December 9, 2016 in Thoughts

The Fans

Earlier this year, a talented rock band that I played with broke up as a result of ever-dwindling audience numbers. I have spent this year working on my stage performance as The Meh, with no regular audience to speak of. And I played for a while in a band I might call Emo Hipster.

A performer is not a performer without an audience. You can play music at home for fun. But playing music alone on a stage is not fun. And it is not performing. We can all have an off night. But if you are at the mercy of whoever was going to show up anyway, you need to re-evaluate your life as a performer.

That’s where I am now. I’m not saying that you have to give up. But you have to re-evaluate your plan. Up until now, my plan has been to get some swagger on stage and finish my album. Both plans are coming along nicely. But now it is time to start building an audience. It’s transition time.

How do I tap into the world of people who go to see live musicians? I’m not friends with those people. The people I enjoy hanging out with aren’t those people. When I was in the Emo Hipster band, I learned that Emo Hipsters go to live performances. Did I meet any new friends? No. But so what?

And now, as I write this, it becomes clear to me. I don’t have to like the fans as people, and the fans don’t have to like me as a person. I pour my heart into my music and lyrics. And I might expect that people I connect with will connect with my music.

Bullshit

And I might expect that people from another generation, religion, or worldview wouldn’t get what I’m throwing out.

Bullshit

Long ago, artists would disappear behind their art. And if that is what I do, then I should be bold and cast a wide net. I should find people looking for musical expression, and see if they like what I’m expressing. I need a list: 10 things I can do to bring my music to people who are looking for music. 10 things that are totally out of character for me. Things that bring my honest art to people who might be looking. I did a lot of “selling out”, like playing wine bars for 60 year olds. I’m not talking about trying things that are fake.

I need to write a list. I wont do it in this post, because I dont want to wait. time to go to work. goodnight y’all.

December 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Being Real

I was talking with someone the other day about music and art and politics and religion, and where they all meet. We agreed that I have to be real. That’s an easy place to start from. But it leaves out a lot. 

The spectrum is something like this: Share everything I believe, share nothing of consequence, or say whatever I think the audience wants to hear at the time. 

I have been performing on stage for a long time, but I haven’t had a voice. Now I do. I get to decide where I want to be on the spectrum. My first inclination was to say nothing of consequence. I worried that there was nothing to gain from sharing my beliefs. And I am thoroughly disgusted when some actor or pop star, known for their ability to make believe, suddenly decides that their personal beliefs are instructive to others. 

I can’t imagine any information less helpful in my life than knowing what Robert DeNiro thinks about some politician. 

So, I don’t want to follow in the footsteps. I don’t want to get attention for something, and then sneak in my beliefs. That seems cheap. But what about Rage Against the Machine? Or Rise Against? They built their reputations around their beliefs. And I don’t feel like they are cheap when they bring them up. 

But I do generally disagree with their beliefs. I’m not particularly interested in hearing them. But at least it’s part of what they do. But does that matter?

(Note: I’m talking myself through this now. I’m not trying to tell everyone the right answer for them, or even the right answer for me. I’m just sharing my mental journey.)

Some people might say that I threaten to loose my fans or alienate my audience by sharing my beliefs. The truth of it is, I have nothing to lose in that department. People I love may have a hard time sharing my material if it eventually leads back to a political stance that they disagree with. But that’s really the only concept holding me back now.

So, I think I have to find my footing. How can I be real and give a voice to a large group of people who don’t have a voice in the Cocky Rock genre. I don’t want to start any arguments. And I know that I’m not going to change any minds. My ultimate goal is to remind everyone that we are 90% the same. But I don’t think I can accomplish that by being scared to be real. 

So, as I find my footing, and do a lot of soul searching, I will try to be real. Online and onstage. 

May 14, 2016 in Stuff

New Shirts!!!

I just got the first shipment of meh shirts. Let the world know what you think. Available in the online store.

Meh Shirt

May 7, 2016 in Album

23 – Music Video

This is my ink cloud video. The song is about falling out of love with the wrong person. When the person you love is only perfect in your imagination. When you love someone for what they could be instead of who they are, and you realize that you have to let them go.

May 7, 2016 in Album

All I Need to Know – Music Video

I could try to describe what I was going for in this video, or I could let it speak for itself. This song is about young love. When you realize that love is about more than how you feel.

May 2, 2016 in Album

Crowdfunding Plea

I have almost everything taken care of. Can you please help with the rest? Watch the video and tell me if it isn’t the creepiest thing you have seen!

Crowdfunding link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-meh-full-length-album

April 25, 2016 in Studio

Hidden Tracks

I’m going to take things back a few years now. Back it the long ago, musician put out collections of songs together in things called “albums”. A records is a good example. Or a CD. There are other formats, but I won’t waste anyones time going over them. Let’s just say that in the olden days, listening to music was a hands on experience.

You had to go to your physical collection of music. You had to choose a single collection of songs, called an album. You had to remove this from it’s case, and put it into the player. (record player, or CD player). You had to press play. And the songs played, and then they were done, and the music stopped. I know it sounds like I am being flippant, but I really do have a point.

When you wanted to listen to music, you chose an album, you played that album, you heard the songs in order, and when they were done, the music stopped. It was a very linear experience. An album had a beginning, a middle, and an end.

CD’s made it easy to skip songs. If you were actively controlling the music then you could hear what you wanted. But it was very manual. It’s not like music consumption of today. Where people use computers to play popular songs by artists. There is no beginning, middle, or end. There is no linear journey.

I’m not complaining about it. I’m just showing off that I know how things work nowadays.

But I grew up on albums. I grew up listening to all of the songs that the artist chose to put on their album. And sometimes you got a treat. A hidden track. Something shoved on the album that didn’t make it to the liner notes. A song on the CD that wasn’t listed.

Some hidden tracks were funny little stinkers, like 12 Gracious Melodies on Stone Temple Pilot’s second CD.

Sometimes they were real songs that were every bit as good as the other songs, like Let Her Go by Blink 182.

So, do hidden tracks make sense in the modern age? You can’t sneak a track into a playlist. You could hide it at the end of the last song. People will notice that the last song is 18 minutes long, but maybe the element of surprise isn’t the most important part.

I don’t know.

I remember that Korn album that started with 13 tracks totaling 69 seconds of silence. Boy, that got old really quick.

So, let me know in the comments if you think that hidden tracks matter. Or if albums matter. Maybe only singles matter anymore.

I don’t know.

April 23, 2016 in Studio

Digital Mixing

I am in the thick of Mixing my album. We are using Pro Tools, which means one thing.

We can stop and start mixing at any point, and there is nothing that makes the experience end.

Some of you have never been in a recording studio. And some of you have only been in a modern recording studio. So I will paint a picture for you of old world mixing.

You have a board in front of you, with hundreds of sliders and knobs. And you have a rack of equipment behind you with hundreds of knobs. Here is a good picture of a small studio

Studio

All of that hardware can make a song sound sweet when you are mixing it. Maybe I should back up and define what mixing is. It’s taking all of the things you recorded and adjusting the volume and sound, to make a stereo (left and right channel) audio file. Making sure the bass isn’t louder than the vocals. Its the kind of thing that takes hours for each song.

In Pro Tools, you can mix a song for a while, press the save button, and close the program. You can work on other things. In the case of the album i’m working on, you can leave the song alone for 2 years, and then open the file, and continue where you left off.

If you are in a studio with hardware, you can’t do that. You can’t save state. You can take a break and stop mixing for a while. But you can’t do anything else in the studio unless you reset all of your work. This changes things completely. It turns the mixing of a song into a single event. You spend all day twisting the knobs and sliding the sliders. You get it sounding great. You drop it down to a stereo recording. And then you are done. You unhook all of the components and reset the knobs. If you hear something in the mix you wish you could change, it’s too bad. If you wish the bass guitar was a little louder in the outro, there is nothing you can do. Unless you want to spend the 6 hours trying to recreate the mix again.

There are some who think that the flexibility that Pro Tools gives you is a positive thing. And there are those who think that it is a negative. I am reading a book called Zen And The Art of Mixing. In it, the author describes what happens mentally when you listen to a song that you mixed, once you can’t tweak it anymore. He suggested the following concept (put into my own words and embellished):

If you know that you can change the mix easily, then you are always listening with a critical ear for nuanced perfection. Your left brain is focused on the mechanics. Should I turn this up? Should I tighten the compression? – But once the mix cannot be changed, your brain doesn’t listen that way anymore. You are not focused on finding imperfections. You can absorb the impact of the song, the way the audience will. Then and only then can you determine if the mix has the right emotional impact.

The way things are now, in a digital world, we don’t get the feeling of immutability until we hold the songs in our hand on a CD. Only then are they “chiseled in stone”. And that isn’t a good time to start listening to the impact of the song.

So, I am wondering what to do with this information. How do we mix with speed, aggressiveness, and decisiveness, quickly come to the end of the process, and absorb the impact of the final track? There are fake barriers we can put in place, but we live in a digital world, so the real barriers are gone.

I will spend the next few weeks and months working on this, and sharing my findings. I know that as time goes on, I can start to transition. If I mix a song on Monday night, I spend all day Tuesday listening to the song and writing notes on things I find annoying. But by Friday I find that I don’t hear those annoying things anymore. So, this is what I will try for now

Mixing the Song – Do all we can to get it sounding right. Replay it in my car. Through headphones. Focus on getting it “perfect”. I usually say “let me listen to this mix for a while and see what I think”. I’ll stop doing that.

Living with the Song – After I leave the studio, I will listen to the song for a while. But I wont take notes for at least 5 days. I won’t capture my first impressions. I will distance myself from the left-brained exercise of mixing, and experience the song as a piece of art. After several days, once I am detached, I can take notes about things that could improve the emotional impact.

One more Mix – I’ll allow us one more chance to tweak things, to maximize emotional impact. Maybe I’ll have to justify why a change is needed to improve the impact of a song. Turning the bass guitar down .2 DB is not going to do that.

I don’t know. I am just thinking here. I’ll let you know how it goes. Here is a link to the book that I bought. It is amazing.

http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Art-Mixing-REV2-Mixerman/dp/1480366579/

March 3, 2016 in Thoughts

Surviving Until November

It’s election season. And people are going crazy. Everyone hates everyone else and the country is going to hell.

Here is a survival guide for having a quality life.

Turn Off The TV

Nobody is sharing new information about the candidates. All they are talking about is trivial pieces of information meant to make you hate one side. That’s it. Nothing else. Who needs that? Is that going to help?

Block “Those People” on Social Media

I had a relative say that he was having a good day. He was happy and things were well. And someone responded to that with a post about how much she hated one of the candidates. You know who those people are in your life. Some people see a rainbow or a puppy and are reminded about how much they hate, and they are powerless to restrain their hate. Their hate drives them. Who needs that? Is that going to help?  You can block posts from people on your wall and they will never know.

Talk To People Face to Face

If you enjoy talking about politics, then make it real. Talking to people is real. Posting and commenting on Facebook isn’t. The world according to posts on Facebook is almost nothing like the real world. Who needs that? Is that going to help.

Grow Up Badge

I love talking about politics. But only if everyone involved is sane. I am not saying to keep your thoughts to yourself. And I am not saying that you shouldn’t do meaningful research. Don’t think like they want you to think.

I saw a bunch of posts on Facebook. Now I have learned helpful information.

If your friends or family just can’t cope, and you want to poke them where it hurts, you can give them this.

Grow Up BadgeOf course, most people will not grow up. They will be blinded by hate until Spring of 2017. But you can feel good knowing that you gave them a little nudge towards a better life.

But when it comes down to it, all you can really do is take care of your mood. Control your happiness by controlling the hate that you feed on. You will thank me for it.

December 26, 2015 in Thoughts

Christmas Music

It’s Christmas Day, which means we are about to end the Christmas Music season. The annual tradition of driving up sales by playing trite Christmas garbage starting in early November, if not October.

I saw a quote yesterday about Christmas.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree
– Roy L. Smith

It got me thinking about Christmas celebrations over the years. The times that I thought were magical, and the times that I thought were disappointing. I wonder how many people are let down by Christmas. Let down because the day didn’t live up to they hype. There is so much hype. So much promise that spending a few hundred dollars will make you feel magical.

And then we fall flat. Not because we didn’t get the present that we wanted. But because we are told that Christmas is a time of magic and miracles, and we believe it. Even though we are completely not interested in miracles or magic, we still get bummed when Christmas is just another holiday.

What does it mean to have Christmas in your heart? Do you need faith in one or more gods? How can I find it? And how can we stop all the songs and movies and TV shows about finding the spirit of Christmas in Santa’s sack or Frosty’s hat?

I wish that Christmas lived up to the hype for everyone, I really do. But it is what it is. I usually pic on the song Wonderful Christmastime as some sort of horrific pile of crap. But now I think it sets the right tone for most people. Christmas isn’t about magic and miracles. It’s about seeing friends, and having that be enough.

A common theme in Christmas movies is grownups loosing the spirit of Christmas until some miracle from the North Pole brings back the magic. I thing that most of us wish that some sort of easy magic is going to fall off our roof some day and usher the Christmas spirit into our hearts. But life takes more than that. If you want to connect with something greater than yourself, then you have to go on a quest. Meaning doesn’t find us. We chase it.

How are you feeling at the end of this Christmas day? How do you want to feel? I’m at least thankful that the season of garbage Christmas-like crap songs is over for another 9 months.

Here is a very offensive video, which asks and important question. How would Santa get around on his sleigh, if it didn’t snow on Christmas?

hello