1 Year, 100 Posts… and KICKSTARTER

It really has been quite the year, and I’ve had a great time sharing our progress with you for over 100 posts.  It’s time to celebrate!

We’ve launched our Kickstarter campaign today, and we’re really going for it!  $10,666 dollars, if raised before Easter Sunday, will be enough to put all of us into the studio over the next year so we can professionally produce this album.

We need help though! Metalgrass is not the most popular genre of music, but if each one of our followers shares a post on some form of social media, our project should certainly find the attention of some interested people!

Please help by spreading the word!  Take a look at our campaign, and if it jives with you, share this link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1053861957/blood-and-banjos-a-story-album-told-with-bluegrass

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone who has taken an interest in our project.  It’s fun to know that other people want to see this happen as much as we do.  Thank you all!

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Sons of Darkness

It is with great pleasure that I announce the official release of our first demo track.  Sons of Darkness has been a wild ride of editing and mixing, given contributions from over a dozen people, but I think it came together quite well in the end.

I’ve got another surprise for you, though.  We all love music, but you know what’s better?  MUSIC VIDEOS.

OK, it’s not a true music video, it’s a lyric video.  But give me some credit at least!

On top of that, we’ve also launched our official bandcamp site, designed by Lindsey! http://music.bloodandbanjos.com/ Tell your friends and family.

Without further ado, here is the lyric video.

You can download a higher quality version of the track on our bandcamp site (for free, of course.)

KICKSTARTER LAUNCHES IN 2 DAYS, WOOOOOOO!!

The folks at Pittsburgh Music Magazine recently reviewed our demo material! Look for the official release of “Sons of Darkness” next Tuesday, and of course our Kickstarter on Thursday!

PITTSBURGH MUSIC MAGAZINE

Banjos haven’t had their place in metal yet. Sure, there was that one Mastodon song, but how often do you hear acoustic instruments like the banjo among gritty guitar licks and thunderous vocal shouts? Blood & Banjos aim to change that. The band’s distinctive sound (dubbed “blackgrass”) is making motions to blend the fury of black metal with the acoustic sensibilities of bluegrass. On their way to releasing a full 10-song studio concept album, Blood & Banjos have released a 3-song demo demonstrating an eclectic genre blend that takes many of the best parts of their favorite musical fields and puts them together in shocking combinations that work out better than anyone could’ve expected.

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The demo has humble beginnings. Opening track “The Binding” is a steady, folksy jam with plenty of twang from the band’s namesake instrument. Siren vocals and steady croons glide along a banjo theme well. It’s lighter…

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There’s always room for Cello

It’s been a long time coming, but we finally got some sweet strings for The Binding.

Believe or not, I met this guy through Reddit, and it was a perfect find.  Everyone say hello to Justin from New York.

I asked Justin for a simple cello part that could provide some much needed low end.  We’ll have banjo in the mix real soon here, and with the guitar and voices, the track was just getting very top heavy.  Some nice cello work would really balance the whole thing out.

Additionally, a cello part would provide some continuity in the music.  Both the guitar and banjo are finger picked, making things just a bit choppy. Cello is slow and steady, smoothing things over.

I removed vocals so it’s just cello and guitar, but have a listen below.

I’ve only shared part of the song because there are some big decisions to make here. Patrick suggested that we completely remove vocals for the first chorus… I just might be sold on that idea.

Gang Vocals

One of the critical elements still missing from Judge, Jury, and Executioner was the gang vocals at the end.  These clearly aren’t very technically involved parts, but it does take some organizing to get a bunch of dudes together and on rhythm.

Get a case of beer though, and that’s pretty much all the motivation you need.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Townsmen.

clearly some of us were way into it…

We made sure everyone had headphones, learned the lyrics, and got into character.  There was some direction in terms of rhythm, tone, and accent, but for the most part it was basically just yelling.

“abram STONE!”

We did a few takes so we could double up the final product, and I think the results are pretty good.  Have a listen for yourself to the end of track 6 below.

Not bad!  You’ll also notice the fun I had panning the guitar chugs back and forth between left and right. Just need to work in the final vocals and banjo, which should be pretty soon here…

Mixology

Lately, Adam and I have been spending quite a few hours mixing tracks as they roll in.  This of course, is never ideal, but we gotta make do with what we have.

Why is it not ideal? Well, each instrument has two kinds of “spaces” to occupy, and it’s a careful art to balance them. Without having all the tracks in, it’s near impossible to know how to separate things appropriately.  Lucky for us, Adam knows what he’s doing.

at the helm of his battle station

One of these “spaces” I mentioned is the frequency space. For example, mandolin and banjo have similar tones, so to make sure each instrument comes through clearly we pan them to opposite sides of the listening space (space #2.)  Left and right, in other words.  Notice below how we give those instruments the most separation.

BDV in the middle stands for “Bass, Drums, and Vocals”

Guitar and fiddle have different enough frequencies that we can put them a bit closer together in your ear holes.

I could go on and on about all this theory crap, but let’s have a listen to hear what I’m talking about. Here’s a bluegrass section with brand new banjo and mandolin. In the first track, everything is centered. In the second track, however, we use the separation illustrated in the above graphic. (Use headphones for full effect.)

WHOA, where did all those instruments come from?  Panning, my friends…

Panning.

Befiddlement

If there’s anything I love about a folk arrangement, it’s a good fiddle part.  Actually, I just love the strings in general.  Cello is my absolute favorite instrument, and it just figures that I have no idea how to play one. While I may try to learn someday, I’ll probably never try to play a violin…

But that’s why we have Carter on the project. Though I should mention that fiddle isn’t his native instrument. I’ve always known him as a guitar player, but he’s recently been taking lessons via Skype, and he’s certainly becoming a solid violinist. He’s even teaching workshops on it now!

“and this is how you transition into a brutal breakdown in 5/8”

He recently recorded something for Judge, Jury, and Executioner, and I am very pleasantly surprised.  What he wrote was above and beyond what I had imagined for the fiddle part.  The quiet breakdown part has now become a highlight for me.  Here it is, with vocals removed so you can hear the instrumentation.

All we’re missing now is banjo and vocals from Dan, the Town Mayor! Oh right, we also need some gang vocals at the end of the song as well.  I guess I should buy a case of beer and get the guys to come over sometime soon…