Monday, September 8, 2014

Electronics...AmIright?!?!

I think my guitar amplifier is not long for this world.

I was in the middle of re-recording rhythm tracks for "Burn" on Saturday, when it started acting crazy. The tuner wouldn't read, the tones I had stored all went to strange places, and the bottom fell out of the sound.

Suffice to say I was beside myself.

I fiddled and prodded, tried to login to Line 6's online tool for problems...didn't work. Finally, I did a factory rest on both the amp and the footboard. The thing reset, the tuner was working again, and it seemed to be OK.

Except I'd lost about 6-7 years of stored guitar tones. I'm also still not convinced that all is right with the amp. It feels like the distortion settings are "breaking up" (more than they are supposed to) in high-gain situations. It doesn't sound like guitar distortion, it sounds like...a possible malfunction.

I'm gonna work with it some more. Hopefully, what I'm hearing is just the preset tones, after years of my settings, and not a real problem. Even if it is, I have to push through. The Hayoth work is coming along, I don't want to kill my momentum, and I don't have the $$ for a new amp right now.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Comic Review - SOUTHERN BASTARDS

I have spoken to friends about this Image comic, Southern Bastards by writer Jason Aaron and artist Jason Latour.

I described it as an awesome Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson picture. Sort of like Walking Tall, if Burford Pusser was 60+ years old. It was a book that really hooked me with that sort of macho ass-kicking that ends with our hero ordering a plate of ribs.

Well, issue #4 came out this week, ending the first arc of the book, "There Was a Man."

You all need to go seek out the first 3 issues, read them in order, and DO NOT SKIP AHEAD. Seriously, DO NOT do it. (Apparently a trade paperback will be out later this month). If you wait for that, DO NOT read spoilers.

Because this book just took a turn that floored me, and moved it in a whole new direction that will make it, I daresay, totally unique in it's genre. Because I don't see any sign of the book changing, but the rest of the game is gonna play totally different.

All this would be useless, of course, if the writing and art weren't top-notch. They are. Four issues in, I have no complaints, no qualms, and no criticisms. Aaron and Latour are, no other way to put it, KILLING IT.

I have been a bit sad at losing my beloved Jonah Hex, as All-Star Western rides into the sunset. This book will make a nice replacement.

Holy crap, it's good. In ways I never, ever expected it to be.
 
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stuck in My Head 9.4.2014 - Resist


Resist
by Rush

I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

I can learn to resist
Anything but frustration
I can learn to persist
With anything but aiming low

I can learn to close my eyes
To anything but injustice
I can learn to get along
With all the things I don't know

You can surrender
Without a prayer
But never really pray
Pray without surrender

You can fight
Without ever winning
But never ever win
Without a fight

I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Best Laid Plans....

So, I have converted my master WAV files for the two finished tracks, Burn and Warp, to MP3, and given them some listens....

They need to be re-mixed and mastered, at the very least.

I have found the tracks from ...And Getting Dollars Back ended up being quieter than I'd like in their finished versions. My intent was to try to rectify this by pumping the sound up, recording at a higher volume. What I've ended up with is a very brittle, harsh guitar sound.

Granted, both of these tracks have intentionally more treble-end guitar tone. Burn is, basically, a metal track, and I wanted the guitar to cut through. I think I just went too far. I need to tweak the EQ on the track, and definitely bring down the guitar in the mix. Maybe re-record the guitar part. I have to admit, I am somewhat regretting dumping the previous version.

Warp is much less of a problem, instrumentally. Everything sounds pretty good. I still think I went too far with the loudness. I do need to re-do the guitar solo...I don't even know what the fuck I was thinking. It's terrible.

I also...as is my eternal problem...need to fix the vocals. It's partially a mixing problem, but I could sing this stuff better. I still struggle with finding "my voice" for vocal work, and, frankly, I'd still love to find a real, and like-minded, vocalist to take a run at some of this stuff. Same with the drumming.

But we do what we can with what we have.

Fail/Safe rehearsals have started. I am very, very excited.

Great cast, fun people, and if we get half the technical whiz-bang that's been discussed, it's gonna be a super-cool looking show. Everybody's loose and ready to have fun, which is fairly essential, in my mind, with such heavy subject matter. We've only had two rehearsals, but I feel very welcome. A lot of openness to what I can bring to the table.

And, flat out, I love this character. It's not quite the level of my love for Milt Shanks, but Copperhead was something special. General Bogan is who I would hope I would be in this situation, and I feel like I carry a responsibility to the men an women who do this sort of work in how I play it. I think of that often as I go over lines, or work scenes, in a world where I feel like the baseline inclination is to demonize any sort of military or authority figure. I am often asked to play those roles. I am not blind to the weaknesses, but my job is to understand that life, that world.

I hope you all come and see it in September.




Stuck In My Head 8.20.2014 - A Box/Sometime


A Box
By King's X

Lonely days will come and go
Nothing new unless you're bold
Revolution no.19
Brand new wave of anger

Stain yourself with pumpkin pie
Liquid tattoo I got mine
Don't forget forgetfulness
Call it deconstruction

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

Way down in the deep depress
Colder than the coldest yes
We know about loneliness
Others to another

Just a place to run and hide
Just a place to free your mind
Just a place to break the chains
And find whatever matters

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside



Sometime
by King's X

Sometime, I want to give
Sometime, I want to take
Sometime, I want to run
Sometime, I want to stay.
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.

Sometime, I want to love
Sometime, I want to hate
Sometime, I want to build
Sometime, I want to break
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.

Sometime, I want to live
Sometime, I want to die
Sometime, I want to believe
Sometime, I want to get high and fly.
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.


Learn more about King's X at  http://kingsxrocks.com/
 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stuck In My Head - Smokestack Lightning - 8.15.2014


Smokestack Lightning
by Howlin' Wolf

Ah oh, smokestack lightnin'
Shinin' just like gold
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
A whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whoo

Whoa oh tell me, baby
What's the matter with you?
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh tell me, baby
Where did ya, stay last night?
A-why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, stop your train
Let her go for a ride
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, fare ya well
Never see, a you no more
A-why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, who been here baby since
I, I been gone, a little bitty boy?
Girl, be on
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

May Need to Drop Back and Punt

Worked a bit on Predator Game last night. Trying to get a decent drum track.

I'm fighting against a couple of things.

For whatever reason, my monitor headphones, which I use pretty exclusively when recording to spare my neighbors as much as I can (Sometimes I end up working a chord progression dozens of times...I can't imagine how annoying that would be to someone who doesn't know why), kind of turn acoustic tracks into mush. On the monitors it sounds OK, not perfect, but I'm working with a track that is, in the main, just for me to play drums to. I find myself struggling to hear where I am in the song.

The other factor in that is inhearant in how I record. When I'm playing, it's not with anybody but myself on "tape." There are no visual cues to follow, as you would have playing with a band. Not impossible, but I didn't make it easy. I, in an attempt to break up the tempo a bit, added in some transitional stuff between sections. Nothing too fancy, but the beat I'm working with on the drums is a 2-bar cycle, and when I drop in a single bar of transition - that I'm having trouble hearing - it can get me off track pretty quickly.

So, at this point, I am weighing the pros and cons of changing the song. It's just transitional sections, so the main parts Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Lyrics/Melody should be unaffected. The other thing is that this number, witch is designed to be acoustic with an electric lead, may just sound better with a consistent beat. I may like music that jumps around a bit rhythmically, but I know it's jarring to many ears. While this is mainly a hobby, something I do for myself, I enjoy it when people actually like my stuff.

I'll be digging in to it soon. I feel on the cusp of solving the question/problem, and getting some forward momentum.

While on this subject, I want to sing the praises of some freeware I've been using, Power Tab Editor. For a self-taught musician like myself, who neither reads or writes notation, putting down what I'm playing so that it can be replicated has always been a challenge. On the off chance that I ever play live, I'd have to be able to show people (and myself) how to play my stuff. This software is flat-out terrific, and allows you to put together professional-looking tab sheets with notation. On top of all that, It's helped me tremendously with being able to visualize rhythm and time, and to begin to understand regular notation.  I'm actually doing a fair amount of writing with the software (you can assign parts, and "play" the track with a simple synthesizer). it's just terrific.

Now, I'm sitting here weighing the pros and cons of dropping "Game" from the title. Predator?

Too Schwarzenegger?