Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Life In Music: Part 1

Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen via last.fm

Today I would like to talk a little bit about why and how I became a musician. I have always been interested in music, since I was a little kid, I would see my mom playing chords on her acoustic guitar in the living room, and on a couple occasions, I even had the opportunity to catch my grandfathers band when he would play family friendly venues such as the Dutch Wonderland amusement park in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I really looked up to him when he played those shows, and I would fantasize about being on stage with him. That is really where it all started for me. I wanted to be cool like Gammpy, as I call my grandfather.

Later on, I would go through various musical phases. As a small child I was exposed to a lot of 50's rock n' roll through my grandfather, as well as some surf rock, and a lot of country music from my dad. But most of the music that was available to me early on was top 40 radio type stuff, which at the time would have been stuff like Michael Jackson's Thriller album, a lot of glam metal, Madonna, Prince, and a bunch of new wave stuff like Flock of Seagulls, and Divo. I also heard quite a bit of classic rock and what I would call roots rock from my mom's radio, stuff like Zeppelin, the Eagles, CCR, Bruce Springsteen, Journey, and to many more to name here.

In my earliest years, my family was dirt ass poor. The cool kids in my eyes were the kids that had a Walk-Man, which we couldn't afford. My dad eventually got a cassette Walk-Man, and it was always a real treat when I got to listen to his, and I started asking for tapes for Christmas and birthdays. It wasn't till like 1994 or so when I finally got a cassette player of my own, in the form of a little K-mart mini boom box. By this time, all my friends had CD players, so I was a little jealous, but still happy to have my little boom box, and my Woodstock 94' two tape set that came shortly thereafter. I didn't have to many other tapes, so I would record my favourite songs off the radio on to blank cassettes, and with the remainder of my blank cassettes my little sister and I would make our own recordings, which included everything from make believe radio talk shows, to sessions of the two of us singing and her playing her little Casio keyboard while I played my red Yamaha keytar, which neither of us really knew how to play. We would also record ourselves singing along to Disney tapes.

From this humble beginning, my sister went on to take up playing the saxophone, and later the keyboard, although she would eventually find her true calling in the visual arts. I, on the other hand, got wrapped up with, sports, boy scouts, and video games. It would be many years before I would really think of playing music again. Somehow though, I think I always had in the back of my mind the music from those Woodstock tapes, where I was exposed to bands like Live, Green Day, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, and especially Metallica.

It wasn't until my teenage years, when I was going through that awkward stage of trying to find myself and establish my identity that most of us go through, that my interest in music really came to a head. I had been doing some singing in the school quire, and had begun to be exposed to some of my peers that were musically inclined when I met my friend Ben, a talented aspiring young musician with in interest in Goth-metal and industrial music. It was also right around this time that I was starting my freshman year of high school, and was looking for this to be a chance to really reinvent myself. I had just gotten my first CD player, and I had began acquiring every Metalica CD I could get my hands on.

To be continued.....

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, June 29, 2009

From the Ashes of DOS

Detail of a Squier-made Fender Stratocaster. N...Image via Wikipedia

This morning, as I was lying in bed, sleeping in a little late because this is my day off, and I have no particular place to be, I got a phone call. I didn't get up and answer the phone right away, because It was right around the time my boss would have been calling me if he wanted to come in and work on my day off. That wouldn't be a bad thing, I could use the extra hours, but it is my day off, and at the very least I felt I was entitled to take my sweet ass time getting to the phone. So I check my voice mail, once I pry myself out of bed and scrape the crust off my eyelids, fully expecting to here a Guitar Center manager asking me to come in and work, and mentally trying to calculate how long it would take me to get dressed and get on the bus, when I here the voice of my old friend Joshua Mertz.

Joshua and I had been talking over the last few weeks about him coming out to Mulberry and jamming with Paul Lambert and I, but I had kind of forgotten about it since the break-up of DOS. Anyway, he wanted to come out and jam today. So I called up Paul, knowing he would probably be working at Mulberry this morning, and asked him if he could let us in to the band room, to which he graciously agreed. Anyway, once Joshua and I got to jamming, it was clear to me that he is somebody who I need to be working with. I mean, we have worked together before, we gel well together, and we have a shared vision of were we want to go. Also, I noticed that both of us seem to have improved our chops since the last time we worked together.

After some jamming, and a coffee break, Paul Lambert took a break from working, and came down and jammed with us for about 10 minutes or so. Joshua and I both definitely had a good time jamming with Paul on drums, and I don't know about Paul, but he seemed like he was in better spirits than I had seen him in a while, so I hope he liked what was going on too. Anyway, I had a chance to talk to Paul for a bit, and he said he would be down for drumming on my new project. So there we go, All of a sudden I got a rhythm guitar player, I've got a vocalist, I've got a drummer, and I've got a lead guitar player (yours truly). Now all I need is a bass player, so my next stop after our Mulberry jam session was off to Guitar Center to talk to a certain bass player I know. After having a conversation with him, he was really psyched about this project, and has agreed to work with us, so I now have a full band again, and I couldn't be more thrilled. From the ashes of DOS, a new band is formed.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I Have Been Listening to

Cover of "Quebec"Cover of Quebec

My musical tastes are ever changing, depending on my mood and numerous other factors, so whenever anyone asks me what my favourite band is, I always take it as a bit of a loaded question. I can only really answer with what I have been listening to lately. Here is a little taste of where my current musical tastes lye.

1. band: Ween
album: Quebec
song: It's Gonna be a Long Night

I first heard of Ween about 7 years ago when I was living in Pensacola FL. I just kind of recently rediscovered them though.

2. band: Sixth Finger
album: Bossa N' Stones, Vol. 2
song: Paint it Black

I don't really know much about this band. They popped up on my Pandora a few days ago, and this interesting Rolling Stones cover caught my attention. Really different.

3. band: Eddie and the Hot Rods
Album: Life on the Line
Song: Ignore them

This band's music kind of bridges a gap between the Rolling Stones, and later, wilder British punk rock bands.

I could go on, but I am just going to leave you with these 3 songs to check out for now. Maybe I will do more posts like this later on down the road.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Electric guitarImage by ♫axime via Flickr

Why have I been so worried about trying to impress other musicians by having the best gear? The fact is, I don't have the kind of money to have the best gear right now. Working at Guitar Center has spoiled me a lot, and has made it hard for me to imagine playing with anything less then a hand wired tube amp, a deluxe American strat, and an all analogue pedal board.

It would take me years to save up the money for all that stuff. I already have a nice little tube amp that works just fine, and an acoustic guitar that is respectable. I just really want an electric guitar, and a couple cool effects to play with. If I stop being so darn picky, I could get an electric guitar with a gig bag, neck strap, and instrument cable for about $80, and a cheap, but effective multi effects pedal for about $50. I would also need a power supply for the pedal, which runs about $20. So for just $150, not even including my employee discount, I could have everything I need to practice with an electric guitar set up, and I could upgrade little by little instead of waiting years until I have enough money saved up for the top of the line gear.

It's not like I am going to be out playing clubs tomorrow or anything. I don't even have a band any more, so I just want to take some time to work on my chops, and jam with some friends, maybe work on some new material, and eventually do a little recording. It will take some time to get a decent band together again, and if my racing career takes off, I may be limited to studio work for a while until the next hot shot comes along and takes my ride. I have a lot of other bills to catch up on before I can even spend that $150, so I will just practice on my old Alvarez acoustic for now.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The end of DOS?

DrummerImage via Wikipedia

I finally had the opportunity to have a brief conversation with my drummer today about our band. It turns out he has been seeking work from established bands because he has grown frustrated with trying to find band members to work with. He said he would still be willing to Jam with me in the evenings though. In the mean time, I have been talking to other musicians, and I now have an opportunity to put together a project of a slightly different nature. I want to play music that's a little more danceable than the slow and depressing music Paul and I have been playing.

At this point, I am going to have to have at least one more conversation with Paul, and explain to him that I understand his frustrations, and I support his efforts to hook up with an established band. I also want to inform him that I have musicians assembled at this point who are more than capable of performing at a pro level, and they have offered to work with me on my new project, which I am very excited about.

I want to ask him how his search for a new band is going, and offer him a chance to be the drummer for my new project. I am going to be completely straight forward in explaining to him that this isn't going to be the same type of music that him and I were originally working on, and if he is not interested in this new direction, I totally understand. I would love to have him on board though. If he and I can't come to terms on this, it may very well be time for me to load out my gear, and head for greener pastures. At this point, I just want what's best for both of us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Temper Tantrum Over

fix shit upImage by only alice via Flickr

Okay, so I have had a chance to cool off a little bit now since my last post, and I am in a bit better mood. I am still frustrated with the current rut I feel Paul and I are in with getting this band going, but I am going to retract some of what I said yesterday, and re-affirm my commitment to making this project work. I now realize that I need to work on my self a little before I can be successful with this project.

First and foremost, I need to stop blowing money on stupid shit, and get my finances in order. If that means I have to give up going out and buying drinks, or eating out at restaurants, then so be it. If that means that I have to live on rice for a while, fine. I just need to get my bills caught up, get my fines paid off, and get my car back on the road. Having reliable transportation is paramount to my success in the music business at this point.

I also need to buckle down with my individual practice as well. I have been making strides in the right direction, but I am still not where I would like to be in terms of practice discipline. I need to figure out an appropriate number of hours a day I should be practicing, and stick to it. By doing these things, I can make my self a better musician, and therefore, make the band better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Rant

I am really starting to grow a bit impatient and frustrated with my band. Part of me just wants to put in my time with this project until I get my finances straightened out, and then buy some new gear and move on to a new project. Ever since Nathan and Brant were unilaterally fired by my drummer without discussing any of it with me first, we really have been getting no where. We have had only one person even show up for an audition, and he sucked.

I usually don't go public with this kind of frustration, but I no longer see this project going anywhere, so I really feel confident in shedding a little light on my frustrations at this point. I need to bring in some people that are more on the same page as I am musically, and try to make Paul see the light. I don't understand what the fuck his problem is with playing songs that are catchy and some one might actually want to pay to listen to. This is a fucking business for crying out loud. All the shit that he wants to play either makes me want to fall asleep, or fucking put a bullet in my skull.

So what if a verse only uses three chords? That's how its done. I mean, not on every song, but on a lot, and I can name a hundred hits that were written that way. If you don't like it, find yourself another guitarist. God damn this bullshit. I want to tough it out, but fuck, I don't know how much longer I can take it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend Winding Down

I have one last day off, and then it's back to work. I have had a pretty productive weekend, and now I just have a few things left to accomplish. I need to run a little laundry, vacuum, and take care of some paperwork. I got kind of a late start today, as I slept to long since I was up to late. I got wrapped up in listening to music last night. There should still be plenty of time to get all my stuff done though.

This is also possibly my last chance to practice guitar before my next band practice. I will probably spend at least part of the day drilling some scales and chord progressions like I usually do. I might also have time to take a video lesson on-line.

I would also like to hop back on Craigslist today, and continue my search for new musicians. So far, we haven't found anyone to fill out our line-up, so our search must continue, starting with our vocalist audition on Monday, which I am very much looking forward to. My mane goal at the moment is still to find a bass player though.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Auditions Begin

On Thursday, Paul brought a guitarist in to audition, as planned. After getting to know him for a little bit, we spent some time jamming. He seemed like a really nice guy, who was easy to get a long with, and I had fun jamming with him.

Unfortunately, his inexperience held him back a little. He was just a bit behind the curve on most songs we played, and I was left with serious doubts about his ability to keep up with us. If we were just a jam band, I would have no problem bringing him on board just based on personality alone, but we are trying to be a professional band, and in order to be successfully we will need a certain calibre of musicians. We might give him another shot or two to see if he can calm his nerves, and get up to speed, but at this point, I believe we need to keep searching.

Ideally, I would like to be working with musicians slightly better than myself, and by doing so, elevate my own level of playing. Until that happens though, I am going to try to become comfortable taking more of a leadership role in the band. I just have to sell Paul on the idea, and I am not sure if he could ever respect me as a band leader.

I am excited for Monday though, as we have a singer that I have been talking to for about a week finally coming out to meet the band and audition. I watched a clip of her performing on youtube, and I was pleased with what I saw. Now, all that remains to be seen is what will Paul think, and will she be a good fit for our particular brand of art rock.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Got my Guitar Back

I finally got my guitar back from the trunk of my car, which has been sitting at my uncle's garage do to a blown engine. For the last couple of weeks, I haven't had a guitar to practice on at home, so I have had to really on what little bits of practice I could get at work and band practice, and I have really felt my playing start to suffer. Now that I have my guitar back, I can really get down to business.

I feel that this will be a big help to not just me, but my band building efforts as well, since I will be able to come much more prepared to practice each week. I have already started using every spare moment to do drills and exercises on the guitar. You would be amazed how much of a difference it makes just to be able to pick up the guitar every day.

Now that I have my guitar back, the next item on my agenda will be to get some new strings; preferably good ones. Over the coming months I am going to try to experiment with different types of strings, and see what works best. I am definitely long over due for a string change.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First Practice Without Nathan and Brant

This morning I had my first band practice with Paul without Nathan and Brant. It was kind of like starting over from scratch in a way. I have to admit I felt a little lost at times without my band mates.

This is all the more reason to find some good musicians to play with. I have had some interest from a couple of different bass players, and at least one singer at this point, and Paul invited a guitarist to audition with us on Thursday. We shall see how it goes.

At this point, we aren't really much of a band anymore. We are just two guys jamming. Some of the stuff we worked on sounded okay, but nothing sounded great. We just have to persevere, and keep working.