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Entries in cheekymonkeyfunkers (5)

Sunday
May012005

Hog Heaven II

The old studio used to be on the other side of this wall where the control area isWell it seems all is not lost afterall. Hog Heaven has a new lease on life, so it seems. The old room and the wall it used to hide behind in my carport/garage has been obliterated and hardly any of it remains even evidence that there was once a studio there. There is a pile of drywall, studs, and other junk sitting where my drums used to sit.

A few years ago I would have been pissed out of my mind that the studio was gone. I sort of wanted to be pissed as hell, but with the old man, it never seems to do much good. Besides, he was the one who fucked it up anyway, and he had to take all this illegal construction shit down. He had always promised me the studio space would be contingent on real flimsy circumstances he himself would put in place. Namely, it was supposedly built to serve my needs as long as my grandmother was alive. Well, this particular week is four years since she died, so I reckon I got a four year extension on my lease.

So much more spacious in here!The room was always total ass when it came to ventilation (none), sonic aptitude (none), and aesthetic beauty (only good if you like pigs, really). There had been times when I WAYYYYYYY overshot the carrying capacity of the room, and while it was nice for one person, the times when I had a trio or quartet in there all playing at once, it was just a total endurance test.

The week or so when the place got emptied out I just brought stuff in the house and set it aside, not knowing what to do but to pile shit in the closet. But then Kelli and I got the unrented room to ourselves, so we got to set up her little office/workspace in there, and she gave up the big remodeled room (formerly garage, but always a big room to me). I got to thinking, that if I could get that space, I could at least put together the stuff I know I can use, and sneak my way back into using it for more and more stuff. So I set out to basically rebuild my entire studio in the big room. It's a nice step up. The old room was an absolute square of 11' dimensions, and this is 15'x17', with nice French doors, shelved cabinets, and a closet. It has fake hardwood floors, and it looks a hell of a lot nicer. There's a couch too. I have enough space to be more liberal with the arrangement. I have the monitors spaced over a foot from the wall (unheard of in the little room). The drums are up just beside and behind where I sit in the center of the room. The electric piano is off to the right, the rack to the left. The guitar amp sits left of that, and the iso cabinet is tucked into a corner and buried with a gobo and tons of blankets, all with a mic on the speakers. Behind the drums, I put up my big 2x4 stud-with-guitar-hooks for six guitars. The only thing that bugs me is that with almost NO storage space in the house, I can't really keep my drum bags, guitar bags and cases, and other leftover stuff anywhere but in the main room, so I still get clutter. But the functionality is great.

Glenn and I set up the place about two weeks ago and we got to find out that even the drums were fairly well contained in this room. It isn't as leakproof as the other room was, but it isn't too bad at all if I stick to my usual habits. The drums are wide open and ringy, and with the room's hard walls and floor, the kit explodes. The space allows me to be more creative with mic'ing the kit and the room. The overall space is greater, so I don't get such obvious and dreadful acoustical mess with reflections and standing waves when I am monitoring. I wish I could get the speakers spread out by about 18" more, and sit further back. If I get bold, I might try to do some full band jam stuff to see if I can get away with it. Even if not, I can still record a good sized group with direct feeds, and live drums. I still have the channel count and headphone distro to get a lot of people in on one recording, if need be.

So this was a pleasant surprise. I didn't really think it would come this far, but on the last three weekends, Glenn and I have been getting it together and making some shit happen. This is cool. Of course, my rates are going up now. (That means Tim Robertson has to pay more, bastard.)

Sunday
Mar132005

CheekyMonkeyFunkin'

Glenn Farrington. A CheekyMonkeyFunker.I've been trying to get into the studio and make stuff lately. Last week I got some new plugins for ProTools and Peak, and have been twiddlin' with guitars and basses lately. Today Glenn came over and we did about an hour's worth of jamming on a few themes that have been batting around here either for a few days or a few years. This makes two tunes we've had take any real shape, which I have to say is two tunes more than I have done in almost that many years. Both are in need of arrangements and more development, but they sort of hang together like pieces of music would. One is called 21st Century Headache, and that's a heavier more artsy sounding tune with some good overdriven guitar and active bass. The one we did today is tentatively dubbed Nude Beach Savior and is harmonically very sophisticated for me, and the bass part I put down is surprisingly sweet for being such a track with many different chords. Nude Beach Savior is a slower tune with some jazzy balladic sort of feel, fairly open. The drums carry it sort of like a tune on my CD called "Pearls Before The Swine." It's easily the most musical thing I have done in two years, and one of just a few tracks that have been worth a shit since I finished my CD in mid 2000. Both have their rhythmic issues but each has a certain power and grace that has been absent from my recordings for a while. Both have me on guitar and bass. 21st Century Headache has me on drums in part, and Glenn on another section. My main focus for a while has been bass, but since Race To Judge was done about two years ago, guitar has been as likely a thing for me to pick up, but when I jam to write, I use guitar. When I jam to jam and have fun, it's bass. Now that I have the 4 string Music Man, I am feeling good about playing bass. I have sort of left the 5 string on the wall for a while now. The new bass just fits into the mix really well. It's hard to not pick it up.

As for now, my head hurts like a muthafukka. I don't wear earplugs when I play guitar in jam situations. I wore them religiously for drums in the same situations, but never for guitar. I can't hear my tone, man. And playing the tune over and over and over for playback, bass tracking, and mixing is just making my head explode.

Thursday
Feb032005

Audition, Redux

Tonight was different. More than me just trying out for some other gig on my own, tonight it was Glenn and I pitching ourselves as a rhythm section to two guys of probably about 23-25 or so, both on guitar. Me and one of these guys had been in touch for a few weeks and it took a while to get organized, but it was just as well that Glenn was there. I was a little less self conscious than usual. Since they both played guitar, that made us a quartet for about an hour while all this lasted. They had worked out three tunes that they pitched to us, and we did what we could to hang on. For once, I think someone brought in a more mathematical and dissonant bunch of music than I usually do. I was humbled. They had some pretty specific stuff that alternated between one number and another, but was subtle in its changes. The good news was that some of it had a certain floatiness to its tonality, one case being a phrase that was really centered on stacked fourths, which I was trying to play in and out of but never quite got what I was going for. It was a little harder because of the metrical math, shifting from 4 to 7 and to a waltzy 9/8.

Then we played some bits of a tune of mine called No Place For Shadows To Hide. This tune was done by the Brandon/Todd/Ryan quartet of late 2000, the first instance of me playing bass in a band. The group lasted three weeks. But we got this one tune that just is loaded with power and happened to be played pretty well on one occasion. It set this standard that has never really been met, particularly on drums. There are lots of problems with the track as a composition, but its got some promise, and this one recording has lots of energy to it. There is head section with an oddly harmonized phrase that just explodes for me when its played with two guitars and a bass, and tonight these guitarists picked it up fast and I really got a good kick from hearing it come alive for the first time in four years or so. We didn't try to tackle the entire track because we were pressed for time toward the end, but just hearing the opening part in its three guitar glory was a nice lift for me.

However, it wasn't meant to be—so we parted amicably enough. I was hoping for a second shot. One hour is a short time to learn and articulate stuff like what they had, and my stuff takes a little rehearsal too. But oh well. It went better than the one thing we had last week when the guy I had been in email contact with as far back as mid 2003 came down and played some songs very confidently and competently, but the songs were just totally not my thing. Glenn caught on right away. I did too, but I wanted to be a trooper, in the interest of at least knowing I tried, but there is something about straight pop songwriter tunes that I just can't really latch on to. If I was playing drums, I could have laid that shit down like I wrote it, but on bass, trying to follow a chorus that uses the same notes as the verse but in a different order, and melodically, I am almost totally lost. I could eventually find something, but really, it was doomed as soon as it started. Power pop and new wave just were never my thing, musically speaking.

These two auditions were done with Glenn in the mix because we'd been looking for someone else to make us a trio, but also that I had gotten so many responses to my ads and had replied to other people's ads. In at least these two instances, it made sense to do things this way, but I think the core of my musical effort is filled out by Glenn now, and anything else we do in auditions will be to find people who want to join us, and not the other way around.

Tuesday
Feb012005

Jobless Bliss

Ah, today I woke at about 10. That is at least an hour later than I've been doing for a year and more, though many mornings I tended to wake before 9, usually shortly after Kelli leaves in the morning (shortly before 8). I planted a live Christmas tree in the back yard and did some house cleaning like a good house husband should. With all the dust and dander kicked up in cleaning, I got a wicked case of allergies and the super powerful sneezes that go with them. Time Warner came to fix my internet connection and it turned out to be some sort of TV/internet signal splitting device on the main pole across the street. The guy replaced that piece and all of a sudden my signal was back in action, from well below a dialup speed to over 2mbps like it should be. It's like a racehorse now.

All this was done before noon or so.

Then Glenn came by and in the middle of the day, we just chilled. Listened to music, played some ourselves, ate burritos, shot the shit, played with the dog, and made mp3 CDs for him with an absurd amount of stolen music on them. Then we jammed again.

Kelli got home and we went off to a study group centered around a book called the Urantia Book. There was ice cream. Then we came home and I made a tasty Italian sausage sandwich. It was yum. Then we got to talking about stuff till she expired. I guess one of these days I should go look for a job.

Friday
Jan212005

Holy Scheisse!

Holy shit. It bears repeating. Holy Fucking Shit, in fact. Can it be? Is the TAPKAE™ brand musical ice age coming to an end? Did it only take ONE whole George Bush presidency to recover from the ice age that followed my pants-on-fire musical creative spell that went from 1995-2000? Man, with only a few exceptions, for the most part, I did in fact record the last music that I deemed worth keeping (my Hog Heaven Holiday Theme Music of 2000) just as Bush stole the first election—about mid December 2000 was when I was doing that HHHTM project. And here we are, four years later and I finally seem to be getting some ideas again, and some sense that maybe I can get some work done. Hah. I guess I can't wait another four years for Bush to be out of office before I make some music.

Man, I just got out of the studio after twiddling with my new Music Man 4 string bass. I am digging that bass to no end. It has been a few years since I had a 4 string fretted bass (have had the fretless almost as long, but don't use it much), so after years of using the Fender 5 string with its fat landscape to navigate, the 4 string is all nice and fast, and easy to play. And it has the god-tone I've been looking for. So far it has been a delight to record with. I use my Ampeg SVT3 Pro to shape my sound on the way to disk, and fuck me it is godlike. The notes just gurgle out of it and have that delightful midrange punch that I love. No gimmicky EQ—just a two band cutting passive EQ. Full out, it sounds like a Chapman Stick (actually, I think the Stick tailored its tone so sound like the Music Man bass), and anything less, it's always fat and punchy. Yay. The harmonics ring nice and bold too, and I like to employ harmonics from time to time. I'm so glad I bought this bass—the second time.

But then there is this dude named Glenn who contacted me a week ago and offered up his drumming, guitaring, and singing. Finally a week ago, we got together and jammed some themes that have been batting around for me for the last four years or some part thereof. Most of them have been recorded and played by the various combos I've tried to form around my ideas, and some are just too familiar to have played differently, but for whatever reason, that first day with Glenn here, I just tossed aside a lot of the preconceived notions of what had to be in these tunes—they obviously haven't been done as well as they could be, so WTF? I may as well try to mix them up some. I just had a total musical hard on getting the chance to play one on one and explore ideas of alternate arrangements. Then we did this loose jam on new ideas that I had never used with anyone, and we went out of here with a good sense that something could happen, and all we needed to do was show up and try—which is all any of my other band cohorts ever had to do! Grrrrr!. Glenn and I reconvened and took another swipe at that same new track, with me on guitar, and he on drums. It took only a few short attempts to get something that really left us excited. I think we both latched onto it for its serendipitous quality, but the thing has some very cool rocking passages. Since I was playing guitar initially, I'd jump over to bass and lay down a first take wonder that kicked the whole thing up another notch. Man, it was exciting. Then we'd sit there and bask as we played it at waytooloud and thought of all the fun ahead. And, even better, his wife comes by and listens and cheers us on! Damn. She even likes King Crimson. I can't fucking believe it. Glenn and I got together again today and put on some favorite and new King Crimson and bonded. It was cool. Then we took another stab at this piece we were working on, this time with my guitar rig set up and ready to record in isolation mode (to keep it from bleeding like mad into the drum overheads as we play together). I was even happy with the separation I was able to get, so that frees us up to do drum/guitar jams and even hope to keep parts and be able to actually use them. Glenn also brought by a drum machine/groove box and we were fiddling with it. It's been a while since I used any electronics, so it may take a bit of experimenting, but if we carry on as a duo, we might be pretty self contained. Today we even played two guitar parts to the new track, trying to take it up a notch and do some serious Frippoff work.

And, even more insane, this week I've had (get ready for it) lyrical ideas for the first time in God knows how long. I want to write a hit song. It will be a leftist radical Republican bashing country song. I want to beat those fuckers at their own game. I don't really think KSON will play it, but it might be a rousing theme for the next 4 years.