on myself.

Today is the 10th.

Three weeks ago I felt great.

And, once again, I effectively stopped practicing my drums around late August because I was hurting myself going too hard too fast. And I was depressed. So where as I used to sit down at the drums almost every single day and practice...and in the very least for many hours on the weekends...I haven't played them at all except in rehearsals since August. That's almost three months now. Duh.

TD, High Noon, 11/9/2011

We played a Rock Against Walker benefit with The Type, Barristacide, and some dude with a guitar. It was sparsely attended. I was stone cold sober.

I struggled. Things that used to be easy feel hard now. Stuff that used to come instictually are hard to pull off at all. I don't know if it is lack of practice, the fact that I only play these songs once a week, sobriety, or what. I feel out of sorts and uncoordinated. It's been like this about since about a week before the Halloween gig. I've been thinking it's been nerves, but it happened at rehearsal lately a few times too.

I suppose it went alright as far as the audience could tell. It wasn't an unmitigated disaster or anything on my end. Just not smooth. Not polished. Not good. I felt like I didn't match up to the other drummers. The stage sound was weird too...the guitars were fuzzy. Twan agreed it was hard to hear. I guess that I should have asked to adjust my monitor. I don't know. J was all over the place on starting tempos too...slow songs played fast...fast songs played slow. I struggled to adjust the tempos and was kinda inconsistent.

We play the exact same set tonight on the radio. It'll be the third time I've played it this week. I'm dreading it. I don't feel like it is gonna get better. I'm sure that I just need to go back to the woodshed. But damn.

Sidenote from the cool/weird files:
The dude with the guitar who opened played Where Is My Mind and then after his set and after spotting me and RS in the crowd yells "Crackity Jones!" in a woo-hoo kind of way at us. "We're famous" I say to RS who says back "Yes, to roughly 100 people" to which I reply "just like the real Pixies back in the day". It was kinda cool. I kind of forget about all this until about 30 minutes later the guy comes up to me. He's got that overly enthusiastic look. He's moony-eyes. He's over the moon. He's got that "I can't believe I'm actually talking to you, you're my hero" look. he starts babbling about Crackity Jones. Now it was weird.

And then there was a kind of "oh I thought maybe Crackity Jones was playing cause I saw the band here (even though only two of us were there, which makes me wonder if he would even recognize Paco and Pico) and I was all excited but I guess you guys have another band and I'm excited to hear that too." But he wasn't really. In the span of 10 minutes I had the full experience of what it is like to be Kim Deal and have someone be so excited to meet you...and how strange that is (especially since I'm not even actually her)...followed by the full Joey/David experience that no one would recognize you on the street because you aren't one of the more visible members of the band...followed by the full Frank Black experience of "I do lots of music stuff but all these fuckers care about is the Pixies". Truly, truly surreal. That people (including me) react to celebrities (who actually are just other human beings) in this way is so strange and interesting. That people then further carry over those feelings and reactions to proxy celebrities is truly fascinating. I mean this guy was playing at the same gig as me. He did a Pixies cover...that's all that Crackity Jones does. He and I aren't any different. SO WEIRD.

Setlist:
Sent It
Going Down Drain
At the Door
Gotta Tell U
It's Alright
Jack
One is for Man
HSUL
Better N Better
Bodies R Burnin
Gun in Your Grave

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Redux

Just watched half a dozen videos of the Blondie performance. I see plenty of errors...mine and those of others...but I gotta say that the casual observer would have seen none of these. It flows along really nicely and we cover our tracks. It's shocking just how hard it is to notice the flaws.

Halloween 2011

This photo is just about the coolest thing ever.

It was pretty insane, but I managed to make it through this double header show. I did not play the Blondie set my best. I was dropping sticks a lot and was nervous and just missed some things. The kit was not exactly like I was used to...the cymbals too far away. I switched to longer sticks part way through and stopped dropping. Spaced the tempo on one song...we had to start 2 or 3 over. I'm sure it all went fine and I'm just frankly glad it is over. I'm also glad that I know that I played the songs flawlessly a few weeks ago in rehearsal. Think I had two or three beers between 4pm and 8pm when we took the stage. Alcohol was not a factor.





Here's a video of Call Me:


Went and ate dinner at the Brass Ring, changed costumes, and came back for Flaming Lips. The show was running maybe a half hour late, but not too bad. Learned the lesson that when you throw 30 three foot balloons at an audience they do not play with them peacefully, but throw them back at you violently. I was not prepared for this and was glad I'd practice Race for the Prize hard enough that I could stop and start playing my part as I dealt with balloons. Still...the balloons were cool and people loved them.

I made some mistakes in the set...spaced guitar chords on Yoshimi a bit, forgot to turn off the tuning mute going into Do You Realize...amp maxed out and cut out on overdrive part of Pompeii. Overly the amp held up well with all 5 bands playing through it. One of the other bass players complimented me on how great it sounded. It seems to have survived. I think that it cutting out on Pompeii probably had something to do with the way I had it set and the fact that it was just over the top too much signal. I had one more beer before FLIPS and two more after. The next day I was tired, but not at all hung over. I was drinking low grade 12 oz beers the whole night.











There were many technical glitches with the sound check (RS's vocal effects mostly) and the video (don't under-estimate compatibility issues)...but overall it came off as we'd intended (minus the confetti, which was vetoed by venue owner a week before the show). The dancers worked out really great. We had pro sound and pro video on hand. The show was captured and then some.

It was all well worth doing. But the herding cats (and trying to learn drum parts above my skill level) for Blondie and the dealing with all the extras (including harmony vocals) for FLIPS ended up being pretty exhausting over the 8 months of prep. I grew weary of it all and am glad both projects are over. There is some talk of reprising the FLIPS set and we've have an offer on the table to do so...but I think it took so much out of all of us that I'm not sure if it will ever happen. I kind of just want to go back to playing the Pixies. This was hard (my drumming on Blondie and FLIPS as a whole), no doubt about it, and a strain on all involved. It was an accomplishment and I fear we'll forget that too quickly...but I'm tired and ready to move on. I think that we all are.


Blondie Setlist:
Heart of Glass
11:59
Call Me
Dreaming
Rip Her to Shreds
Sunday Girl
X Offender
Denis
Tide is High
Hanging on the Telephone
One Way or Another
Detroit 442

Flaming Lips Setlist:
Race for the Prize
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 2
What is the Light
Fight Test
Bad Days
Do You Realize
Kim's Watermelon Gun
The WAND
Pompeii and G
She Don't Use Jelly
Turn It On

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Driving

Last night I was reminded of something that has occurred to me many times over the last 5 or so months. With Peroxide I am "driving the bus." I think it is the first band in which I've felt that. People defer to me for starts and stops and the lead singer in particular is constantly checking in with me for cues. I actually have had to start being careful what my facial expresssions or head nods or word mouthing is because if I'm not careful I will give an inadvertant cue (reminds me of one of my bass players telling me how sometimes he'll just glance in the direction of a drummer and totally freak the person out because they think he's given them a signal).

It's a lot of responsibility, but in this case at least I was ready for it.

I think that it is just the group dynamics of this particular group that has led to me being the band leader. I think it is something that more groups I play in should be doing more of (and certainly more groups that I USED to be in...man there were some groups in the past who didn't even seem to notice I was playing drums at all, never mind following my cues). Because really, if people aren't with the drummer they are no where.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Breeders Early Progress

I've been around the internet long enough to know that I am foolish for thinking that no one reads this blgo. If I truly wanted no one to read it I should make it private or record the information off line. But still, at times like this I'm glad to have a place to blather on about things that, in theory, no one reads. Why I feel compelled to put this on the internet in the first place is probably best left to my therapist.

I'm glad because I started working on the Breeders stuff again this weekend and I'm SO EXCITED! And I guess I don't want people to ask me about it or give me their opinion or any of the other things that happen when people read something you've posted on the internet.

I tried playing the drums for all 14 songs and I think that, aside from charting out a few little odd changes or parts, the drums will be no problem to nail down (other than all of the issues of recording oneself and synching up the parts). I also sang through the lead parts on all of the songs and I think I'll be able to handle them.

I worked on bass and lead guitar for Bang On, Divine Hammer, and I think a couple of others but I can't remember which ones at the moment. Lots of good progress. In the end I think the hardest part of everything will be the rhythm guitar parts. I envision lots of hours of watching video of Kim Deal. How tragic.

Anyway...it is starting to feel like the kind of thing that I probably COULD knock out in a couple of months of frantic weekend and evening work. It's the kind of thing that you sit down for what you think will be a half hour and when you look up at the clock four hours have passed in the blink of an eye. Good stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Son of Three

First song! Son of Three

I'm starting with this song because I have already figured out the bass part.

Goes to figure that I can't find any live footage of this song though. And apparently also no guitar tab/chords.



Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Dig, bitch, dig!


This is pretty helpful. There's a moving part lower on the neck and then there's a part where everybody is hanging out around the 12th fret a bunch of the time. Kelley seems not to be playing power chords but barre chords. It's a pretty bass line driven song after all and so I guess it is good that I'm starting with that. The only hard part about the drums is how repetative they are and how hard it is to keep that kind of beat consistent for a whole song.

The Breeders

The Heart thing is still a possibility...but I'm back-burnering it until after the first of the year. There are many things to keep an eye on in the current bands and I don't know if I'm ready to commit to a Halloween 2012 project yet. I need to see how some stuff in the current band family is gonna play out.

That said, November and December will be tough months for me. I'm working on some personal improvement on the drinking end...and besides that I'll be going from being in 5 bands and needing to learn about 30 songs to probably 3 bands and not needing to learn anything.

So I need a project to keep myself busy. Kelley Deal picked knitting. I'm picking Kelley Deal.

Well in part anyway. I've been tossing the idea of a Breeders tribute band around for the last year and I think that I'm not so interested in performing the thing as learning the thing. So I'm gonna try to learn all of the parts to 10-15 tunes and record a cd for myself. I may never even give it to anyone else to listen to ever. It's just for me.

Assuming that I pull it off, it'll be my 4th "self-released" all solo record...the other three being made, I think, in 1994, 1996, and 2007. So I put out albums about as often as the actual Breeders do. Seems like a good fit.

But seriously...they are a good fit. I'm a very new fan and have carved out a solid dozen or so tunes that I love and the rest I don't care much about. The musicianship is all within my grasp...there's nothing over the top prog here or ridiculous. It is straight ahead rock...drums, bass, 2 guitars, the occasional violin, and a couple of voices. I think I can manage it.

Proposed track listing (in no particular order):
Hellbound
Fortunately Gone
Cannonbal
Flipside
I Just Wanna Get Along
Divine Hammer
Saints
Drivin' on 9
Son of Three
Full on Idle
Huffer
Bang On
It's the Love
Walk It Off

I may throw in a few more as things go along. Ironically 3 of these songs are cover tunes. So maybe I'm not the world's greatest fan of Kim Deal's song writing after all. But the ones I like I really like...so that's enough.

While it seems an attainable goal (I have enough experience now to have a handle on what I'm getting myself into)...it is daunting in its way. I have to relearn how to use my multi-track recorder and hope that it keeps working. I probably will need to expand my understanding of said recorder too because I really ought to use some effects on some of these songs and I know nothing about that and it freaks me out. And I'd like to do a better job of editing tracks this time around. With the last record I basically recorded a live track, mistakes and all, and called it a day. Might be nice to do a better job this time. Also...I've got to learn lots of chords that I don't know how to play...including power chords. I've started that work, but it is hard for me. And there's playing lead electric guitar...which involves effects again and using a pick, which I suck at. The strings on a guitar are so small and close together. I'm not great at it yet. But if Kelley could learn to do it so can I. And, of course, there are the dreaded vocal harmonies...but I'm less worried about that than the guitar.

All in all I think it will be a nice little project. It is entirely possible that I could have it done around new years...but that would be pushing it pretty hard. I did the 2007 record in three months even without tab for the tunes...but I was unemployed and home all day every day. If it is done by summer 2012 I'll call it a success. Actually, even if I only get one song done I think I'll call it a success...but the plan will be to actually finish a full record within a year's time and not let it sit in the pile of unfinished projects like my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th novels.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blackie

I was in Seattle last weekend and caught Blackie...a politically incorrectly named Blondie tribute band.


(not from the show I saw, incidentally...and actually the lineup was totally different than in this video except the singer and drummer)

They were good. The drummer did some things differently than me, but mostly the same. In some cases I prefer the choices that I've made. The singer stumbled over (though totally covered) a couple of lyrics and that was fun to see.

I was reassured that we are doing all right...and that I am in particular perfectly within the realm.

Lately...Surprisingly Upbeat Edition

Normally when I make a "lately" post it is all gloom and doom about how much I suck.

Not this time.

I think that I am totally pleased with my drumming for Peroxide and my bass playing and singing for Labia in the Sunlight. With ten days left until the show...only nerves and sudden brain fart can stand in my way of a great performance (well...that and booze).

I'm not sure that it has ever been the case that I've felt so good about my abilities and proud of my progress. It's kind of bizarre.

Oh sure, I've taken some short cuts on some things...but I feel okay about that. And I'm not so much proud as aware that I SHOULD be proud. This Blondie/Flaming Lips thing kind of nearly did me in. It felt insurmountable. And now it is done. I learned the songs. They are reasonably right.

Soon enough there will be new challenges and a whole new round of self-doubt. But I should remember that things do get accomplished. And not let those accomplishments pass so quickly unacknowledged.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Next Thing (s)

So in 24 days the Halloween show will be done and that's the end of Peroxide, my Blondie tribute. In theory it is also the end of Labia in the Sunlight, my Flaming Lips tribute (though I suspect there will be more Labia shows to come). Hopefully Crackity Jones will continue to crank along...and The Drain and Seven Stone Weaklings. But I'll want a new challenge.

On Sunday I was asked to play in a Queen tribute (I think this was a joke) and a Heart tribute (I think this was semi-serious).

I'm just going to assume Queen was a joke.

But Heart. Well...Heart.

I'm not a Heart fan, but I know that they had some seriously hardcore drum stuff going on. It would be a challenge even more so than Clem Burke's Blondie. So who was Heart's drummer? I'm glad you asked:


Again, I don't know much about Heart, but the drumming was more than basic rock.

All that said...we didn't talk specifics...so I suppose that I could also do bass...or something else entirely. Or that it was all bullshit and wine and beer and good times and we will never speak of this again. We'll see.

In the meantime I should maybe look into the band a bit...

My Favorite Pixies Songs/Album

People who like the Pixies all have an opinion on which album was best. It usually revolves around which album they first heard.

I have a unique perspective on this topic because, prior to January of 2010 I never listened to the Pixies. I was vaguely aware that they existed and I think I knew that they did Here Comes Your Man and maybe I'd heard a few other songs like Ana and Dig for Fire and I don't know what else. My introduction to them was not a certain album, but their greatest hits record Wave of Mutiliation which was quickly followed by intense study (around March/April 2010) of the combo version of Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. It was a long while before I acquired and listened to Doolittle, Bossanova, and Trompe le Monde. I am aware of 89 songs that the Pixies put to tape and I now (October 2011) know how to play about 50 or so of these...maybe more like 55 though I only have 50 memorized.

So what are my favorites? It is a complicated question...because my history with these songs is of learning to play them...not of just listening for fun. So my feelings about each song have to do with how hard it was to learn, whether I feel like I've mastered it, whether I feel like the band plays it well, and whether I get nervous and worried about messing up when we play them live. So I have two lists...the ones I think I like to listen to and the ones I think I like to play.

To Listen To:
Debaser (Doolittle)
Dig for Fire (Bossanova)
Nimrod’s Son (Come On Pilgrim)
I’m Amazed (Surfer Rosa)
Something Against You (Surfer Rosa)
La La Love You (Doolittle)
There Goes My Gun (Doolittle)
Wave of Mutilation (Doolittle)
Allison (Bossanova)
Build High (B side)
Head On (Trompe)
Bam Thwok (Single)
Palace of the Brine(Trompe)
River Uphrates(Surfer Rosa)
Alec Eiffel(Trompe)
Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons (Trompe)
Letter to Memphis (Trompe)
Manta Ray (B side)
Weird at My School (B side)
Winterlong (Cover)
Ain't That Pretty At All (cover)

To Play:
Break My Body (Surfer Rosa)
Wave of Mutilation (Doolittle)
Letter to Memphis (Trompe)
Dead (Doolittle)
Build High (B side)
La La Love You (Doolittle)
Here Comes Your Man (Doolittle)

Which album is best? Gun to my head I would have said Surfer Rosa and then maybe Doolittle. I would have said my least favorites were Trompe and Bossanova. But looking at my favorite songs...
Come On=1
Surfer =3
Doolittle =4
Boss = 2
Trompe =5
B side/single/cover =6

So that's confusing data. I definitely feel like I am more familiar with Come On, Surfer, and Doolittle. But look at that 5 for Trompe. Huh.

All this said...a better question is probably which songs DON'T I like, because I like almost all of them. I can say that my least favorite is The Navajo Know. It just sucks. I'm also not a big fan of U-Mass (hated it from moment I heard it). There are a bunch of songs that are hard for me to play and so that colors my opinion...and a pile that I'm just not that familiar with, like much of Bossanova and some of the B-sides. And when I say "not that familiar with" I mean I've only heard them 100 times and not 10,000 times...and that I get them mixed up.

Pero, 10/1, LRC

Peroxide played Ladies Rock Camp as a warmup for the big Halloween gig.

I was hungover because I am an asshole. I also was more nervous than normal I think because I was worried that I'd seem like a fraud...a music instructor who might not measure up in chops. Anyway, I'd say I didn't nail everything, but the basic ideas where there and reasonably well pulled off. The rest of the band did pretty well. We had one hang up where we were all obviously lost and I had the presence of mind to yell "key change" to get us all back to the same place. It worked and we kept going. We're still figuring out endings and everyone watched me really well for where to stop. I definitely felt, more so than usual, that I was driving the bus.

We played for 30 minutes and got paid $75. We were perhaps too loud for the small room...though a recording of the session revealed this wasn't as bad as it seemed. I know that we were all turned down about as far as we could go.

Setlist (in alpha order Pixies-style only because we are lazy):
Call Me
Denis
Hanging on the Telephone
Heart of Glass
One Way or Another
Sunday Girl
Tide is High
X Offender

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ladies Must Rock

This weekend is Ladies Rock Camp. I'm teaching bass, coaching a band, and performing with our Blondie tribute on drums at a lunch break. As always, I worry that I am not qualified for any of this...that I will seem a fraud...but in the end each time I put myself out there I become a little more qualified, and I guess that's all that I can hope for.

To be fair, while there are better bass instructors and players out there...I am EMMENSELY qualified to coach hopeful beginning female rock stars on how to
1) pick up an instrument they've never played before and make sounds from it
2) ask someone (friends or strangers) to let them play in a band with them (even to ask boys if you are a girl...or seem like a girl)
3) shamelessly proceed to play in that band...for fun or profit (well, for gas money anyway).

Indeed this three part process may be one of the few things I've ever been good at doing in life.

DIY 12-String TLC

Some time ago, I'm going to guess it was in about 2005, a coworker alerted me to the fact that a friend of hers was moving away and looking to sell his bass guitar. At the time I'd been playing bass for a couple of years...first a borrowed one...and then a cheap white one (The story of my basses is here). I didn't think I needed another bass...but what the hell. So I went and talked to the chap. Turned out that he wanted to sell me a bass, a practice amp, and an acoustic 6 string guitar all for $75. And who could say no to that. I had a habit of collecting cheap instruments at that time and somehow this turned into me trading the 6 string for a 12 string.

And essentially that is the end of the story of the 12 string until summer of this year. It sat at my house unused.

It was determined that "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1" needed no bass...but rather a 12 string guitar on top of the pre-existing 6 string part. And so began the life of my 12 string.

I noticed a slight string buzz and friends drew my attention to the fact that the saddle is too low...so that some of the strings rub against the bridge and buzz. I was told this was an easy fix...just raise the saddle with a shim. I feared breaking it in the process though...so ordered a back up saddle. Research was useless regarding the saddle...there are dozens of saddles on the market and nothing to indicate which one I needed. I took a crap shoot and ordered an all around type from Musician's Friend. It arrived yesterday and seems to be close to right. A bit big but that is apparently better than too small and I can sand it to size. Still not sure if all saddles work on 6 or 12 strings...but no where on the web could I find a 12 string specific saddle.

It never occurred to me that I'd have to take off the strings for this operation...and never mind that I've never changed them before anyway. So a trip to Woodwind Brasswind in South Bend and subsequent realizations that 1) they were closing their retail store and 2) I have no idea what kind of strings I wanted (extra light, light, or medium). I got two sets of lights...thinking ahead to a future broken string. No discount despite WWBW being in liquidation mode.

Whilst waiting for the saddle to arrive it occured to me that the strap is always falling off the guitar. There's a pin holding it is (later identified as an END PIN). I kind of want a more permanent situation. And so today's research and total uncertainty whether or not it is appropriate or possible to make a more permanent solution. All of the strap pins on the market seem to be designed for solid body electrics. I guess folkies aren't supposed to stand up. Anyway...it's off to Guitar Center tonight to see if an in-person trip will yield better results.

Either tonight or later this weekend I will take the whole thing apart and probably totally fuck it up. If I remember, photos of the destruction to follow.

All of this, of course, could be done for more money and an uncertain time frame at a shop...but it seems well within my abilities. The best option would have been to undertake the entire enterprise on my own, but under qualified supervision and guidance, at the shop of a former-friend...but I seem to inexplicably be dead to her suddenly.

And here an unneccessary and ill-advised tangent on that. First dropped off the jam contact list (more than a jam list, really, I thought I was the drummer for one of her bands) with no explanation and later unceremoniously "un-friended" on Facebook...the modern equivalent to being given the finger. I've searched my brain and am fairly certain there is nothing in my actions or words to have precipitated such treatment. I tried to be fair and kind all the way along and there was no indication from the other side that I'd not been. I can only assume that a mutual "friend" has influenced things (either by direct request, or just an uncomfortable silence), which is too bad. I've been more than my share of an asshole over the years...and this suspected "friendly" influence certainly bore a brunt of that behavior. It is my lot in life to regret those mistakes and to be banished for them...and that I can live with...and I do live with that...every day. But it feels unfair that the punishment should expand to everyone that we mutually know. To people who I've never wronged. I suppose folks always pick sides in a divorce...but the picking usually happens much sooner. Mostly it feels disappointing and a betrayal that a fellow person living in the middle ground of weird would choose the popular girl over her brother. It's easy to love a winner and to want to be on their team. It's hard to stand in strange. Of all people on this earth I thought this one person was more willing to stand in strange than anyone else I'd ever met...but put to the test it just wasn't true. I'm sure she has her reasons and feels totally justified...but it's sad and makes me sad that this is the way of people. Loyalities are fleeting. You can't really trust anyone. And in the end we are all out for ourselves.

Side note...it is an acoustic and this gig is most certainly electric. I'm going to use a Dean Markely humbucker pickup I bought several years back when I thought I was going to have a solo career or become a singer-songwriter/band leader. But I suck at both song writing and band leading. The pickup just sticks in the sound hole with a cable running out. So it too sat unused until in March 2010 Crackity Jones put it into service on RS's acoustic. It was returned to me last night after he bought his own (aparently my solution was a good enough balance of cheap and good). It is slightly beaten to hell, but still fully functional. He offered to give me the new one instead, but I kind of like that the Pixies rang through this one and sweated all over it. I'm planning to just plug the guitar into my bass rig and hope for the best (I am well aware that the reverse is not a good idea...that is, plugging a bass into a guitar rig).

Monday, September 26, 2011

TD, 9/22, Great Dane

Basement gig at Great Dane Downtown opening for The Sesters. Despite last six weeks of minimal alcohol consumption, had one beer and one shot before show, one beer during, and two after. Though drugs are bad...I was fine. Life is confusing.

I played really well all except One is for Man...which is a song that just confuses me and we opened with it on a kit I was unfamiliar with. After that all was well. Sound was really good. The sparse audience, made up mostly of friends and band people...were excessively complimentary. Told us we're better than ever. I think they actually meant it and that it was actually true. To this I don't really know what to say.

The shared kit was vintage and quite nice. Good bass sound (no front head and a blanket in it...old pedal with felt beater)...great old Ludwig snare that was not part of kit and I guess borrowed...everything (pedal, throne, hardware) fit me just right. The setup was the same as my regular gig set up...with ride in front and only one rack tom. Only problem was that splash jumped off of stand with no top nut and a short screw...switched stands to one with longer screw and was fine. Note to self...in future could use gaffers tape to fix this problem in a pinch. What the experience taught me is that normal cymbals are heavy enough not to jump off of stands even without top nuts and when hit hard. I have this problem so often probably because the splashes are so light and thin. The hi hat stand was also walking away from me a bit too because it wasn't squarely on the rug...but I managed.

Setlist to come.

Monday, September 12, 2011

CJ, 9/9/2011, Mickey's

UPDATE: First 30 minutes of gig recorded by The Shabelles. It is not NEARLY as bad as I thought. It was actually Broken Face I goofed and not Isla (which is freaky) and by the third time through I'd remembered the riff. We actually sound pretty good. I think that we need to work on abrupt transitions though.

Here the recording be:

Sigh.

I was well prepared for this show and yet...really struggled. Literally forgot how Isla de Encanta went.

Regarding this...see the following clip from "Loud, Quiet, Loud." At 1:59, Kim Deal says "I'm horrified that I'm gonna spaz and forget like, like, Gouge Away. I'm gonna think it's in G...You think, there's a lot of people...it's sold out. You'd think that the bitch would have learned the song."

At least I am in good company (also, though I have no idea what key Gouge Away is in...I know that I play a G#, B, E, G#, E...though if I can forget Isla, some day I'll surely forget Gouge Away as well).

Couldn't hear my vocals for the entire first set. Felt like I was screaming and nothing was coming out. In particular this sucked for Into the White, which I was really disappointed in. Was very nervous and my legs were shaking the entire first set. I've been trying really hard not to drink, but just couldn't take it and had a beer during set break and another during second set. I know it isn't politically correct to say...but this helped emensely. RS turned up my vocals for second set, I turned the speaker towards me, and I settled down from the beer. Actually started to have fun. I know that alcohol is evil and that in an ideal world I would learn to deal with life without it...but there is no denying that it can on occasion help. That said, I couldn't sleep all night (from the beer) and felt like shit the next day. If it is a tool...it is a tool to be used sparingly. And a slippery slope for sure.

The Shabelles opened and kicked ass. Very tight and clean and sharp. It was hard to tell whether we had much of an audience for most of the show, but when we played "Hey" the entire place erupted in song and after that the place felt packed with huge numbers and energy. I probably had at least ten people come up to me and either request a song (yes honey, we'll play Gigantic...but only cause you asked), tell me how my voice sounded exactly like Kim Deal, how my bass playing was rock solid, or how, in general, we totally rocked. Given that I feel like the entire first set was pretty shakey...I take all of this with a grain of salt. That said, I really should give myself a break and enjoy the compliments. No one is paying these strangers to be nice to me.

Mickey's let us play until about 2:15am on the bar clock.

We took home $220 (which means we brought in $330 including The Shabelles share). The whole reason we played this gig was to raise money to pay for special effects for the Flaming Lips show. The goal was to bring in $200...so yay. I think this brings the bank up to about $600...which we will burn through quickly in a blaze of special effects glory.

Setlist

Set 1:
Crackity Jones
Isla
Broken Face
Sad Punk
#13
Cactus
I Bleed
Ed
La La Love
Caribou
Bone Machine
Break My Body
Dead
Monkey
Allison
Is She Weird
Into the White
Here Comes Your Man
Vamos

Set 2:
Debaser
Holiday
Mr Grieves
Something Against You
Trompe
I'm Amazed
Brick is Red
Alec Eiffel
Planet of Sound
Wave
River
Hey
Manta Ray
Gigantic
Gouge Away
Nimrod
Where Is My Mind?
Tame

Photographic evidence: I am reminded from the photos that it was, despite being September, quite hot. We were sweaty.

Paco is awesome.


I'm a head banger.




Seriously the man is gonna pop a vein someday.


We both yell a fair amount. Also...I am a lot closer to the front door than it seems here. I have to move the neck of my bass every time someone comes in the front door.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Even More Lately

When I started this blog it was mostly supposed to be about resources...things that others might actually find useful. But it is turning into navel gazing. But so it is.

I was despairing for a long time about vocals for Flaming Lips and a couple of the harder drum parts for Blondie. In the recent weeks I've just decided to give up. Take short cuts. Do whatever I can just to get through it and try to make it fun again.

Despite feeling like I've let myself down, particularly on the Blondie stuff, the strategy seems to be working. I'm getting through the tunes and starting to have a bit of fun again.

7 weeks to go

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lately

I am feeling better about my contribution to FLIPS. I was pretty down on the whole thing, particularly my vocals, but it seems to be getting slowly better...though I'm not putting in nearly the effort that I ought to be with practicing. It just isn't as much fun as the Pixies.

Blondie has caused physical problems with my right hand because I'm trying to push to hard and fast too soon. My technique is for crap. I basically haven't been practicing at all while I try to calm down both my carpal tunnel/tendonitis and also my depression at realizing that I am going to have to take a few of the songs down a notch. I'm hurting myself and not having any fun...so what the fuck. Make them easier to play by a hair. It makes me sad, cause this whole project was about me learning to play these songs right and do things that I couldn't do before. But it just isn't worth all the injury and self-hatred and frustration. I give up. I'm doing it the easy way.

TD has also been on my poop list. It isn't that much fun anymore either. It is a strained scene on many levels...which I knew going in...but now that I know the songs as well as I'm gonna know them it feels a little boring. So I don't practice and then the songs go to hell and then they aren't fun to play cause I suck at them.

SSW isn't playing out at all and hardly practicing and I'm actually relieved for both. Another case of knowing the tunes...getting bored...not practicing...starting to suck at the tunes...and growing to hate it.

So...

In summary...most of the stuff that I am doing isn't fun anymore.

And maybe that's why I haven't been around the blog much lately. Of course, I'm also trying to quit drinking and that makes everything feel different too.

But you know what is still fun? Pixies. Just really the best thing ever. We haven't been playing much because of all the other stuff going on...but I really hope that we get back to it after Halloween. I feel like I do a good job and that the band sounds good and that people enjoy it and that even if I know the songs that I still like playing them. It feels easy and fun but still like I'm accomplishing something.

For no good reason at all...right in the middle of playing in 5 bands...I've started trying to learn to play Breeders tunes with an eye towards making an all-me ep like I used to make in the old days. Even dusted off the multitracker and got it working. Just a pointless exercise with so much else to do. But it is fun. And I miss that.

Not sure what post-Halloween holds...feels like a turning point though. I need to power through and not make any rash decisions in the interium. There's a lot of change happening in my brain of late and probably best to just hold the line and try to be gentle with myself.

TD, 8/26, The Wisco

Total blog fail. Kind of forgot this place existed.

We played a big 16 song set at Wisco Aug 26th headlining with The Sesters opening. I was in a foul mood. I've been off the juice for a while but decided to have a few drinks that day. By the time the show came around I was sober again, though, and feeling pissed at myself. Plus I just don't seem to know how to interact with other human beings in forced social situations...like waiting around for a gig to start...or loading out with drunk fucks talking incoherently at me. While The Sesters played I ate a nearly raw burger that would have been good (nice bun, etc) if it had not been so bloody and creepy. Steak can be rare...ground meats should be cooked...especially when they've been sitting in a bar cooler all day.

I haven't been practicing Drain tunes at all. My left foot is having trouble (shoe inserts on order) and my right hand is having carpal tunnel/tendonitis issues from the forced fast and bad techinique of 11:59 and Detroit 442. Still, my playing on the 26th was pretty spot on. I didn't really care much about the gig and didn't expect anyone in the crowd that I knew...so there were no nerves and sobriety is the friend of drumming if you can stay out of your head. And I did ok.

All that said...16 songs is too many to play in a row. I felt fine physically, but Twan had to pee by the end and the audience checked out after the long and proggy Movin' On about half way through the set. Lesson...you can play 2 minute long Pixies tunes all night with no break if you want...but if you are playing originals and any song is over 4 minutes (or 8 for god's sake) you better give the people a chance to go outside and smoke a cigarette and stretch their legs...or else they just aren't coming back. And so it was.

As always the stage sound was bad at Wisco. I couldn't hear much of anything so I just played on and hoped everybody fell in behind me. But like I said...I seemed to play well and felt fine about my contribution.

We rehash the whole evening on Sept 22nd at The Great Dane...same lineup and probably most of the same songs cause rehearsals will be sparse in interium.

Setlist:
Bodie R Burnin
Sent It
Better N Better
1 is for Man
Future Song
Easy Life
It's Alright
HSUL
Gun in Your Grave
Movin On
At the Door
Gotta Tell U
Jack
Kiss U Kill U
Whole Damn World
Vacuum Man

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

11:59

This guy skips all the hard stuff

Left Foot

So the last couple of days I've been trying to do research on the best technique for left foot work. Sadly, the answer (like with so much of drumming) seems to be "do whatever works for you." This is not helpful advice when you don't know what works yet.

I've got a packet of problems which mostly add up to
1. No endurance in my left foot
2. Independence problems
3. Injured left foot

For some reason, increasing speed with the left foot also just seems harder than with the right...I think because you don't get the rebound.

Anyway, I'm really frustrated. I keep thinking I'm going to find some key to make it easier...but I suppose it just comes down to repetition.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lately and Detroit 442 update

My posts are becoming more navel-gazey and less informative. So here's the update on Detroit 442:

Sunday I sat down and played the damn thing front to back all the way through the first time without a hitch. I've altered the extended chorus section, but it has the feel of the original and I'm still hauling ass there and not really giving up on the hard stuff. I kinda think the original version has too many fills there anyway.

I think I've mentioned before that I have about one great playing day, one lousy playing day, and five middle of the road playing days a week. Sunday was the great day. Couldn't do a single thing wrong. I worry that Tuesday's rehearsal...where I must display all of this talent...will be when my body and brain decide to stop talking to one another. But oh well...

11:59 is still a bear and I've kind of given up on the left foot stuff for the moment. I think I'll get all of the rest of it just fine soon. Honestly I'm sure that no one would be any the wiser if I left out the open hi hat stuff at the gig...but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of trying to learn this Clem Burke stuff. I haven't decided what I'll do yet. I've got almost 12 weeks to work it out or give up. It is such a depressing thing that it is hard to focus on for too long without getting totally discouraged...so I'm trying to not worry about it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh Yes

This only marginally fits on this blog...but it's going here anyway.

I said I keep you around to keep me honest
Around to keep me clean
Shining fluorence

You said as long as you feel ok
As long as you're getting out of bed each day
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best
Oh

I said you hold this isthmus in your hands
It's the only place I can land
I am a prop airplane

You said as long as you're showing up on time
As long as they believe that you're really smiling
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best
What if I could do better?
Oh

...

I said it must be my foreign blood
I'm mean I'm Dutch
I think that they are known for bad behavior
I just get so low

You said as long as your eyes are wide
As long as your throat is open
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best
Well I'm gonna die trying

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lately and Detroit 442 and 11:59 Update

So a couple of weeks ago I was hoping for some major breakthroughs. It didn't happen quite as I'd hoped. And since then I've been busy and a little discouraged and haven't been working on it much. Yesterday I sat down and, much to my surprise, I can now play Detroit 442. I'm cheating just a hair on the floor tom to snare fills...but for the most part the song is in serviceable shape start to finish and will only improve with practice now. It feels a little like magic, though I know that the work I put in a few weeks ago has probably been cooking in the back of my brain ever since...so it isn't really magic at all. The song actually feels a little slow to me now, and I have to work really hard not to rush. Considering I thought it was too fast for me to play just a month or so ago, this is very strange indeed. Riding the floor tom is still stupid fast...but the rest doesn't feel so fast anymore.

Of course, in that way that I never give myself any credit, I've moved on to feeling stupid and lame about other things I can't do now. I'm still really struggling with the hi hat opens on 11:59 (though the independence between bass and hi hat hand is getting better)...and after seeing a friend play last weekend with ease and grace and finesse...I feel like I'll never be that good. Playing hard things and making them look easy to the point where the untrained eye would think you aren't doing much at all...that's impressive.

I was having a pity party late Saturday night about all the lost time in my past. For 7 years I sat alone in my room during middle school and high school for hours every night. I knew that I wanted to be a musician, but I did so little to push that forward. Sure, I taught myself guitar during that period, but I really didn't move very far forward with it (note to parents...the primary reasons I don't think I moved far forward were...#1 my parents did not see my true passion and therefore did not foster it with music lessons on guitar #2 my parents bought me a shitty guitar. I still have it and love it...but it is not physically possible to play barre chords on that, and so I never went beyond open chords in first position). I'm not blaming my parents because they gave me everything they could and did their very best. I was lucky and treated well. No I mostly blame myself and really have no idea why I didn't work harder. Beyond that, I'm sad that I didn't figure out that I wanted to play drums until I was an adult. You really can't beat the discipline of playing drums in a high school marching band or kit in a high school jazz band. The fundamentals are just mind blowing and I never had that.

Of course...there are flip sides to all of this. I can't deny that playing the cello gave me the basis for teaching myself both guitar and bass. Sometimes I still think in terms of the cello. Someone who is trying to learn the bass recently mentioned to me that the hardest thing for her is remembering the names of the notes and where they are. I beat myself up alot for not having a total mastery of the fretboard...but at a very basic level I know the notes. And I can't say when or how I learned that...it just came from playing the cello. I wouldn't know how to tell someone to learn that except...play the cello for 20 years...which is not helpful advice. It is not unlike "if you'd played drums in your high school band you'd be able to do that."

So I am where I am. I have to start where I am and move forward. The alternative is not moving forward...and then I will be even more sad 30 years from now. And I have to cut myself a break and acknowelege that I do make improvements and that I am light-years away from where I was in December 2005 when I bought that drum kit on a whim. I am even light-years away from where I was when I started learning Detroit 442 a month or so ago. Progress happens whether I see it or not and whether I give myself credit or not.

"What if this is not my best? Well I'm gonna die trying."