Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here Comes Nothing

How does one prepare for the first paid vacation in years?  I'd like to know, as next week is such an event - really, the first time I've been able to take actual paid time off in so long that I hesitate to even say.  Let's say 2007, although given that the ad agency was already pretty spotty at that point, it never really felt like I was on vacation.

Now, I can leave and other people will pick up the slack.  How sweet is that?  I wonder if I remember how to relax...


Thursday, May 17, 2012

More or Less More

Been attempting to gear up for recording, which (if you'll recall) is a big part of this year's creative agenda.  That is, the agenda is to actually be creative, which can sometimes fall by the wayside when you're focusing on other things.  One of the things about recording, though - while I've done plenty of the 'one man band' types of things that multitrack recording allows, I find these days I much prefer producing music as a collaborative activity.

And there's the rub: all of my collaborators have schedules that I - and they - could only describe as 'insane.'  One of the predictable byproducts of the recession is how much more companies are trying to get out of their current stable of employees, and with Edz, the drummer for both the Tappan Sea and Dave solo stuff (same person, of course) currently working nights and Saturdays, the actual creative agenda for the year hasn't quite been able to get off the ground.*

I've been able to use the time to get my own stuff in order - polishing off songs that have sat with unwritten lyrics; sussing out the pool of musicians to get some nice instrumental overdubs when the time comes; etc.  But at some point, you need the energy that comes from actually starting work, and I'm itchy. No doubt about it.

Anyway, Edz will become available in a couple of weeks, and I'm also going to track a few of the solo songs with Sean on drums shortly, so that's sorting itself out.  Oddly, I've always found strong drummers easy to come by.  It's the lack of available guitar players that's always been my achilles' carpal tunnel syndrome. What's that about?


*A note of explanation, if you need: drums generally come first in multitrack recording.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Well Day

Took the day off from work this morning - was not feeling well, and figured that one of the benefits of being a full-timer is that I now don't have to risk getting other people sick.  Corporations like freelancers for the obvious reason that they save them money on benefits and the like, but a way that freelancers cost companies money is in the fact that since a freelancer gets paid hourly and doesn't get paid if they don't work - no paid sick days, in other words - a freelancer is way more likely to show up to work if they're sick, and then get all of their co-workers sick.

It's all about man-hours, people.

Back in 2010, there was a freelancer who came in complaining that her husband had some viral infection that wouldn't go away and doctors couldn't quite identify it.  Then she proceeded to come in for the next few days with an increasingly alarming cough that gradually evolved into a full-on hacking one.  And she was in the cube next to mine, which put me in a dilemma - if I got as sick as she was, would I also insist on coming in, seeing as how Yesenia and I were both working through spotty part-time work at that point?  The answer is a resounding yes.

Thankfully, I didn't catch it, and I didn't have to make that choice.  Today I can make the more ethical choice, which, if you extrapolate out to a silly degree, probably proves the idea that moral standards are a luxury of the rich, and everyone else just has to play along.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Obama Over the Rainbow

If this isn't an historical day, I'm not sure what would constitute as such: the President of the United States expressing support for gay marriage.  Yes, you can say that it's a long way from doing anything about it, and yes, it comes a day after North Carolina has amended their constitution to explicitly ban it.  But it's pretty impressive nonetheless.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Suckfest '95

Your Weekend Listening
"Empty House"
ca. 1995

A few entries back, I mentioned that I came across a treasure trove (well, some kind of trove) of old four-tracks, from 2000-thereabouts.  Sadly, this isn't from that.  I haven't yet gotten the energy together to spin up the old Tascam Porta-One and the Alesis Multimix Firewire 16-channel.  Also, I haven't gotten drunk enough yet.

Those recordings were pretty good - some interesting, quirky songs that showed the mix of influences I'd had on my writing in the last half of the 90's, decent enough playing and engineering that at least showed a minimal awareness of what EQ ranges might not curdle one's tympanic membrane.

Today's entry shows none of that.  It's a shitty song with lousy playing and engineering that checks every single box on the 'How Not to Engineer a Home Recording' list.  But I present it here as a reminder of how you can delude yourself into feeling that the work that you're producing at this moment - any moment - is worth your time.

The best weapon against not sucking for posterity is to find a way to apply some kind of objective criteria.  Measure yourself against it.  Is the beat iffy?  Is the guitar out of tune?  Are the lyrics insipid?  Is the mic, as they say, 'hot'?  You've got ears and a brain - use them, and don't be afraid to give yourself a hard time.

I don't really have anything of interest to say about the song itself.  I had completely forgotten or purged the memory of its existence until a couple of years ago, when I was importing a bunch of old four-tracks from Ansley and Bran from 1995 or so, and this turned up in-between a couple of their songs, buried deep in a decaying cassette master.

The only real shame is that whatever minor listenability the song might have had is completely hampered by the godawful engineering.  The reason that piercing electric guitar drowns out the mildly inoffensive acoustic is that they had been bounced onto the same track, and the effects were live to tape, so there's no un-crapping it.  Ditto the overdriven vocal.  Just basic issues of setting levels, not even dealt with.  I suspect that even when it was fresh, I didn't think much of it, given the half-assedness of it and the fact that I never mixed it down.

So, that's now rectified - but as a warning to myself, not a presentation for you.  Feel free to listen.  I challenge you to enjoy.


P.S.: Christ, but that bridge is awful.