So I have a new band. It's called Die Like Gentlemen. I play guitar, sing, and do most of the songwriting. We're kinda like a chunkier version of Black Sabbath. You can "Like" us and listen to a few rehearsal tunes on our Facebook page while you read this, if you like.
We played our first show last Saturday at an excellent local Portland dive music venue called Plan B. We had a great turnout, played really well, and got a lot of positive feedback. It really went excellent. The most popular songs were "Covetous" and "Hidden Switch" (the latter of which discusses my tinnitus).
You may remember that I was unsuccessfully seeking a second guitarist. One of the main reasons was to have a more accomplished lead guitar for solos and such. Soloing was never my strong suit, I've always been much more of a composer. Some guitarists pick up a guitar and start soloing, I pick one up and start writing parts.
Well, we didn't want the lack of a second guitarist to stop us from gigging, so I manned up and started working specifically on my solos. I started sketching them out, trying to figure out how to play what I was hearing in my head or just sloppily improvising until I lucked upon something that didn't suck. After a couple of months I felt I had improved from "embarrassingly bad" to "could easily fool non-musicians" so it was time to put ourselves out there. Which, like I said, went excellent.
I've been trying to find a lead guitarist for my new band. We just need that final player to turn our slamming trio into a crushing quartet!
But finding the right musician is hard -- hell, finding someone who isn't a complete flake or a complete loon is itself nigh-impossible. I've been posting on Craigslist. The ad is understated and thorough. I list influences, post links to some rehearsal recordings, and explain what we're expecting: someone who doesn't mind learning and doubling existing guitar parts to thicken up our sound, but can also handle lead lines and solos, and if you have material and ideas of your own we'd be happy to incorporate it. To me, this seems very straightforward.
Allow me to share some highlights of my search so far...
Well, there was Nathan. He seemed like a good prospect so I gave him tablature to two of the songs and asked that he learn them before coming in. I had a cold the following week so it was two weeks before we could schedule a night to jam. When I emailed/texted to confirm that he was still coming in, he said
Do you recall when I posted the Botch art that currently graces the top-left corner of this site? It was generously commissioned by Carcass and beautifully illustrated by Laurent Libessart. Well, here comes the follow-up to that: CASSETTE MODE!
As with the original piece, the new one is AWESOME.
I love how Laurent chose to maintain the subtle fissures where the pieces separate during transformation.
You may notice this cassette is not blank, but actually labeled. That's right! He made this into a cassette for Vices & Virtues, the album of my last band, I DISAGREE. It's even got the track-listing on there for the "Vices" half!
Of course, I couldn't resist using this cassette mode as the top-left mascot for my Music page, where, by the way, you can listen to Vices & Virtues in its entirety.
So thanks to Laurent and Carcass for another fabulous piece of Botch art!
To see some more Botch art, check out the About Botch page.
Things have been going well musically. You remember that rehearsal studio I started renting after I bought my new guitar and Marshall amp? I've upgraded since then. The first windowless room was in the basement and the size of a closet. The new room is absolutely huge with three impressively large windows overlooking downtown Portland and its lovely superhighway system. I manage this new room and sublet it to 1.5 other bands. We put in a small dorm fridge for everyone's beer. I put up posters featuring Black Sabbath and the green fairy of absinthe.
More importantly, I've started putting my new band together. I've got a drummer and a lead guitarist and we're about to start looking for a bassist. (I sing and play guitar and do most of the songwriting.) We've already got a number of tunes, the typical length of which is 8-10 minutes. That may sound long, but it's fairly common for the genre of down-tempo metal. With song titles like "The Ten Hells" and "Lair of Zargon," it's a ton of sludgey fun.
But there has been a downside to this. I have finally developed tinnitus.
I was fortunate enough to be invited onto KaijuCast.com, a Godzilla-themed podcast, to speak about The Monster Project, my musical group that recorded rock arrangements of Godzilla and other monster-movie soundtracks. It was a total blast, of course. I love talking about music; I love talking about Godzilla; I love talking about myself. Seriously, what's not to love?
You can listen to the full interview here. Let me know what you think! If nothing else you can hear what my speaking voice sounds like, and then you'll be able to read all my future posts while imagining my seductive baritone in your head, in your ears, inside you. Yeah. In your ears.
Oh, and if you want to listen to the full album of The Monster Project or -- heaven forbid! -- actually purchase the CD or MP3's, you can do all that at http://themonsterproject.bandcamp.com.
Recently I suggested in casual conversation that I was past my prime. Dollface countered that I was just being pessimistic, but I felt I was being objective and matter-of-fact. To wit: in my early-to-mid 20's I was more actively creative, was playing and recording with two bands, was in better health despite near-constant smoking and drinking, was more socially active and surrounded by numerous friends old and new, and I could eat absolutely anything I wanted.
This is not to say that I don't feel that I have a fucking great life now! I do! I have friends, I drink and smoke, my Transformers collection is mammoth and approaching sentience, I recently sang on a alternative metal album and I think I still have at least one more metal album left in me, I have the best job I've ever had, a fabulous apartment, and of course I have my lovely Dollface. I'm just saying that, by the standards of my own completely subjective attempt at objectivity, it seems to me that my prime is in the past.
Tonight was my first night in my new $83/month rehearsal studio with my new Schechter guitar and my new 350-watt Marshall Mode Four amp with 4x12" speaker cabinet. How was it? Let me tell you.
My original instrument is electric guitar [(distorted)]. I picked it up when I was 16 and played the shit out of it with my high school band ("Crayola Death") and my NYC band ("Brompton's Cocktail"). But after that band broke up, I played a lot more keyboards and piano than before. Upon moving to Portland four years ago, I decided to dump my two electric guitars. Seeking simplicity, I joined a band as a simple vocalist ("I Disagree"). Most all the music was written by the other guys, but I did write one heavy metal song for the band ("Two Arguments"). I composed it on my acoustic guitar, but that's probably when my appetite for playing sludgey, grungy, crunchy metal guitar began to resurface. Plus I've been listening to a lot more Sabbath-esque doom metal than ever before...
My band, I DISAGREE, recorded a double-EP: an album consisting of two half-hour discs respectively titled Vices & Virtues.
You can listen to the entire thing for free on my Music page...
... but you should purchase a copy of the album, because it's pretty unique.
I wanted to do something interesting with the packaging.
Something thematic. Something lo-fi. Something compelling, but just a little unsettling.
Let me show you...
This is Natalya. She's one of my best friends in Portland! She's really sweet and really intelligent and kinda crazy and very emotional and a very fun gal. She's an honor-roll psychology student with a thing for goth fashion (and cleavage) and she likes kitty cats and sushi and blueberry vodka with Coke!
Last Christmas everybody was poor, so we decided to do, like, "no money" gifts. Like, making stuff. I wasn't sure what to make. I can make breakfast; I can make a solid argument; but I don't really make "stuff" or "things". But then, with only a week left before Christmas, a musical melody struck me -- well, more of a theme -- and it instantly occurred to me that this was a very Natalya-esque theme (to my mind, at least). A short little piano piece was composed and notated immediately. True inspiration!
Sadly, my compositional vision outstripped my actual performance talent and I could not play the piece well. I figured I had a week to work on it constantly -- and then I practically sliced the tip of my thumb off, severely hampering my ability to practice. On Christmas day I presented her with the score and s-t-u-m-b-l-e-d through the ditty, promising her a recording soon. Well, I underestimated my perfectionism (as well as my poor rehearsal ethic) and it ultimately took me over 5 months to present her with the final recording. But I finally did it! And now, with her permission, I get to share it with you. It's a caprice!
I love lists. I love them. I love itemization, quantification, prioritization. I love efficiency and thoroughness and accomplishment. I try to resist absent-mindedness, forgetfulness and especially slothfulness, and lists help me do that. Online lists of music recommendations compete with the stack of CDs on my desk; a small collection of to-watch DVDs are outgunned by my Netflix queue. To-read books are a foot thick, to-read comics as long as my arm. Emails that need attention are starred or labeled PRIORITY or both.
But it's my personal To-Do list that intimidates and exhilarates me. Historically I've maintained several lists in several places, presumably because I just jot down reminders on whatever's handy, electronic or otherwise. Now I'm trying to keep everything in my Google Tasks list, accessible on iGoogle, Google Calendar, and Chrome extension. Gawk in horror as I share some of these items with you. :)