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#6- Three Rehearsals in Three Days, April 27, 28, 29th

 Just had a three-day stretch with rehearsals for three very different bands, so I jotted down some thoughts on each while I've still got some momentum for this crazy blogging thing.   Fair warning, this is a triple header of sorts and is a reeeeeaaaaallllly long entry.  You may want to tackle it in pieces or just walk away now before it's too late.  I remain convinced these will get shorter as time goes by.  
 Started the week off with my boys Brent and Forrest.  This band is a new incarnation of a group that started several years back.  Brent writes supercool songs and the three of us do a sort of power trio thing that's all charged up with this punk-ish energy and occasional fits of improvised madness.  A lot of the tunes are really fast (wait till you hear "You're Used to Hanging On") and definitely keeps me on my toes as a player.  Brent Hoffort sings and plays a wicked guitar, Forrest Everett is a wild man on the drums, and that leaves me to play bass (always with a pick, too loud and fast for my mortal fingers to attempt with confidence) and sing harmonies.  Hopefully there will be a show sometime soon, at least that's the plan.  

Strings Revisited
Okay, remember those coated black DR strings I talked about using for recording with
Amy Heffernan recently?  They sounded great in the studio, but, unfortunately, completely stunk up the room at this rehearsal.  Really dead and impossible to work with.  Sigh.  Looks like I'll have to rethink the string plan.  I've been loving the DR's but clearly the coated ones aren't going to work.  Considering the switch back to Rotosounds.  Hmmmm.  

Loud, Louder, Loudest
The thing with this band is that we're LOUD.  And that's one of the things that's friggin' cool about us.  Old-School-Rock-and-Roll-
Goes-to-Eleven style loud.  The problem is, tone management is tough for me when the volume is earth-shaking like that.  The music can be fast and furious and I really need to feel connected to my sound to pull it off, otherwise I'm pretty much a total hack.   When I can dial my tone in with these guys it's like riding this mad bull around the room, nutty fun, really rewarding musically.  But I need that sound, need to hear the scrape of the pick on the string and have the notes ringing properly otherwise I end up flailing.  When the tone ain't happening the bull gets the best of me, and that's kinda what happened at this rehearsal, at least for the first half.  Dammit.  

Opportunity Knocks
So I tried to make the best of it.  Our friends
Herb and Trace (both excellent musicians and Trace is producing the new record for this band) were in attendance and if I couldn't get the sound to kick ass I at least wanted to try and keep up.  Fiddled with EQ's on the Ashdown amp and on my pedalboard.  Couldn't get it to cut through.  Soooo, it became an opportunity to work on "playing through the pain".  Sometimes this happens at gigs, the sound ain't happening and you just gotta dig in and make it work.  Let the muscle memory kick in and not get thrown off by a dog-turdish tone.  First half of rehearsal I was fighting it, uncomfortable and a little whiny.  After we took a break however, things got much better.  We banged through a couple of epic jam sections that really took flight, got to transcend the muckitty-muck and ride the wave.  I love that feeling of not knowing where we're going, how it's going to end, what I should play next.  It distracted me from the downer I'd been having and things really turned around.  The rest of the set was relatively golden and we all got lost in it, total good time, all things considered.  I had to stay within the lines and play safer than I wanted cause I couldn't hear the subtleties, but the energy was great and it ended up saving the night for me.  

SVT Time

I'm really crazy obsessing over the new
SVT reissue.  I'm convinced it would bring the secret sauce I need and would be particularly fantastic for M.O.M. and it's demanding volume issues.  Soon.  I'm gonna sell some stuff and get that damn amp.  Seriously.  Watch me.  


TUESDAY -
ARRICA ROSE

This was an acoustic rehearsal with just myself,
Arrica and Marc.  These are always cool and casual nights in Dan's (see below*) posh Downtown L.A. loft with a great view.   Plus Arrica always feeds us something delicious.  We're working up the "band versions" of her fantastic new EP "Pretend I'm Fur."  The live arrangements are gonna be slightly different than the recorded versions, mostly because the record was done with loops and sound effects and lots of other exotic sounds and instruments that would be impossible to create.  *Dan Garcia did an amazing job producing the record, and played some mean bass tracks ta boot, I've been having a blast copping his semi-brazilian, folk-pop vibe with the band.  Check out Dan's playing on "Can't Say Goodbye" for some particularly tasty morsels.  Plus he's a great guy and his pad is bitchin'.  

Did you say Brazilian?
Yeah, I did.  Not exactly in my wheelhouse, which is actually pretty cool.  Leaving out most of the downbeats is rough on my instincts but good for my soul.  Feels great, really different, interesting pulses I'm not used to at all.  Super minimalist approach, trying not to go for anything distracting, just hit the zen thing and keep it trancy and hypnotic.  Seems like the more notes I can weed out the better it sounds and feels with this stuff.  Happily taking pointers from Mr. Garcia to get closer to authentic on that front.  

Event Horizon
Like
the point of no return at the edge of a black hole, these coated strings completely suck.  But I mentioned that already, sorry.  Hadn't changed them yet when we had our quiet little acoustic jam and I found myself wishing I had.  So weird, cause I have now confirmed with (producer) Doug that the tracks we did for Amy's record on Saturday did indeed sound bomb-diggity (that means really, really, good) upon revisitation.  Apparently they are recording strings only, do not play live, do not collect $200.  

The Skinny
Things went well, we worked out the four songs that we had on the agenda and are now close to being ready to play the entire Pretend I'm Fur EP.   Record release party is scheduled for June 11th at Hotel Cafe, so we're ahead of the curve.  I'm singing a LOT on this stuff, and still need work with the simultaneous bass/vocals thing, but it's getting closer.  Rumor has it Dan is going to join us on stage and play some
funky brazilian instruments, and we may have help with the backing vocals from our lovely and talented friends Sarah and Jamie.  Sweet.  

Compare and Contrast
Just wanted to take a second to point out how radically different those two nights were.  Crazy-loud rambunctious rock music one night, then acoustic brazilian folk pop the next.  Gotta love it.  Next up: 90's Grunge tribute band...

WEDNESDAY -
FLANNEL HIGH

So, the artist formerly known as
Dream Life Misery rides again.  Things didn't quite pan out for DLM after we made a couple of rock-radio-ready CD's, but we had such a blast playing together we thought we'd reform and play our favorite cover tunes from the Grunge era of the 90's.  Doug Heffernan (ballsy lead vocals/guitar and the same guy who is producing Amy's record), Dan Nelles (drummer extraordinaire), Tony Gray (ripping lead guitar) and myself have been getting together once a week to work up our song list.  We're shooting for four full sets of tunes and currently we're lingering somewhere just short of three.  The plan is to find a booking agent that knows how to get us into casinos, corporate parties, reunions and other assorted well-paying gigs.  

How Low Can You Go
The main challenge for me with Flannel High is "Floppy String Syndrome".  We tune our guitars down a whole step to get the vocals closer to Doug's range (you try singing "
Outshined" in it's original key and let me know how that goes).   Getting the instrument to feel right and wringing a good tone out of it is particularly difficult with less string tension.  A necessary evil for sure, I'm not complaining here, just acknowledging that it's a tricky beast.   And to make matters worse, on about 8 songs we tune the E string down ANOTHER whole step to enable the "D-tune" fingering.  So my E is now a C.  I can make it work but it is freaking essential that I have a workable tone happening.  

Did you say your single is SIX minutes long?
Somehow in the 90's the radio waves were packed with looooooooong songs.  Seriously, most of the tunes we do are 5-ish minutes long.  Pearl Jam's very first single "
Alive" is damn near six minutes.  And radio ate that shit up.  Crazy.  The upshot is, with a little stretching, we can pull off 8 song sets and hit forty five minutes.  

Oh yeah, I was gonna talk about the rehearsal
Doug got stuck with some domestic duties and was running late, so we rocked it as a trio for awhile, sans vocals.  Always tricky to follow the songs without vocals, but it's a good exercise and we did a pretty reasonable job.  The new song for the day was "
I Alone" from the band Live.  Very cool bass stuff to play, the dude in Live is way underrated.  Still haven't had time to change the crappy strings on the Precision, so I was struggling with tone again.  Boo.  My own fault.  Not AS bad because this band isn't as loud as M.O.M. and the room wasn't quite the bass trap we had on Monday.  Still, not good.  MUST change strings immediately, I'm getting frustrated and it just ain't as fun as it should be.  

Anyway, we moved from the new song and ran through some other stuff till Doug arrived.  Then circled back with him and polished off "I Alone", sounded great.  FH is rounding into form, I think we're just about ready to be unleashed on the world.  We've technically had one gig, but hopefully its going to blossom into some cool opportunities soon.  

A Quick Thought On Covers
Playing covers is seriously rad!  Our set list is nothing but really cool songs that are fun as hell to play.  The 90's was a great decade for rock music and a lot of the bass players were WAY better than I remembered.  Cool droning stuff, interesting parts, very dark and musical too.   Learning covers is so completely educational, every single song has subtleties worth paying attention to.  I seriously wish I'd been more diligent in my younger years and actually learned the songs my cover bands did, instead of faking them.  My loss.  

Wow, This is Ridiculously Long and I'm Still Typing
Sorry, I'm done now.  You rule if you made it this far.  Feel free to "ping" the anonymous comments section so I can get an idea of how many of you there actually are.  My guess is four.  Maybe three.  Seriously, go type "ping" or some other random single word as a comment.  But only once per person, for real, I'd love to get an idea of the actual number of masochists there are amongst you.  Plus it'll be funny when no one does it and I realize I'm all alone at the end of 5000 words :) 

Seeya next time, probably after Saucy's show in San Diego next week,
Promising Relative Brevity,
-s




Comments

(Anonymous)

Made it to the end!

Really great and reminds me of trips where JLG had "cauliflower ear". Keep it coming!

Re: Made it to the end!

Love it! Guess I've always had a thing or two to say, eh? Thanks for checking in, LCZ (I think that's the right initials). :)

(Anonymous)

Hellooooooooo

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!

Re: Hellooooooooo

Don't panic, help is on the way!!

(Anonymous)

:)

ping

Re: :)

:)

(Anonymous)

As you wish...

Ping!

(Anonymous)

Bomb Diggity ova hea.