Reimagining I Want You To Want Me

If there is something I’ve learned – everyone wants to be heard by someone else; they also want others to want them. Have need for them. To love them.

There really isn’t a more definitive song about wanting others to want you than the infamous song penned by Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick.

I Want You To Want Me

I Want You

Actually I wish I had written this song. I’ve toyed with it for a long time. When I play it live solo acoustic, I slow it down and I stretch it out.

I tried recording it once.

Then I tried recording it again.

And again.

I was never quite satisfied with how I was conveying what I heard in my head as I interpreted the song.

Things Change

If you didn’t know, I’m working on musical endeavors outside of my artist persona. Thus I brought the concept of how to cover I Want You To Want Me to a co-producing friend of mine. We’ve been toiling over 30 original tracks for the past year and I decided we should heap on 10 more songs, 10 covers of classic hits in the style of our project. This is not something I would have considered even a year ago.

Last week I began rethinking and retracking all the parts, while I let my partner come up with a viable drum part and a few other odds and ends. The biggest trick was how to approach the vocals so that they became modern but were an ode to the era they came from.

Praise

Two days ago I finally finished the mix and got it mastered.

I want you to be able to hear it.

Turns out that friends who have already heard it have been saying things like:

“Dig this version!! Great vocals!”

“Love, love love how your voice sounds on this!”

“I just might love this better than the original.”

I’m not sure how soon it will come to the light of the world via streaming services or via a license for use. But I Want You To Want Me as reimagined by Razor Wire is definitely something you should hear. I hope it will be sooner than later.

p.s. – subscribe to my email list to stay informed of releases!

Perfection of Music

Perfection can lead to trouble. The deep divide is coming. It seems everywhere I’ve been turning lately there is a deep divide based on people’s ideals of what they believe is perfection. Whether its in music or in ideology, people are becoming less tolerant of those who do not share their same taste or view.

I think forward. I’m always thinking forward. If a new sound comes out, I want to hear it. That’s the musician side of me.

Perfection

I think perfection. I didn’t always think perfection. Always do the best you can do, that was beaten into my head while growing up. I now take that very seriously as I produce music. As I start achieving what I hear as musical perfection, I notice how so many others do not understand it.

I love to help out musician friends and other up coming talent. What invariably happens every time I do this is a culminating point of frustration with the person I’ve brought in to work with. This is especially true with those who work day jobs outside of music. The general reason for the frustration stems from being unable to execute an idea.

Usually a budding musician will want to play their instrument or sing. I get it. Its a pride thing. As a full-time musician and often a producer, I’m more interested in the perfection of the performance and I care how I get to the end result. I wasn’t always that way, but I developed that mindset. Its not a common mindset.

Throughout the history of music there are numerous cases of where the writer/composer/artist is not the person on the recordings. Some cases become public, but most of the time no one is the wiser. In some cases, even the artist isn’t aware that its not them.

Is this problematic?

This could be determined by whether you believe that content is king. I’m one of those that believe content is king. The song is the master. Everything has to serve it. The performances, the mixing, the mastering, they all contribute.

The only time when I believe its a major problem is when attempting to use one singer’s voice as the voice for another front person. Aside from voices for the artist, I’m fair game with anything else to make sure that performance works. Why? The human voice is extremely personal and one that you can’t replace – a voice is the same as a fingerprint.

Common Argument

Often when confronted with the technological advances in recording, musicians will reference the purity of the Beatles and their recording process. What this tells me is that they don’t know how the Beatles used the technology they had available to them at the time they were in their heyday.

If you, as a listener or musician, fall into the camp that the Beatles were pure about their recordings, then its likely you’re not aware of all the techniques they used. The Beatles used every available trick in the book they could to achieve their goals. Sometimes going as far as to invent new ways to record sounds. One of my favorites is that they would change the tape speed in order to slow down the tape to make it easier for them to play a part. Then they would speed the tape back up to full speed to make it sound like they performed that music at tempo.

I believe the Beatles would have used pitch correctors, and time shifters to their advantage had the technology been available to them. Why? Because they were cutting edge and strove for perfection.

Currently

For some reason, when a musician uses today’s tools at their disposal they are considered to be cheating when going after that perfection. When in reality they are attempting to achieve the sonic goal they hear in their head. At least that’s how I envision it.

Conclusion

I’m not going to hide the fact that I make use of all kinds of technology to make music happen. In the recording process, I use a computer to track everything. In the mixing process I use all kinds of plugins to remove noise, correct timing (if its not grossly out), tune pitch (sometimes for a performance, sometimes as a means to create an entirely new sound), create space, etc. My entire musical chain is Digital from start to finish including my guitar rig when I perform live.

Perfection of Jody's music on Spotify

When I confront an artist that I’m working with or producing, I will explain the how’s and why’s of making use of the technology. Often once its explained, they have no issue with it.

I don’t use technology to deceive, I use it to enhance.

Hear Different Rhythms

Its late at night. I’m in the studio working on different rhythms for the vocal and lyrics in a new song.

ukulele in the studio

Process

This particular song has been going thru a long process of rewrites. I had the initial idea for it a good long time ago. I laid down a demo of the song, then left it in a pile of 70+ other songs that were eventually going to pulled back out and tweaked for release.

Voting

Those 70+ songs got voted on in an effort to eventually do a classic example of a album. Voted on by a select group of fans. Then I wised up and took a look at how people consume music – they listen to streaming services and singles. Understanding that led me to switching spending time on each individual song as its own entity to be polished to perfection.

voting-different-rhythms

Rewrite

I was poking around my hard drive of songs and realized that recent events really dictated that I pull this particular song back out and give it some serious attention. I took it out of its original hard driving hard rock format and turned it into a pop bound rocker that is much more modern in arrangement. Keeping the same drive but really adding a slew of elements to propel the song in to a much wider audience of listeners.

Lyrics

After the arrangement was up to snuff filled with little nuanced tracks, it came time to work on lyrics. The track is flowing with such force that I felt the original lyrics were lacking. The idea was there but the focus was off. Not as laser sharp as it should be; and this was already the 3rd incarnation of the lyrics. I started bouncing rewrites off of friends. I removed two lines and replaced them with a better idea. Where my first idea was saying the same thing as another line in the song (but the second line said it better). Then I changed the title / hook of the song. The original title was apparently too passive and I wanted action!

lyrics-different-rhythms

Different Rhythms

Once the lyrics got tweaked, it required retooling the melody, or rather retooling the rhythms of the verse. Why would I work on different rhythms? Primarily, I had to get used to the new flow of the lyrics. Also I want to make sure I keep the song going in a way that the listener wants to hit that repeat button to listen to the song again and again. Which is where I sit right now. I spent a couple of hours trying various ways to play with the rhythm of what I was singing. I narrowed it down to two different rhythms that I really like.

What gets me is how people react. A first reaction can tell me if I’m really on the right track. Usually I don’t bring a lot of other people in on the process of my writing, but I felt like hey, I could use some help on which different rhythms I should go with for this verse.

I already know the chorus is an anthemic banger. Yet I need to make sure my verse compels you to get to my chorus. Its that simple. Once I have which of the different rhythms I’m going with for the verse, I can start going to town on the vocals and really make it fly.

End Run

My goal is to get this particular song ready and released by January 20th. There’s a significance to that date for this song and if you’re a U.S. citizen – you would be well to know why. If not, I weep. For everyone else, its still going to be an awesome song to bounce along to and play loud and proud in an arena or your party.

When Good Monitor Goes Bad

When Good Monitor Goes Bad

A couple of nights ago I was working my way thru the re-recording of a song demo. It started with a guitar part that maybe 2 people in this town could play, me being the other one. There I was going knee deep into the studio zone of percussion. I had finished the drum parts when I started to take on adding additional epic cinematic drum hits. Midway thru the 3 track of said epic drums there was a sudden quick drop in volume and low end.

Boop.

Gone.

missing-monitor

Where Did It Go

I tilt my gaze over to the left side of the studio thinking that maybe a Gremlin, or quite possibly a house elf, had taken the monitor speaker to another dimension. Alas my eyes weren’t being deceiving as the monitor speaker was still there. Dammit.

Nothing like losing half the sound right in the middle of the take.

Next up was an endless series of troubleshooting steps. First thought was, hey, maybe the power went out. Flip the switch on and off, still no sound. Maybe something went out in the monitor volume device. Nope. After switching the cables between speakers it was still showing as working out of both outputs for the remaining speaker.

Call A Friend

Pensive, not quite panicked, phone call to a fellow studio friend. Explain the problem of the monitor speaker. Words come drifting back thru the speakerphone saying “Did you check the fuse in the speaker?”

Hmmm.

I take another gander at the speaker’s enclosure. Search high and low. Up. Down. Left. Right. Front. Back. Nada. There is no fuse for the speaker to blow. Dang it.

Website Visit

Knowing that the speaker is no longer manufactured, I grudgingly pull up the website to see if there’s information about getting repairs and to peruse the what-replaced-this-model version of their speaker line.

After drooling over what could replace the model I have in the studio, I make a note to Siri to remind me call the company in the morning to get a repair ticket going.

monitor-brother

Here Come The Headphones

The disappointment of a monitor giving up soon abates. How do I proceed with my next recording session? A recording that needs to be recorded, mixed, and mastered before 11 am the following morning.  Hmmm. In come the headphones. There is no other choice after a certain time of night when all normal humans have gone off to visions of sugarplums and cherries.

Producing high quality recordings via headphones isn’t the most ideal means. However, when the chips are down and the music must go on, you make do by crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

It All Works Out

I got the session done. Turned it over to the co-writer for the purposes of submission to a distant land for a commercial use. When you get feedback stating “It sounds great.” You thank your stars that you didn’t have to attempt to mix without some form of stereo sound.

The beauty of it is, the speaker company is able to repair the monitor for a price considerably less than the new alternative. The added icing on the cake is that you now have an in to chat about possible endorsement. That’s priceless.

In Closing

I can’t wait for you to hear the fruits of this labor. Unfortunately you will have to wait until sometime early in the new year of 2017. There’s still more recording and production that needs to be done. Ooh, and mixing it. Finally mastering it. Its a process that will be interrupted by a little thing called Christmas and New Years.

Stay Tuned.

New Music Is Coming

The world is going nuts, good thing I’ve got new music coming soon.nightwatch

With the recent developments of BREXIT, the upcoming election that feels like its being brought to us by Parker Brothers ala monopoly, and two police shootings that are at best point blank executions, plus the DOJ putting the nails in the coffin for songwriters, there’s no doubt that it feels like we’re coming apart at the seems. Despite all the nuttiness in the world, I’ve been hard at work creating new music.

New Music To Release

My next single will be released on your favorite streaming service and will be called Thump Thump Thump. Spotify is my go to streaming service. Go follow me on Spotify!

New Music On TV

My Nightwatch Theme is still fronting Nightwatch New Orleans for Season 3 starting this fall. Plus there is more music that I created that shall be heard in episodes of Season 3. Hear Midnight Romp on Spotify!

There’s another new TV show coming this fall with more of my music. Hard Corps is the name of the show and its being backed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Pretty excited to see Hard Corps air!

New Music On The Web

If you’re a fan of Top Golf, you know, the awesome location not far from you where you can smash golf balls with friends, enjoy a drink and some food. Then you might want to trip by their website: http://topgolf.com Why? Well, to watch the opening video of course. Yours truly along with my good buddy Chris Hellstrom wrote all the music in commercial.

In Other News

Been making some amazing changes in the studio. I’ve picked up some amazing plugins from Universal Audio. Immediately following the new plugins I was recording a song with my co-writer Johnny Elkins. I sent him the mix of the song. He called me back to tell me his wife came to tears with the song and the recording. While the improvements are possibly subtle to most people, its those tiny differences that make all the difference to getting a performance to translate at a deeper level. Thank you Universal Audio!

As per the image that precedes this post you can see that I have new signature picks from Dunlop. There are several new types and the most awesome part about them is that the printing on them lasts much longer. Thank you Jim Dunlop! I especially like the new white ones.

I picked up a couple of new microphones as well. The M-80 and the M-81 from Telefunken. Put them both to good use recording music for the aforementioned TV shows. You’ll also see them on stage with me as they’re going to be my live vocal mics.

In Closing

I’m creating some fun playlists on Spotify. Every week I’m adding a song to Throwing Back Thursdays and Funky Fridays. <– Follow them and send me your suggestions. Oh, then there’s this playlist dedicated to shredding guitarists Shred Masters of Guitar. Did I leave your favorite shredder out?

I’m knee deep in recreating my entire catalog of released music into my new live guitar rig. My HIVE system is completed, now I’m updating all my guitar sounds and saving them in the HIVE (MacBook Pro, MainStage, Line 6, Studio Devil, RedWirez, Universal Audio, HIVE foot pedal). Its a bit of a process but oh what fun its been to rethink how I’ll play my songs and how you’ll perceive them live. Its like being a kid in a candy store again.

Have a great weekend!

HIVE Is Alive

HIVE Is Alive:

The custom foot controller, HIVE, that I’ve been chatting about in the past couple of months, has finally been completed!

IMG_1145Months of thinking about design and functionality are finally over. The longest bit was the construction of the casing. Despite a quote of a 1 week turnaround, it ended up being 7 weeks.

Once the case was in my hands there were three days of soldering the internal wiring and a late night session of a little rewiring of the LED lights.

Add an additional three days of reading manuals and figuring out how to code the brain of the unit to be able to work the software I’ll be using in conjunction with it. And voilà – HIVE is alive!

What Is HIVE:

The plain and simple is that its a midi foot controller. With 11 buttons and two real time controllers. The real genius is the computer monitor that gives real time visual feedback of what the computer is doing. It was inspired by the Chewie Monsta. However this is much more versatile in application.

Pure speculation on my part that is. Ed Sheeran’s pedal only deals with looping as far as I know.

I will be using HIVE for my live performances for solo acoustic and full band events.

In the not so distant future I’ll be posting videos of how it works and how I’ll be using it. Until then… stay musical!

 

Putting My Producer Hat On

Pick up a gig as a producer is how I’m getting the new year kicked off with a bang. Though I actually got a really great bang of a kick-off this year as I rang it in in Sydney Australia.

As I freeze frame the video above from Sydney, I can see a pretty brunette looking at me shooting the crowd. Funny what you catch after the fact. The other fun thing is that its the first video I’ve put online that actually had a slightly viral take. Over 234,000 views in less than 12 hours. I now understand the desire to have big numbers.

Beyond the video, I’m sitting down to be the producer for a Utah metal band known as The Book. Chances are you’re asking yourself, why the hell would a pop/rock artist be producing a Utah metal band. One that’s slightly thrashy at that. The answer is: The lead guitarist was my first rock guitar teacher. I wanted to give back to the man that got me started down the road to musical amazingness.

There was one stipulation to them that I mentioned prior to starting the process. They had to be open and willing to allow me to have them change anything without a fight. No, I’m not going to make them do a pop song. Instead I had them play me what they thought were their 4 best songs and I chose the one that I felt had the most potential.

Act one: After getting the demo I chopped up the arrangement so that it would make more sense.

Scene One: Recording the drums. That was an adventure to say the least.

Scene Two: Editing drums.

Scene Three: Recording Guitars part one.

So far no issues with the process. Phrase that made me laugh the most so far, “I worked my ass off.” I merely responded with a chuckle and a quick quip stating the work hasn’t even begun yet.

At the studio for recording the drums the engineer mentioned that he’d never witnessed a producer that actually had the balls to tell a band or band member what to do in the recording process. I let him know that the band agreed to allow me to push them in the appropriate direction as needed to get the best possible result. Besides, the ideal job of a music producer is to let band know when something isn’t working and they can’t hear it.

So far no arguments and only a lot of hey that’s turning out really cool comments.

Dragging an 80s style metal band into 2015 is certainly going to be an adventure for me as a producer. Thrash Metal will never be the same after this gets dressed up and unleashed on the world.

The saga will continue.

I Answer Your Twitter Questions

Twitter Questions AnsweredYesterday I tweeted that I’d take questions from Twitter followers. It’s the first time I went out and asked what burning questions my Twitter followers, I figured I ought to actually make a video for it and answer on camera. That’s exactly what I did.

Took a little time out of my mixing schedule to answer your questions. It was fun! I got some interesting questions that ranged from why our current president is following me to ones that I’ve actually been asked numerous times.

Your Twitter Questions

Transcript Questions:

1. How are you? and what is your opinion of Nickelback? (@IndieAppleTree)

2. How does it feel to be followed by @BarackObama ()

3. Do You know Jacob Whitesides? ( & @Ribka_sitorus)

4. Are you related to Jacob Whitesides? ()

5. WHERE YOU AT HOUSTON YESTERDAY? (@qtxgrier)

6. Are you related? ()

7. I need you to tweet the boys from 1D to follow me bc you are verified, will you do that? (@zainbigdick)

Transcript of the video:

Hey! You caught me here in the studio. I’ve been working on a song with a good buddy of mine by the name of Claude J Woods Jr. Amazing singer. This is a song we have co-written together called “Supernova”. And right now I’m gonna take some time out and read questions to you that I have gotten via Twitter.

Question #1 comes from Indie. How are you? And what is your opinion of Nickelback?

Well, I’m doing very well at this point. I had a surgery not to long ago, if you went back through some tweets. And I’m on the tail end of the recovery on it. The doc has given me the thumbs up and says that I’m doing okay. And I believe I have about another week to a week and a half before I can start doing workouts again. Because I like to workout just about every day of the week.

As far as the second half of your question, what my opinion is of Nickelback. Personally, I happen to like several of their songs. I think they’re a very successful band and anybody that thinks otherwise is obviously fooling themselves. They guys do stadium tours and play to huge throngs of crowds. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Personally, I’d like to be playing those kind of stadiums at this point and that should hopefully be happening towards the end of 2015. We’ll see.

The next question is from Cherry, Cherry Doley I believe the name is and asks: how does it feel to be followed by Barack Obama?

You know, its an interesting thing. I’ve no idea how to react to that. Mostly because he followed me out of the blue. I don’t think it was Barack Obama himself that followed me. As far as I know, that Twitter account is the political campaign for Barack Obama. And occasionally he does tweet out of it and when apparently he does tweet out of it is it signed with a little bo. How does it feel? I think its pretty darn cool to be followed by the first President of the U.S. that is of non white descent in America.

This next question comes from Kristin Holly and another by the name of Ribka Sitorus. I hope I’m saying those names right. The question is, do I know Jacob Whitesides?

The answer to the question is: I know of him. I have never actually met Jacob. I’m sure he’s a fantastic guy. I know he does music much like I do. I’ve never actually met the guy, so I can’t say that I know him personally. There’s your answer.

The next question is very similar to the last question, this one comes from Abbie. Hello, was just wondering if you are related to Jacob Whitesides?

This is something that I’ve gotten asked quite a bit on twitter. And the answer is, I don’t know. I know that originally when Jacob and I started following each other on Twitter we had no idea either. So the reality is we don’t know if we’re related. Nobody’s done any research into it, so there’s no way to know it from that aspect of it. That’s really all there is to say about it. We don’t actually know if we’re related. We both have a very unique last name that is not widely popular. It is highly possible, but we just don’t know.

The next question comes from Ruby. The question is: Where you at Houston Yesterday?

And I believe that means, was I in Houston yesterday? And the answer to that question is: No. I was actually here in the studio. I was working on this mix for this song called “Supernova”. Have I been to Houston? Yes, I have. Was I there yesterday? No, I was not.

The next question comes from Kat. Kat asks are you related? Unfortunately Kat I have no idea who you are asking me if I’m related to. If you are asking me if I’m related to my sister, or my mom, or my dad – I’d say yes I am.

If you’re asking me if I’m related to a musician by the name of Danny Whitesides. Who is the drummer for The Used. The answer to that question is: Yes, we are related. We are 2nd cousins.

If you’re asking me if I’m related to someone like say Barack Obama. The answer to that is, I have no idea. Chances are no. If I’m related to somebody, need to get a little more specific please.

The next question comes from someone who goes by the letter H. And that question is: I need you to tweet the boys from 1D to follow me because you are verified. And actually the precursor to that question for her saying that was, would you do something for me via direct message on Twitter.

H. the answer is, I cannot. And the reason for that is, is I have done that a few times in the past and it has never worked out for anybody unfortunately. Just because I’m verified and they’re verified does not mean that we actually know each other. I believe one of the guys from One Direction does follow me, I do follow him back. But we have never exchanged tweets. We’ve never exchanged any kind of information of any sort on Twitter. So unfortunately any I’ve asked somebody to follow another person, it has never worked. And I don’t think having the verified symbol on the account makes me any different. I wish it did. But I don’t think it does.

Thank you everyone who posted questions to me on Twitter. That’s all I’ve got for right now. Pay attention, because I will ask again. For those who wanna ask me questions, you’ll get your answers via video.

Thank you and have a great day.

Enjoy, get your questions ready for the next round!

Beaming Like A Supernova

supernova studioHow do you write a tune about a Supernova?

A little like this. You play basketball with a bunch of guys who all work in the music industry. Guitar players, singers, bassists, drummers, mixers, etc. Jumping around pretending to be NBA type players. There’s a lot of shit talking and then saying hey, we should make some music. Such is the case for myself and Claude J Woods. We met playing basketball.

We started with a tune called Keep The Swagg Up – very Hip Hop. The second one we wrote was Whipped again more hip hop in nature. This time around it’s more of an urban pop R&B type thing called Supernova.

Step inside with me as I play you a clip of the song as I’m working on the mix.

Supernova

transcript:

Working on a song called: Supernova. And it
sounds a little something like this.

You’re more than a star
You’re beaming like a Supernova
That just blasted through my heart and took over

 

Have a great day!

More Guitars To Record

more guitarsA late night discussion last night with my co-producer led to a statement of more guitars! That is what is being called for in the final stages of American Mayhem production. As a guitar player I don’t really have a problem with recording more guitars. It’s what I do. Earlier today I thought I’d bring you in on part of my little journey of laying down more guitars. Layers baby. Layers.

Watch as I screw up. Ha ha ha.

Ah the life of a professional musician. Sometimes it takes more than one take. Or even more than one guitar. The true awesomeness is when it all comes together and sounds spectacular.

More Guitars

Enjoy the journey, can’t wait for you to hear the final product when it comes time to get it out to your ears.

It’s epic.

That’s an understatement.

Stay tuned for more.