Thursday, December 30, 2010

My favourite things

I found this great blog, loving it.

& my favourite song at the moment, with my favourite lyric, "I feel just like I am on Jupiter, the one that looks like rainbow sugar, but it doesn't lend itself to life".

Jupiter does look like rainbow sugar!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bonnie Prince Billy - Go Folks, Go

A master craftsman at work, just guitar & vocal. Bonnie Prince Billy - Go folks, go

Monday, December 6, 2010

Songs, songwriting & guitar playing

My time is being taken up at the moment with developing solo material, as has been clear with my posts over the last 6 - 12 months. I want to develop my guitar playing so I can solo freely without thinking about what I need to do, I haven't really progressed beyond basic note patterns/scales & it's quite frustrating not being able to play what I can hear in my head. I haven't developed the subtlety of a great player yet, my leads tend to be quite clunky & basic so that's something I want to achieve. I've been listening to Robert Johnson & Blind Willie Johnson who manage to combine their slide work with standard finger playing, something I've never been able to do, my two slide songs are both strictly slide with no finger work involved. I'd love to be mixing the two style up in the same song. I want to one day record a solo blues album that is comparable to what those guys have done, a one take record of just guitar & vocal, it's not really been done since the blues hey day but I think it's a fantastic way to listen to music, just cut right down to it's most basic. That's something that's appealing about Neil Young's recording is the immediacy of his playing, he records his guitar & vocals on the one take (well, he did for living with war anyway, so I presume he does for everything else!). Man, those guys are good. So much of that comes from regular gigging too, you can only go so far practicing in your bedroom, the real growth comes from the actually doing, the playing, so I know I have that up my sleeve. I feel like once I'm performing on a regular basis my growth as a player & songwriter with speed up exponentially.

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

Lordy, lordy, lordy - Session 12

Loving these two songs at the moment, they were actually recommended to me as part of a Christmas party playlist I was working on & they ended up being my favourite tunes. I actually thought it was a pretty good playlist but it was dragged after three tunes! : ) Seems the Stones, Lou Reed & FoTC aren't what the people want. Bring on the Black eyed peas! Oh well.. fight the good fight I say.

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

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy - Session 11

Went to Allan's on Sunday to transfer the second tape to pro-tools. Fallen, Lover, Secret Garden & portrait. Fallen sounds great, I decided while I was there that I'm going to really try to get a string section for it. It sounds good but the rising & falling tempo of the track would benefit hugely from a string section. It could probably be covered by a synth/piano but for the recording I'll do my damndest to get the real thing. Lover sounds ok, I think everythings there but we'll have to do some magic in the mixing. Secret Garden's a bit too crunchy, I'm going to re-record the opening guitar part to get it a bit cleaner before the crunch of the chorus. On the plus, the middle section sounds great. Portrait is probably my favourite of the four tracks so far. The 12 string works beautifully, it was a god send to be able to use it for the recording. The harp, vocals & shaker all work as well. Adding the BV's will almost see the track done.

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

Things on my mind

Favourite tracks at the mo.. This & this.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. '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.
  3. 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.
  4. I see why 'Love buzz' was left off the companion CD. Shame it's such a disastor cause it's a great track.
  5. Love the dancer they have throughout, although he looks exhausted by set's end.
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Can't find my way home - See this post.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Transfer the second tape onto pro-tools. The tracks on there are, Secret Garden, Portrait, Lover & Hope.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy - Session's 9 & 10

Went to Allan's on Sunday & again yesterday evening. He's just had pro-tools installed so the majority of the time was spent transferring from tape to his laptop. On Sunday night I managed to get the main vocal & tamborine done on 'Only a fool'. I warmed up for a while & did three takes, we kept the third. It's amazing what a difference warming up can make, I've learnt that the hard way cause there's been times where I've only been able to do one take & blown my vocals on the one take, I've even done that at a gig, actually lost my voice half way through a gig. Ouch.
Otherwise we transferred Hope, In the meantime, I'll wait for you, City streets & Jimmy Jones.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I had a look at my blog stats the other day & apparantly I've been read by people in a number of other countries around the world, so to anyone reading this blog outside of New Zealand..

Nice to have you along.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lordy, lordy, lordy - Session 8

Went to Allan's yesterday hoping to finish all my guitar parts. Re-do the entire 'Only a fool', and a new intro for 'Secret Garden' cause the current one is too crunchy. I want a nice clean start to the song before the crunch of the chorus kicks in. Allan has just installed pro-tools so it took a while just to set everything up. We finally got under way and I managed to get 'Only a fool' down in about three hours. It included the main rhythm guitar, a second rhythm during the chorus and a solo, which is probably my favourite part of the whole thing. It's the first solo I've ever recorded and it came out pretty good, if I may say so myself! Being that we were recording to pro-tools instead of tape I was able to take a copy of the session away with me, which was handy. The guitar works not perfect, I missed the timing for the intro to the song slightly & there's some timing issue's with the solo but overall I think the songs flying, which is what I wanted for the track so I'm happy with it. I always envisioned horns on the song so I'm going to ask Allan if he know's anyone that might be able to do it cause if I can get a horn section on the song I think it could really turn into a special song & another option as a single.

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

Is this?

The coolest band in the world right now?
The coolest woman?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Playlist - 06 September 2010

Bold arrow of time - Tame Impala
Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear
Gunman - Them Crooked Vultures
The sounds are always begging - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Right moves - Josh Ritter
This bed - Alicia Keys
Between my legs - Rufus Wainwright
Decatur, Or, Round of applause for your stepmother! - Sufjan Stevens
Lemonworld - The National
White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
The Reason - Sharon Jones & the Hard Way
We are going to be friends - The White Stripes
Trouble comes Running - Spoon
Home - LCD Soundsystem

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I'll make ya famous.."

So says Billy the kid (Emilio Estevez) before gunning down his latest victim in one of my favourite movies as a teenager, 'Young guns'. Kick ass soundtrack by Jon Bon Jovi too!

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

Mojo - 13 Aug 2010

Was it something I said?
These falling leaves
Kia tatari mou
I told you brother
The old man and the sea
City streets
Oh my
Not my best show. Some good high points still, 'City Streets' went well, funnily enough it was the song I was most worried about beforehand as it has such a high verse & I can usually hide behind the band. However the song's strong enough to cope with no backing & once I got in the swing of things the uniqueness of the song makes it part of it's appeal. The other song that went over well was 'I told you brother', I was completely relaxed by the time I played it so smoked the slide parts. It was gratifying to play it the way I know it can be played. Otherwise there were a couple of cringe moments, 'these falling leaves', a new track about environmental disaster that I haven't put lyrics to yet & therefore played as an instrumental & 'oh my' both lost me listeners. I knew as soon as I started playing them that I'd made the wrong song choice but it was too late so I soldiered through & finished them both. Overall I'd give the gig a 5/10. I've been replaying it in my head ever since & keep coming back to what a wasted opportunity a gig is if you're not winning new fans. I was talking to Ange about it & if you're not impressing people you're losing them & that's definately how I feel about this show. Some things I learnt:
  • 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

Battle of the bands!!

I played a battle of the bands last night with 8 other acts at Molly Malones, unfortunately I didn't make the top three & go through to the final but it was a fun night & I'm not too disappointed. I didn't really feel like I belonged there so I don't mind not to get through. One of the young solo guys did make it through & just seeing the shock on his face when his name was called out was worth missing out for.
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:
  1. 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.
  2. I had some good feedback, particularly for Trouble. The uniqeness of an acapella song seems to really intrigue people.
  3. I can't really afford not to practice before a show, even if it is only three songs long.
  4. 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

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy - Session 7

Secret Garden

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.

Acoustic Pillage 2.0 - Burgendy Room, Bodega

Played the second Acoustic Pillage show this past Friday with:
Bill Hickman
Jak Stone

Was a really good night, I opened followed by the acts above. Everyone played well I thought, it was my first time hearing each of the other performers & I was impressed with the variety & level of playing on show. Particularly the Louis Baker trio who look like they're heading for big things. When I showed up for soundcheck earlier in the evening they were there setting up, they immediately introduced themselves & shook our hands. Good first impression, not at all the toff nosed jazz trio I was expecting. Once they soundchecked & I was immediately impressed & felt quite privileged to be sitting front & centre in the empty bar listening to them play.

My set went well, I played the exact set as the previous weeks acoustic lounge except transposing 'Portrait' & 'Like a dog';
I told you brother
Like a dog with a bone
Kia tatari mou
I hear the train a comin'
Poison tree
It's a good set but I need to start writing new material for solo shows as these songs are gonna get boring soon. Otherwise I enjoyed it, I love playing my slide & having an accapella song up my sleeve is fun. It's slightly nerve racking whenever I stand up to perform 'trouble' cause I'm not sure how people are gonna react to an accapella song but generally speaking I'm getting positive reactions. Friday night everyone started clapping along, which is the first time that's happened, it was a pretty cool, spontaneous occurance & it seemed to work. The rest of the set went well too, I'm getting more & more comfortable with the harmonica part in portrait so it's coming out cleaner & cleaner.

Overall a good show & happy with the way things turned out. Really getting a taste for these solo shows. : )

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Acoustic Lounge - San Fran Bathhouse Thursday 17 June 2010

Played the bathhouse last Thursday night. It was an important gig to me seeing as my last show didn't go so well, I felt like I owed Pete a decent set. A guy approached me before I started playing & asked if he could record the show, apparantly he's training to be a cinematogropher so he set up two video camera's & one mic & recorded everything. It had a real providence feel to it, that he happened to be there to record that night. I guess only time will tell, I gave him my contact details & he said he'd forward on the raw data to me. I haven't heard from him yet so I hope he follows through.
The set:
I told you brother
Like a dog with a bone
Kia tatari mou
Hear the train a 'comin
Poison tree
It was the first time I sung 'I'll wait for you' in Te Reo, which was interesting. It came together ok, but will get better as I get more familiar with it. The set started well with a nice version of 'I told you brother'. 'Trouble' was another highlight for me, I was a bit trepidatious as I stood to sing it, acapella songs could go either way but that night it felt good & seemed to flow exactly as I want it to. The other high point was 'Poison tree' which is a really nice song to sing & play, although I always forget the first line of the second verse so I invarioubly end up singing the second line twice. Anyway, the whole set felt good & I'm pleased I could put on a better showing than last time. Unfortunately Pete left early in the set so he missed it anyway. Que sera, the life of the performer..

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy - Session 6

Went to Allan's last Monday & did guitar parts for 'In the meantime' & 'Only a fool'. These are two of the last four songs left so I'm stoked that things are coming along. I'll be pretty happy once all the recordings done & I have something to show for all the years I've been playing & writing. The plan at the moment is to get them pressed to vinyl and sent away to a few record companies & of course some select friends. I think it's gonna be a pretty good record from how it's coming together so far & has the potential to be even more than that if the universe is smiling on us & all the pieces fall into the right place. I can hear how good it can be & what I want it to represent so I'm just allowing the whole thing to come together how it's meant to & trying not to get too anal about the whole process. The professionalism's not important for this record, the idea is to capture the essence of the song & make it sound like a great record done on the cheap. I have a feeling that no matter what I or the band does in the future, this record will be a lot of people's favourite work of ours, because of the amatueurism. Anyway, the session went ok. I'm loving 'In the meantime', I forgot that Graeme actually started the song, it gives it some real anticipation, particularly when Mike brings the drums in then counts me in afer four bars, it's a pretty awesome beginning to the song. I'm going to try to convince Allan to ask his piano player to put some backing on it, I think it'll sound pretty sweet. 'Only a fool' didn't go so hot, in fact I may do the whole thing again. For the life of me I couldn't remember the right sequence for a major chord progression in the song. It's amazing how something so basic, that I've been playing for so long, can go completely haywire when you have to stop & think about how it's played. & I couldn't get the timing right for the opening chords. Mike counts me in & I play the first eight bars alone before they come in. I just couldn't stay in time with him, I was either too fast or too slow. So annoying!! & my stupid Vox pedal wasn't working so I couldn't use it, I have to get it sorted because it's crucial for 'Fallen' & 'Secret Garden', the final two tracks. That's Angie there taking selfies cause she got bored. : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lordy, lordy, lordy. Session 5

Went to Allan's last Monday night to add vocals to 'City Streets' & 'I'm your lover'. Ended up putting a shaker onto 'portrait' which adds a really nice country feel to the track. It's amazing what one instrument can do to change the sound of a song. Allan suggested it might be an idea putting subtle bongo's on it as well, which I gotta admit did appeal a little but I'm conscious of overdoing things. I don't want it to sound like I've thrown the kitchen sink at it, I'd rather it sound as minimalist as possible. After that I did a vocal take for 'Lover', which sounded really thin, it had no grunt to it at all. In order to beef it up I did a second one & also a second cabasa. It lends some substance to the vocal which is needed as the riff of the song is one of the strongest on the album. I want this track to open the record so it's important it's done right. I've now got two guitars, bass, drums, two main vocals & two cabasa's. The second guitar only comes in for the main riff on the chorus, which is to emphasise the riff itself. I want it to really explode when someone puts this record on for the first time, when the guitar kicks in they've gotta know that that they're listening to something with substance. It's crucial for holding their attention for the full 10 songs. I think I'm done with the track now, it's all gonna come down to editing when we're mixing it down.. Next up is the electric guitar tracks, 'Only a fool', 'Secret Garden', 'In the meantime' & 'Fallen'. 'In the meantime' & 'Fallen' particularly are gonna be difficult, not least because the timing is so weird when we drop out & come back in. There's no particular spot where it happens so it's gonna be a hit & hope! I'm hoping to put piano on 'In the meantime', it'll really help to bring out the rock'n'roll in the song if I can find someone to do it.
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

Ruby lounge open mic

As it's been a couple of months since the Welsh dragon gig & no upcoming shows on the horizon, I went along to the Ruby lounge open mic night just to keep the rust away. It's only a three song set, an open mic standard, but it was still good to perform:

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

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy Session 4

Caught up with Allan yesterday & did guitar, cabasa & vocal for "I'm your lover" & guitar & tamba for "City streets". Really liking the way the albums coming together, it was completely by chance that Lover ended up being the first song we recorded. It was always my intention to have "look at the sun (fall again)" as the opening track on L,L,L but due to time constraints on the first day of recording I cut both that track & "broken promises". We got straight into recording & did Lover cause it's so familiar. Mike did a nice little drum intro & G brought in his bass after 4 bars with the guitar following 8 later. It's a really nice introduction to the record & hopefully we can get it right with the recording cause it's a fantastic oppurtunity to have some real explosiveness at the beginning of the album. As an introduction to us to a lot of potential new listeners it's important we grab them straight away & this track will do this if done right. I recorded a second guitar track on the main riff to give it more emphasis, the drum, bass & cabasa do a nice job of bringing the listener in but it's the riff that'll really grab them so I want it emphasised. For that reason I'm panning the second guitar to the left channel to give it some seperation from the first guitar & putting the cabasa through the right. It'll hopefully allow the listener to be brought in slowly then held by the riff.
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

lordy, lordy, lordy: Recording 3

Went up to Allan's for our third session on Sunday. I did vocal & guitar on 'I'll wait for you' & 'Hope', & also tambarine for 'Jimmy Jones'. He was kind enough to put them on CD for me to take away so I've been listening to them alot since. Really happy with the way they're sounding, I think we're capturing the essence of the songs which is the most important thing. It's never going to be a professional studio level quality so I'm going more for feel, just trying to capture the heart of the songs & in this sense it's coming along well. That's four tracks down six to go, two more acoustic, 'Lover' & 'City Streets' then the difficult electric tracks, 'Only a fool', 'In the meantime', 'Fallen' & Secret Garden'. Hopefully the final recording has an amateurish sound but with exciting songs that cut through the recording (with all due respect to Allan & his studio). That would be a worthy first record to me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Welsh Dragon - 26 Feb 2010

Portait of the young man as an artist
How do I live (without you)?
Chains to you
I told you brother
I'll wait for you
Old man & the sea

This was a really enjoyable gig & a much needed shot of confidence after my last solo show at San Fran. The venue is a lot smaller & intimate, the people there are quiet & respectful of the performer therefore I was able to sit comfortably & allow the songs to beathe and linger. So much more enjoyable than trying to battle against people that just want to drink & chat. From a performers point of view it's an ideal situation.
I started with a new track called 'Trouble' which is acapella with handclaps. Quite a daunting way to start a show but I really like it & was itching to try it out. There's five verses to get through so I wrote it out beforehand but didn't need it in the end, once it started I flew through it. I think the majority of people didn't really know what was going on but Ange, who had been listening to me write it all week, thought it was cool, so that's good enough for me. The rest of the show went well, I thought I played & sung well because I didn't need to fight against the audience. What a relief! Had one small glich when I had retuned to an open tuning for the slide on "I told you brother". Afterwards when I tried to retune I couldn't find the low E & the more I tried the worse it got.. slightly uncomfortable moment as I flailed about trying to retune.. luckily people amused themselves for the couple of minutes until I got things right & we were away again. Overall it was one of my favourite shows for the intimacy and the allowance to sing & play gently. I'll be happy to play this type of show again if Niels will have me back.
On another note I didn't realise what a cool pub the dragon actually is, it's small & cosy with a really nice atmosphere. Definately recommended to people that haven't checked it out before.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Late Greats - Mojo Acoustic 12 Feb 2010

Played a cool set with Caleb on Friday night. We play under the name 'The late greats' which is taken from the Wilco track of the same name. It's about the coolest band that no-ones ever heard of, they've never even played a show. It's a take on the whole 'my musical taste is better than yours cause you've never heard of any of the bands I listen too...' attitude.

We played:
If I am a stranger - Ryan Adams
Goin to acapulco - Bob Dylan
Out on the weekend - Neil Young
To be young is to be free is to be high - Ryan Adams (Caleb solo)
Trouble - Ray Montague
Vampire blues - Neil Young
Come take me home - Ryan adams

It was fun being the support guy, I just played rhythm guitar & a few licks, a little backing vocal here & there. Funnily enough I was still a bit nervous beforhand due to Caleb's family all coming along due to he & his g/f Chloe heading to Melbourne. I wanted to support him well so he could show off a little in front of his crew. I think it went well, we got some good feedback & I certainly felt good up there playing. It made me realise how what a dissapointment it is that we're not going to play again. Nevermind, it was good while it lasted!

R.I.P The Late Greats
2009 - 12/02/2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010


So a few months back we played the Acoustic lounge Christmas showcase with about 5 other acts.
One of the more memorable was a solo accordian player by the name of Vorn. He played his own material except for an ironic version of Led Zep's 'Black dog' which he introduced by saying, "the only time I can get anyone to listen to me is when I play cheesy covers" (or something to that effect). The song got the biggest applause of his set, which was kinda funny as it proved his point. I thought he was a pretty cool cat & we had a post gig cigarette outside. He was complimentary about our set which meant alot coming from an obviously talented musician.
Anyway, Friday night I was out with Ange & who should be busking on Cuba st but Vorn. I happened to have my guitar on me (practicing with Caleb for next Friday's Late greats show) so between songs I dropped some cash in his case & asked if he wanted to jam. The above photo show us mid 'hard to handle'. Awesome. : )

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Solo @ San Fran 27/01/2010

Dog with a bone
Over you
How do I live (without you) ?
Foolish man
Was it something I said?
Jesus & the man
Not my best show, but focusing on the positives. 'Intro' is always an arresting way to start so I had people's attention. The next track was a new one 'Dog with a bone'. It's a good song but has some intricate guitar work that needs to be heard properly to be appreciated. I didn't think the guitar was loud enough & it felt like it was being missed & sure enough, the people I'd grabbed with the opening track started to drift away. You can always tell when an audience has shifted focus & it definately happened during this track. You can't let it throw you though so I played through, the song got stronger in it's second half but by then I'd lost half of the audience. Literally. They walked out! 'Over you' suffered from the lack of momentum from the previous song & it wasn't till I slowed right down with 'How do I live?' that I started to feel reconnected to the audience. It's a lovely slow number about a friend of mine who fell in love with a women while he was on holiday. It has one of my favourite lyrics in it:
"I'd paint your picture/but what good would colour be to me?"
'Was it something I said?' is another song I enjoy playing which isn't particularly suited to the band so it was nice to break that out. I'm planning on visiting the above mentioned friend later this year & recording a solo record. These tracks will all be recorded then. I finished with 'Jesus & the man' which is a song based on the film 'Apocalypse now'. It's quite a confronting song with the film character Kurtz renamed 'Jesus'. For those unfamiliar with the film Colonel Kurtz is killed by another soldier, Captain Willard (renamed 'the man' in the song) after he locates Kurtz in his compound in Cambodia. It's a surreal, vivid & confronting film about madness & the hypocrisy of war. It's also a stunning film & I wrote this song within a day of seeing it, it came very easily. I love playing it but it's not the easiest song to listen to & if you didn't know the back story to the song you'd just be hearing about Jesus being killed. Definately open to mis-interpretation. But I was determined to play it because as a piece of art/music it's a powerful piece that deserves to be heard. & the point of art isn't always to be nice & safe, sometimes it's uncomfortable & confronting so I definately put this track in that category. But it doesn't make it any less valid.

Colonel Walter.E.Kurtz

Anyway, enough justifying my song choices, overall it was good to be playing again, my voice got through ok, it took a few songs to warm up but it was fine by the end.

Next up is a slot with my friend Caleb as 'The late greats'. We play covers, he does most of the singing so I get to sit back & work on my guitar playing & backing vocals. It's nice to just be the support guy sometimes. : )
Till then..

Monday, January 4, 2010

Recording 2: Lordy, Lordy, Lordy

Here's some pics of our recording day last year:

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.