Friday, August 28, 2009

no optimism goes unpunished

after i wrote my rambling blog entry yesterday i was met with a giant glut of rejection- i checked the calendar at the empty bottle to discover that the decision had been made for the opener for the sian alice group show to discover we, of course, didn't get it and weren't going to receive a confirmation in our inbox. i listened to the band on myspace and at least they had been around roughly as long as us and they weren't bad- i'm probably not going to arrive early to see them, though i must say. after finding out that this wasn't going to happen i went ahead and emailed the hideout to try and weasel my way onto one of their bills that i've had my eye on for a while. they managed to email me back within two hours saying the bill was full but thanks for getting in touch. that's the most they've ever sent to me in an email in the several times i've emailed them over the years. in the early days of hassling schuba's i used to get more responses. i went to the myspace page as well to see if they'd actually visited at all and that was a big fat no. thanks folks.
so basically the long and short of it is that i'm back to the pit of never-ending discouragement. this must be payback for when i was walking around with stefanie in kansas city and talking about how i'm really happy with where the band is right and that we are making progress- no matter how slowly. the never-ending pit of discouragement usually means that it's time to concentrate on getting the record released/mastered/what-have-you. at least's back up and people are listening to the records again. i've done an awful lot of shit-talking about that place over a long period of time, but right now i'm grateful that it's a place where we at least are heard. we get a reasonable amount of random myspace views and stuff, a fair amount of strangers getting to our stuff through our website, but is where most of the random listeners we have find us. so that's about the long and short of it. i dunno. i suppose i should get the fliers together and ready to mail out. i should start to plan the near-mythical tour. if nothing else it'd be nice to get at least a few out of town shows out of the effort we will make. one would hope anyway...
yesterday i experimented with syncing up two cassette 8-tracks. i got it to work fairly well by the end of the time. yes, i have two cassette 8-tracks right now- i brought joe's 8-track back to our apartment because i feel it would probably be good to mix our records on. it's a bit more functional than mine is (a bit i said). it's been sitting in the closet at my parents' condo for a long time, so i just grabbed it and took it up to chicago. it seems to me that joe isn't really that anxious to get it back. if i ever have to do more travelling recordings then i guess i could just use my fucked-up cruddy one. i don't really anticipate this happening any time soon, of course.
i worked on a song yesterday that had previously only existed as a bare-bones instrumental- i did an experiment where i recorded four guitar parts direct to see what i could come up with by adding the effects later. it worked fairly well, but i found that i was kind of stuck with something that seemed all too familiar- just another reverb-drenched, ambient, slow and sad instrumental. this is what spurred the whole dual 8-track experiment. i figured it would be a good idea to try and add more stuff and kind of mix everything together later- do a drum mix, add strings, possibly organ. i even hit upon an idea to ask stefanie to write her own lyrics independent of the ones i'd already recorded. i think it might work pretty well, so i guess i shall remain optimistic on that front. half the time when i have a difficult time getting shows it means i just need to get to work on getting some more recordings going. now might be a good time to go through all of those old instrumentals and start redoing them on the 8-track. my idea is to get them very stacked. i might even refine my whole 8-track syncing idea and doing submixes and whatnot so that i can build them up into just massive tracks. i'm already quite sure that we won't be able to recreate them live, so i might as well go all out.
i've been loving this weather we're having at the moment- it's nice and quiet and empty here at the coffee shop. very rare. i'm hoping this carries over into the next working week. i am sort of dreading getting back to the old, normal 5-day schedule. september's going to be quite a difficult month.
oh, i also almost forgot to mention that katelyn, the violinist, was supposed to come by on wednesday and wasn't able to make it- i think this was the second time we've had to reschedule. she's back in school and in my mind it's kind of become indicative to me of the fact that the era of using a ton of strings might be over. she basically told me that she most likely wasn't going to be able to find time to do any more recording for a while. i think if i need strings what i might do from here on out is just call aleksa and chris and have them record at the same time and have chris overdub the violin part. i don't really know what to do any more...
i emailed elastic to see about doing another show on the 23rd of october. hopefully that'll work. after that i wanted to an acoustic show in december- one that wouldn't cost us any money or anything- maybe with james at uncommon ground or something like that...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

so much has happened and yet so much remains the same...

it's been a while since i've written in this thing. this is my first normal weekend in several weeks (about three i think). the trip to kansas city doesn't count because that was as close to a full-on vacation as i'm likely to get in the foreseeable future. with that in mind i'm happy to report that it was a really fun trip- very relaxing. i know that it's been a good weekend if i find time to become cripplingly bored before the end of it. that means i've been able to fully unwind and relax.
the show at the record bar was really good- it went really well and a ton of our friends and family came out to see it. sadly they all left right after we played and why i must be careful played to me and all of the record bar bartenders and servers. that's kind of a shame because they were quite good. i don't really know how they do what they do and i can usually figure out how most bands i see do what they do. with them it seemed like they were eerily and ridiculously in sync with each other. i enjoyed them a bunch. we played for a pretty generous amount of time- we were done with four songs within 20 minutes- quite a record for us. we strung most of it together. i wasn't real happy with the last song- mainly because i kept having trouble grabbing the chords and i didn't sing it very well, which was a bummer because i sang so well for the rest of the set.
after the record bar show we packed up our lovely red chevy cobalt (the type of car i am sure we are damned to be given at every rental lot that we pull into for the rest of our car-renting days) and headed over to kkfi to play on radionic's show. we got there and he informed us that the door we were supposed to go into was surrounded by homeless people. we were a bit nervous, but went in. they were actually very polite. the setting up and playing was all a blur and i was still a bit dazed from the show at the record bar. i think that stefanie was too because while we played on the radio we made a fair amount of what i thought were very obvious mistakes (i heard the recording later and as it turned out none of them were as obvious as i'd thought at the time). we played four songs sort of quiet-like and made some delirious banter.
after that we were able to park the car in the garage at my parents' building and go straight to sleep. the beauty of a secured garage. at first my paranoia was nagging me not to leave my stuff in the garage, but then i remembered that my dad keeps both of his $1000+ bikes in the garage and they've never been stolen, thus putting things into perspective. there is a gaggle of other stuff that other people in their building keep in the garage as well. in the morning we unloaded everything from the back seat (the fender twin and stefanie's floor tom mainly) and never unloaded the trunk at all. while i'm not such a huge fan of the chevy cobalt one thing about it that i love is how deceptively huge the trunk is- it held every piece of equipment that we had except for the two previously mentioned pieces. good stuff.
i don't remember much about what we did from day to day, but we went to the filling station every day (of course), i went to winstead's two or three times, we watched 'fletch lives' and most of 'teen wolf.' 'definitely maybe' was on again as well and we watched some weird lifetime movie that starred thora birch with my dad. our parents took us to some really awesome restaurants. at least half of the trip was funded by my credit card- but the money was paid back immediately once we got home because i had a giant fat paycheck waiting for me that had two six-day workweeks on it. i actually had the urgency to pay the money that we spent back. i'm surprised at how much we did on the little we had. it helps that my dad stocks their fridge with beer. he also has a cooler with wine racks that's usually pretty stocked with beer as well. going to bars has begun to become a fairly restrained act for me as well these days- i can have a maximum of two or three beers and not really feel much of anything (or at least anything that lasts for more than an hour).
stefanie spent all of saturday with her parents. i joined up with them after they got back from visiting their grandmother (which took up more than half of the day). we even had the foresight to leave by 10:30 on sunday morning so that we were home and unpacked by about 8pm despite a few construction setbacks once we got back to chicago (this portion of the trip took 20-30 minutes alone). my dad had given me a bunch of money for gas and we had enough left over to order takeout from summer- perfect after a 9 hour drive. we even had some time to relax and watch some dvds.
despite last week being a three day workweek it seemed interminable. i don't know why this is- but at least it's over now and things will go back to normal somewhat for at least another week. we're housesitting for jay and diana through the majority of the month of september. it's probably not going to be too pleasant after a while, but at least we'll make a bunch of money that we will desperately need. this money will be enough to buy us our train tickets home for christmas. yay! i'm not sure but the money from the two-week trip might not be spoken for so i might be able to use it to master 'all hope is blind.'
speaking of 'all hope is blind' it's done. i have to listen to a few new mixes that i made, but it's pretty safe to say that it's all good. i might take a song off of the final tracklisting- the one that will most likely get the axe is 'under the flood.' it's loop-based and despite the fact that we are able to we haven't attempted to play it live yet. one of my main rules with songs tends to be that if we aren't dying to play it live then it probably isn't worth putting on the album. i have some loosely-tied plans for the release. i'm going to press up 100 promos first and send them out all over the known universe while getting the pressing of the lp going. i'm not sure how this will be done, but it will be done i say! i have about four months to get it done, but i will remain optimistic that it is still possible.
we need to get some fliers printed up to attempt to go on tour in march. i am still going to apply to play at sxsw. i don't know why i continue to apply and apply and apply every year and never get in, but i'll give it five years. i've already done three. i actually might call in some favors to try and get on some unofficial parties. it's about time i at least tried, dammit!
i'm currently musically obsessed with the morning after girls. i don't really understand this phenomenon, but nearly every psychedelic band that i love i've seen live for the first time and not liked only to track down their records later and completely fall in love with them. i guess this is a good thing as i tend to end up really loving music that i don't get at first.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

wow, too much rawk...

i just woke up from my post-work deathnap. i am completely wiped out- went to see the warlocks on thursday and friday night and the raveonettes last night. all shows at the empty bottle. i have a ticket to see deerhunter, dan deacon and no age at logan square auditorium tonight, but since there are three opening bands in addition to the three headliners (who will be playing round-robin style- not too keen on that as i'm really just interested in seeing deerhunter) i think i'm going to have sit that one out. it doesn't start until 10pm. both warlocks shows started at 9pm and had three opening bands and i had to be at work to open yesterday and today (6:45am and 7:15am)- you do the math and you can figure out how little sleep i've been getting. i did discover that it is possible to get to and from the empty bottle via mass transit.
first, the warlocks shows- we missed sadhu sadhu the first night, and grimble grumble and the vandelles the second night. we caught gliss and the morning after girls- neither of which were particularly remarkable. at first i thought my standards were just too high, but then once the warlocks took the stage it became apparent that music that pulls me is music that pulls me in. if it doesn't there's really no other explanation. that said the first night the warlocks were on fire the whole night- fantastic! the setlist was-

red camera (w/ an amazing jam as the end-section), isolation, so paranoid, midnight sun, shake the dope out, the dope feels good, caveman rock, angry demons, hurricane heart attack, zombie like lovers, stickman blues, worn thin (back to the 7+ minute version from logan square auditorium two years ago that oozes into a beautiful feedback-fest); encore- red rooster (hallelujah!!!), inside/outside

there were a few other songs that were extended with some nice jammy sections as well. i'm not 100% sure of the order, it was reconstructed from memory on the bus on the way home but it's pretty likely and all of the songs they played are included. i've always wanted to hear 'red rooster,''stickman blues' and 'so paranoid.' anyway, they were obviously really feeling it the entire night- there wasn't even a moment that wasn't heartfelt and going for broke.
the second night-

red camera (again w/ the jam at the end), isolation, we need starpower, midnight sun, song for nico, bleed without you babe, baby blue, shake the dope out, the dope feels good, caveman rock, angry demons, stickman blues, cosmic letdown; encore- standing between the lovers of hell, warhorses, worn thin

the second night was definitely sold out- the first night was packed, but not sold out and people drifted off as they kept playing (don't know what's with that, but it happens at every warlocks show i've been to- a shame because the songs at the end are ALWAYS the best ones). we left before they were done the first time we saw them because it seemed to us that bobby hecksher was in a bad mood and that they probably wouldn't do an encore- he seemed pissed and walked off before 'we need starpower' was over so we figured they wouldn't play any more songs and we left. anyway, the second night he seemed to be in a bit of a bad mood at the beginning- it seemed like he thought it wasn't going well and after 'song for nico' he put down his guitar and said 'i'll be right back you guys, hold on a second' and then he came back, they played 'bleed without you babe' after which he perked up and said 'thanks for fixing the vocals- it sounds a lot better' and then they started 'baby blue' which he told us they hardly ever play because they usually mess it up when they play it. well, they played it perfectly and from there the show kicked into high gear and by the end of the main set they were on fire! naturally the encores were fantastic and 'worn thin' was even longer. the sound was MASSIVE- incredibly loud- my ears were ringing most of the next day. thick and sludgy. mmmmm, good! stefanie made a little knitted alien for bobby hecksher and she put it on his pedal board during the last song. he came out from the back room too and we were talking to him a bit- he was very nice! stefanie did most of the talking, though. it was a great night. the next day i felt okay at work as well despite only getting about four hours of sleep.
last night was the raveonettes show, also at the empty bottle. we met up with kylie at sultan's market and hung around at her house in humboldt park before walking to the show from there- we went through the park around the lagoon- which i had no idea even existed. it was very beautiful! we got to the empty bottle right at 10pm and hung around listening to the dj and people watching- the place was full of people who had obviously been at lollapalooza that day- a lot of boners and trixies (basically tan girls in a variety of skimpy dresses and stiletto heels or gladiator sandles). not really kind of the crowd i thought they would draw- the crowd at the warlocks was an interesting mix of people, but this crowd was more homogenous- as in made up of the kinds of people i just described in some very sensitive stereo-types. everyone was very duded up at the raveonettes show. after a while the opening band started- living things. they are huge contenders for worst opening band that we have ever seen. it was just kind of sad to watch- there's nothing worse than an opening band playing and acting and posturing like they're playing in a giant stadium full of people. at the end of the set the singer had a huge american flag around his neck and was singing some cheesy trype about 'keeping the peace, u.s.a. is number one' or some other such bullshit. these people obviously thought very highly of themselves. they had two girl singers too who danced the whole time. it was awful. the sad thing was that they were good musicians and played their music well- it was just a completely wretched style and wayyyyy too much undue posturing. their little keyboard/sample-player dude doubled as the 'band roadie'- stopping whatever it was that he was doing to immediately pick up the microphone stand that was cast off by the singer as well as handing the singer his guitar and returning the mic stand to its place. once their set was over he was the one that tore down most of the equipment and the rest of the band just disappeared. he even carried the guitarists' gigiantic cabinet by himself.
what happened next begat a new show-going rule for me. another roadie with a parliament funkadelic t-shirt set up the raveonettes equipment- moving the bass cabinet and head to stage right, setting sune and sharon's twin reverb amps, tuning their guitars (each guitar was tuned a total of at least three times), putting towels and bottles of water in easily accessible areas (which i didn't see either of them use at any point during their set), leaving the stage for periods of five minutes, then coming back and fiddling with something, leaving again, coming back to make another small 'adjustment.' it's the charade to justify an hour between bands- which is now something that if i witness at a band's show i will never go see them live again as it is so blatantly disrespectful and rude to the audience- like we're just expected to sit there in a crowded room like cattle for a fucking hour despite the fact that the equipment is readied in about 20 minutes. i usually think that the venue is what forces this ridiculous transition, but i know for a fact that this is not a policy that the empty bottle has. all of the members of the warlocks were onstage setting up their own equipment (except for bobby) and were ready to play in 20 minutes and did so rather than make us wait a fucking hour! same with bjm when they played at the metro. fuck, even spiritualized was onstage and ready to play after a 20 minute break. so the mix would probably be really good with that much prep time right? well, one would think that this would be a benefit of such a ridiculous bullshit (and sadly time-honored) rock 'n roll tradition. when the raveonettes finally got onstage to play the guitars were almost completely inaudible and this was only fixed somewhat after some yells from the crowd to turn them up. they played a bunch of stuff from 'lust, lust, lust' my favourite song from 'pretty in black' and the old standards that they play at every show ('attack of the ghost riders' and 'my tornado' for instance) and then they started playing some of the new songs that are on their new album that's supposed to come out in mid-september. this is one of the main reasons i wanted to go to this show because i knew they'd be playing a bunch of these new songs that i was excited to hear. well... the new songs were all pretty bad. quite disappointing- very consciously poppy. quite a letdown as they'd just made those two digital eps that hinted at a world of possibilities for new directions they might take. instead it looks like they're just trying to make a really commercial record and ramp up their popularity (which they already owe to doing what they do best and that doesn't mean that i think they should just stick to ripping of the jesus and mary chain- which i don't even think is true to begin with). they were kind of like the poppier moments of 'chain gang of love' mixed with the most misguided tracks on 'pretty in black' (which is without question their weakest album). it was a HUGE disappointment. at first i thought that i probably just didn't like them anymore or that the warlocks were so good that my standards had been set too high for what i was expecting to see. they played 'lust' after the new songs and i realised that this was not so- i like the raveonettes, i just thought that they would build on what was their best album 'lust, lust, lust' and felt like my suspicions were correct after hearing the aforementioned eps (which do just that). so then they get to 'aly walk with me'- which is their shit-hot all-out noise-fest set-closer. i figured 'at least this will be good.' well, sadly when the guitars are mixed so low in the overall mix it kind of makes a knock-down drag-out noise-fest impossible so what was supposed to be the high point of the set fell flat on its face. it was made all the sadder by the boners in the crowd yelling in ecstacy like they were witnessing something transcendent. i'm sorry but the knock-down drag-out noise-fest is not something you can water down- that kind of ruins the whole point. so after that we all decided we should leave because we really didn't care to hear an encore. we'd had enough. once outside we were airing our grievances (which were all the same) as the band played a two song encore- 'that great love sound' and some other song i couldn't quite place from out on the street. in the end they played for 45 minutes- 15 minutes shorter than they made us wait to hear them play. i'm sorry but this is complete bullshit and i will never see the raveonettes ever again.
however, the warlocks have my undying devotion for playing the best two-night stand i've seen since the cure in new orleans in 2000. the bands that deserve to be famous never are. i guess that means we should cherish them all the more.