Hey Roadies, thought I’d spread a little holiday cheer and whip up a little remix for your New Year’s Eve party mix. June was kind enough to add a little translation and of course, the obligatory pics of the kiddos. Enjoy! (If you want to download it, click the little down arrow in the Soundcloud player.)
Christmas music is in the air, and so what better time to drop the awesome bomb on ya’ll. This is an arrangement I did last year for the Cal State LA master’s program, and I never got around to posting it. The assignment was to take a well-known song, and arrange it in a style totally unrelated to the original. Behold what I hath wrought!
Zack gave me a wonderful little “Escrow Survival” gift a few weeks ago, a copy of Gavin DeGraw’s new album Free. I’m diggin on it.
If you own a copy, check something out with me. Roll to the song “Stay”, track 3 on the album. Hit play. Hear that? 3 seconds in, “have to be part of the problem.” Hear that? Yeah.
That’s what a vocal sounds like when you track it in your bedroom at 3 am, engineering it yourself, and you blow a big phat “P” right into the mic with no popper stopper. That’s not the only example on the album, but it’s the easiest one to find.
So, now I’m torn. I’m not a big fan of the perfect pop experience, where everything is ironed out and tuned up and comped together into an indistinguishable amorphous wash of frequency. But … yeah. But. There are technical flaws on this record that really bug me. I can’t enjoy that tune. Everytime I hear it, I hear the pppppop. It keeps me from enjoying some very good songwriting and damn fine singing, some of DeGraw’s best I think (the previous song “Free” hangs together so well, check it out). I find myself wishing there had been a little more attention paid to the basics of good engineering.
So, I guess I’m part of the problem.
It’s a diva off! Post your entry in the comments.
You have a new favorite band. They’re called The Cinematics, and they rocked the house opening for Mute Math. From Scotland, think early U2 meets David Bowie.
Next week, Chad, Corey, Rosy and I are loading in our gear to El Dorado Studios for a week to record The Dailies record. I know Chad is going to jump on soon and start whipping the readership of this fine blog up into a frenzie of fan-driven internet buzz, so I don’t want to steal his thunder. I’ll just pass along some of my observations from the first rehearsal.
1) Sometimes it’s harder to work creatively with friends than it is to work with strangers. With strangers, everybody knows their role, because it’s assigned to them by the person writing the check. With friends, we’ve all done so much stuff together, and the dynamic changes so often, that it takes a little bit of push and pull to sort out who does what, who gets to have what opinion, how far to push ideas onto someone else’s part. It’s all good, but it’s also a different dynamic.
2) Over the course of the last few years, I’ve developed a lot of producing and keyboard skills that are specifically used to gloss over crappy musical ideas. “Hey everybody, ignore the pedantic melody and cliche lyrics of the singer-songwriter and listen to this awesome ear candy! Look at me! Look at me!” As a result, being confronted with very good musical material is leaving me empty-handed. I’m going to have to re-learn how to get out of the way.
3) Attention Songwriters: Jesus is not your girlfriend. You are his wife. Get over the sexual reassignment issues, and grapple with that for a bit. Then, listen to “As I Am” when the album comes out, and weep openly at how much better Chad wrote it than you did. He’s good. He’s scary good.
4) 6/8 is not for wimps!
5) There are few things in life as awesome as giving Rosy 4 beats right before before the chorus.
6) I need to learn to make my peace with technology. Getting angry with inanimate objects is maybe the stupidest thing ever. I should reserve my anger for the living, breathing people who build the technology which so thouroughly confounds my attempts at a peacful, zen-like state of bliss.
7) You know that thing where you look over at someone you know, who you’ve played with 500 times, and you think you’ve heard them do everything they do, and then they do something totally new, off the wall, perfect for the song, and it makes you jump back in awe? Corey is just crazy sexy cool on guitar.
8) Air Conditioning is an essential tool for proper rehearsal.
9) So is coffee.
10) Sometimes, the songwriter isn’t the best interpreter of their own songs. Sometimes, someone else in the room has to say, “I think these 8 bars function this way, not the way you originally thought”, and they will be right. Somewhere along the line (since the official end of Toil Nor Spin), Chad learned this piece of wisdom, and taught it to us. That’s a pretty humble thing to be willing to accept.
11) I love playing keyboards.
12) I also love writing charts. This is a nerdy thing to admit, but I really like the process of inking out rhythm charts. It’s methodical, organized, and easily the best way I know of to fully understand a song.
13) Fermat’s Lesser Known 4th Theorum: The amount of time between the start of rehearsal and the emergence of the first dirty joke is inversely proportional to the number of boys in the band.
14) Now is the right time to make this record. 5 years ago, Chad couldn’t have written it. 5 years ago, we couldn’t have played it. 2 years ago, we wouldn’t have wanted to badly enough to bend and flex to make the schedule work. 2 years from now we’ll be so famous that we won’t even answer Chad’s calls. So, now is probably perfect.
15) 3 years ago, I spent an entire Saturday building one single B3 sound on my Triton keyboard. It’s big, beefy, dirty, whirly, and still the most commented on sound I use on that board.
16) Ever seen Lenny Kravitz go into full rock star strut on stage during a live show? That’s how Chad looks while playing bass in rehearsal. He was actually head-banging at one point. To his own playing. On a ballad.
17) So was Corey.
This thing is shaping up to be an epic record. I’m lit on the idea of going into the studio with friends, and playing great tunes in one of the best rooms in town. if you’re wondering when you should start your crazy fan obsession, now would be the right time.