All entries in the music category

Crushed Glass

Tonight I thought I’d write something much more interesting than my last entry but it’s too late at night and I’m about to pass out so so much for that bright idea.
But I do have one tidbit of news: I’m thinking about doing some bizarre but cheap packaging for the CD, so I’m investigating how to get bulk micro-crushed pieces of glass. I’m starting with the recycling facilities here in Toronto. Ooo, aren’t you curious?

Album Delays

I’m taking way too much time finishing my album. And what takes place after that? I’m stuck on the final song, “Dear Dog”, which is a play on XTC’s original 1980’s hit, “Dear God”. But if you don’t really know the original, you won’t have any idea that I’m playing around with it.
It’s funny working on a record all by yourself — I know of several other musicians currently in that situation. Too much perfection, too many choices. There’s an expression that captures what’s going on here perfectly, and it’s called “working in a vacuum”. The whole world races on by while you work on your art in the confines of your basement. Nobody knows! Nobody cares!
I want to play many shows after this, now that I’ll have a much more current kick-ass record. Minus packaging, which is a couple of thousand bucks I don’t have. I’m looking for those mystical fairy godmothers. I promise to leave a tooth under my pillow!

Living in the Past?

I haven’t written in awhile. Too damn busy. The show I worried about in my last entry was actually a decent success. Good attendance, lots of fun. In the last couple of weeks, I had a musician buddy of mine visit from Victoria (Canada), I played an additional show with my Fortunates bandmates joining me on stage, I rehearsed a lot, and tried to do some more recording. I barely had any time to do the recording. Thankfully, I borrowed an electric guitar from a bandmate, so I’ll be adding the finishing touches with it on a few songs.
The problem with recording your own stuff to the level of perfection I take it to is that it takes a long time. Especially if you have a lot of other non-musical stuff going, which I do. I know from experience that many other musicians have progressed to an entirely new creative level by the time their music actually gets put onto a cd. I have so many more new songs at this point! You psyche yourself out thinking, “Man, this stuff is old.” It just takes so much time to bring independent recordings up to the level they need to be at in order to compete with big-budget, multi-personnel productions. Film and T.V. is the same way. And those efforts cost even more moola. But as a wise baby once said, things can be accomplished in baby steps.

Pay to Not Play

I’m into the new year, and it’s becoming painfully cold here in Toronto. It feels like I’m pulling teeth (other people’s) trying to get people to come out to my little show tomorrow nite. Early January? In this cold? No thanks, bud. No matter, I’m totally focused on finishing the record this month. Almost there.
I got a rejection letter today from my application to play the Winterfolk Festival. Thirty bucks down the drain. I so love paying to not even get to play a show. Hey, that’s a new concept. “Paying to Play” was bad enough, but I think we’re at new low with “Paying to NOT Play”. Har, har. I wonder if I should bother with these various entries? I’ve probably spent a couple of hundred bucks to date on packages for such things. The packages are good methinks, and the music’s good. Hmm, I must be screwing something up. Or is it politics?
But I’ll show them. One day, see, they’ll be paying me to play their little festivals and contests, praying for my application to arrive so they can feel good about themselves! Yeah, that’s it. Then I’ll be all snobby-like, and say, “Oh, you want me to come and play your little festival? Your TEENSY-WEENSY little contest? BEGONE, BEGGARS! AWAY WITH YOUR WICKEDNESS!!!”



Or maybe I’ll just apply again like a good musician.

The Night Before the Night Before…

OK, Christmas Eve is tomorrow, when I celebrate and host it for my mom’s side of the family. Then I go up north to my girlfriend’s family for a couple of days. I write now because It’s been over a week since I wrote last, and it might be a few days until I have the time again.
I gave my notice at my job today since there are few guaranteed paid hours there for the new year. I accepted an alternate office job for January. It will have acceptable pay and day hours so I can play in the evenings and weekends without interference. It will allow me to master my record, put packages together, and basically fund subsequent minor steps required to make things happen for me. It will also relieve the stress I’ve had paying for rehearsals with The Fortunates!
I’m psyched for the hopeful completion of my record between the days of Dec. 27th and Jan. 5th, when I will be able to focus for the first time in months. Yee-HAR!

The World’s a Stage

Somebody told me I shouldn’t write in this blog about having a regular job while I’m an artist in the music business — it looks “less rock star like”.
Oh God.
Yeah, I’ve been told stuff like that before, or stuff like not to include any info about me as an audio engineer, or about anything that means I’m actually a human being with a life or with bills to pay. Well, whatever. I mean, there’s already so much bullshit floating around. Like calling my friend’s work (4 employees) and hearing the automated attendant say that the company is one of the WORLD LEADERS in internet service. Oh yeah? Can I shove some rocks in my brain while I listen to more?
On the other side of the coin (I’m so darn fair), it is true that some people simply do not want to know the truth about certain things. (See the first The Matrix movie for a cool conceptual story surrounding this issue.)
For example, I used to do a lot of audio mastering. You should have seen sometimes how my clients reacted when they found out I was only renting the mastering studio I was mastering their music in — that it wasn’t mine. They would suddenly lose respect for me: “Why would this guy be mastering our music out of somebody else’s studio? The owner must be the mastering guru, not this chump!” They wanted to believe that they were with the guru, not second-rate cheese ball (even though I had much more experience and ability than the owner at the time). So, should a person fake it for the sake of preserving pre-conceptions? Proponents of the strategy would say you’re simply omitting full information.
The world’s a stage…

Big Back

I’m getting a big back from all the lifting at this driving job. What a physical workout! Bending over and over all day and night. I worked 12 hours yesterday straight.
I’ve been selling some of my Christmas CD’s with mild success this week through people I know and through strangers. This makes me happy. If I had a Powerbook and an iPod, I could just walk around town, play the songs for strangers, and unload CD’s. Hmm… where’s that extra few thousand bucks? 🙂
I started rehearsing for my unplugged show next week. I suck! Not enough practice as a solo artist! At least I’m getting a big back…

One Month Left

OK, I’ve only got one month left before I finish all the recording for my 2nd album. My buddy Jon Lipton of TheAllPurpose and I agreed to have our records done by December 31st. Holy time-crunch, Batman! I have to do so much stuff before that deadline, including recording parts for Jon’s record. Let’s not mention Christmas preparations or finishing moving into my home or working my job full time or rehearsing twice weekly with The Fortunates (which I’m really enjoying, by the way). And now I’ve got a little show coming up locally on the 11th. Sheesh!

Joe Keithley in Toronto

Tonight I went to see Joe “Shithead” Keithley, most notably of D.O.A. fame, speak about his new book at the Rivoli. Joe was a significant player in the original punk scene of yesteryear. The new book, “I, Shithead”, talks about Joe’s life in punk, and Joe entertainingly told stories on stage about things which I assumed also appear in the book. I had quite a few chuckles, and I could relate to some of it, having been in some identical band scenarios years ago. No death threats, though!
The thing I liked most and came to see was Joe’s obvious concern for the way the world works. He brought up the things I’m into: politics, environment, and anti-establishment issues. I need to hear other people talk about that stuff more often! It gives you hope and reminds you that you’re not alone in your thoughts about the planet’s problems. He mentioned the punk movement and how the lyrics at the time really meant a lot in the songs. Yeah! That’s why I do it too! Someone the other day asked me if I considered my music to be punk music when I told them about some of the lyrics. I said, “It doesn’t actually sound anything like punk music sonically, but I do believe that I write some of my songs in the spirit of what punk music originally was: expressing frustration.”

Busy in the City

After a week of unpacking boxes here I’m still unpacking boxes. I’m trying also to set up my little studio in the basement, but there are problems — the walls are paper thin — I can hear a house mate pretty easily in the next apartment. All the pipes down here hiss and squeak. It’s not that the pipes are old or anything, just that they’re shuffling the house’s fluids around a lot. There are 5 apartments in this one house! I’m feeling shy about making too much noise in order to not disturb the house mates, which doesn’t make for confident recording. Luckily, my album is near completion and not just getting started. But the basement itself is kinda nice. I’m also seated better between my speakers and the room itself sounds nicer than my last room.
In the last week, I played squash with my old studio buddy Joao Carvalho, met with the owner of Long & McQuade‘s Burlington store about starting up a new audio class for them, talked with and e-mailed lots of old friends as they kindly welcomed me back to Toronto, and looked for regular work as well. It’s quite a jump start from the last few months of my life. I even landed a tiny gig for tonight. Busy week!