Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Running Blog from 311 Concert

I went to see 311 with a few friends. The ticket was free. I hate 311. The opening band, State Radio, was actually pretty good. I had tried to keep an open mind about 311, but once they came on and I looked around at the smattering of tools, turds, douches, skanks, and wannabes in attendance, I knew there was no hope of me enjoying myself. So, I got out my iPhone and kept a running diary of my random thoughts during the show.

If all the turds go missing I know who stole them.

Elevendouche with state radiohotts.

I didn't know Allan sang in 311.

I've literally died and gone to hell.

Nice vocal effects, frampton.

Tiny Mexican douche on the non-contributor tip.

Sir, I hate you...over and over again.

Is this a play? Because it sure isn't music.

I seriously need to change my life.

You guys make me want to gouge my ears.

Nice wristbands, calidouche.

These $4.50 beers are the least shitty thing here.

Cool, I know this song...and I hate it.

Can I ask for my money back even if I didn't buy the ticket?

I've never wished cerebral palsey on someone, but I'm about to.

Quick, get drunk before we realize what's become of us!

Is he actually pretending to play guitar??!

'Come original'?! WTF.

One of these dudes' dads better be a record executive.

Now i know how jihads start. Middle easterners equate us with 311.

Acnedouche with grubbyhotts.

Did that dude bring his 6 yr olds here? I'm calling CPS.

Late 90s douche with naivetehotts.

I saw a cover band once at bennigans that made me want to kill myself. They were better than 311.

Hating aside, I do respect the gaggle of whores just offstage.

Poor lead guitarist. He can actually play. he must be on heroin. It's the only way he could do this. Like how they kidnap those Croatian whores and feed them heroin and send them to Dubai.

Am I really Smelling old spice?

Scentidouche with stupidity hotts.

There's always that one old ass dude dancing like a motherfucker but you wonder if he's even aware where he is or if he just didn't survive the 60s. I'd rather be him.

Librarianhotts with beerguzzlebag.

Ok. I admit it, their drummer is badass.

A member of your band is named dj esse Martinez. That's really all that needs to be said.

Laker jerseydouche with tinyhotts.

Bathroomdouche with skittishhotts.

A lot of people are here just because that dude is Mexican. A lot.

If I hooked up with a hot chick here, I'd do her. Then murder her. For liking 311 and all.

Jerzdouchenbass knows scales. Good for him.

You know how Beavis and butthead felt about gwar? I feel the opposite about 311.

I wish it were 2012 so these turds would get covered in molten lava.

I may evict my roommate based only on the fact that he reminds me of the lead singer of 311.

How can so many beautiful women like such a horrible horrible thing?

Badtastenhotts with luckendouche.

This guy bumped into me. He goes 'sorry'. I go 'do you like this band'? He's all 'hell yeah'! I go 'let's fight'.

Cowardouche with disappearing hotts.

A new holocaust? This is as good a place as any.

Asparagus eatendouche with stinkygoldenshowerhotts.

A dude with downs syndrome is having the time of his life. It's the first time I've ever thought someone with downs needed to be punished.

Militantdouche with luckyformepacafisthotts.

If gary Coleman had a bad dream, the soundtrack would be 311.

I have no idea what that means.

Alternahotts with whatthefuckendouche.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Band Practice 12/4/09

Despite my misgivings, here's some audio from Friday's practice.

The first clip is of the first 8 minutes of practice, which featured "Waste My Time", the 1st song we ever wrote, followed by "Tyler", a Toadies cover requested by Sarah. The clip ends with me flowing Tyler into "Where is my mind", a Pixies cover Keith and I really like. Before you listen, please know I realize a few things: I can't sing, my guitar is out of tune (this is because the strings are incredibly old, not because I don't know how to tune my guitar), and the vocals and bass notes are muffled because the iPhone mic was pointed away from the instruments (this is part of the reason the drums sound pretty dang good imo).

The 2nd clip is from the 2nd half of practice, which lasted about an hour. The iPhone only lets me email 8 minutes of audio at a time, which is plenty. This clip starts with "Not Too Late", an original, followed by the first part of "Colleen", another original. For this 2nd clip, we turned the mic towards the instruments, which is why the vocals sound clearer, but during louder parts it blares or 'clips' out.

I think posting the audio from practice will help us get better. So far I've learned 2 things from this exercise: I need to pay more attention to detail (tuning, notes, vocal changes, etc.), and I need to get out of the bad habit of making up lyrics as I go along. (i.e. on Not Too Late, a song we've been playing for over a year, I still change the lyrics everytime. I've got finalized lyrics written down, I'm just too lazy to remember them and practice the song as written. The same thing happened with "Colleen"; luckily in this instance most of them are unintelligible because of the audio quality.)

Again, this was all recorded on a cell phone mic. It took me less than 10 minutes to get these files emailed, converted, and posted. Everything is so amazing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 2009 Update

re-edit: So I figured out out to email the m4a from my phone, convert it to mp3, and post it here via Badongo. That's awesome because it means if we ever record something cool at practice, I can post it here on the blog. My drunken songs were too cringe-inducing to make public, but I will try to get something decent the next time Keith and I practice.

edit: Keith came over and we practiced last night; I took some pictures of the studio with my iPhone. Then I went out and got drunk. I got back home around midnight and went to the studio and played piano for like 2 hours. I realized my iPhone has a podcast feature and I used it to record a few songs I played on the piano. They sound terrible, but I'm so fascinated by the technology that I may post them here anyway.

Well, I figured it's been a long time since I've posted anything, so here goes. The reason for the lack of posts is valid; absolutely nothing has been happening with the band. We haven't even practiced in like 3 weeks (due to my encounter with Swine Flu). Keith may come over tonight to knock some of the rust off. There just hasn't been a lot of motivation to play.

The band (and music in general), just like most things in life, comes in waves. Re-reading old posts, you can tell that Keith and I get after it for a little while, then sort of take a break, then get after it again. This is usually precipitated by some sort of breakthrough (i.e. getting new equipment, getting a gig, recording, etc.). That's why I've always thought the key to making it as a rock band is a steady gig. If you can count on playing somewhere on a weekly (or even monthly) basis, then there's always something on the horizon. Otherwise, you're just drinking beer at your house and there just happens to be guitars and drums there. Any musical group performs 2 basic functions: recording and gigging. So that should be the goal: record and gig. Both of those things, especially when you're just starting out, take a lot of time, energy, and perhaps most importantly, money (at least recording does). Between our jobs and social calender, the band is a distant 3rd, and there's no way it's going to move forward under that pretense.

This isn't to complain; I still love jamming with Keith, and if it never goes any further than that, it's still a really fun, relaxing hobby. That said, the goal for 2010 is simple: gig and record.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rhett Miller concert review, I bought a piano and I play the drums

So Friday night I didn't have much to do. My roommate was going downtown for a buddy's 30th birthday, but other than that, most of my friends were staying in (due to the weather I guess). I was in a bit of a weird mood, so I decided to get on Pollstar and see if there was any good live music playing. Lo and behold, my own idol Rhett Miller was playing a solo show at Antone's. I hurriedly got dressed and hauled ass downtown.

Going to concerts by yourself is a lot like going to the movies by yourself. For someone like me, it makes me feel like a loser, even though it probably shouldn't. I mean, watching a concert (or a movie) is not really all that social of a thing. Your attention is fixed somewhere else. Anyway, my experience Friday was marred by the fact that I was by myself.

I'd guess I've seen Rhett Miller in concert a dozen times, so I know a lot about his style. Anytime I go to a rock show, I tend to fixate on the front man, and this is especially true with Rhett and the Old 97s. Up to now, it's been hard for me to figure out why I like him so much. I mean, he's not all that techinically sophisticated of a guitarist (he only plays rhythm), he doesn't have a classicly trained voice, and his songs are very simple. But at this show I realized that is exactly WHY I like him so much. He gives someone like me (who isn't technically sound on his instrument, sings out of tune, and writes simple songs) hope. He's mostly "it" factor, and I don't see that as a bad thing. His good looks and the way he works the crowd are more important to his success than his sense of melody and rhythm. On top of that, his lyrics are very catchy. He's had exactly the level of success I'd want (successful enough to draw a crowd and earn a living, but not so famous he can't have a life with some semblance of normalcy--although he did marry a supermodel, so his life probably doesn't have much normalcy). He's exactly who I try to emulate, whether I'm in my room by myself, practicing with Keith, or playing in front of a group of people.

Here are some things I noticed:

-he makes a LOT of eye contact with people of the audience.
-he mostly uses his 1/2 Townsend windmill strum deal on an open G chord
-most of his songs use the same 5 or 6 chords; he employs a capo to get songs in different keys
-I watched him before the show in the VIP lounge, and I've had a short introduction to him before at an earlier gig, and he genuinely seems like a nice person
-I had a short conversation with Salim Nourallah, who produced the most recent Old 97s record. I went up and introduced myself and told him thank you for writing this article. Turns out, he didn't write it, the lead sound engineer Rip Rowen did. He corrected me, but was very gracious about the whole thing. That article has been an excellent resource for me since I've been trying to gather recording equipment and learn the processes.
-Even though I was by myself, I still enjoyed the show; that said, I REALLY wished I'd had a pretty girl with me.

On a side note, remember when I posted a few weeks back about 2 songs I wrote? Well, I realized that one of them ("This is My Life Without You") was just me unconsciously copying one of Rhett's new songs ("Haphazardly"--it's linked at the top right of this page so you can hear it). I must've heard it at the last Old 97s show I went to, forgotten it, then somehow twisted the chorus when it came back up while I was f'n around on the guitar. I suspect that happens a lot, and not just with me. I've read several interviews with Kevin Griffin (from Better Than Ezra) and one of the things I like about him is how candid he is about his songs' influence. He's not ashamed to admit 'ripping off' a melody from someone else. You could probably take every song I've ever written and find a song that songs exactly like it that I heard somewhere before.

So over the last few weeks I've taken to the drums. I think this stemmed from Keith and I getting a little bored with the same ol' thing when we practice. Also, we both think it would be a cool gimmick if we switched instruments in the middle of a set. Not to mention Keith is a badass on the guitar. I've progressed to being able to keep a beat, albeit with no fills or complicated switches. Friday night after I got home, I was HAMMERED. So my roommate, his buddy and I went into my studio and I hopped on the drums. I don't remember it all that much, but apparently we played a LONG time. Like, non-stop for like 3 hours. I have painful blisters on every. single. one. of my fingers. On both hands. I don't aspire to be Dave Grohl, but I do think it would be cool to be able to jump on a drumset and keep up.

Finally, I bought a piano yesterday. It's an antique (1800s I think) Wurlitzer upright. I got it for $175. All the keys/pedals play and it has all the original (albeit yellowed) ivory. 3 of the keys stick intermittently. I hope to have this repaired when I have it tuned after it's moved (happening today).

A lot of my favorite songs are piano based. I grew up listening to a lot of Elton John and The Beatles, Billy Joel, etc. I don't aspire to be concert style, but just like with the drums, I think it'd be pretty f'n pimp to be able hop on a piano and bang out a tune or be able to write piano based simple chord songs. Plus, chicks dig dudes who can play piano.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pearl Jam Rocks

I went to the Austin City Limits Festival last night. I originally had a 3 day pass, but sold it so I could go down to Victoria for my cousin's birthday party. Well, this girl I have a crush on was there and wanted me to meet her, so I made a few calls to see if I could get a ticket for Sunday. Turns out a girl I used to work with had a ticket, but it wouldn't be available until like 5pm. So, I got in right as Jack White's latest project, Dead Weather, was playing. Jack White is hard. During the set he played all 4 rock instruments (drums mostly, but also played guitar, bass, and sang). The band was good, but they had a chick sing all the songs Jack White didn't sing. I'm not much for chick rock singers. After they were done, Pearl Jam took the stage. They ROCKED. I've always liked Pearl Jam, but wouldn't have put them in my top 5 bands. They're there now. Eddie Vedder is hard. Their set was perfect. They played Daughter, Elderly Woman, Even Flow, Oceans, and several others. Their encore started off with Evolution, then they brought out Ben Harper for a song. Then Perry Ferrell (the fruit from Jane's Addiction who basically invented the modern music festival by starting Lollapalooza) came out and sang a Jane's Addiction song with them (Mountain? I'm not a JA fan.) Then they closed the show with Alive (top 5 guitar solos on any song ever) and Keep On Rocking In the Free World. It ruled. They were so awesome I didn't even care that the girl I was with wasn't interested in me (at least until after the show).

It's amazing; every time I see a badass concert, it makes me want to lock myself in my studio for like 5 years.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I sold my Jeep

I sold my Jeep last week. Sweet. The list of things I want to do with the money is extensive. One of the things on the list is to buy recording gear. This ranks #1 in "want to do", but dead last in "should do". My patio needs a new roof. My emergency fund is at about 50% of where I want it to be. I need to get rid of my roommates. I need to landscape my yard. My car needs body work. *sigh*

Keith and I didn't practice last week, but I did play a lot of guitar by myself. I have all the songs I've written (or started writing) saved on my computer. I went back and played a lot of them. Some of them are songs I wrote almost ten years ago. It's interesting to see how my style has changed. It's also weird how many songs I've written. There are over 50 songs saved. I'm half convinced that I should go into full on hone mode and not write anything new, just work on polishing what's already there. Didn't Bob Dylan say something like nobody should ever write anything new?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bored At Work

I wrote 2 songs last week. In hindsight, they're pretty bipolar. The first one was called "This is My Life Without You", which is about what happens every time I end a relationship, which is to seek distraction in all the wrong things (draw your own conclusions). It sort of sounds like Jack Johnson's melancholy acoustic stuff, but I think it would sound best as just a piano/vocals deal. Who knows if I'll ever take it that far. The 2nd song was a complete 180 from the 1st one. It's an upbeat pop tune called "You Are A Miracle" (I don't like that title, but that's essentially the chorus so it is named that by default). It basically breaks down the statistics of what it takes for two people to end up together. I really like it. I think it's the 2nd best upbeat song I've ever written, next to "Getting Busy", which is along the same emotional thread.

Other than that, not too much going on. Keith and I probably won't practice this week, since we're heading down to POC on Thursday to go fishing, but we're sure to pick it back up next week. Still waiting until I sell one of my automobiles before I can buy recording gear. Incidentally, I've got several peices of extra gear for sale if you know someone who would be interested:

-Brand New In Box Electron Blue Standard Mexican Fender Telecaster (with gig bag)- $350
-Unknown brand 1970s 15 watt bass/PA combo with 15" speaker- $50
-Trace Elliot 200W 2 X 10" guitar amp- $150

I'd like to be able to trade these for either an upright piano or a Sennheiser 421 microphone. Maybe Craigslist can come through for me.

Also, I've added a LaLa embed on the sidebar, so each post I'll probably link a new song. This one's is "Scotty Doesn't Know"; it always makes me laugh, especially if you've seen EuroTrip, where Matt Damon does this song at the graduation party. Enjoy.

Monday, August 17, 2009


100 meters in 9.58 seconds. That is all.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Long Overdue Updates Accompanied by Random Opinions and Observations

So, I'm bored at work and figured I'd waste some time blogging.

Stevenson Road Status Update
So not much has been going on with the band. We got offered a gig at a bar in Livingston, but I don't know if we're going to take it. Livingston is a long way away and I doubt anyone we know would be willing to travel that far to see us. The bar has more of a Texas Country vibe, so I don't know how many fans we could convert, even if a lot of people did show up. I would like to do some solo stuff there if possible (more on that later).

Keith and I have been practicing about once every other week, so we're still alive. Just no gigs or records lined up. The current (ever changing and rightshifting) plan is to get recording gear once I'm able to sell my Jeep and have a quality demo by the end of the year.

Last practice we wrote a new song that I'd really like to finish out. It's kind of like a Vines/Killers song. Hard barre chords in successions with lots of starts and stops and an open chord chorus. We'll see what comes of it.

The last two practices my roommate Derrick has come out and plugged in the bass. He's never played before so it's slow going, but it is nice to hear a much fuller sound.

Solo Career?
I really enjoy playing with Keith. He's awesome. But like a lot of people doing something creative that they care about, I'm sort of a control freak. I like the songs that we've written together, but they're definitely not songs I sit around in my room playing over and over again. Our music is rock. My aspirations have always leaned more to the singer-songwriter style. So I've been thinking a lot about writing a set of songs that I could go play on my own, just me and my geetar. Not only would this let me play the music and write the songs that I really have always wanted to write and sound like, it would let me try and go get gigs and record without having to clear the logistics with anyone else. The bottom line is I want to be Rhett Miller and unfortunately the band is more Seven Mary Three than Old 97s.

Counting Crows
I went to see the Counting Crows on Monday. It was weak. This was the 4th time I've seen them, and each time was progressively worse. I do believe they have gotten the last of my money. In 1994, there wasn't a person in the world I idolized more than Adam Duritz. And while he still has my respect for banging both Jennifer Aniston AND Courteney Cox, he's kind of a tool. He has worn fake dreads for 15 years. He is a dick to his fans. And he's very self-important. Anyway, the show was at Austin Music Hall and they did this bunk format where they came out at the beginning with the 'opener' (Augustana) and played all at once and then the 2 bands sort of traded 3 song sets a few times. Weak. I didn't pay $40 to see f'n Augustana (not that they were horrible, the were actually quite good, but they weren't what I paid to see). I paid $40 to see Counting Crows; not only that, I paid $40 with the understanding that I would see Counting Crows play their hits, as I expect to hear them. So, I was really disappointed in the format and set list. I mean, so I saw the lead singer of Augustana sing "Omaha"? Weak.

Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Willie
On Tuesday I went to see the 3 above at Dell Diamond with my older brother llogg.

I'd seen Willie once before so I pretty much knew what to expect. He's good, but a lot of time his voice isn't timed with the music. And the main thing I love about Willie is his crooning. I think he's just too old to croon because his voice didn't have that wavering desperation or carry out the long notes on Crazy or Blue Eyes Crying. But he did have a good energy and put on a pretty good show. It was bloody hot too, so you gotta give his old ass props for hanging tough. He didn't play 2 of my favorites (Red Headed Stranger and Pancho and Lefty), but he did have a pretty good set list overall. I give him a B.

I didn't expect much from Mellencamp. My parents like his stuff, so I'd heard a lot of his catalog, but going in there weren't any songs (except Jack and Diane) that I was thinking would be awesome to hear. Well, he was really, REALLY good. Great energy, good set list, the whole package. He did probably the best a capella I've ever heard (not saying much, but still, it was badass) on a song I can't remember right now. He rocked. I give him an A (more on why he didn't get an A+ later).

Bob Dylan's first song had me thinking he'd be better off dead. He vocals were completely unintelligible and had ZERO melody. I had sort of known what to expect and went in thinking it would be pretty bad, but the way he sang Rainy Day Women to open his set was ridiculous. He got a lot better as the show went forward, but he only played 4 songs that I knew, 2 of which came in the encore. He didn't utter a single word between songs. Not one (I still haven't decided whether or not this is cool). Strictly business. He came out for the encore and started with Like A Rolling Stone, one of my favorite songs ever, but it was disappointing because to me the thing that makes that song so awesome is how he wails on the line "how does it feeeeeeeelllllll". Well, needless to say, there was no wailing. I mean, the dude is over 70 years old, so I guess my expectations were too high. He closed the show with All Along the Watchtower, which totally rocked. Charlie Sexton shredded. I think that song was so awesome because it's not the type that is dominated by the vocals. Since Hendrix redid it everyone sees it more as a guitar song. Dylan would have gotten an F had it not been for at least attempting Rolling Stone (up to a C) and kicking ass on Watchtower, so he ends up with a B.

I truly thought that when Dylan left for the first time that all 3 of them (Willie, Cougar, and Dylan) would come out for the encore. I mean, imagine the three of them trading verses on Pancho and Lefty, Jack and Diane, and Like a Rolling Stone. How fucking AWESOME would that have been?! That would have made for an excellent (A+) show. Either way I had a really good time if for no other reason than I got to hang out with just my brother for 3 hours, and he's fucking hilarious. And, I got to see all those guys before they're dead. Bonus.

Short Side Rant: Musicians not playing their hits sucks and it's bullshit. I fully understand that you get sick and tired of playing the same song thousands and thousands of times. I get that. But that's what everyone is there for. If you don't want to play Jack and Diane, don't play big shows. Don't trick people. Give them what they paid for.

Well, that's enough for now. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Ft. Lauderdale

So I called the guy who sold the car, flew out to Ft. Lauderdale, picked up the car, and drove 23 straight hrs back to Texas.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Fort Lauderdale

"We were somewhere over Miramar, when the Citalopram withdrawal began to take hold..."


My jeep starting being hard to start and began choking out at low rpms about a month ago. The problem got progressively worse until 2 weeks ago when it took me over 1/2 an hour just to get it started. I asked my dad, brother, and uncle what they thought the problem was, and since they all agreed that the symptoms were pretty general, I decided to take it into the dealership to get a sure diagnosis. They told me it was the timing chain, and quoted me $900 to replace it. I called my mechanic, who is an awesome guy who I've used several times before and he quoted me $300 for the timing chain. The dealership charged me $100 for the diagnosis and I took it back to my house. My mechanic bought the parts and came over. I was standing behind him when he took the cover off of the timing chain and even I could tell immediately that there was nothing wrong with it. Fuckingcocksuckingdicklickingshiteatingcuntass dealership motherfuckers lied to me and stole $100.

Over the next few weeks, my mechanic came over every day and worked in 100+ degree heat trying to figure out what the problem was. In the meantime, I'm without wheels, relying on the gf for rides to and from work and pretty much f'ed if I wanted to go anywhere else.

The jeep has 150k miles on it, so I knew the time was coming to get a new car anyway. I'd been looking on craigslist,, and the like. Last week, I saw a Hyundai Azera on I'd never even heard of that model before, but it looked cool, so I started doing research. The more I learned, the better the deal looked. I called on it, then test drove it 2 thursdays ago. I liked it. I knew it was a good deal. I told the dealer I'd think about it over the weekend (just to not buy on impules and make sure it was "meant to be"). I decided on Saturday morning that I was for sure going to buy it. I called him first thing monday morning. Of course, he had sold it about 8pm sunday night. Fuckingcocksuckingdicklickingshiteating powers that be fucked me and stole my new car.

So here I am, no leads on any good deals, no clue as to what's wrong with my jeep and how long it will take to fix and how much it will cost.

I don't know why, but for some reason I snapped. There was a lot of other stressful shit in my life to go along with this situation, so maybe that had something to do with it. Regardless, I proceeded to go on ebay and bid on 37 cars. At one point I was the leader in $76,000 worth of auctions. I wasn't even really looking at what I was bidding on. It was ridiculous. This was on Wednesday during the day at work.

That night I got home and monitored the auctions while watching UT get spanked by LSU in the college world series. In the end, I ended up getting outbid on all but one automobile: a 2006 Hyundai Elantra GT in Miramar, FL with 50,000 miles on it. I had won it for $5000.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stock Picks

1. Ivanhoe Energy (IVAN) - I'm heavily invested in this beaten down oil small cap. Their schtick is that they have technology which makes refining heavy (dirty) oil cheap. They have deals in place in Ecuador, Canada, China, and Iraq. Most of the oil in the world cannot be used right now because it is too heavy. If this company has the answer to that problem, hello retirement for Jakey. Warning: don't gamble with $ you can't afford to lose.

2. Qwest Communications (Q) - They've been beaton down over the last 10 years because of their 2001 corporate fraud scandal, but they are paying a ridiculous 8% dividend and are one of the only companies keeping AT&T from an antitrust suit.

3. General Electric (GE) - The financial crisis beat them down, but the stock price took a much worse dive than it deserved. They are one of the most stable companies in the world. They're not going anywhere.

4. Duke Energy (DUK) - Doing a lot to be out front on the alternative energy tip while simultaneously profiting from carbon energy. Pays a steady, spectacular 6% dividend.

5. AT&T (T) - Their financials are very healthy and they pay a high dividend (6.8%).

Grain of salt. Don't ask me why after a 2 month blogging hiatus I decided to post this. No news on the music tip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All I want to do is drink beer and smoke cigarettes...

As most of you know, I worked in Iraq for 19 months, from October 2005 through May 2007. I saved $150,000 while I was there. I thought that by making the short term sacrifice of spending a year and a half working 84 hour workweeks in a war zone thousands of miles away from home I'd grant myself freedom from the rat race forever. I was wrong. Or was I?

"I got a cousin, he's broke, don't do shit." -Lawrence from Office Space

I filled up with gas today at a station near Rundberg and I35. This intersection is pretty much the heart of the Austin ghetto now that downtown east Austin has been cleaned up. Anyway, while I was filling up, a crackhead approached me and asked me for money. I've had a particularly rough week at work, and today was the worst day yet, so I was in no mood for his schtick. I exploded on him. I won't give details on what I told him but I will say that I was yelling, and ended up chasing him after he ran away.

I got off track.

When I first got back in the US in June of 2007, I got a job at Hula Hut working 3 shifts per week. For the six months that followed, I was happy for the only extended period of time in my adult life. I didn't work weekends. I never had to get up early. I had plenty of money to buy beer.

I don't have expensive tastes. I drive a Jeep Wrangler with over 150,000 miles. I take pride in buying my clothes from WalMart and Target. I'm cool with drinking Keystone Light and Bud Ice. I live in a modest home. So why can't I live my current lifestyle while only working 3 days per week at a restaurant? Is this too much to ask?

In my office, I have a spreadsheet with a formula that refreshes every time you press enter. It calculates the amount of time, to the second, until my (average) life span runs out. So, I literally sit in my cube and watch myself die.

I don't know what the point of this post is, other than to vent on the depression tip. But the question remains: would I be happier as a vagrant?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Be Brutalized

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Not much (at all) has been happening with the band, and I was pretty determined not to let this blog turn into drivel about my personal life.

So anyway, I see a wave of creativity forming in the near future, so hopefully there'll be some action round here soon.

As soon as I get my tax refund (should be in the next couple of weeks), I'm going to pull the trigger on the rest of the recording gear I want. My goal after that is to record one song per week, be it a polished song with Keith or a 'scratchpad' type deal by myself.

But I need help. Does anyone know how I could take an Mp3 file and load it somewhere, paste the html and have it up on this site? I can't seem to find out how to make that happen. What I'd like to be able to do is record a song at home, convert the file to Mp3, then load it on this blog for y'all to critique. Anybody have any insight into how to do this (easily and for free)?

Keith and I haven't practiced in a couple of weeks. We've both just been really busy. May not happen this week either as I'm going to see Rhett Miller at Shady Grove tonight (our usual practice night), and I have a pretty busy weekend. Hopefully we can get together sometime this weekend and jam. I'm becoming more open to the idea of adding people to the band, if for no other reason than for motivation to practice and/or gig more frequently.

Anyway, thanks for reading, check back soon for new audio (hopefully)!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Big Mo

No motivation to blog.

Will update when something happens. Could be soon, could be never.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 23, 2009

That's My Dog(us Balbay)

The Band: We had our usual practice on Thursday. We spent a good amount of time jamming without drums (Keith on bass, me on guitar). It was really nice.

The Studio: Can I have $3000?

Miscellany: Went to the Texas-OU basketball game on Saturday. It was awesome. Our team is very very inconsistent, but bloody fun to watch. I've been hatin on Balbay and Abrams all year, but they were the $ in that game. Balbay's range ends well before the free throw line, but he must have a 40" vert and is an excellent passer and defender. Abrams shoots way too much and should in no way be our main offensive weapon, but he has the quickest release I've ever seen and when he gets hot, look out. That said, UT will lose in the 2nd round of the tourney this year.

The coolest thing about the game was that my seat was directly behind the main ESPN cameras (half-court, 1st row of upper deck). It was neat seeing all the things that go into the broadcast. There were 3 cameras, and each operator had a headset where they were getting directions from the production team and a cheat sheet with all the players pics and notes. Some of the notes were like "people to show during downtime: Colt McCoy, Blake Griffin's parents, Mack Brown and Duane Akina". How did they know Colt and Mack were going to be there? I had a moment of awesome during the game; once, when the camera directly in front of me was live (there was a light telling you when each camera was the one on TV, plus you'd see the cameraman perk up and get all careful)...anyway, once, when the camera directly in front of me was live, he was panning the band. I leaned forward (pretty much right in his ear), and go "More chicky, less bandy." He then panned over to the pom girls. I felt badass.

Monday, February 16, 2009

3 Piece Brutality?

Band: Keith invited a bassist to join the band. Supposedly he's a cool guy. His last band was Christian Rock. I'm anxious about this for many reasons, the biggest being that I'm not exactly stoked about dividing my creative input by another factor, I'm not excited about another personality in the mix, and I ain't thrilled about having my technical deficiencies exposed even further. *Sigh*. Oh well, we'll roll on and see what happens. No word from Hanover's about a future gig.

Studio: I found a sweet glass top desk at Big Lot's for a hunerd bucks. There is VERY little left to do in the studio. Anticipate being ready to self-record in the next 30 days.

Miscellany: Not much going down on the rant tip. Work sucks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ten Feet Tall

Despite the fact that I don't think it's very good, I'm putting this song on here for a few reasons:

1. I'm tired of promising something and not having anything for anyone to listen to.
2. I want to give y'all some reference to what I've been blogging about for the last few weeks.
3. I want feedback.

Download the track here (got tired of it autoplaying whenever anyone looks at the blog):

So, as I said before, I'm not all that pleased with the way the 4 songs we recorded turned out. I knew it wasn't going to be professional quality, so I was hoping for something just good enough to send out to the people who book shows at bars in order to secure some gigs.

There a couple of good things about this song. First, I really like the way the guitar sounds. To me, it's a perfect cross between Old 97's "Jagged" and the main guitar on the Counting Crows 2nd albums. Second, I like the way the drums sound. They were miced correctly with quality equipment. They get soloed at the right times and Keith did a great job. Kenny did a really good job mixing the instruments.

My main problems are with the vocals. They ruin the song. For one, it sounds like the same effects as are used for Down Here Together; they're too tinny and clanging sounding to me. Also, I didn't get to record until I got the perfect take because we were rushing. Maybe my voice just sucks so bad the only way to make it bearable is to pile on those fx. That is certainly plausible.

The worst thing about it is the background vocals. I think Kenny went for a sort of punk, off-key equal volume chorus thing. I wanted the background vocals a lot further in the background and more synched in and subdued. He deleted the harmony background I sang, which was good because it sucked, but I would like to go back and take the time to do it right.

Considering how much time he spent (a few days), he did a great job, but all in all, I think we should re-do this and couple of other songs before we pound the pavement trying to get gigs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What an awesome day

Seems like I've gotten into a rhythm with this blog thing; first a blurb about the band, then the studio, then I post about whatever it is I feel like talking about. So, here goes:

The Band:

I recorded vocals for the demo on Thursday. I re-did "How Do You Like Me Now" and "Ten Feet Tall". Keith had re-recorded the drums and went over my guitar a couple of weeks ago and also added a bass guitar track using my Danelectro Longhorn with the PA as an amp. I'm not all that excited about how it turned out, but no matter what, I think we'll try and use it to get some gigs. Once the studio is done I'm definitely going to try and re-do it all ourselves, because, simply put, I'm not proud of what I've heard so far.

Kenny added the same effects on my voice to all 4 songs (a ton of reverb and some sort of chorus that makes it sound pretty tinny). It sounds pretty good for all the choruses, but in slower, more mellow parts, it doesn't fit. He did let me record an echo track and some background harmonies and staggered choruses on Ten Feet Tall.

Anyway, he's going to give us his finalized 4 song mix on Thursday, so if nothing else I'll post at least a clip up here so you can hear what I've been babbling aboot.

The Studio:

I built a stage to get Keith's drums off the ground, and while it doesn't do a $&%^$&#&%*ing thing for soundproofing, it looks sweet and adds some good storage underneath. I also received the 6 Star Wars movie posters I plan to hang on the walls. I've gotta get off my ass and go get the filing cabinets I need to hold the remaining gear I have to buy to get completely ready to record.


If you lived in Austin, how f'n AWESOME was Sunday? It was one of the best days I've had in months. I woke up next to a beautiful girl, went home and had a good breakfast, then went up to Reagan High School and played touch football for a couple of hours. It was absolutely GEORGEOUS outside (upper 60s, slight breeze, sunshine). After that, I went and had an awesome sushi lunch at Maki. Then I went to Home Depot and bought some stuff for my yard (some fruit trees and Rosemary bushes). I got home and planted it all, then cracked a beer just as the Super Bowl started. I sat out on my patio and watched the first half, then, after a great enchilada plate at La Palapa, went over to a friend's for the 2nd half. I got home at like 10 and crashed out. What a day. Hope yours was the same.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Out of boredom and unwarranted sense of obligation

So, Keith (and Sarah) have been sick all weekend; here's hoping they get to feeling better.

I installed an 18" stage in the studio to get Keith's drums off the ground.

My oldest brother turned me on to the Dilbert Blog ( ). Scott Adams has a unique way of looking at things (reminds me of Freakonomics). I've been reading it daily and it caused me to have a pretty long daydream about the direction of the entertainment industry, and in particular the way the music industry is changing.

Geoff Emerick (the guy who recorded the Beatles, whose book I recently finished) said a lot of interesting things about how music has changed since the dawn of digital technology. The one thing he said that stood out most was that basically, the music industry has become flooded with mediocre product. Because, for around $2500, anyone can get ahold of the equipment necessary to make a record, tons of people who otherwise would never have recorded music have been able to record and market their songs virtually the same way as anyone with a record deal. (Emerick's main complaint about this was that there will never be another Beatles because the record labels are forced to get immediate returns on their investments, which prevents them from developing promising acts over multiple albums. These days, if a band doesn't blow up on their first major release, they're tossed aside for the next big thing.)

Think about this: after I get off work today, I can go home, go into my studio, and record an acoustic song. Within a couple of hours, I can edit out the silences and mistakes, add various vocal effects and have a finished "product". It would take me about 30 seconds to compress that to an MP3 file and have it posted on the internet, where anyone in the world can access it instantly for free. This is great for mediocre choades like me, but bad for lower tier professionals and REALLY bad for the major labels.

Music is, at it's core, simple math. There are a finite combination of notes and tones that you can put together to make music. When you filter it down to the combination of notes and sounds that the average person would find appealling, you get down to a pretty limited set. When you filter that down to the very few instruments that people are used to hearing, and into the genre that the paying public wants to hear, and you're talking a VERY small package of ways you box up music and sell it.

If you had a giant database of every hit song ever written, and had them broken down into what chord progressions they were made up of, I bet you could take any new song that hits the radio, plug it into the database, and get multiple songs that have the exact same combination of basic melody and rhythm. What I'm getting at is that there are no new songs. Music, and rock music in particular, is a mature industry. You're not going to make improvements on the existing products. All you're going to do is re-package the stuff that's already out there and do a better job of selling it. (This is one reason I've always been so infatuated with vocal quality--the human voice is, imo, the only popular instrument in modern music that is incredibly unique to the person playing it.)

Anyway, these are mainly just a serious of fairly obvious and exhausted observations. But one thing I've taken from them is that I think that in the future, the demand dollars allocated to the music industry will continue to gravitate toward concerts and away from recordings. I think what you'll see because of this is an increase of middle-tier acts and a decrease in the number of bands doing world and national tours. It's just too expensive for the labels to promote these bands nationally to sell out medium sized venues like Stubb's, when a guy like Bob Schneider, with virtually no advertising expenses, can sell out that place once a month for eternity.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On Various Topics

The Band: Kenny is gonna come over this Thursday and we're supposed to re-record the vocals for the 4 demo tracks.

The Studio: I put up the trim and some guitar wall mounts yesterday. Tomorrow I'm going to install a stage in the back of the room to get Keith's drumset off the ground so it's not so loud outside. I'm in the process of acquiring filing cabinets to store mics, cables, etc. and to make a desk for the recording console.

Miscellany: Every day I go to work, there's a bum on the corner of Braker and 35. Not the same one, but there's always one there. I made a vow after I got back from Iraq that I would give food or money to every homeless person I saw. Well, they finally broke me. I just can't do it anymore. I've always tried to sympathize with homeless people because I look back on my own life and think that there were a few crucial moments where if things had gone just a little differently, I'd be right where they are. I'm a very lazy person; quite possibly the laziest in Travis County, which puts me in the running for laziest worldwide. I often wonder what a bum's life is like. Sometimes I daydream about being a bum; wandering from town to town, getting in adventures, no responsibilities...the ultimate "living in the moment". I'm pretty sure that's not really how it is.

Somewhere I read that like 85% of bums are either severely mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or both. The remaining 15% are the folks who totally opted out of society. Those are the bums whose lives I romanticize. But this weekend, I think I lived just like they live, except I was inside instead of outside. I slept 15 hours on Saturday and another 13 on Sunday. Not only did I not leave my house, I wasn't even standing up for more than 2 hours between Saturday and Sunday. I would imagine bums lives are pretty routine. You sleep, eat, and find ways to entertain yourself. I would bet a typical Austin bum sleeps an average of 12 hours per day. For the 12 hours they're awake, their time is spent eating, begging, or entertaining themselves. Some might argue that bums spend a lot of time travelling, but those aren't bums; those are called hobos. I don't know what the point of this is. Maybe it's just to get it off my chest that I daydream about being a homeless person.

I'm reading a book I got for christmas about Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer for the Beatles. It's awesome. First of all, I love biographies. Second, I love music. Third, I'm starting to get really interested in the art of recording. I'm far from a voracious reader, so a book really has to be down my alley for me to finish it, much less devour 300 pages in less than 2 days.

I've read a biography of the Beatles before. I've sort of ignored the Beatles for a long time, for various reasons. First, they were way before my time. Second, my parents didn't listen to a lot of Beatles while I was growing up. They had the Imagine soundtrack, which features 20 excellent Beatles' selections, but other than that, they weren't big fans. Lastly, the Beatles were just too big for my tastes. I was always kind of scared I'd get into the Beatles really heavy and realize that most of my favorite bands are just copycats.

Anyway, this guy Geoff Emerick did a pretty good job of describing what it was like recording the Beatles. He also does a very good job explaining many of the common recording processes and terms so that anybody can understand them. Many of the methods he used are totally obsolete now due to digital technology, but the art of capturing and mixing sound hasn't changed. The book's not perfect; he is totally on his own and Paul McCartney's nuts, and really dogs pretty much everyone else. Personally, here are my thoughts on the Beatles: Paul McCartney was the true musical genius behind them, but Lennon was crucial because he provided balance. Harrison was a decent musician, but nowhere near the songwriter the other two were. That being said, "Here Comes the Sun" ranks in my top 10 Beatles songs. Ringo is a humongous douche and from all acounts was not as nice or easygoing as he fashioned his image to be. Generally, John Lennon, as much as I love him, was overrated and McCartney was underrated--at least in terms of contribution to the Beatles' quality of music. Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles; being way too big for too long broke them up. It's only a matter of time before a machine running at that velocity breaks down. Now, that being said, I'm pretty sure Yoko Ono was a crazy voodoo style bitch. No one could survive being that famous for that long--shit, look at Michael Jackson, and divide that by 4, and that's what happened to the Beatles. The same things destroyed them that end many a good thing: drugs, women, and money (basically, greed).

Anyway, there are some things I've taken from this book that I plan to use once I start recording. First, I've decided that I only need one electric guitar, one acoustic guitar, and one amp. Having a signature sound is not only cool, but cheap. Second, pretty much every song I record, I'd like to have some kind of vocal harmony. This is constantly mentioned in the book as one of the things that set the Beatles apart.

I had a laundry list of non-Stevenson Road related topics I was going to blog about today, but it looks like this post is already starting to drag on, so we'll save those for another time.

Thanks for reading, have a great week.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Same ol'


So, Keith and Kenny re-recorded the guitar and drums for the 4 songs we are going to have on the demo. This Thursday I'm going to do the vocals. The goal is to have a 4 song demo ready by the end of the month and start pounding the downtown Austin pavement trying to acquire gigs.

Also, the studio now has a mini-fridge, so we have cold beer on the ready at all times.

I'm essentially 3 items away from having the necessary gear to start recording myself: a Sennheiser 421 microphone ($379), a DigiDesign 003 recording interface with ProTools LE ($1300), and a mid-range desktop computer ($500). I can sell some of my extra gear to buy the mic and CPU, but the interface is gonna be a big expenditure. Once I have it, I'd like to add a feature to the weekly blog post where I put up audio of our practice or a song we wrote.

Hope all is well. See yens.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy 2009 everybody. With the holidays being so busy and not much going on with the band, I haven't posted in awhile. I should be back to posting every Monday now.

We got our unmastered 4 track demo back from the guy who recorded us last week. I think we recorded 6 songs total, and I can't remember which ones they were. The tracks we got back were Down Here Together, Waste My Time, Ten Feet Tall, and How Do You Like Me Now. I'll probably post one of the songs next Monday.

I'm not all that happy with how they turned out. On the one hand, I shouldn't expect much since we were getting this all for free, but on the other, I was really hoping for a demo that I felt comfortable giving out. This isn't that. Unless I win the lottery, I think the way for us to go is to record it ourselves.

Other than that, not much is going on. Keith and I practiced last week and tried out a couple of new songs that sound promising. Until we have a good demo, we're pretty much stuck in neutral.

Anyway, that's all I got for now. Thanks for reading. Take care.