Tuesday, February 28, 2012

RPM update

The album is finshed, being recorded at least. Just touched up a few guitar parts on the last song 'Krim: The Sound of Kali" which I wrote imrov by request from good friend Karen Slafter. It's 9 minutes long, and other than the minor tweaks was written and remains as is.

Now to mix it down and create some artwork. Thinking of calling it 'Leap of Faith.' Just a fitting phase that popped into my head yesterday. Now to call the first song that or be really melodramatic and title it "Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard." It's my album, so fuck you I'll do what I want. Heh!

Mixdown should be quick. I've already been remixing these songs the last 2 weeks and know where I want to go with them.

Yeah. Feeling now a bit more like myself after running myself into the ground trying to finish it amongst a full multiple band schedule. The aforemention-in-this-blog neglect of eating properly caught up with me big time Sunday afternoon.

ETB played a double previous night. Stomach wonky most of afternoon, half a bowl of cereal before tracking drums. Went straight from Music Lab to pick up Triniti from work at Tattoo 23. She stopped me outside the van, gave me a grave look and said, "Are you OK? Your color is really weird."

So we went postehaste to Threadgill's for a big meatloaf dinner for me. Was feeling malnourished at that point. My musician's hunter/gatherer metabolism can keep me running on fumes for only so long before I can feel my body start to devour itself.

Then tracked bass for4 hours before ETB Monday residency last night. Needless to say I spent most of today in a zombie state until finally making a grocery run later in the afternoon. Cooked myself a big hamburger for the protein and starting to feel myself again for the first time in many days.

All in all, I feel I made a really good and worthwhile album. And it ain't done yet.

Back to work.

Here's a little story....

About a hard-working band who was burned out and tired from a residency gig on 6th Street and who hadn't even had time to recover from the 6-hour double they played 2 nights earlier.

It's the end of the night. The van (let's call it 'Boss Hoss') is parked outside with hazards blinking, back open awaiting gear. The bass player is outside smoking a ciggie when a gaggle of about 8 drunk younger douchebags approaches from the East. Their nationality is irrelevant, as douchebaggery is a plague affecting all of mankind equally.

So this gaggle of douches take note of our van (they are walking up a street that is not blocked off as it is on weekends) get all pumped, and some of them start sitting in the back while the others laughed and took phone pics. I was dumbstruck. And slightly amused. I got Eric's attention inside the bar, and him and Rob come out. Rob immediately takes control of the situation and goes into bartender-at-the-end-of-the-night mode: "We are working musicians. That van is part of our livelihood. You are fucking with our livelihood. So GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR VAN."

This disperses the gaggle with some protest, who pass us on the sidewalk and continue West towards Congress Ave. Rob and Eric went back inside after we made damn sure they kept walking by the do-not-even-consider-fucking-with-us-right-now looks on our faces. As they neared the corner, they started taunting me saying, "Oh, you're fucking with our LIVELIHOOD!" To which I gave them the finger and started walking towards them. They continued on, some douches pretending to break off from the gaggle and other douches pretending to restrain them.

Probation be damned. Had one of those assholes actually broken off from the pack and attempted to be in my face he would have been laid out before getting the chance. Principles. Maybe pride.

If those worthless fucks had ANY idea how much I, as well as Rob and Eric, have sacrificed in life to play music full time, they would have (hopefully) thrown a few bucks into the tip jar and maybe bought a CD. Instead they gave us a bunch of shit for trespassing into our private property and being respectfully yet forcefully told to leave.

Fucking people, man.

And it gets better. So after they start haranguing me from the corner about "fucking with our LIVELIHOOD" I gave them the finger and got Eric's attention and informed him of their particular taunts. His blood immediately boiled, and we both started walking towards them to see if they were up for a little "talk."

But it gets even better from there. No sooner had we left the bar that suddenly there were three transient musicians who just happened to be walking the same direction at the same speed at the same time. So they started talking to us as we pursued the douchegaggle. Turns out they were at another venue and took a bunch of acid, and were tripping quite hard. Were talking about Jimi Hendrix Experience and being experienced. By now Eric and I were laughing. This was fucking awesome and had to be, well, EXPERIENCED to be believed.

So Eric, myself and the hippies got to the corner of Brazos. Douchegaggle still far ahead and hadn't stopped walking. Still yelling and taunting. Pussies. I yelled "FUCK YOU" at the top of my lungs at them. To which one of the now-departing hippies spun and yelled to no one in particular, "Fuck YOU bro!"

Fuck YOU, bro? I am laughing so hard I can barely type. Holy shit. What starts off as a near rumble turns into another awesome catch-phrase and inside joke to add to the ETB repertoire. Eric and I were in tears on the drive home. Fuck YOU bro!

Just wow. Sometimes my life can be pretty fucking awesome. That's why I keep this blog.

RPM update coming soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wow, forgot what day it was.

Several hours after updating this blog last evening, realized with some horror that yesterday was Friday, not Thursday.

Shit. This is what happens when you work full time on a variable schedule, and seriously affects how I plan out the next few days.

Have bass to track (and write) for 3 songs. Have drums/guitar/bass to do for another song. Have a 3rd song that probably won't need drums except maybe in parts, but it's also 9 minutes long and I still need to tighten it up. That and need to do a volunteer shift at the Food Bank sometime by March 1st to fulfill 16 hours a month of CSR. Only day available was Tuesday, so took it tho it will be smack dab in the middle of a day I need to track on.

So in the middle of this I also had a ETB's Monday residency at Friends (a good night), practice with ETB and later Arcana Mundi on Thursday. ETB pulls another double-header tonight at Friends/BD Riley's. I doubt I should track any drums today, and doubt I will feel up to it tomorrow after playing bass for 6 hours tonight.

So to correct my previous blog post, I tracked drums on Tuesday (i think). Guitar on Wednesday and Friday. Today is Saturday. Got it.

Uploading roughs to RPM Site, lets see if I can do this:

Danny G's player:

^^^ Holy shit it worked. Awesome.

Friday, February 24, 2012

RPM update

Have 3 songs done for guitar and drums, not counting the Spanish classical number.

Have plotted out another offtime thing on a click track, try to record drums for it tomorrow. Also worked out a request from Karen Slafter to write a song in honor of the Hindu goddess Kali.

Adrian Conner is letting me use her place while she's out of town so have been tracking my Marshall there, much to the dismay of her neighbors, heh. Spent most of Tuesday there, came back and spent all today there as well. Buring a CD as I type. Spent 9 and a half hours today working on music.

RPM is the only time I really get to go mad composer and give myself completely to the music. I forgo meals often, hunger becomes a distraction and eating becomes a chore. My belt threatens to need a new notch. Shaving and hygeine take a back seat as well. Good times. But the results are always worth the effort.

6 days left. Don't even have song titles yet, let alone an album name/cover art concept.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today found I actually CAN play drums to a click track. Awesome. This will open up a whole new world. Helped having guitar with the click for a frame of reference. Now just need whatever cable for my headphone amp. Main problem I had earlier at the Music Lab was couldn't hear click/guitar over my damn drums.

Dusted off my late 70's Slingerland kit and replaced the snare head to the best of my ability. Recorded trial drumtracks to 5 songs, mainly trying to get ideas.

My phone was of course blowing up the whole time. Lots of ETB business going on, all very very good. Tim Abbott called saying he moved over a Leslie and B3 to his north Austin house and I can use it to record on, and have free reign to record there whenever. Awesome. Have the Music Lab as an option, Tim's place whenever, and have talked to Adrian Conner about tracking at her place when she's out with Hell's Belles.

Wow. Hope I can clear enough room on my 8 track to finish this thing.

Also tomorrow I, along with MJ and maybe Natalie Zoe at Matt Smith's studio for a run down of the guitar parts on the Arcana Mundi album. The man is a certified, card carrying badass and I look forward to sitting down with him. Haven't had a guitar lesson since age 14. Matt teaches Guy Forsyth, among others.

Also heard from Shandon Sahm's drummer Gary. They want to get together at the Music Lab tomorrow. Haven't talked to Shandon in several weeks so no idea what he even has planned other than it will be fun. More live work as a guitar player.

Have a burn cd of the new ETB songs in the works, no rehearsal til Monday so finally have a chance to write some bass lines to them. Also talked with Eric about getting together with him to hash out song ideas.

Have never really been in a place/band as a bass player where I was a songwriter as well, and weirdly need to learn how. Don't write basslines by themselves. They always are a reaction to the drums and guitar whether it be Eric and Rob or myself on my own recordings. So now that I can bring ideas to the table I don't know how. Crazy. Always learning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

251st Post

Well well well. That one slipped by me.

250 posts. Will be interesting to go back and start re-reading this thing. And now that the Hobbit Hole has wireless internet, I can!

Time Warner had 3 guys climbing back into the drainage gulley this morning to hook our humble abode back up to the world. Our phone service is very spotty here (have go outside and stand by the mailboxes to take calls, and even then they still drop). Spotty phone signal = spotty internet. Using hotspot from my phone to give iMac and laptop internet is a crapshoot. Forget about watching any kind of videos or even uploading demos to the RPM Challenge site, or getting tracks from ETB and needing to download them.

But those days are over!

In other news. ETB Monday residency at Friends last night was a mixed bag. Started off really well but just fizzled no matter how much energy we put into the set. We played great but the crowd that was once really into it just fizzled and dispersed about 90 mins into first set. Well poop. Put the DR set onto Minnie Pearl and really like them. Might be a little too stiff tho, like plucking coaxial cables. Will see how the SIT equivalents are, will try out some sets via the WB Gear deal. Another thing I haven't been able to do due to crappy internet.

We also had a productive song writing rehearsal earlier that day. Have some solid ideas coming along. And a lot of business things in the works. Will fill in details only after things happen. No sense talking big but none of it coming about, heh.

After Time Warner guys left and Triniti headed to Tattoo 23 to do some assistant work I went to storage and dug out my drumset, studio monitors and found a mic stand, among other useful things. Would see how I felt after Arcana Mundi practice at Tim Abbott's under-renovation place in North Austin, I need to play some drums and start tracking. Tim says I can use the place to record. Will keep that in mind. The convenience of renting an hourly room at the Music Lab (right around the corner) first thing tomorrow versus driving up north only to battle rush hour traffic on the way home might be worth the $30-40 bucks.

Practice went well, wound up taking Roland (drummer/percussion) home to his place in South Austin. On the way home stopped by storage again and grabbed my mixer and the gutted first pedalboard I ever built which will be re-instated as my guitar board.

Much to do. Gotta run

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RPM update

I just finished writing/demoing another song.

That's 5 songs/32 minutes of music. Just need another 3 minute tune to complete the 35 min goal. But I still need to really RECORD this stuff, heh. About to go back inside after a cigarette and see if I can write one more. If so this will be the quickest I've ever finished writing an RPM album. Maybe writing first then recording is better rather than write and record same time... heh

ETB has so much business happenings I will be walking to the coffee shop in the morning for reliable internet. Lots to get caught up on, lots to get done. And need to get a wifi router for here at the Hobbit Hole.

ETB played Saxon on Friday, really good show all around. Wish I could go in to more but pressed for time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just checking in.

Smoking a ciggie in the soon-to-be-rennovated patio of the Hobbit Hole and trying to decide what to do:

If I get my drums out of storage I might as well pull the glue from the bottom of 1500 sq ft of bamboo flooring I procured from Tim Abbott which has been in the back of my van for more than a week. Either that or lay the drums on top of it, which sounded like a bad idea before I even typed it. It is RPM Challenge related, I need to start coming up with drum parts and secure a location to practice and track. That and I need to install a new snare head

Or I can change bass strings. Bought 2 sets of strings (DR set I liked and Daddario equivalent) right before landing the WB Gear deal. #life #irony They need to be changed for Saxon gig tomorrow. Will be rotating the Dean Markley Blue Steels to Cate Blanchett and putting the DR set on Minnie Pearl. Want to feel difference of DR's vs the D'ads, and needs to be with same bass.

Or I can track some more RPM demos. Feeling a little backlogged already, have 4 songs/26 mins to work with already. Maybe retrack spanish classical song now that have news strings for it as well. And figure out how to transfer the sound of the rain caught ambiently during the very first pass.

Or I can just sit here and type, heh!

I'm up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New endorsement deal

ETB's publicist Suzanne Penley has landed us endorsements through WB Gear (www.wbgear.com), which is affiliated with SIT Strings and several other useful companies. Awesome! And tho via ETB this is a deal for me as an individual artist. Also awesome. This in addition to the amazing deal she landed for a new set of cymbals for Rob.

She's really been making things happen. Can't thank her enough, and Eric Tessmer Band looks forward to having a big year!

ETB wound up working another double Friday as well. Called in for early set at Friends before our set at BD Riley's. Towards the end the cops showed up amidst noise complaints. Live music capital of the world, just keep it down even if Friends is completely packed during our last song. Seriously? Other than that, fun sets and a good night.

Also on Friday met Lisa and Trace from the upstart paranormal investigations show, couldn't talk to them while playing heh, but had a business lunch with them next day.

Went very positive despite me dragging ass from the previous long night. I am the official musical director, they want to use parts of "House of Leaves pt 2" for the title and I'll have free reign creatively for whatever i'd like to produce for the show. Only rule is nothing obviously/predictably spooky. Done. Pro bono work for now til the show is in production and starts earning money. But looks great on my resume nonetheless.

Other developments include me bass teching for Dug Pinnick on a King's X West Coast run late March thru mid April. Will be great to work with those guys again, haven't travelled with them since 2009.

Yesterday had a photo shoot for Arcana Mundi at Matt Smith's studio. All I have to say about that is that Tim will be having Matt Smith personally and individually sit down with myself, MJ (keys/guitar) and Natalie Zoe (backing vox/guitar) and going over guitar parts. Awesome. I haven't had a guitar lesson since age 14, and will be looking forward to sitting down with the man himself.

Last night at our Monday residency at Friends was abysmal. Note to self: don't book Monday after the Super Bowl, or whatever such big sporting event that apparently happened Sunday which I heard about on Twitter (don't own a TV and don't give a fuck about sports).

And finally have been demo'ing music for RPM Challenge. Have an 8 minute orchestral epic, a spanish classical piece and am working on a 3rd idea as well. Not sure how/where I'll record them, but have half the required 35 minutes of music ready to roll.

Feels good to play guitar. Don't get me wrong, I love bass as well. Just haven't had the opportunity to play much guitar past few years.

Today had another low key jam for Arcana Mundi. Tomorrow full rehearsal at Tim's being-rennovated house in North Austin. After dropping Triniti off at Tattoo 23 for a birthday piece by Karen Slafter I finally got a new handle for my Paul Stanley Iceman case. Been broken for 5? years and held together with some string. Punk as funk but not very functional.

Of course, South Austin Music has a Dietz touring 2x15 bass cab with Eminence speakers. Since having my Mergilli Innovations replica Dietz cab built (couldn't find the real deal anywhere), the damn things are now everywhere.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

RPM Challenge time is here again


And like the last 3 years, I questioned whether or not I should even attempt only to say fuck it and register last minute.

Yesterday was on my 8-track messing around and wrote a rather symphonic 8-minute piece of music. Great. Good luck finishing that on time, heh! Why can't I just write a raunchy punk record and make it easier on myself? But part of the challenge for me is to top what I did the previous year.

Red River Day Care (2009) proved to myself that I can write a full record and play all the instruments. Ocean of Stars (2010) proved to myself that I can write a fully realized album within the time constraints, and the results were such that I pressed 130 copies myself and sold most of them. Sunrise on the Sea Floor/House of Leaves (2011) had me go further and attempt a concept EP based on the book "House of Leaves", which drastically changed gears from the first songs I was working on. I came up short and didn't finish a full album, but am not admitting defeat as I was slowed down by the sheer ambition of what I was trying to do.

So this year I am at the Hobbit Hole without adequate home studio space. Have talked to my good friend and ex-Southern Gun Culture bandmate Amber Lucille about recording at her home studio. Which would be amazing but that also severely limits the amount of time I can spend noodling and writing as I'd be working around another's schedule. SO. Do I attempt a full RPM record of new music at her place, or do I use the recording time to re-record "House of Leaves" and make it release-worthy as well as finish the Sunrise on the Sea Floor cuts with guest vocals and guitar...?


Either way, my schedule has freed itself for today, ETB practice has been postponed and Trin will be in Lakeway with the van all day. So I will be working on music, swapping out the stricken toggle switch on my Paul Stanley Iceman, and in general making myself useful around the house. And what an amazing feeling it is to have our own place. Had the Hobbit Hole solo yesterday evening and almost didn't know what to do with myself.

In other ETB news, we are talking gear endorsements through WB Gear. See what they have to offer. All I know is 2 people could go out for a nice dinner on what a set of bass strings cost. And will need guitar strings soon too. Have few dozen assorted DR sets from various sources but about to run out of the guage I actually like (11-50).

Still waiting to hear how ETB Europe plans are coming together, I've been offered a King's X tour for same timeframe and need to tell them something in the next few days...

ETB is at BD Riley's tomorrow night, and on Saturday I meet with the contact for the paranormal investigations TV show who is interested in using my music.

In personal news, I cannot get over how good I feel now.

It's like I finally have my life back since my separation and divorce in Fall 2009. Staying with Tim and Tracey in Lakeway was an amazing and needed sanctuary, tho I was slipping into a very dark period towards end of the year. But it opened the doors to so many things, Trin getting back into doing Reiki professionally and myself getting back into playing guitar for Tim's band Arcana Mundi. Can't thank them enough. Plus the spark is back with ETB, we look forward to working on a new album and having a busy and great year.

Life is good.