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
Call Me
Rip Her to Shreds
Sunday Girl
X Offender
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
Pompeii and G
She Don't Use Jelly
Turn It On

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


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 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. 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):
Fortunately Gone
I Just Wanna Get Along
Divine Hammer
Drivin' on 9
Son of Three
Full on Idle
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 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) 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


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 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
Hanging on the Telephone
Heart of Glass
One Way or Another
Sunday Girl
Tide is High
X Offender