Thursday, December 30, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
The songs I'm working on at the moment are coming along, I'm struggling to get vocals done for one of them, 'these falling leaves'. It's a song concerning the overuse of the planets resources so it's difficult not to fall into standard cliche phrases. At the same time the issue is important to me so I want to be able to speak freely through the song, I feel if I can get it right it can be an effective tune. 'Lullaby' is finished and probably my favourite of the recent songs I've written. 'Round & round' song structure is complete & has vocals for half the chorus & half the bridge, so there's still all the verses to do. 'Obituary' has the structure finished, vocals for two verses & the chorus so there's just the final verse to complete. I've also come up with another couple of riffs but it'll take time to see if they'll develop into actually songs or just fall to the side.
The recording of the album is on hold through to next year it appears, Allan hasn't been in touch since the last session so I'm leaving it up to him & not pushing things. We'll both have some time off & continue next year, my expectations for it being finished have pushed out another twelve months, if it's finished by Christmas next year, with all the bit's & pieces I want (strings on 'Fallen', brass on 'Only a fool' & piano on 'In the meantime') I'll be happy.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Went to Allan's a couple of Sunday's back. Carly came & we got a 'final' mix of Jimmy Jones. She put some reverb on her vocals which I was dubious about at first as I thought it sounded great as is, but it turns out I was wrong. We also removed Mike's guide drumming which was keeping us in time & I added a whistle at the moment when the drums & bass kick in. It sounded amazing on the studio speakers but through headphones the reverb has made Carly's vocals sound like she's in a large room, there's a bit of echo going on. Regardless, I've sent through a copy to Active, will be interesting to see if I get any response. They were enthusiastic about the first version so hopefully they'll give it a whirl on one of their shows, it'll be great to finally hear one of my tunes on the wireless.
In other news I've started working on the fifth track, it's called 'Round & round' & is about just going through the motions. It's another 'nice' song, too pleasant for my liking but I'm trying not to question the songs I write. I want to play to my strengths & if that means playing these pleasant songs then that's what I'll do. I'm just trying to get better & continue growing as a singer, song writer & guitar player, there's just so much that's achievable, so much growth available, I can't ever imagine the time will come that I'll be satisfied. I've been listening to Neil Young's solo live recordings from '72 & '92. He's such a formidable player it's amazing. The things he can do are so inspiring, I look forward to the time when I can sit down with an acoustic guitar for an hour & a half & keep an audience entertained without the need for a band. Just vocal & guitar. It's going to take time but I know I have it in me.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Am back there this Sunday to do some vocals, Carly's coming so we'll try to get her vocals mixed where she's happy then I'll send a copy away to Active. Sweet!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Finally got around to picking up the Nirvana live at Reading DVD. I'd heard so much about this show, I used to think if there was one concert I could go back in time & see it would be this set. Apparantly it was legendary. Well, these are my thoughts:
- Kurts influences were impeccable. They cover both the Wipers 'D7' & Fang's 'The money will roll right in', both fucking awesome songs & just reeking in cred.
- 'Teen spirit' fucking rocks. There's a lot of high points in the set but starting this song with the intro to 'more than a feeling' before kicking into the actual song is genius.
- Dave & Krist were an awesome rhythm section. Dave's playing is amazing throughout & Krist jumping around like a madman gives another focal point to the stage set-up. Kurts fairly subdued onstage demeanor is counterpointed by Krist's pogoing at stage right.
- I see why 'Love buzz' was left off the companion CD. Shame it's such a disastor cause it's a great track.
- Love the dancer they have throughout, although he looks exhausted by set's end.
- Overall it's easy to see why this show is rated so highly, it's a kick ass, aggressive beast of a show. I found myself wondering what it must of sounded like to the masses back then who mostly only would've known 'teen spirit'. By the end of the show with the band covering the two songs above & ending with 'Territorial pissings' & token set destruction, it was pretty much a punk show. I wonder if they were a but miffed by the whole thing? Lucky bastard though that Kurt handed his guitar to at the end. Motherfucker.
Of the five songs I'm trying to write I have:
- These falling leaves - Although I find it a bit twee, I just think it's too good not to keep. & a song about environmental disaster? Who doesn't want that in their set? Kurt would hate it.
- Can't find my way home - See this post.
- Obituary - A nice song with a morbid title. A song about the end of things, changing for the better etc. It has a nice guitar line, which I've always wanted to right into an acoustic song over a fairly basic chord sequence. I like it.
- Lullaby - This has turned into another sweet song (something I seem to be a little too good at writing) about a father quietening a sleeping child who's wokan during the night. Againg I like it, but enough of the sweet songs already!
I haven't started a fifth yet, but I'm hoping it'll be something a bit bluesier & ballsier. I'm sick of nice songs.
Next for the album recording:
- Transfer the second tape onto pro-tools. The tracks on there are, Secret Garden, Portrait, Lover & Hope.
- Get some rockabilly piano on 'In the meantime'. Allan knows someone who he thinks can do this for me & he's just had a piano put in the recording room so this should be do-able. Can't wait to hear the track with piano, it's gonna rock.
- Try to get a horn section for 'Only a fool' & trumpet solo for 'In the meantime'. I actually dreamt the trumpet solo, it's not something I'd ever have thought of, a trumpet on a rock'n'roll tune but it's intriguing enough to give it a go. I met a trumpet player a couple of years ago through my mate Dylan so when we're ready I'm going to facebook message him & see if he'd be interested in playing on a couple of tracks. No harm in asking huh?
So that's what's next for the album. Doesn't look like it'll be finished by Christmas but I'm gettinng there!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Otherwise we transferred Hope, In the meantime, I'll wait for you, City streets & Jimmy Jones.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
So that leaves the intro to 'Secret Garden' & I also want to re-do my harmonica on 'Potrait' & will also need to have another listen to 'Lover' cause I'm not sure about that either. & that's where it's at. I'm back at Allan's this w/end so hopefully can get a bit more done then.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Anyway, as I slooooooowwwly make my way towards achieving everything I want in music (which are pretty lofty goals by the way, I actually want to win a Grammy. If the Conchords can do it..) it does bring up the issue of fame & putting yourself in the public eye. Obviously there's no way I can achieve the things I want without gaining some sort of notoriety along the way.
It's always been in the back of my mind & to be perfectly honest it terrifies me. Whether this has contributed to the length of time it's taking me to achieve anything at all is debatable but I have been pontificating on the nature of fame & why I want these things in the first place.
The way I see it as long as I'm pursuing these goals for the right reasons & with the right intentions, I should be able to avoid the various pitfalls & roadblocks that seem to derail so many talented artists. So why do I want this? What are my intentions with wanting to become a succesful musician? I've thought about this & I can only answer it's the realisation of my potential as a human being. I feel like God gave me a big chunk of talent & left me do with it what I will. You often hear the term "everyone is great at something" well, this is the thing that I'm great at. Achieving my goals is like the realisation of the purpose I was born. I don't feel I will ever be able to rest until I put all those little pieces inside me together that complete the puzzle that is my talent.
Secondly, & this is probably even more important than the first point, is the example that I am able to present for other people to see & replicate. By fully realising my own potential I'm able to show through my actions what is possible for other people to achieve by pursuing their own goals & dreams. It's not serving anyone for me to sit at a desk for 8 hours then go home to watch TV & have dinner, but if I can write an album that's still being listened to in 50, 100 years, then that's making a contribution.
I think this quote says it best:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Monday, August 16, 2010
- If I need to stop a gig to get equipment, just do it. After opening with 'Was it something I said?', I felt 'Portrait' would be a good second song, with the harmonica part, but I'd forgotten to get it out of my bag before I started so would've needed to stop everything to get it. In hindsight I should've because as I suspected 'these falling leaves' just didn't keep peoples interest.
- I need more world class songs. I've decided to forget about Pisces for now & completely focus on my solo performance. I believe I can still put on memorable & engaging performances as a solo act but I need about 5 more great songs. World class songs that are able to silence a loud crowd. It can be done, here's two basic acoustic tracks which show what can be done with just an acoustic guitar & a great song. This is my challenge for the rest of the year, to write 5 great songs. Simplicity, that's what I'm going for.
My goals from here to the end of the year are: Finish the Pisces album & develop my solo show's to a very high level, which means great songs.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I played Kia tatari mou, Trouble & Hear the train a comin'. With only 20 minutes and three songs each I figured I should try to make my songs as distinctive & memorable as possible & each of those songs has a unique factor. Kia tatari mou becomes more enjoyable to play as I'm getting used to the phrasing in te reo. I'm starting to understand the dynamics of the song and so am able to turn it up or dial it back as the song dictates whereas before I was just trying to get the words out & the actual song suffered. I also switched to english for the final verse & chorus which worked a treat. Trouble was good, I tried to slow it down a bit & not rush so much as I've done in the past. I found the rhythm of the song at moments but it never really took off like I know it can, but that'll come. Hear the train a comin' I wasn't happy with, the guitar sounded tinny to me & I couldn't find the individual strings to accentuate each note. When you're playing slide quickly the challenge is to not just smash two or three strings and turn the whole thing into a mashed up mess. To be able to pick the single string you're after is the skill in playing an upbeat song & last night I just couldn't find the songs mojo. It's there & the more I play the song the better it'll sound but last night to my ears it just sounded like a mashed up mess. What's worse is I forgot the structure of the song so got lost & had to improvise an ending. Lack of practice!
Still, everytime you play you learn & there were plenty of postives:
- I made a couple of contacts, one of the boys there (who did a really nice loop effect a la KT Tunstill) asked if I'd be keen to do a gig with him & Leigh bought a friend who's keen to try-out as a drummer for us.
- I had some good feedback, particularly for Trouble. The uniqeness of an acapella song seems to really intrigue people.
- I can't really afford not to practice before a show, even if it is only three songs long.
- I was happy with my voice even though it's been a couple of months since I sang. It feels like my voice is just itching to be used more & once I'm gigging regularly it's really going to develop & come on.
So that was that, a good fun night & definately worth the effort.
Next up, finish my parts on the record & have a jam with the new drummer.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Did the guitar parts for the above tracks this past Sunday. It went surprisingly well & quickly. As I'm still getting to grips with my guitar & amp it's kind of hit & miss what sound is cominng out at the moment. I managed to find a nice crunchy tone for Secret Garden, which is how I always invisaged it, however on playback it sounded too crunchy. It's something we're going to have to try to fix during mixing as I didn't want to spend all day trying to get the right sound. I did three guitar parts, the crunch for the beginning & end of the track, a smoother quieter tone for the middle section & finally a guitar line for where the guitar drops out during the first verse. Not sure how it's going to sound until it comes time to mix but I think it's all there.
'Fallen' was done similarly only with the smooth guitar for the majority & the crunch for the middle section, again it came together easily so fingers crossed it comes across that way during mixing. I don't want to go back & re-do any parts so I'm hoping it all sounds ok.
That's all the guitar work done now but I'm going to re-do 'Only a fool', it's the only song I haven't been happy with so I'm going to re-do the whole thing, I want that song to song good cause it's a potential song to give radio after 'Jimmy Jones'.
I also helped Allan move a piano into the music room, I'm going to ask him if we can use it for 'In the meantime', I really want some rockin piano on that track. Next up after the guitar will be my vocals then any remaining percussion/piano, then lastly the bv's. I feel like we're nearing the finish line.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Speaking of piano, I'd love to play a 'Oh my' on piano at our next gig. Bonnie's looking at doing another Tugboat show, but Mike's not keen so I'm gonna do it solo. Having a piano track up my sleeve will really open up the possibilities for the show. The whole thing with playing solo sets is having variety in your songs. Harmonica, slide, accapela, piano, anything different is gonna help hold people's attention when you're solo, rather than just playing guitar song after song.
With Mike pulling out it definately emphasises how important a solo career is as well as a band. I can't allow my future to be put in other people's hands so the more solo show's I can play the better which emphasises how important it is I get myself a uke & piano. I have to start learning diverse instruments to have the ability to play 90 minute solo sets. Exciting! : )
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Like a dog with a bone
Hear the train a'comin
I rushed through the songs abit, but overall it was good to play. Bonnie's talking about organising another acoustic pillage at the Tugboat, so it'll be interesting to see if that eventuates & if I can get Pisces together to perform. I know Mike's looking at slowing down his performing now that he's got a family so will have to see how that pans out.
Watched "It might get loud" last night. It was interesting to see the three guitarist's talk about their passion for playing and how their personalties affected their styles. I'd say Jack White left the biggest impression. He has an interesting attitude, "start a fight with your guitar & make sure you win" he told his 9yr old son, Jack jr. He spoke a lot about conflict & the need for dissruption in the creative process. I generally work in the opposite manner, I write easier when I'm stimulated & creatively inspired, not when I'm conflicted. I always thought that was a bit of a myth that creative types had fallen into believing, that you've got to be depressed in order to create. We need some new rolemodels. Incredible performer & player though, that man just oozes authenticity, it'll be interesting to see what type of legacy he has in 20, 30 years & how he's remembered.
I've decided that the answer to what to do with the first Pisces ep is Vinyl. I'm gonna print 20, it's only about $200, & create my own record cover. It's a good option I think, if people want to download it they can have it for free but the vinyl will be charged. I'll update more on that later.
I've updated all my tracks & live performances on my apra site, I'm not sure how it works but I think they pay you royakties for performing your tunes. It'll be interesting to see how that all works.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I did a couple of takes on the vocal for it, getting it pretty right the second time out with the only problem being that I was quite tentative with the first line. Seeing that it's going to be the first the listener hears vocals I didn't want it to be a tentative start so I re-recorded the first verse. Unfortunately because it's quite a gutsy song I wrecked my vocal on those two takes so when I tried again my voice started breaking. Shit. I left it & will do the first verse another day.
That's the difference between a trained & untrained singer.... : )
"City streets" sounds good, I did the guitar on Allan's Gretsch just to give it more spark. Something was missing though so I tried putting it through the left channel & the original guide guitar I did earlier through the right. It worked so I put a tamba on just to emphasise the rhthym of the song & I think it sounds great. I'll do a vocal next time up.. Things going well!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
This first one is, from left, Allan, myself & Graeme. Allan is the vocalist/songwriter/main man of Graeme's other band the Rodrigoe Brothers. He's built himself a studio in his basement. Quite cool to be there recording..
This is the band, the main thing we recorded on the day were Mikes drums. He's on the left there.
Finally, this is the equpiment it all gets recorded on. That's the reel to reel tape in the middle of the picture with the mixing desks in front of it. I'm helping myself to the complimentary toast & coffee during a short break in recording. We pretty much blasted through the tracks in order to get as many as we could get done in the one day. I think we only did three double takes the whole time otherwise the rest of the songs where recorded in one take. It was a great effort for Mike to get 10 tracks done in one session. Hopefully it'll lend the final sound a 'live' quality.
I went back in on the 23rd Dec & did guitar, vocal & harmonica for 'Portrait', I used a 12 string guitar which was lying around (you can see the neck of it behind my arm in the last photo above). It lends itself quite nicely to the song. I've always been a fan of 12 strings they just have that awesome ringing tone to them. It was quite difficult though because we only started using click tracks to count in from the fourth song we did so I had to try to time the early part of the song before the drums start. I think I got the speed wrong so it sounds a bit funny. I'll listen to it again the next time I'm there, if the spirit of the song has been captured I won't worry about it.
I've been toying with the name 'Lordy, lordy, lordy' for the record. It an expression that has a kind of blues feel/connotation to it. I'll run with it for now & see if anything else inspires me.
I have a good feeling about this recording, if we get it right it's gonna souond awesome.