These are the days of less music. My day job has intensified following a promotion. I come home, I’m pretty darn tired, and I avoid spending even more time than I did at work in front of a computer for the recording, website maintenance, show booking, or promotional activities that musicians are obligated to take care of. And let’s not talk about songwriting or rehearsing! But the few songs I have been writing have become even slightly weirder than my usual fare. I saw myself twice on video and thought I was a bit dull, so as a solo artist I think I have to make my songs weirder to keep an audience’s attention. I have definitely been influenced by quirky Hamilton musician Wax Mannequin, an excellent and unusual solo artist.
After the two shows I have next week, I’ll take a break, see what happens energy-wise, and feel where I should go. Creatively, I am very interested in focusing on creating simple video to accompany me while I play. This would also add to making my shows more interesting. It would be a heck of a lot of work and a costly investment in equipment, but that’s what feels right.
November 2nd, 2004
I auditioned for a lead role in a new theatre show opening up in Toronto. I even made it to the 2nd callback. The character? A Blue Man fronting the incredible Blue Man Group. I can talk about it now, since I just found out that I didn’t make it — only 1 Torontonian was chosen.
You have to check out Blue Man Group live if you ever get the chance. Their successful multiple productions now add up to a 500+ employee, multi-million dollar independent empire. If you’ve ever seen Intel T.V. commercials with blue-looking guys in them, those are the 3 original actors.
Describing one of their shows in print wouldn’t do it justice. The audience always participates, thumping music abounds, and there are a lot of laughs. The Blue Men are sort of like mute aliens visiting earth, and they like to drum a lot.
Two weeks ago, there was an open call for drummer/actors to play one of the three Blue Men characters for the show. I thought, “Wow, what a change this would be!” Agreeable hours, steady artistic pay, and an unquestionably good experience.
When I went for the auditions, I had a great time, and the Blue Man character was one that I felt I related to personally (should I say that?). In fact, I had so much fun playing the character that I’m currently thinking of modifying the idea and creating a Green Man or something. Before I even knew about Blue Man Group, I had already appeared as “The Holy Green Eco-Warrior” at one of my shows. Hmm, meant to be?
Anyway, better luck next time to be a Blue Man.
Although I doubt there will ever be a “next time” for something this peculiar.
October 29th, 2004
Looking for a place to just sit and relax in Toronto’s Eaton Centre today, I ended up in a Starbucks. I was trying to get away from it all. There are so few places to sit peacefully downtown without paying for something. But having paid for the privilege (1 peppermint tea, 1 evil cookie), I was still unable to relax — Starbucks was playing the latest record by Bryan Adams from start to finish.
Don’t get me wrong — I used to be a fan of Bryan Adams. But his latest stuff is just awful. Adams, like many artists who have seen the big time, usually end up putting out soul-less music because they have nothing more to strive for.
I bristled with discomfort several times while being forced to listen. The music had no life, no memorable sounds or arrangements, and all the musicians who played on it sounded like they were just going through the motions.
I like to call this sort of music “non-music”. Currently, you can refer to anything by Sting, current Celine Dion, current Alanis Morisette. All these artists have also released ballads (the most common sign of an ailing songwriter) — telling of how wonderful life is, how we all have to look through the smog, and how we will see that everything is beautiful if we just think about it. I have to agree with that in fact, but I can’t help feeling uncomfortable when I hear it bundled in a lifeless song.
But my personal conclusion after listening to Bryan Adams today was this: there is just way too much mediocrity in everything. (Yeah, I know you know that, but it really stood out today.)
Is it grooming us all into mindless entertainment slaves?
September 30th, 2004
I went ahead and did indeed spend some $ on new gear over the last 2 weeks. I am now the very proud owner of one Godin LG P90 electric guitar, and one Yamaha Magicstomp effects box. Yay! I am quite happy about this decision, since I have really been uninspired to play solo lately. I do believe that a guy playing by himself with an acoustic guitar (for more than a few songs) can be a bit of a drag. The exception appears with already well-established artists, however. People will go to see Neil Young play 3 hours of solo kazoo.
An electric guitar with effects gives me some more sounds and some creative fuel. It’s easier on my hands, too. I did get my “new” equipment with some forethought: doing a lot of research beforehand, and then locating both items used but in great shape. At the very least, it will result in a few more dreamy songs and a few more heavy songs from my currently suppressed musical soul.
A good thing, methinks.
September 18th, 2004
A Gear Slut (from the Latin, musicus obsluttivus) is an obsessed individual who feels overly comfortable purchasing music or sound equipment that he or she cannot afford.
Today, I saw a guitar in Long & McQuade in Toronto, and I wanted it. Oh, did I want it.
I must have it.
August 27th, 2004
Tonight I went out to see Bullseye Records‘ live performance of a new double-cd of all Beatles covers. It was a pretty pleasant night — nice to see a big Beatles band with genuine horn section. I bought the $20 cd. It looks like a kooky compilation. 50 covers! I’ll let you know how good it is…
July 20th, 2004
A few weeks ago I got the boot from The Fortunates. Lucky for me, it wasn’t because I was an ass or anything. The reasoning I was given was, “It’s just not going in the direction we originally planned. We wanna be a rock band with a lead guitarist.”
Eh? Tell me this 8 months into the band? (I was the acoustic rhythm guitarist and one-third frontperson.)
Everything in the band was going fine I thought, up until the moment the band got some free recording time. My songs were excluded from the band’s recordings, which was dandy — I was spending my time on my own new recordings at home. I was, however, a wee bit upset when it turned out I wasn’t even going to cut any guitars or backup vocals with the band. But no matter. When I was asked by Maindude for his electric guitar back, the way he asked for it felt all wrong.
Suspicions were correct — a few days later, I was ejected.
When I e-mailed the band after (only one member replied), I said that I wasn’t pissed, just pretty sad. But as I told Maindude, I’ve been in many bands before, and we’re adults, yadda-yadda. It was a fun time — I had a LOT of laughs — but now I move on! It was a very memorable musical chapter in my life. I will miss the rehearsals and the guys. *sniff*
I’ve submitted my new record for a couple of record reviews, been writing new songs, and working on my new website. I’m no longer part of The Fortunates. *sniff, sniff* I’ll probably have an entry on that relatively big musical change with my new blog page soon. Perhaps — just PERHAPS — you will not see another blog entry until I have a REAL blog happening here. I realized just how lame any blog can be unless there’s some interaction. In fact, I don’t even think this is a real blog. I’ve just been spewing crap at random. This is very irresponsible of me.
This is going to end up being a blog about the million things you have to do after you’ve recorded your album! Over the last week, I’ve been spending my free time trying to get a few things happening: a photographer, a graphic designer, and a bunch of miscellaneous things regarding the physical construction of my album. Putting the music together is one thing, but all the other stuff you have to deal with is another.
After about a year-and-a-half of intermittent effort, I put the final touches on my 15 songs yesterday. This process is also known as mastering. I did it myself at The Lacquer Channel. I used to do mastering for a living, along with recording, mixing, and various other audio-oriented things. (But that’s another story!)
When you master an album, you’ve made a final version of the cd with the right song order and sounds. This is an exciting moment, because it’s when your long hours of effort come together cohesively in the form of an album. The only other thing to do now is the packaging — but I might be doing something weird with that, as I’ve said.