Welcome to Monday Blog Number 2. Ok, so the other blog was on a Tuesday, nobody cares.
I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae this week, possibly because I can’t find my headphones and my old vintage speakers are good for nothing else, but that’s a different story. Notable mentions are Mattafix – “Angel” (probably not strictly reggae, call it pop reggae/old school R&B), Bedouin Soundclash – their album “Sounding a Mosaic” (“When The Night Feels My Song” was on an advert and a few films – again reggae nuts would probably slap my wrists for classifying them thus, if they could be bothered to move, but for the sake of argument we’ll call it pop reggae) and Harry J and the All Stars (they did the infamous “Liquidator” – it’s stupid but I love it).
I’m not really sure why I just told you about some random reggae bands, I can’t imagine that’s at all relevant to you guys. No worries, broaden your minds a bit – listen to reggae and get stoned (actually, that probably won’t broaden your mind at all… ah well).
So last week we did Writing and Practice. I guess we should have a go at:
This is something we’ve always had trouble with. The issues are mostly technical, if something isn’t broken, it’s about to. It is almost relieving when something simply explodes; one less thing to worry about (like our poor Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, which is currently awaiting parts). It can make it very difficult to play, when all you can think about is “please let it hold together for one more gig”. We’re not sure whether it’s the crappy bodged gear we use, a simple part of being in a band or just horrendously bad karma. All I can say is we’ve only ever bailed on one gig. The computer failed on our second ever gig and we tried literally everything to fix it. We were sitting in the middle of a field surrounded with computer components franticly screwing.
On the way to the Hambleton Forum Battle of the Bands we decided to wear dressing gowns. Good times.
I should tell you a bit about how we work, because, while I wouldn’t say we do anything hugely wacky (sorry, no circuit breaking here – at least, not that kind) we go about our music in an unusual way. Next week I’ll see if I can bribe Tommy into telling us a bit about his afro-caribbean rhythms and his paradiddles for all the drummers out there, but this week I’ll do the tech stuff (that’s what I do baby!). For those who really don’t give a crap about this kind of thing, just skip the block quotes (apparently that’s what those are).
Inside “The Box” (pictured below) is a rackmount PC (on XP SP2, SP3 caused some performance issues for some reason) running Plogue Bidule. Bidule is a modular host whose capabilities I have barely scratched; it pretty much lets us route anything into anything, and do all sorts of things in-between. It is currently acting as a complicated MIDI router, a mixer, a softsynth host and a sequencer. I play with 3 keyboards, an old Evolution MK461 does the bass and some of the synths (the ones that don’t require touch sensitivity usually, it doesn’t play very well) a Korg(asm) SP3 does the Piano stuff (it’s weighted… very weighted) and my lovely Novation Remote 25 SL handles most of the mixing, program changes and the rest of the synths. They’re all on a USB hub so I can connect them (power and all) via one massive cable (except for the Korg, which I MIDI into the Novation, and power with a power bar attached to my stand). I’m told this is a very bad idea as USB doesn’t like to travel long distances, but it seems to be one of the few things that hasn’t broken yet.
This actually a pretty old picture, things have changed, but you get the idea.
I’m thinking of doing a quick mid-week post on actual synth playing. It is something that I found really difficult adjusting to after playing piano (I still have trouble with it). It seems to be a much overlooked subject. The actual synths used are mostly freebies found floating around on the internet (KVR is a great source for things like this). Until recently we used a software amp for the guitar, but we found we get a much more separated sound, and of course better monitoring, with a real amp. It also works for gigs with a smaller PA system (it can be a bit much running bass, keys, vocals and guitar through one PA).
I won’t go into more detail here, but feel free to hit me up on facebook or your social media network of choice to talk tech. Or find Doug or Tommy if you want to talk about girls and parties.
Now that we’re blogging properly (emphasis on the WE, the others WILL be helping), we could really use some feedback because, honestly, I have NO IDEA who you are. I could be writing for some 90 year olds who have no idea what I’m talking about, or a bunch of 13 year old girls who… also don’t know what I’m talking about. So Contact us, Facebook us, Twitter us, ReverbNation us, Soundcloud us, Myspace us! Even if it’s just a “Hi, I’m a 90 year old and I read your blog, what the fuck?!”, at least we know who we’re shooting at.