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#15- My Own Machine at Molly Malone's, 6-16-09


Tore it up last night with Brent and Forrest in the band My Own Machine.  For more thoughts and an intro to the band you can click here.  

Had a blast with this one, that makes two-for-two with M.O.M. on the fun meter.  We did the Power Trio Thing, with long guitar solos and cool improv sections.  Lots of stretching out and cutting loose, just a total good time.  I could have kept playing all night, felt like the set went waaaay too fast.  Loved it! 

Ah, the dreaded house rig at Molly's again.  I actually got that old horse to work for me this time, I think the secret is to crank that sucker up and be a little too loud.    Also brought along the trusty P-bass (armed with brand spankin' new Rotosounds of course!) and my pedalboard of tricks.   Had a bit of a shorting out problem at rehearsal the night before so I brought the Jazz as a backup just in case.  Did some earlier-in-the-day trouble shooting (all hyphens in this entry dedicated to E.G.) and couldn't find any problems with my cables or the bass.  There might be a problem with the jack that is just starting to rear it's ugly head, will have to keep an eye on that.  

It was a good pedalboard night, I got to stomp on some crazy combinations and make some gnarly, twisted, ugly, cool sounds.  My favorite combination was using the Bass Muff Pi distortion, with the Bass Microsynth and Boss Chorus, all at the same time.  Used that on the verses of "Broken Back" and it was all bubbly and weird sounding.  Also found a bunch of cool wah pedal moments throughout the set, I may have actually overused that pedal last night, but I'd do it again.  

Shape to Shift, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Don't Wanna Let You Down, Infancy, NYC, Florescent, Sing the Silence, Broken Back, Like Lying, You're Used to Hanging On.  

We've been secretly working on a surprise Rush cover tune that I won't spoil here just in case we play it next time.  It's all full of odd time signatures and crazy transitions.  So cool to play with a couple of fellow Rush worshipers, music geeks unite!  Have you heard any of the bootleg naked tracks they have on Youtube these days?  Check out Geddy Lee's solo bass track, the actual track used on the recording, for YYZ from the Moving Pictures record, it's just ridiculous!!  You can faintly hear the other tracks bleeding through the headphones, but its essentially just that classic bass part all by it's lonesome.  I've listened to that song thousands and thousands of times in my life and it's just SO DAMN COOL to hear the bass track soloed!   You can hear the spots where they punched in, doubled the bass, threw on a chorus effect, all the bits that make it sound like it does.  Fantastic.  Thanks Brent for sending me that link!  

Picking Sides

This band is almost always a pick band for me.  We're loud, we're fast, and I need to be able to cut through the mix.  SOME nights my tone is so good I can pull off most of the set without the pick, but those are rare and I usually enjoy being Plectrum Man with these guys.  That was the case last night, start to finish it was an evening with the pick.  

The Band
Really played great I thought.  Big, bitchin' guitar solos from Brent.  Crazy frenetic drumming from Forrest.  It's so funny cause Forrest's other band is an AC/DC tribute band called Bonfire (check out their new record on itunes if you get a chance, it's bad ass) and the stylistic differences between the two groups couldn't be more extreme opposites.  Laying it down thick and steady with Bonfire, then going completely batshit crazy with us.  Super cool contrast.  Anyway, I also thought Brent sang his ass off, the boys did a killer job.  I think this band is really good and the sky is the limit as far as our potential goes.  

The French Vocal Mask Technique
This is great!   So, some of you may recall that I was recently commenting on smiling whilst singing the letter N seemed to make those words easier to sing.  I never understood why, but I've been doing it for awhile.  Actually discovered that trick while trying to sing on demos of my own material here at home.  Well, loyal reader of this blog J.B. informs me that this technique is a part of "The French Vocal Mask Technique."  How fantastic is that?  Apparently there is a whole school of thought around these sorts of techniques.  I can't find any additional info when I Google that phrase, so it must be a fairly obscure tradition, or at least one that hasn't wiggled it's way into the digital world.  Regardless, I LOVE that I stumbled across a tiny portion of such a cool sounding vocal training method.  And it works by the way, try it sometime.  

Have You Noticed How Often I Use These Words?
Cool, great, killer, rad, bitchin', Awesome, fantastic, Smokin'.  I'm running out of words that mean "good."  I think I'm gonna try to work in stellar somewhere later in this entry, see how that feels.  Feel free to hit me with any suggestions.  

Some Specific Moments

-I flubbed some notes in the first damn song, "Shape to Shift".  Really pissed me off too, cause I know that song, it isn't difficult, I just put my fingers in the wrong place a few times.   Managed to slide them quickly to the right frets, but still.  Grrrrrr.  It was the first song and got me off on the wrong foot.  Fortunately the rest of the set went really, really well for me.  

-"NYC" is a new/old song (new to this incarnation of the band, but we used to play it years ago when we were called "Nothing Comes True").  Anyway, it has this cool groove, almost like a tough walking gate.  Enjoyed playing that one particularly.  It adds a different flavor to the almost punkish energy of the band but still fits under the Appropriateness Umbrella.  

-Loved the jam section on "Broken Back."  We really caught a wave I thought, it was all very effortless and crazy fun.  I just repeat the bass line riff while Forrest tears up this tribal beat and Brent goes bananas on a big solo.  I watched him actually jumping up and down in spots with his playing, not a bouncing in time thing, just a jumping to accent his note choices, it was awesome!  We broke it down towards the end and I did some wah pedal bits and changed the roots in a cool way.  Then Brent comes in for the last verse over that broken down section and it felt fantastic.  Really good shit.  

-"You're Used to Hanging On" is a really fast tune, tough to pull off but we nailed it.  Lots of nutty changes and stops, a time-shifted bridge, high on the neck bass parts and runs.  Always feels like riding a bull, just hold on for dear life and try to keep up with the band.  I thought we killed this one too.   

What About the Obligatory Bass Tone Talk?
Sounded pretty damn good last night!  The secret was volume, volume, volume.  And a new set of Rotos on the Precision of course.  And rolling off the extreme lows with my EQ pedal.  I was getting nice sustain on the upper register stuff, was really hearing the pick-on-string attacks, was able to catch the subtleties of my effect-pedal stomping.  It sounded great all night, I was really happy!  Yes, this is Steve typing this.  
The Grade
It's an A minus.  Oh, if I could only have those three bad notes back from Shape to Shift!  This might have been a straight up A.  I even sang pretty well and I have a lot of harmonizing to do in this three piece arrangement.  Had fun, felt the music in my guts, played well and freely, hit some cool runs, held it down while Brent and Forrest took off for crazy parts, tone was good, "performed" well physically without faking it.  It was a stellar night.  

Up Next

Relentless Itch at Cafe Cordial a week from today (Wednesday).  It's an acoustic trio thing and I technically need to start working on the material.  We've got a rehearsal tomorrow so I'm gonna starting practicing immediately.  Been too busy (three shows in five days with different bands) to cram any more music into my head, but now I'm ready!  Grabbing my ipod in literally seconds, let's do this!

Talk next week, thanks for reading!