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 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 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" 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.

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

Cut for time:
The Holiday Song

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 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" 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 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


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


Just a note that I seem to have a strain of my interphalangel thumb 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 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 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 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)