I really did that?
Did I really do music that appeared somewhere? That’s what is sometimes surprising to me, the sheer amount of places where music I’ve done has shown up. There’s always a surprise each quarter as to where I’m going to have music having been used somewhere in the world, be it in film, on TV, in a commercial, or elsewhere.
There’s a long list and I decided to finally put a page up where I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible to know where you’ve heard music that I’ve done. Problem is, I’m only going back about 3 years here. Which isn’t all that far back. There are quite a few more years that I need to add, but the start of the credits page is already a pretty big list as it is.
There’s so many websites out there that claim to be the definitive authority on who’s worked with who in music, or who’s worked on what. Often times they’re incomplete, or incorrect and of course – they make it really difficult to correct the information (which is the biggest disappointment). Then other large services collate that incorrect data and it gets passed along as truth. Thus, I’m working on providing as comprehensive a list as I can for everything I’ve done in music. It will take me some time, but hey I’m gonna be the definitive source on all things music that I’ve done.
Therefore if you’re of the curious type you can shoot on over to the credits page and find out where you may have heard me, or who I’ve worked with, etc. Chances are there are even things I’ve forgotten about and if you’ve got proof, I’d appreciate the refresher so I can add it to my list.
In the mean I’ve got some more musical stuff to work on.
A Perfect Man exists
Something so simple, yet so complex has been created by Claude J Woods Jr and myself. The idea of a perfect man isn’t something new. No. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there chasing the concept of a perfect man.
Claude and I have done several tracks together and he came to me wanting to do more of a ballad type of song. So I decided I wanted to reimagine the idea of a ballad. Not the typical ballad or power ballad, but rather a stripped down and barebones bare the soul kind of thing. I came up with a very simple yet rhythmic solo electric guitar part that expressed that vibe. Claude responded with a melody and lyric idea that transformed into what you hear now.
In Claude’s words: “The song turned out to be an introspective of being a man basically in charge of his world. Where he’s not egotistical enough to think that he is invulnerable or infallible in his endeavor to be the man that he was taught to be. He’s able be strong in his conviction and responsibility, while still keeping his self esteem and self confidence. This man has a strong desire to be good whilst at the same time staying honest and humble.”
For me, it became about how a man could be put on a pedestal by his significant other. He realizes he’s been put there. That he wants to let them know about his imperfections and despite the possibility he might let them down, he’s still there for them, to the best of his abilities.
The journey of getting the song tracked initially went very different from how I had expected to do it. The simplicity of the guitar part took a lot more work than it what the auditory sound like. I spent a couple of days playing thru various amp and mic combos to get the right vibe with the guitar I was playing.
Once I had the guitar sound and got it tracked, I fought with my arranger & producer self to keep from putting too many instruments or layers into the production. In doing so, I really had to pay attention to how much emotion was coming thru the minimal amount of parts. A lot of attention to the detail of being able to propel the song forward came in to play. Usually I can throw the kitchen sink at a song and keep it interesting by sheer number of noises and layers I put in. The concept here thwarted that notion and made it more difficult to achieve.
I gotta wonder if the feelings I ran thru working on accomplishing the goal of simplicity runs anywhere similar in nature to how Apple designs their iconic products.
It’s my pleasure to present this song to you. I’ve already had some female friends tell me it makes them feel super sentimental to the point of bringing a tear to their eyes. To me, that’s the ultimate in compliments when a song can move a person to such strong emotions.
Let me know how it moves you. I know Claude and I will appreciate hearing your connection.
p.s. you can read more about the song here.
About a year and a half ago my friend Greg Watton came to me wanting to write another song. I mentioned that I thought it would be a great idea to write about Veteran’s, especially since he is a veteran and was going through some rough stuff at the time. So he came up with some lyrics centered around forgotten warriors of America.
We tooled around with the musical direction. I had started one musical idea but Greg felt it wasn’t quite hitting the right direction. Thus I scrapped that and started something entirely different. He was excited about the new version, which meant it was time to go after the melody.
Once I finally started digging into the words we had to work on doing a bit of rewriting and editing, as good songwriters often do. The hook became a double-edged hook after I suggested we remove the ‘of America’ part of the title. It didn’t sing or flow well. Once that was removed it became anthemic! Anthemic in two different parts.
Greg and I wanted a song that could strike up the awareness about how our veterans are treated after serving our country. Many are left fending for themselves and in dire need of help after seeing the ravages of serving the country. As a terrible and prime example, consider the recent shooting in Thousand Oaks CA. There is a veteran who was obviously having some trouble and had no-one listening.
Our goal is to have you help make this song a national anthem for veterans. It’s easy to sing along for the chorus and feels wholly empowering in the process.
Our original plan was to release the song a year ago, but due to unfortunate circumstances I had to forego the idea of releasing last year.
Fast forward a year…
Now it’s been released as of last Friday morning. The buzz of the feedback has been great. As I was doing the first live performance of the song last night in sound check at the local TV station, the production crew and host was already singing the song before airtime. It’s always incredible when people you don’t know are singing your words and melodies back at you. Flattering and humbling.
I look forward to having you singing it back to me at a future show!
We’re quickly coming on the end of summer.
If the trees are any indication, we’ve already hit fall. If you’re a student, summer has ended as school is back in session. Which means you’re summer romance, the fling of your life has also recently dissipated or is about to dissolve into the ether.
Enter my new single “Till We Meet Again“, a candid song about those loves we’ve had in life that we hope to rekindle somewhere down the road.
The journey of this song is one of several start and stops and finally a go.
Originally the intent was to write an upbeat tune for a TV show and for a library. I pulled in a bass player friend of mine to co-write it with me. However, there was a bit of miscommunication and he got miffed about the situation, which ended the direction of the song as I had envisioned.
Next I approached another bass player friend of mine, Jesse Stern, and we started working on the music. As a direction it was still to be a library track, however as we got going with it, lyrics started pouring out. He was going thru some dark stuff and was spitting out darker lyrics. Musically as it was speaking to me it had to be a bit more positive, maybe a little more longing. Suddenly we got a song that embraced all of that along with the sounds we were laying down.
During the process of the demo we got to a section of the song and were discussing how to change one bar for it’s time signature. We spent a good deal of time trying to work out if we’d stick to the song’s common time signature (which happens to be 4/4), or go with either 7/4, 6/4, or 5/4.
Multiple different drum fills were tried out. It was a songwriter’s producing exploration into the wild blue yonder until we finally settled on one particular fill in 5/4 that provided such a sly feel to the section of the song that it was as natural as an organic ripe tomato.
Tracking the occurred in several studios. Namely mine for the acoustic guitars, synths, additional background vocals and drum programming. Yes, those are programmed drums. Jesse’s studio was were the bass was tracked and some additional synths as well. Finally the vocals were tracked at George Leger’s studio (Utopia Parkway Music) when it was located in Los Angeles.
One moment during tracking stands out to me. At one point George turned around in his producer’s chair to show me his arms. The hair was standing straight up. He says to me, while Jesse is sitting there:
“This is your Purple Rain. You’re giving me goosebumps.”
Chances are you don’t know George. He is a massive Prince fan. So much so, that he once took me to see Prince perform when I was down in the dumps going thru some tough shit in life. It was a shining moment. I digress. George was so taken aback by the vocal we were laying down and the quality of the song that he felt it would be my equivalent to Purple Rain. My reaction was “I sure hope you’re right.” Damn right, I’d love to have a song be as popular as Purple Rain. Hell, even half as popular would be ideal.
Another memorable moment came when George first noticed the bar of 5/4. He asked who the drummer was that recorded the part and who came up with the fill, he thought it was amazing. When I responded with, I programmed it, he thought I did a hell of a job. Very few people notice because of how natural it feels, it doesn’t feel like a bar of 5/4. This prompted a discussion between myself, George and Jesse, mainly because it was George who originally gave me the idea of adding an odd measure in a song.
After getting all the vocals tracked, George and Jesse also sang some backgrounds. Once back in my studio, I felt I needed some additional voices for the backgrounds, so I enlisted the help of Val and Julia to sing some more parts.
George and I tackled the mix and eventually George did the mastering (as he’s also a fantastic mastering engineer as well).
Now it’s finally been released and is ready for your listening pleasure. I hope it gives you goosebumps like it did for George. Cause that would mean you’d tell others they need to hear and playlist it, like you will.
More music coming soon.
As a musician, I love analog but I embrace digital. Actually I don’t just embrace digital, I love digital as well.
It amazes me that there are still people who will bring up the Analog Recording is better debate. I get it. You can’t let go of your past.
I’m fortunate enough that while I started recording in a bedroom with a TASCAM portastudio, you know the ones that recorded 4 to 8 tracks on a cassette tape, I quickly moved to digital recording as I saw the future. I learned oodles about recording and noise, thanks to that old portastudio. Hell, I have 100s of cassettes that I should transfer into my computer. Though at this point I would have to borrow a working portastudio as I gave mine away to a budding musician. She never gave it back.
Another reason I don’t go digging thru those old tapes is that it would only be a reminder of my beginnings, I highly doubt any of those recordings would ever be salvageable.
I never released any of my song recordings done on tape. All recordings I’ve released were all digital recordings.
However, I have worked on other people’s projects that were recorded on tape. Some sound great, some, not so much.
I quickly moved to digital recording on a computer as soon as my budget allowed me to purchase an audio card. I was limited to 4 tracks, but what a difference it made in sound quality from a portastudio to a computer. What I discovered though was that digital is not forgiving like tape – it was a mirror image of what you fed it. There was no magic vibe automatically created by digital recording.
So I learned that you have to give digital exactly want you wanted, otherwise you’d get disappointed. That made me more determined to make sure I understood how to perform and record to get what I wanted.
Recently I got into a discussion with another songwriter about recording formats. They came right out saying that digital sucked and analog ruled. Their claim is that 1’s and 0’s can’t supply depth to a recording.
Spoken like a true novice.
This particular songwriter claimed they wanted to learn what the differences were between analog and digital. However, with the opening salvo being that digital recording was already weaker, it made for a lame way to claim they were looking to start a conversation to learn such differences.
My answer eventually boiled down to this:
“The difference is mental. Entirely mental. If you actually believe you will achieve a better recording with analog gear – then you will. If you believe you will achieve a better recording with digital gear, then you will. It’s entirely a mental thing for the artist.
In blind A/B tests, you will never know the difference. So why does it matter?
What matters is the performance of the artist/band and the competency of the engineers.”
They had nothing to hit back with.
Of course it helped that other producers jumped in talking about the advantages to digital recording: Speed, ease of use, etc. One older producer went so far to say that one couldn’t pay him enough to go back to working with tape and all analog gear.
Over the past several years and as recently as a month ago I’ve upgraded to newer audio interfaces. The most recent update is the Apollo 8p Quad. It gives me a bunch of additional processing power, along with enough inputs to now track full bands if I need to.
As you know with my career, I’ve been an in-the-box guy for a long time now. I use a laptop (along with a specially designed midi pedal) for my live guitar rig too. That’s how in the box I go.
Great recordings still require several things. An awesome musician or musicians to perform. A means to record. An engineer that understands those means. A quality mix engineer. A quality mastering engineer. These are things that are needed to get an awesome recording. It doesn’t matter if it’s analog or digital (they’re just means).
It doesn’t hurt to have great microphones. It doesn’t hurt to have great mic pres. It doesn’t hurt to have a great room. It doesn’t hurt to have awesome outboard gear. Those things will enhance a recording, as long as they’re used appropriately.
I love the idea of analog, but I embrace the beauty and ease of use of digital.
Let’s Just Go Starts Streaming Today
My new single titled Let’s Just Go went live early this morning on all the major streaming and digital services. Think of being in a Tesla launching into ludicrous speed while having Gal Gadot riding shotgun as you go into the wild blue yonder. A whole lot of fun for the blacktop adventure that awaits for the summer.
TL;DR: For those who want to know more…
A Little History
A few years back I got invited to perform at a songwriter’s in the round event. I was placed on stage with some heavyweight songwriters who have written for acts you’ve heard of.
Was I intimidated? No. Well… No.
I had already met several of them before. But there was one guy who I hadn’t met and he had the biggest cred list of the bunch.
Pre show I had asked the two I did know, James Grey and Warren Sellars, if they would play rhythm on one of my songs so I could go and kick into a solo. They agreed. Yippee!
Fortunately during the song the guy you see in the background Kevin Fisher also jumped in.
After the set I was greeted by Kevin who came up and said “We need to do some writing together.” You have no idea how cool that made me feel in that moment.
Forward A Few Years
Kevin is a busy guy. We kept touching base but had a hard time finding time to connect to sit and write. Thanks to technology, we used FaceTime when I finally found an idea and we both had time to flesh out a song.
Over the course of a couple of FaceTime sessions we cobbled Let’s Just Go into a full acoustic guitar and vocal tune that we both enjoyed. From there I took on the task of producing it into the sonic vision that would be released with me at the helm.
Originally my girlfriend at the time sang the female backing vocals. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned, we split up and even more unfortunate – she’s not on speaking terms. Of course I made the mistake of not getting written permission to use her vocal. Mostly due to thinking I’d have permanent permission via marriage. You live and learn, right?
That version of the song had Kevin’s publisher thinking we’d be able to get a car commercial. Exciting to envision.
New Female Singer
Rather than attempting to get someone with no desire to speak with me to agree to sign off on her voice, I opted to hire another vocalist and remove the ex’s voice altogether. Off I went to the local musician’s hang to ask around for quality female singers. This led me to Amy Lynn Whitcomb.
There is the possibility you’ve heard of her. Provided you’re a fan of The Voice, or have seen the a cappella group JANE.
I listened to the tracks she sent me as examples, in return sent Let’s Just Go over to her to see if she was up for it. Bingo, she loved it.
We found a time for her to come over to the studio and replace the previous female vocals.
Amy did an awesome job. She took direction and was even able to hit notes that seemed near impossible, you can hear a seriously high octave harmony in the chorus. That’s Amy, not a pitch shifter, I’m impressed. NAILED IT – would be the catch phrase I’d use.
I sent the revised version to Kevin and he loved it. With two thumbs up from Amy and Kevin it was time to get it out to you.
I’m excited to see the journey this song takes from here on out. Hit me back when you add it to your road trip playlists, I’d love to know.
Life sure loves to throw a 180 turnaround don’t it?
If you hadn’t heard, I am to be going out on tour this summer. Opening for a significantly bigger artist.
Said act has disappeared into the ether, so plans have to be changed. I’m currently doing a zag when I was supposed to be doing a zig right now.
See, I was anticipating being homeless for a good portion of 2018 and on into 2019. I mean that in a great way. The plan was to be out on tour for 18 months, initially kicked off with the aforementioned artist. Its not a state secret that it takes roughly 18 months straight of touring in order for an artist to gain critical mass.
Based on the scheduling that was planned for, I should have been in Los Angeles now starting several weeks of rehearsals. To make sure the show was as tight as can be and to work out all the parts for everyone.
Said artist had requested that we were to be in the city of the first date of the tour a week early so that rehearsals could be done with their crew to work out the sound and the transitions between my crew and their crew. Smart thinking if you ask me.
Speaking Without Contracts
The drag is, I hate talking about projects before contracts are signed. This business is so erratic that its impossible to judge what is going to happen. We were to get the contracts for the tour in early February. Which meant we had a deadline for getting things in place in order to be ready to sign said contracts.
In a 180 turnaround, there was a desire to make a soft announcement about the tour to companies that I have endorsements with. Which is ideal at the winter NAMM show that takes place in late January.
I felt pretty darn secure in that my camp had gotten everything that was requested of us for the tour a week prior to NAMM. It didn’t hurt that there was a lot of communication happening between our respective camps. Thus I started leaking the tour plans to my endorsors. Introducing band members to them and helping band members to get endorsements with other companies that more directly related to their instrument.
Part of leaking the tour plan was to talk about how I was planning on doing the sound setup. A 180 turnaround from how its normally done.
All band members, apart from the drummer, had agreed to use a laptop and an audio interface as their sound source for their guitar sounds and vocals. This was a great selling point for several companies I have endorsements with. Most bands don’t do this. Consistency of sound and ease of setup for soundcheck is the primary reason. It really reduces the sound person’s job to mostly dealing with the drum levels, as that would be the most inconsistent source of sound.
With the rest of us going direct and using in-ear monitors it reduces a ton of the guesswork of sound. The guitar, bass, and vocal rigs would remain the same with very minor tweaks needed for levels and PA eq. That’s the beauty of the computer setups.
I found a fantastic company to make a rack setup to house the computers and audio interfaces. Which would have made setup a breeze. Especially since we’d all be wireless. Pretty much plug in the power. Plug in the midi switchers (my custom HIVE) for switching sounds for songs. Then plug in the output of the band to the board. No mics on instruments to mess with, other than the drums.
It started 180 turnaround about a month ago. I began reaching out to other contacts to find another tour to hop on. I felt like something was wrong when the communication tapered off from the artist’s camp. That’s when I was asked to make a list of a bunch of other bands I felt would be a good fit.
Then while in the middle of a writing session for another musical project I got a phone call from the point person putting everything together.
The first thing I was told was that the agent who was dealing with the extra dates, between the weekend dates with the artist I was to open for, the press and radio stuff – decided he was going to quit music. BOMB Drop…
Next up was the announcement that the person putting all the other moving parts together decided to also get out of the music business and become a preacher. BOMB Drop 2.
One of the main contacts I had reached out to find other bands came back saying: I can’t find anyone else who is doing an actual tour. Everyone is doing one-off dates. BOMB Drop 3.
A few days ago I started informing people that I had told at NAMM that the tour had gone into the ether.
The beauty is that everyone in the music industry can relate on some level. The pouring of support that I got back from people was certain uplifting. So many providing words of encouragement and some sending similar stories of things that have happened to them.
After the 2nd round of emails that I sent letting out what had happened, I got a call from an unlikely source who had contact with someone that had a cursory role before. Its a little early to tell but I’m encouraged about the initial contact.
To be continued…
As an artist I’m really opposed to the idea of censorship, especially in music.
Recently there’s been a backlash against certain artists and styles of music. Actually there’s probably always been a backlash or at least groups of people wanting to prevent others from hearing music. The simple word for it is censorship. If music history memory serves me, there was a severe backlash by Christians against the music of artists like Buddy Holly and also Elvis. The humor of that is Buddy came from a religious family (unless I’ve been misinformed).
Then in the 80’s there was the PMRC that used a censorship tactic to ban music thru the use of the government and silly stickers on physical releases.
This might be a first. There are police departments in the U.K. that are asking YouTube to forcibly remove music videos with violent lyrics. I don’t condone it, but I can understand the reasoning. Apparently these artists use the platform to tell rival artists what they plan on doing to them, when, and where. Think of it as a public musical version of the Firms that fight at Football / Soccer matches.
That’s an interesting line to be drawing. On the one hand, if its legit musical expression, it shouldn’t be subject to censorship.
On the other hand, if its gang messages disguised as music, then it constitutes as actual threats, hate speech and violence. That presents a problem. Might be reasonable to apply censorship to that.
This style of music is becoming known as Drill Music. Its new to my radar and I’m not gonna sit here and explain it like I’m well versed in it. I’m interested in videoing my first listen to a popular Drill Music video and taping my reaction, much like how the Lost In Vegas boys would do it. Enjoy as its my first reaction video.
Even in the early days of rap, which is the parent of Drill, there were rap battles. East coast, West coast blasts that apparently led to the deaths of Tupac and Biggie and likely others. At that point there was also a strong musical resistance that expressed life on the streets in the dark parts of major cities. Music was a great way to resonate that harsh reality.
Drill music isn’t the first style to have a censorship request from law enforcement agencies. I’m specifically referencing N.W.A. as a group that got hit with warnings from the law, amongst others like Ice-T, KRS-One.
As you can see/hear, I’m kinda clueless to the U.K. brand of street music with lyrics like this. But I can certainly imbibe the vibe that they’re laying down, musically speaking.
The G League, I wonder how many fans of the NBA are actually aware of it?
There’s a few new changes in the basketball world in this past year. Actually since roughly February of 2017. Prior to that the NBA’s development league was known as the D League. Now in a multi-year deal with Gatorade its known as the G League.
Another change is the number of teams. Previously there were 17. The total now is 27.
Why do I know this
I wrote a song called Do You Want To Play that has multiple versions of the song. Like lots of multiples. I’ve done versions for basketball, baseball, football, and hockey.
Once I completed them I wasn’t sure that I’d ever pull them out again. However, the change of the league name to G League and all the additional teams left me with a gaping hole. So I dug it out.
My recording software has been updated substantially since I last worked with the song. One of the handiest new features is something called Track Alternatives. Which gives a producer the means to make edits to little portions of an audio without increasing the need for plugin load, or massive track counts.
I took the needed vocal file for most of the song and clipped out where I needed to update team and G League parts. This made it real easy to quickly sing new parts.
A side effect of doing parts for the G League is a new mix. Much like the updated recording software, there are also updated plugins. All this led me to saying, I don’t want to do a whole new mix, but alas, I couldn’t stop myself.
After getting the original files transferred into a new file template, it really made sense to just do a new mix. I was able to get a crispier sound on the guitars. A little more punch and depth to the drums. There’s a bit more sizzle on the vocals and the bass gets a little deeper in vibe. Its crazy how a little adjustment in a song mix can alter the feel. These are subtle changes individually, but together it adds up.
Along with a new mixes for the G League, I have to do new masters. In case you’re not aware there is a process called mastering that provides a song recording with its final sheen and gets it to sound good on a variety of sound ups.
In the couple of years since the last compilation release, the state of music delivery changed drastically. Now instead of a single master meant for being super loud on a CD, there’s one master for Apple Music (and services that operate at -16LUFS, that’s a relative volume level for the laymen out there) and there’s a master for Spotify (and services that operate at -14LUFS).
Yes, I’m that bizarre that I do specific masters for the service the music is going to. I do that so that I’m not left wondering what the music is going to sound like based on automated volume level changes that occur to meet those service outputs.
All it really means is that the music will sound more dynamic.
I’m currently doing all the master outputs as I’m writing this. Listening intently for any output errors. Thus one goal is to make sure I release this set of songs before the next season starts. Thus if you’re a fan of any team in the G League, I do hope you’ll stream your team’s song.
Looking into contacting Gatorade’s marketing team, as I do have an advertisement idea as well.
Oh and I’d like to get in touch with various team’s marketing departments to talk about doing a pregame performance of the song for fans of the team.
Looking forward to the G League’s season later this year!