Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trowar Report: The "Dear Quack" Version

Dear Quack:
Thanks for asking about the Washington trip.  There's a lot to report, but musically, it all went down like this:
  • I got in Thursday morning and went directly to Ghost Train Studio and worked on the set with Fred.  In the L.A. rehearsals (which I never did write about - sorry) we had the song order and basic structure of each tune firmly established.  This was a huge help for me AND the band.  We can finally start concentrating on some fine tuning instead of learning new changes and orders.  We practiced for about 3 hours and it went smooth enough that for some reason, I began to get paranoid that things were not as they seemed.  That didn't stop me from going to Palmer's and eating a steak sandwich, then heading back to Chris Wilhite's (manager) house to go to bed early.  I had gotten up at 4:30 AM to make the flight in Indy; I was pooped.
  • I got to spend a little time with the Tone Hammer DI box that Chris had bought at my request.  The primary purpose of this purchase was to address one key problem:  to get myself heard in the band mix.  A secondary - but not as important - goal was to clean up the tone with the greater number of options that this box would give me.  The thinking was that I'd plug my bass into the Tone Hammer, then send two cables out:  one to my amplifier and one to the house PA.  This more or less turns my amp into a monitor for me while putting my bass directly into the house speakers, making it much louder in the mix for both me and the crowd. I'm still figuring out this thing, but it worked like a charm.  Turns out at both venues, the sound guys would rather mic the bass amp than go directly to the PA from the DI box.  But still:  there was plenty of volume to spare, and I've only scratched the surface of the tonal combos between the Tone Hammer and my amp.  (I actually "zeroed out" my amp, meaning I put everything on 5 just to see what kind of tonal variation I could get out of the Tone Hammer.)  I think Chris or Fred is shipping the Tone Hammer to me to keep working with it, and to have it for the Indy gig.  Never thought I could get this excited about a direct input box.  It was a pure delight that my bass was loud and the tone didn't sound like farts.  It actually sounded like a bass, with warm, round, full tone.
  • John's flight came in on Friday.  While we waited for John to get in from the airport, Fred and I worked with a vocal coach named Emily who we've worked with pretty steadily the past few practices now.  She's fun to work with, even when (especially when) she's pushing you outside your comfort zone.  She's very good at getting us to think about what we're doing and how we might look and sound to the crowd.  She seems to have no shortage of "tricks" for pushing us.  Fred and I both know that the vocals have a way to go, but we - particularly Fred - have come a long way.  Now that the songs and the set as a whole are coming together, we hope to really hit the vocals hard by bringing Fred's vocals up a bit in the mix and have the harmonies tight as hell.  I think we'll get it.
  • John came while Fred and I were working with Emily.  He set up his drums as we continued to practice vocals.  Once he was finished he jumped in as we worked.  Next thing I know the volume was up and we were off and running, drums and all.  I'd say our total practice time with John that day was about 45 minutes to an hour.  Everything sounded so good we didn't go much beyond that, opting instead to tear down our gear and get it in the truck.  We spent the rest of the day trying to relax and get rested up for the gig.
That is more or less how the practicing went.  I'm about out of time, so I'll wrap this up for now.  I'll post something about the two gigs very soon.  

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