I was in the middle of working on another post when the news of Eddie Van Halen passing away jumped out at me as a notification on my computer screen. WTF?!?
As a guitar player, that kinda hits pretty hard. Mainly because he was one of the most influential guitarists in the history of guitar. It was common knowledge that he did have throat cancer, but last I had heard he had it beaten back. Apparently that really wasn’t the case, or maybe I misinterpreted the prior news when it was first announced he had gotten it and was dealing with it.
Whatever the case may be, the world of music has been smashed in the face yet again in 2020. I texted a friend immediately on seeing the news asking: can 2020 get any more fuckin worse? People are making “bingo” cards of all the crazy shit that could happen in 2020 – I’m guessing no-one had Eddie Van Halen dying on their playfield. I certainly didn’t.
In the grand scheme of the world, most people may never understand.
What makes it kinda crazy to me is that there was a point early on in my career where I had a parallel to Eddie. While attending music school a buddy of mine, Justin Sayne, wanted one of the pickups out of my first guitar, a Fender Squire Strat. We spent an afternoon in my apartment pulling the strings off, the pick guard off and then he took his drill out with a massive drill bit. See he wanted a fender single coil and was willing to give me a humbucker in exchange. We had to drill out the body of the guitar in order to fit the humbucker into the space where the single coil was previously ensconced.
It was true guitar hackery in its basest form. No measuring tools, no router, just pure human eyeballing of how deep and wide to drill into the wood each time as we removed wood. It looked absolutely awful when we got done. Then we had to hack the pickguard. Again, no router, no means of measuring other than placing the pickup on the pickguard and outlining where the intent was to melt it out with a soldering iron. Yeah, you read that right.
There we were in a studio apartment with a hot soldering iron trying to be delicate with staying on the line to punch out multiple holes to remove the excess plastic to fit the pickup in. It smelled awful and stunk up the place. Once we got done with melting it out, we had to sand it smooth so it didn’t look excessively stupid.
We got it all wried up and reassembled. That was my trial by fire to modify a guitar. Much like Eddie’s infamous frankentstein guitar. He built that from scrap parts and assembled it to be something that he wanted that wasn’t really on the market. Of course when we did this there were plenty of guitars on the market that were Fenders with two single coils and a humbucker. As a starving music student, you don’t have the option of picking up new guitars all the time. So it was born out of a trade of necessity.
Over the years I made additional modifications to the very same guitar.
After music school I opted to give it a custom paint job. This was an undertaking not unlike Eddie’s as well. He was notorious for stripping guitars and spray painting them with various colors. Mostly using tape and making bold shapes. My adventure was a tad different. Having a father that is known as one of the most influential graphic illustrators in art history, I had a bit more of a guided approach. Once I pulled the guitar apart, it took me days to remove the cherry red paint job that Fender had originally given the guitar. Days. Days of hard sanding. It felt like forever getting all the layers of that shit off. Once I got done with removing the paint I ended up thinking I wanted a single humbucker pickup instead of the 3 pickup guitar it was.
Next step was filling in the unneeded pickup holes. That took a few days as well. It took a lot of wood filler and time to dry. Despite taking my time, I still managed to screw it up. The wood filler shrank more after the paint was put on and if one looks closely at the body, the outline of the old pickup holes can be seen.
My dad tried to research what type of paint he should use for the images that were going on the guitar. We didn’t really have a direct line to any guitar manufacturers at that time, remember I was still learning how to play. Even though I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life, I was a total unknown from a small town. Eventually someone told him to use auto body paint for its durability. He bought some different colors that were needed for the paint job and started to make his stencils for the scene depicted on the guitar. Once he started painting with his airbrush, he got a bit agitated. What the problem was is, auto body paint is super thick, not very viscous. He clogged his super expensive airbrush meant for much more delicate work. It took time to clean it out and then figure out how to thin out the paint and stop it from clogging the apparatus.
He got the image done and we took it somewhere to put a clear coat on it. I’m guessing it was auto body clear coat. Not the kind of clear coat that guitars would normally get. Something in the clear coat process muffed up the image of the snake in a spot or two. My dad had to paint over it a bit more to fix it, then we sent it out for more clear coat. Again, something that you wouldn’t see from a distance but up close you can see a bit of the layers in the paint job, which kinda gives it a bit of 3D effect up close.
I call it my Desert Guitar. You can see why.
That wasn’t the end of the modifications. While Eddie eventually had multiple guitar makers fanning all over him to be his next guitar maker, I had my friend Justin. Eddie’s Frankenstein guitar got laser measured to be able to match the feel of his well worn neck. Modern tech allowed Ernie Ball to computer cut new guitars to feel like his monster. For me, I haven’t reached that point. However, at one point in an airport while hanging with the boys from The Boogie Knights, the guitar player John was playing on my Desert Guitar. He loved the feel then took one look at the headstock and said: That looks so 80’s metal.
I had a moment. A moment of like, fuck I don’t represent that and I don’t want my guitar to scream that either. I got on the phone with Justin as he was making guitars for a living (still does). The neck I had was a “Jackson” style Warmoth replacement neck for Fenders. I said, can we do something about the headstock to make it look less 80’s metal. Justin asked me to send the neck to him. Once home I whipped that neck off the guitar and shipped it out to Justin. He asked if I had any ideas and I said: just make it look not metal. I didn’t have a plan and modifying something like a headstock isn’t really the easiest thing. Justin did what he could and sent it back to me.
At first I was like WTF happened?!? Justin lopped off the pointy end and put some strange grooves in the front of it, which meant a need to put the machine head for the high E string somewhere else. I didn’t want to buy a new neck because much like Eddie’s main axe, I had this neck broken in to feel great when playing. So I had to learn to enjoy the new look. I also had to get used to the fact that the machine head for the high E operates backwards from how most bottom of the headstock machine heads work because it was originally on the top. I still use it this way now.
I’m not sure if Eddie ever loaned his guitars to friends. He probably did. Wolfie, Alex, Valerie, Ted, any of you know? Due to my living arrangements, meaning that I lived with Jeff Scott Soto, I had multiple musicians in my orbit and lot of them were awesome guitar players. Because I was the resident guitar player and had quite a few guitars in the condo, my axes would give picked up and played by more players than I. Lots of guitar players aren’t very good with this, but it never bothered me.
The Desert Guitar was always the one people tended to gravitate towards. I can think of a couple of reasons for this. One, the paint job. Two, the headstock. Three, the simplicity of it, it had a single humbucker and one volume knob. Four, it sounded really damn good. Whatever it was, guitarists that played always wanted to borrow it for recordings. I was happy to oblige if I wasn’t using it. Thus my Desert Guitar has been on even more recordings than I used it for.
The weird thing is, nothing about the guitar screams well built, accurate measure, etc. What I mean is, it should sound awful and feel like shit. The exact opposite is true. It feels great and sounds great. We all know Eddie’s guitars sounded great and people that buy the worn in versions from his template say they feel great too. Which goes to show, you don’t always need a perfect instrument to be a great player or to sound amazing.
Now that I’ve spewed all that out while listening to Van Halen for the past couple of hours. I’m going to leave you with this…
We’ll always have the legacy that Ed left, but its highly unlikely there will ever be a guitarist as mind-blowing as Ed was. He took the instrument places most people will never go. For that we should all be grateful. There are those of us who will really miss you Eddie Van Halen. Thank you for doing what you did and how you did it.
We’re all in a state of what the fuck right now. Knee deep in the era of COVID-19 where people are lost. The smart ones are sheltering in place, especially where they’ve been ordered to. The bold one are going on with their lives like they’re invincible and it won’t get them. The worriers #1 are running around wondering if they’re going to fall ill. The worriers #2 are scared the economy is going to collapse. At least this is the vibe I’ve been getting from the media and from a plethora of social media posts. You know the kind, where you can pretend you’re having a scintillating conversation and hoping that you’re going to change the other person’s mind. Though the reality is, they think you’re stupid and visa versa.
I have a lot of musician friends who are scrambling because all their gigs dried up. They’re not making money. So they take their live show online to live stream it and are now part of the cacophony of all the other artists doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Yes, I’ve done a live stream or two, only due to being asked to do it. I didn’t promote them and yet they still garnered some viewing numbers that surprised me. The reason why might be having recording quality sound live, not just a laptop mic.
This led me down a path of looking into means of doing more of them, but as a show. Research is also the name of my game. I’ve put my learning cap on and figured out how to expand it plus make it easier to do. Those first two were a pain in the ass because it involved too many steps. Not any more. What’s the plan for the show, two songs, some chatter chat chat and a cover. No particular order.
Do I plan on promoting it prior to doing it. No.
Reason? I’m tired of promoting things. There’s a happy place for me in the process of creation. The unhappy place is the promoting of myself because I’ve done something. Totally antithetical to any unknown musician. All you ever hear is how awesome they are. How brilliant they are and then you listen and the reality of it all smacks you in the face. Not all musicians are awesome. That’s unfortunate simple reality.
Yes, the internet and computers have made it so anyone with an inkling can cobble something that might resemble music together. But is taking pre-made musical bits and pasting them together, then cackling over the top of it really being a musician? Not really. It might make you an ok arranger, but it’s not really making music is it? No.
Lest I digress. I’ve recently been relegated to a typical nincompoop musician who has nothing to say. By someone that doesn’t even know me. That isn’t the bothersome thing. I can relate, meaning I concur. Most musicians today can’t form cohesive thoughts as they’re working on their brand and posting on social media X amount of times because some ‘expert’ decided that’s what had to be done to gain an audience and become an influencer. The music isn’t the focus. Uh. No. Fuck that.
Why do bands from the past, pre internet influence era, tend to have large listenership? Because the music is that fuckin good that people what to hear it. Do I have music that is on par with that? I’m pretty confident in my abilities. I leave the rest up to others to spout off about my creations. Though sometimes I do get caught up in the self promotion thing, out of lack of options. At this point I want to stop that part and concentrate only on the creation. Cause if what you create isn’t turning heads, then blowing your own horn is a waste of time.
Which is something I brought up with another friend who is getting into the music business. He made a comment about a podcast I launched with my friend Chris Hellstrom in April of 2020. This friend felt we needed to say: subscribe to our podcast, from within the podcast. To promote ourselves. When I brought that up to Chris, he said the same thing I feel about it and along the lines of what I’m writing now, that is – if what we’re doing isn’t compelling enough for the listener/viewer to hit the subscribe button without us saying it, then we’re not doing a great job and should stop. Thus, we aren’t likely to start self promoting from within the podcast. All the podcasts that I listen are like that – no ridiculous internal self promotion.
See the world has splintered so much and it’s all coming to head with COVID-19. It’s impossible to be all knowing any more. There’s way too much out there and there’s no gateway any more. It’s an ocean and a whole lot of it is mediocrity. Was it the movie Amadeus where Soliari (is that his name) self proclaimed himself the leader of all the mediocrity in the world? Which is why Chris and I are goin with the attitude of if we don’t want to watch or listen, why would anyone else.
Which is kinda how I’m gonna have to think about the Two Songs and a Cover. I’m thinking about little things I can do to make it stand out. One thing is the stand-by for start screen. I made a motion graphic movie today for my standby when I start the Restream app. While it’s not the coolest thing ever, its definitely more advanced than a vast majority of peeps I’ve seen as of late. I know that sonically it’s in the upper 1% of all live streams I’ve witnessed.
Hell I watched a supposed live stream by major country artist band where they tried to make it look like they were all playing in their own homes at the same time. But it was obvious they weren’t playing together as the music was perfectly in-sync and not live. The guitar player was picking notes that weren’t in the music – dead giveaway they were miming. All well and good, just don’t try to fop it off as live, like they did.
Because I have a recording setup, I’m fortunate enough to make it sound quite polished despite being live. No distortion from an over blown mic etc. Couple that with what musician friends would call a very consistent performance ability and what industry peeps would call hyper catchy songs and my differentiating point is who good I can made it sound. That’s where I want to be, in that spot where people get it and want to follow.
Beyond that, yeah, I have a brain and desire to do other things that shouldn’t make me sound like a nincompoop. Would the discussion of simple math do for now? A primary reason is due to people claiming to be woke/not controlled by the media or “fake news’ only to spout gut feelings and not facts when it comes to COVID-19. I write that because the math is saying exactly what the experts are saying. Why people have a cognitive dissonance with facts, math and/or science is baffling. Right?
2020 got off to a start of injuries.
Over the holidays I had a bizarre fall coming home from skiing. The driveway is a little sloped and I took a slightly wrong step, one leg shot out and I landed on top of my other leg. As I was going down I was thinking, please don’t break, please don’t break. Funny what we can process in the span of a split second. I could feel my bones in my lower leg start to twist. Then it was over. Maybe another millimeter and I might be in a cast right now. Instead I had a major sprain in my ankle and knee.
6 weeks later and I’m still having moments of noticing tender movements of my ankle. Thus it’s not 100% healed yet, but getting close.
Musically I’ve been working on finishing a multitude of projects for artists I’m producing to music I’m doing for me.
First thing that got finished was a single for a female artist out of Utah. That was a long time coming. Happy to have it done and when the artist finally gives me a release date, I’ll make note of it here.
Another project I’ve been working on is MūSE PC, a songwriter’s collective where I’m helping other songwriters to improve their songwriting chops. One fun project we’ve started is a group writing / recording project for a single song based on lyrics that everyone involved will get credit for.
I have multiple singles that have various states of finish. By that I mean I have a spreadsheet of things that each song needs to have completed before I can schedule a date to release it. I have 2 that are completely in the can and done. However I’m looking to have at least 6 done and in the can before I start my release schedule. Lots of them need music videos. Which is where I need to work more on brainstorming ideas for them. Some still need lyric videos, and while I had been working on a lot of them I’ve hit a wall on one where my idea might be a tad more complicated than its execution is realistic. Thus I need to reassess if I should change it out. In the mean time you can get down with this fantastic song.
I finally got asked to submit a composer’s reel for an upcoming film project. First time I’ve ever been asked to do so. So I had to spend some time hunting down all the projects I’ve done music for to be edited together into a cohesive unit for the project. While doing this task, I started to realize how many projects I’ve done and never got the final product sent to me. I guess I’m usually so busy moving on to the next thing that it was weird to go back and look at what I’ve done in the past.
Now that I’ve got some of these things done, I can get back to finishing the steps for these singles. Though I’m guessing that right now it won’t be until May before I start getting more music videos finished.
The big music story this week was Billie Eilish being interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel show. During said show she was asked about Van Halen. To which she responded with knowing who they are. For some reason this set some people off who got really upset about it. It’s as if she’s a Bad “Girl” (yes, a pun on the title of her most popular hit).
I’m kinda confused as to why a 17 year old girl would be required to know who the fuck Van Halen is. One reason I don’t understand why people are upset has to do with the fact that Van Halen hasn’t been relevant for at least 15 years. Thus what 2 year old would have any clue what was popular in music at that point in life.
I would put it out there that there are a lot of people who are huge Van Halen fans that don’t know who the fuck Billie Eilish is, or even who maybe the New York Dolls. Just because she’s a famous musician now, doesn’t mean she has to know who every single artist is that came before her. That’s an unreasonable request.
The great thing is Wolfgang came to her defense. Which is ironic since he’s Eddie’s kid and often times now plays bass for the band. Yes, Van Halen had a big career for a good long time – but that time has pretty much past. Music has changed, some people move with it, some don’t.
Billie is definitely doing things a bit different and that’s what’s likely driving her popularity. She and her bother have hit the zeitgeist and that’s something many musicians attempt to have happen in their career and it’s rare at best. I certainly hope she is able to stay relevant for at least 4 album releases or more. The hard part about that is that the industry is bigger and there’s more artists doing so many things now that it may not be likely.
I think it would be really interesting to hear her now tackle a cover of a Van Halen song. I doubt she’d do it though. Stranger things have happened.
As you might be able to tell, I don’t care if she doesn’t know who Van Halen is. Though, I’m a little bummed she has no idea who I am 😎.
Been a hot minute since I have made a post. For the past several months, who am I kidding – this past summer, I’ve been holed up doing a lot of different things music related. Initially I had a plan to be releasing singles on a set schedule and then a monkey wrench came my way. A good monkey wrench mind you.
I was asked to prepare a list of 8 things before I start releasing songs again. That’s 8 things per song as currently not doing albums any more. Most of that stuff I had already been doing, but there were a few things that I had not been doing. It lit a fire up under my ass to actually get the rest of the list done on anything new that I plan on releasing. But my workhorse self decided I needed to do this for several of my past singles as well. These are important things that were getting left out.
Fortunately another friend stepped up to offer a trade of services. One of those services were on my list of 8 things I was missing. How awesome is that?!? I’m getting to trade something I need for something that I can do. That is the idea of music videos. Thus we’ve shot two music videos so far for previous releases. They’re done, in the can, ready to go. I’m waiting on VEVO to give my label control of my VEVO channel so they can start releasing them. They sure seem to take their sweet time responding to anything. Rest assured that as soon as VEVO grants us control to my VEVO channel, there will be new videos coming once they stop leaving us out of control of my channel.
Another aspect I had been missing, lyric videos. I’m in process of creating several lyric videos as well as saying, I’ve got several done in the can, ready to go. Again, waiting on VEVO. Those video are feeling left out, but hopefully not much longer.
There’s another avenue I’ve been traveling where I’m producing other artists. Sometimes it goes really well, other times it’s a process of explanation during recording. I’m a stickler. I can’t let things slide when it comes sonic quality and I strive to make it as awesome as possible to listen to. For some artists it’s easy and they can perform. For others, it’s difficult being under a microscope and coached to get that tingly hair raising vibe from them. That’s the gold standard, does it perk my ears up or make the hairs on my arm stand up? If so, we’ve nailed it. I don’t want other people to get left out of feeling those hairs stand up.
Additionally, I’ve been working really hard on another project in my current home town. One that is meant to lift up the entire music community. To improve their songwriting, their performance chops and hopefully allow them to demand and earn more when they do perform. I was able to get a space from the city strictly for this endeavor. As of a couple of days ago and several months after initial approval then an out of the blue disapproval and back to re-approval, that space is ours to use. Songwriting events start to commence this coming Wednesday and people are excited. Which is just plain awesome. We don’t plan on leaving anyone out.
Beyond this, sometimes you get caught up in other people’s bullshit. Which also happened this week. I was subpoenaed out of the blue for a lawsuit happening between two people I don’t even know. One is an artist. The other is a producer. The short of it is (for this post anyway, I do plan on a much longer post about all this as it is a good lesson for budding artists and producers alike), said artist sued said producer for breach of contract and won. Said artist then solicited bids for production from other local area producers to find the most expensive one to use as an example in suing for damages. That one happened to be me. Now I’m dragged into their mess, I really wish they left me out of it. As I wrote, I will be writing a much longer post about this in the coming days as it does make for a real good lesson.
Finally, getting left out. It’s not a state secret that I’m an award winning songwriter and I’m not a slouch as a performer either. But I do pick my shows and my means of playing live carefully as I don’t like to lose money doing it. There is a festival going on right now in my home town where I’m getting questioned by friends, fans, and even representatives as far away as Nashville and Los Angeles as to why I am not on the bill. I know the main reason, but I’m not keen on sharing it. But it’s hard to not feel a little bit bitter about it when it is put on by local people and as an artist you are the one full time musician that has won awards and lives there full time but not invited to play with a large amount of other award winning songwriters from out of town. Fortunately I have friends who have sought to get me on the bill to no avail. And more fortunately one of the main peeps did grant me an access pass to at least attend the events I wish to attend with the words “We’ll work on getting you on the bill next year.”
Oh, I’ve also been making some behind the scenes additions to my website. One of them is the addition of player buttons from multiple streaming services. Now I’ve added Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube and Amazon to the main page. I’m still behind on adding them to all the previous releases, but I’m getting there. I’ve also been working on playlisting landing pages. Where a person can click a button and immediately playlist one of my songs on Spotify. The process works you can see the page for A Perfect Man as of right now. I have them for other songs. I’m almost to a point to be making them all public. Once I have the done I will start making it happen for Deezer and Apple Music as well as I believe those two services also allow us to do it via an API. They will come with time. So right now Deezer and Apple Music (as well as other services that don’t allow it) are getting left out.
That is all for right now.
Working on not going radio silent again.
The Hostless Oscars
A paradigm shift happened in award shows last night, the hostless Oscars. Normally, I’m not fully interested in watching the Oscars. I find them stodgy and usually boring. Often it’s a lot easier to watch the highlights of the interesting things that happen. As per Anne Hathaway, the worst Oscars ever happened last year – and I didn’t watch.
Last night I watched the Oscars as I wanted to experience the idea of an awards show that didn’t have a host. What I got was an efficient show that felt like it had a decent flow. What a refreshing change of pace. Not having to watch a carnival barker doing a song and dance in-between each award was fantastic.
The awesome side effect is that each award became about the award itself and not about the lame ass stuff the host does trying to keep people interested in the show. I was more riveted, I was more interested to know about the people nominated and the winner of the award itself. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about?
The other great side effect of the Oscars last night was an earlier finish that didn’t feel forced or exhausting. There were a few moments where I was disappointed in producers cutting people short in their acceptance speech. Though, let’s be honest here, when people start thanking tons of people who very few people are privy to know – it’s boring and rambling at it’s very worst.
After the show I sent out a tweet stating that was a perfect showing as to how to run an awards show and that the Grammys should take note and do the same thing next year.
The Grammys would do well to note that the Oscars going sans host was a win. I know that lots of media outlets thought Alicia Keys did a spectacular job hosting the Grammys. Personally, I didn’t agree. I felt that lots of her comments and constant statements were forced and not genuine. That’s coming from a musician that is a fan of Alicia.
It was as if the Grammys were trying way to hard to oversteer the boat. I had female friends texting me during the Grammys mentioning the same thing – that the Grammys were trying too hard to push some agenda that felt forced and fake.
The bigger news of this years Grammys were the artists that turned down performing on the Grammys. The biggest of them all, Ariana Grande, even called the Grammys out after the producer sent out a fake statement as to why she wouldn’t be performing. Mashups of various artists who probably wouldn’t otherwise work together were on the chopping block. As they should be. That’s part of the whole feeling forced vibe.
Personally, the Grammys would be well served to limit performances to the 5 songs nominated for Record of the Year. Get rid of Album of the Year – the new industry isn’t about selling Albums, it’s about streaming, time to fuckin embrace that shit. This way, we, the consumers (and yes, I consider myself an ardent music consumer despite also making music on a professional level), won’t get terribly bored by lackluster performances by artists that are too weak to deny the Grammys making them look like grind organ monkeys.
Sprinkle those performances throughout the awards show, like the Oscars did. That way there isn’t a constant barrage of some pointless host trying to make points that fall of deaf ears. Nor would there be performances that make no sense.
Cracks in the wall of the old method of awards presentation at the Grammys blew wide open. The Oscars cemented the foundation of how to move forward. As a member of the academy, I’m hopeful that we can make a change that show the Grammys could become more relevant going forward. Where people can see more of the actual awards, as a vast majority of the Grammys are done prior to telecast – in an effort to have more “song and dance” that many find more boring than the awards we don’t get to see.
Will the Grammys make the change? We can only hope they’ll take note of how well the hostess Oscars came across.
You can’t control crazy!
About an hour ago as I write this, a post I made on social media picked up a few responses from a few people. Then came a crazy response that caused me to think, hey, this might make a humorous response. Off went my reply into the social media ether. Or so I thought.
I didn’t expect to suddenly be inundated with a slew of posts where each one made less sense than the one before it. Some insulting. Initially I thought it prudent to explain the humor. Then it went even further south. Its like I tapped into crazy. Or rather some person’s crazy that I eventually had to think to myself. Stop responding.
I ended up wondering exactly what set this guy off. So I make a small trip into his profile. I find someone who fancies themselves a lyricist. One who has publicly promoted a known company that takes hopeful musicians/lyricists money to make demos and offer a publishing deal that is about as good as a rubber quarter for spending. Who knows, maybe this guy is the next country version of Bob Dylan, I’m not willing to find out.
After that trip down the rabbit hole, I continued to get posted – despite my silence. I hit the mute button as I had to remove myself from the situation. It was making my brain hurt.
It seemed quite similar to an exchange I had with a stalker a few years back. Yes, I’ve had a male stalker. You try to be nice and the person continues to be less than considerate, that’s when you have to put the real distance between yourself and their crazy.
In happier news, I’ve been finishing a bunch of tunes destined for TV. Pardon me while I put focus back into the music.
There’s been an undue amount of silence on my website and social media. For those not interested tl;dr – this is a rundown of my past two months of real silence.
Silence on a Journey
Its been a tad quiet on my website since late November. That wasn’t by design. It was by life. The music industry generally shuts down in December and at the end of 2017, I ended up holing up myself with family and pretty much working on a project being planned for later this year in 2018.
I did my annual pilgrimage to NAMM in Anaheim. Letting out a little information about the upcoming plans, which isn’t something I’m want to do. Mostly because without a contract in place – its really all air being blown about. Its better to keep the silence when things aren’t in stone. Despite that, I and a couple of future bandmates got to partake in seeing Andy Grammer rock the outdoor stage at the convention center.
His songs are enjoyable, but after seeing him live I now understand his real talent. Putting on an awesome show!
Certainly gave me a bunch of ideas of breaking my live silence, when plans for later this year come thru.
Solace in Skiing
Winter got turned on its head. Eastern states got pummeled while the west was left nearly bone dry. Due to a bunch of unscheduled trips away from the studio, I turned to skiing to realign my soul. There’s a spirit in the high altitude that isn’t matched anywhere else. There’s a freedom to life when you succumb to gravity and let it pull you down mountains as fast as you can stand to go – and I can stand to go pretty damn fast. Most skiers can’t keep up. Thinking about that, it would be pretty awesome to spend a day skiing with Lindsey Vonn. She and I could just run the mountain in silence, but I’d probably gush in admiration.
In March I came to a realization that my old hosting service wasn’t going to be updating their backend software. After a couple of years of asking for updates, and being told, we’re eventually going to. This led to reaching out to my friend Derek Sivers. He suggested that I ought to strike out on my own and go self hosted. He claimed I could do it in a week. Therein began a real fork in the road for 6+ weeks. The true moment where I pretty much went into digital silence with minor moments of social media posts here and there.
Technology isn’t a stranger in my life, but I’d never considered learning to run my own server stationed on the web. Yes, I have a server at home that allows me to house digital copies of all my media and gives me an encrypted way to control my studio machine from afar. That’s far cry from the open ocean of the internet.
I began learning how to install an entirely different operating system than what I was used to. This led to a rather steep learning curve. I pestered Derek about software and options of what to do, until he pretty much said – I’m going out of contact for a couple of weeks. Fortunately I had a brother from another mother in Jesse Stern who was taking a very similar journey.
A crash course of learning the ins and outs of server life. It was eye opening.
Security was the original breaking straw of why I wanted to find a new host. I was installing the latest and greatest of operating systems, web serving software, databases, email, ftp and vpn setups. My first attempt found me about a 4 days in and suddenly locked out of my own server. Oops. My second server went much better, but still took a good deal of time.
Then came the need to extract all my data off of my old host. It spread into so many different areas. Once collected I found that it was roughly 1.6 terabytes. I couldn’t imagine I had that much data stored in places. It accrued in silence over a bunch of years.
A harsh reality smacked me in the face. A blog site that I used to run on a daily basis Single of the Day, took me hours to port over. Several thousand audio tracks. Plus an unruly database. It took me 3 days to delete hundreds of thousands of spam comments because WordPress couldn’t handle doing it itself. If you don’t think spam takes up much space – I learned that it was several gigs in my database. Once removed from that site’s database, it shrank from multiple gigs down to a few megs. Wow!
Come later this year my silence from Single of the Day will be broken. In the meantime, I will spend random time here and there to convert old posts to the newer format. A format that showcases posts like before, but instead of using MP3s, I’ll be going for digital streaming posts namely on Spotify. It falls more in line with my original goal of getting artists I’ve posted about, paid when people listen.
When email finally switched and went online with the new server, I was terribly naive. Within 24 hours my father’s email account killed my email setup. Yes, I’m hosting my dad’s website and email. He’s like most older people who aren’t terribly savvy with their email account. Tons of spam. It didn’t help that my ignorance also left my email server software open to outside users to crack and send spam.
There wasn’t much silence from my mouth after that realization.
Rebuild It Again
I had to destroy another server and start from scratch. By this time I was getting pretty darn proficient with installing things. However, I decided to switch hosts to a new cloud host as I was disappointed with the previous cloud host and their lack of customer support. The fortunate thing was, all my websites and other valuable info had been pared down to roughly 15gigs, far cry from the original 1.6 terabytes. This also meant spending more time securing the backend.
It took another week to get it close to running full speed. Email still eluded me.
Then I took a trip to see about a girl. Talk about a waste of several days of time right there.
I kept working on email. Making sure all my certificates for my domains were in order. I doubled down on securing the email server. To the point that once I got it working, it wasn’t fully working properly. I have about 180 email aliases. I do this in order to find out where what companies end up selling my info to spammers. Then I can delete that alias. It took several days to figure out a setting in the software that was missing literally two words from the code. Those two words cost me several days of time in getting email back to fully functional.
Amazing. That’s the word I’d use for what happens to servers. They get brute force attacked. Which is why I ended up installing software to ban intruders. Fingers crossed it keeps things at bay.
At this point, I’m breaking my silence because yesterday I finally got all of my digital life back up to speed. Up to speed on way more modern software. I revamped this website and offered up a request to the software creator for a desired change to the music pages. They liked the idea, hopefully they’ll implement it soon.
This digital journey led to my websites serving pages faster than ever before. My email is running better than ever before, plus I’m getting less spam and I can see that despite spammer attempts to break in and send spam, so far its not happened. I’ve switched to a new email list software that I’d really love to have you on (hint hint – signup using the form at the bottom of this page!) It also means my phone and laptop are running faster, because I run a VPN for my data needs in public.
Back to Music
I’m back in the studio saddle. Still working on the plans for later this year, I’m really hoping to have some awesome news to share about that soon (I really thought it would be all set back in February). In the meantime I’m finishing up a slew of music for a new library. I’m finishing up several singles to add to the stockpile. And I’m ramping up on additional plans for later this year. Until then, please go listen to my latest single Rise Up!
Here’s the 3rd installment of videos around getting great guitar tones from a computer using MainStage. This video showcases how to split up guitar sounds into multiple patches to switch between within songs.
MainStage Song Parts For Multiple Guitar Sounds
The reason behind setting them up this way is simple – it’s the best way to control the system for the Tuning function, as well as for making patch changes function via a single button press. Because we all love simplicity when playing live.
I’ve been doing a lot of recording in the past several years where the guitar tones are important. Who am I kidding? Guitar tone is always important. I’ve recently made the switch to using software and computers for all my guitar sounds and amplification.
Great Guitar Tones
One thing I’ve found in my exploration of sound is that there is more than one way to get great guitar tones. This is a different mentality from a majority of guitar players that believe there is only one way which involves a classic guitar and a hardware amplifier. No matter where I go and mention that I’m using a computer for my guitar tones, I get people that say its not possible. Not possible that is, until they hear it. Then they change their minds.
Looking around on YouTube and other parts of the internet, I’ve been unable to find anyone who is really showing how to use a computer to get great tones. Thus I recorded a short series of simple tutorials on the subject. Here is the first one that gives a beginning look at how I’m doing it and part of what I’m using software wise.
The revolution is here. Enjoy and stay tuned for the next two videos.