Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Links And Time Travel: Some Crap For You To Read While Your Food Digests

Happy Thanksgiving!  It's my favorite holiday and honestly probably the most overlooked one.  Although it's steeped in fake history, it is one of the handful of holidays that has yet to be effectively monetized (I'm looking at you, Christmas and Halloween) and militarized (I'm looking at you, pretty much every other holiday that showcases the U.S.'s military might).  It's about food and family; it's about gratitude and that is damn cool.  While you're contemplating your blessings, have a look at the kick ass links below.

Okay - that's it.  Go be with your family and eat some damn food!

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Not Too Late

If you want to contribute some holiday-related audio to be posted here in December, it's not too late!  Details here.  I went to Kevin's house last night to work on my contribution.  I'm sort of excited about it - I think it will be pretty damn dope.  (Photos by Kevin Reynolds.)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fat Friday Feature: Sting On The Police's "Bombs Away"

One of the semi-regular features here at "History Lesson, Pt. 2" is to take Friday and showcase a particular bass part/bass player of note.  Today, I'm going to look at Sting's bass line on the Police's "Bombs Away".

I've always liked the Police.  Always.  I've committed to memory every song on every album starting with "Zenyatta Mondatta", and eventually, I worked my way through their back catalog.  It's all great stuff.  They are a huge reason that I'm drawn to trios - there can be no weakness.  Everyone has to kick ass or the whole thing falls apart.  Try to think about removing Stewart Copeland from the Police.  Or Andy Summers.  It just wouldn't work, I'm positive of it.  Or go the other direction - add a keyboard player.  Or relinquish the vocal duties to someone else.  Most likely, it would be bloated and sucky.  The Police all pull together to make one kick ass song after another.  And as I've gotten older, I've become even more of a fan.

But I've never really paid much attention to Sting's bass work.  Don't get me wrong - I've never thought of it as bad.  In fact, Sting plays like a good bass player should:  his playing always serves the song.  Never too much busyness.  

One exception is "Bombs Away".  Sting shows us (okay, shows me) that you can be busy on the bass and still serve the song.  I love the originality of this line; I love how it creates the groove and unique feel (along with the drums) to this tune.  Check it, yo.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Photos From This Weekend's Recording Session

I got to spend two days this weekend recording with Amigo Fields in Russian Recordings.  It was immensely fun, and I thank Mary Beth for holding down the fort.  I know it's not easy, and I never, ever take for granted the sacrifices you make for me to take off and do this.

If I get a moment, I'll create a more detailed account of the weekend; but for now, here are some highlights:

  • This CD will mark my singing debut, though it's only harmonies and it's only on one song.
  • I got to play with some really fun folks this weekend.  Beyond being great musicians they just made it a lot of fun to hang out.
  • Russian Recordings is an amazing space.  You can just feel the creative vibe coming from every corner.  And Kyle (engineer) is about as cool and professional as they come.  He worked two very long days, and he was always upbeat and helpful.  So easy to work with.
  • I had far and away the best latte of my life from Hopscotch Coffee, the newest coffee shop in town.  Holy crap, I can't emphasize how amazing it was.  It'll change change your life - it changed mine.  And Hopscotch gets bonus points for the Lebowski reference on their home page - can you find it?
I'm not sure what happens at this point, but I imagine the material will be mixed down and reviewed.  I'll post something when the CD goes live.
View of control booth.

Twin Peaks reference, I believe.

Bessie in the live room.

Some of the studio's instruments in the live room.

These two freaks were hanging in an isolation
booth.  On the left is a Gibson Explorer
bass.  On the right is a totally bad ass Kramer
bass with an aluminum neck.

There is interesting art all around the studio.

Warming up in the live room.

The guitar on the left - an Electrical Guitars knock off of
a Guild - was my favorite instruments.

Me looking all casual and stuff in the green room.  Next to
a sculpture of a hamburger.

Me nailing it on the first take, I'm sure.  (Actually just
warming up.)

Love this hidden treasure - a Gibson RD Artist bass that belongs
to the studio.  Didn't get an opportunity to plug it in and mess
with it though.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Two Bros From Way Back": In Praise Of Metalheads

Though it's been circulating since the early 1990s, I only heard of "The Derek Tape" yesterday.  I have to tell you - it is a thing of beauty.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that to me, artifacts like this are as important to our cultural heritage as a Grandma Moses painting or an Aaron Copeland composition.  Like many great works of art, it clearly identifies the spirit of a distinct time and place* (and in this case, a subculture).  Like many great works of art it is entertaining, provocative and leaves as many questions as it answers.  And like many great works of art, there is something that resonates. We all knew dudes just like Derek.  Please, please, please - listen to this, but don't listen to it around those with delicate sensibilities.  Derek speaks the muthafuckin' truth, bruh.  Truth can hurt, and the truth can also contain the word "fuck" a lot.

So what exactly is "The Derek Tape"?  The full story is here, but basically it is this:  "The Derek Tape" is a recorded phone call between a very chill dude named Kurt and super excitable metalhead named Derek.  Derek does most of the talking.  He spends approximately half of the call talking about how he's going to kill this dude Terry because Terry stiffed him $20.  While that is amusing, it's when Derek shifts into his discussion of music that the clinic happens.  Derek expounds like a college prof on types of metal bands (hate metal versus straight Satanic metal), guitarists/guitar solos, drugs, higher and lower orders of demons, and the Necronomicon.  Unlike most college profs, Derek brings a unique enthusiasm to his exegesis.  He is articulate and thorough.  His word choice is brilliant, dude.  Listen to Derek.  When challenged on his assertion that the Grateful Dead is a Satanic band, he is specific and hell, even believable to an extent, arguing that there is no more effective way to spread any message (let along a Satanic message) than via an ear worm/music.  Put on some headphones and prepare to be dazzled.

I knew Derek.  Only his name was Tony Webb.  Tony and I went to St. Mary's together.  We were held back together.  We were in the same lower math class, and we were required to get tutoring together.  Although I don't remember the diagnosis being around at that time, I'm positive that Tony suffered from Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder.  The kid moved a million miles an hour - in body and in mind.  He was intense and never half-assed anything except maybe school work.  But his true passion - the thing that jacked him more than anything else in the world - was metal music.  He was an evangelist for all forms of metal, from the hair metal bands that were emerging in L.A., to the classic metal bands like Black Sabbath, to the Satanic bands that were just starting to freak out middle America.  "Circus" magazine was the Bible, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal all rolled into one for Tony.  He openly shared both his stash of Circus back issues and his opinions on what was and wasn't "metal".  When he spoke about heavy metal music, his eyes bugged out and his body vibrated.  The dark lord had taken him.  I'm not making this up.

One time after school me, Tony and about three other friends (sorry - "bros") rode our bikes to Tony's house.  He lived over the big bridge in our town - I forget the name of it - in the blue collar section of town in the shadow of the bridge.  He lived in a tiny two bedroom house with his mom and dad, heavy metal older brother, and hot heavy metal sister.  This particular visit, no one was home so we smoked cigarettes and raided Tony's brother's porno mag stash.  As we thumbed through old issues of Penthouse, Tony read Circus magazine.  I think Lita Ford did it for him more than Dorothy Stratten.  Or maybe Rob Halford did it for him - who knows?  All I know for sure is that he lived and breathed heavy metal.  He probably actually would've sold his soul if Satan required that of metal fans.  I don't think he does though.

Tony Webb is a common species of music fan, but metalheads (as this species is known) are unique.  They had a loyalty to their favorite artists and they put their money where their loyalty resided.  Punks did too, but the punk scene was slightly more fragmented (ask the Meat Puppets how L.A. punks treated them) and a lot more stoic than the metal scene. Metalheads saw drugs and booze as an avenue for more fully appreciating and intensifying the music and representing a lifestyle; hippies used it to mellow things out.  Metalheads knew more about their bands and scene than their Prog-fan cousins knew of theirs.  Guys like Tony were the Comic Book Guy of the Heavy Metal Parking Lot sans the elitism.  Only all metalheads were like that.  And that's bad ass.

It's hilarious to make fun of metalheads.  They're so delightfully out of touch, and so goddamned quotable.  But be honest:  have you ever had an all consuming passion like the Tony Webbs and Dereks of the world?  Was it what got your through the school day, your shitty minimum wage job, and the grim reality of a sub par home life?  Did it get you out of bed?  Maybe, but I bet not.  I'll continue to point and laugh at dudes like Derek and Tony, but I admire that passion that quickens them.  Keep rockin', Tony.  Keep rockin', Derek.  I know you are somewhere.

*-You like how I avoided using the word "zeitgeist"?