Lately, I’ve had frequent conversations about the encroaching police state. It’s back in the popular conversation again now thanks to the Cambridge police arresting a Harvard professor for breaking into his own home. It’s unfortunate that such a frivolous incident should dominate the national debate for so long, only to devolve into a fluff story about which beer Obama, Gates and Crowley ordered when they buried the hatchet, rather than offering any substantive illumination of our lopsided justice system.
While the Gates story is frustrating for obvious reasons, I’m more concerned about the widespread use of tazers by law enforcement. I’m sorry, but when did it become okay to send massive volts of electricity through another human being’s body? Does electrocuting a suspect who has not been proven guilty in a court of law not count as cruel and unusual punishment? Frankly, I don’t consider the use of tazers to ever be appropriate, even when suspects are resisting arrest. But I can sympathize with the argument that tazers offer police an alternative to deadly force. However, this “less-lethal” canard is a slippery slope.
The fact is, a steel-toed boot is considered a lethal weapon in the right scenario. Designating tazers and rubber bullets as “non-lethal” is a risky precedent that endangers everyday citizens who fall on the wrong side of an overzealous police officer. Back at Emerson a few years ago, I saw Victoria Snelgrove shot and killed by police during the Red Sox riots. She had climbed up onto a billboard with a few other revelers and the police shot them down with “non-lethal” rubber bullets filled with pepper spray. The bullet went through her eye and into her brain, killing her a few hours later.
My point is that designating a weapon as “non-lethal” encourages its use in non-lethal situations. So, rather than providing an alternative to guns in deadly situations, “less-lethal” weapons simply create more opportunities to use unnecessary force. The deadliness of a gun almost acts as a deterrent, since police must justify its use. It would be nice if tazers and rubber bullets could be used instead of real guns, but the lax standards on how and when to use such weapons invite disaster. Recent stories about an elderly woman who posed no violent threat being tazed, a man sodomized by a tazer, and the infamous naked wizard being tazed at Coachella are just a few examples of overzealous police.
When will the authorities learn that happy music quells seething riots faster than riot police? If people are dancing, they’re not smashing windows. Devising newer ways to inflict pain on people will not increase peace and order, it will only amplify pain and anger. The bottom line is, violence is never justified unless the life of an officer or citizen is at risk.
Of course, this attitude has deep roots. The War on Terror and the political rhetoric post-9/11 has incubated an atmosphere of excessive force coupled with desperate incompetence. Bush’s inefficient management style trickled down through the whole country and exacerbated the situation. But I don’t blame Bush alone. Yes, he and Cheney are responsible for turning our country into more of a police state than ever before by illegally wiretapping our private calls, suspending habeas corpus, and legalizing torture. But our country has a long history of subjecting the citizenry to a merciless justice system that the rich and politically powerful are immune from. Justice is for sale to the highest bidder. Moreover, racist attitudes and frat house mentalities among police officers skew their perspective of what law enforcement is really about. Some police think it’s their duty to discipline the citizens, or at least they act like it is. At the end of the day, the police work for the people, they are paid by the people to protect & serve the people. But who’s gonna protect you when you’re face down on the side of the highway with a tazer up your ass?
The boy weaves through the crevasses in the crowd. All the odd-looking kids—their tattoos and home-made dye jobs, their piercings swollen red and their studded belts outside the loops—these misfits shuffle past the wedding band upstairs, past the mortified stares of the guests in their white dresses and black ties, and come down the basement steps. The boy feels at ease among them, but not of them. They all carry themselves with a certain comfort, a nonchalance the boy cannot muster. They laugh effortlessly, touching one another on the shoulder or at the elbow. He proceeds through them, fading in and out of conversations, but never contributing, until he hears a chorus of shouts a few feet away.
A small circle of space forms and through the valleys between shoulders, the boy spots the source of the excitement: a small black raven lies dead on the graying tile. In disgust, a girl kicks the body away, and another string of startled cries as the dead bird haunts a new section of crowd. Finally, the tiny frame of feathers settles near the stage area. Everyone forgets, ignoring the black omen.
The boy breaks through the sea of bodies to discover the raven’s head a few inches away from the mass of wings and bony legs. For a second, the boy looks on the decapitated nestling, wondering how it came to be here. How did it end up in the basement of a Knights of Columbus, its head cut off? Perhaps the girl’s kick had done the damage, but the boy could not be sure.
Quietly, he scoops up the raven in his palm. A hush falls. Wide-eyed stares follow the boy as he parts the room, making his way up the stairs. Are they disgusted that he would touch, bare-handed, such filth? Or are their rueful looks secretly announcing their guilt?
Outside, the ground in every direction is concrete, peppered with gravel and dirt. No suitable burial grounds. And so the boy whispers a prayer to himself, close to the raven’s ear, “From him we come, and to him we return,” and he tosses the bird in the air like a dove to sky. But the limp body sails over the cars only to disappear into bushes and bramble dividing the parking lot from the boulevard.
So I got this obnoxious chain letter this morning with one of those folksy anecdotes that’s supposed to demonstrate that Obama’s policies are leading us down the road of socialism. This email wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t receive a similar note yesterday warning of a “conspiracy” by those holding capital to trick the working man to take on massive amounts of debt, and when they can’t pay back, the banks will collapse, only to be nationalized and setting us on a road to—don’t say it—Communism! I’m sorry, but didn’t the Cold War end? Why am I still getting anti-commie propaganda in 2009? And I hate to break it to everyone, but that dreaded nightmare scenario already happened - last September. Remember? When all those average people who bought houses they couldn’t afford with loans they couldn’t pay back defaulted on their mortgages and the banks had to be bailed out by the government? So I guess America’s communist now?
But back to the agitprop I got this morning. The anecdote goes something like this: an economics professor, in an effort to discredit Obama’s “socialist” policies, tells his class that for the rest of the semester, all of their test scores will be averaged so that everyone gets the same grade. The first test everyone gets a B, but after that, the grades decline until everyone is getting F’s. And then the professor triumphantly declares that that is why Obama’s plan to tax the rich to provide the poor healthcare will ruin the country!
This story is so ludicrous on so many levels. First of all, a progressive tax or flat tax does not even come close to “averaging” the incomes of rich & poor, so the professor has already rendered his experiment irrelevant. Second, he stopped the experiment short of what would have been a remarkable breakthrough: once the students realized that their own hard work wasn’t enough, that they all had to help each other to pass the next test, then the class would have worked together to bring up the collective score. What the professor fails to realize is that by averaging the test scores, he’s simply changing the incentive from competing for the highest grade to cooperating for the best score.
Am I advocating for the averaging of everyone’s incomes and the creation of a communist state? Not at all. What I am saying is that we must let go of all this anti-socialist baggage we’ve got from the Cold War. Socialism is just an idea, not some supreme, universal evil. Capitalism has afforded our species much technological advancement and economic progress. But capitalism also has its flaws: overconsumption, alienation, pollution, etc. While capitalism creates an incentive to hoard wealth, socialism creates an incentive to share it. Both are useful tools and when utilized simultaneously, they can mitigate each other’s weaknesses while mutually reinforcing their strengths. This balancing act between capitalist and socialist ideas has been a fundamental aspect of our country since the New Deal. The simple fact is that we already live in a social democracy. Can we please stop acting like socialism is this dark specter to be feared, when it’s nothing more than a counterweight to free market excess?
I am very excited to announce that we will be shooting a music video next month with the divinely talented Brandon Nicholas. He is a great friend of ours who happens to be one of the best directors I know. With a strong attention to detail and a flare for production design, he has done a slew of music videos & films that all share his characteristic style. I really can’t praise him enough. He’s highly skilled at using images to tell stories and I couldn’t be more pumped to work with him. I had the pleasure of watching him in action earlier this year on the set of Katelyn Benton’s music video for her single, “Impossible Love.” He took a dilapidated house in the desert near an abandoned mine and transformed it into a hauntingly beautiful backdrop.
Here is the trailer for his upcoming feature length film, “Desert Son.” This riveting thriller revolves around a young boy abandoned in the middle of nowhere by his malevolent step-father. What follows is a captivating tale of survival, desperation and murder.
Jim arrived at Thom Flower’s spot in Austin, TX this afternoon to start mixing. We are anxiously awaiting to hear their wizardry. Apparently, the first mix of “Sand” should make its way to our inboxes later tonight, so we’ve been obsessively checking our email. Hopefully we should get the rest in the next couple days. Ideally, we shouldn’t have too many notes, but you never know. Shane and I sat down with Jim last week to review the songs. We changed a few things around and talked it out, so I’m confident that Jim and Thom will give us exactly what we’re looking for. Mateo is finalizing some artwork for us before he hits the road. I’ve seen the mock-ups and they look great. If all goes according to plan, we should be sending all the files off to Discmakers next week to get mastered and pressed. Although, there’s a chance we’ll go with someone else to master - a local guy here in LA who is the top of the line, the master of mastering engineers, so to speak. If that ends up being the case, that’ll tack an extra week onto the schedule, but it will be well worth it. As it looks right now, we might just meet our August 1st deadline. Fingers crossed.
Paralyzed, I’m fixed on the couch, my nerves seeping into its fabric like roots through soil. Through the leaves of the lemon tree, eyeless mouths and fingers laugh knowingly. The leaves, a chorus, shout, “He’s here! He’s here!” in their microscopic language high-pitched.
He is the size of a man, but he is no man. Half-insect, half-elf, this alien creature perched in the rafters speaks in images. Two smaller such beings flutter about him, cherubic and playful, but he does not share their lighthearted youth. No, he is something ancient, sinister for the sake of it.
As spiders and millipedes gather on the carpets, climbing the table legs and through the sofa crevices, we leave the room with the lights ablaze. Our cowardice angers him, and he unveils our minds, casting us out of our selves, into an abyss of everything. Memories, ideas, people and places flow in and out of each other. With no bearings, no frame of reference, we are everywhere and everyone. We are a dog chasing its own tail, as the universe is born and dies at the same moment. Beauty weaves into horror and pain, love blossoms out of terror and torture, and the sexual pulse, equal parts surrender and cannibalism, pervades every emanation of existence.
The images he speaks in belie words and language itself. He builds a tower of Babel between us. We drift out of the haze, only to find ourselves where we began, like dreaming about waking up. The recursive nightmare loops in on itself over and over, as the trickster god laughs at our quandary.
He punishes us for our desiring knowledge by revealing the riddle at the center of the universe. The place with the answer is itself a question, the ultimate paradox holding reality’s competing aspects together. And so he abandons us with this final puzzle: what’s the point?
Anxious and unhinged, we don jackets and venture out into the witching hour. The fresh air clears our thoughts; predawn birds and owls hoot and chirp enchanting mating calls. We walk in circles through the neighborhood, trying to shake the unbearable weight of the present.
Finally, we stop dead in our tracks when we see it. The oval moon, it’s southern edge slightly shadowed by the earth, beams through the only cloud, its light refracting through the moisture. A lunar rainbow ring screams a spectrum of color in the otherwise black sky. The effect is of a massive eye coolly watching. The trickster has receded, fading back into its own dimension, its mission complete, its lesson artfully bestowed upon us.
In the free-fall of losing ourselves, we were bombarded with the penetrating question, what is the point? Why? Why does anything exist at all? And under the moon’s patient gaze, a trick of the light co-created by the cloud water and our eyes, we understood solemnly: this is why.
So production is complete. Shane added his harmonies on Wednesday and Jim spent a few days editing all the takes into a CD for us to chew on over the weekend. Yesterday, Shane and I had a final meeting with Jim to share our thoughts before mixing. Today I’ll be shipping the hard drive over to Thom Flowers’ place in Austin, TX where Jim will meet him next week for mixing. We haven’t settled on a mastering place yet, but we’re looking at a few different options. I’m periodically having panic attacks as I anticipate the impending expenses that none of us have the money for. But we’ve been broke before and persevered, so I’m sure we’ll find a way out of this one, too.
To be honest, I’m a little bummed now that we’re done tracking. Being in the studio and only focusing on getting great takes is the easy & fun part. Everything after is the challenging stuff: finishing post-production properly, pressing and distributing, booking & playing gigs, and meeting with management companies & record labels. The studio itself offers a certain momentum that dissipates once you’re out of there. From then on, it’s up to you to maintain that energy without faltering. The pressure is no longer external, but must come from within.
July will basically be my workout month. I haven’t been up on stage in months, so I’ll be spending the next few weeks playing open mics and busking to get my chops back. Shane is going on vacation until the middle of the month which is when we’ll start practicing again in preparation for shows. Stay tuned, we’ll be announcing some August shows soon, hopefully. I’ll keep you posted.
So our good friend Katelyn Benton just got interviewed in Baton Rouge’s 225 magazine. She’s a singer-songwriter & an amazing pianist. She’s bouncing around the country doing gigs so check her out if you get a chance.
When I was younger, I used to be extremely anti-patriotic. It wasn’t just that I bristled at all the slavery, genocide and imperialist war that riddles our country’s history. Ideologically speaking, I’ve always felt that humanity is on a course both technologically & culturally toward the obsolescence of nation-states. As the internet undermines borders and global crises coalesce to demand coordinated responses around the planet, it’s easy to see that the world is outgrowing the nation-state. Furthermore, I also saw national identities as obstructions to recognizing our true identity as humans. I saw patriotism as something cancerous that developed into blinding jingoism that stirs people into a frothing frenzy.
To my younger self, nationality was only a way to divide people. I experienced this directly when asked by strangers where I’m from. I’d say I’m from Detroit, where I was born. But they insist, “No, where are you FROM?” And while I understand that people are just trying to gain a deeper understanding of my Bengali heritage, it’s always irked me a bit. Though I suppose the distinction there is more about race than nationality, and my irritation at being asked was really rooted in feeling excluded from being American, despite my birthright.
While I still hold onto my macro beliefs about the impending obsolescence of the state, I’ve grown to value this holiday. The phrase Independence Day carries even more meaning for me now having witnessed the Iranians rise up against their rulers for freedom. Freedom is not the norm in the world, it is the exception to the rule. America may not be perfect, but she’s working on it. And if nothing else, I can appreciate the beauty of this country, of the land itself, the values of its people, even if I’m frustrated by the politics & economics.
So with that, have a fun & safe 4th and enjoy the fireworks!
The good news is that tomorrow we’ll be getting the first cut of the EP to listen to over the weekend. The bad news is that it probably won’t be available for public consumption until August. But don’t worry, the extra wait will be worth it. I haven’t been in the studio the past few days because I caught a bad case of food poisoning on Tuesday, so I’m especially excited to hear the cuts tomorrow. I was pretty much absent for all of the harmonies so I’m eagerly anticipating finally experiencing the full sound, albeit in a raw form.
Hey check out our good friend Kristen Kurtis at 92.9 KZZU. You can hear her live on the air Monday through Friday from 3 to 7pm up in Spokane, WA. She’s awesome and you can also listen online, so no excuses.
So we’re back at Thud after a fun weekend. Thursday and Friday were vocal days that went from bad to good. After straining my voice on Thursday, I almost canceled the next session out of anxiety, but thanks to everyone’s encouragement and Jim’s direction I delivered performances I’m happy with so far. We haven’t heard the final comps yet, but for all intents and purposes, the leads are done which is a huge fucking relief.
…which naturally led to an exhausting weekend of awesome. After finishing the vocals, Mateo, Shane and I hit up the Viper Room to check out our friend Dave’s band, One High-Five. They played a zany set with balloons and hula hoops which you should definitely check out sometime.
Saturday we threw a big going away bash for Mateo at Ba-Bar. Needless to say, we didn’t get out much on Sunday. Teo will be hitting the road tomorrow so we’re finishing up percussion today. The only thing left now is laying background vocals, doubles and some drum programming. And, of course, the little nooks here and there that need touching up.
We’re pretty confident we’ll be done with production by the end of the week. After that, the tracks will head over to Austin to be mixed & mastered by Thom Flowers. If everything goes according to plan, our first short-run should be available by the third or fourth week of July. iTunes might take a bit longer, but I’ll keep you guys posted.
“Existence itself may be considered an abyss possessed of no meaning. I do not read this as a pessimistic statement but a declaration of autonomy for my imagination & will and their most beautiful act of bestowing meaning upon existence itself.”—Hakim Bey
“Guns versus the greatness of God, armed forces versus mobile phones, batons versus mourning, lies versus cameras, state-run television versus Twitter, bullets versus Facebook, power versus dignity… who wins?”—Mir Hossein Mousavi, today on Facebook.
Hey check out yesterday’s episode of The Floppy Bob Show featuring Jade Catta Preta who is a hilarious stand-up comic. She talked us up because we are awesome but also because she’s Shane’s girlfriend. Thanks, Jade!
It has come to my attention that Ed McMahon and Bob Barker are, in fact, not the same person. Apologies. I deleted the line about McMahon hosting “The Price Is Right.” I guess old white guys all look the same to me. Is that racist? I’ve been in the studio too long.
Quick thought… In recent years, McMahon fell and hurt himself severely, and was also diagnosed with bone cancer. His injuries prevented him from working and his medical bills skyrocketed. What’s really striking about this is that if our healthcare system is so bad that even a lifelong celebrity like McMahon can’t stay on his financial legs due to hospital bills, how do the rest of us stand a chance? A majority of the people I graduated with don’t have health insurance, or have lousy coverage that still yields massive bills whenever they actually need medical care. To make matters worse, after a distinguished career in the industry, McMahon resorted to taking a degrading job singing a self-deprecating rap on ads for Freecreditreport.com. The whole premise of the ads was, “Hey, let’s get Ed McMahon to rap about how pathetic he is.” At least McMahon was lucky enough to capitalize on his celebrity. Imagine the millions of elderly and uninsured who don’t have that asset. Reforming our healthcare system is a crucial step toward healing our country’s financial mess. Let’s hope the GOP doesn’t dick us out of our public option yet again. If we voted Obama into office for anything, it was for free healthcare and an end to the war. We’ll give him time to bring the troops home, but the time is now for public healthcare.
Lead guitar has been going well. We had some technical difficulties that led to a slow start yesterday - namely 2 separate trips to the music shop to buy the same set of strings twice. But in spite of the bumpy morning, Shane plowed through two of the songs. We are working on the other two now.
We had to duck out early yesterday to catch Wilco’s amazing set at the Wiltern. They played 26 songs for nearly 3 hours. This was my first time at the Wiltern and it reminded me a lot of the Orpheum in Boston, but much nicer. The crowd was really positive and thrilled to be there because Wilco doesn’t come around too often. Jeff Tweedy was, of course, at his snarky best. Towards the end of the show he got the whole audience clapping, called them stupid for clapping, and then was cheered heartily for his insult. I don’t know many frontmen who can get away with yelling “You’re all stupid!” only to be showered with even more praise. When I saw Cake at the Orpheum, John McCrea went on a ten minute tirade about the importance of water to jeers and boos, making Tweedy’s direct attack all the more impressive.
Also, anyone who says the guitar solo is dead hasn’t seen Wilco. Nels Cline plays with spastic flails and eviscerating fury. Even Tweedy busted out a couple solos that were beautifully erratic and off-kilter.
We should wrap up guitars today and possibly start on keys. Either way, tomorrow will definitely be a day of keys and synthesizers. Jannette is a solid keys player and Jim is going to go nuts with different synths and gadgets to create an atmospheric layer. That’s the stuff that’s really going to make the song jump out of the speakers and really grab your ears. As the end of tracking approaches, I’m getting that sinking feeling of all the hard work that comes afterward. Making the record is easy, using it to pay our bills is an entirely other matter…
After spending nearly all day in the iso booth with huge headphones on, I felt like I’d been on an 8-hour flight. Never thought recording could give you jetlag.
Everything is sounding awesome and the record is really coming together. This part of the process is definitely rewarding, but also painstaking as you push yourself to the very limit of your abilities and beyond. I used Jim’s wonderful Yamaha acoustic which played great, but chugging 16th note chords first thing in the morning takes a toll on your bicep. My arm is still a little sore today. After laying down the acoustic tracks for “High Water,” we realized that the tuning on the 335 Gibson was off so we had to go back and redo it. We ended up going with Jim’s Telecaster through the Bad Cat which gave it the perfect tone. I’m a little disappointed that the Gibson won’t end up on “High Water,” but that should leave room for Shane to do some interesting things with his Rickenbacker 12-string.
After we finished acoustic guitars, we got started on vocals. We used the SM-7 for vocals on “Sand,” but Jim had to do so much EQ’ing that we ended up going with a more traditional vocal mic for “85 Bears.” Although we only finished vocals on “Sand,” we now have the perfect vocal tone dialed in with the right mic & preamp combination. It took some time to find the right fit, but it was worth it.
We are ahead of the game now. We weren’t planning on starting vocals until Thursday so it’s great that we’ve already gotten them done for one song. My guitar work is done so from here on out, all I’ve got left to do is vocals and I might jump on some percussion stuff next Friday. We’ll see. On Monday, it’s Shane’s turn again. He’ll be laying down lead parts which will probably take 2 days. He and I are also going to see Wilco at the Wiltern on Monday which we are stoked about. I’ve never had a chance to see them live and I’ve heard incredible things. With week 1 of recording done with, we are all itching to hear the finished tracks. We are making plans for mixing & mastering and if everything goes off without a hitch, the EP should be available mid-July.
Exhausted after spending 8 hours tracking guitar. I’ll be going back tomorrow to do acoustic and then start on vocals. In other news, the t-shirts I ordered a couple weeks back finally arrived. And so did our XBox that was in the shop getting repaired which means video games until I fall asleep. Commencing now….
So we finished tracking bass today and got to hear the edited drums. They’re still raw but they sound incredible. We used a huge 8x12 Ampeg bass cab with a great head that actually belongs to Jeff Abercrombie - bass player for Fuel. Jeff was kind enough to let us use it and he really helped us out by rescheduling his project so we could use the drum room on Monday.
Shane really nailed the bass parts. We went in there with a pretty strong idea of what the parts were, but Jim really brought it to life and Shane delivered some great performances. Getting the rhythm section perfect has been the most nerve-racking aspect of recording, so I definitely feel like we are over the hump, even though we’re not even halfway done. Despite the fact that we still have to do rhythm & lead guitars, keys, vocals, harmonies, percussion and loops/samples, I’m not as worried about the final outcome anymore. The rest will be a lot of fun as we experiment in search of the perfect guitar tones, select the best keyboard sounds, and finally track vocals. I’m dying to sing into the SM-7 (it arrived at the studio today and we got excited) and to hear the harmonies and loops.
Been getting some great feedback from our newly-posted acoustic tracks. Check em out. We’ll have newer tracks up when this full-band EP is available mid-July so stay tuned.
As we all know by now, opposition forces in Iran are using Twitter to organize peaceful demonstrations, warn protesters of danger, and provide information to the outside world during a media blackout. Yesterday, Twitter announced they would be shutting down for regularly scheduled maintenance which happened to coincide with today’s national strike in Iran. Immediately, the entire Twitter community mobilized to lobby the administrative staff. Thanks to users around the world, the maintenance was postponed so as not to interfere with the demonstrations.
Not only that, but Iranians are also using the online human network to enlist the aid of people around the world, such as hackers infecting the regime’s websites with viruses. People everywhere are setting up proxy servers to offer Iranians a loophole through the regime’s firewall. The sheer potential of resources being tapped here is extraordinary. While the mainstream media is prevented from covering the story, individuals with cell phone cameras are changing the world.
The regime is desperately arming untrained mercenaries with batons and chains to beat the Iranian people into submission. But they will not submit. With the help of strangers worldwide, the protesters will overcome. There is still a huge potential for a wholesale massacre, but at this point, Mousavi and his followers have made clear: they will not give up. With the new release of the protester’s demands, the situation has escalated from simple demonstrations to full on revolution. The people will not rest until the Supreme Leader himself is ousted. Even ceding the election to Mousavi will not end this. The regime has drawn blood and there is no looking back.
But the people of Iran are not alone. The world is with you.
So, we were supposed to start tracking bass today but had a slight change of plans. Mateo and I spent our newfound day off watching TV and nodding off. We’ll be back in the studio at 10am tomorrow to track bass and get started on guitars. Jim is going to take today to finish editing all the drums so we’ll be able to hear them tomorrow. According to Jim, these are the best drum sounds he’s gotten in 5 years, so we’re really fucking eager to hear them. He says the kit sounds incredible which is a testament to Mateo’s skill and Soultone Cymbals.
In related news, Mateo is cooking up some sweet album art for the solo acoustic EP I did with Toby Karlin. The EP is going to be titled “Take Care” and hopefully I’ll be able to announce a release date soon. There will be five all-new tracks on it until our full band EP comes out by the end of the summer.
We are thrilled to have David Sauer play some bass on the tracks tomorrow. He’s a talented musician who fronts his own great band One High Five. They’ve got a new CD coming out soon so check them out.
As soon as the acoustic EP is ready for sale we’re going to start booking for the fall. We should be playing a few shows around LA throughout the summer so check back soon for more info. I’m looking forward to finally hitting the road. We’ve been hiding out underground for the past couple years so it’ll be liberating to come out into the light finally.
Been in the studio over 3 hours now. Just finished getting all the right drum sounds. About to start tracking drums shortly. It’s already lunch time and we are getting kinda hungry, but we haven’t even technically started yet, so yeah. We ordered some excellent Greek food from Daphne’s. I’m a little apprehensive about getting done in time but that’s how these things always go.
There over 14 mics on Mateo’s kit right now. It sounds fucking HUGE. If we get the drum sound right, everything else should lock in. Today is pretty much the most crucial day in terms of setting the stage for the rest of the parts. I’m glad I don’t really have to do anything yet.
Filmmaking and music are very similar in that 90% of the time you’re standing around waiting for something to happen.
So tomorrow is the first day of the White Lights recording session. We’re doing 4 songs with producer Jim Roach (www.jimroachmusic.com) at Thud Studios in North Hollywood. Tonight we set up the kit, hit some stuff, mic’d some stuff, and got set up for an easy start tomorrow morning.
I stopped by my endorser, Soultone Cymbals, this past Friday and grabbed a few new cymbals for this session. Snagged a trashy pair of 15” hats, and a 19” extreme crash which is mostly unlathed except for the top middle. Combined with my 21” Soultone Classic Ride and my 19” Zildjian K Session Custom, the cymbals really sound great. The kit needs some tuning work but for the most part, we’re ready to go. This time around, I’m using a 24 x 16 DW Kick drum, an 8 x 12 DW rack tom, a 14 x 14 Pearl Masters floor tom, and a 6.5 x 14 DW 20 ply snare drum. All maple drums, and they are sounding pretty huge in the studio.
I’ve been in LA for about a year and a half playing with Nabeel and Shane (and most recently, our keys player, Jannette) and it’s really nice to be able to lay some of the 30 or so songs we’ve written down to tape. We’ve done a bunch of sub par recording over the past year and a half, and it’s going to be good to track something that sounds great before I check out of LA for a while.
I tend to fall in love with pretty much all of Nabeel’s songs, and the band is about to release three or four releases in the next year, these 4 songs on an ep, a 5 song acoustic ep, and an electronic and/or live record. i’m just psyched to have something to jam to on my ipod. keep your eyes peeled for White Lights in the future.
“Many like Adam Smith believed that all governments in the world could be reduced to just two - monarchies and republics - and that these were rooted in two basic personalities: monarchists, who loved peace and order, and republicans, who loved liberty and independence.”—Gordon Smith from “The Radicalism of the American Revolution.”
Day 1 went great yesterday. Shane came down to the studio to help fill out some of the scratch tracks. Played Jim’s Tele through a Bad Cat amp that sounded gorgeous. Pretty solid tone for a reference mix.
Packing up Mateo’s drums tonight and taking them over to the studio. We’ll be setting them up and mic’ing everything tonight so we’ll be ready to hit the ground running tomorrow morning at 9. I actually won’t have much to do for the first half of the week. Drums and bass will probably take us through Wednesday, so I’ll probably track my guitar parts on Thursday & Friday.
I don’t know what guitars I’ll end up using. The intonation on my strat totally shit the bed and I don’t have the time or money for a setup. There’s no shortage of guitars but I’m a little bummed not to use my own.
As we were wrapping up yesterday, Jim mentioned that he’s going to get an SM-7, the only microphone that really captures my voice. Strange that he heard my singing and immediately knew it would sound great through the SM-7, but I guess that just proves he knows what he’s doing. I’m just thrilled to use one of those mics again. If I’m remembering right, I last used one when we recorded “Come & Get It” at LA Sound with our boy Griffin, a fellow musician and producer. The version on MySpace is actually a combination of all the scratch tracks, since we never ended up going back to overdub. Come to think of it, that whole song was recorded live with no punch-ins. We had wanted to go back to do vocals but scheduling conflicts got in the way.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully Obama will come out in support of the protesters and call the election a fraud. Fingers crossed.
Following the Iran election on Twitter. SMS replacing MSM? It’s sad when CNN is beaten by Facebook’s little sister. Step up your game, CNN. Is it any fucking wonder news companies are going bankrupt? While I was reading several liveblogs of the student uprising and watching videos of fires in the streets and kids being beaten, CNN was yammering on about Letterman insulting Palin - as if she hasn’t been the butt of late night talk show jokes since her nomination.
But there’s something different about this election fiasco. While the Gaza offensive in January was simply destructive and brutal, the events in Tehran stir the soul. Students - kids - are standing up for what they believe - for freedom, for democracy - against a ruthless dictatorship. The protesters are using social networking tools to organize against a government that controls the media, the internet, and all forms of communication. The uprising is demonstrating the might of dedicated people to subvert a system that denies them justice. If the students succeed, their triumph will be a message to dictators & despots everywhere: mankind will no longer be controlled. We want freedom, and we have the tools we need to organize and govern ourselves.
Individual access to collective power is growing. Pretty soon, it will change the face of civilization. Humanity is evolving away from the old ways, slowly but surely, step by step. Evil & corruption have always relied on secrecy and the complacency of the masses. But as the eye of the people develops more and more access to the big picture through blogging, social networking and peer-to-peer sharing, the tyrants and imperialists are drawn out into the light of day where they don’t stand a chance. Sharing information, sharing experience, sharing our lives - that is how the revolution will be won, and that is how humanity will avert extinction.
“Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”—
To the protesters in Iran: Democracy is worth the fight. Be strong, be safe, and never give up. We are with you.
Listening to some Marley as I prep for the first day of tracking. We’re only doing scratch tracks today so it should be an easy day, but I’m still antsy to get started. Got up this morning and did some yoga, trimmed my fingernails, had some eggs, I’m ready to go.
I’ve been a bit congested the past week - I don’t think I’m sick exactly because I don’t have the headache or the cold sweats you get with a full on cold. It’s probably just allergies or something. I was doing fine until I strained my voice on Thursday. When I write songs I lose track of the time so I ended up singing the same 8 lines for about 8 hours. By the end of the night, my voice was shot, and my vocal chords were sore all yesterday.
Today feels much better though so I’m not too worried about tracking. The real question, how do I pass the time between now and 2 o’clock?
Spent 8 hours yesterday playing keyboards and sitting in front of my computer trying to record a song. Fairly successful - I got a few verses laid down, but no chorus yet. I want to get outside but it looks like this June Gloom won’t lift. Recording scratch tracks tomorrow so I gotta take it easy today. I haven’t gone hiking in far too long and there’s really no excuse.