Sunday, January 27, 2008

weekend off- what a concept

well, sort of. this weekend has been pretty full. tonight we're playing at uncommon ground and yesterday we practised (the singing was easier and better than i expected- we both have monster colds right now and sound like shit) and went to see dianogah play at the empty bottle. it was really good. we managed to fit in a generous amount of loafing time still and watched two discs of 'big love' episodes. we also got a drum part recorded and finished another track. i think that puts the running total at about six maybe over the 24 tracks. hopefully we can get some more work done next weekend.
it's been so nice to have a few days off- i don't know if i'm ready to go back to the hectic craziness again. the coffeeshop has to reopen eventually. i guess tonight i'll try and go to bed early and just call the coffeeshop at 6:30am and then there we go. it'd be nice to get ahold of my first paycheck there too so i can get all debted up again. woohoo!
i bought a new distortion pedal the other night and ordered more microphone stands. once i get those things i will be able to finally record a song that i've had planned for ages- the vocals have been finished for it for about a year ironically (the vocals are usually done after the initial tracks are laid down, but since it has a loop i'd done a really good instrumental version of it at stefanie's parents' house back in august of 2005- we used that to record the vocals) and as soon as i get the distortion pedal i can record the whole thing pretty quickly and then splice the vocals in and bang zoom- new track! this song is called 'plainstorm' and was written back right before we left portland and the lyrics were written while we were driving back to kansas city. when we got up to leave twin falls as we were driving through wyoming we saw a storm really far away. once we were driving through denver we saw the storm a little closer and we couldn't figure out if we were following it or it was headed towards us or what. once we crossed over into kansas and realised we had to drive the rest of the way through the morning we could see lightning bolts, but we still hadn't caught up with it yet. i had stefanie take a bunch of pictures of it with the open shutter speed on the camera. the pictures turned out super weird. i'd tell stefanie to push the button, count in my head and then tell her when to release the button. some of the exposures were as long as a minute. eventually we caught up with the storm after we drove through some dense fog that it left behind for several hours. during this time stopping to go to the bathroom became a problem- none of the gas stations were open. at one gas station we decided to just pee behind the building and as we were peeing we got attacked by a massive swarm of junebugs that we hadn't been able to see until it was too late. i think i was finding dead junebugs in the van for months after that. next i had to pee in a field as the sun was coming up through the fog in atchison (i think- maybe it was abilene- a bit foggy now). this is when we took these pictures that will make up the 'down to sleep' artwork-
looky looky
it was a pretty surreal way to end an already supremely strange trip. who's excited to do it again?
sadly, we do have to make such a trip again- we're going to go on tour to get to my dad's 60th birthday celebration in california in september. we didn't really want to fly as getting out to the location (it's in seadrift, which is about 20 minutes drive west of san francisco) would be quite a production. we'd also been discussing the possibility of driving up to portland to play some shows and visit since i haven't been back to visit since we moved. there are some things i'd like to do and i'd like to enjoy hanging out there and not having to worry about anything there- it'll be more fun and leave me with a better aftertaste for the place. we could probably play at the artistery and i wanted to try and play on the 'what's this called?' show as jim (the guy who does the show) is so awesome and plays nearly everything i send him. we also discovered that if we drive up to seattle we will be able to drive home faster than we could from portland. this path would take us through spokane so we could stop off and stay with sarah for a bit- who never gets any visitors because spokane is even more isolated than seattle or portland. yipes. factor all of this in and the fact that we could probably get a show in l.a. and play there again as we probably won't get another chance for another three years.
my desire is to get a string of college dates to get us down to l.a. and pay for the tour since we'll have to rent a car for the entire trip. college dates are a bit demeaning i've heard, but they also pay really well. since there's not really anything between here and l.a. going down that way then i figured we should at least play some shows on the way that will pay well as pretty much anything else we'd book would be demeaning anyway. i should get the logistics started.

Monday, January 21, 2008

'down to sleep' here we come

checked off the first thing on the to-do list for the new record. since i got the day off at chase because of mlk when i got home from beans and bagels i got to work on recording some good drum sounds with the new tom, which is actually really easy to get a great sound out of. this is, naturally because it sounds so great. once she got home stefanie actually was game to redo the drum part for 'crawl to you' which is one of a few drum parts that we need to redo with the tom to make them a bit more dynamic and more lucid since the table works well as a really deep, resonant sound, but there is a starkness with it that it's difficult to rise above without sacrificing all of the clarity of a beat. 'the sun is so bright' is another track we're going to fix- the first half is fine, but the second half could definitely be better with the new drum. there are more, but i'd rather not bore you with it, dearest readers.
i left beans and bagels at my normal time since i figured i'd earned the right to leave at the same time after coming in on thursday, having a panic attack and then getting a cold over the weekend, which i'm pretty sure had to do with the lack of sleep and stress during last week. i had a beer on saturday during practise even though i had the beginnings of a decent cold going and it made the cough much worse and sent it to my chest. i've been taking a lot of stuff for it now- a lot of herbal shit, drinking tons of ginger tea, taking cough medicine, emergen-c and theraflu as well and so far that has done a decent job of knocking the cough out of my chest and filling my head and sinuses with tons of snot (which i'd personally prefer- that's not a complaint). i'm on the road to recovery i think. if my cough persists after a week and a half or so i'm going to go see a doctor since i have insurance now. i have a $35 copay with it and i would like to avoid another late night and costly emergency room visit.
i've worked about the equivalent of two full weeks at beans and bagels now and i'm liking it so far. the hours can sometimes go by fairly slowly, but once it's noon going home time comes very quickly. the weekend shifts are pretty long most of the time because they aren't as busy. there was actually a long line at one point today but we got it taken care of pretty quickly. it's an interesting job- everyone is pretty mellow and laid back, but when shit needs to get done it gets done quickly and well. i like that. i also don't really have problems finding things to keep myself occupied with there. if i don't someone usually asks me to do something and i'm happy to do it.
so as soon as this paycheck comes i will probably send off for my precious amp. i'm pretty sure that the chase assignment will go through next week as well as this week, which is about a week longer than i expected. how long do they expect me to stay on? i'm not entirely sure. once we get to february i was going to start asking questions and figure out if i should quit or not. there are a bunch of concerts i'm planning on going to during the second week of february and one during the third week. my weekend hours at beans and bagels are very good too, i must say. i don't have to be in until 8am on saturdays and 9:30 am on sundays- you can't ask for better coffeeshop hours than that. i have enough flexibility to still go do something on friday and saturday night if i want to. one show i'm planning on going to is nina nastasia at the hideout and then shannon wright at schubas. it's kind of funny because nina played at schubas a week before shannon played at the hideout back in july and now they're playing at about the same interval but they've switched. most curious.
so i'm going to get to ordering the vox next week i think- getting the credit card and such and then i would like to get to work with it immediately. ditto for the drum parts. my project for tomorrow i think will be going to the bank to deposit my tip money to order some microphone stands. extra money will be used to buy a proco rat and some more blank tapes. i'm going to also try and sell the electric piano during this time and use the money from that to hopefully at least pay for the pressing cost. i'm really hoping that i can get enough to pay for the mastering charges as well. then bang, zoom there it is! i'd love to have the record with us when we go to sxsw but it will take a lot of things falling into place. i'm optimistic it can be done, but i have to really start laying the ground work right now.
i also bought a mirah cd today and it's really awesome. i'm very happy with it. i just went to laurie's planet of sound after work and treated myself. i think i've earned it and then some.
my plan for this year is to get some other things released so that i can take next year off from releasing records. i wanted to release another fake ep/secret record which i have the songs for (including a few leftovers from 'down to sleep' that stand apart more) on the cheap and silk-screen the covers myself and whatnot. i wanted to have stefanie draw the cover art and write the tracklist and such out in her handwriting. that would be number six. number seven i have 18 songs for and plan on using 12 of those for the record. i would like to release it on vinyl only. this will be quite the challenge. number eight would probably be another secret record/ep but i'm not sure as the idea for it will probably come later. number nine i just got another idea for how to approach it, but i probably don't have the songs for it- i have a bunch of older songs that i was going to use as the basis for it but i decided that since i wasn't sure i wanted to try and not plan it at all and just let it come together on its own- possibly even have stefanie help me put it together. number ten is the proposed double cd (which sounds less and less good to me the more i think about it). realistically it will be quite the challenge to get all of this actually released, but i figured it wouldn't hurt us to take a year off and not release anything. if the other things don't make it out then they can wait until the end of next year. there would be nothing wrong with that. this shit's coming so quickly i feel like my head is exploding.
i should probably end this as it's obscenely long.
i finished 'love is a mixtape' as well. i'm having trouble getting another book started, though.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

and so it begins...

i started at beans and bagels on wednesday. i will be working every day from now until the assignment at chase ends or i lose my fucking shit having to work seven day work weeks, whichever comes first. vox ac30 or bust! i'm not getting the cheapie either- i'm getting the full-on badass new one with the alnico blue speakers. basically it has the best, most pure tone i've ever heard. i'm pretty sure that it will just be used for recording- maybe the occasional local live performance if i feel inclined.
a sad fact- working four days a week at beans and bagels it is highly likely that i will make at least the same amount but likely a bit more money than i do working full-time second shift at chase. cheap. mother. fuckers. amazing. the hourly rate is about the same, but i get decent tips every day at beans and bagels. not quite as good as pizza hut, but very close. i have no complaints. wednesday there was pretty mellow by my reckoning.
i've been reading 'love is a mixtape' which is a book that billy got me for christmas. i finished 'love in the time of cholera' (well, that's kind of odd isn't it... i hadn't even noticed the similarity until now despite it's staring me right in the face) maybe a week ago and i started 'love is a mixtape' the next day and i'm already more than halfway through it- i'll probably be done with it by next week. i really like it. some of the constant clever obscure/kitschy lyric references can get annoying occasionally, but i'm a huge fan of the themes in the book. it's basically built around a few old tapes that the writer (rob sheffield who writes for 'rolling stone' and other similar publications and has since the early 90s) has found and basically he starts every chapter with the tape's tracklisting and then writes about the memories associated with it. most of the tapes were made by his wife who sadly died back in 1997. i read the chapter where her death occurs while i was listening to bruce springsteen's 'nebraska' while i was riding to work and it was pretty heavy. it is actually doing a pretty good job of articulating a lot of things that i'd never even realised about marriage and such. pretty heavy stuff. i almost cried on the train- which just doesn't normally happen to me when i'm reading a book. the last time i cried it was after i listened to a bootleg of the sigur ros show at the opera house last year that i got somehow and when i was there they played 'vidrar vel til loftarasa' (i think it's track 7 on 'aegetis byrjun') which is one of my absolute favourite songs of theirs. when they played it i almost passed out and my eyes clouded over as the song went on, but each time i'd be about ready to burst there would be a pause before the song starts up again- which i'd never noticed, but it stops and starts again about five times. when i listened to the song on the bootleg the end part made me cry my fucking eyes out- the part where they do that really long creschendo and the guitar gets kind of noisy and then the drums kick into the beat and everything kind of syncs up and hits you full on and i just lost it- it was crazy. well, this book almost had the same effect- so good job billy! i really like the book!
it's also nice because it reads a lot easier than 'love in the time of cholera' which reads easily as well, but it's so dense that you really have to pay attention or it's really easy to lose track because there's no dialogue and the plot is pretty loosely tied and on a single page there is an alarming amount of detail and information. i liked it a lot, but this is nice because it's more conversational and thus much easier to follow. speaking of which what fucking numbskull thought that 'love in the time of cholera' would make a good movie?!
anyway, i should probably be off. tomorrow is my last sleeping in day until tuesday. shiz. oh well, i'd imagine that the weekends are lighter than during the week- it's right by a big row of warehouses and businesses so there's not much of a neighborhood vibe to right over where it is. watch me eat my words. adios.