Monday, August 5, 2013

Trowar Report: July-August 2013

I arrived home safe and sound (if a little tired) from Redmond, Washington yesterday.  It was a productive, thoroughly enjoyable five day trip filled with some serious wood shedding.  Here, in no particular order, is what you need to know:

  • The recording studio (formerly referred to as "Trowar HQ", heretofore referred to as "Ghost Train Studios") is nearing completion.  The live room has a nice stage and great sound.  The green room is ready to roll - only the control booth needs to be completed.  Jeff Tomei will be lending his expertise in this area, advising on equipment and software to be purchased, then installing that equipment.  By the time he is done, we will have a pretty damn nice little recording studio that should begin generating some revenue.
  • The taco truck is no more.  The revenue stream that was paying for airline tickets and various equipment purchases has been sold to get some money to finish the studio.  Manager Chris Wilhite is putting everything he has into this venture, selling his pontoon boat as well.  Hell, even his house (where I stay when I go out there) is on the market.*  I'm sure the money isn't for Trowar only (Chris mentioned his attraction to some real estate in Costa Rica), but I have a sense that part of it will be used to address the financial concerns of this venture.  Definitely nice to have someone like Chris putting his back into this!
  • Rehearsals were typical:  4-5 hours in the morning, followed by a 2-3 hour break, with 2-3 more hours of practice in the evening.  And you know what?  I loved every second of it.  We were preparing for a show (more on that in a minute) that was to only have an 8-song set.  We were able to focus on details and begin the process of really breaking down songs for the sake of making them ultra tight.  I ended up playing with a pick for most of this trip as I was raising blisters on my right hand after the first day of rehearsals.  I don't like my tone as much with a pick, but it sure beats having blisters popping/splattering all over the place as I'm trying to play.
  • The T-20 made it's debut and was exactly what I had hoped it would be, with its big, beefy bottom end, super heavy body (seriously - my shoulder was killing me), and all around toughness for the journey/occasional fall off the stand.  I noticed that the bass is slightly out of balance - it sagged a bit to the headstock when it dangles loosely from my body.  But I don't care about that so much.  The strings I used for the drop tuning (C#, F#, B, E) were exactly what I needed, delivering great tone and action.  There are some issues that need to be addressed with the T-20.  There is a span of about four frets near the top of the fingerboard that do not ring true at all and are therefore useless.  No matter - I don't play that high anyway and I'm pretty sure this can be addressed with a proper set up.
  • The performance:  I had been telling family and friends that I was flying out to Washington for a gig. Turns out this was a bit misleading.  We played a short, 8-song set for a small group of friends.  We had maybe 20 people watching us play (and partaking in snacks and drinks in the green room)  in the live room at Ghost Train studios.  As I was to learn later, the main objective was to get high quality footage of us playing live.  This was quite a production.  A temporary sound and video station consisting of multiple computers, monitors and boards was set up in the unfinished control room.  Two professional quality cameras (the guy in charge of filming does media for Microsoft) were used in filming: one was mounted on a tripod on a riser at the back of the room; the other was a roaming camera that was all up in our faces as we played.  The director monitored the video from inside the control room, issuing directions to the camera men via headsets.  There was a direct feed from all instruments to a mixing panel that in turn was recording all channels onto a computer.  I will say that our performance was good but not flawless.  I'm guessing that the live footage will be edited with a previously recorded track.  We'll see.  I'm pretty excited - it should look great (although the roaming camera man told me I had a booger hanging out of my nose at one point).  You can be sure I'll post about it when the video is available.
  • From a performance standpoint, we've had to really remind ourselves that evolving into a band that can fill clubs is a process.  Bear in mind this is only the 6th time we've played in front of anyone.  In this regard, we've remarkable progress, especially since we haven't played together in about a year.  For myself, my playing got much better and fast.  I had so much fun.  I am excited about playing bass again.  The principal concern now is - as it always seems to be after these trips - how to keep the momentum going after playing so hard for five days.
  • We'll probably be doing our next show here in Indiana.  The band (and manager) have been very sensitive to the needs of my family, and they accommodate me whenever they can.  Playing here in Indiana is a meaningful gesture and takes less of a toll on my family life.  Of course, I'll let you know the specifics of that gig once we have something set up and confirmed.
I think that about covers it.  Without going into too much detail, I will say that I went into this trip with a lot of trepidation (to put it mildly).  I left excited about what might be for this band if we just keep at it.

* - the fourth picture down is the view I woke up to every morning.  Heavenly.
Other Trowar links:
Here's one, here's one, here's one, and yet another, and another.

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