Wednesday, October 29, 2008

STUBB'S RULES.

Roman Holiday played at Stubb's Barbeque for a private party last night, and it was incredible.

We went into the show thinking it'd be like the last time we played there, where we played inside, and it was pretty cool but nothing earth-shattering, just a nice private function.

So first we find out we're playing after Joe Ely (he was playing a different private party before ours), which sounded pretty cool.

THEN we find out we're going to be on THE BIG STAGE! Wow. They had a full crew, including roadies to carry our stuff, a separate engineer in charge of monitors (like at a real concert),

We loaded in just as Joe was playing, so we got to hear his whole set - it was great. Then they tore his stuff down and loaded us in. We got all set up, set the monitor mix, did a soundcheck song ("She" by Green Day, just for fun), and started our show. It was a really fun crowd - most of the first set, they were just eating, but they would cheer after each song. We took a 20-minute break and got to eat a pile of Stubb's barbeque, which was DELICIOUS, and then went back down to do the next set, which was AWESOME! From the first song to the last, people were really into it, dancing and whooping it up - it was a PARTY.

I had forgotten how much fun it was to do a big-venue show like that, with a relatively large PA, a full crew, and a nice-sized stage to run around on (complete with drum riser).

Probably one of the best gigs, all considered, that I've done with the band (Roman Holiday)...and much love is extended to my bandmates for playing a good show, too: Ned (on here as ned911) and Greg - you guys rocked.

We made good money, played a really great show, and were home by 11pm. You can't beat that.

Here's hoping we get to do that again sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Observations...

I haven't had much time to even think about music, even though Roman Holiday's played some really good gigs the past few weeks. I guess I've been DOING music too much to think about it.

We've added a bunch of new songs, some of which will die immediately because they sound bad (like Nothin' But A Good Time and 867-5309/Jenny). We've got a good core of stuff now, and now we need to tighten up and then decide what the next step will be musically. Most of our gigs through the end of the year are private parties, so a lot of the more risque songs we do will not make the cut for those shows.

We're playing in Temple for Halloween (at O'Brien's), which is a problem because Heather's got other stuff going on that night that I'd really like for her to be able to attend. We're playing in Killeen on November 7th. Those are the only two public shows for the rest of the year, and neither of them are in Austin.

I suppose you make a trade-off when you decide to focus on the lucrative private party circuit, and you stop being a "bar band", but the biggest issue is that we don't have a regular gig at any of the good-paying venues here in town. It's a shame, because I know a lot of people who want to come see us play, if only to tease me. I really don't want to waste my time playing for next to nothing just so people can come see me play, so I don't see this situation changing, but it is a mild bummer.

There are times I really wish we had a fourth member, and then I check my wallet and realize I don't wish for it that much. I suppose if we were regularly snagging gigs worth more than $1500, I might be cool with it, but right now it doesn't seem to be worth it.

I suppose we could hire someone as our regular soundman/light tech for a few hundred or so, which wouldn't be bad, especially at larger venues, but that's another schedule that would need to be coordinated, another ego that would need to be dealt with.

I like what we've got...I just wish we could do more with it.

But moving on, I still kick that acoustic idea around, and it still never materializes because I simply don't have a lot of time to work on it or make it happen. I suppose if I was unemployed, it would be easier, but I like having a consistent paycheck and time with my family.

It occurred to me earlier this week that the last time I wrote a song was in May, and the last time before that was almost a year prior...that's not good. It's like I can't do it anymore. I walk around with little bits of ideas and none of them ever coalesce into something bigger. It's FRUSTRATING.

Well, love from the Schizo - if you read this regularly, you rock, and if it's your first time, welcome. I imagine I could write more about a specific topic, like I did when I started the blog, but I don't even have the mental energy for that right now. Perhaps soon I'll go into the wonders of using a Line 6 POD X3 rig and my awesome Digitech VL4 harmony machine.

Until then, take care!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ponderings...etc.

Why do people like Emo?
Apparently neutered men talking about their feelings is okay so long as you yelp the words.

Why does there seem to be a "uniform" for people who like certain genres of music? So they're unique - just like everyone else.

Why can't I seem to find another musician kind of like me here in Austin, who likes a lot of the same stuff and is around my age and can play multiple instruments well, and who might be interested in collaborating with me on some music?
I guess it's time to post an ad to Craigslist.

Why is it that I never seem to be satisfied, no matter how fun and awesome my band experiences are (like my current band, which I LOVE)?

Why can't an avowed agnostic or atheist even dream of winning any national political office in the USA, when it EXPLICITLY states in the Constitution that no religious test is required? Wait - that's not a musical pondering. Moving on.

Why does it cost so damn much to fix electronics? It cost me $147 to fix my $200 speaker (mind you, $30 of that was a rush charge - otherwise it would have taken 2 months to have it even looked at). It's too bad they don't have some sort of gear insurance policy or something - like a total replacement warranty.

Well, peace and love. Playing a frat party Friday, then two weeks after that we're back in Killeen (YAY!). Still have some serious woodshedding to do on the acoustic stuff for the wedding in October. It's still nowhere near as good as I'd like it to be (although I'm sure it's passable).

Until next time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES...

So, Roman Holiday's gone through yet another drummer change.

Ned and I decided it was more important to have someone who can sing behind the kit, and we were kind of frustrated at how long it was taking the new drummer to learn the songs, so we decided to go with our gut and make a change.

So, the new new drummer in Roman Holiday is a fellow named Greg Gonyea. He's currently playing in another Austin cover band called "Capital Suspects", and he'll be playing most of our gigs coming up (save for a few he already had booked with CS).

I'm sure some people will think we're assholes for making the change so quickly, but the reality is, you have to do what's best for the band, and the road we were headed down would have led to frustration for me, mostly because the band sounded pretty bad without a decent third vocalist. I've learned to stomach quite a lot of mediocrity over the past decade, but I really don't want to completely suck, and I felt like we were headed that way.

We've had another guy filling in on the gigs Greg can't make, who also sings, and though he does a good job, one thing he does reminded me of an annoyance I have. I can't stand it when people add harmonies for no good reason. I wanted a drop button for his mic at some points, because it was honestly messing me up. Dude can play and sing his butt off, but was adding harmonies all night. Just a pet peeve of mine - a BIG one, mostly because it completely distracts me and makes it even harder for me to maintain my pitch (since I'm already struggling having to focus on playing the bass).

On this subject (and the experiences with recent drummers), the last two months have reminded me of something pretty standard in music (and in life).

There are people (like me) who go all-out when they're planning on doing something for someone, and others who sort of do just enough, which invariably ends up being NOT ENOUGH.

For example, if I have a fill-in gig, or I join a new band (or even consider the idea) I map out all the songs, listen to them intently and learn all the bits that I need to cover. I make sure I have copies of the exact versions the band does, and if I can't get copies, I get explanations on how things start and end, any arrangement changes, and note it all on my charts for the songs. Then, at the show, I pay close attention to what everyone is doing, and follow accordingly, so it sounds as tight as conceivably possible.

I don't understand the mentality of not working the stuff out and really learning it (as opposed to just casually listening to the songs and sort of winging it). It doesn't take THAT much time to put together the arrangement for a song you've heard hundreds of times on the radio (like the vast majority of our setlist, which consists almost entirely of top-40 hits from 1965-present).

But I guess that's just the difference between anal-retentive assholes like me and the average musician. I think I'd rather hire the asshole if I needed a fill-in, though. He might be a particular bastard, but he'll definitely know his shit.

A wedding and a private party this weekend. Next weekend (8/1-8/2) the band is at Carlos & Charlie's on Friday, and MAYBE singing some tunes with Sprung at Cool River Cafe on Thursday night.

Acoustic demos are up at my acoustic act's MySpace - more to come on that front. Looking to score a bi-weekly night gig somewhere singing songs solo sassily.

Pieces!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Musicalings

I really have nothing to say, except that summer must be a time for me to be musically unsatisfied. I did add an old demo of one of my tunes to my site. I'm also working on some remixes of the more recent songs on there (tweaking because I don't like the mixes I have posted).

As for the band - it's a never-ending fight for me to make time to dedicate to it. I'm still not completely up on all the words to all our songs yet, and it's kind of frustrating right now because we haven't played in a while (July 1 is the next show), so it's not really a good situation, in general. It's weird because I really love to spend time with Ned...and we have fun with the shows. When there's a lag, that stuff sort of falls to the side.

I'm dying to play guitar live. I mean, to the point that I've almost considered posting an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone wanted to start another band to play a different set of songs than what Roman Holiday does. I might build tracks for the band that have my bass on it, too, for certain songs where two guitars would be helpful. Make a little mini-set of guitar, too.

The reality is that I really need to just get a grip and accept the reality - the only way I'm getting out there and playing guitar is if I start the solo acoustic project I'd like to do. I should probably just buy one of those Digitech harmony thingers (because I could use it for the band as well) and start making contacts. I know I'm good enough to do it, and I know I want to do it. I'm just piss-poor at making time for this stuff. I'm sure I could get in and play a happy hour at Cedar Street.

I know I've been blathering about that for a while now...and I'd really like to make it happen. Back to not practicing...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Musical Consumption Variances

The title of this blog "Musical Consumption Variances" (MCVs) sort of sounds like something from some marketing analysis company, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot because I've been observing the different ways people I know listen to music, and not just in a practical, "iPod or cd player" sort of way, but rather the way they respond to it.

Some people seem to have a deep connection to the lyrical content of songs, others are solely concerned about the technical aspects of the music, some just want a strong beat. Most people are a mish-mash of all these things, but everyone favors something.

I think I'm more of a technical guy, though at times I'm a sucker for a well-spun lyric. I like hearing clever voicings on the keyboards or guitar or vocal harmonies. I like cleverly-structured songs and odd time signatures. I think it's partly because I was raised on classic and progressive rock and far more concerned about putting all the music together than the end product, necessarily.

But then I was also raised on punk rock and hip-hop, so the songs, the lyrics, the energy, and the beat are a big part of my musical experience. And beyond that music, let's not forget to include the oldies from my parents - the British Invasion bands (Beatles, Zombies, etc.) and Motown (which taught this white boy how to groove). "The Music Of My Life" (ah, memories of WPDQ)

But I guess that's part of the reason I'm such a schizo - there isn't much I don't like.

I'll be honest, though. I get really tired of "super-extra-dramatic" music, like slower U2 stuff, some Bruce Springsteen, almost all of Coldplay's music, and all those cheesy "extra-deep" new bands like Snow Patrol and The Fray. Don't get me wrong, I like a well-written pop song. I LOVE a well-written pop song.

I just can't understand the appeal of their music...which I think goes back to my different MCV than many people.

Their music does nothing for me, because though it's well-produced, it's not interesting in its production. It's a lot of the same textures, and very "perfect" in a bad way.

I like dirty stuff that sounds like it was made by people. None of that "dreamy" new stuff sounds that way to me - the vocals all sound autotuned, the dynamics on the recordings are completely SLAMMED so that even quiet parts sound sort of loud.

Heather (my lovely wife) was just saying the other day how she finds it interesting how I listen to music, because it's nothing like how she does it or how anyone else she knows listens. It's very clinical - almost as though I'm diagnosing the song by looking at its symptoms: the chord progression, the timbres used, the instrumentation, the beat, the overall vibe it gives, the way the song is structured and the lyrics and melody composed.

I never realized that I listened to music like that, but I do. I can recall one time when my little brother was sharing some of his music with me, and he pointed out something I used to do all the time, which was to immediately relate what I was hearing to other music I've heard. Of course, this was the wrong answer for Rob, because he just wanted me to listen to it for what it was, which was truly an excellent lesson for me to learn at the time. I needed him to be a little offended by my automatic pigeonholing of his music. It was unfair, because I wasn't really letting it settle in and move me.

So I guess you can even learn things in situations where you wouldn't expect to - like when your little brother, ever the nascent songwriter, decides to share some tunes with you.

Regardless, I've decided that my MCV is fluid. Sometimes I like a piece of music purely because of how visceral it is, and other times I'm enamored with the way it's constructed. I suppose that might be the problem I have with that new moody music - it does neither thing well enough for me. It's not powerful enough (kind of drab), and not interesting enough (often simplified to convey the not-strong-enough emotion).

Just some things to ponder...

Fill ins, New Drummer - News from Schizoland

So...things have been pretty busy/interesting in Schizoland.

Got a new drummer in the Roman Holiday - her name is Rachel Fuhrer, and she totally kicks ass, both as a drummer and as a person. We're looking forward to having her with us as part of our little "gang".

Let's see...what else...oh, I'm filling in with one of Central Texas' best party bands this weekend for the first time - it should be fun. Lots of tunes from back in my Slaphappy days, so it'll be a nice walk down memory lane. Plus I get to do a 30-minute acoustic set to start the night, so it should be just dandy!

My pals in Something Distant just released their debut EP on iTunes - go check them out and buy the album. It has 6 new songs and 2 live bonus tracks. They kick ass in a mainstreamy sort of way, and it has my favorite rhythm section in Jacksonville, Florida on there - Jon Kretzer and John Palmer. A lot of the tracks (perhaps all the studio ones?) were produced by former Monkey The Fish (Jax people might know them)/current Story: Side B frontman/musical genius Lu Rubino.

Also, this Friday up at the Duck in Temple will be our last Roman Holiday gig with Rob Wade on drums - we will miss him immensely.

I'm going to be working on some new music and some remixes of my songs really super soon, so hopefully I'll have some new shizz to share within the next week or two.

And as a footnote, I'd like to share this:
www.coolsucks.com/tripperph.mp3

I loves me some Jimi Hendrix. And Chef.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wow, It's Been A While...

I just realized I haven't posted in quite some time, so here it goes...

My musical life is pretty much the same, with one notable exception:
Roman Holiday's drummer is quitting the band!

So, my FAVORITE process begins again, going through and hearing drummers, trying to find just the right guy to fit our weird little "80s-and-more-power-trio" dynamic...let's just say it's something I really don't enjoy. I like playing with people, but sometimes it can turn out so bad...just either a complete asshole personality or bad drumming. I'm not absurdly picky, but being a singing bass player, the drummer needs to have solid time and consistency, otherwise it makes my job really hard, holding down a groove while singing.

Our recent shows have almost all been pretty awesome. I just wish I had more time to work on music - I essentially have just about none...not even time to really rehearse the songs we are currently playing.

I haven't written anything since the American Idol song (which didn't make the finals - no shocker there), but I have remixed a couple of the songs with Jon on drums and those mixes will hopefully make the site soon.

I think my next step is finding a means to get out there and play some acoustic shows - I know I've mentioned this scores of times on this blog, but I think it would be super fun to do. I got a teeny taste of it after our show at the Duckhorn up in Killeen, and it reminded me how much I really want to do it.

Time to make a demo!

Also, time to find a good drummer!

Until we meet again...

Monday, March 24, 2008

American Idol Songwriter

I entered the competition, wasting $10, probably, and writing one of the sappiest songs of my songwriting life.

EXTREMELY ROUGH DEMO: Only Just The Start

Lyrics:
It's always been my passion, it's always been my life
It's time to take action, I just want to get it right
Will they see just who I am, will their words cut me like a knife
Can I give my everything so my star can shine so bright

I have waited all my life to sing a song for you
I have battled through the tough times and worked to see it through
And now I stand before you, and open up my heart
This is not an ending, it's only just the start

You've shared with me your courage, you've given me such hope
Don't want to be discouraged, I just want you all to know
That it's taken me so far, all the love and all you do
That I'll give my everything, and I'll give it all to you

I have waited all my life to sing a song for you
I have battled through the tough times and worked to see it through
And now I stand before you, and open up my heart
This is not an ending, it's only just the start

All the times I will cherish, memories of you and me
And our love will not perish, you know it will forever be
And as I walk uncertain, to a future where we part
This is not an ending, it's only just the start

This is not an ending, it's only just the start

This is not an ending, it's only just the start


Schmaltzy almost to the point of being disgusting, but I think it's appropriate for the "I just won American Idol" song.

But who knows? Maybe by some freak act of chance I'll be a finalist. It took me 20 minutes to throw it together, so not too much time wasted on the effort.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nice visit

As I mentioned in my last post, my "little brother" Caleb came down for South By Southwest and I got to spend some time with him on Saturday.

It just reminded me how sad I am that I don't live closer to him, because I think that more than just about anyone I've actually written songs with, Caleb and I could really come up with some amazing music together. He hears the same things I hear, he notices the little things/chord progressions that I use that no one else pays attention to. He has that same level of care about the little things that make simple sound great.

I guess if it's meant to happen, it'll happen. Anyway, Caleb - thanks for making time for hanging out with me. Next time we'll take more time...

Also, much love to my cousin Ryan who came up to visit from Houston. You've grown up into a pretty kick-ass guy, and I enjoyed wandering aimlessly around downtown Austin with you on Friday night.

And this (the Roman Holiday demo video - it's all we've got for now):

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Video, Narcissism, SXSW

So my throat performed reasonably well at the gig on March 1st. I've even got video proof of it that I'll be cutting together pretty soon for a brand-spankin' new Roman Holiday video promo reel!

I already made a live DVD (warts and all) for family and friends of the band. As much as we appreciated David's work with the camera, there were starts and stops in weird places (endings and beginnings cut off, etc.) and it was just super-sloppy, partially because the way we have to set the lighting up in that particular club just doesn't lend itself well to videotaping.

The bizarre part about it for me was that it was the first time I've ever really seen myself perform. I've been doing this for the better part of 10 years, and I never had the occasion, save a couple of brief shots on Channel 4 in Jacksonville in the background of a news report, to see myself singing and playing on stage.

Shockingly, it wasn't horrifying. I think I do need to learn how to sing without closing my eyes, and I think that I could stand to lose a few pounds, but overall, I was relatively pleased.

It was funny to me that I screwed up Super Freak, and funny to see me take bass solos and groove with Rob - I actually look like I know how to play the damn thing. It kind of weirded me out, to be honest.

The best part? It made me want to do it again, and to do a whole show this time with a good board recording as well instead of the on-board camcorder mic.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to cut that thing together in the next couple of days and post it here.

South by Southwest is this coming week, and I'm thrilled that I'll have a chance to spend some time with my "little brother" (from another mother) Caleb. He's coming down for the festival from his current home in Arkansas. He's become quite the songwriter and guitarist, and I'm so happy to have been able to know him since he was just a little kid, trying to convince me that his GTX guitar was actually something a lot nicer, and listening to the progression of his music and songwriting from its Pollen Dance beginnings through all the great stuff he writes today. Not to mention the leaps and bounds he's taken as a guitarist. He impresses me endlessly, and I figured I'd give him a little tribute here on the blog. I really wish he lived closer so we could make some seriously funky-ass music together. Or whatever. I just love the guy, and I'm happy to have him coming to my town, even if only for a few days.

Look out for the video, and enjoy yourselves. Life is short even when it's long.

In closing, much love to my dear departed Grandma V. - we loved you and we will miss you. I hope I'm wrong about the afterlife, so you can have a wonderful time in Heaven with Grandpa and Uncle Peter and all your friends.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vocal problems

I just can't control my voice, because there's so much phlegm and crap down deep in my throat - it's like I can't clear it. The break in my voice used to be easy to manage, and now I have no idea what it's going to do. It's like my voice is changing all over again.

I don't know if it's allergies or what, but it's annoying. I need to see the doctor.

Grit never hurt before, now it does.

Anyway, I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for my vocal maladies...and if I have time, I'll be sure to have it checked out. It is getting a little better, so hopefully I'll be back to normal soon. I just hate sounding like this - it makes me feel like I've taken a 10-year step backward in my vocal abilities.

Sorry, had to vent. :)

Next show is in Killeen, Texas - The Duckhorn with Roman Holiday (not that anyone actually reads my blog...)

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Project?

I'm starting a new thing with a guy from work who plays with a fun (though ragtag) local band called "The Empire" (at first I thought they were a Queensr├┐che tribute band).

It's interesting, because I think he's a talented cat, and I think we're going to have fun, but putting it together will be a process, because I don't think he's ever worked with anyone quite like me. It might scare him off completely, or it might be inspiring.

Either way, look for our little duo out playing guitars and singing sometime before the summer. It might end up as another trio, too, but I hope not, because I want to play guitar.

If we go by the songs he picked from my "I already played this crap" list, it's going to be mostly modern rock stuff. Of course I'll be doing my acoustic show standards, Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" (Fountains of Wayne style). We're probably going to incorporate our original stuff, too, so it might be a really fun project.

I'm sure that it will just inspire the work I'm doing with Roman Holiday, and just make me better as a singer...plus it scratches my guitar itch.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Switching it up

Sometimes it can be really fun to switch it up some.

Wednesday night, Ned and I rehearsed some of the band's tunes, but Rob (percussionmeister) couldn't make it, so I grabbed the mic and brought it over to the drumkit and rapped/sang the songs (two rap tunes, one funk) while I played the drums. It was borderline scary, performance-wise, but it was a whole lot of fun.

It reminded me that if I ever really wanted to be a decent drummer, I probably could if I just invested the time. Plus it sort of freaked me out that I was able to keep a beat at all while I was singing (rapping).

It really made me want to buy a drum set, actually, but I don't have any room for one. Perhaps when I finally get my garage cleaned out I can do that.

I really want to come up with a tune where we can switch it up during the song, since Rob plays guitar pretty well and I'm sure Ned can figure out the bass. Almost like a chinese fire drill, but with instruments!

Tonight is Killeen - it should be a blast! We love the duck!
(and no, that "u" is not supposed to be an "i")

Sunday, January 6, 2008

End of year, Start of year...

Commentary on the the year that was:
I started 2007 playing bass and singing a little bit in Roman Holiday. That was my only job at the time (other than taking care of the kiddos).

In May, two major things happened:
1. I began working at Clear Channel radio, and it's been great, but it's really sapped my energy. I don't play nearly as much as I used to, and rarely have a whole lot of time to concentrate on music stuff, resulting in a lot of "half-assedness" in my performing (forget about my writing and recording...that's been nearly nonexistent).
2. I was all of a sudden thrust into the position of "frontman" for the band (as well as still having to fulfill my bass duties).

The first part is difficult for me to take, not wanting to suck on a regular basis, but I feel that my idea of "suck" tends to be most people's idea of "not so bad", so I'm fine.

The second part has been nothing but enjoyable, stretching me to the limits of my multi-tasking ability. Who knew that I'd be able to play such "pat head-rub belly" tunes as "Brick House" and "This Love"? Certainly not me.

I'm a very conflicted musician at my core, though, since I want to play guitar as much as I want to play bass, and I can't do both at the same time.

As an "artist" (not a title I generally apply to myself, since I consider my compositional ability at more of a pop garage band level), 2007 was incredibly unstimulating. Just hashing out covers I've been playing for years. But you know what? I had a whole lot of fun.

Thanks go to everyone in the extended Roman Holiday family: Ned, Rob, Mike, Patrick, and Casey, and to Luis for giving it a shot (though we ultimately didn't seem to be on the same page), and to Lee Thompson from The Extractors (my former band) for filling in on one gig and then being able to tolerate me when I finally gave you a call months later (and profusely apologized for not calling after the fill-in show in the first place). As tumultuous as this year has been, it was a fun one, with the exception of the period from July to August when we were auditioning invisible drummers and bassists.

Looking ahead, I'm sure 2008 will be more fun with Roman Holiday - hopefully we can keep this lineup together and keep enjoying ourselves (which seems likely, since we all get along really well). I really want it also to be a year when I'm finally able to get those songs I've got posted on the website re-recorded because there are so many that I can play and sing so much better now than five or six years ago when I recorded them. (I can even record them better now than then...)

So I think it'd be wise, if you give a crap, to keep an eye on this page. I'll be tracking all the progress with songs - re-recording, writing, etc. - and hopefully I'll have a really productive year. It shouldn't be too hard if I can manage a little self-discipline and not watch so much TV. The writers' strike is helping that quite a bit, I must admit.

Have a great '08!