Getting Personal

I promise we’re getting some great music recorded soon, but I thought I’d take a hot second to talk some background.

So far, we know I’m a dude from Northern Michigan who plays music… Well, it goes a bit deeper than that, but I’m not going to pour my life story out here.

To be brief, I’m a 26 year old aerospace engineer who lives in California and has a deep passion for all music.  I’ve been playing acoustic guitar since I was 13, but quickly joined a band as a bass guitarist after that.  What were we called?  Flock of Cows… leave it to 13 year olds to come up with a good band name.

this was seriously our first album cover as high school freshman…

We recorded another couple of albums through high school, and eventually changed our name to DQ = Victory whilst releasing a decent sounding EP.  Hell, we even had some sweet promo pics done.

train tracks… so intense

Unfortunately, as a band of 4 students at 4 different universities, it was hard to envision a common future.  We all had different career goals… so we split up.  😦

Check out the final track of our 2007 EP below…

Anyhow, I’ve been out in California for a few years now, and have been doing nothing productive with my music.  Thank goodness for this project though, now I have some purpose!

I just recently picked up electric guitar, and I’m having a blast writing songs.  As a rhythm player, you will definitely notice that my music lacks some flare that a lead guitar would bring.  I think I’m well suited to lay the foundation for the songs though, and now we have drafts for all 10 tracks of the album.  Things are going well!

Luckily for me, I also have some great friends and family to help make this happen.  So in conclusion, here’s a picture of me with the mustache I’ve been growing for Movember. Respek.

this stache will be gone in about 2 days…

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Draft of Track 5

Before now, track 5 was the only draft that we’ve been missing.  The title clearly tells you that this is no longer the case.

You may not be aware of this, but Jake is also pretty deadly on the keys.  We talked about bringing piano in for the instrumental track 5, and he said he’d work on a composition.

I, however, was in no way prepared for what I just received!

I expected a 1-2 minute piece to break up tracks 4 and 6, but what I got instead was 7.5 minute composition fit for a movie score!  Press play below, and we’ll continue the discussion…

The synth strings can be a bit overbearing at times, but by now you should be accustomed to understanding what “first draft” means.

I love the soundcloud display, because you can clearly see that the song has very distinct movements.  My favorite movement begins at about 2:50.  (And Jake reminds us that he is, in fact, human at about 4:44.)

At 5:06, Jake plays the progression that I wrote for the ending of track 9.  I like the thematic use of it…

Also, the ending rhythm is intended to lead right into track 6 (Jake matched the tempos specifically for that purpose.)

Overall, Jake put a ton of work making this piece, and tied themes of Abram’s transformation into the composition.  It’s really amazing that he did this so quickly.

Will we use it all?  I’m not sure… Such a long instrumental really breaks up the flow of the album, so I’m hesitant to put it in there as is.  Jake and I will discuss, and see what we come up with.

Track 7 graduates from MIDI

I know everyone loves MIDI drums, but sometimes… well, sometimes it’s just better when you know that there’s a real person at the end of those sticks.

I remember seeing Genghis Tron live a few years back, and don’t get me wrong- those guys are awesome.

But, man… without an actual drummer on stage, the show just lacked something. See for yourself…

Some bands are just better in the studio…

Anyhow, Jake and I had a good conversation about the drums for track 7, and it just so happens that he was able to borrow some nicer equipment for recording.  The result is our best sounding drum track yet!

Before I go on any further, here’s the sound file.

You’ll notice I put the angels back into the beginning to see how it sounds with my draft vocals.  Not a bad combination actually!  We’ll see if Patrick decides to take the same melody though.

It’s amazing what a difference well-recorded drums can make.  And this was still done in his basement!  I’m excited to think about how this might sound if done in a proper studio… maybe someday.

I think you can still hear how empty everything is.  We need to get some more instruments in there, asap.

Scratch vocals for Track 2

Track 2 has some good vocal potential, but it’s also a critical lyrical part of the album.  It’s the first track with lyrics, and it has to set the stage (in terms of plot) for the rest of the album.

Picture, if you can, our main character Abram playing banjo by the fire.  He’s singing to himself, and contemplating his desire for more in his life.  He prays to God, but gets a reply from someone else

“you got this one, Jesus?”           “nah man, it’s all you!”

Yes, this is where Satan (appearing as Jesus) steps in, and explains how Abram must kill his wife before she births the antichrist. Bummer.

I had some good fun writing the devil’s lyrics.  First off, I just had to put “fuck” in there somewhere.  The idea of “Jesus” appearing to Abram and dropping an f-bomb was just too entertaining to ignore!  Secondly, I had to think of how Satan would refer to himself.  Lucifer? The Dark Prince? Nah, I decided that he would probably go with something more prestigious, hence The Morning Star.

I finished half of the lyrics, and used my unpolished voice as a demonstration of how they might be sung.  As usual, I want to reiterate that I will not be the final vocalist!  This is just a rough draft.

Here are the lyrics so far.
Abram is in black, and Jesus (played by Satan) is in red.

By the fire, a cup of whiskey, and a banjo on my knee
oh this is all any man should need
but there’s an emptiness, a longing in my heart
and I’ve been spending all my time praying
for a new day a new life
cause what I’m given never seems to suffice

Wait and see? why must i wait and see?
Oh father up above answer me!

OH my son!
I’ve heard your prayers
And I’ve come to help you out!

Now you must listen
To your messiah
To the one true Jesus Christ!

It’s gonna be a long ride!
And though you’ll make it out alive
it breaks my fucking heart

to have to tell you
that I
cannot say the same
for your
beloved wife!

In her womb
dwells the son
of the Morning Star!

There are a couple lines after this, but I have to fit them in better… They are sung by Abram:

You ask too much of me!

and

I know my name.

Let me know what you think so far!

Jake & I Discuss Drums

Writing music with people all over the country has been less than ideal.  Through the marvels of modern technology, however, we are afforded at least some kind of facetime as a band.  The other night, Jake and I had a Skype date to discuss the drum parts for track 4, 6, and 7.

skype is better drunk. not relevant to this post… but i’m just sayin

As you can see, I had a guitar in hand and we both had the music files.  However, most of our communication was done via shitty beatboxing, and humming guitar parts.  As the bassist and drummer of our former band, Jake and I have a good musical connection and can communicate very well.

“It’s right at the, you know… DUN DUN DUUNNNNNN tss tss TING diga diga PSSSHHHH… part”

Anyhow, there were some key parts of tracks 4 and 6 that needed some updating.  Nothing too major, but Jake and I needed to get on the same page.  With his rough drafts done, it was pretty easy to identify very specific tweaks.  Overall, it was a pretty efficient process!

We’re both pretty excited to hear the next versions of these songs.

Return of the Angels

I may not have lyrics for track 2 yet, but I am pretty damn pleased with the vocal parts that Amanda, Lindsey, and I just wrote.

We got together just like last time: notepads, instruments, and drinks at the ready.

writing melodies, indian style.

There are a couple of breaks in track 2, and for the second one (right after the “chorus”) I wanted some oohs and ahhs.  I knew the melody that I wanted to sing, but we were going for 3 part harmony here. (Last time we met, we only had 2 parts to tackle…)

We also decided that making discrete “whoa-oh-ohs” would be pretty sweet too.  The interplay of vocals is subtle, but fun when you pay attention!

i have no idea what i’m doing…

Again, it took about two hours to write and record parts that we were happy with, and I think we did pretty well. While we had a decent mix after recording, I still spent an hour or two last evening editing and mixing the levels until I was content with sharing the file.

You might also notice that I put my voice in the middle, Lindsey in the right ear, and Amanda in the left.

Anyhow, the 24 second clip below represents about 10 person-hours of work, so enjoy!