Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Update

I seriously doubt anyone comes here anymore, but, since if I ever do blog again, it'll be here, I figured I'd drop an update on that ass. Here's the shortlist of what's happened over the last 8 months:

-Keith is busy trying to repopulate the earth, as Sarah is preggers again.
-We haven't played music together in months.
-Personally, I've fallen in love. It's a girl I met at work. She's awesome.
-I also (very recently) changed jobs, so here's to new beginnings.
-I attended SXSW again this year. This time around, I volunteered on the transportation crew in order to get a free badge. It was fun, but I doubt I'll do it again next year. Too tiring, considering all the other things clamoring for my time and energy.
-Between feeble attempts at staying physically active (volleyball and running), my girlfriend, work, doing Big Brothers Big Sisters, and my gargantuan social network of family and friends and their various births, weddings, deaths, and holidays, I'm busy as balls. I still pick up the guitar several times per week, but the songwriting, band practice, recording, piano playing, etc. have come to a screeching halt. I don't see any end to the hiatus in sight.
-It's only been 6 months, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to marry this girl.

Ok, that's enough for now. Hope you're doing well. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall 2010 Update

Hello everyone. Looks like it's been 5 months since I last posted. Wow; as my dad says, "time just evaporates".

So, to give you an update on what (Keith and) I have been up to over the summer and early fall...not much. Well, not much as a band. Keith's wife is due with little Levi any day now, so that's kind of a big deal. Plus he's got his day job. I've still got my day job as well. I'm still single. I spend my weeknights running (Mon/Wed), playing volleyball (Tue), and going to the movies (Th), so I'm kind of in a routine. I'd say "rut", but I really enjoy all those things. That's one of the main reasons I never really envisioned the band or my musicianship ever becoming more than a casual hobby; I enjoy doing too many things. Plus, I'm lazy and I lack talent. As far as music goes, there really isn't anything to report. Keith and I rarely play, usually once every other month or so when we've been hanging out and get one too many beers in us.

I did get a new guitar, a 1974 Alvarez Yairi 5046 acoustic. Rhett Miller plays an 1970s Alvarez, so after seeing his guitar in a YouTube vid, I looked on ebay and found this one for $100. It isn't the same model/quality as the one he plays, but it is one of the best purchases I've ever made. It sounds GREAT. It stays in tune, has great action, and wonderful tone. It sounds better than the Gibson I recklessly spent $2,000 on (*shutter*).

I also started working more frequently on a solo acoustic set. I've got 4 songs that I really really like, 4 more songs that I would feel comfortable including in a set, roughly 20 more songs that are finished (but I don't really like all that much), and 100s of unfinished songs. I wrote what I feel is the best song I've ever penned about 2 months ago. It's a sad, slow ballad about heartbreak (surprised?). I've played it for 1/2 a dozen different people and they all really liked it. It's called "How You Done Me". I'm really proud of it (in case you couldn't tell). I like it so much, I'm worried I've unknowingly plagiarized it and just can't remember where I stole the melody from. The people I've played it for tell me it reminds them of Ryan Bingham. I would put that song and "Gettin' Busy" up against anything. But writing 1 quality song every 5 years isn't all that great a pace.

After I wrote that song, I put an ad on Craigslist to record a few acoustic songs. Of course I got inundated with replies, so now it's just a matter of sorting through them and choosing who to use. That, and mustering up the courage to do it. Frankly, I'm just not very secure in my talent level. I KNOW my guitar playing is amatuer. While I think I can carry a tune, I still shudder every time I hear my recorded voice. So, on the one hand, I want to record with someone who isn't badass/experienced because it would make me less insecure, but on the other hand, I don't see the point in using anyone but the best, because the only way it's worthwhile is if I get the professional results I can be proud of. So, it's a conundrum. That's one of the things that's least fun about being perpetually single; you don't have anyone encouraging you all the time.

Anyway, maybe I'll get the courage to get the acoustic songs recorded, maybe I won't. At this point, I'm done making predictions about what I will and won't do. I'm too busy enjoying daily life to worry about stuff like that.

Now that summer's over, my weekends have changed from being consumed by Port O'Connor to being consumed by college football. Normally, that's awesome, but this year it's been kind of a bummer (one of the main, but not only, reasons for this is that my beloved Longhorns have 3 losses). I'm ready for the cold weather and the holidays. I often think that because springtime is the one season in which I have ample free time (what with Summer = POC, Fall = Football, and Winter = Holidays), that would be the best time to devote to hobbies (music being one of them). We'll see. There's an endless list of shit I need to do to my house. I want to purchase another investment property. I need to find a better job (or start grad school). I want to train harder for the Cap 10k. Come spring, all of those things will be competing with my epic laziness in the battle for my free time.

Finally, the Old 97s have a new album out. It is very good. "State of Texas" is a song I wish I could've written. "Every Night is Friday Night" is great. "The Magician" is also very catchy. It's nowhere near as good as their 1st 5 studio albums, but it's better than Drag It Up and about as good as Blame It On Gravity.

Well, I guess that's enough for now. Hope this finds y'all well, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Long time no post

Just figured I give a quick update since it's been so long since I've posted.

Keith and I have taken a sort of involuntary hiatus; we haven't practiced since March. Between Keith's wife getting pregnant, my grandmother getting sick and subsequently passing away, and my getting certified to teach, there just hasn't been time. Priorities.

Not sure where we'll go from here; I don't anticipate Keith having an abundance of free time once his bambino (Levi if boy, Gwyneth if girl) arrives, and starting my teaching career is much more important to me than music.

One thing I have done recently is start trying to organize all the songs I've written, decide which ones I want to flush out and which ones get left behind in case I ever finally put together a solo acoustic setlist. I know I've mentioned this before, but I've written over 50 songs. There's probably only 4 or 5 that I'm proud enough of to want to play in front of people, so I may start trying to write some new songs just for me.

I'm bummed that I haven't progressed further with the expensive recording gear I bought, but it's not going anywhere.

I've also been playing the piano quite a bit. I've gotten to the point now that I can play any song I know on guitar on the piano, so it's been fun banging out piano versions of Old 97's songs when I come home drunk.

Ok, hope this finds you well. Much Love!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Warning: This is going to be a long post. Sorry.

My buddy Derrick hooked me up with a free South-By-Southwest (SXSW) wristband. I'd never done this interactive gaming/film/music festival properly before, and neither had he, so we decided to go balls out. Boy, did we.

First, a little bit about how Southby works. Basically, a shitload of entertainment industry folks and their fans swarm Austin for 2 weeks each March. The 1st weekend is the interactive portion, where computer folk show off new innovations. The rest of the 1st week is the film festival. From my perspective the film portion has lost a little bit of it's luster because the main dudes responsible for Austin's film scene (Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Mike Judge) have kind of faded out in the last couple of years. Another reason I think the film festival isn't what it once was is because I think people realize that it will never overtake Sundance or Cannes as the premier film festival in the US/World, so you're almost never going to get the heaviest hitters to attend. Anyway, I didn't attend any of the 1st week (and never have before), but I heard the highlights were that Bill Murray was in town and that McLovin' had a film he premiered.

The 2nd week of SXSW is the music festival. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of bands/venues during this time. TONS of bands get their big break at SXSW, and it's a significant milestone for any up-and-coming band to book a gig there. Hanson, Semisonic, Toadies, Collective Soul, and Beck are just a few of the artists I know of that got a big break during SXSW. Anyway, Derrick had a girlfriend who was a grizzled SX veteran, and she kind of gave him some pointers on how to maximize the fun. A bunch of companies (Miller Lite, Red Bull, Levi's, Taco Bell among many others) sponsor day parties where all you have to do is have a wristband (only a few thousand are sold, another few thousand are given to industry people and volunteers) and RSVP, and you get free booze and food all day. It's pretty sweet. We RSVP'ed for both the Taco Bell and Levi's parties, but ended up only attending the Taco Bell one. It was called "The Pure Volume Lounge". Anyway, after picking up my wristband on Tuesday night (and forgoing the opportunity to see Jakob Dylan due to the line and my fatigue), I took off of work Wed-Fri and did it right. Here's a day-by-day account of my experience. edit: I've placed songs from many of the acts I saw in the upper right hand corner of this blog. I'd be interested in what you think of them.


I went over to Derrick's apartment, dropped off my car and we got a cab downtown. It dropped us off near the Levi's party, which I had read had free Budweiser. The line was brutal, so we continued to the Taco Bell party, which was at the old Coppertank bar. The line there was brutal, but I lucked into getting to cut to the front because my name started with 'S'; I sweet talked the girl into letting me pick up D's too. We were in. We got inside around 4pm and immediately started downing free beer (the featured free booze was Miller Lite and Sweet Tea Vodka, and Sweet Tea Vodka is horrible). We had kind of flipped through the SXSW pamphlet and picked out which bands we both wanted to see. We had settled on Nas/Damian Marley for Wednesday night, Stone Temple Pilots for Thursday, Muse for Friday. No one playing on Saturday seemed all the worthwhile. So we stayed at the free beer place for 4 hours, in which time we saw 4 bands; here's a review of each:

Miniature Tigers: This was an alt-rock band who (to me) sounded like Modest Mouse, only not quite as good. Not offensive, just nothing worth writing home about.

Choir of Young Believers: This was a noise pop band from Amsterdam. Lots of like, moaning and keyboards. It wasn't bad, and I would probably rate them higher than Miniature Tigers, but still nothing spectacular. Instead of a bass player they had this hot blond with nice cans playing a cello who looked like my brother's HS girlfriend. The lead singer looked EXACTLY like Oates from Hall & Oates.

Meiko: A pop folk chick like Lisa Loeb, only saccharin. She didn't have a very good set; she had to start 2 songs over because her capo was misplaced and it was throwing her band off. Her lyrics were pretty trite. IMO, to be what she was trying to be have one of 3 qualities: a smoking hot body and face, really really skilled songwriting, or a fantastic singing voice. She was attractive, but not hot, and her voice was just above average. Tough break.

Drink Up Buttercup: I'm a sucker for high energy bands whose music is easy on the ears, and this band had it. They were far better than any of the previous 3 bands I'd seen thus far. They were good, and had some gimmicks that surprisingly worked, like banging on trashcans and shit. I really liked them. Their lead singer was this slightly overweight southern-homeless looking dude with a severely chipped front tooth. I can totally see that end up being how they get described if they get popular ("You know, that band with the dude with the chipped tooth"). Nobody has chipped teeth anymore.

So, Nas went on at Emo's at 11, so we left Coppertank about 8 (being about 8 beers deep each). Luckily, the line for folks with wristbands was short, so we only waited about 10 minutes to get in. (This is a good time to mention that without a wristband, you're pretty much screwed if you are trying to see any big name act.) Emo's has 2 stages (actually 3, but one was temporary and across the street), so we went back and forth between the 2. We saw 5 acts. Here's the review:

The Strange Boys: Going into SXSW, I hoped to just personally discover one band that I would REALLY REALLY like and start following. This is that band. First, we walked in, and the place was jam-ass packed, so you were like "wtf? why are all these people in here?". After listening and watching for less than 5 minutes, I'd made up my mind that these were some bad mf'ers. They have a kind of Bright Eyes/Weary Boys sound to them. They had this innocent looking chick playing a saxophone, which they used sort of how you hear a harmonica used. It was sweet. They were playing really really tight, they all had great stage presence. They were money. Their recordings do not do them justice.

Year Long Disaster: I don't really remember anything about this band; I do know they played harder edged rock. This was right after Strange Boys, so all I was doing was raving about them and reminding myself to quit drinking so fast now that beers had gone from free to $5 each. This is a good time to mention that, while I did get a free wristband (which I think has a face value of like $160), SXSW was f'n EXPENSIVE. I spent well over $300 over the 4 days I was there, even though I didn't have to pay any covers and drank free beer the first half of each day. Getting a buzz was cheap, but getting wasted enough to force a hangover of Leaving Los Vegas proportions was expensive.

Mariachi El Bronx: So, evidently there's this legendary punk band called The Bronx. Well, they decided to stop playing punk and form a mariachi band. Weird, I know. It was weird, and it kind of sucked. This fat, bald, rough-looking dude all tatted up dressed up in a full-blown mariachi gear singing spanish love songs in a raspy heavy metal 10,000 cigarette voice. To each their own, I guess.

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Let me start by saying that heavy metal/scream rock is NOT my thing. Next to techno, it's my least favorite kind of music. That said, these dudes were f'n AWESOME. They were completely, utterly, totally f'n insane. 3 different band members were, at one point or another, hanging from the rafters above the stage or jumping off of 10 ft high speaker stacks into an unsuspecting crowd. At one point, both me and Derrick were pretty sure we saw a dude die. The guitarist hung upside down from 15' above the crowd, and just dropped. Head first. Like I said, it was crazy. I was worried. Listen to the song I have linked. That's what it was like.

Nas with Damian Marley: I'd been wanting to attend a hip-hop show for a long time, and this was a good one. The only other proper hiphop show I'd ever been to was a Jurassic 5 concert about 8 years ago. Both these guys were really good, and I was pleased with how Damian Marley incorporated his pops' music without overdoing it. Hip hop shows are hard to describe; they're just a different animal all together. One thing is, I DEFINITELY put them in a higher class than DJ shows, which I'll get to later.

We left Emo's after the Nas show and headed over to Dirty Dog pub, where a band called Black and White Years was scheduled to play at 1am. I was pretty drunk by this point. I was surprised that there wasn't a line for this show, even though it was 1am on a Wednesday. B&W Yrs have a pretty big hit on the radio right now, a song called "Power to Change" (listen at right). It's a really good song, but overall, this band wasn't my cup of tea. First of all, they just kind of looked like posuers. (Now's a good time to mention the inordinate amount of posuers in Austin during SXSW. It's like nobody goes out without putting on skinny jeans, danish shoes, and a sportcoat over a graphic tee. It pissed me off and was hard not to call people out. Being in a band doesn't make you cool. Being cool makes you cool. You're not cool.) Anyway, the lead singer looked too much like a mustache-having caricature of Jason Biggs for me to like them. And their lead guitarist was a flaming homo and kept looking at people (including me) all creepy. But they did do a good job on their hit.

After the bar closed at 2, we were so drunk and exhausted we decided to just head home instead of going back to the Taco Bell party (where they serve free beer until 4am). We had to walk like 3 miles before a cab picked us up.


.Surprisingly, I didn't feel very hungover when I woke up at 11am Thursday morning, I guess because I had wisely been mixing in water and coca cola for the 2nd half of the previous night. I met Derrick at his place at 3, waited an hour for a cab, and got downtown around 4:30. We had planned to go back to the Taco Bell place, but realized when we got there that there was no free booze due to Thursday being "All-Ages" day. So, our plan became to grab a couple of beers somewhere, see Citizen Cope at the Driskill at 7, then head over to Austin Music Hall at 8 to get in line to (hopefully) see Stone Temple Pilots.

We ended up at Logan's because it was next to the Driskill, had a couple of 3 beers. We headed over to the Driskill 45 minutes before the Citizen Cope show to find a line which gave us no hope of getting in, so we just decided to head over to the Austin Music Hall to see what was what over there. By this time we had met up with my friend Smitty.

When we got to Austin Music Hall we unexpectedly found that there was almost no line for wristbands to get into STP, so we went across the street to this tiny bar and had a 3 beers. This pathetic kid was playing in there. To me, he looked EXACTLY like Chris Kattan from his "Azrael" SNL skit. After he was done, he came up to us and tried to give us a cd, saying he sounded "EXACTLY like an early pink floyd". No you don't.

After that we went into AMH. We saw 2 bands open for STP. They were both fairly unmemorable, but for the sake of being thorough, they were The Color Turning and TAB The Band. Both sounded late 90's rock style to me, although TAB The Band was more my style.

I'm just going to go ahead and say it: the Stone Temple Pilots concert on March 18th, 2010 was the best concert I've ever been to. A lot of things have to come together to make a great concert, and they all did for me this night. First, I was with 2 of my best friends in the world, and they are guys I tend to always have fun around. Second, my buzz was peaking right as STP took the stage. Finally, STP just put on an amazing show.

Going in, I knew I liked STP's music, I just had no idea how much. As they played hit after hit after hit, all the memories of shooting baskets in my driveway in high school with my older brother while Core jammed on the Sony boombox came rushing back. I realized that Core now firmly holds a spot in my "Top 5 albums in terms of total listens in my formative years" list, right behind August and Everything After, Imagine, Madman Across The Water, and Recovering the Satellites. And STP played EVERY SINGLE SONG I had wanted to hear, despite the fact that the whole reason they were playing was because they are promoting a new album. It was the 1st time I've ever been "that dude" at a concert. You know, the one who looks like he's having a 90 minute orgasm, thrashing around in an otherwise still crowd and singing every lyric at the top of his lungs. I got lost in it. It was truly awesome. Of course, being the grizzled veterans that they are, they played flawlessly tight. And Scott Weiland was MUCH cooler than I expected. I expected this jaded asshole drudging his way through the show, but he totally kicked ass. He did a lot of Mick Jagger strutting, but he did it well. There's tons of video of the show up on YouTube if you're interested. Even the light show and trippy video sequence, something I usually abhor, totally added to the experience. Adding the cherry was Roger Krieger, the lead guitarist from The Doors, coming out during the encore to play Roadhouse Blues. Like I said, it was the best concert I've ever been to. Afterward, in a complete daze, we went for a celebratory beer at La Zona Rosa. We all 3 totally agreed that we had just gotten our collective faces melted off. I headed home with a permagrin.


.I woke up Friday morning knowing there was no way that the previous 2 days could be topped. D and I cabbed it downtown and headed into the Taco Bell party around 5. More free beer. To my surprise, a band called The Honey Brothers was setting up right when we walked in. This was special because the drummer for this band is none other than Adrian Grenier, star of Entourage and #4 on my "Top 5 Dudes I want to Be" list behind Tom Brady, Rhett Miller, and Adam Duritz. It was cool because there were only like 50 people in the whole place. The band was pretty much meh (although they were at least easy on the ears), but that didn't matter to me because I was too busy observing Vinny Chase's stage presence and overall demeanor. It was weird, because he kind of came across as awkward and shy. It was obvious that most of the people there were there to check him out, and he and his bandmates knew this, so the onus was kind of on him to make all the rock talk, but you could tell it wasn't something he felt comfortable doing. At one point he was like "Uh, what's up south-by? So, who likes to ride bikes?" Then nothing. After the show, he was really gracious about sticking around and taking pictures and whatnot. He struck me as pretty down-t0-earth.

The highlight of Friday was supposed to be seeing Muse at Stubb's. It was a "surprise" show; I put "surprise" in quotations because everyone knew about it. I say everyone because I saw them already in line when we got to Stubb's 4 hours before Muse was supposed to play. I tried to do an impression of my best friend and just walk in, but I got stopped all 3 times. I tried throug the front gate with the "just avoid eye contact and walk straight" move, but a fat turd volunteer stopped me just before paydirt. I tried the "act like a member of the help" move by going in the roadie entrance, but Spicoli was there to thwart. Finally, I tried the "act like you belong" move through the VIP entrance, which was inside the restaurant, and it worked. The bad thing is, I had to go back out and get my 2 buddies. When we got back, this fat bouncer dude was there.

Anyway, we left Stubb's and decided to check out a hiphop lineup at The Scoot Inn, featuring B-Real from Cypress Hill. As you can imagine, marijuana was absolutely RAMPANT. A contact high was a given. This young Brooklyn-based MC named Ruste Juxx offered me a joint outside of the portopotty, which I thought was pretty nice, considering my friends and I were 3 of the about 12 honkies in the whole place, which was filled with about 1,500 people. This place was crazy, and definitely a brand new experience for me. I'm glad I went. I did, however, end up in Deebo's pigeon coop, sweating like a slave. We ended up leaving pretty early, and only saw 1 1/2 acts, this rap group called Kidz in the Hall, and a part of Ruste Juxx. I was EXHAUSTED and vowed not to go out on Saturday.


We got a late start on Saturday, since it was my 4th straight day of binge drinking. We didn't get downtown until around 8. We started off at this shitty bar called Friends watching this terrible band called Coma and Algers. They were horrible. Hard rock. Next we headed down to MoMo's, one of my favorite bars, to try (again) to check out Citizen Cope. This time we got in. We watched this girl from Wimberley whose name escapes me and left before Citizen Cope went on, because Smitty hates Americana. I have to say that I absolutely love MoMo's. It's in my top 5 small venues f'sho.

After MoMo's we went to the Red Bull party, which was being held in a parking lot on the corner of 4th and Colorado. There were several DJs playing. Now for my rant on DJs. With the advent of digital music, the "art" aspect of DJing has been reduced to choosing the music. Nobody uses analog turntables anymore, so there's no technical skill involved. The computer matches the tempos up for you. So, where's the art in playing CD's? I don't know, who am I to judge, I just don't "get" it.

Which brings me to The Crystal Method. We stayed at the Red Bull party for only about an hour, mostly because it was below 40 degrees outside. We headed over to La Zona Rosa to see Crystal Method. I've always kind of found that, no matter what kind of music, there are reasons that artists gain popularity. So, even when I go see "name" acts whose recorded music I don't care for, I tend to see the value of their performance. Not The Crystal Method. It was the weakest thing I've ever seen. It was one dude and a laptop. That's it. I'm not even going to say anything more about it.

After that, we went to a bar and got shitfaced with a group of girls from my hometown. We all ended up at Smitty's apartment and didn't go to bed until after sunup. So that made 4 days/nights in a row of insane amounts of toxins being ingested into my feeble body. Hence my 101 degree fever today.

So that was my SXSW experience. I'm really, really, glad I went, and if I'm offered a free wristband, I'd do it again. Not sure I'd want to take off of work for 3 days to stand in lines (which is what the folks without wristbands do). But overall, a VERY memorable experience.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Slow goin'

Here's a short update. I've got a shitload of irons in the fire right now, so recording is going really slow. Between my big boy job, getting certified to be a teacher, and various social committments, there hasn't been much time for the studio. And when there has been, it's been spent dicking off on the piano. So, today is really the first day in several weeks I've fucked with Pro Tools.

Keith and I missed a few weeks because both of us just had other shit going on, so we haven't made any progress on recording "Tyler".

I ended up deciding to record "Walkaways" instead of "Question". The main reason is that Walkaways is in standard tuning, while Question is in the Old 97s preferred tuning, which has every string tuned down one step. I didn't feel like messing with that. Plus, I think Adam Duritz's voice is better than Rhett Miller's. So I imported the song on Pro Tools and looped it like 10 times. Then I created tracks for the vocals and guitar. I must've sang the thing 50 times. I had a hard time figuring out how far away to stand from the mic. It's hard to simultaneously concentrate on singing and making sure the track isn't clipping out. So, I still don't have a take I'm totally comfortable with. The guitar has had the same problems. I've still got a long way to go. So anyway, there you are.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Music is Math

So this dude came over and helped me get my Pro Tools set up working. It took him about 3 hours, but it got done. Turns out all I really needed to do was download an update from Digidesign (that would've been nice to f'n know) and not piggyback my hard drives. Anyway, so far so good. One thing I learned is that USB 2.0 is as fast as FireWire.

On Wednesday after he got it working, I stayed in the studio and watched the 3 hour instructional video that came with the software. It's amazing. I'd had virtually no experience with MIDI before. Basically, technology has advanced to the point that digital instruments are almost indistinguishable from real ones. With a MIDI keyboard (another $150), I have access to over 10,000 different instruments, amps, etc., all of whose sample rates are so high that the average person wouldn't be able to tell the difference between me playing through a MIDI keyboard or playing the real thing. Amazing. Basically, it felt like when Neo realizes he can pwn the matrix and he just starts seeing 1's and 0's. That's all music is, 1's and 0's. Frequencies.

So yesterday, Keith came over. I decided the best way to learn to record was to record a cover first. That way, we're working toward something in which we know what the end result should sound like. I also decided we should be doing 2 covers simultaneously, one "rock" song that includes all the basic rock instruments (guitars, drums, vox, bass), and one solo acoustic song. That way I'd have something to work on when Keith wasn't around. Keith agreed that "Tyler" by Toadies was a good choice. It's a fairly basic song, we already know how to play it, and it doesn't include a lot of layers and effects. Plus it's a cool song. In my alone time (which I have an abundance of), I'll record "Question" by Rhett Miller. It was a toss up between that and "Walkaways" by Counting Crows. Anyway, the plan is to record until we have exact replicas of those songs. By doing that, we should learn the basic controls of the interface and a lot of the standard tricks in adding effects, editing and mixing. (I have learned that recording is broken down into 3 phases: recording, editing, and mixing.) The thing I'm probably most excited about it mastering recording vocals so that they sound badass. Which is nothing like how they sound coming directly out of my mouth.

Yesterday was a learning process. I had trouble configuring the Inputs and Outputs (I/O) to get the (@#&*$&@)$*(&er to recognize the mics. But eventually, we were able to record 4 simultaneous drum tracks. When deciding how best to place the mics, I stumbled upon this pretty f'n cool site: . We only had 4 mic stands (even though we have 7 studio-quality mics), so we decided to go with the "Led Zeppelin" (Glyn Johns' technique) setup except with an extra mic at the back of the room. Keith listened to the song on my iPhone and played along. Because it had taken us roughly 2 hours to get everything set up, we only did one take, so we'll have to tackle it again this weekend or next week to get a keeper take. After Keith left I stayed in the studio for another 2 hours and messed around with the editing window. It really is amazing. Stretching, cutting,'s like the audio is Play-dough. And that part of it was WAY more user-friendly than I expected, especially after the debacle of getting it all working in the first place.

Anyway, the good thing now is that we can leave the 3 mics we have where they are and everything will be set up whenever Keith comes over from now on. We still have 3 mics and one stand (which includes the 2 highest quality vocal/amp/acoustic instrument mics) that we can move around freely, which is all I need to record on my own. I'd still like to add another mic stand so we can direct mic the snare and have 2 overhead mics to catch the toms and cymbals (with the 4th mic inside the bass drum), but even as it is, with some minor adjustments it would more than suffice. I was also really pleasantly surprised with the mic quality and the lack of buzz and hum. Pretty stoked about that. The only thing keeping us from recording a professional quality demo is time, energy, and knowledge.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chunk from Goonies...

knows more about computers than I do.

So I spent roughly $2,500 on recording equipment 2 weeks ago. The bulk of it arrived last week. The main components are a Digidesign Digi 003 Rack Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) featuring Pro Tools LE 8, a Hewlett Packard Pavilion PC with 22" 1080p HD monitor running Windows 7, 2 TB external firewire hard drives, and a Behringer EURORACK UB1202 Mixer.

So, on Friday, I got home early and started getting it all set up. I powered up the computer and installed the monitor driver, the USB wireless network adaptor, and both hard drives. I was now ready to install the Digidesign stuff (or so I thought). Insert install disk. Half an hour later, find out you needed to install QuickTime in order to do anything. System Restore. Install Quick Time. Re-insert PT install disk. Half an hour later, BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). System Recovery. Install monitor driver, USB wireless network adaptor, hard drives, and Quick Time. Look online to find possible solutions to problem. Actual Digidesign site worthless. Find message board that looks somewhat helpful but is poorly organized. Get pissed that you've spent $2500 on something and no one helps you get it working. Partition external firewire hard drive; realize you are in over your head. Insert install disk; BSOD with different error message. System Recovery. Install monitor driver, USB wireless network adaptor, hard drives, and Quick Time. Look online to find possible solutions to problem. Actual Digidesign site worthless. Find message board that looks somewhat helpful but is poorly organized. Get even more pissed that you've spent $2500 on something and no one helps you get it working. Futile attempt to switch firewire port to "Lecacy Mode". It is now Sunday at 9pm. Pick up hammer. Realize you are acting like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction when he finds out she forgot the watch. Put ad on Craigslist offering to pay someone to set this shit up for you. Go to bed angry.

So that's where this is at. I've got 2 promising emails from people who seem to have the skills to help me. What's another couple of hundred dollars?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Children Get Older...

So I turned 30 on Saturday. Birthdays, like New Years, are a natural time of reflection, so I pretty much spend every January on the philisophical tip. Real quick, a band update: Keith and I are still practicing pretty much every week. I have the $ for all the recording equipment we need and plan on making a purchase in the next 2 weeks. Then hopefully we can record over the next few months and have a record of our efforts. You all will be kept in the loop during this process.

Here's a thought I had: American generations are defined by the attitudes of their upper middle class. Poor people and rich people pretty much act the same from one gen to the next. But from decade to decade, the middle class is what changes and leaves their mark. The 50's kids were defined by their #'s (Baby Boomers), the 60's (The Hippies) by their drug use, the 70's (Disco) by their music, 80's (The Yuppies) by their ambition, the 90's (Generation X) by their lack thereof. I feel like my generation (which falls somewhere between Gen Y and whatever comes next) is defined by their unrealistic expectations of adult life. We went to college, got out, and realized that life from that point forward was nothing like we expected, in a bad way.

Advice from a dude who just turned 30, or things I would tell my 18 year old son if I had one:
-Putting yourself in the right situation is the most important factor in success. Set yourself up to succeed and the road will be much easier.
-Make good grades. Most likely, what you'll sacrifice to do so is just excess, whether it be excess laziness, partying, or work.
-Always give yourself something to look forward to.
-On women: if you find a good girl, marry her and treat her right. The older you get, the fewer there are. On the other hand, always know that the right girl is out there waiting for you to find her; don't let her down by settling with the wrong one. Never EVER get back together with a girl more than once. And don't waste time stewing over the ones that didn't work out. Move on quickly; don't ruminate.
-Learn how to save money. Debt can be crippling.
-Take risks. As much as you can, take your fear of failure out of the decision making process.
-Every time you type or upload something, go ahead and assume that everyone in the world is going to see it.
-Never ever ever be afraid to ask for help. You'll be surprised how much you can get just by asking for it.
-Give more than you take. You'll feel better that way.
-Never cheat on a girlfriend or spouse; it's just not worth it.
-Don't let positive things go unsaid. You never know how much other people appreciate it, and giving sincere compliments is an easy win win.
-Form good diet and exercise habits early.
-Don't buy a house unless you're absolutely certain you're going to be living there for at least 10 years.
-Anytime you are truly enjoying life, take a moment and let it burn into your memory so you can always know those times exist.
-Stay in touch with people from your past; the relationships you've maintained the longest are the ones that bear the most fruit.
-Try not to worry so much.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Happy New Year!

I hate New Year's Eve. It never ends well for me. This year's New Year's Eve featured a 101 degree fever, an at-fault car accident (2nd one in less than a month), paying a $60 cover to get into a bar surrounded by douchebags, and being in bed by 11 pm.

I've figured out that I love to anticipate shit. So today I made a spreadsheet of what my weekends and weekdays look like for the entire calendar year. Here's the breakdown:

10 weekends will be spent in Port O'Connor.
10 weekends wlll be spent attending or revolve around watching a UT Football game.
5 weekends will be spent attending or revolve around watching a UT Basketball game.
5 weekends will be spent on Lake Austin or Lake Travis.
5 weekends will be spent as holidays (my birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's) around family (most likely in Victoria).
5 weekends will be spent working on my house.
5 weekends will be spent travelling (counting annual trip to Dallas, which doesn't count against 10 weekends of UT Football).
5 weekends will be spent attending Astros or Express baseball games.
2 weekends will be spent going back to Victoria to visit family.

I realize that it's impossible to plan out an entire year's worth of weekends like this, but I'd bet if you had a record of how last year went for me, it wouldn't look much different.

Between March and October, Mondays will be spent in my volleyball league. Thursdays (all year) are for music/band practice. By summer I expect to enroll in either an MBA program or an alternative Teacher Certification program, which will take up my Tuesday and Wednesdays.

I made a New Year's resolution to change my diet this year. I'm giving up all fried foods and sweets. It has not been easy this 1st week. I love chocolate. And Chic-Fil-A Chicken Sandwiches and Waffle Fries. But it's only been 10 days since I've implemented the restrictions and I've lost 2 lbs. I was amazed at how low most ideal weights are. I'm 5ft 9.5 in and I figured I was a good weight at 165. Not so. My range is from 125 to 170, but my ideal weight is about 150. It's amazing how once you start adding pounds, they come so quickly and unnoticeably.

I love anticipating shit. Life's more fun when you have something to look forward to.

Hope 2010 rocks y'all's socks.

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.