Friday, December 27, 2013

How to Play Bass Dot Com

I have this habit of getting an itch to play a song that I've learned in the past or gotten notes for in the past. I go look for it in my pile of music stuff and it is never anywhere to be found. This happened last night. I remembered that my bass teacher last year gave me the tab for "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac and I went looking for it. Vanished.

The good news is it made me look online today for Fleetwood Mac stuff (there is kind of surprisingly little, but I guess that's an indication of the lack of tech savvy-ness of people of a certain age)...which led me to How to Play Bass Dot Com. I've stumbled across this guy before, but I was reminded today of how great his video lessons are. Then I wondered how one got pdfs of the tab. Subscribe of course. What's nice though is that he gives a fair amount away for free. He has a paid subscription too, and it might even be worth it, but frankly it is more information than I have time to absorb currently. Anyway, I'll be getting his monthly video/tab package for free now and we'll see how it goes.

His philosophy is that you learn by playing songs, which has kind of been how it has gone for me. I just can't focus on scales. He has two books that interest me..."Deliberate Practice" (which seems to be temporarily out of print) and "How to Practice in Your Dead Time" (about Visualization, Ear Training, Rhythmic Perception, Finger Exercises, Sight Reading, Bass Line Analysis, and Expanding Your Bass Guitar Map).

I've long noted that there is a difference between playing and practicing. I'd be interested how someone how focuses on playing tunes applies a deliberate practice mentality. For me it is about slowing things down and going over rough spots again and again until you get them. Sometimes you have to take a break and come back to it if you aren't cracking it. And then working transitions into and out of those tough spots is key too.

I've been avoiding doing that tough practice work for a while now, but recently started trying to do it again. I try to give myself a mix of "deliberate" practice and playing for fun. Part of my deliberate practice lately has become memorizing tunes that I thought were too complex to memorize. For the most part I'm finding that this just isn't true. If you spend enough time with something almost anything can be memorized. I also keep thinking that there must be a limit to how many songs you can keep memorized in your head at one time, but that doesn't seem to be true. If anything, the more that you memorize, the better that you get at it and the more capacity that you have to take in more. It is a strange thing.

Memorizing the tune also seems to help in playing it better, because now you only have to focus on looking at your hand...you don't have to look at the music. So shifts gets better and proper finger placement to avoid buzz, and good right hand technique all develop. It is a win-win.

Of course, memorizing things for performance is also terrifying, because without fail I WILL have a brain fart at a show no matter how well I know a song. It happens. Though I'm at least get better at recovering from these things.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Song of the Year 2014

Like last year, I'm doing this early.

Song of the Year for 2014 will be "Somewhere in the Between" by Streetlight Manifesto.

I didn't give it much thought this year. I like the song. It works. And I like taking things in the ska direction.

Here's a video of the tune:


Here's a video of the lyrics with the tune (there is annoying background noise).


And just the lyrics:
"You were gone when we found you 
You were practically surrounded, you were trapped
But the opposition stalled, their blood ran cold
When they saw the look of love in your eyes
Maybe the times we had, they weren't that bad
And everything else was part of the plan
We sang: "I don't know where we go from here"
This is the alpha, omega, beginning and the end
And we all just idolize the dead
So you were born (So you were born), and that was a good day
Someday you'll die (Someday you'll die), and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away
You had a love and that love had you
And nothing mattered, you were fine
If some will complain, they're just bitter, what a shame
They know that loving and losing is better than nothing at all
Maybe the times we had, they weren't that bad
And everything else was part of our path
We sang: "I don't know where we go from here"
This is the anthem, the slogan, the summary of events
And we all just idealize the past
So you were born (So you were born), and that was a good day
Someday you'll die (Someday you'll die), and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away
(Instrumental Solos)
Yeah, the times we had, they were not that bad
And everything else, it was part of the plan
And we sang, "I don't know where we go from here"
This is the Alpha (Alpha!), Omega (Omega!), beginning and the end!
And we all just idolize the dead
So you were born (So you were born), and that was a good day
Someday you'll die (Someday you'll die), and that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away
And someday soon my friends, this ride will come to an end
But we can't just get in line again."

Here's the usual background:
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
2013 The Breeders Huffer
2014 Streetlight Manifesto Somewhere in the Between

Tone

I notoriously am not very concerned with tone...or maybe more to the point...I've never felt like I could hear the differences that other people have in tone. But it is becoming an issue in my bass playing.

I know that what I like is a deep, boomy, smooth sound. I know that what I don't like is a trebly, "tink-tink" kind of sound. But the problem with a deep, boomy, smooth sound is that it can get "muddy"...where all the notes kind of melt together and lose their separation. This isn't such a big deal when you are hanging on a root note 8th pattern (90% of Pixies bass lines) or playing slowly or playing whole notes. But it is a problem for fast moving bass lines like those that I play in ska.

My remedy for the problem has just been to turn down my bass tone and turn up my treble tone on my amp and the turn the tone knob to more "tinky" on my bass. But I kind of hate the tone and it still bleeds together a lot. Playing with a pick increases the separation, but it is really hard for me to play fast with a pick...especially if I'm doing a lot of string crossings or playing on the high strings a lot. I got unsolicited advice once that suggested that I not pluck so high up on the neck. I rest my thumb on the corner of the fingerboard and play right there when I play with my fingers. I've tried moving back to the bridge or to the pickups...but it feels really weird. And I don't think it really helps or sounds any better.

Anyway, I was listening to Fleetwood Mac this morning and realizing that John McVie's tone is exactly what I'm shooting for. It is smooth and low and booming...but there is a definition to the notes....the notes don't bleed together and get muddy. And he's playing a lot of notes.  So, aside from him being a great player, I could look into what kind of equipment he used. Just a thought.

Friday, December 20, 2013

All Gigs 2013

I thought FOR SURE I had done this summary every year, but I can't find it anywhere for previous years.

Assuming I've kept good records, I played 32 gigs in 2013.

-7 for TD
-11 for SVFD
-5 for SSW
-7 for CJ (one as INXS)
-2 for FW
(note CJ/SSW shared one of those bills)

Details below! Click to enlarge.

UPDATE: Found the other lists. They are tagged as "summary" in the blog but all posts are incomplete I think. Allow me to report again below (pre 2009 gigs not included). I have to say, I'm surprised at how sparse 2012 was...

2009: 6 gigs

2010: 22 gigs

2011: 37 gigs

2012: 13 gigs


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Perception of the Copycat

In late summer of 2010 I took over drumming duties in TD from a friend of mine. He'd had enough of band drama and I think he wanted to take his life in another direction. I offered to take over on a whim. It was one of those odd moments in life when I didn't even question if I could do it or if I SHOULD do it...I just did it. I think just to keep the band from imploding, they gave me an "audition" and I got the job. This is strange because it happens every so often...I just decide to join a band on a whim and have no worries about it. Conversely, there are just as many or more groups where I fret and sell myself short...I say things like "I'm probably not good enough but if you wanna take a chance." Shockingly, I don't get call backs on those gigs.

Anyway, when I took the job my only intention was to copy the drum parts as closely as I could to the originals. This was a little tough, because I was stepping into the shoes of a self-taught, unconventional drummer. I'm mostly self-taught too...but I kind of operate in a very standard framework. Not so for my predecessor. But I tried my best to copy him. And I thought I did a decent job.

But all along the band has said things like "I really like what you've done with the drum part" or "this song has a whole new feel with you playing drums." This frustrated me because my goal was to just copy the old way. This meant I was either failing in that...or that someone was blowing smoke up my ass (my default assumption about all compliments...I HAVE ISSUES).

This morning I listened to the first album by the group because we are adding back in two old songs from that disc that I haven't done much with them. I was surprised to find that, yes, I DO play most of the songs significantly differently from the old drummer. I had no idea. There are parts that I would have sworn that I stole from him that just don't exist. And he plays stuff I've never played. Me skipping things he did doesn't surprise me, because it was hard unconventional stuff that I just couldn't pull off at the time. But the adding of things that weren't there to begin with surprises me. I know that I didn't do it on purpose. There was no grand creative vision. It just happened because it felt natural to do...and so I guess I assumed that it was already there.  Not to blow my own horn, but the upshot I think IS actually better than the original. I've left out busy sections that distracted from the vocal or other parts and I've added things that add interest (particularly on the bass drum). The bass drum is interesting, because the first album had no bass guitar. But when I came into the group, we had a pretty dominant bass player. My right foot naturally just did what the bass player was doing without me realizing it.

I don't know what to make of all of this except:
1) Apparently I have my own style even though I didn't think I did
2) Without trying, I seem to make "musical" choices that support the group. Whether this is because I can't play complicated things or if it is an instinct built on years of playing music I don't know
3) Now I'm super worried that all those Pixies bass lines that I thought I was playing note-for-note from the original could be TOTALLY WRONG. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

TD 11/22/2013 Mr Roberts

With Stereo Effects. Another tale of two gigs. Previous Thursday's gig was a disaster...this one nearly perfect. There's no explaining it.

Setlist:
Some Delirium
At the Door
Easy Life
Goin Down the Drain
1 is 4 man
Jake
It's alright
Movin' On
HSUL
Sent It
Bodies R Burnin
Better N Better
Gotta Tell U
Gun in your Grave
Hold You Under
Kiss U Kill U
Vacuum Man

Friday, November 15, 2013

TD, Mr Roberts, 11/14/2013

We played with Tween Wolf and The Type. I used TS's kit from The Type and it was great. Pedal (a DW5000) was set exactly the way I like and the heights on all of the cymbal stands were good and in the right place. I only used my own throne, cymbals, and snare. His kit was tuned higher than mine, which was a little weird sounding for the tom heavy tunes, but it was okay. He showed up super early to set it up too. One of the best kit sharing experiences that I've had.

Despite the kit being great...the evening was...well...

Sometimes shows are just weird.  The whole thing feels like a blur now. I wasn't getting any lead vocal in my monitor. What's weird is...we've played shows with WAY worse sound. I thought I could push past it...sing along in my head...but no, I kept messing up the transitions.  A contributing factor could have been that I also couldn't really hear the bass, which I probably key off of a bunch too. Later on someone told me that it wasn't me messing up the transitions, it was the lead singer. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense. If he wasn't getting the transitions right and I couldn't hear him...than I couldn't adjust to his mistakes. Still, I guess it felt shocking to realize that without the lead vocal...I get a little lost in the song and can't tell where I am. Again...duh...if you go "boom-chick" 5,000 times in a row you are going to get lost without sign posts.  Anyway, I feel like I played well technically...but was unhappy with the performance because I was getting lost so much. I'm sure that, aside from us all grumbling about it audibly, the audience was none the wiser that there were problems happening. That's the way audiences are generally.

There was other stuff too. Interpersonal stuff related to the above. Lots of stuff. But happily no one seemed to find me at general fault...but more a victim of technical and ...stuff. There are just behavior patterns and ways of relating at play that get tiresome over the long haul. And even when things seem to be getting a little better as time passes...people really never change at a fundamental level, or if they do they change painfully slowly and sometimes, often, revert to past behavior. Bands = drama. It has always been so and I suppose it always will be so. 'Nuff said.

We have another show in a week...a 90 minute set...which is probably the longest show we've ever played. I have a feeling last night will be talked to death during load in. Hopefully it'll mean things go better...but it could very well mean things will go worse. Who knows?  I know that I will make damn sure that I can hear the vocals and the bass.

We brought down $50 per band.

Setlist:
HSUL
Better
At Door
Easy
Some D
Bodies
Jack
Hold U Under
Gun
Gotta Tell U

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Toasters

Just got an offer to open for The Toasters. First Mustard Plug, now this. Craziness.

It's a good niche!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Behringer Ultrabass

For the Halloween show we used MR's boyfriend's Behringer Ultrabass amp.  It was a two piece. The cabinet was heavy as hell. I'm not sure of the wattage.

The head looked just like this (ULTRABASS BX4500H...450 Watt) though:
On Musician's Friend the head runs $250, which surprises me as cheaper than I'd of expected. I'm going to guess that the cab was a UltrabassBB410, which seems to be discontinued (I wonder if the head is on the way out too and hence why it is so cheap).

It was a nice rig other than the cabinet being a monster (listed as 100 lbs in specs)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

CJ as The Devil's Insides at Dane101 Freakin' Halloweekend at HNS

Every year CJ says "never again" about Halloween, and every year we do it anyway. This year we had trouble assembling players (I think we asked at least 5 keyboard players)...but eventually ended up with 9 people...2 trumpets, trombone, sax, keys, guitar, bass, vocal, drums. We NEVER had all 9 people in one room together until the night of the show.

But things went really, really great.

I'm beginning to feel like CJ is really coming into our own. I used to feel like the bands that I played in were sort of "B team" bands in the local scene. Somewhere in the last few years I think we've surpassed that though. I don't mean that we are any more popular or that we get any bigger crowds or more media coverage. I mean that we have become professionals. We treat the thing seriously...and we are good. We forget this too often. We undersell ourselves. But really we're pretty great.










Setlist:
Kick
New Sensation
Listen Like Thieves
The One Thing
Never Tear Us Apart
One X One
Need You Tonight
Don't Change
What You Need
Devil Inside

Friday, October 25, 2013

SVFD 10/24/2013 Lakeland College

We played for a music appreciation class. We did a little rap about ska history, which most of us didn't know anything about prior to last night. Did not realize until 30 minutes before performance that there was no PA. I ran home and got mine, which sucked a little (only a little) cause we only played a couple of songs.  Someone at the gig said they wanted us to play at a campground for 1,000 people. This seems unlikely to pan out.

I couldn't hear myself, so made weird mistakes associated with that. Also, I have not practiced in weeks or months or I don't know how long. Probably should get back to it...after Halloween.

Setlist:
Freedom
Rudy
I Will Survive
Hope I Never Lose My Wallet
Red Rubber Ball


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Followup, TD on Wisconscene

A while ago I posted about this gig. I never followed up with the goods tho.


Our segments in the above show are at 5:52 (Better N Better; Gun in Your Grave) and at 25:26 (Gotta Tell U)


This one is all us. It features Haven't Seen U Lately and an interview about crazy gig stories. It is kind of epic.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting Off Book

So I've got this Halloween tribute gig on Saturday. It is the 4th year that we've done a Halloween show and the 3rd year that we've learned a whole new set for it.  The last two years I had a really hard time memorizing my parts. When we did Flaming Lips the parts were just harder than I was used to...but last year was Love and Rockets and the parts were dirt easy. I just found them hard to commit to memory. This year it is INXS and, again, the parts are dirt easy. But I've been traveling a lot lately and also now play in 5 bands and I was beginning to wonder if I'd be able to get off book at all for this.  I tried to not use my notes at Saturday's rehearsal and failed.  On Sunday, I did not open the book at all for my private practice session. I thought "let's just see how bad it is". To my surprise, I had 99% committed to memory. The other bit was just a matter of a quick look up and reinforcement a few times. Monday night I played the whole set perfectly.  On Wednesday I'll be ready to play dress rehearsal off book...and I'm actually not nervous about the gig and don't think I'll need to make any notes for myself at all, which is rare.  I plan to try to play the entire set every night this week to keep it fresh.

How did it happen that I memorized it all? I really can't say.  I have not been putting in the time until last week and this. But somehow, when I buckled down, it came.

I'm always afraid that my capacity to memorize tunes will vanish. It was a surprise to me that I was even capable of memorizing.  That first Pixies gig was probably the first rock show I ever played off book on bass. Muscle memory is like a miracle.

I haven't made a very strong effort to get off book for ska. I admit this is in part because my bandmates haven't bothered to get off book, so I've been indignant about putting in the time. But I probably ought to give it a shot. It IS nice to put away the music stand...both cause it is a pain to haul around but also because it feels like a bigger accomplishment.

Monday, October 21, 2013

SVFD at Adult Swim 10/18/2013

Played two sets (of exactly 45 minutes each!) at Children's Museum Adult Swim night. In full costume:

Show went darn well and we even managed an impromptu marriage proposal sort of thing for a fan.

set one:
rascal king
came out
freedom
sergio
spiderwebs
somewhere
dandelions
i don't love u
about a girl
i will survive

set two:
mr smily
rudy ("A Message to You Halle...vamped for proposal)
superman
wallet
thigh high
grazing
metro
point counter
lost again
red rubber


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

That Disgusting Thing at Her Feet

So I've not really talked about the whole "new Kim" thing here. And I'm not gonna get into it now.

But a while ago the "new Kim" posted this photo online:

Which is this horrible thing:

And looks like this on stage:

Anyway, it implies that future live Pixies shows will feature bass effects either on old or new songs or both. I like to think that I'm open-minded, but in some things I guess I'm a purist, and one of the things that I like best about the Pixies is the simple, un-affected bass lines.

Plus, this fucker costs TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS.

The boys can go any direction they want and go with god. But I don't think I'm ever going to want to play this thing and I hope no one asks me to.

Wrapping Cables

This weekend a boss-sort-type-of-person-of-mine-but-not-really said "If you don't know how to properly wrap a cable, ask D or another staffer" Me being D. The funny thing is, I know there is a proper way to wrap a cable...but I've never done it before in my life. And I'm 99.9% certain that none of the other staffers had any idea the proper way to wrap a cable. I watched a video about it once and got thoroughly confused and gave up. Since then I've done the..."I'll be careful and neat but I know this is still wrong" route.  Being called out as the expert...I did some research today and came up with a simple, short video that gets it right. I tried it and it isn't as hard as I'd thought. But it IS totally different than I've done it in the past and I've never seen another staffer do it correctly.



 It's nice that my boss has faith in us...but probably better if she verified that we know what we're doing before asking us to teach others.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Princeton Chorus Amp & the Red Bass through Tubes

I manage gear for a girls music camp. Most of what gets donated to us is entry level gear or very old semi-functional gear of no real value.  We do have one decent drum kit and a collection of very nice mics.  This year someone gave us a Princeton Chorus amp...which I was pretty excited about...but then it turned out to have an intermittent problem. A pro guitar player amongst us suggested that the inputs on those amps go bad, so we sent it for repair. It came back and now seems to be working, though I find it a little buzzy. Last night I played through it for a while cause it is sitting at my house waiting to return to storage.


It certainly is better than most amps we own, but I gotta say that I still prefer the teeny-tiny little Vox amp. That thing kicks ass.

The red bass, I think I said earlier this week, sounded better through a tube amp. Someone also told me that the Squires are notorious for shitty wiring and that I could easily upgrade the whole thing. I'm not sure it is worth it. The whole raison-d'etre for having the red bass is Pixies aesthetics. That, of course, becomes sort of ridiculous what with the makeup of the band changing. And who knows how many more years we'll even keep the schitck up? I'm reminded that '62 reissue replacement pickups are $70-90 if I ever want to try and upgrade.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SVFD, Reedsburg, 10/5/13

We played 3 sets at the Touchdown Tavern in Reedsburg. We made $200 plus food/drinks. I didn't have anything to drink. It was a typical small town bar with the kind of crowd you'd expect, but they were nice to us. I think we were kind of a weird match for the venue. There was an incident with the bar owner borrowing M's guitar and breaking a string and us not having a replacement, but our sound guy came to the rescue. We stretched all the songs with solos twice as long as normal which worked pretty well even though unrehearsed. Half way through 3rd set we were ready to quit early and head home but two guys from Chicago ran into the bar and skanked their butts off, so instead we replayed all the fast songs we'd already played and it really seemed to raise everyone's spirits.

It was nice to get out of town.

We played everything we know and a few things we didn't. Some things twice.

CJ Dragonfly 10/11

We played after a poetry reading and a Pavement tribute act.  It was dark on stage.We were under-rehearsed and made lots of mistakes but several in the crowd said we were "tight". I started Tame in E instead of D...I think because of the light I just went to the wrong fret...didn't get it resolved until just after "cookie I think you're tame." I don't know why it took me so long to correct because I knew what I'd done right away but I somehow got out of synch with the chord progression trying to switch to correct key. Ironically 2 people later told me we "nailed" Tame and that it was amazing. It is so hard for me to believe anything an audience member ever says. I know they probably really believe whatever it is that they say...but even when I'm not being unreasonable hard on myself I rarely agree with their assessments. I have, at least, learned to just say "thank you" and not argue with them or make excuses.

RS went straight into Something About You after Broken Face without calling it and it took me a second to remember what song that is, but I figured it out in time. We should go back to testing ourselves like that.

Drinks were had but were not a factor in my performance. I'd been sober a week prior to show. I regret breaking the streak. I think we took home $35. I borrowed Pavement guy's rig, which was a tube amp head played through an Ampeg 4 x 10 I think. The red bass sounded better played through that than it normally does, maybe that's the key.

Setlist:
Wave UK
Nimrod
Here Comes
Bone
River
Space
Subbacultcha
Debaser
Holiday Song
Isla
Crackity
Dead
Monkey
Dig
Motorway
Bird Dream
Hey
Gigantic
Gouge
Tame
Vamos
Where is My Mind

encore by request:
Broken Face

2nd encore cause RS felt bad he messed up lyrics to Broken Face:
Something Against You

Monday, September 9, 2013

SVFD, 9/7/2013 private party

We played for B's wedding reception party thing.  We played almost everything we know (no setlist provided here cause we just called songs).  About 5 or 6 tunes into the set, the cops showed up. We were playing amplified outdoors in the middle of a residential neighborhood starting at 9pm...so really it was warranted.  They waited for us to finish Je's ska arrangement of "I Will Survive" and then asked us to go acoustic or go inside. So inside we went.  We regrouped and played until 11pm. I was shocked that the small crowd stuck around, stood in the house with us, and danced their asses off.

Only blip of the night for me was that I thought we were playing "Spiderwebs" for the encore, but the bride apparently yelled "Came Out of a Lady" right before we started to play and the front line called an audible without consultation. Unfortunately I am a lynch pin in the start of the song and wasn't ready. I should have just gone with it, but instead tried to get my bandmates to start over, which of course they didn't because they are professionals and know how to roll with the punches. I regret not being able to go with the flow and not have a reaction disproportionate to the confusion in the moment. But I can't really control a reflex so I should get over it. Still, it bothers me that I couldn't just jump into it without hesitation, and further, that I made a big deal out of it. Alas.

The calling of the cops was fun though, and we all clucked about it on the internet for hours after the show was over.

Friday, September 6, 2013

SSW, Mr Roberts, 9/5/2013

w/ Meat Faucet and Dirty Nigel & the Strap Ons.

We played so freaking late. Lots of beer was drunken unfortunately. There was no rehearsal. I have the muscle memory still, even after a year of nearly no rehearsals...but my endurance is completely gone. The performance was completely adequate, though each time we play without rehearsals things get marginally worse. A small but supportive crowd. We took home $60, which seems like way more than we were likely owed, but I think the bartender likes us. Had new heads on the kit...but I played with ear plugs in so I really have no idea how they sounded.

Setlist
Part Time Punks
Bosocobel Breakout
Mr Suit
Teenaged Kicks
We Are the One
Political Song for MJ
New Rose
Helicopter (nearly forgot how to play this AGAIN)
Dance 4x
One Track Mind
Too Drunk to Fuck
I Am a Cliche
Suspect Device
You Drive Me Ape
Warsaw
I've Been So Mad Lately
Fucked Up and Wasted

Thursday, August 29, 2013

CJ, HNS, 8/28/2013

41 paid in attendance for a stunning $144!  But it felt pretty empty.

We played 2 sets and got through them all but dropped #13 for no good reason just the same.

I had given CT some free strings that were donated to GRC and I guess free strings aren't worth having. Apparently age is not good for a string. I'm guessing these were years old before we ever saw them and have sat in storage with us for over a year. So yeah...he broke 2. Whoops.  As a result played most of first set on the backup strat.  Changed whole guitar at set break with less shitty strings. That's what I get for stealing things from little children.

Due to the whole string situation we moved Vamos from the last song of the first set to near the middle of the second...and he killed it even though RS started the song really fast and I thought EH might have his arms fall off. It's a simple drum beat, sure, but people don't realize how hard it is to keep up for 4+ minutes.

Mostly we played well. RS jumped one measure in "Space" after the Perry Mason thing, but we'd already prepared to just go when he said "he so" ...and so all was well. He also skipped a progression ahead in "Manta Ray" and got to the bridge too early...which resulted in the rest of us playing a kind of comical sliding scale into the chorus. I thought it was kind of funny.  I flubbed a note here or there but generally played well. My mic had this dent that you had to sing into or it didn't work right but I figured it out quickly enough. The whole "pick-no-pick" and associated tone/volume adjustments with the new bass worked out pretty well. My amp, which worked fine with a direct line out on Tuesday, didn't work that way on Wednesday and he had to run it through a DI box. It was rattling by the end of the show too in the way that it does (it really doesn't like the frequencies in "Monkey" on that front). The lights were effing with me for a while so that I couldn't see my fret dots, but I moved and it was resolved.  My vocal monitor was perfect and so my vocals were better than average. I even sang "Nimrod" right.

At least four or five people we didn't know came up at end of the show gushing and loosing their shit over how awesome we were. It still surprises me.

I had not a drop of alcohol and was so very glad for that.

Set 1
Debaser
I Bleed
Holiday Song
Sad Punk
Blown Away
Dead
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Letter to Memphis
Lovely Day
Velouria
Isla
Crackity Jones
Gigantic
Ed is Dead
Here Comes Your Man
(we skipped Vamos and put it in set 2)

Set 2
Bone Machine
Wave fast
Cactus
Bird Dream
Space
Subbacultcha
Dig for Fire
Down to the Well
(We skipped No 13 Baby)
Manta Ray
River Euphrates
Hey
La La Love You
Nimrod's Son
Vamos
Where Is My Mind
Gouge Away
Tame


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SVFD, HNS, 8/27/2013

I have two shows this week, both in same time slot and at same venue on two consecutive days. Gig #1 was last night. SVFD opened for Something To Do. It was our first double ska bill.

It was a good turnout and we brought in $127, which I feel like is good for a happy hour gig. I think that we could have played better but the audience insisted it was great. Beverages were had. Too many. But it did not affect my performance. Still, tis a trend I'd like to reverse soon. Had the guitar in the monitor, making it the first time I've really heard what she plays. It kind of threw me off a bit.

Setlist
Rascal King
Came Out of a Lady
Metro
Sergio
Mr. Smiley
About a Girl
Thigh High Nylongs
I Don't Love You Anymore
Lost Again
Red Rubber Ball

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Memo to Myself

I write out painstaking tab for most of the songs that I play on the bass because I have a poor memory. If I figure it out I have to write it down or else it is gone in no time. Then I practice them until they are memorized and ditch the notes.  Later, when muscle memory has finally failed from too much time past, I can go back to the notes and remind and refresh.

Some songs, though, just come naturally and I write very sparse notes. "The Sad Punk" is such a song. I wrote down the chord progression, but felt the incidental notes were so natural and obvious that there was no need to write out.

Fast forward three years.

*blank stare at progression*

Memo to myself...always write it all out.

Told you so for future me..."Don't Change" by INXS is also this kind of song. Write it all out dumbass.  Though, if we're still playing "Don't Change" on or after Oct 27th I'll be shocked.

Monday, August 12, 2013

SSW, GTMW, 8/10/2013

SSW played GTMW for the second year running. I brought my homemade "mini-kit"...for future reference noting in detail here:
-floor tom tuned loose
-wood floor tom stand
-my cheapest bass pedal
-my lightest hi hat stand and the scimitar hats
-my lightest snare stand and the all silver snare
-HH splash on an adapter arm connected to hh stand
-tambo on my super-duper adapter connected to hh stand (played it on only one song...don't bring next time)
-small rug
-used rods for everything except Stooges medley with shaker egg
-my lightest throne
-put everything on my cart. Floor tom in case, snare in case (with all cymbals and throne top), stands in blue bag, sticks and music in a small bag that fit inside blue bag. Also brought a tarp that I used to reserve space for friends (no rain thankfully). Took cart apart for cab ride. Cab was able to get me to top of hill for drop off and pick up was easy just down the hill. Cart worked like a charm. Perfect.
-5 bottles of water...wasn't enough (by my count I drank 144+ ounces of water over course of day and still felt like shit)
-hat, sunglasses, rain coat...brought sunscreen but didn't use it and that was a mistake (got a little burn on my face and I think this was a significant contributor to feeling like shit). Wore my black Keen's, blue jean shorts, and my Brigadoon t-shirt.
-Took a cab...$14 plus tip to gig, $1 plus tip away

CJ also played two very short sets. I brought my acoustic bass for this purpose and it was inaudible in the drone of people. Next year leave bass at home.  Note that a not insignificant number of people stopped to listen to the Pixies tunes (though most people ignored our 70s punk sets). Recall telling at least 4 people who CJ was and when our next show was.  I am forever amazed at this phenomenon.

Two different drunk guys asked it they could play my kit. This was new.

Best beer of day was "Rabbit" something or other brewery (I think it was 5 Rabbit Cerveceria and I think I had their
"hUitzi: Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale. O.G.: 1.07. IBU: 22.0. ABV: 8.7. A refreshing and
elegant Belgian-style, strong golden ale brewed with hibiscus blossoms, Roman
chamomile, pickled ginger, Thai palm sugar, and local Chicago honey"
RS had their "5 grass: Style: American Pale Ale" I think he also liked it.)

Was not actually hung over next day...but did feel like total shit all Sat night.

SSW setlist to come.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Guitar

As long as I can remember I've wanted to play guitar.  For most of my life this manifested as an interest in playing acoustic guitar only and ranged from just wanting to chord along to wanting to play two line parts fingerstyle (which I actually started learning to do in the mid-1990s...I can't imagine trying any of those songs now). I was never really interested in electric guitar or in effects or any of that.

But somewhere along the way I figured out that things that are really hard on acoustic guitar (like barre chords) are really easy on electric. And that made me want to play electric more. But when I play electric it always just kind of sounds lame.

A few years ago I bought a Marshall digital effects modelling amp on a whim.  It's design was kind of shitty though and it didn't really do what I wanted it to do.  I ended up selling it (something I rarely do). Then about a year ago someone gave me a multi-effect pedal. This too...poorly designed, hard to use, and didn't do what I wanted.

For about 3 years now there's been this little 1.5 Watt Vox amp sitting in the GRC storage. It was battery operated and looked broken. Everyone ignored it. I'm pretty sure it got throw around a few times...maybe even kicked. It really just looked like garbage. Finally, this summer I decided to take it home and see if it worked at all. Not only does it work...it is the best amp I've ever played through. It has tons of effects that are easy to use and sound great.  To me, it sounds better and more powerful than a 30 watt amp. Bonus, I found the power adapter for it. It quickly went from the worst amp that camp owned to the best. And now I'm hiding it.

Things that I've never understood before about electric guitar and effects are beginning to make sense.  Palm muting...other stuff. How different effects work and how you use them.  I've been depressed lately and it occurred to me that something to shake me out of my rut might be to take some electric guitar lessons. But last night I was goofing with the Vox and figured out about a dozen miracle concepts all on my own. Game changers.  And then it occurred to me...

...really I just need to play more.

Not "practice". Just play. Hold the thing in my hands and fuck around. Try stuff that doesn't even make any sense. I've been trying to make this so structured...memorize scales, memorize chord patterns...but none of that even really matters. Just make noise. The stuff that sounds good...do it again. The stuff that sounds bad...try not to do it again. For sure there are things I could benefit from, like basic pick control exercises...but most of it is just unstructured play.

Anyway, who knows if I'll go anywhere with it...follow through at all.  But it is a revelation to think about approaching something not from the perspective of "trying to do it right and get better" but instead from the "fuck up a whole bunch until something sounds cool" perspective.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

TD, 7/24/2013, Wisconscene

TD got a last minute invite to record an episode of Wisconscene, a local music show on local access cable and the internet.

We played pretty well and gave a surprisingly coherent interview.  The guys managed to say nice things about me and the host managed to get in a plug for GRC. The Frogs even got brought up (RIP).

A particularly impressive insight was had by AS...he basically said that, because people can select for EXACTLY what they want on the internet (only this genre...only this artist...only this SONG) that they are no longer willing to attend shows by bands that they've never heard of. They may be willing to go out, but they want to know exactly what time the band they are going to see is playing and they will arrive at that time and leave right after that band is done. People aren't willing to invest the time to learn about new music.  RS added that college kids just don't seem interested in live local music anymore.

I think all of this is true. I wonder if it was once LESS true, or if people just get caught up in nostalgia.  I am guilty of the "arrive at start of band I want to see, leave right after" thing...but I think this is because I'm old and tired.

Setlist:
Sent It
Better N Better
Gun in Your Grave
HSUL
Gotta Tell U

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SVFD, 7/19/2013, RSR

We were part of a 6 band lineup celebrating female vocalists. The show was put together by "a promoter"...which is my least favorite thing to hear. The venue had just been sold and failed to list show in any local papers (nor did "the promoter"). Also, venue had perhaps 14 bottles of liquor in whole joint and a mere few cases of beer. Looked like they'd been looted. 

Shocker...no one came to the show.

The day after the gig I got an email message from a photog saying they would be on hand to take pro shots and for $20 would give them to us. The message was likely sent between noon and 8pm on Friday. I wrote back (on Saturday I think) and said I'd seen them taking pics at show and sure we'd love them.  Photog said..."oh I erased them because you never got back to me".  That's about right.

And also... YOU WERE STANDING IN FRONT OF ME TAKING MY PICTURE...WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK ME THEN IF I WANTED IT TAKEN?

I was in a foul mood due to interpersonal conflict that happened less than an hour before we took the stage and due to general exhaustion from a week of hard, hard work. Long before alcohol was ingested, I tripped and dropped my amp but it seemed to still work just fine (my shin is less fine). Then proceeded to drink all 14 bottles of liquor at the show and didn't even get tipsy. Not one bit. Played the gig nearly perfectly (not kidding) in a complete mental fog of anger (see interpersonal conflict). Total muscle memory. Amazing.

All in all the show ran better than I could have hoped for.  We had the city's grumpiest sound guy but he made us sound silky smooth.

Setlist:
rascal king
came out of a lady
metro
sergio
about a girl
i don't love you anymore
lost again
red rubber ball
xtra---wallet (we didn't play it cause of the packed lineup)

New hi hat stand

Had $60 in gift cards to Guitarget from working GRC...so  bopped on down and picked up a used Mapex hi hat stand for just about that much. The Sugar Glider had been complaining that mine sticks...which I'd never noticed before (could be why I can't play hi hat for shit? perhaps). It's first test drive will be on Wednesday...when TD unexpectedly plays a 5 song set ON TV (complete with band interview...what? WHAT?!?). Yeah, seems like the right time to test out something new.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Next Round of Purchases

I keep thinking/hoping that I'm approaching the end of my major music purchasing...but it kind of seems to never end.

I've got $40 credit at GC I need to burn by end of August.

The next things on the list:

  • I want a compact and lightweight RELIABLE alternative to my heavy 175 W combo and my unreliable 600W combo. A friend is selling a used like-new condition 2x10 350 Watt bass cabinet. I kind of want it, though I think she wants more money for it than I want to spend (like $350...new it would be $399). 
  • If I get the cabinet, I'll need a head to go with it. I'd be looking for a lightweight (hand-held) head in the 200W-350W range. New or used. No rush on getting it though. I'd like to spend in the $300 range.
  • I would like a lightweight set of good drum hardware. Snare, hi hat, and probably a straight cymbal stand. Looking to spend less than $150 for the 3 pieces. I want to be able to pack everything down and put it in a smallish bag and not break my back. Still looking for the right brand/model/price-point combo.
  • I'm actually good for heads and sticks at the moment, but I could always use the credit for those things too. At some point I should put a full new set of heads (top and bottom) on the Sonor kit (for about $150)...but I'm really not playing it out much these days so there's no urgency to that.
Note that lightweight is my overall life theme.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I'm on a recording...

Hizzah! Ska demo is done! Miracles really do happen.

Crap. So professional.

Putting It All Together

I am a largely self-taught musician...or at least it feels that way. What is true is that I taught myself to play my father's chord organ and my brother's acoustic guitar basically with no assistance. But it is also true that I studied cello for 7 years in public school, and that probably gave me more of a solid technical background than I can really imagine.

But the guitar that I learned on was a shitty acoustic and I taught myself from chord diagram sheet music...so I learned your basic open folk chords. The irony of guitar is that...power chords and barre chords are actually "easier" than open chords...because you learn one form (ok, a handful of forms) and just apply them over and over. With open chords...every chord is its own thing. But I don't think I'm alone in finding barre chords and power chords difficult...just because that's not how I learned.

Conversely, people who know power chords will treat you like an asshole if you can't play them...because they seem so dirt simple to them. And they are. But that's kind of like a French person saying a Spanish person is stupid for not being able to speak French (this too, more than likely, happens).

I've been working off and on over the last few years to learn to play barre chords and power chords. But I've been inconsistent (the bass and drums...instruments I actually NEED to play...always get in the way) and haven't made much progress.

Ancillary to all of this is the idea of using effects pedals...and special ways of playing like "palm muting." All of this...foreign to me.

One of my band's suggested we play a certain metal tune. This is funny because I think of us as a folky-rock group. I have no interest in metal...but I think BECAUSE it is so funny...I wanted to learn this suggested song. I realized pretty quickly that the guitar player in our band suffers from the same guitar issues that I do, though, and so I wondered about re-arranging the song with the lead guitar on bass.

I plugged in my shitty Hondo Pro guitar into my borrowed 1.5 Watt Vox effects amp and gave it a whirl just to figure out the parts. It turns out that the song in question is actually pretty simple, though I'm still nailing down the exact structure. The song is essentially all power chords with some lead lines that follow a basic scale structure. There's a touch of palm muting. The key is getting the sound to overdrive...which with that little amp is easy. When my friends have told me in the past "when in doubt just put a bunch of feedback on there" I never understood how that helped. Now I get it.

I don't know what happened, but suddenly all of these things made sense to me and fell together. I'm certain that with just a few more practices I'll have nailed the entire song. I can even play most of it on bass now (chords and all). I'm still not the world's greatest power chord player...but I think I see how it goes. As with everything...it just takes practice.

I don't know if this constitutes some kind of break-through that, from this point forward will mean a whole brave new world. But it feels like it might.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ten Inch Tom

A while ago I found a 10" Sonor Force 2000 tom in the garbage on a bike ride home from work. I took it home and cleaned it up (it smelt moldy...so I sanded the bearing edges and wiped the rest of the interior and exterior down with vinegar). Lubed the lugs (old style Sonor). Yesterday I got in new heads and a clamp and installed it and it sounds great and fits into my kit configuration fairly well. I'm hanging it off a boom cymbal stand. It sounds great.

The clamp I bought is a Pearl Ax-25 Adapter 2 Hole Revolving and it is kind of awesome. I think I probably could have gotten the Sound Percussion version of this for a couple less dollars or this weird  Mapex AC903 Multi-Purpose Clamp , but it was really hard to tell from the photos online how things work. I'm really happy with the Pearl thing...it is exactly what I needed. I wish I could hang it off my straight stand instead (it is more sturdy and I prefer the straight stand on my left) but it seems to work the way I set it up. 

It makes the hi hat position a little tricky, but I really like having a tom in that position. It surprised me. I was reading an article in some drum magazine about someone moving their toms to the left because they had trouble getting around the kit. This struck me as out-and-out cheating at the time...but it IS shocking how much one can accomplish on the left side there and how much more comfortable it is.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FW 6/22/2013 and 6/24/2013

FW played two shows this "weekend"...one at a house party on Saturday and one at GRC on Monday.  Both were hot as hell. We are under-rehearsed, but I'm at least starting to retain the tunes a bit.  There was pleasant enjoyment by the audiences it seemed. Good enough.

Also, it turns out that total physical exhaustion prevents one from getting nervous for a show. Or even really caring what happens.

Monday, June 17, 2013

CJ Acoustic,Froth House, 6/13/2013

It was a beautiful early summer night outside in the Froth House's back yard. Melissa Simonson opened with inspirational songs to lift our spirits. We promptly took the stage just after and screamed about incest.

A nice little crowd of a dozen or so (filled the seats) of friends and fans and friend-fans. Everything fell into place in a glorious way and there was hilarious spontaneous banter and everyone had a grand time. I was relaxed and it may have in fact been the best I've ever played.  CT might have worried we were a tad too casual and hammy, but the venue lent itself to such.  As RS said in the post-gig post-mortum email "I love us."

We made $35 plus food and drink.

I recall once again that, when we set out to play acoustic, I thought I'd never be able to do it...I didn't think I could project with voice or bass.  In hindsight, I should never think such things.




Setlist:
Nimrod's Son
Dead
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Letter to Memphis
Dig for Fire
Bone Machine
La La Love You
Bird Dream
Lovely Day
Here Comes Your Man
Gigantic
Wave UK
Cactus
Gouge Away
Where Is My Mind?

Cut for time:
The Holiday Song
Debaser

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Central Issue

I've often said, as many people have, that being in a band is like being in a group marriage. All the same issues come up minus sex...hopes, dreams, values, money, time management, personalities, communication styles.

I've also come to believe in recent years that all conflict rises out of fear. Deep seated fears about keeping what we have and about our self-worth...all the us and them stuff...it all gets down to fear. Fear feeds sadness and anger and pretty much everything else. But no one likes to admit that they are afraid...and many people don't even realize that they are afraid.

I'm insecure about my musical abilities...which makes me fear rejection. I also often feel that people don't understand my communication style...which makes me fear they will not understand me and reject me. And these things lead to conflict often. I, at least, am aware of my "stuff"...it is frustrating when other people...who all have their own stuff...aren't aware that they have stuff. Then they just think you are crazy.

Music is such a hard thing to share with other people because it is so personal. It is attached to feelings. Maybe there are folks who play music out of a mechanical exercise with no emotional investment, but I've yet to meet those people. Mostly...we're invested. And when you are invested, there is a fear in there somewhere.

Overlay on top of this the fact that music is a language essentially...but it is a language that everyone speaks differently. Imagine two people who both know English. But one person can only write it and one person can only speak it. Or one person can read while the other can only learn new words by hearing them. Drop on top of that a regional dialect...words that person A knows are words that person B has never heard and doesn't know the meaning of. Drop on top of THAT...maybe one person went to Yale and got a PhD in English while the other person never finished high school. Yet...person A is totally invested in their way as the only way and can't imagine reality not matching their experience. Person B feels the same way about THEIR experience.

So you end up with two people...who in theory both know English...but who can't communicate with each other. And this makes them question themselves (whether they realize it or not)...and get angry or frustrated with the other person...or any of the other fear based reactions one might have.

In an ideal world, we'd all just be curious how interesting it is that we are all the same and yet so different. We'd want to learn more about that. Instead, we tend to dig our heels in and defend our own position.

I keep thinking that I can get over these issues and learn to communicate better and to be more open and to not feel threatened and to not let my fear take over. And yet, the same problems come up again and again.

The life thing...the people thing...it is hard.

Monday, June 10, 2013

SVFD 6/9/2013 Inferno

We played the SheShe showcase on a Sunday afternoon. The plan for the afternoon (times and setlist) changed no less than 4 times.  My new policy is to never expect anything to turn out as planned. The food was good. I guess we were on the radio (internet radio anyway). A dozen or so people showed up, mostly our friends. We made $40. I played pretty well...the usual random brain farts. Lost Again went really well for me and the wood floor with my Chucks worked well to facilitate dancing. I played the new KiD-inspired bass and it did well (though the metal pickguard tends to reflect and blind people a bit). Overall it feels like it is quieter than my others, but cuts through pretty well, especially on high notes.

Setlist? Maybe.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Found

So I recently started biking to work again. I'd forgotten that a side effect of biking is trash picking. On my way home from work the other day I found what appeared to be a perfectly functional white gloss 10" Sonor Force 2000 tom drum. The ever-helpful Sonor Museum tells me that Force 2000 was a nice mid-line drum line with German made 9-ply poplar shells. The mounting system is old-school tube, so it doesn't match my kit (or the GRC kit that is looking for a tom replacement), but I can mount it from a cymbal stand. The thing is detoxing in my basement in case there are any visitors on it, but this weekend I'll probably take it apart and clean it up and evaluate. And then there will be yet another 2 head purchase in my future...and a mounting bracket. I should buy stock in Musician's Friend.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Injury

Just a note that I seem to have a strain of my interphalangel thumb joint...like I hyper-extended it. Flexing is weak and extension painful. There is mild swelling. Could be arthritis I guess, but seems like it came on suddenly. I'm reminded that my technique for holding my drum sticks involves more extension than I'd like and that I hold my pick too tightly.

Brain Dump...Upcoming Gigs

Sometimes I just need to write it all down:

June 9 -SVFD at Inferno
June 10 - SVFD rehearsal
June 13 - CJ at Froth
June 14 thru 17 - BLOCKED OUT VAC
June 21 - CANCELLED
June 22 - FW at Private Party
June 24 -  FW at GRC
June 24 - SVFD rehearsal
June 22 thru 30 - GRC #1

July 8 - SVFD rehearsal
July 15 thru 21 - GRC #2
July 19 - SVFD at RSR
July 20 - Breeders in Chicago, IL at Pitchfork (maybe)

Aug 5 thru 11 - GRC #3
Aug 10 - SSW at GTMid

Sept 7 thru 23 - BLOCKED OUT VAC
Sept 26 - SVFD at Frequency
Sept 27 - Breeders in Champaigne-Urbana, IL at Pygmalion Fest (maybe)
Sept 28 - Breeders in Cincinnati, Ohio at Midpoint Fest (maybe)

Oct 5 - SVFD in Reedsburg
Oct 11 - CJ at Dragonfly
Oct 10 thru 13 - LRC
Oct 26 - Halloween at HNS (need to learn totally new set for this)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The New Baby

I don't know why I got it in my head that I wanted a circa 1987 MIJ Fender '62 P bass reissue in Fiesta Red. It really isn't neccessary to be so precise. But I wanted it anyway. I did some research along the way (surely documented on this blog, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now like here) and found them hard to find...at least in the correct color...and generally more money than I wanted to spend (not over the top money, but more than I wanted to spend). Along the way, Fender put out a new model...the Squire 60's Vibe P Bass. I've always avoided Squire products, believing them to be inferior in quality. I always figured that one could get any crappy instrument for less money and that you really were just paying for "Fender" to be written in very tiny letters. But I read some decent reviews of this new model (in comparison to other Squire products) and learned that, actually, in 1987 the '62 reissue was a Squire product...they just didn't put Squire on the headstock at the time. That's what I heard anyway. New the bass sells for $335...and that's more than I wanted to spend for what it was. I decided that if I ever found one really cheap (like under $200) I'd pick it up. I wanted to try it out, but it seemed unlikely that I'd ever see one in a store (though I looked at every store I stepped into).

So on Friday things were slow at work and I went and did my occasional check for basses on the internet. There were two Squire 60's Vibe P Basses in Fiesta Red on ebay for under $200. I decided that I didn't even want to spend $200 though...that I wanted to spend more like $160. That knocked one out...and the other had $40 of shipping tacked on...bringing the final total over my $160 cap. Plus, the idea of buying an instrument online sight unseen and having it shipped (who knows how well), kind of gave me pause.

The next day I decided to go over to GC because I'd recently bought a prepack of drum heads and they came with a kind of shitty bass pedal slam patch (cheap bastards...Remo used to include a regular falam slam with these prepacks). I wanted the regular falam slam patch and I wanted it right away...I went to get it.  I walked into the store and strait ahead. In a bit of a fog I thought "hmm, what did I come for and where do I need to go". As I'm working this out, my eyes start to focus on what I'm standing in front of. It was a used Squire 60's Vibe P Basses in Fiesta Red for $179. I kind of thought I might be going insane. I double checked the label. I took it to an amp. Played like a dream (I'm not thrilled about the tone range, but it is good enough. Also the strings were pretty new and bright and buzzy...but the action was really good...it played comfortably). Bought it. Took it home next day (it was on a hold until the next day).

Once I got it home I took off the tortoise shell pick guard. There was only a half shield underneath (this is how Squire builds em so cheap) and it was a sticker on the back of the pickguard. I read somewhere along the way (who knows when or where...the constant obsession) that she didn't like the white pick guard, so took it off and left the "shield" underneath exposed. So I went online and bought a full '62 reissue shield, which seems like it will fit based on my research.  It isn't meant to be used as a pick guard, but I'm hoping I can jerry rig it (there is certainly precedence). It'll be here in a few days. And then the thing will look kinda like this:



I did not need this instrument. It is essentially the exact same instrument as my Yamaha P bass. And no one actually will care that I have the proper looking bass (and what is proper is subjective anyway, since this is just the Doolittle era bass...and I'm not going out and also getting an Aria, a Music Man, and a Steinberger...I think this is the bass she is most known for, especially since the reunion). But it is one fewer obsession for me to have. The funny thing is, I probably will only have ONE chance to play it with CJ on stage this year...Oct 11th....since our June gig is acoustic, we'll likely take off July, Aug-Oct will be spent learning non-Pixies tunes for our special Halloween show, and Nov-Dec are notoriously slow gig months due to holidays and post-Halloween malaise (why do we agree to do Halloween shows year after year when they only end up making us sad?). But here's hoping that we pretend to be the Pixies for enough years to come that this won't have been a TOTAL waste.

Actual photo to come once I get the shield on.

UPDATE: Here she is.  Realizing that the shield alone would be too thin to support the input jack (this I suspect is what led to that duct tape on KiD's bass), I simply put the shield over the tortoise shell pickguard. There is a strip of shielding tape under the pickguard, so all should be well. I rest my thumb on the end of the finger board and it turns out that there is a sharp edge on the shield there, so I put a little bit of masking tape over the edge and it seems to be safe enough. I played it for an hour or so last night and didn't cut myself. I may invest in black knobs to replace the silver, but we'll see. I've already fallen down the rabbit hole so I might as well go all the way (UPDATE 6/10/2013...Happy Birthday KiD! A little research today and I'm fairly convinced that the black tone/volume knobs are not original to this instrument. Those appear to be jazz bass knobs. I suppose it is possible that they came with hers, but seems unlikely. Anyway, 12 bucks will correct the situation).

I like the way it plays, especially at the high frets, because the action is super low. It MAY be too low, as I'm getting a tiny bit of fret buzz, but I think that might lessen as the strings deaden. It's hard to tell right now if it is just a brightness thing or actual buzz. It sounds really great played with a pick. Loud and clear. Played with fingers the tone is very muffled and the volume low...more so that with my other basses...even with the treble turned up. So I guess I'll have to start playing with a pick most of the time on this one, which for accuracy sake wrt to Pixies is actually more appropriate anyway. For the same reason, this may not end up being a great bass for the ska band, because I don't think that I'm going to be able to learn to play fast moving lines with a pick any time soon, but I may try using it at the ska show on Sunday and see how it goes. 


TD, Mr Roberts, 6/1/2013

We picked up a last minute show with damidol and Slow Form of Suicide.

We played well except I fucked up the start of Movin' On and had to restart us. We also played that song way too fast but that wasn't my fault. Ok turnout despite conflicting high profile shows. We made $50. I drank some but it was not a factor in my performance.

Setlist to come (unlikely)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Speaking of Upgrades

Oh...and I put a fresh set of strings on the acoustic bass. I got Ernie Ball Earthwoods. The thing is BRIGHT now, but that's okay because I need it to cut through unplugged.

Good Head

At the show last Thursday I noticed that my heads on the black kit are pretty pitted. The floor tom sounds pretty bad too.

So my current drum situation is that
  • The Red Pulse is at TD practice space with all Remo heads on it except for the resonant bass, which is a Pulse. The heads are old, but in good shape. All my extra hardware is there and so is all of my extra cymbals.
  • The Sonor is at my house with all Remo and the newest heads on it. I use the Sonor for personal practice, I loan it for ska practice, and I use it for TD gigs whenever possible. My best hardware and cymbals are with the Sonor.
  • The Black Pulse lives in my gig bags and I use it for SSW gigs and for any outdoor gigs. It has very old Remo batters and the stock Sonor resonants. I grab hardware and cymbals from one of the other kits when I need it.
So this week I bought a full set of Remo resonant heads and a pinstripe Remo Rock Pack of batters and a Remo Powerstroke bass resonant. Basically a complete set of everything. This cost me just about $175 online.

I'm now debating what to do with the new set...put it on the Sonor or put it on the Black Pulse. If I put it on the Sonor I'll move the Sonor heads to the Black Pulse. Not only is this twice the work, part of me wants to see what is the best case scenario for how the Black Pulse can sound. So probably I'll put everything on the Black Pulse and get new heads for the Sonor in a year or two...or maybe just replace the tom batters sometime soonish. If we ever get around to recording TD I'll certainly replace everything immediately before that.

SSW, 5/23/2013 Wisco

Crap I nearly forgot. SSW played a show. It was nearly this exact show but with a couple of adjustments to the setlist. Most of the other details were the same...except that ED brought a green bulb to plug into the audience-blinding light fixture. Other fun fact...we had not played together since that other show.

I did not drink all day. I played fine. We were fine. Maybe we should never rehearse again.

There was an enthusiastic drunk fellow who had been there a month ago and was there again. Both times not to see us...both times shit himself over our setlist...both times wanted to have a full blown conversation with us mid-show multiple times. Deja vu.

There was nearly no audience at all other than that except for KS's soon-to-be wife and Homie. Someone played a cover of a Blondie tune (Dreaming I believe it was, which JG debated with me if we'd done...yes J, I had to learn that fucking tom song) on the juke and we (5 of 6 members of Peroxide present) all rejoiced.

Setlist to come (probably not)

Monday, May 20, 2013

That Pesky Left Foot

I've been listening to the 94 Stockholm concert non-stop ever since I got it on Monday. Yesterday I drove out to Cross Plains to tend to GRC inventory and ended up listening to the concert maybe four times in a row. Aside from being amused by all the drunk KeD banter (amused only because it is ancient history now) the biggest thing I've noticed is JM's drumming.  In particular, his left foot.

My left foot (sounds like an art film) is the last thing to integrate into my drumming. I use it a tad, but not much at all. I noticed that much of the time JM is keeping time with it, often with 8th notes (but sometimes with quarter notes). This strikes me as a very jazz-oriented thing to do, which makes me wonder what his background is. (UPDATE: here's something). I sat down and gave it a shot yesterday and had better luck than I'd expected. But it is quite foreign to me.

I also noticed that he switches back and forth between on beat versus off beat snare hits alot...so much so that one might call it his style. This too I suck at.