Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Twelve Foot Ninja

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Let’s talk for a minute about Twelve Foot Ninja.

TFN is in theory a progressive metal band, but what they are in reality is something of a genre bending heavy fusion bundle of awesomeness. Just watch this video. I’ll wait.

There’s clearly a very strong Mr. Bungle/Faith No More influence, along with some djentiness*. What really sets this band of Aussie’s apart, though, is the absolute mindfuck that occurs at about 21 seconds in. When my pal Double A Ron from Waits Dreaming turned me on to these guys, he told me I wouldn’t be prepared for what happens in the song, and he couldn’t have been more right. I absolutely love how these guys meld these absolutely different genres, and make it fun and listenable. Throughout their tunes off of their debut full length, Silent Machine, they play around with genres without it being gimmicky, and add rad touches like tight vocal harmonies and keys. I’ll go into their crowdfunding efforts in a different post, but I will say what really made this band one of my new favorites is a podcast that their guitar player Stevic did recently kind of laying down the truth of what it costs (monetarily and emotionally) for them to be a “successful” band. As I myself get older, while being more “successful” now musically than I ever have been before, it hit hard. Check ’em out. Their new single, “One Hand Killing”, is an absolute rager, and their full length video for it is hilarious.**

* It’s a word because I say so.
** Also worth mentioning is the fact I had absolutely zero idea what Twelve Foot Ninja was when I first watched this video. I heard “Hey, Twelve Foot Ninja has a new video out!” and it was subsequently played at rehearsal. I assumed after it started that it was Australian sketch comedy, not unlike Damo and Darren, but then at 2:11 I was like OMFGWTF.

Anatomy of Studio Day

Monday, May 16th, 2011

6:00 am: Wake up and have breakfast with my wife, check work email to see if anything is on fire.

8:00 am: Meditate by running through some gumdo forms; this calms me and scares the living hell out of my cat.

9:00 am: Run a few errands, picking up extremely important studio provisions such as beef jerky, Starbucks Doubleshots, and pop tarts.

10:00 am: Leave for studio, stopping at liquor store for beer. Surprised to find out that the liquor store opens at 9:00am. Feel kind of guilty at being in the liquor store before lunch.

10:30 am: Arrive at the studio and load in gear. Have the following conversation with Mike, the guitar player:

Mike – “You brought beer?”
Me – “Uh… this is a recording session, right?”

10:45 am: Wonder if it’s too early to start drinking beer.

10:47 am: Open the first Nordeast. I mean, this is a recording session.

11:00 am: Start tracking.* This surprises the hell out of me, as the first rule of studio work is that you don’t actually start playing until well after lunch.

12:30 pm: Drum tracking is done. Adjourn to the control room to edit the drum tracks. Two running gags start up at this point; one of which is Mike proclaiming how thoroughly pleased he is with how everything is going, and the other being me continually one-upping everybody with my tales of previous studio sessions.**

1:30 pm: Slam two Starbucks Doubleshots, grab two Nordeasts, and start tracking bass. Concentrate on getting good, solid, aggressive tone (but not too agressive), keeping perfect time with the click track (but not too perfect, I want it to sound natural), maintaining a solid pocket with drums (but pushing the groove a bit in some songs and letting it drag in others for a better feel), all while playing my parts perfectly (some of which I put the final touches on seconds before the recording started), and at the same time, avoiding the sight of my bandmates mooning me from within the control room.

1:50 pm: Done tracking all three songs, because that’s how I roll.

2:00 pm: Take a break; head outside to have a couple of beers and toss around a medicine ball. That isn’t a euphemism, this band is into old school calisthenics.

2:30pm: Start tracking guitar. Josh (our singer) and myself proceed to drink the rest of the Nordeast and make obscene gestures at Mike while he’s recording.

3:30pm: Guitar tracking done! Proceed to Jimmy John’s for lunch, stop at liquor store for beer. Keystone Light. This will not end well.

5:00pm: Edit guitar tracks, put together a pre-mix for vocals, use lots of words like “grindy, dirty, chunky, presence” when trying to describe the bass tone I’m looking for. Get called a diva.

7:00pm: Start tracking vocals. Drink Keystone Light and make obscene gestures at Josh while he’s recording.

8:00pm: Finish tracking one tune for vocals; adjourn to the porch to drink beer and talk about band goals and other silly things.

* Tracking is the part where you actually play music in the studio. It only takes up about 10% of your actual time in the studio. The rest of the time is spent editing, listening, mixing, listening, drinking, and getting on each others nerves.

** Did I ever tell you about the time I recorded in the same studio that Nirvana recorded “In Utero” at, on the same mixing board that AC/DC used to record “Back In Black”?

Anatomy of Gig Day

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

12:30 am: Get home from from previous night’s show. Unload bass, pedal board, and amp head, with the rationalization that anybody who breaks into my car to steal 200lbs of bass cabinets (worth $150) needs bass cabinets more than I do.

12:45 am: Still wide awake. Eat gigantic bowl of Lucky Charms and watch funny videos on the internet.

1:30 am: Go to sleep.

6:00 am: Wake up with pounding rock star headache (combination of lack of sleep, VERY LOUD NOISES, and dehydration). This is not a hangover. I will continue to tell myself this all day.

9:00 am: On site at work fixing server issue; the only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that I’m closing at noon so I can fit in a nap before having to fight traffic for a 5:00pm load in and sound check.

2:45 pm: Finally close up shop, having missed lunch trying to finish up the day’s workload. Realize I’m going to have to come in to the office on Sunday to get caught up.

3:30 pm: Get home, inhale a sandwich, answer a client email, verify that load in and sound check are still at 5:00, and decide I have time for a nap.

4:15 pm: Wake up from twenty minute nap, load car, check traffic, and head up to the club.

4:45 pm: 35W northbound is reduced from five lanes to two because of an accident. Call band, who are all stuck in same traffic jam. Laugh as I see my drummer driving next to me.

5:30 pm: Arrive at club. Parking for the evening is $20. Drive around block, cursing Minneapolis’ system of one way streets, before finally parking illegally in alley like everyone else.

5:40 pm: Am informed that there will be no sound checks tonight because the private function in the club, booked from 6-8 pm, started early. Four bands proceed to load gear into a 3 ft wide hallway.

6:00 pm: Drive home to eat dinner and pick up wife.

6:30 pm: Dinner waiting for me at home. I love my wife.

7:30 pm: Drive back into Minneapolis for the show. Get a call from guitar player on the way up; they have found cheaper parking a block away from the club. Also informed that there is one slot left on the guest list, which they put my wife on. Try to recall how many people I promised I would put on the list. Give up at five.

8:00 pm: Arrive at club for load in and sound check. Private function is going long. We are escorted into the basement green room, where there will be complimentary beer. There is no beer.

8:15 pm: Load gear onstage. Told we will not be sound checking. Five minutes later, informed we will be sound checking. Can’t find singer or drummer. Assemble everybody on stage and run through a tune. Giggle at how having a 6×10 backline and monitors makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a bass sandwich.

8:30pm: Grab a beer from the bar, go to talk to friends who have arrived. Ponder the fact that I have several circles of friends and acquaintances (Jabberboard, bands, work, college) that have either never met, or possess bizarre degrees of separation. Awkwardly juggle time between all of them.

8:55 pm: Head down to the green room to grab a few beers (which have now arrived) and get our game faces on.

9:00 – 9:45 pm: RAWK OUT. Have to make critical decision between songs about which is more important: tuning, or drinking beer. As the set continues, the latter takes precedence.

9:46 pm: Already have gear offstage, because rule #1 of a multi-band show is when you’re done playing, get that shit off stage like it’s ON FIRE.

10:00 pm: Talk with friends in that rare and fleeting time between when you’re done playing and the next band starts, as to avoid having to shout into each others ears.

11:15 pm: After listening to the second band’s entire set, decide to call it a night after a few songs into the third band’s set. Go to get car.

11:20 pm: While pulling out of the parking lot, many police arrive and shut down the entire block in front of the club. Drive wrong way down one way, pull into secured lot behind club, getting yelled at entire time by parking security. Get in shouting match with attendant while loading gear. Also, it’s raining.

12:00 am: Arrive at Perkins. Share a chicken sandwich with your #1 (and your future #2) fans. Realize how lucky you are.