Poison ft Chriss Yell

This is a Tune my close friend and Musical partner and I recorded last summer. I played the drums, bass and guitars, he sang and played some acoustic guitars as well as penned the tune. For contractual reasons I wasn’t allowed to play it publicly until Today. He has this fantastic sounding U87 Microphone clone from JJ audio that sounds so sweet and full, I love using that microphone! Enjoy!

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My Alter Ego “I am Dead!”

I’m sitting in my studio with absolutely no voice whatsoever but I’m gleefully smiling :D I’ll explain in a minute. I’ve been working on segment music for a Broadcast Radio client of mine that’s been with me since 1995. The music was for a new gaming segment they’re adding to their “Computer Talk” radio program, of course it has to be the metal! (By Request). They want and I quote “a tune that sounds like a hot wheels commercial.” I’m not much of a Metal fan unless it’s Tool or Dream Theater, it seems to me and my taste Metal has all been done before. I don’t play metal at gigs and I wouldn’t audition for a metal gig unless someone tried to pass it off as something else (been there done that). It’s just not my cup of tea as a player.

The timing on this project couldn’t have been better.  I just finished watching “What we do is Secret” the story of the Germs. I was a little to young for the punk scene but I lived in the middle of it being in Los Angeles during Middle School. I remember kids wearing Germs shirts and hearing stories from my brother and his friends about Darby Crash (and his epic Heroin habit) and Pat Smear (Nirvana – Foo Fighters). I already had it in my mind to do some heavy Punk Riffing for fun in the studio because I’m a huge Germs fan and the film inspired me. I’m a huge fan of Punk Rock, I listen to the Dead Kennedy’s all the time still as I never seem to tire of them. Plus I resonate artistically toward the minimalism in Punk and good old 3 chord Rock. Angus RULZ!

In the same day (I know a lot of Netflix but I’ve been really Sick) I watched another film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. I’d never heard of this film but it reminded me of working with scummy A & R people back when I was a young Lad trying to work my way up in the music business in LA 20 years ago. There’s a line from the Movie “Don’t Put Out” that was perfect for this tune so I threw it in there. I liked the film, but I usually like any film that has to do with musicians. Coal miners daughter, Walk the Line and the Pick of Destiny are among my favorites.

This is one of those projects where almost everything went perfect, almost, which is rare. I had some trouble with the drum production but I’m not a good drummer so I have to “fix it”to make it sound righteous in the mix. Outside of that I composed and recorded the music in less than 2 hours. I only did one take for the guitar solo and kept it as hinckey as it is in a few spots. The vocals aren’t going to the client just the arrangement, plus I can’t sing lead (my voice is nasally). So what is it that one must do when your voice is great for harmony but a Vick’s commercial a capella? Why bring out the Cookie Monster voice!

Cookie Monster Metal!

Cookie Monster Metal!

For many moons I’ve used a character  as a catalyst to write with before, the Staten Worshiping, Heroin addicted, on a Murder spree Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol. His mother let the neighbors rape him as a child while his drunk father beat him and his siblings which formed him into a psychopath. Loki is an alter ego kind of character bloody and violent to the core! Loki comes straight out of a Quentin Tarantino nightmare, he gets his kicks by stabbing people in the eye with his needles after he shoots up as a type of murderous mayhem and torture.

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol was here!

As I’m doing the vocals on this project my voice is just getting tore up but I saved one last blast for the blood curdling scream Loki lets out in the intro. Oh my freaking Lord it hurt! The end of the story, I had so much fun doing this arrangement, more fun then I’ve had in quite some time solo cholo. FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!! It wasn’t work, it was an enjoyable process especially when everything goes as easy as this one did. My Egnater Tourmaster sounds just brutal on this track, I cranked it up so loud I had to run cables all the way to the bathroom on the other side of the house to stop the bleed over. Check out my *cough* Loki’s blood curdling scream in the intro, I don’t think I will be answering the phone anytime today :D

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Oh, and remember to play this FUCKING LOUD!

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS, Iphone and iPad review Part V

As we come to an end to this series I can without a doubt say Garageband for iOS can be a serious tool for composers. The way you can create MIDI by touch is exactly like piano roll in the Pro Tools, Logic 9, Garageband, Cubase, Sonar etc. With the fantastic sounding on-board virtual instruments that are sound wise identical to Logic 9 and Garageband for OS X along with the deep editing capability, the only limitation I can see is how many tracks the memory will allow. I can do a CD on an 8 tracks that will sound great on any DAW. This is a VIABLE TOOL and not just a toy. For $5 it’s worth having for anyone who likes music to just goof off with as well :)

With Garageband’s on-board sequencing by genre algorithms you can sketch songs out then tweak them with ease on the computer or phone. I can clearly see how a fully loaded ipad and some of the Apogee gear for D to A conversion (what makes real world sounds like a car door slamming turn into binary numbers for a computer to sample and playback) which is top quality stuff in the pro recording world you could create, in at least part, instrumentation that could go on any finished CD or record with a pro sound.

Check out the four screen shots below, the piano rolls are all very similar on the high-end pro audio DAW’s:

The final tweaks came mostly with the arrangement of the strings and the mix. I didn’t have a chance to use Komplete 8 Ultimate on this project because it arrived in the beginning stages, I don’t install anything in the middle of a project. I’ve learned that it’s not only a very big mistake but also a good motivator to finish up what you have going in your work flow. Being limited to the strings samples that come with on the EXS24 compared to what NI has was difficult, but again I know better than to start walking down that road. I stuck with the EXS24 strings and changed the arrangement most noticeably some unison runs from every instrument on the track.

I added a 3 and 4 part harmony of guitars at the end in harmony with the violin counter melody and an additional rhythm guitar track in the first 2 verses and choruses care of my Egnater Tour Master and my Singleton Crossroads. I used a mic that is now my go to guitar mic, the audix i5 made right here in the pacific north-west. I haven’t used an Sure SM 57 on a snare or a guitar cabinet since I tried the Audix i5, they are amazing microphones USA made and built like a tank for under $100 bucks. I highly recommend them for guitar players and drummers.

EDIT: I also changed out the EXS24 sampler piano part for the luscious Alecia Keys Virtual instrument by Native Instruments that came with Komplete Ultimate 8, it sounds fantastic! It was right at the end and I had a decent mix so I thought WTH, I’ll install the new software. It worked out great on this end for sure. I’m impressed with how much NI has got their shite (that’s a technical term :) )together in the last few years with their service staff and the products they put out. IK multimedia, they’re a freaking toy company IMO and will never buy anything from them unless it’s really cheap on some kind of special buy out etc. It’s good to see NI move away from that and embrace real music crafting again.

This is it, the final track of the series. I did not have the time to Master this track so keep that in mind, it’s only a mix. Of course it’s not what I wish I was presenting here but I think everyone feels the same way about endlessly tweaking knobs to perfection. If you only had more time to mix it again it could have been better. In fact Trey Parker says that very quote in the documentary 6 days to south park. (http://www.thetalkingbox.com/2012/03/creating-south-park.html) or see the movie :p It’s so true, for myself anyway. I would like to revisit this someday with a vocal, anyone who want’s to give it a go hit me up.

Dream Jam for iOS Final Mix:

All the tracks from this article

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part III

In part III of this review we will continue to build the track and instrumentation to our Garageband for iOS arrangement. In part II we imported the raw Garageband for iOS project:

Garageband for iOS

Garageband for iOS

Titled “Dream Jam” into Logic 9 and did some very minimalistic tweaks with EQ and Garageband compressor leaving the song in a very raw form. Notice at 1:19 from the Part II review how badly the artifacts in the clean guitar fall apart when the melody modulated ascending up the score. I completely changed that sections guitar arrangement which will reflect in the Part III Track below. 

Here’s a screen shot from Logic 9 at it’s first mix right after import from iOS 5 and Garageband for iOS:

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

This bring us up to date. The track has now been significantly EQ’d and had a real percussion arrangement added to it Via Superior 2.0 and a sound library I put together piece by piece and input to Logic 9 via my percussion pads and triggers. In addition Grand Piano, Violin I, II and III, Viola I and II, Cello I and Double Bass I were added to the arrangement. The Kick drum and Bass Guitar have been side chained which was very necessary since we used a 32” Kick drum YIKES! It sounds really good during the Modulation at least for now, who knows what might change down the road.

Here’s a Screen Shot of the new Mix in Logic:

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

My preliminary conclusions thus far are Garageband for iOS can be used as a real tool for composers and Singer-Songwriters.  This app is no Toy. The MIDI composing interface can be used to nail down specifically every note in all rhythm  possibilities like any MIDI interface in any DAW. It can be quantized in Garageband for iOS at the touch of a finger even on an iPhone, no iPad required. I can’t wait for my next train trip, I’m going crazy with this app!

Here’s part III’s mix from Soundcloud, make sure and select Part III (3) as I set all the tracks for this review in 1 player:

This song was written in remembrance of my Brother

This song was written in remembrance of my Brother Don who taught me how to Play Guitar and Piano when I was a kid and a teenager. When I was 17 he recruited me to play in his band, it was awesome playing with great players and vocalists all being at least 8 years older than I. That’s where I cut my chops and my harmony skills. The girls were nice too :) Those days, playing gigs with my big brother were the best days of my life. My brother passed far to young, he was such a soulful melodic player who still give me goose bumps when I listen to his recordings. I lost my Brother in February of this year at the age of 50, what a pity. I miss him so very much.