Friday, December 14, 2007

Wow, it's been a LONG time since I posted!

Well, life has been pret-ty damn good for ol' Schizo. We've had a few successful gigs with the band - private parties, both great clients and really fun shows. We've also added three new songs, which I always enjoy, because I'm very tired of the vast majority of songs we play, though you'd never know it from the way I perform them - gotta SELL IT, BABY!

I wrote a very personal song to my wife on her birthday. I can't really listen to it without crying, because it's so emotional.

I really want to write songs that touch me that deeply, that really move me like that, but it's just not been something I can really handle, because as much as I love being emotional, I usually try not to drive myself to tears like that.

You can hear the song over at my site. I doubt you'll have a similar reaction, because it's too "inside", but I don't mind coming off cheesy. It's who I am, to some extent.

Well, another private party tomorrow night, and hopefully a lot of relaxing guitar playing over the holidays (I'm definitely going to do it at work as well). Maybe I'll be able to put together a few more demos and update some of the old songs (perhaps re-sing them). We shall see...

Until next time...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Unintentional Vacation

I've been sort of taking an unintentional vacation from playing - the band hasn't been ridiculously busy, and I haven't been feeling my best, so I noodle here and there, but I haven't been playing as much as I usually do. I actually have enjoyed it - picking up the guitar after a relatively long pause makes you realize even more why you do it.

I bought a new toy for my live playing, and have yet to figure it out - it's a POD X3 Live - basically similar to my old PODs in tone, but WAY different in terms of how the brains of it function. It's actually kind of frustrating, because I was used to the old system - it seemed a lot more intuitive - more "plug and play" than this one. The little beast can do so much more than my old PODs, though, so I'm actually excited about Line 6 releasing some updates (which are supposedly coming within the next couple of weeks) so that I have better functionality for my Variaxes (especially the Bass), and hopefully clean up the confusing aspects of the interface (I'm not holding my breath).

We've got a private party this coming Friday and then a long break, so hopefully we'll really get some good stuff together for the Christmas parties we're going to be playing. We're really trying to get out to public shows more (and trying some new venues), so hopefully in the new year you'll see us at a lot more places where our friends and family can come see the show. I personally think this is the best lineup of Roman Holiday, which says nothing to the other lineups (especially the trio version with Mike - that was excellent as well - Rob's singing takes us over the top of that one).

Unrelated to the band, I did have a funny thing happen at work on Halloween - I actually played the guitar and sang a little for my co-workers, and it was pretty horrible by my standards (bad cold), but now everyone who saw it was like, "watch out for that guy - he's a rock star" which I haven't decided is good or bad (since it's mostly women saying it, I'd say it's good...) Goofing around like that reminded me that I really should do something in the style of the acoustic show - either with someone or solo.

I'm going to keep saying that until it happens. Until then, check me out in Roman Holiday, and rock on!

Monday, October 8, 2007

So get this...

It's been a week since I really even gave anything for the band much thought - after the last weekend with Carlos & Charlie's and then a private party in the boonies, it was time for a mental break.

I also had a lot on my mind trying to compose some music for a new multimedia project, too. Here's a sample of what I came up with:

I think I'm finally accepting that this is the music I create. Instead of forcing things in the future, I'm going to make this funky crap work for me.

I recorded it using some ACID loops and my brand-spankin' new, cheapo Line 6 TonePort GX. I dig it. If I ever hooked up with a few more guys like me, we could put some white boy STANK on some funky shit. :)

More to come on the stank front. I am also going to work out a few of my folkier numbers, too and record them. It's just time.

A few cool new places with the band in the next few weeks - Duckhorn Tavern in Killeen on the 19th, and Cedar Street Courtyard on 4th on the 23rd (a Tuesday).

It should be interesting...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Private Parties

Fun. Always different. People tend to be both calmer and crazier, depending upon the scene.

The best part? Almost always MORE MONEY.

We had one on Saturday at Texas A&M (WHOOOP!) at Delta Tau Delta (which looks a whole lot like Delta Tau Chi if you just glance at it, and it made me feel like I was in the movie "Animal House" if but for a moment).

The ride up was a lot of fun, a good chance for the three of us to chat about all kinds of stuff and get to know each other better. Rob - "you so NAASSTY!"

We arrive at the large house in the middle of nowhere (down a long dirt road), and can't find the entrance to the party. Turns out it was around back. Ned actually went into the house looking for the hosts, and Rob and I walked around the side to the back. A bunch of nervous-looking brothers walking around, putting the final touches on their great party - the scene decked out in bamboo and camouflage, but empty. As we finished setting up, it started to fill up. Eventually the place was packed. Beautiful, vapid girls, all decked out in camouflage like some sort of weird sexy cross between "Platoon" and "The Hills".

It reminded me of something very integral to my personality, though. Entitlement and narcissism make me angry. Both were in full force here, as with most college parties (and especially ones affiliated with the inherently "superior" greek system). To be honest, I don't like that scene all that much. The vast majority of people were patently unfriendly (though there were exceptions, like many of the brothers from the fraternity and a few really nice young ladies), but I'll chalk that up to most of them being young, possessing that "cooler than thou" attitude. Of course, I'm a huge dork, so they're not going to be interested in me in the least anyway.

It was funny to play to those people, though. Most were very nice when they'd come up during the set requesting songs, and most of the time, we really tried to indulge them. It was night and day the way I was treated when I was walking around compared to when I was on stage, and it illustrates something in the way people interact with one another. There's something about a stage that can turn a dork like me into someone people want to talk to. Of course, it's only because they WANT something from me - for me to play "their song" - but I'm happy to oblige if I can, because that's why I'm there: To entertain.

It did speak to my strange inferiority/superiority complex (yes, I'm even a schizo that way) that the gig made me feel that way.

Like most private parties we've played, the volume has had to go way down after a short period of time, and honestly, it makes it harder to really rock when you have to do so quietly. The saddest part is, it's not like we're even a loud band. Well, that's enough about that. Thanks to Delta Tau Delta for a fun night, all things considered, and thanks to all the nice people that were there Saturday night.

The ride home was fun as well, but I was BEAT.

On the songwriting/composing front, I've got an interesting project in the works - when the music is done, I'll post it here. I'm writing music for a multimedia project. I can't go into details (confidentiality and stuff), but it's sexy. (Calm your pits, it's not porn or anything - though I'd enjoy composing for that because it's so ripe for all the fun wocka wocka cliches).

Take care, all, and keep playing! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Frats, scat...

So we (meaning Roman Holiday) played a house party this past weekend. It was uneven musically, but fun. Part of the reason we had some issues was related to having to keep the volume down ridiculously low so it wouldn't carry far enough for the neighbors to call the police. It didn't work. The cops eventually shut us down a little after 11pm.

I was going to give the Dean ML bass its debut, but it didn't pan out.

It was pretty fun, though, and showed us what we need to work on. The hosts were awesome, even if one of the meat dishes they made for the party smelled like poop to me. I have a weird sense of smell, though.

This coming weekend we're playing at a fraternity party at Texas A&M. It should be interesting, since these guys have a specific idea of what stuff they want to hear.

I'm going to try and work out a Nine Inch Nails tune ("Closer") for this weekend, but I'm a little scared about it because I need to know exactly where to come in or it'll be a fustercluck...I'm also going to have my 80s hair metal ballads at the ready for the schmaltz factor. Apparently they want the girls to have a good time, which is pretty much our raison d'etre.

Problem? I don't know exactly what 20-year-old girls think is cool, but I'm fairly certain it isn't on our song list. We'll see.

It will be interesting. I'm looking forward to the three of us piling into Ned's truck, though. That will be cool.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dean Blues

So I went to Centro Chitarra's Labor Day blowout sale.

And I bought some crap.

Two Dean guitars, in fact.

One, a Vendetta - a solidbody electric that is as light as a Parker Fly (no lie)
Two, an ML Bass - think Dimebag Darrell, only a bass. (think of the Chat Stew on The Soup) "So metal..."

Total damage? $138 for BOTH guitars.

How are they? They ROCK.

Take a listen to "Dean Blues" (imaginative title, eh?):
Stream it
Download it

Blues in A - how original...I had to finally do one, though; I live in Austin.

Though I do admit, I can play forever in the 12-bar format. I guess that's true of most guitarists worth their salt. Vendetta on guitar, ML on bass, Processed Drumkit 217 on the skins. My hands did it all.

Peace to all!

Friday, August 31, 2007

So it's been a little while...

And I have to say, things, musically, are looking pretty damn good.

Roman Holiday is getting some really good private parties and our foot in the door at some really respectable venues. We're about to enter "the land of the backing track" soon, so we'll see how that goes. It'll definitely fill out our sound.

Tonight Ned (RH guitarist) and I are heading over to check out another good Austin cover band called "Sprung". A guy I work with is their drummer.

I restrung and cleaned up my old #1 guitar, "Grandpa" (a 1990 Fender H.M. Strat Ultra), leaving the locking part of the locking nut off.

I think I'm going to modify it and put an Earvana nut or something like that on it. Maybe just graphite. I'm definitely going to have a luthier/tech do it, though, because I really want the guitar to be as awesome as it once was, only without the annoyance that is a stripped locking nut. Or, the more likely scenario: I'll do nothing and just enjoy it for what it is.

Anyway, no new songs since last post, but I do want to write some soon. Maybe I can gank a few free hours this holiday weekend and write and record a song.

We shall see... :)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fun times...

So I moved the family piano into the studio, because our house just isn't big enough to have it out in the den (it really makes the room small).

Then I set up the mic and recorded some stuff just for fun. Here's a sample.

I also recorded some covers with just me and an acoustic guitar for fun. I was constantly being interrupted by the kids, and I forgot some words here and there (not to mention missed a few notes), but I think these show you that a good song is a good song regardless of how fleshed-out the arrangement is:
Just Like Heaven (The Cure)
Sunday Morning (Maroon5)

I like goofing around when I can. I encourage you to do the same!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cajun Man would be proud...

I'm into the "tion"s these days.

Aggravation - as in, I get aggravated when I'm not feeling like the machine is churning behind me musically, especially when I'm giving a LOT like I was at the Light Bar last Saturday night.

Frustration - from having a complete night of clusterfucks.

Dehydration - having nothing to do with alcohol, but purely based on too much heat - no matter how much water I drank, I still felt like diarrhea the next day.

Remuneration - or more accurately, not much remuneration for all our troubles.

Destination - or perhaps...

Vacation - as in, it's time for me to have one, and it's good that the band has a break so we can get our crap together.

Circumnavigation - feeling like you've circled the "globe of emotions" in the course of one show.

Creation - I wrote part of a song...but just part, but it was still new and creative.

Isolation - I need some sometimes. I get really short and snippy if I don't get it.

Recreation - taking the kids for a swim Saturday was actually quite awesome.

Violation - talking about other band members on here isn't kosher with "band code", but I was really frustrated by their performances Saturday night - I love 'em to death, truly, but I felt like I needed to get Casey angry so she'd actually hit the drums with some power (it just seemed really weak up on stage - I hope it was more "together" out front), and I wanted to get Ned some replacement nerves, because apparently the ones connecting his brain and hands (and his thinking and memory) weren't working all that well Saturday night.

Conflagration - could be something that happens from my brash honesty on here.

Migration - moving to a new drummer will make things a lot different for this band, which isn't a bad thing.

Satisfaction - that I used "tion" more than anyone probably should.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ego boost...

This was sent in response to a Roman Holiday e-mail list post by Ned:
"The other band that has rocked my world is Roman Holiday ( They stepped in when The Recliners had to cancel out on a reception I was hosting for a conference last week. Roman Holiday is a three piece with one of the most amazing bass players I've seen on stage in a long time. He plays like John Taylor and sings like... well, whoeverthehell he wants to. They do AC/DC, The Beastie Boys, Smash Mouth, The Ramones... well the song list is on the web site. AND they'll be adding Duran Duran soon! Woot! They are playing on Saturday at 10pm at The Light Bar, which is located across the street from the Frost Bank Building at 4th and Congress. Their regular drummer had to drop out due to work but the sit in (a chic drummer and she's hot!) is really great and if they hadn't told me I would not have known they hadn't rehearsed."

...and that was a show with barely any rehearsal, played with Casey, who had barely picked up sticks in five months.

Comments like these just remind me of the reality that no matter how much you think you suck, someone probably thinks you're awesome. Thanks to the folks who came out to Stubb's, and especially the hosts of the party for reminding me of that by sending these wonderful comments along.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Jason Falkner is MY American Idol

I've been on a huge Jason Falkner kick these past few days, soaking up just about everything he put out - Presents Author Unknown, Can You Still Feel?, Bliss Descending, and even his guitar work in Jellyfish. The dude is just supremely talented, and completely overlooked except by songwriting musos like me.

His music almost sounds like prog-pop, in the sense that it uses very dense, complicated arrangements of guitar and voice. It's just weird enough to not sound completely mainstream, but everything is a hook. It's kind of like XTC, only an American version, with all the instruments performed by one guy (he plays everything on his albums).

I encourage everyone who reads this to go to your nearest record store or used CD store, and grab any of his records you can find. OR if you're a Napster or Rhapsody member (the unlimited kind) check him out on there.

He has a new album out, but it's still unavailable in the states except as an import from Japan. They get all the good stuff, including bonus tracks on almost all releases that aren't available on the American versions.

Why is America so consistently denied the best in power pop?

In a world that actually judges its art based on merit rather than fashion, Jason Falkner would be a superstar.

So, here's to you, Jason...I hope you're able to shed those sideman shoes and get the recognition that befits a talent as great as yours.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Two days of happy.

Wednesday and Thursday were good in Roman Holiday-land.

Wednesday night, we auditioned a great drummer (Rob). Thursday he decided to join the band. YAY!

Wednesday night, we played with Casey (who we love). Thursday, we did it again at Stubb's. It was great.

We're going to take our time finding a fourth member of the band.

I think we'll be pretty stellar as a trio (and we'll make more money).


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Roman Holiday blather...

So we played The Light Bar. It was relatively fun, but load in and load out sucked.

I saw a dude I work with there. It was funny seeing him out of context. It was funnier seeing him singing along to the songs I was singing. The staff at the Light Bar was great - especially Jennifer. It's a cool place, and probably a really fun "hang" if you aren't working (as in, playing music in the heat and humidity on the roof).

It was probably our last gig with Mike, which is sad. We've got a gig Thursday evening at Stubb's to play for two hours for a private function. It should be cool - especially since Casey's going to play with us (Casey was the drummer in Roman Holiday up until February).

It's an uncertain future, though. We want to have good people who can also play to add to our little family, and so far, the guys we've auditioned have been good people, but none have been all that right for the band (either from their perspective or ours).

We've got another audition on Wednesday, and then we'll rehearse with Casey for Thursday's gig. It should be an adventure of sorts, since I haven't played with Casey in months. I'm looking forward to it, though. The drummer we're auditioning seems to be quite excellent from the stuff he's recorded. We'll see if he wants to play with us.

Well, off to do some more work...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I was listening to some XTC yesterday (a great and highly underrated group) and reading an interview with principal songwriter and lead singer Andy Partridge, and something he said struck me as interesting.

If you want to become a better songwriter, you should pick apart your favorite songs and analyze why they work, structurally. Eventually, you'll come upon formulas that will help you express what you want in your own writing.

I realize that this isn't something I've ever done consciously, but I've always done because that's just the way I am - I pick things apart to better understand them as a whole.

I think that's why when I listen to even the first songs I ever wrote they had good structure - distinct musical themes, good bridges between sections, the strongest hooks in the chorus, etc.

I guess it's just the way I always thought songs should work, and so when I started writing, that's how they came out. I even plot out rhyme schemes sometimes.

I wish I could have the same discipline with my technique. Then I'd be able to execute the songs a whole lot better.

Guitar World magazine just published Steve Vai's 1990 workout again, which I'm going to accept as a sign that it's time for me to really get into practicing guitar again and getting my fretboard memorization together. I want to shred. I'm tired of being a half-assed guitar player. I have all the relative and perfect pitch lessons (the David L. Burge stuff), and I want to work on those, too, especially the relative pitch lessons, because not only do they teach you great relative pitch, it's a rigorous theory curriculum as well.

So in concert with the discipline I've always had as a songwriter, it's time to achieve it as an instrumentalist.

After I tackle all that stuff (especially the fretboard memorization), I'll work on reading music again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Audition weekend...a partial (and potentially complete) bust.

So we had two drummers and a bassist audition on Saturday, and I really liked all the guys who auditioned.

Of course, that doesn't mean that they'd want to play with us or we'd want to play with them.

The bass player didn't have any time at all to learn the material, so he was forgiven for his mistakes. He had a good enough ear that it wasn't terrible, and was a heck of a nice guy. The jury's out on whether he'll want to play with us, though we liked him enough to want to hear more, for sure.

The first drummer brought my monster to the surface. I really did not enjoy playing with him. Talking to him, sure. Nice fella. BAD drummer. I kind of knew it when I heard the way his drums were tuned, but I felt like giving him the benefit of the doubt (sometimes drummers are quirky). My suspicions were true, however, when we started to go through the audition songs. It was just a mess. Within the first song I knew he didn't have the ability we were looking for, and I have to say I honestly felt Simon Cowell coming to the surface - I had this desire to ask him "why are you here?" because it was obvious that he just didn't have the man-hours (or perhaps the talent) to be able to cover the various styles we needed for the band.

His time was nonexistent, his drums were all tuned too high (which sucked all the tone out of them), and it was just a slopfest.

As you can tell, I'm just talking about his playing - let me say again that he was a nice guy and definitely a personality fit - he just wasn't there, skill-wise.

The second drummer was a pretty nice dude from San Marcos. He came in with a reissue sparkle Ludwig drum kit, and played it really well (with the exception of playing almost every song too slowly). I don't think, even with his skill, he'd be happy with Roman Holiday, because he seems to be much more interested in funk and dance music, and that's something this band will never be. Which indicates to me that he should find something that suits him better. I don't want him to expect something that's not going to happen.

He seems to be a bit younger, and still thinks bassists who play with picks are not worth his time. He'll learn. I think Carol Kaye, Paul McCartney, Mike Gordon and the ghost of Allen Woody might take him to task on his criticism of pick playing. It's an extremely silly thing to be anti-pick. If it grooves, it grooves, no matter what you're using to strike the strings. Half of the best soul bass lines were recorded with a pick. I play fingers, thumb, pick, and slap because the songs that we play were recorded with those techniques. Bassists in cover bands who don't master all the techniques cause the sound of the band to suffer. It's similar to a drummer who never learns rod or brush technique, but plays songs that require it using sticks. It's never quite right. But I digress...

In summary: Good drummer, probably would hate being in our band. We've been through a situation like this recently, and the sad part is, we really need to have someone who WANTS to be in the band as it is, and doesn't need it to completely change for them to be satisfied, because that simply is not going to happen.

So we didn't find a drummer fit at this audition. Both guys are great, personally, but neither seems to be right for the band.

If my honesty is painful, remember that I named no names, and if pressed by these gentlemen, I would be glad to share these criticisms to their face. I just needed to confer with my co-conspirator in all things Roman Holiday (Ned) before I could comment.

I'm seriously wondering if this is at all worth it anymore...can anyone blame me?

Friday, July 20, 2007

M-Audio IE-10 Earphones...and other ramblings

So, I broke down and purchased a new pair of isolation earphones, because the cheapie Philips ones I bought sounded like horsecrap.

Talk about night and day...these things are AWESOME! I hope they sound as good when I use them in the band, because they sounded fantastic even with the mp3s on my iRiver H320.

The only thing that worries me is the size of the cable - its length - but I'm no size queen...I'll make it work.

I changed guitars at work. I brought my Ibanez. It's cool. I use it with my old Korg Pandora (the PX-2 from many moons ago). People always look at me weird when I crack it out, though. Such is life as a guy who doesn't really give a hoot what the folks at work think. If I've got to wait around for a computer that won't run fast enough (or co-workers who aren't working fast enough), I'm going to have something productive to do while I wait.

There's a patch I made on the Pandora that sounds utterly fantastic. One of these days I'll record a sample and post it. I didn't think it was capable of that good a sound, but I managed to make it work. Yeehaw!

Next gig is a week from Saturday at The Light Bar. We have two drummers coming in tomorrow for auditions. I really hope we find just the right guy...I'm tired of looking.

No progress on the creation front, but I think I'm going to start writing lyrics just to write them at work. More "be productive with forced downtime" activity.

Oh yeah, and I do love music. It just doesn't always love me back. Reminds me of a girl I once knew...who am I kidding? Most of the girls I once knew... :P

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I can't stand music.

I think I've finally figured out my problem.

I have musical ADD.

Even with music I love, I always end up changing the track before it's over.

I think about the task of creating something in a studio, and it makes me go, "that takes too long".

I think about spending time learning the words to the songs I have to sing, and I go "I'll memorize them eventually" because I simply do not have the patience to sit through the original recordings of the songs we play for any amount of time, especially not over and over again.

I'm constantly flipping stations on the radio, and I can never decide on a CD, and when I do, it usually goes in for about four tracks and then I move on to the next disc...

So it comes down to this: I can't stand music...and yet I love it.

It really has become the PITA girlfriend of my life. You love her, but she's a bitch that treats you like crap.

Thank God my wife isn't like that...then I'd have two.

I keep thinking of a silver lining in all this, or at least an explanation, and I think it comes down to these two things:
1. I'll still do it, no matter how much it wrongs me, because it is such an important part of who I am.
2. The reason it happens is just an overabundance of stimuli in my life, from work to traffic to kids. Sometimes peace and quiet is in short supply, and music isn't exactly peace and quiet for me.

So let it be known that the MUSICAL Schizo can't stand music. A truly Schizo behavior...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jesus F. N. Christ

Apparently Jesus can't forgive bad language.

We had a drummer come through who we loved, who we really wanted to be part of the band, because he seemed like a "bro". Apparently that's not the case.

You see, he's a "Christian", and it would look bad if he played drums for songs with dirty words or dirty messages. They're not satanic messages, even, just songs about crazy bitches who like to fuck and the expression of the man who is hated - fuckin' hated.

"Christians" apparently don't think God can handle bad words or bad messages expressed in music. So much so, in fact, that they think a bad word or hanging around drunk people is going to harm their faith and bring them closer to eternal damnation.

A long time ago, I invented a word to describe this phenomenon, where "Christians" are more concerned with how they look than their actual relationship with God: Christivanity.

I've only ever seen it one other place, and that was years after I invented it. I hope it becomes a word people use to describe those sorts of folk - members of churches concerned with looking good in the face of other humans.

If I may be flip and assume I know God for a second:
God knows YOUR deeds. Concern yourselves with that.
God knows YOU didn't say those words you found objectionable, and I think he can handle bad language - after all, his son hung out with the dregs of society.

Although, he did say to not use his name in vain, so maybe he is a big pussy after all.

I'm sad that Jesus (to me a fairytale with a nice message, for the most part) is such a domineering force in people's lives. It's sad that these folks can't even comprehend that their avoidance of things their pastor told them are "evil" is childlike behavior at its peak.

God gave us a brain, we should use it.
God gave us a moral compass to know what's right.
God gave us reason to help us avoid things that are bad for us.
God also gave us compassion to understand the weaknesses of others and to let us know when to help.

Of course, I say "God gave us" but I really mean "our parents gave us" or "nature gave us". If I was really wanting to be controversial, I'd say "Evolution gave us" - but I know that's a non-starter for Biblical literalists.

Coming right down to it, though, it was his choice, and I understand why he made his decision. I'm just not as beholden to a fantasy man in the sky (or the opinions of my fellow church patrons and "friends"), so it's hard for me to understand the logic behind it.

He could have just lied and told us we sucked. That would have been easier to take... :)

Corporate Parties and IEMs

I love playing corporate functions.

This weekend the band played a pool party in Belton, and it was hot as balls, but it was worth the drive and effort, as the client seemed pretty happy and we all walked away with a fat check at the end of the show.

I keep going back and forth about the in-ear monitors, though. Sometimes they just sound like complete garbage, and my guess is that it's the pathetic excuse for headphones I'm using with them. They're "isolation" earphones, but it just helps you hear their pathetic fidelity even more explicitly.

I really need to just break down and get myself a pair of Ultimate Ears or something similar. I can't afford to drop more than about $100 on a pair, so the molded ones are out for now.

I will say that any singers out there who really want to hear themselves on stage should invest in a good pair of IEMs - it's so much better than trying to hear yourself over the din of drums and loud guitarists. Used with care (and not blasted), your ears will thank you at the end of the night - I haven't had ringing or a headache since we started using them, because they take the levels of the drums down between 10 and 20 dB - helpful for those of you with loud drummers (like my band).

The side benefit? They're AWESOME headphones! I wouldn't use them if you were out running or biking, because they'll most certainly keep you from hearing your surroundings, but on an airplane, or any time you want peace, they're incredible. They're a much better concept than noice-cancelling headphones, because instead of electronically messing with your surroundings (and therefore your music), they just give you a direct, clean version of the sound. Get a pair with more than one driver and it's even more amazing, because the sound is clearer and often has more bass.

Okay, enough raving for now. I'm going to go write another post on another topic. You probably already read it because it'll show up above this one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Well...after giving it some thought (and listening to some convincing begging...)

I've decided to "un-quit" the band.

Why, you might ask? Well, it's pretty simple. The band's demands were becoming too much for me, and I really wasn't all that excited about it anymore (when it becomes WORK, it's time to move on).

Standards have been put into place that will make the time worth it for all concerned.

So, I'm back as lead singer of Roman Holiday. The jury is still out on whether I'll remain bassist/lead singer or move to guitarist/lead singer, but I will be the lead singer.

We don't have many gigs booked, so we're in a major period of rebuilding. We need a drummer and a bass player.

If you know anyone, send them to or

I'm still going to do all the other things I want to do musically, I'm just going to work with Ned to try and keep this band going, because we sound really good, and we can sound even better.

Next gig is July 28th at the Light Bar in downtown Austin (4th and Congress). Probably the last one with Mike on drums...who knows if we'll have a new bass player by then. Ah, life in a cover band that's falling apart...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bourbon Rocked

So we had a pretty good show last night at Bourbon Rocks.

If there was any script I'd write to the last few gigs leading up to some time away, this would be an acceptable draft - we had a few really nice fans hang out all night, and the flighty BR crowd hung out for a while to begin with, then almost all the way through the second set, and bailed before the third set. After that, the second wave came in at about 12:45 a.m. and went APESHIT.

Special thanks go to the nice ladies who I will call "Pittsburgh D.C." and "You're a CPA?" (because I am so tired, I have no idea what their names were). They kept it fun all night with their enthusiasm and their kindness. (And PDC's Oneders jokes...)

I actually drank three beers last night, too. I don't generally drink more than one.

My voice held out through all the abuse until we tried to do "Any Way You Want It" by Journey - it was pretty horrible and hilarious. The voice came back after massaging it with some Sublime ("Santeria" and "What I Got"), and I was fine for the whole show. That's pretty good vocal endurance for a guy who generally doesn't have much time to work on it.

I was listening to my songs at work today, and I realized I need to go in and re-sing just about everything with vocals on it. I've improved so much vocally in the past couple of years that the recordings I made before that sound like crap to me.

So I think that's the first thing I'm going to tackle - re-singing (and in some cases, re-arranging) my songs I've already finished.

Then, I'll go through and make good demos of every song that doesn't have one yet.

THEN, I'll do some more writing.

Unless inspiration strikes first...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Further contemplation

I've been thinking a whole lot over the past few days about my decision to step away from being in a band, and I really feel it's right for me right now. I still want to play live, and I'll miss the money, but to be honest, I want to be better than I am, and I want the people I play with to be even better than me.

So many times in my musical life I've accepted the fact that I'm going to probably be the best musician in the band (the kind that can show everyone else how to do their job or play their role), or at least the guy with the best ears. It's been a compromise, because it leads me to behaviors I don't really enjoy, like being in people's faces about getting things close (if not exactly right) or about the arrangements or timing. I hate it. It feels like babysitting, only the kids are adults and they don't need to be babysat, so I just seem like a complete prickazoid.

I think it's time for me to be in a situation where it's just me for a while, so I can avoid being "Captain Know-it-all" about stuff. I really hate that side of my personality. Having it reflected back at me recently (by a new band member that quickly became an old one) was bizarre. The thing is, I think it's just a complete misunderstanding of where it comes from that leads to people assuming I'm such a dick about this stuff.

But back to the music...time to get good and write something profound (unlike this tripe).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Time Is Running Out

I think I'm finally fried for the cover band thing for now.

Don't get me wrong, the money and camraderie are great, but I'm tired of being a half-assed musician.

Tonight I'll talk to Ned about the future of our band, and basically tell him that I don't think I want to do it anymore (after July).

We've got two major holes to fill (drums, vocals), and so far, it hasn't gone well in that department.

The more I think about it, the less I feel the time spent away from my family justifies the amount of money I make.

Plus, honestly, I think I want to really get into songwriting again, and this cover stuff is sapping all my energy, not because I have to prepare for it so much, but rather because it takes a lot of mental energy I could be devoting to other musical endeavors (not to mention non-musical endeavors like my kids and wife).

We had a good gig as a trio at Carlos & Charlie's last night, and if we have a few more good ones, it'll serve as a fitting end to my time playing in bands for money. I will probably still do cover gigs as a solo acoustic act (speaking of which, I have a duo gig next Friday, July 6th at Johnny Fins, provided it's not completely under water), but for now, the full-band thing isn't very appealing. Too much rehearsal, too many gigs, not enough control.

I love the guys in the band, and it's not really about them. I've just reached a point where I don't feel up to doing it anymore - it's too tiring, mentally and physically.

I've always driven home from gigs with the thoughts that I never want to do it again, but I never woke up with those thoughts until this morning. I've got a gig tonight in Round Rock at a place called "The Rock Room", which should be good, because the crowd there is pretty receptive; it's small, so even a small crowd fills the room, and that's always a more enjoyable experience, in my opinion. Then a gig 4th of July at the old standby "Bourbon Rocks", the aforementioned Friday "Johnny Fins" acoustic gig, and back at "The Rock Room" on July 7th. After a private party up near Temple on the 14th, nothing until August, so that'll be when I will say goodbye, unless Ned begs me to play the Light Bar gigs...

Stick a fork in me, people. I'm done. But this blog and my music site will get a lot more interesting because of it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Johnny Fins Acoustic

So half of Roman Holiday played a gig at Johnny Fins tonight.

It was decent, though there were times I wanted my cohort to just stop playing. We hadn't rehearsed enough, so the rhythm work was pretty all over the place on the songs we played together.

The crowd hung around, though...that was so cool. I guess we didn't suck.

The staff was friendly and nice, and I got to play "Elenore" by the Turtles and "Hello" (my acoustic show staple) by Lionel Ritchie.

I enjoyed it. No ringing ears after the show, and a nice check in my pocket. I think I could get used to this sort of thing.

It was good practice for becoming the singer, because it really showed me where I was inconsistent.

I think my next bit of therapy will be recording every song we do acoustically so I can hear where I need to improve.

I think that might be a helpful thing. I also need to learn how to breathe like a singer, because I was running out of air all night. It was really pissing me off.

Well, enough about me...oh, wait, no, this is my goddamn blog! Peace to all!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Triumph (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the dog)

So all my singing fears were pretty much pointless. Some songs I tanked, most songs sounded great, we were very inconsistent musically, but in the end, it was a pretty damn good gig!

The ROT rally folks were pretty cool, and I got to see Leslie's freckled man-butt through a thong (a uniquely Austin experience), and the staff at the Iron Cactus was AWESOME.

So I view the show as a triumph. The next test? An acoustic show at Johnny Fins in two weeks. It should be quite interesting, because I don't know how well it's going to go without a drummer.

We will be trotting out a very cool version of "Pour Some Sugar On Me", though. :)

Gotta find the fun anywhere you can get it. I might slip in a few originals, too, just for good measure.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I'm scared.

I have to sing a whole night of songs tomorrow night, and I know I can do it, but I'm worried simply because I haven't done that (sing the whole night) in over a year.

We're gigging as a trio tomorrow night (which means a nice fat payday), and it's downtown on 6th street during the ROT rally (a big biker event this weekend in Austin). It should be an awesome crowd.

It's weird, as much as I know I can do certain things, vocally, I don't want to be overconfident. I realize that most people won't notice an out-of-tune note here and there, but I will, and being the guy I am, I want to be as close to perfect as possible, because it adds weight to demanding that of others.

It should be a great time, though.

We auditioned two more people, both very different. First was a bassist named Luis - he was good, sang pretty well, and won major points from me because his tester riff was "Glamour Boys" by Living Colour. Then we had a singer, Rob - more of a karaoke singer than a musician, but not terrible. Too inexperienced to join the band without other musical skills, though. I won't take anyone fronting the band who can't sing better than me, especially if they don't play an instrument.

That's all for now...come see the show tomorrow night at 10pm at the Iron Cactus - 6th and Trinity. The Musical Schizo comes to life... :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's been a little while...

Life is really good at intervening.

Another lesson of making matter how much you want to get stuff done, sometimes life (your responsibilities to yourself and the ones you love) is simply much more important.

Right now I've been working on getting the Roman Holiday demo with me singing together, because, well, we don't know what the future holds, and we might as well have something that will sound like what we sound like (i.e. with me singing lead) for getting new venues.

It's all up in the air as far as auditions are concerned...especially considering last Thursday's auditions were horrifying. First, we had this nice gentleman named Scott. He belonged at the American Idol auditions, because he was completely deluded. The man can't sing. He can barely play guitar. His tone was horrible. Not to mention the fact that he would be a William Hung-esque nightmare fronting a party band.

The second auditioner (Whitney) didn't bother to show up - "oh, I forgot..." Look, girl - show a little goddamn respect. All I know is that if I tell someone I'm interested in being a part of their band, I'm actually interested in the band and I will fucking remember to show up. Truly pathetic.

Well, that's all for now. I'm sure you can tell I've been stressed. More auditions this week...I want this to be over so we can just get back to the band and I can get back to making my own music. As of right now I have to learn our entire songlist, because I don't want to have a music stand with a lyric book on stage if I can help it. I'll probably just put the book on the floor, just in the event of catastrophic brain farts...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'm a musical arsehole.

The singer for my cover band just quit, and that leaves us in an interesting transitional phase with a lot of options:
-we stick it out as a trio for a little while, pocketing more cash (good, but our sound suffers)
-we find a direct replacement - a singer that doesn't play anything (NO is my answer to that)
-we find another bass player and move me over to lead vocals and occasional guitar (sounds fun to me)
-we find essentially another "me" - a multi-instrumentalist who can sing lead - and split the frontman duties

So far, no replies to our well-worded Craigslist ad, and it leads me to ponder the circumstances of the departure of members of this band over the past five months.

Casey quit because it wasn't fun anymore
Patrick quit because it wasn't fun anymore

I have a theory about that. The problem? Me.

I loom over the others in the bands I inhabit, because to me, part of the fun is getting it as close as you can while still maintaining your personality. I believe in dedicating yourself to improving your performance as much as possible. It isn't just a release for me - it's a job, too, and the crowd deserves the best I can give them. That takes work outside of practice. When people don't do homework, well, there's nothing that pisses me off more, because I see it as disrespectful, even if it's simple laziness.

I view being in the band as a part-time job that demands excellence.

I think that's the fundamental difference that led to their departures. It wasn't musical differences, it was two people who, for whatever reason, didn't want to put in the same amount of work as the other members of the band, because to them, it was more a "okay, now let's go play" situation. No outside-the-shed actual work, just show up and expect to be able to pull it off.

That was fine in the old days of the band, (when, honestly, they sucked ass) but if a band wants to grow and be fairly compensated for their time and effort, there has to actually be some effort. Some dedication to the cause, and respect for the others who really want things to get better.

As much as I procrastinate about things sometimes, I'm anything but lazy if work needs to be done on a song. I feel I owe it to the others who are working as hard or harder to get their parts together to show up knowing more than they do.

The mere fact that the two recently-departed members of the band (and I love them both) weren't up for that makes me both sad and angry, not only because I pushed them away from something they found fun, but also because in my view my actions should have inspired them to want to grow instead of just sucking the fun out of it.

Such is the life of the musical asshole...

Monday, May 14, 2007


Sometimes I have a hard time allowing myself to be really naked emotionally when I write. I think many self-conscious songwriters go through this. Some hide behind metaphor, some hide in their characters in songs, and some simply don't have to write songs that are personal.

I've spent the vast majority of my time as a songwriter toeing the fence. I want to write really dark songs about the depths of my psyche, but every time I get in that mode, one of two things happens: 1. I wimp out and the song ends up sucking. 2. I go all the way and scare myself to the point where I don't ever share those songs with anyone.

I started thinking about the emotional connections people have to songs. Some relate to the characters in the narrative, some relate to the simple joy of the melody, some really think that the lyricist managed to express exactly what they have been thinking. This was the case for me on the new Rush tune "Faithless":

I've got my own moral compass to steer by
A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
And all the preaching voices -
Empty vessels of dreams so loud
As they move among the crowd
Fools and thieves are well disguised
In the temple and market place

Like a stone in the river
Against the floods of spring
I will quietly resist

Like the willows in the wind
Or the cliffs along the ocean
I will quietly resist

I don't have faith in faith
I don't believe in belief
You can call me faithless
I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that's faith enough for me

I've got my own spirit level for balance
To tell if my choice is leaning up or down
And all the shouting voices
Try to throw me off my course
Some by sermon, some by force
Fools and thieves are dangerous
In the temple and market place

Like a forest bows to winter
Beneath the deep white silence
I will quietly resist

Like a flower in the desert
That only blooms at night
I will quietly resist

Neil Peart, drummer and über-lyricist, captured the "zeitgeist" of my recent emotions in this piece.

My wife often has a hard time listening to music because it affects her so personally - it really gets inside her and moves her. I've never had that same experience - it might be the more clinical approach to music I've had over the course of my life. My daughter is showing signs of being just like my wife. I just hope it doesn't keep her from wanting to play music. I think both she and the boy will be fantastic musicians, if they want to be.

Either way, emotions about and in music are such an integral part of the experience that I thought I'd muse on them a little bit.

Whatever moves you musically is good - and if it sounds good (to you), it is good (to you).

Strike that balance when you create, and it's a satisfying experience.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Acoustic Guitar

Today I reminded myself how much I adore the sound of a good acoustic guitar.

I hadn't picked up my Larrivée in a few days, and was looking to just plunk a little while I was downloading some stuff, so I grabbed it.

Immediately, I was just strumming a simple G chord just to enjoy the fullness of its sound - then I was ripping off some little bluesy licks and playing my standard "solo with thumb bassline" thing I often do when I'm testing a guitar.

After that, I started to play a few of my songs - even a couple of the more electrified variety - because they work so well on an acoustic. I've heard many songwriters say that that's the test of a good song - if it survives well with just an acoustic guitar. I don't quite agree (Pearl Jam's "Alive" comes to mind), but it is a nice sentiment.

I was listening to some tunes on Rhapsody (I'm a member), and I saw that Green Day re-released their first two albums (the ones from Lookout! Records) on Reprise. It was way cool - especially the bonus tracks on 1,039 Smoothed-Out Slappy Hours. They were from a pre-Kerplunk radio interview on WAAF in Boston. They played a few songs totally acoustic, with just Billie Joe and Mike singing (and Billie Joe also playing guitar, obviously). They sounded great...even in this "way before they were stars" session. I've always wished they'd go back and re-record those first two albums with their current production. They would sound huge.

Jumping back to my acoustic, though, I also was playing some of the chord/tab things I had saved from the "internets" years back, including some Monkees, Soul Asylum, and Turtles songs - and they all sounded just wonderful with just my singing and playing. It got me thinking - I need to just record me singing a ton of songs and playing acoustic. Sort of like Ed Robertson's "Bathroom Sessions", only with covers as well.

Ed plays a Larrivée, too. Or he did. Now I mostly see him with Taylor guitars.

But as some say, "that's neither here nor there..."

For you guys who compose in other ways, grab an acoustic, and take a crack at your tunes. I bet you'll get a kick out of the result.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Clever examples of songwriting, to me...

Here are a few examples of wordplay I enjoy:

From Fountains of Wayne's "Hung Up On You":
And I can't dial the phone just now
Even though I know your number
Can't bring my broken heart to be untrue
Like you did today you'll say
Goodbye the same old way
Ever since you hung up on me
I'm hung up on you

From Sloan's "Autobiography":
I'm writing "young and gifted" in my autobiography
I figured who would know better than me
I'm certainly the former, but I'm not so much the latter
But no one's gonna read it, so I'm sure it doesn't matter

Or how about the Odds' "Someone Who's Cool":
In natural selection
I've avoided all detection
And the - tender bits underneath
All with window dressing
And calculated guessing
And a bark bigger than my teeth

These merely scratch the surface of what I was talking about in the other post. I just wanted to give some props to some bands you may not have heard before.


One of my favorite aspects of songwriting is wordplay.

I almost invariably try to find ways to twist words or come up with clever lines to basically make myself smile.

One of my favorite things to do in a song is a thing you often see in poetry - essentially using the same sounds in alternating lines, but varying the words.

A good example (from "We Really Just Don't Care"):
Nobody sings a little song just to sing
Nobody brings a little wrong just to sting

Or maybe this one (from "Without You With Me Tonight" - written with my brother Rob):
So I know that I'll spend this evening lonely
But I can wait 'cause you are my one and only
'Cause I really think you are the one for me
I would even look past infidelity
My evening just couldn't be right
Without you with me tonight

It's little things like this that make me feel like I'm accomplishing something as a lyricist - telling the story, but doing it in a tuneful and lyrically clever way - not just stringing things together in some sort of weird baroque stream-of-consciousness thing (a la Alanis Morissette - but she's not always like that).

The bottom line is, it doesn't work for every song, but I find it really fun to find new and interesting ways to make words go together and work together both rhythmically and sonically.

I'm sure if I wrote stories my prose would be quite flowery and precious.

More to come...

Monday, May 7, 2007


I find inspiration in the weirdest places - it could be a touching scene from a movie, the look on a child's face, a fruit display in a grocery really doesn't matter.

The challenge I have is taking that inspiration and turning it into something before I destroy myself with self-editing.

Too many songwriters participate in the folly of denying their gift.

Even if what's coming out is crap, you should let it out. There is time later for editing and fixing things - turning them into something great. Let the inspiration take you to a place that allows you to create - don't crap all over an idea before you allow it to come to fruition, or you will end up dazzlingly unsatisfied with your ability to create, and with a healthy helping of writer's block, because you've gotten into a pattern of intentionally blocking inspiration because you're judging it before its job is done.

Being open to everything gives you far more material from which you can create a masterpiece (at least for you - we can't all be Lennon and McCartney or Randy Newman).

Personally, I've been working past my inherent need to self-edit when it comes to songwriting, and it's freed me up a lot. Getting ideas out is much easier when you aren't artistically constipated by your own fears that it "won't be cool enough" or "won't be good enough".

Considering how happy I've been with my wife and family, it's been hard to write things that are emotionally raw, because they feel sort of dishonest (as I'm not really sad) - but we all have things in our lives that drive us to create. And we all have topics that we find easier to write about than others. Heartbreak is an easy and obvious one. Concern and pain for someone you love is another less obvious choice, but that often comes across as preachy. Writing about a subject works well, but only if you're a good storyteller or good at description.

Basically it all comes down to allowing something to move you to the point that it creates musical inspiration, whether it be a cool chord progression (I've always been fond of the motion and tension of C#m-A-E-G#7), some assholes you know (see the song "Miserable Bastard"), certain world leaders, or just your favorite bass or guitar.

Don't kill inspiration before it has a chance to take bloom. That's my songwriting tip of the week.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I Just wanted to welcome everyone to my new Musical Schizo blog.

In this blog I'll introduce new songs, talk about inspirations for my songwriting, reveal the methods I use for writing and recording my compositions, and share "war stories" about my various gigs around Austin and elsewhere.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I will creating it!