Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Best Review Ever

Well, maybe not exactly... but it features what may be one of my favorite lines about an IJG record:

"You will never, ever hear it on commercial radio [...]"

Amen, brother!

This, by the way, is from the small flurry of press we received on our recent jaunt up to the Reno area (it may also be the first review of the forthcoming Go Go). More about that trip soon, but in the meantime you can find a PDF copy of this at Truckee's Moonshine. It's on page 30-something, I think.

* * * * *

One Guy’s Critique

by Taylor Parsons

‘Jazz’ has become a funny word in these mostly-postly-modern days. For some, it has come to describe haughty art music that has soared out of the reach of the casual listener. For others, it brings to mind a group of old men in tuxedos playing grandpa’s favorite Gershwin tunes in a dusty old ballroom. Still others see jazz as an antidote to contemporary popular music, one of the few remaining genres in which artists remain connected to and responsible for their creative musical production. Indeed, thousands of potential definitions exist for jazz. For me, though, the most important and significant connotations of the word ‘jazz’ signify spontaneous improvisation and honest—that is to say, not commercially driven—creative expression.

By that standard, the Los Angeles based Industrial Jazz Group, an experimental and constantly evolving ensemble formed by pianist and composer Andrew Durkin in 2000, must certainly be seen as a jazz group—indeed one of the better jazz groups around right now. Sporting a brass-heavy eleven piece lineup and featuring some of the best and most vibrant players in the emerging West Coast scene, the IJG provides the ideal musical field for Durkin’s meticulously written, wryly ironic, and broadly influenced compositions. Each of the five albums the IJG has released to date showcases a slightly different side of the group’s unique sound, and always opens up a novel and usually interesting way to defy categorization or critical pigeonholing.

Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is the IJG’s fifth and latest release, and it speaks volumes about why the group has received such cult acclaim. Drawing on everything from classical European brass concertos to American doo-wop to mariachi to revival gospel, and encompassing just about everything in between, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is undoubtedly a fun record. It’s also a funny record — Durkin’s pervasive humor and ironic selfconsciousness is apparent on virtually every track, and it’s hard not to laugh along with him. And, of course, like the group’s earlier releases, it’s very well made, not only with respect to the technical virtuosity of the musicians and the incredible and unusual precision of Durkin’s writing, but also with respect to the finer points of recording quality, mixing, and mastering.

All that said, however, let there be no mistake: Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is neither an easy nor instantly likeable record. It isn’t the kind of album that would be welcome on the stereo at an evening soirĂ©e…unless of course you hang out with the hippest, edgiest people in the universe. Nor is it the kind of CD I would personally want to play on a relaxed Sunday afternoon at home, or in the car on the way to work in the early morning. You will never, ever hear it on commercial radio (although the world would be a better place if you did).

Indeed, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! offers a challenging listening experience that is most notable for how it pushes and blurs boundaries, similar to the work of avant-garde greats like Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, and Frank Zappa. Like the work of its experimental forebears, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! demands focus and attention, and simply will not work as wallpaper music. If that sounds like your musical bag, go grab a copy and check it out for yourself. Better yet, go see the Industrial Jazz Group at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City or here at Moody’s Bistro in Truckee and buy a copy there.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode v

“LOOK AT YOU WITH ALL THE BLINKIN’ LIGHTS!”

a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

* * * * *

So now I’m mixing this fucker. Today is Sunday July 17th. The show was a month ago already. Mr. fucking “Recording Engineer” was supposed to be done by now, and on to the next MultiPlatinum success. Douche.

Woulda been nice if:

-I’d recorded ALL the fucking horns.

-the bass was properly recorded on its own track

-I didn’t like rum so much

-with lime

-the fake kind. Comes in a fake plastic lime and really does a grave disservice to limes, much like I do to live multitrack jazz recordings.

-Am I bveingto hartd on m,yuselg?

-Not Hayftd enj459!

-Typing in extreme hete with not air conditionsing afgter some rum with lime (the fake kind, comes in a plastic lime and tastes like soks marinated in the bitter sweat of farm aminals ., ! ) is a lot of funn.

Anyway, the drums sure do sound purty. Turns out Dan Schnelle is one finesse-ful motherfuckah behind them drums, and you gotta love old small fucking drumsets played by a THINKING and FEELING drummer in a big ass room with some large diaphragm condensers over the set yee ha.

More cheap-ass rum, please!

Author’s Note:

Ta Da, it’s AUGUST 27th!!!

What the fuck have I been doing??

Well, there were the six big band shows Ron and I did sound for. Almost no money, long hours, and 3 or 4 “experts” we could always count on to tell us what we were doing wrong.

There was the classic car show the Fakers played. Our set was cut down to eight songs so as not to preempt the Tricky Tray. What’s a Tricky Tray?

There was the punk rock session that blew up in our faces.

Oh yeah, and my day job.

In the midst of this, I quit smoking. Shitty timing.

After all this insanity I have finally brought my gear home and rebuilt my little bedroom studio to resume mixing the IJG show. Sometime recently Paul suggested to me that I let Andy know I am actually alive. I chose email – I’m not really a phone guy. This is a major shortcoming on my part.

Fortunately, Andy is a very “no-sweat” kinda dude to work with. Some people I will always give away the store to - not only because they’re great musicians but great people, too. As for whoring myself out to the unappreciative, that policy is due for radical change. No more el-cheapo rates just to have some bozo yelling “more reverb” at me for four hours. Unless I’m won as a prize in some sort of Tricky Tray.

December 7, 2005

Fucking gin, man. You leave a bottle lying in the freezer for 3-4 years and the damn stuff starts to TASTE like a juniper bush… or a Christmas tree.

Almost-Merry-Frigging-Christmas, by the way. Did that CD go out to IJG fans yet? Fuck-a-no. But we’re actually close. A few months back I sent Andy a terrible batch of mixes for him to listen to. I did a “homemade mastering” job on them – so that he wouldn’t have to turn up his CD player at home to bring the playback volume up to commercial levels.

What a noisy piece of crap I sent him. How many times before I learn not to bother trying to “master” without the tools, experience, perspective…? In one afternoon it is really easy to destroy the mixes you’ve spent months laboring over. Luckily the destruction was reversible, but still… what a dewwwshhh. From now on I’ll take the 15 seconds and write “turn up the volume a little” on unmastered CDs I give to people.

Anyway, from those 12 or so songs Andy selected and sequenced the tunes he wanted. The plan now is (and this is underway) for Paul to listen to Andy’s sequence and offer commentary and critique.

January 1st 2006

Cold, so cold…

Ahem. Really, really embarrassing. It’s…

FEBRUARY 2006

And we’re not quite there. Actually we’re really close. I sent Andy the last round of tweaks – sans crappy mastering process – about a week ago. Hopefully this madness will end. I really love the material. I’ve played copies for people. All in all it sounds pretty good.

Via email from Andy, 2/7/06…

"Cool with you if I make the copies from this CD, then?

cheers
A."

Haley fuckin lou ya.

We done here? I think we’re done here.

There’s more I could tell you. Mostly technical. But I’ve got to get on with my life. Besides, the Fakers are headed back into the studio this weekend and I’ve got to pick up gear all over northern New Jersey. Old, smelly gear.

Ron has since punched holes in the top of the Akai to allow more heat to escape.

This is Leo, signing off for now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode iv

“LOOK AT YOU WITH ALL THE BLINKIN’ LIGHTS!”

a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

During intermission we scrapped the bass DI and threw a mic on Kevin’s amp. I really like the Electro Voice PL95a. It’s a large capsule dynamic mic and Ron’s (another garage sale find) is the only one I’ve ever seen. Now we’d have all the bass tone we need.

So, we’re hanging out by our station, waiting for Set 2 to commence, when I hear

“Look at you with all the blinkin’ lights!”

It was another pal from high school. That was really his only comment, but it burrowed in my brain and cultivated new doubt. We really did bring a SHITLOAD of gear. Was I dooming the whole operation with my overkill?

Probably. Scooby dooby doo…

The second set opened with “Winter.” We used to play this song in the Evelyn Situation – it’s lyrically stark and compelling and I always got chills hearing the girls sing it. I was stoked to hear it in its new instrumental form – like visiting an old friend.

I realized I could no longer ignore the growing smell of metal and heat. It was the Akai tube deck – most likely just giving off a little olfactory reminder that it was on and tubes were glowing. Not to worry. Swing and bop.

A little while later Elaine got my attention.

“I think there’s smoke coming out of that thing,” she whispered.

I scoffed. “What thing, the Akai? Nah, it’s just a little hot.”

She was not convinced.

“Okay..”

Her incredulity led me to have my own doubts. I asked Ron. Ron thought everything was fine. He also said he was prepared to unplug the fucking thing and run it out the door.

Barely a minute went by. Elaine persisted.

“I saw smoke. Don’t you see it?”

Now I’m getting a little annoyed. After all, is she a Recording Engineer? Ha.

Oh, wait a minute. Smoke is FUCKING POURING OUT OF THE TOP OF THE AKAI. I tapped Ron and in seconds we had it unplugged and Ron ran out of the theater with it.

Thankfully the audience didn’t seem to notice this little fiasco. Thankfully we didn’t burn down the 90 year old theater. That just might have exhausted Lenny’s calm.

And now we had no kick drum going to tape for the last 3 minutes of “Winter.” We didn’t get the kick mic patched into a new preamp until just in time for the next song.

Sweet freaking crap. I can’t not mix “Winter.” What to do about the kick drum, though? I figured I would wind up relying on the editing ease of Pro Tools to fix the problem. I could copy one or two of the cleanest kick hits from the early portion of the song, and, by listening for Dan’s kick hits on the overhead tracks, paste them in accordingly.

I wasn’t overly enthused about this idea. Have you ever read “Pet Sematary?” Looks like the cat, sorta sounds like the cat, but brother, that cat smells a wee bit of the undead. Such was the best I could hope for with “Winter’s” kick drum. Ultimately I wound up scrapping this idea in mixdown. Dan’s kick drum part seemed to vary measure by measure – it would’ve taken weeks for me to learn, and by the time I finished it would most certainly reek of the Micmac burial ground. Instead I opted to choose my favorite sounding overhead track, compress the beejesus out of it, turn it way up, and mute the other drum tracks. Voila, a one-mic drum sound. To this day I really like the way this mix came out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode iii

“LOOK AT YOU WITH ALL THE BLINKIN’ LIGHTS!”

a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

*THE DAY OF THE GIG*

There is a vast, dark chasm that exists between The Plan and The Moment of Fruition. Inhabiting this chasm – maybe it is composed of them – lurk the Goblins of Random Malice and Spite. They are perverse. They exist to thwart and emperil (fuck you Spell Checkk I like this word) the Recording Engineer. Especially when said RE is a flailing hack with a mediocre complement of tools for combating the evils he IS capable of hearing. And morespecially when that flailing douchewagon has to worry about PA, too. But that was my choice. Better than risking a communication gap with the house sound guy - which could mean compromising our recording schematic.

So June 17th arrived. Show time was set for 8:00pm.

Ron and I loaded in around 3:00pm and got right to it. We set up on a large raised platform where several rows of seats used to be. This situated us in the rear/center of the theater. Originally I wanted to set up camp in another room and monitor with speakers, but we were hindered by numerous practical problems. We were also running PA, so our remote Control Room was not to be. We would have to monitor the recording with headphones.

I have a nice, inexpensive pair of Audio Technica M30s. They are very comfortable to listen to, however they tend to exaggerate low end in a dangerous way that might prompt excess cutting and shelving, thus leeching signal of crucial body. But after a few years of using them, I know this. Besides, we’re not EQing anything on the way in. The main thing was to listen for distortion as we dialed in optimum recording levels. We would also be able to listen for any source that just sounded plain bad or wrong due to bad mic choice/placement.

Faker drummer Johnnie D loaned us two Presonus M80 mic preamp units – each good for 8 clean, powerful signals.

For vocal recording we brought along the Joe Meek VC6Q British Channel. This thing has flattered every voice we’ve ever run through it. It’s also great for saving a shitty snare drum recording, FYI. Had we been monitoring on speakers I might have tweaked the EQ a tad – the built-in Meequalizer is a powerful and pleasing-sounding tool.

And the piece de resistance? The ancient Akai tube reel to reel recorder Ron picked up at a garage sale for $3.00. This thing kicks ass. I have no idea how old it is, or how much it went for new. It no longer plays tapes, but the built-in mic preamps are slamming. We set aside one channel of this puppy for the kick drum.

Oh yeah, track count? A whopping 15. 14 when you subtract the Center Room Mic I neglected to patch in. Ah… doucheIamdoucheamI.

Setup was fairly smooth. Despite our best efforts, we wound up with quite a tangle of mic cords onstage. “Neatening” meant shoving them all into one cluster at the back of the riser. I decided not to get too worried about the whole trip-hazard thing, though. I’ve never really seen horn players headbang a la Priest or run around the stage like Mary Lou Retton on crack a la Classic Van Halen. Although I might pitch this idea to Andy…

One little ripple during the setup phase:

Ron, always on top of safety concerns when we do any sound work, dutifully taped down every cable on that stage, and the 100’ snake harness that ran directly under the audience seats to our mixing station.

That’s when Lenny, the theater’s technical director approached me. To this day I applaud his calm – scarce and frayed as it may have been.

“Is that duct tape going to pull up our paint?”

The stage had recently been painted a fresh coat (or several) of flat black. We should have brought gaffer tape. Damn it, I knew this – but do I always think of shit when I should? Evidently not. And now the possibility loomed that when we went to pull the duct tape up at the end of the night it most certainly would grab every coat of paint with it. The results would be ugly.

Much as it killed me – seeing as this was a non-profit, volunteer gig in the first place, I swore to him I would buy paint and come back the very next day and re-do the whole thing. He did not warm to this idea.

(Has word of my criminally bad painting skills spread around NJ? The world? I knew my wife’s blog would be trouble.)

“Ron!”

Ron acknowledged.

“What?”

“Stop!”

Ron didn’t seem to think there would be a problem. Since this tangent is actually a little boring, I’ll conclude it by telling you that Ron was absolutely right. Thank Christ.

The band started to trickle in around 6ish. Horns, Piano (Andy), and the drummer.

The drumset had not yet arrived with the bass player – they were on their way in to Jersey from Brooklyn. A nightmare traffic scenario for a Friday night. Ha Ha Ha. We set about soundchecking the horns, vocal mic, and piano, which was useful as far as making sure individual mics and lines worked, etc.; but pretty friggin worthless as soundchecks go. It helps to have all the musicians playing, and at 7:30 we were still without the bass player and the drummer was without a drumset. He had sticks, though.

So my wife showed up, thank god. Elaine is, as, they say, a trooper. How many gigs – from the sublime to the subpar – has she come to now? Almost every one of them. She is my lifeline. She makes me smile and laugh, and stressful moments are less painful when she’s at my side. I could go on…

Unfortunately I tend to be kinda distant when I’m working, but she understands. Hell I bet she’s been paying attention, and someday will probably engineer circles around me.

So shit it is getting really close to 8:00. People are piling up in the lobby.

I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about 7:45 when the bass player arrived. The drums were hustled down to the stage. Dan Schnelle (which I believe is German for “fast”) put the set together, well, fast. The mics were already plugged in and nearby, so we moved them into position.

“Are we good to go?”

It was Lenny. Or it might have been Bob. But anyway, why is Len/Bob asking me? Oh yeah, cause right now I’d be the guy that’s supposed to know. So, Ron and I did a quick checklist, confirmed with Andy that the band was ready and decided that yup, it was showtime.

After a feedback-plagued introduction by Bob Carr (on the harmonica player’s mic. The harmonica-ist did not make the gig, but this mic was destined to become vitally important), the quintet incarnation of the group took the stage. They opened with “Pasty Mofo.” What a wild and brave choice for an opener, as there’s a long trombone-and-cymbals breakdown featuring lots of squeaks and gurgles. Screw you, commercial appeal! God Bless the IJG.

Oh and fuck, we’re not getting a bass signal to tape. Mother of crap. We had a DI on Kevin’s bass and now it was sending us nothing. I decided there was not much we could do about it without disrupting the band and wrecking their Mojo. The bass was plenty loud in the room, so I gave hope to the possibility of having ample low end from the ambient mics. The trick would be locating the detail of the bass sound in amongst the blend of the other microphones. Fuck indeed. But everything else was working, and the PA seemed to need constant attention, so I chose not to sweat it. We would fix the problem at intermission. Of course, this meant a discrepancy in the recorded bass sound between Set 1 songs and Set 2 songs, but what the hell - this is the fun of live recording. And besides, what was the likelihood of more gear crapping out on us? Chill, baby, and enjoy some of that swinging bop.

There was a funny smell in the air. Something… electrical? Hm.

A little while later we decided we could no longer stand to not have the bass going to tape. The anxiety it was causing actually resulted in us thinking up a decent plan. The plan was to move the kick drum mic so that it was pointed partially at the bass amp – since bass guitar and kick drum kinda work in the same department musically and sonically speaking, why not combine them for now? Ron handled this mission, and no musicians were agitated in the process. Soloing the track in the headphones revealed that the mission had been worthwhile. The kick sounded slightly thinner, but it was still good and present, and now we could hear the bass. Hah, cha cha cha…

Monday, February 20, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode ii

“LOOK AT YOU WITH ALL THE BLINKIN’ LIGHTS!”

a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

* * * * *

Back to the garage. Help yourself to a Parliament. And a beer if you can find one. The questions multiply quickly and run away from you in all directions.

Stereo pair or multitrack? Ideally, a recording like this would be done with two quality microphones selected carefully for the application. They would be placed in any one of several “textbook” configurations to allow for the best imaging, the least amount of phasing problems, and of course optimal sound quality. The ensemble would control and balance its sound levels naturally, and the mics would capture a pleasing blend of ambient and direct sound. One would be able to play a CD of this recording over one’s home stereo, sit between the speakers, and be made to feel as if they were at the show.

That’s all well and good, but we don’t have two high quality mics. We have some decent stuff, but nothing big-ticket. Yeah yeah yeah it’s not the gear it’s the engineer. I believe that to be true- I have heard solid, magical things done on very cheap equipment, but I couldn’t imagine any pair of mics in our collection – on their own – yielding anything better than “hey, good bootleg!” results. Not only that, but I actually employed forethought. I knew there would come a time during mixdown when a horn part might be too low, or the drums might get lost under a sea of brass. I’d be kicking myself in the head. Literally, I would FIND a way to inflict grievous injury upon myself if I couldn’t control the elements of a mix simply because I was too lazy to set up a multitrack system.

How many tracks, then? Eight? We’ll never get it with eight. Sixteen? For a while I was convinced we could get it with sixteen. Two out front, two overheads, kick, snare, bass, vocal, vocal, piano, horns. And then I started to obsess over the drums. Via email I peppered Andy with ridiculous questions that he probably had no time for in the midst of preparing for the tour: Which drummer are you bringing? How big a set? What is his average velocity per tom hit?

You see, having heard a good deal of the IJG’s stuff, I knew that a traditional jazz sound was not necessarily the objective. It would be tempting to just “hang a mic over the drumkit” and maybe stick a mic on the bass drum and be done with it, but there is usually some really wild drum shit going on in their music. The tom work in “El Grupo de Jazz Industriale” is especially exciting. I would hate to not hear the detail. Or not have access to that detail in mixdown. In a studio environment, or any situation where your drums are isolated from the other instruments – even partially, you can maybe get away with not micing the toms. Hope that your drummer is sensitive to dynamics (and arrangement!), crank your overhead mics, and blammo there’s your toms.

When faced with The Unknown, however, the tendency is to err on the side of “more more more.” We have to mic the toms and there’s just no way around it, so we really need twenty-one tracks.

Scary. The more mics the greater your coverage, yes, but you’re also getting into dangerous country. Phase problems you can’t fix, unusable leakage that blurs your total image into an indistinct pile of crap; and of course the more wires you have running all over the stage/venue, the more shit you have to clean up at the end of the night. But I had decided – with much pretense and melodrama - that overkill was the right way to go.

So, at eight tracks per deck that’s three DA38s, we might as well use all twenty four. Why not borrow another DA38 and make it thirty two? We’ll have ambient mics pointing at the stage and ambient mics pointing AWAY from the stage, it’ll be great! We’ll mic every fucking horn they got. We’ll mic their goddamn CAR horns. Spare tracks for guest musicians, dedicated “snare copy” tracks for lining up groups of eight after we transfer into ProTools, maybe some wireless mics to get audience chatter in the lobby before and after the show… oh yeah baby I’m a RECORDING ENGINEER, right?

Ron doesn’t say too much anymore when I get like this.

We have access to maybe nineteen good preamps – we’re gonna need adapters. Shit we gotta come up with a baffle system. Carpet tiles on mic stands? Perfect!

And so it goes. I’m designing recording schemes at home, at my day job (using Excel. Is there anything that says “hey, I’m working here!” better than a spreadsheet?), on napkins, Post-Its - my life is littered with hundreds of scraps of paper that all start with “AmbL, AmbR, OH1, OH2, KK, SN, T1, T2, Bass, PianoL, PianoR, AndyVoc, JillVoc..”

Then of course there’s reconnaissance. Gotta check out the theater in advance, lest we really hang ourselves with The Unknown.

Recon day went well. It was good to see Bob Carr after so many years. It also warmed my black little heart to see the love that is being poured into restoring the theater. I don’t want to botch their story – check out www.12mileswest.org...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode i

So today I'm introducing a new feature on JTMOU: a guest blogger. This'll give me a little extra time as I 1. deal with continuing delays on the new record (oh, so that's why these smaller CD manufacturing companies are so much cheaper), 2. continue to digitize (or, rather, Sibelius-ize) many of the scores from the first three IJG albums (building up the quintet book for some upcoming shows and possibly a local weekly gig), and 3. iron out little details for our upcoming trip to the Reno area.

Leo McClusky is, as will become apparent in a moment, an old friend from way back in my callow youth. I always considered him one of the more tasteful of my various heavy-metal oriented guitarist peers--he could bang his head with the best of them, and yet he had no problem making the transition to musical styles that required a bit more, er, subtlety. That was one of the reasons he was so well-suited to the Evelyn Situation. During that beautiful, all-too-brief moment (maybe it was beautiful because it was brief?) that he and Paul Badalamenti were in the band, I felt like we could do anything.

However, what follows is not about the Evelyn Situation (thank heavens). Rather, it's a lengthy piece (so long it will be broken up over several installments) Mr. McClusky penned to document his experience recording what turned out to be the most complicated show in the IJG's debut East coast tour last spring. As you will see, the guy went pretty goddamm far above the call of duty with this project. I can do little in response except remain flabbergasted. That and thank him again publicly and profusely.

Oh, and I suppose the completion of this memoir means two things: first, I've got to "release" the disc all this work was destined for (it was, after all, intended as a special gift for people who came to see the show). And second, I've got to get my own writeup on the tour together. I've been promising it for months and months.

Anyway, enough prattle. Without further ado, I bring you episode i of:

“LOOK AT YOU WITH ALL THE BLINKIN’ LIGHTS!”

a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

It is with abundant nerve, and a persistent deaf ignorance to all my varied and numerous shortcomings, that I call myself a recording engineer. That is what I love doing most of all – calling myself a recording engineer. The day may come when I can back up this audacity, but until then I am just a hack who points mics at things and scrambles the controls hoping to hell that a listenable piece of music is being committed to tape or hard drive. Playback is the proof, and I’d say maybe one-third of my attempts to date are at best not-too-embarrassing. The rest of it amounts to thousands of hours of squandered time and miles of wasted tape -- ear-fatiguing sonic waste that destroyed the very music it was supposed to reflect and/or flatter.

Success is a combination of… hold on- … aw shit I’ll be right back.

OK, I’m back. Where was I? Success? Good one. Moving on…

I understand that simple approaches often work best, and yet I invariably find a way to use every channel, every cable, every last shitty Ratty O’ Shoppe adapter (by the way, guys, what’s happening to your selection down there? and do you really need my Zip Code AGAIN AND PLEASE STOP ASKING ME IF I NEED HELP JUST LET ME STARE AT THE ADAPTER WALL LIKE A CATATONIC TRUST ME EVERYTHING IS FINE!!!!).

If you stopped reading at this point I wouldn’t blame you. You get the point. I’m an unfocussed mess. On with the story then?

Anyway, I know Andrew Durkin from high school. We really didn’t do much together musically, but if he did in fact write and perform a full-length rock opera for his senior year Independent Study project, then I in fact played guitar for the show and sang one of the tunes. If it really happened, then he really got an “A.” Might have been an A-, just to keep him humble. Cause everyone knows what an arrogant, loud guy Andy is.

I made a laughable attempt at forming a jazz band sometime around then. Andrew politely obliged, as did a few other kind people. We would be jazz, I reasoned, because we would have a cool name like “The Mellotones,” and because I had just discovered minor seventh chords. Mercifully we only had one practice and it was never spoken of again.

Paul Badalamenti and I joined Andy’s group The Evelyn Situation in 1994. That was a blast. Andy wrote these great songs with great lyrics, arranged wild three-part vocals for Jill, Donna, and Danielle, and played acoustic guitar or piano. As for me and Paul, Andy gave us carte blanche. The weirder our guitar parts, the more he seemed to like them. Did we step all over those beautiful vocals? Maybe.

Donna quit and was replaced. I wigged out, quit and wasn’t replaced. Not too long after that, Andy and a couple of the chicks split for the west coast and that was pretty much it for the Evelyn Situation. I don’t need to repeat their whole story at this point. Mainly because I don’t know what happened. Paul is still around.

Scrub forward to 2005. The IJG is coming East, man. Andy’s dragging the whole shootin’ match out here for gigs. One of em’s at a theater co-managed by Bob Carr (another HS alum) and it’s six miles from my house in New Jersey. Hmm…

I could just buy a ticket and enjoy the show, but that’s not me. It had to be recorded. No question. I suggested it to Andy and he was all in favor.

I would spend the two months leading up to the show thinking of nothing but. I also began to hound Ron at every cigarette break.

Now’s a good time to introduce Ron Strebel. I’ve known Ron ever since we played in Joyseed together. Joyseed, despite the goofy name, was yet another good band that spun its wheels in a rut until the motor died and everybody got out and walked home. But this is not the time for that story. Suffice to say, I wigged out and quit. Ron and I remained friends and developed a mutual interest in recording. We’ve also been playing together in the Fakers for around seven years now. The Fakers story, thankfully, is not over. Nor is it printable here…

So yeah, to know me and Ron is to know a smoky garage and an endless conversation about getting music on tape the best way possible. Not having the funds to secure a regular space, i.e., studio- for ourselves, we have to jump on whatever live or basement recording project we can find. We’re much happier when there’s a mission. Remember Martin Sheen in the beginning of “Apocalypse Now?” That’s me when I don’t have a project to occupy myself with. Thankfully I haven’t punched any mirrors yet. As for the drinking and hysterical crying….

[to be continued...]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Go Go: Re-drawn



This may be the one...

What the font?



Been doing a little research on fonts as we're fine-tuning the artwork for Go Go, and found this excellent site. It has an amazing search feature ("What the font") that allows you to upload an image of some text written in a certain font, which it then analyzes and tries to match. Great when you're trying to find an obscure retro font (the dilemma I currently find myself in).

And the test sentences (used to demonstrate the fonts the site finds) are hilarious (see sample above).

Monday, February 06, 2006