Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Jacki and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary today and are off to continue the celebration in Las Vegas. We are road tripping it tomorrow and will spend the weekend in Vegas with Darian.

We are staying at TheHotel at Mandalay Bay and have a suite for the weekend. We hope to get in some much needed relaxation and will be seeing the Beatles' Love Cirque Du Soleil show Saturday night.

It should be a fun weekend.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Annual Top Ten List

Here is my annual top ten list that I've now been posting for the last several years. No real surprises in my list this year, although it is nice to see one newer band on the list.

These are the most listened to of my 2008 purchases.
Sebastian Bach - Angel Down
The Sword - Gods Of The Earth
Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch
Zappa Plays Zappa - ZPZ
King's X - XV
Metallica - Death Magnetic
Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy
David Gilmour - Live In Gdansk
Cheap Trick - Budokan! 30th Anniversary Edition
Rush - Snakes And Arrows Live

I'm seeing that new material isn't standing out for me year after year. I must say Metallica's Death Magnetic is a return to form and has probably been my favorite album of 2008. Sebastian Bach and King's X come close behind. As for reissues Cheap Trick's Budokan! including a DVD of the show and live recordings from both nights of their legendary Budokan performance has been great. Jacki and I were even able to see Cheap Trick a couple of times.

Top Concerts
Queensryche / Don Dokken - Feb 24 - House Of Blues / Anaheim
W.A.S.P. - March 8 - Key Club / LA - March 8th performing The Crimson Idol in its entirety
Ace Frehley - March 25 - HOB /Anaheim, with an honorable mention for March 24 in LA when I got to meet Ace in his dressing room.
Eddie Vedder - April 12 - Wiltern / LA
Mudcrutch - April 26 Troubadour / LA
Rush - May 8 - Nokia Live / LA
Iron Maiden / Anthrax - May 30/31 - Verizon Wireless / Irvine, CA
Liquid Tension Experiment - June 27 - Downey Theater / Downey, CA
Bob Schneider - Oct 17 /18 - Key Club / LA / Wavehouse / San Diego
Zappa Plays Zappa - December 12 - Roxy - LA
Metallica / Machine Head / The Sword - December 18 - Forum / LA

Looking back at the concerts I think this was one of my best years for concerts. I saw Ace 3 times, Maiden twice, Bob Schneider twice and experienced some unique shows including Liquid Tension Experiment and Zappa Plays Zappa at the Roxy where Frank's live album from the Roxy was recorded 35 years to the day at the same venue.

Now it's time to look forward to next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In The Studio With Spidersuit

This past weekend it was time to go back into the studio. I recorded 4 tracks with Spidersuit earlier in the year and we wanted to build on those 4 tracks and round out a full release.

Saturday December 20 10:20am
We started early on Saturday doing load in shortly after 10am. After setting my drums up, setting up mics and checking out sounds it was a little after noon. By about 12:30 the full band arrived and we set to record. We are using the same producer as last time so I had to prepare myself to record without a click. Fortunately I've been practicing to a click track for another band I'm in so it wasn't nearly as stressful focusing on tempos this time around.

It was now 1pm and were ready to record my first track. Since we record without a click our producer prefers the dynamic of capturing a live performance in the studio. During the recording process only my drums are recorded and the rest of the band can only be heard through headphones. So if you sat in the room where we recorded you would only hear me, although all of us are playing.

The first track up was Tchopotoulous, which to me sounds like a great name for a dinosaur, but I was told that it was just a street name in New Orleans. So a cajun dinosaur it is.

We did three takes. First take was good but not exciting, second take was in the pocket, third take was also good but I think I drifted and forgot about the tempo. On listen back we can use either take 2 or take 3.

Between takes we jammed a little Zep and worked up a piece of Over The Hills And Far Away.

Next up was Devil Went Down To Pedro, in reference to a small coastal town called San Pedro just outside of LA. This song is the closest thing to a ballad we will have and is very different from our other songs. We did one scratch take for rehearsal and then I think I nailed our very first take of this song. Things were moving much too easy but I was about to get the studio payback on the next track.

Pete's 5/8 special. The 5/8 references the intro section of the song and a middle break that are preformed in 5/8. This song gave me some challenges where we originally learned it and now in the studio the goal is to perfect a performance. Well let's just say it took quite awhile to perfect. We must have done 6 takes of this song when we decided to give it a break. After the hour plus of recording this one song I was pretty sure we weren't going to capture the killer performance today.

Moving on we worked on our Beach Boys meets punk song called Isaac Newton A Go Go. A fun song that feature the drums. We did three takes of this one and we liked the third take the best.

At this point I had been working for about 5-6 hours on drums and was ready to call it a day. After some urging from Pete we went back to his 5/8 special. Two more takes and then we nailed it. We were so confident we didn't even listen back to it. Fortunately when we came in the next day all was good and was probably the best the band had ever performed that track.

We called it a day around 4:30pm.

Sunday December 21 10:30am
First thing we did Sunday morning was a listen back to Pete's 5/8 Special. I couldn't believe how strong it sounded. I was about to fall apart on Saturday and digging just a bit deeper pulled out one of my best recorded performances.

Now it was on to record a few more tracks. I woke up Sunday with a sore throat so I didn't feel great. Throughout the day I lost focus rather quick but we were able to complete 3 more tracks.

First up was Farstick. Oh and yes all of these titles are working titles. No telling what they will be called. This song is so new we don't even have lyrics for it yet. We did a scratch take and decided to work on the intro a bit. After coming up with a build of guitar, bass and drums we all appreciated we did 2 more takes. On listen back either take 2 or take 3 will work. It will be up to the band to decide which take they want to use as the foundation for the other instruments.

We had been working on a new song in rehearsal so we gave it a go but quickly realized that we are not ready to record. We'll save that for another session.

The next song up was Brown Saturday. This is cleverly titled as an ode to Black Sabbath, and during the recording our producer mentioned that it sounded as if I was channeling my inner Bill Ward. Bill Ward was the original drummer for Black Sabbath. Once I heard this I knew I was doing my part. This song is really 2 songs in one. A straight ahead rock song that breaks and builds as a triplet feel in the vein of Fairies Wear Boots off of Paranoid.

After a few takes we ended up liking the first half off the fourth take and the second half of the third take.

Last up for these sessions was Ding Dong Ding. This came out different than I expected and is turning into a heavier grungy song complete with a Kurt Cobain style guitar solo. When we originally worked this up in rehearsal I was expecting a song with a bit of a lighter touch such as Pedro, but once we finished I told Pete I think my playing may have been a little too heavy. Given the new grungier direction he said that heavier worked.

We recorded 4 takes but on listen back the band preferred my very first take. So although it was the last song recorded I was done on my first take.

We wrapped up and I was home by about 3pm.

So there you have it. Two days in a studio, 7 completed drum recordings and one sick drummer.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Spidersuit performance THIS WEDNESDAY

Spidersuit just got a last minute gig this Wednesday night. The bad news is we will go on a little after midnight Wednesday night / Thursday morning. The good news is you can listen from home! We will be on the radio doing a live broadcast from the studios of KXLU 88.9 FM in LA.

If you want to come out and see us perform then send me an email and I'll give you directions to the studio. They encouraged us to bring our own live audience.

Listen in!

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