The Nuclear Family has been released on Hancock Street Records! Ask for it at your local independent record store or buy it here!

28 October 2009

Ready to head out to Illinois

According to Al, my equipment arrived. That is good. All my things are packed and I'm ready to go. I picked up a cheap little sleazy 8GB MP3 player at Fry's. I'm downloading tunes now. With any luck the thing will work and last me to Illinois. I'm actually looking forward to this trip, a bit.

Put the CD up on CDBaby. Now I need to send them stock when I get back. A very simple process.

AMA's putative leader wants an eMail discussion on the direction of the band. I told them where I stand. I want to do more punk-pop stuff. We also need to practice as a band more. I let them know that, too. I may not be popular next week.

25 October 2009

CDs will be here tomorrow!!!

Oooohhh! I'm excited. My equipment is on schedule to be in Bloomington on Tuesday and I'm on schedule to be there on Thursday afternoon. I'll have dinner with Sandy, Kathy, and Tom that evening and, afterward if it's not too late, I'll go over to Al's and set up my equipment. Otherwise, I'll get up early Friday and set up my equipment.

I went to a music store last Thursday to check on 5-string basses and there was an old Gibson SG in there. I plugged it into a Marshall half stack and got the best "metal" tone I've heard in a while. Since all of my equipment is being shipped, I went home and tried to duplicate the sound with my Johnson J-Station and my bass rig. It turns out that my bass rig is pretty good at clean amplification, so by using the J-Station to distort and tone shape, I can get a pretty decent tone. Given the fact that I have a 2x15 and a 4x8 cab hooked to the biamped heads I don't have to worry about scooping the mids too much. I get a combination of (relatively) tight bass and a nice crunchy distortion up top. I'd ship this rig to use in April, but it would cost me an arm and a leg to do so (two 45 lb. heads, a 80 lb. 2x15 cab, and a 40 lb. 4x8). For what this would cost me to and from, I could buy a 2x12 combo.

And, speaking of which, I'm looking at the various options out there. I know I don't want a Fender - Anil in AMA uses one and they have the most limited tonal qualities I've ever heard. Steve in Shiver plays a Line6 modeling amp of one sort or another and I'm not necessarily impressed with that (nor do I actually like the company). That leaves me, in my price range, Peavey. I understand why techs don't like them (Peavey puts all their electronics on tight PCBs, so they're hard to mod/repair), but there's also an undercurrent of guitar players not liking them. And I'm not sure why that is. In any case, the Windsor 212 looks like a good buy to me. I'm going to check it out this evening.

24 October 2009

Got streaming audio up on my site...

Actually, I got streaming audio up on the label site and I redirect to the page with my CD release info. If I ever get another out the door, I'll probably re-org a bit, but until then, all is good. I got my hard drive back from the guys at the studio, so I have all of the project files and MP3s. So, all is done until I get the CDs, look at what the UPC code is and set up CD Baby. Then I'll start sending out mailers to my targeted distribution. So that should keep me busy next week until I leave for Illinois.

22 October 2009

Uploaded some MP3s to my website

Go to the "Listen Up" section to listen to them. I haven't had time to set up a streaming service yet, so you'll have to download them for now. "Perfect Day" is my favorite, but probably the least "radio-friendly". However, the other two are good, too, and Daydreams is the one I'm flogging to radio stations (unlikely, but we'll see).

BTW, the main guy at the studio forgot to tell his assistant that I was going to be there today, so the MP3s I've put out there I've made myself. I guess I'll go in tomorrow and get my files. But I'll be happy to have it all done.

Although when you get right down to it, when is it ever all done, this side of the grave? Hell, now that I have the CD, I still need to flog the CD to NW radio stations and indie record stores, set up e-distro and audio streaming via CD Baby, and the biggest part of all, getting a band together and booking dates.

The good news is that I'm getting really good at making lists. I have the names and contacts of all college and alt radio station in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington where there is a chance in hell of getting the CD played, as well as all venues that book acts in Portland. If I can do this for me, I might be able to do this for others, as well. And to think, at one time, I was looking forward to a quiet retirement (not that I'm anywhere near that, anyhow).

Anyway, the funny thing is that I usually get melancholic and depressed in Autumn. This year, with everything that's going on, I really haven't noticed it at all. I'm actually happy in Autumn. Of course, some of my best songs come when I'm melancholic and depressed, so that's a trade-off. Maybe one day I'll be able to tell which was more useful.

21 October 2009

CDs to be delivered next week!

I got the duplication order put in today. The CDs should be back next week in time for me to cart a dozen or so back to Illinois for the various folks there. I should be relieved. However, I'll actually be worried until I get them all back. Anyhow, it was good getting all that taken care of.

Tomorrow I pick up MP3 and project files from the studio and my dealings with them are finished.

I'll spend a couple of days cleaning up the hard drive and backing up all of the data, getting ready for the next magnum opus and updating the website with the graphics and downloads.

So, I can now start to feel a bit of post partum depression...

20 October 2009

Musical actvity update

The CD nears completion. I'll be using Discmakers for the duplication. They have reasonable prices and a local office out here in Portland in the same building as CDBaby with whom they have a distribution arrangement.

I got the final proofs for the artwork today and it should be posted by this evening. I have the masters ready for uploading once the artwork is up there. The rights to the cover on the CD have been secured from the ever-popular Harry Fox Agency. So the order should be placed by the end of the evening and, assuming that I can get through the final check tomorrow, I should be able to get copies before I get on the plane to Illinois next Thursday.

This Thursday, though, I'm taking my last visit to the studio to get the project files for the album. Oddly enough, they need the space on their servers. In addition, they're creating high bit-rate MP3s from the masters which I will also pick up then (yes, I could do it myself, but I'm lazy). After that, it's time to update the website and organize and backup the files (the Sonar files I initially built at home, the Cubase project files that were used in the studio, and all of the intermediate audio files that were created). After that, I'll clear the stuff off my portable HD, clean out my Sonar project files and start over. As I noted previously, I need to start writing and recording again.

Tonight is also packing night. First I drop off my old monitor at Free Geek. Then I go home and get a couple more settings loaded into my PodXt (which is what I spent most of last night doing) and then I pack it all up. Wednesday, I ship the guitars, pedals, mikes, et. al. to Al's house in Bloomington, where I will be re-united with the equipment next week.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the end of the week, where I will have little to do.

Found new online radio

I'm listening to idobi. Good playlist, few commercials. Great station. Hadn't heeard about them, even though they've been around since 1999.

I'm also trying to find other foreign alt stations in the English-speaking world that stream their content. I've found a good one in Australia, a couple in New Zealand, and one or two in Canada. Now I need to find some British ones (BBC 6 has some good stuff, but it also has too much old stuff) and some from South Africa. The sad thing is that there seems to be a fair bit of US-oriented cultural hegemony with Weezer, Death Cab, and Foo Fighters in heavy rotation, no matter where you go.

19 October 2009

Little things matter

I got the masters last week. I was somewhat startled that, when I listened through my headphones at home, in one of the tracks the guitars seemed to be gone, and most of the tracks sounded a bit "one-dimensional". Of course, when I listened through the speakers, everything was OK. Which was weird, because usually headphones don't change the sound that much. After much swearing and even calling the guys at the studio to try to figure out what had happened to the master, I finally figured it out. A couple of weeks ago, I had put a Y-splitter into the headphone jack of the I/O box to hook up a pair of earbuds, so I could choose to hear the mixes in that kind of headphone, as well. Unfortunately, in my haste to do this, I grabbed a stereo->stereo+mono splitter rather than a stereo->stereo+stereo splitter. As such, my main phones had been fed by the right channel in both ears, leading to several "gremlins" while listening in the phones that were not evident while I listened on the speakers or earbuds. It goes to show that making sure that things are hooked up right are important.

So, we're back on track with the masters. Everything sounds fine. Are there things I would go back and change? Sure. But that's the way things go. You take your best shot and you put it out there. I also got the initial artwork from Maren over the weekend. It looks great! I had a couple of minor changes, and I had trimmed a couple of the song's lead-ins so I needed to change the timing, but I should be gone to duplication by Tuesday. Almost done...

The band played Friday night at a little wine bar in Sellwood. Burdigala is a great little place that usually has acoustic acts. I was initially concerned about fitting in the space provided. The performance area (I won't call it a stage, as there was no separation from the audience) was small and half the space was taken up by a baby grand that the piano player who usually plays on Friday and Saturday uses. The good news is that the grand was in tune, so we had our keyboard player use it rather than her electric piano (and the grand did sound great). The space was small enough and the volumes were low enough that we didn't need to amp it. Our drummer brough his electric kit and I brought a 1x12 amp to play bass through. It didn't have a great bottom, but I was able to get a great disto tone through it. We actually got a larger crowd than we normally get at Sellwood, the band played well, and (I must ultimately admit) I had a really good time - much better than how I thought it would turn out when I first saw the place (of course, my delight was put to a strenuous test Saturday morning when I had to get up in time to get the dog to the vet by 8:20).

AMA is coming together. I am cautiously optimistic for the future. Dave (our drummer) sent me a song yesterday that blew me away. I love the melody and the words are great. It sounds modern, it's upbeat, and I can't say enough good about it. Of course, this reminds me I need to get back to writing. I have about four partial songs that I've gotten to various stages of mis-repair, but none finished. I have one other one complete that I need to record.

Also on Saturday I got a new LCD monitor for the DAW computer. It replaces an old 17" CRT monitor, so I now have a 22" 16:9 monitor and a 17" 4:3 monitor on the system. I played about with Sonar in the new setup and the track view is so much bigger with the new monitor, it's not even funny. It's really nice. Plus, it was only $170 - to me that's amazing.

I'm also playing about with Renoise again. It seems to be really good for doing drum and bass/electronica sorts of things. However, that sort of thing isn't quite right for the band (either of them). So I'm going to try seeing how well it does with standard drum samples to build a straightforward rock sort of track. The editing interface is much better than trying to use my MIDI keyboard or manually editing piano roll views. Anyhow, I'm having a ball with the program. And maybe I will come up with some electronica stuff.

I need to start looking for the members of Adrian. Of course, it would be easier if I understood what my roll would be - singer, singer/guitarist, or singer/bass. Oddly enough, I'm becoming quite enamored with playing bass. However, what I'd really like to do is to sing some songs while not doing anything else and switch off between guitar and bass for other songs. So maybe I need to find a guitarist and guitarist/bassist (or two of the latter). Plus a drummer and keyboard player. Anyhow, I'd like to get Adrian together by EOY and start performing in 1Q10.

So, yet again, I'm busy. The good news is that I have nothing I have to do other than getting my guitar equipment shipped to Illinois this week.

09 October 2009

Tired of Waiting, But I'll Persevere

The mastering was supposed to be done last night. I haven't heard back from the guys at the studio who are supposed to be uploading the tracks to an FTP server for me to download. Anyhow, I am now in the ugly stage known as waiting. It tends to make me anxious and irritated.

Anyhow, in the meantime, I've gotten the band website, htttp://, and the label website,, set up and ready to go. The only thing that's left is to get the cover art so I can finish the page for the release and to get the email for each site set up (joy, joy...).

I've also got a "one sheet" ready for the release. Sooner or later, I'll have to get one ready for the band, as well. I've been talking to people about playing in Adrian, but no firm commitments yet. I'm going to talk with a guy next week who also writes his own stuff and my idea is to set up a "I'll sing yours, if you sing mine" sort of deal. I don't know how we'd deal with the name thing. I figure if I book the place, I'll book it as Adrian and, if he books it, we'll book it under what he wants to call it. In any case, if this works out, this would take care of the two guitarists. Now all I need is a bass player, a keyboardist, and a drummer.

08 October 2009

An Interesting New Band

OK, so I read music blogs. They tend to range the gamut from gear to geeky (OK, so it's not much of a gamut, but...). Anyway, the other day a blog that I read linked to an article on music theory analysis of pop songs - in this case, All the Single Ladies by Beyonc(e') (sorry, B, I ain't gonna look up the HTML for an accent grav(e')). OK, the article was good - this song is a lot more complicated than a superficial glance would indicate. However, the real gem in the blog post was a You Tube video of a version of the song done by the north SF Bay band Pomplamoose.

Pomplamoose's members are Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte (look up your own damn MySpace links in Google). Their music is best described as quirky (which I like). Maybe it's that, being a part-time bass player, I gravitate towards bands that prominently feature the same or maybe it's just that they look like they're having so much fun when they do their video songs. In any case, their music is fun, light,and pretty easy on the ears. Give them a listen and, if you happen to be in SF on November 13, pop in to the Brainwash Cafe and give them a listen. I'm pretty sure the harmonies that Nataly sings on the videos won't be there, but the music itself is worth listening to, harmonies or not.

No CD Yet

As of Thursday AM, the CD mastering isn't finished yet. Again, I hesitate to ask the guys at the studio to rush, but I'm anxious to get things finished so I can send the CD for duplication. I'd really like to have completed disks by the time I get back to Illinois during Halloween weekend and we're coming close to where that will no longer be possible. And so... we wait.

I purchased a copy of Renoise and I'm learning how to use it. I will soon be the master of the techno beats (which I'm sure scares the hell out of everyone out there reading this). Perhaps the next album will be electronica! OK, just kidding. However, the program does seem to be easier to use to trigger drum samples than with Sonar. As for the UI, well... it sucks.

But now - a rant. To be honest, I haven't seen a single DAW/music editing program that didn't have a UI that sucked rocks. This is problem with most niche markets - the geeks that initially build the stuff organically grow a UI that makes sense to them and ultimately the usability converges to a sub-optimal point that everyone gets used to. Since there is not enough money to fund real usability research, the UI just accretes over time around this low point. Throw in the fact that most of the companies producing this software want to lock in their users with proprietary data formats (and better yet, knowledge about the key strokes and commands that drive the software) and it's no wonder that things don't get better. I've seen this in electronic design systems, in medical record systems, and now in music software. In short, software sucks and it's not going to get much better anytime soon.

Ending the rant and getting back to the main topic again, yes, Renoise's UI sucks, but it sucks less than doing the same thing in Sonar. I like the vertical tracks and the simplicity of adding samples. If you're slicing beats and samples, it's really good. Of course working with the final tracks in the context of a completed song means exporting the rhythm tracks from Renoise and importing them as audio tracks into one's DAW, making the process of modifying them after the fact somewhat clumsy. Oh well, it's fun learning something new and playing with a new system.

I didn't re-catch my cold. That's a plus. However, stress at my day job has my neck acting up a bit. I called the doctor and got a few Vicodin tabs, but by the time I went in to see him (actually, the gal who was subbing for him while he was out) my neck was feeling better after a day or two of rest. So if it doesn't get better over the next few days with Aleve as an anti-inflamatory, we'll get a prescription for Feldene or Voltarin, and if that doesn't help, on to physical therapy. I'm hoping that it doesn't go that far though, since when I get to that point, PT doesn't work and so it's on to surgery for another ruptured disk. So I'm taking it easy this week, watching my ergonomics, and not pushing around heavy weights. I need to be in good shape by the end of next week when AMA practices on Thursday and plays on Friday. Two weeks after that, I'm back in Illinois, with another three-day marathon practice with Shiver (our last before our performances in April and June of next year).

In the meantime, I'm trying to rustle up a band locally to play the songs on my CD (and some that are too new to be on the CD). SO, yet again, I find myself busy, busy, busy...