Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Noise on the Internets

Steve Albini, who I think of as someone more interested in having an extreme opinion that sounds all rad and cool and makes a great sound bite, rather than a thoughtful insight filled with subtleties and contradictions, is also disingenuous. Why do I say that? Because he knows better.

In this article he goes through the economics of a major-label record contract and concludes snarkily:

The band members have each earned about 1/20 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

Well, there are two things with that statement. One is that he conveniently ignores the publishing royalties that the composer(s) in the band makes. The other is that he inserts a $50,000 "buyout" in this contract which of course mathematically makes sure that the band doesn't "recoup".
But also, note that this example band now has all new backline gear. New drums, bass, guitars, etc.
And they sold a quarter-million units. That means that any backline they get from here on out will likely be free because they'll get endorsements.
And and... somehow their tour only grossed $50,000.
Hmm...

I've never seen a Neve without at least one module that needs to be fixed.
The other thing is that the best thing which could happen to a band like this, especially nowadays, is to have had sales of 250,000 units and then get dropped from their label.

Now, they probably wouldn't get dropped at 250,000 units on their first or second album (although they would be arguably rock stars) but they probably would be dropped if they went below 100,000 units. Why is being dropped good? Because then they'd have had all the push from a major label and all the publicity and name recognition, but they can run on their own, owning all their material from here on out and making much more money (per unit) than they ever could have with the major label.

It would be a good scam if you could pull it off as a band. As far as I can tell the reason most bands don't continue to tour and release their own records after being released from a major label is because the band members all hate one another.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Amps and Music

David Kronemyer on HiWatt Amplifiers. The dude David Kronemyer has a crazy resume, and in addition to everything else was an executive at Capitol and Atlantic records.

The Vintage Sound Classic is a pretty amplifier.

Sufjan Stephens sold 10,000 copies of the EP "All Delighted People" the first weekend it was available on Bandcamp. It debuted at #48 on the Billboard 200. He's on his own label. And his work is really interesting. The choir and orchestration are very tasteful and delicate. He's sold out two nights at the Beacon in November. Kind of reminds me of a cross between Donovan and Frank Zappa with that kind of modern indy-music vocal style.
His "record company" is Asthmatic Kitty Records.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    24-bit 44.1kHz

    When the Mouse was in the studio a decision had to be made. I told Eric* that we wanted to have an "old fashioned" sound. We wanted the drums to be like drums from the early 70's, but with more room reflections (see: Led Zeppelin) and, of course, louder than drums used to be mixed at.**

    Eric (he and I are old friends and he has the bestest recording studio evah: Trax East) looked over at the unused analog tape decks in the corner of his control room. "If you want old-sounding..." There was sort of a wistful look in his eye as he considered the washing-machine-sized recorders ignominiously turned off and silent in the corner of the control room.

    Yeah, I'd love to record onto 2" 16-track. Heck, we'd record at 15ips with Dolby noise reduction. But wait, you said tape was how much? OK, we're not doing that. We're recording directly to ProTools.

    Which brings up the questions of bit depbth (I'm leaving the spelling that way because it amuses me) and sample rate. Eric suggested 44.1 as the sample rate (which is the same sample rate as CD's). Because, he said, many people thought the darker sounds with the more "broken up" top end worked well for an older sound. The thing we won't be doing is the noisiness of tape. He pointed at his Scully 2-track "What is that? 56, 57dB?"
    So we're recording at the lowest "professional" sampling rate of 44.1kHz but with a more sophisticated bit depth of 24 bits. 
    At 24 bit we'd have a lot of room to work with the files in the digital world.
    Oddly, we won't be doing that much . My studio is competent for two microphones -- I have an AKG C12a (which is possibly the best mic for my voice) and I have a pair of Neve 1202 Brent Averill modified preamps going into an Apogee Mini-me A/D. So my signal path is just fine, thank you. And in Samplitude I can stay at 24 bit and even do 32-bit float for a party. This means that in my studio we may do some editing of some sections. We'll certainly do some vocal recording. And we can re-record guitars and keyboards until the cows come home.
    But when we go to mix it'll be through a big analog console (Eric's).
    And when the signal hits analog again it'll be at the mastering stage.
    ______________________________
    *Who am I that I make these decisions for T-Mouse? Uh. I don't know. I don't think that was a unilateral decision, at least not strategically.
    **Why did drums used to be mixed so (relatively) quietly? Was it because the transients were so hard to record? Or was it that the stacks of guitar amplifiers typical by the late '60's had made it so that the unamplified drums really were that much quieter live so nobody thought to turn them up?

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    What Are We Doing?

    At some point a discussion of Tyrannosaurus Mouse and what we're doing has to happen. I'll start it now.


    1. We're making an album. I figure the album will be finished sometime around the beginning of 2011. [Wow, "2011" -- that looks like a date in the far future doesn't it?] I suppose it hasn't even occurred to any of us that we would do anything other than give the music away for free. Of course you can download the entire album. But we'll also have T-shirts.

    Ethan wants a physical CD. I don't know where the money will come from. Ha!

    And what about a 12"? Are we cool enough to warrant a lacquer master? I don't think there are enough people willing to buy a phonograph LP of Tyrannosaurus Mouse to make it worth our while yet.

    So I suspect you'll be able to (at least eventually) do any or all of the following:
    a. download our album (or just some songs) for free
    b. download our album (or just some songs) for any amount of money you want to pay us
    c. buy our album on vinyl
    d. give us lovin'

    2. And what next as far as live-performance?
    Well I've always seen Tyrannosaurus Mouse as being a big psychedelic band that plays on a stage with oriental rugs and chandeliers -- groovy oil light projections dance over the band and a backdrop of out of this world films play behind us while nude dancers on either side of the stage enact Salome as pots of smoke billow up from the stage turning and twisting themselves into snakes while splashes of light dapple the audience, exploding through time and the musical eruptions of the Mouse.
    Now, it's quite possible that other members of the band have a different idea about what it would be like if/when we play live, but I doubt it.
    We do all need some psychedelic duds. I nominate Ethan for a top hat and a cape. And I see Arie in an ascot. I always feel bad for the drummer because the drummer always seems to get the hottest, so maybe just a very frilly shirt for Lou. I get tails and paisleys.
    Plus, and I may not have explained this earlier, I need a staff. I need my own guitar tech to take care of my pedals and turning on and off my delays and such. Need.

    a. So where on earth could we actually perform?
    I suspect we'll have trouble in normal NYC clubs with our nude dancers. That's why I'd prefer to play in theaters. Problem with theaters? They're really freakin' expensive. We can't perform at Theatresource, for instance, because we're way to loud.
    b. And what about our light show? That sounds expensive too. And it sounds like it'll take some rehearsal to do.
    c. How many people could we possibly expect to come see Tyrannosaurus Mouse? Could we get sixty people to show up at $10 a head? That's $600 to pay for sound, lights, and theater rental.

    These and many other questions await us.

    On the Psychedelic Jacket Front

    Really, the whole band needs psychedelic jackets.
    The Jimi Hendrix Hussars.
    This one is five hundred Great British Pounds. Thin Red Line also makes historically accurate jackets. I think I want something that's a cross between one of these and a tail-coat. I feel I need tails.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Touch Sensitivity

    So the other day

    I went to Ethan's house and we listened to some of his fantastic amplifiers.

    He has a pretty dreamy collection. What's nice is the variety of the sounds they all put out. And each amp makes you play a bit differently.

    He has a Ampeg Reverb Rocket combo (1965 he thinks). The Ampeg is bright and jangly (not strident at all.) It just has high end for days. I immediately started playing "House of the Rising Sun" on it. And that was with a Les Paul with mini-humbuckers!
    The Ampeg is very cool but not, we decided, what we needed for Tyrannosaurus Mouse just now.
    One thing I found interesting about this amp is that, especially compared to other amps of the period, when you played harder the amp got louder. Just louder. The same "sound", but at a higher amplitude.

    Which is funny because when most people talk about the "touch sensitivity" of an amplifier they're talking about how the amp sounds clean when played lightly but becomes dirty as you hit the strings harder.

    Shouldn't this be the pattern of my psychedelic jacket?
    Sometimes you just want the amp to make a louder sound though, and otherwise sound about the same at a given volume setting no matter how hard you play. But the Ampeg, doing this, makes it seem like it ironically isn't touch sensitive. When, in fact, it responds exactly to what you're doing.

    "Touch sensitivity". It's hard to define then. Well, I guess trying to describe sound with words is like dancing about architecture isn't it?

    The other odd thing is the way compression affects an amp. For instance, the Blankenship Fatboy Extreme has (I think) a Deluxe-ish front end which makes it very compressed. At the same time it "opens up" into a sweet overdrive as you play louder into it. Ethan's Rickenbacker amp (similar to a Deluxe) does a sweet thing with its compression. So does my Lil' Dawg Mutt.

    Other amps are somewhere in-between. I have to say that all those mid-'60's Fenders have a similar feeling to them, but they all sound different. And boy, does his Princeton Reverb sound nice. We may just use that and my Mutt the next time we record.
    ^^^^^
    All you could want to know about Fender Twin Reverbs. I know this: I'm selling mine. Come on over and buy it!

    The Stompbox Blog.

    The best part of this "100 Free Resources for Teaching Yourself Guitar" is number 49:  about Vodka.

    REM

    Chance Shirley reminded me, via Twitter, that REM was a light on the very dark landscape that was popular music in the mid-'80's. Here they are performing on the David Letterman Show.

    Erin Hill

    Erin Hill, who was the sound designer for the first Estrogenius Festival, is in a children's band called "The Dream Jam". New album is out on EMI -- "Leave It In the Soup".

    Melanie the Mermaid.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Courtney Love Does the Math for You

    Ten years ago Courtney Love gave a talk on music technology and piracy. It's mostly a coherent argument, which destroys many of my prejudices about Courtney Love, and honestly the less-coherent portions of it may be because this Salon article is a transcript of a speech.

    Here's my favorite quote from her:
    Don't tell me I'm a brand. I'm famous and people recognize me, but I can't look in the mirror and see my brand identity.
    Keep talking about brands and you know what you'll get? Bad clothes. Bad hair. Bad books. Bad movies. And bad records


    That's not actually the crux of what she's talking about though. Courtney goes over some of the numbers for a major-label record contract. Here she talks about the "million dollar" record contract for a 4-piece band.
    They spend half a million to record their album. That leaves the band with $500,000. They pay $100,000 to their manager for 20 percent commission. They pay $25,000 each to their lawyer and business manager.
    That leaves $350,000 for the four band members to split. After $170,000 in taxes, there's $180,000 left. That comes out to $45,000 per person.
    That's $45,000 to live on for a year until the record gets released. 

    So of course things aren't quite that simple. The odd thing, from an economic standpoint, is that the record company itself is getting ripped off. That's right. They would love to see 10%. They're lucky if, overall, they're seeing a percent and-a-half. If you read on, Ms. Love goes over the record company expenses for this act which "got" a million dollars and sold a million records.

    Add it up and the record company has spent about $4.4 million.
    So their profit is $6.6 million; the band may as well be working at a 7-Eleven. 

    Yes, that's what this band got (note that the record company also spent $750K in publishing, some of that presumably goes back to at least some member of the band.) But that's not how well the record company does. No no no.
    Instead, the record company has a lot of acts out there. A very small percentage are profitable. Essentially what is paying for the development of the many acts which do not sell a million records is the blood, sweat, and tears, of the few acts which do. As she notes later:
    More Irony Please
    Of the 32,000 new releases each year, only 250 sell more than 10,000 copies. And less than 30 go platinum.
    So another way to put this is that the "surplus labor" (that's the Marxist way to think about it) of some rock stars goes to develop some smaller, newer acts which may or may not go anywhere.
    As far as the systematic exploitation of rock stars goes, I have difficulty caring.  Sure, back in the day they used to pay for an executive's private jet (those days are long gone). But now they're mostly paying for the failed endeavors of hundreds of other acts.
    It might be more fair, and clear, for the record company to simply tell the band "We're putting you on salary at $45,000/year -- make whatever else you can with concerts and publishing. Everyone who is in a band at our company makes $45K/year for the run of their first contract. Those of you who are hit artists end up paying for those of you who aren't. Get over it."

    But that would make all the bands whiny and complainy. They'd much rather be a band with a million dollar record contract. Wouldn't you?

    Ooh. Special note: classical musicians apparently have much clearer record contracts. I read that in a book on the music business once. They make vastly less money but none of the expenses are "recoupable". They make a small royalty on each record sold, starting with the first record.
    _____
    As for the rest of Courtney's argument about "works for hire" I'm not exactly sure what she's talking about. I was under the impression that any work could be a "work for hire" -- what she's talking about is probably a very specific nuance in the law, not that record companies automatically own in perpetuity any works without a contract.

    Actually, after that she either goes a bit off the rails and/or she's talking from 10 years ago and either "we already know this stuff" or "yeah, that's not how it worked out."
    _____
    I heard a funny story once about why the second Men Without Hats record didn't do so well. The record company decided that the manager of the band was getting too much of an attitude and decided to teach him a lesson -- by not pushing the band's second release.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Experimentation Day

    Today I visited Ethan at his beautiful new house and played through a bunch of amps. Ethan has a gajillion* amplifiers and guitars.

    I played through a Les Paul with P90's and a Les Paul with mini-humbuckers. They don't exactly sound like either of my guitars, but that's cool. We listened to amps. Lots of amps.

    Ethan has fixed up a bunch of very cool guitar amplifiers. He's got an old Rickenbacker amp which is essentially the same as a Fender Deluxe. It was awesome 'cept for the tear in the speaker. He's got a '65 Ampeg which sounded amazing - all chime and... well it just sounded like 1965. And his '65 Vox Cambridge was exactly what you'd expect from a '65 Vox. (When I originally published this I thought the Cambridge was a '64 but it ain't, it's just exactly as old as I am. In better shape though.)

    But the amp we were looking for was what we thought a second Tyrannosaurus Mouse amp should sound like. I have my Lil' Dawg Mutt, which is basically a Deluxe front-end with a Champ power section, and it sounds awesome. What I want is that second amp which would be cleaner - sounding and which I'd play at the same time.

    Beverly Road "Q" - train stop.
    Our final four were all amps from the early to mid-60's. They were a Fender Deluxe Reverb, a '62 Princeton, A '66 Princeton Reverb, and a '61 Tremolux. The Princeton and the Princeton Reverb were the amps which Ethan had done the most "fixing up" to. All the amps sounded simply awesome.

    What I found most interesting is that my favorite amps had a very smooth response across the guitar and a sort of "three dimensional" sound. You could hear beyond the speaker like the sound came from a few feet behind the amplifier. The Princeton Reverb and the Tremolux were the most smooth and three dimensional. We cross-patched the channels in the Tremolux head, which seemed to give it an even better sound (even more "smoove" and 3D I felt).

    My feeling was the Princeton Reverb was the best - sounding for my needs. Which didn't mean that there weren't a dozen more amazing freakin' amps, but they'd be #1 for different applications.

    And one day I'll write what my thoughts are on touch sensitivity...

    On the way home I took this picture of the unique Q/B train station at Beverly Road in Brooklyn.
    +++++
    *That's a bit of hyperbole, he only had a kabillion of 'em.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    A Beautiful Day

    So I woke up this morning with this tune and lyric in my head. Don't know why. Don't know what caused it (a bit of port the night before?) You won't see the music in an RSS reader, you gotta click through to the page.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    How To Become a Rockstar

    Wikihow has the answer.
    I especially liked step number 12:

    Record your band's music on a video and upload it on Youtube. Make sure the video is "cool" and will appeal to many people.
    Yes. Make sure your video is cool. And that it will appeal to many people. In fact, make sure you use a lot of blue gels on the lights in your video. And you gotta have a swing.
    Closeup of a vinyl groove.
    So after we're done with overdubs on this record, what is it exactly we're going to do? Play shows? We can't have naked dancers and play in bars though, we'd have to play in theaters. Right? I don't know what the law is exactly.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Song Lyrics

    I have done a stunningly bad job of writing lyrics and vocal melodies for our songs. I have a couple excuses, one being that I'm very bad and lazy, the other being that I'm too incompetent to play guitar and sing at the same time. Neither of those excuses is making me look very good right now though. I'm going to have to work on a third excuse.

    Luckily there are song lyrics generators. Here's the Song Lyric Generator from the UK. And it generated this for me:


    The Tale of My Purple Comedian Confidant
        - A Ballad

    It began on a minnow winter's eventide:
    I was the most indolent craftsman around,
    She was the most Purple comedian. 

    She was my confidant, 
    My Purple confidant,
    My comedian.

    We used to tickle so well together,
    Back then.
    We wanted to change together, around the world,
    We wanted it all.

    But one eventide, one minnow eventide,
    We decided to change too much.
    Together we ran after a white rabbit.
    It was kindly, so kindly.

    From that moment our relationship changed.
    She grew so stunning.

    And then it happened:

    Oh no! Oh no!

    She drank from a teacup.
    Alas, a teacup!
    My confidant drank from a teacup.
    It was bleached, so bleached.

    The next day I thought my back of your hand had broken,
    I thought my below the collar had burst into flames,
    (But I was actually overreacting a little.)

    But still, she is in my thoughts.
    I think about how it all changed that eventide,
    That minnow winter's eventide.

    My below the collar... ouch!
    When I think of that Purple comedian,
    That Purple comedian and me.

    Generated on 17/08/2010 21:39 by Tyrannosaurus Mouse

    If you think I'm not basing the lyrics of our "Thing in A" on this and Procol Harem's "Whiter Shade of Pale" you are seriously mistaken.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    How Ticked Off...

    ...do you think the rest of the band would be if I, like a whiny prima-donna, overdubbed every single last one of my guitar parts?

    Well,
    1. They might not notice. I mean, after all is anyone else really paying attention to the guitar? ;-)
    2. They might thing that is a good idea. And perhaps suggest other guitar players who could come in and play instead of me.

    Hmm... I better not tell them then. Luckily, none of them read this blog.

    We don't even play it the same way ONCE!

    The second version of the Tyrannosaurus Mouseverture wasn't as good as the first one, which I haven't uploaded, but we might use it to edit in some flubbed parts.
    <a href="http://tyrannosaurusmouse.bandcamp.com/track/tyrannosaurus-mouseverture-studio-2nd-time">Tyrannosaurus Mouseverture Studio 2nd time by Tyrannosaurus Mouse</a>
    Also, we'd gotten tired by the time we came to the second go-through of One Last Drink, but that's OK I think.
    <a href="http://tyrannosaurusmouse.bandcamp.com/track/one-last-drink-studio-2nd-time">One Last Drink studio 2nd time by Tyrannosaurus Mouse</a>

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Tyrannosaurus Mouse in the Studio

    Lou Clark at the drums.

    Arie Uyterlinde at the Hammond
    We had a great day today at Trax East Studios. Neither Ethan nor I had seen Eric in many many years and it was fantastic to come back "home". I'd love to say that getting the sound we got was effortless but no, it took a few hours(!) but once we got everything into place we found ourselves playing so easily. It was odd. I know I certainly didn't practice enough to get bumped up a whole level of musician but man we just locked together.
    We played (almost) all the music we knew. We played things we didn't know.
    And, of course, we played lots of stuff completely differently than any way we'd ever played it before.
    Although I had in the back of my mind that we would somehow only record 16 tracks (including vocals and overdubs) we actually recorded the maximum on Eric's ProTools rig - 24 tracks. So Ha!

    I have a lot to say about this session. And it's all good. But right now I'm at home with my vodka and lemonade and so instead I'll give you this example of our Arabesque (which is very different every time we play it.) This is the quick scratch mix right from the board, there's probably some Alan Smart compression over the 2-buss but that's about it.

    <a href="http://tyrannosaurusmouse.bandcamp.com/track/arabesque-studio-recording">Arabesque - studio recording by Tyrannosaurus Mouse</a>

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    The Dead Letters

    The Dead Letters are from Washington State. They have a friend in Tom on MySpace. They have this kind of Cranberries meets REM on Airborne Toxic Event Street sound. Unfortunately there seem to be a number of bands named The Dead Letters.

    Wasted Time by The Dead Letters

    Old Band Practice

    Dude, they're so indy they can't even afford anti-red-eye technology. They're so indy that dad doesn't even turn off the basketball game when they rehearse.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Don't Tell the Other Guys

    But man, my left hand was achy after playing only a couple hours last night. And we're going to have a good few hours of playing in the studio on Sunday.
    It's a bit humbling how those guys can play for such a long time. I think that about 25 years ago I had the hand strength to do barre chords for hours on end too. Not so much anymore. I'm in a lot better shape than when we first started Tyrannosaurus Mouse over a year ago, but uh... yeah, I could be better.
    Plainly, I need to practice more just to keep up.
    That being said -- I think I've discovered a secret. Well, I've re-discovered a re-secret which I have to keep discovering.
    That is to play less.
    Back in the 1980's I was playing in a folk group and on this one gig (I think it was a benefit to save the Raritan river or some such) my guitar strap had snapped off so (since I was standing) I had to hold the acoustic guitar awkwardly.
    I had a solo in one of the songs we did and afterward the singer told me it was the best solo I'd ever done for that particular song.
    Of course, to me the solo had sucked because I could only just barely play anything. But I realized (and didn't really internalize) that it was because I'd just been forced to play fewer damn notes.
    And the same thing is true with Tyrannosaurus Mouse.
    Fewer notes.
    The ancillary lesson is: less distortion = better sound. But that's for another time. Still: fewer notes.
    I'll try to keep that in mind on Sunday.

    Arabesque August 12 2010

    Ethan thought this was the best we'd ever done this piece. Otherwise we had exactly the sort of rehearsal you expect before a big show (or, in this case, a recording). Much hilarity was had about tempos which went into the stratosphere, amusing last-minute improvised key changes (which the other members of the band were not privy to), and my complete inability to play the chords C, Bb, Gm (in that order).

    Below is the recording. It's a tad rough as the band was playing at a much louder volume than you'd expect.



    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    What To Do


    Album Release Countdown | Tips and Techniques on Ten Things to Do Before Releasing an Album -- an interesting article, a pre-release "to do" list from Electronic Musician.

    One question which isn't yet answered is: do we bother to actually release a physical CD? Well, my bank account may very well answer that question for us. Right now it's saying "no". My bank account is kind of harsh that way.

    Another question is: do we really need to form a publishing company? I think the answer to that is also "no". At least not 'till there's some compelling reason to.

    Hey, I'm a BMI writer. There's an article in the New York Times about BMI hassling restaurants to get us paid. I think BMI agents should be armed. (Oh look, I'm short on cash and all of a sudden I'm fascist. Isn't there medication for that?)

    Azania


    Azania is Maduka Steady's little sister. She lives in Geneva. And she has an album coming out soon.

    More T-Mouse P-Jackets!


    Here's another interesting jacket. It's actually very reasonably priced. I'm not exactly sure how the front works -- it's not really a "cutaway" jacket. The color looks nice, even if it's not what I was originally thinking.

    More Discussion


    So we're having a long-running, meaningful, and friendly conversation about how we split revenues, expenses, that sort of thing. This was in my most recent email:

    There's a part of me where I think "let's just split everything equally whether it's fair or not because that's just nice to do". The trick is to make sure there's no resentment built up from one person doing more/less and thinking he should make more/the others thinking they should make more, etc. And when it all comes down to it, naked dancers will be the only reason anyone would ever come. That, and the giant two-story tall muppet which attacks the bass player in the middle of Jabberwocky. The question is: who buys the vorpal sword?

    Maybe one way to look at it is to look at the three possibilities of what might happen with T-mouse.

    1. At the low end our maximum revenue for any one year is $57.38. This was because someone accidentally tipped Arie (thinking he was a waiter) at a bar we played in for free, and we made $17.38 in royalties because BMI mis-calculated a Swedish radio stations use of a similarly - named song which their program director misspelled. We spend our remaining years in retirement in Ethan's basement, smoking dope and drinking beer while learning the Gentle Giant oeuvre.


    2. A heavyset man smoking a big cigar tells us we're going to be stars, hands us a check for a hundred thousand dollars and shortly thereafter we inexplicably replace Phish as the biggest touring act in North America. We hire people to take care of our Facebook page while in-between tours we sit in Ethan's basement, smoking dope and drinking beer while considering sending actors who look like us to play our songs on tour while we go to Aruba.

    3. The more likely thing is that our revenue is at maximum one year some appallingly low number like $10,283, and out of that we have to take the expense of that damned Jabberwocky we built (which requires 5 operators). We can get a few hundred people to shows, but we end up having to drive to St. Paul to perform them. Facebook takes one of us 6 hours a day to answer all the fan mail from the people who confuse us with Lady Gaga. Everyone is mad at me because on the day I'm supposed to be answering Facebook mail, I get so frustrated with the interface I throw the computer out my window. We all wonder if it would be better to write commercials for Burger King or Exxon. Maybe if BP offered us $80,000 to play a benefit concert?...


    The most important thing is that I get my own road crew. I don't want to have to turn on and off guitar pedals all by myself.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Psychedelic Coat


    So of extreme and utmost importance in the world is my getting a psychedelic jacket. I have very specific needs though, I want it to be a cutaway coat with a mandarin collar.

    Well this British goth-ish company, Drac-in-a-box, has something like that. They call it a Versailles tapestry Frock Coat. Actually, the cut is great. Unfortunately the only color combination they don't have right now is the one in this picture -- red and gold. That looks to me to be the best color combination. And really I was going for dark colors like this but with a paisley print.

    So if I get a custom coat maybe I can show the draper this picture. Or maybe I can get Dracinthebox to make me one special. Here's a funny thing -- they want a three month lead time to make the jacket. Hee!

    The Metroamp Store is Reopening



    Yes! It is! Check it out. They are just reopening it so it's not complete -- in fact as of today there are no amplifiers -- but they are indeed reopening.

    An Idea I Like


    I've been in a number of bands over the years and in most of those bands I've been the primary writer. Or the only writer.

    Now, with Tyrannosaurus Mouse I'm certainly the one who originally came in with all the song "germs" (and a couple finished songs). But several of our ideas were born out of rehearsal.

    In many situations, well perhaps most situations, this would still make me the only "writer" of the music. I'd own 100% of the writing and 100% of the publishing.

    But you know what? I feel that's oppressive. To me.

    So what I've suggested to the guys is that we split the writing credit between all of us equally, I'll take the publishing side of it and retain control of the rights (just so I can submit the whole dang thing to Pump Audio and what-have-you). At first they thought that was unfair to me, and I understand that intellectually. Then it was suggested that we flip that arrangement, which also has a great deal of merit -- we split the publishing and I retain the writing side (this would actually make the administration of the music simpler). But then their names wouldn't be on it.

    But for me that's not the point. I want the pressure of being the only writer removed from hanging over my head. I want the freedom of coming in and just jamming, noodling, what-have-you, with a group of fantastic people and whatever we come up with can become a song or piece of music and the collaboration (which to me is the fun part) never becomes: "Who wrote that bass line? That drum part -- does it seem like the sort of thing which merits a writing credit? You're just playing a simple blues part on the guitar, that's not really "writing". Etc., etc.
    "

    We just make some music. Whatever we make, we make. We laugh before and after the song. And then we go get waffles.

    What more is a band for?

    _____
    Right now this is the entirety of my guitar pedalboard. Maybe I should get one more MXR Analog Delay for leads. Right?

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    What are we doing exactly?


    So a big T-mouse question is: what are we doing with this album we're recording?

    Duh. I don't exactly know.

    If we manufacture through OasisCD.com then we get free membership in CDBaby. But there's a real question here of who will actually buy our CD's. Should we make vinyl discs? Where is the money coming from to do all this?

    Should we not manufacture anything at all?

    All of these are legitimate questions.

    Here's an interesting article about the difference between the TuneCore service and CDBaby. The Music Snob also talks about Zimbalm.

    Can bands do shows and make enough money to cover expenses? Lord knows theater can't. Hmm...

    Over the Years


    You know, over the years I've been listening to pop music it's seemed that the overall quality waxes and wanes. Right now, for instance (August 2010) we're not in one of our best periods. Now, it's certainly true that pop music has always been terrible for the most part, so this isn't anything new, but there have been brief periods where you could listen to even New York radio and think: hey, that's not too bad.

    This isn't one of those times.

    I'm going to pick on the Katie Perry single: "California Gurls" as an example of suckitude. We've got a straight-up verse, bridge, chorus - type tune here with a rap instead of an instrumental turn-around in the middle. That's fine. The verse is a funky staccato pointalistic section ("I... know a place..." etc.), then we go to the subject/answer of the bridge where the vocal melody becomes more legato ("you could travel the whole world") which is answered with a little autotuned "oh oh".

    So far so good. But then... the chorus. OK, the melody which is a straight up, on the beat, subject and answer is fine: we have the subject ("California girls") followed by the answer ("daisy dukes"*) and then we repeat the subject ("sun-kissed skin") and what we expect is a big finish, an answer at the end of the chorus which will take us to... but all we get is a freakin' repeat of the answer at the end of the of the bridge.

    It's like... what did you guys do? Just give up?

    It feels to me like a placeholder. Like they were thinking "OK, we'll put something good in here when we finish the song" but they never got around do it.

    And unfortunately that laziness garnered a number one hit. So be prepared for more of it.
    ____
    *Should "daisy dukes" be capitalized? Maybe. "Daisy Dukes". Still, a fashion about as ugly as the 70's had to offer. And the 70's had a lot of ugly clothes to offer, believe me. I was there. I lived through it.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    A Metroamp on eBay


    Today and today only there's a Metroamp JTM-45. It's not built by Metro but it has KT66 tubes and looks well put-together.

    Test

    Lookee here! It's one of them test posts you read so much about in the news!

    ("Read"? Oh man, you can tell I'm old can't you?)