Hey there good people of internet land, yes we are still alive. Think we’ve gotten into that stereotypical thing of practicing a lot when something is new and then as time goes on everyone scatters back to the reality of that thing called life. It looks like some of us will be getting back together for a jam sessions in a couple of weeks so something may come out of that. Music is something that is more of a part of my life these days as I’m still in school part time take an Audio Engineering course, I’ve been sitting here staring at this blog for a while now thinking I need to do something with it and the things that I am learning. I’ve got some ideas but I need to talk them over with the others first.. In the mean time I came across an interesting post over at NPR that I thought I would share, it’s aimed more at podcasting, but it is a really handy little guide for those that want their audio to sound better so I thought I would link it here.
Man oh man what’s a music geek to do when his band mates are off having lives and stuff? Well last summer I started taking an audio engineering course at a local college to help try and fill the musical itch, and that REALLY solidified my love of the music making process. It was an intro class that basically covered the tracking part of the recording process. As a rather large gadget geek, being able to learn how to use a pretty sweet Avid S5 console was also pretty amazing. But really what did for me was being able to be there in the middle of a musical creative process. As cheesy as this may sound, there is something magical about being in a recording studio with a group of talented musicians and trying to capture a moment and distill that down to a piece of audio. So naturally when that wrapped up I decided to take the mixing class to continue down that road. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough students and that class was cancelled and I ended up in a digital audio for multimedia course. Anything that teaches me more about the history and how to apply that practically is fair game for me, so I’m doing that right now.
As part of that we started learning how to use Pro Tools, the one DAW I’ve actually never played around with and that I really should have because that’s what is the “industry standard”. I’ll be completely honest, I don’t love it. There’s a lot of reasons for that, and none of them really matter, because something my teacher has been drilling in our heads is, think of a DAW as a tool, like a hammer. Whether you use a Black and Decker hammer, or a Dewalt hammer, at the end of the day they’re both hammers and perform the same function. It’s starting to sink in, but on a reflective note, it’s interesting how much brands matter, in my head at least, I think it’s a testament to power of marketing and the hive mind mentality. There’s a big rant in there about gear as well, but we’ll save that for another day 😉
I started way back in the day with a product called Samplitude, moved on the Cakewalk, then Sonar, then I got a Mac and Garageband blew my mind, with Logic as a natural successor. Last year I built a rather ridiculous PC for the sole purpose of playing with VR gear. With that I thought I should grab some DAW software, and loving the ease of Garageband I looked for something similar for the PC. I was turned onto this product called Mixcraft by a company called Acoustica. Honestly that is the one for me, the layout, work flow, and functionality are exactly what I was looking for. It’s kind of funny because I was telling my wife yesterday I’m working on a couple of projects for school and rather than use Pro Tools I might sneak in a laptop with Mixcraft and use that instead 😉
As customer I got asked to try the Mixcraft 8 Beta they’re working on, and for shit’s and giggles I thought I would load up a couple of their loops, and then jam along and see what comes of it, and then thought to throw it up the site. I’m a mediocre rhythm guitar player at best, and I suck at lead guitar work, so naturally here’s me doing some lead guitar stuff.
We don’t have a ton going on at the moment because you know… old men… life, etc… So I thought I would start posting audio/music related stuff I found interesting and this is one of those videos. Cool little video of a blind play test of three amps to see if they could determine whether the amp was a an analogue amp, a tube amp or a modelling amp. The two guys in question have played a ton of equipment ( I believe one owns the music store it’s shot at) over the last 20 years so they definitely know what they’re talking about. The results are really funny to me just because I’ve heard and taken part in many arguments about how people can definitely tell which is which…. But wait there’s one thing that’s kinda cool/funny in the video, they censor out the words “shit” with a chicken clucking… but the audio is binaural so you would swear the chicken is the room with you if you’re wearing headphones, the moment is at the 18:05 mark so strap on some cans and start a few seconds before that if you want to hear an example of that type of audio… it’s pretty cool.
Personally I use an Eleven Rack when I’m playing, and LOVE Guitar Rig for recording, but after spending a bunch of time in the studio at Centennial College recording others, I have to admit I love recording with tube amps as well. Maybe it’s the romance of heating the tubes up, picking the right mics, spending time getting the cabinets mic’ed properly and then getting the level just right on the board. The process is amazing, that said though, I still believe you can get an amazing sound with a modelling amp and this video just strengthened my resolve. Especially in a live setting, I don’t think anyone could pick up the nuanced differences between a tube amp and a properly set up good modeller…. Lemme know your thoughts 🙂
The token summer 2016… as opposed to the toking summer 2016 update… that would be an entirely different blog… anyway… where was I? Oh right what we’ve been up to… Mostly nothing… We suck… Life gets in the way and boys can’t make music together, luckily for me (Rob) I found another related outlet which is taking a recording arts course, finished the first one over the summer which dealt with tracking (recording sessions) and start the mixing class in October so I’m sure a million and one remixes will end up on here at some point 😉 Three of us did manage to get together last night (myself, Scott and Robin) to jam out a couple of song ideas and record them for future potential songs, so I thought I’d throw them up to track there progress through the chain.
The first one is entitled Stoner Rock Demo because Robin thought it had a weird Kyuss vibe to it:
The next one with a super original name was Another New Demo:
Keep in mind they’re ideas straight off the floor using 3 mics, so they’re really rough sounding, but it’s about capturing the idea. So that’s where we’re at right now. I’ll probably run with those ideas in the mean time, see where they go and I’m sure we’ll revisit them some time in the future. So that’s it for now, go out and listen to some music and enjoy yourselves 🙂
So as you may or may not of noticed I’m a little bit of a gadget junkie, and we finally got a chance to play around with a piece we’ve been waiting for for a long time, our 360 camera. We shot some video last night, and I’m going to start playing around with syncing that with the audio we record, that might take some time to figure out properly, so in the mean time I thought I’d throw up a picture for you to check out. On your computer use your mouse to move around, if you have a phone I would recommend going to our Facebook Group and checking out the pic there (and why not add us at the same time 🙂 ), they do a neat little thing where you move your phone around and the image does as well. Till next time kids!
Well enough dilly dallying…. And enough of using old fart words… Dilly dallying?? When did I start saying that? Where was I? Ohhhhh right, the song 🙂 So a little over a year ago we started this thing, some time in the summer we singled out a riff and built a song around it we later called Feed Me. Unfortunately being middle aged Dad’s spread across a big city finding time to practice is tough, but we did when we could and worked the song. Then at the beginning of March we went up to Jeff’s cottage with a lot of gear and recorded our parts, came back to town, realized there were some problems and re-recorded some parts. Mixed what we had and voila a song is done.
This was a really big learning process for us, especially for myself. I played around with analog multitracks way back in the day, and farted around with DAW software like Cakewalk, Cubase, Protools, etc, but this was the first time I had really sat down and tried to do the whole thing from scratch on my(our) own. It’s not perfect, pretty far from it actually, so we’re calling this a demo. We are going to continue to work on it, during the mixing/re-recording process we identified areas that we could do a lot better on, and we’re going to do that and re-record this one again, so the Building A Song series will continue for this song, which makes me happy because I’m having a ton of fun with it, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about 🙂 So, here’s the Feed Me demo:
Well first recording weekend was a success, we managed to record Feed Me, raw audio is sounding really good, mixing and mastering next, so you can expect content in the form of stories, pictures and of course the song over the next couple of weeks 🙂
So last year HBO ran a series called Sonic Highways which was a documentary of the Foo Fighters making an album of the same name. The premise was they traveled around the US to some pretty iconic studios and recorded a song at each. The last studio featured was a New York studio called The Magic Shop, I won’t get into rehashing the whole episode, but the gist was they didn’t think they could stay around much longer because of the costs involved, especially given New York real estate prices. Well the owner Steve Rosenthal was correct and despite Dave Grohl stepping up to try and back the studio by buying the building, the buildings co-op ownership turned down their offer and as a result The Magic Shop is closing.
OK, so what’s that got to do with us? Sonic Highways was for me the start of PSP, watching that series (I can’t recommend it highly enough) re-ignited my desire to play music with people. That last little “with people” part is the important part of that sentence, and I’ll get to that in a bit but, part of the reason places like The Magic Shop are closing down these days is because no one goes to them anymore because it’s way cheaper and easier to do it on your own. I/we are totally guilty of that, we’re getting ready to record one of our songs and start the process of getting a few more to that point, but as part of that process I’ve started assembling my own studio instead of going to a place like The Magic Shop, and seeing that article today made me more than a little sad, and thinking that we should go to a place like that instead.
Tnat leads me back the “with people” part. Years ago I had a friend that owned a studio named Musty Music, it wasn’t iconic, it wasn’t around for decades, it didn’t host the music elite like The Magic Shop did, but it was amazing place to visit and hang out at. Why? People. People would go there to record and practice, and interact with each other, which led to learning and becoming better, it was it’s own little community. Today we lock ourselves in our home studios, some of us write, play, record and produce completely by ourselves, with no one else to hear, listen and offer input on the process, and I can’t help but think to myself is the music worse off for it? Sure it makes it easier for anybody/everybody to make music, but do we lose something in that process?
In another Dave Grohl documentary Sound City (another must watch) made about the closing of a studio with that name, Josh Homme said something about music that really stuck with me, I’ll paraphrase a bit here, but what he was saying was there was a magic that happens when people create music together, it often goes unsaid, you hear a piece someone is playing and something in your mind finds a place for you to fit into there, a conversation begins, not with words but with notes and movements. It can really be magic, I’ve been part of that feeling, it’s a high better than any drug because you feel connected to the people you are creating with in a way that seems pure, honest and beautiful. Places like The Magic Shop were a part of that process, because they captured that moment through the ears of an engineer and a producer, and in their capturing and translating of that moment, they added that special something to the art which was created.
So today, I’m reflecting on the closing of The Magic Shop, a place I only visited through the eyes of Dave Grohl and his series, and to be honest it makes me a little sad because in my mind, today there’s one place less in this world for musicians to get together and create magic.
So four weeks from today our first real recording session as a band begins in the woods near Parry Sound, Ontario at the legendary Little Amsterdam Studios, (better known as Jeff’s cottage), but before that can begin we have to round up all the equipment, hook it all up, make sure it’s working well and that process began last night at our mixing/mastering studio Fine Audio Recording Technologies Sound (F.A.R.T Sound for short, better known as Rob’s house). I’m sure I’ll have lots more nonsense to say in the coming weeks, but for now a quick shot the setup right now.
I told you I’d be back with a video! So a while back we started a series called “Building A Song“, basically what we wanted to do was track the process of writing and recording a song for ourselves and for anyone else that may be interested. I had written a riff, brought to the guys, then one practice Scott (the sexy beast singing and playing guitar in this video) suggested we revisit it, we did and then the process of fleshing it out began. For me it’s been a real learning process, Dan (the guy tucked away in the corner that plays the solo) and I had written a couple of songs back in our teenage years, but they were very basic and that was a long time ago. So in the first video we were in the starting to flesh it out stage, in this video we are starting to put together all the parts.
A couple of notes, there’s a whole lot of learning going on here, not just in terms of some of the guys learning the music but also in terms of the technology involved. We are learning how to do a multi-camera video shoot, we’re learning how to mix and record live audio (Dear JamHub you rule! We’ll talk about you in a separate video!), how to sync them both together and then a million and one different pieces that make up those processes, so, it’s sooooooo far off from perfect it’s not funny (ok it’s a little funny 😉 ), but that’s the point, we’re learning, and having a great time doing it. So let’s get to the video:
-Rob (The Bald Avenger wearing the snazzy gray Parry Sound Project sweater from the video)