Musicians are idiots (admit it). We learn the chords to “Wonderwall” and expect to be rewarded with genitals aplenty. Since that doesn’t happen, here’s some things that should:
1) Stop Sucking - I knew this guy who was “too much of a genius” to bother learning how to tune his guitar. He used to brag about it while chatting up girls at club shows. I’d say his name but you’ve never heard of him. Nor will you hear of him.
Take the time to be good at what you do. As long as they’re good at it, I’d rather see someone fart a song out of their arse than watch another mediocre singer/songwriter. There’s enough of those.
Be awesome and I’ll respect you. Be crap and join the pile of spammers, begging for likes. Speaking of which…
2) Stop Spamming – You should see the spam I get on Twitter. And Facebook. And email. If musicians weren’t so lazy, they’d be sending smoke signals all over the country “Vote for my band in some shitty internet contest!”
I’ll vote for your band if I think you’re amazing and I’m a die hard fan. Otherwise, that’s time I could be looking at naked people on the internet or something.
3) Stop Sounding Like Shit – You know those 4 full-sized Marshall stacks your guitarists have onstage at this little club? They look fecking awesome. Too bad they sound like shit. Small club = small amp. When you’re playing stadiums, then dig out the big boys.
I have seen hundreds and hundreds of bands, from the smallest club bands to stadium headliners…and almost every one of them sounded awful. Nine Inch Nails sounded good live. Jeff Beck sounded good live. Why? They actually spend time working on the way they sound. (I know, I know…you’re too much of a genius to bother with such trivialities. Show me again how to play Wonderwall.)
They also hire the best sound people in the business. If you can’t afford Bowie’s sound guys, then you can still take a bit of time to think about your guitar tone, your snare sound, your bass clarity. Take it seriously. If your band is all muffle-y then we can’t hear what you’re doing and we’re not gonna care.
4) Stop Getting Wasted Before You Play – Buy ticket to show. Band is wasted. Singer forgets words. Drummer out of time. Bass player staring down shirt of girl in front. Keyboard players falls off stage. Guitarist sits down to avoid the spins. (Seen it all, countless times.)
I want my money back. Wanna get wasted? Do it after the show, when you’re telling everyone how you’re too great to bother to learn how to tune.
5) Stop With The Unaccompanied Guitar Solos – Unless you’re someone like Steve Vai or Zakk Wylde, someone who we specifically see to hear the solos…then just don’t! Nobody wants to hear you noodle for 8 minutes. We’re there for your songs, not your solos. Half the 13 year old kids in the audience can outplay you, so don’t waste our time. If we wanted to see half-assed crap, we’d be at home on the toilet with a handheld mirror.
6) Stop Being Lazy Onstage – If I’m paying 50 (or 5) bucks to watch you play, I want to see you want to be there. If you’re too cool (or too hungover) to look like you’re having a good time, I won’t be seeing you next time you’re in town. You stare at your shoes and mumble into the mic. Green Day run around like escaped mental patients. Guess which one I’d see again?
7) Stop Whining About Other Musicians On The Internet – No.
This weekend I became Canada’s Fastest Drummer. I was at a drumming seminar and there was a booth (Drumpure) which had a machine that can measure drummers’ speed. It works by counting down 60 seconds, and records how many times you tap the surface in those 60 seconds.
*Drum Nerd Terminology Ahead*
In this case it was a traditional grip contest. My first attempt was the winning one – 898 alternating-hand single strokes in 60 seconds. Fast, but in the grand scheme of things…not that fast. I know a couple of drummers around the world who could easily beat that number (in fact Jim Kilpatrick crushed it the next day…but he’s not Canadian).
*SUPER Nerd-y Terminology Ahead*
FYI I did it with the Moeller technique. After thinking about it though, I’m faster with finger techniques that I fool around with (lol) sometimes. In retrospect, why didn’t I do that instead? Perhaps I had the dumb that day.
ANYwaaaaaay…do you have to be the fastest to be a good musician? Hells no. Is this just a macho, bragging rights type-of-thing? Pretty much. Am I really the fastest in the country? Nah. Can some other Canadian drummer beat my number? Definitely.
There is no point I’M CANADA’S FASTEST DRUMMER SO CHEW ON THAT.
Lately, every time I log into Facebook it’s an exercise in frustration. Pictures of sunsets with condescending quotes on them (I’m pretty sure Jesus never said anything about “taking back our schools”.), ads for Russian brides, ads for dating websites, ads for shitty bands, ads for dietary supplements.
“THE MUSCLE MAXIMIZER-EASIEST DECISION OF YOUR LIFE”.
Oh, piss off.
Then there’s the people posting conspiracy theories. Yes, I’m sure the government put fluoride in the drinking water to turn everyone into Jesus-hating, tax-loving commies who’ll allow us to be more easily controlled by the Illuminati. No need to point it out over and over.
I rarely post anything anymore. Any time I do someone’s grandmother or aunt or frigging baker or somethings sees it and adds their own 2 cents. How does a post about guitars end up referencing Hitler? Facebook will find a way.
This all sounds awwwwwwwwwfully familiar…HOLY CRAP FACEBOOK HAS BECOME MYSPACE. Been there lately? Peeeee-yewwwwww.
So Kevin, you cranky old codger, if you hate it so much why are you still on it? Same reason you are: to creep on everyone else.
We’re all addicts.
I’m in Ottawa on band related business this month. I was going to bring a guitar along but saw an opportunity instead. I’ve had my eye on a Gibson ES-335 lately, although it’s not a guitar I have much experience with. Figured I’d rent one while I’m here to give it a look-see…just in case I might wanna buy one in the near future .
So I head to Long and McQuade (Canada’s version of Guitar Center). All the ES-335′s are rented out. Fair enough, it’s a popular guitar. I pick up a Les Paul Studio instead. No bells and whistles, but at least my playing won’t fall to shit this month. I get the impression from the staff that it’s a new guitar.
I get home and take it out of the case. Plays well, fairly light (I prefer heavier LP’s), strings are dull…but who cares? I’m not recording with it or anything. Anyway after playing it for a few minutes I realize my fretboard fingertips are dirty. Not just dirty, filthy:
Now, this isn’t my first spin around the block. I’ve played and occasionally bought brand new guitars before. Sometimes the strings can be dirty (though never THIS dirty) so I chalked it up to that. I google “Music Stores” to see if there’s anything in walking distance (I’m staying in downtown Ottawa, L and M is not nearby) and find a place. I hoof it over there, drop 7 bucks on a new pack of strings, get home, string them up. All good right?
Nope. Just as much grime as before. The crud is all over the fretboard. This is shifting from “inconvenience” to “hassle.” I just wanted something to jam on for a few days! Anyway I get a cloth and wipe that shit down. It’s still dirty, but a bit less so. Not an enjoyable play.
Ugh. I learned a lesson. It’s amateurish of me not to bring my own instrument with me.
PS Shouldn’t a rental guitar be ready-to-play condition? Particularly a new one?
I’ve been working on a new song for The Complete for the last few weeks and it has a piano part. Since my piano doesn’t sound that great, I was gonna use a software piano in my DAW. So I played the part and noticed a problem – all the notes were coming out the same velocity. That’s not what I wanted (there’s a big crescendo) so I played it again. Same frigging thing.
So I dug out the manual for the plug in synthesizer. Couldn’t find anything like this in the troubleshooting section. Googled the problem but couldn’t quite seem to find anyone else having this issue. Of course this would only happen to me. I ended up going into the synth and picking the damn thing apart piece by piece (onscreen), trying to see what the hell I was doing wrong. And I couldn’t find it.
Shite. What now? Well, I kind of put off dealing with it ever since. I tracked all the vocals, overdubbed the verse guitar parts, started a rough mix, generally just wasted time while I avoided dealing with the piano. I finally got to the point where I couldn’t put it off anymore, or I’d just be going around in circles.
So I fire it up today and start messing with it. What could it be? It’s almost like there’s a compress…A-HA – GOTCHA YOU ROTTEN CUNT. When I opened the piano, the DAW itself stuck a compressor on it. I deleted that shit and VOILA – dynamics galore.
Kevin 1, Universe 0.
And I don’t just mean the selection. I mean the sonics are crap.
Flick through the dial. In a bid to get you to stop on their station, the Top 40 stuff sounds super bright and super in-your-face. They take music that’s already heavily processed, and process the gunt out of it. The result is that Pink’s songs are like 40% white noise.
And the classic rock stations aren’t much better, at least where I live. They compress the ever loving fuck out of everything, altering the musicians original performance. For example, “Hey Jude” is a song that starts off somewhat quiet and slowly builds into one of the most memorable conclusions in pop music. Or at least it’s supposed to. On my local station they cram so much compression on it that the beginning is just as loud as the end, which is the opposite effect that The Beatles were going for. It makes the performance monotonous and eliminates the build up.
It’s the music equivalent of jizzing in your pants before you even get your clothes off.
Good job, radio sound-man. After all, The Beatles didn’t know what they were doing. It’s best that you fix it for them so that we can all hear how you think it should sound.
They do the same thing to “Stairway to Heaven” and every other classic you can imagine.
Some North America stations are even guilty of speeding up songs so they can cram more advertising in the day. That raises the pitch and again, alters the original performance.
Conclusion 1: Radio is not about the music, it’s about using cheap tricks to try and squeeze in a few extra advertising dollars.
Conclusion 2: Radio blows, get your music from the internet like a normal person.
*End cantankerous old man rant.*
Back in dinosaur days, if you wanted to record music you had to beg and plead with a record label to give you a 6-figure loan, which you then used to pay someone else to let you use their studio.
Fortunately however, high quality studio equipment has become more affordable in recent years. Most of The Complete’s music is recorded into 2 kick-ass pre amps that I own, and then put into the computer to be dealt with later. (It’s not entirely that simple, but you get the point).
But in order to get a professional sound you need more than just good gear…you need a good room. All the best gear in the world can’t help a crap-sounding room; after all, garbage in-garbage out.
Now, my recording room is good…but I only have the one (boo-hoo right?). I wanted to be able to set up my live room in a bunch of different configurations so that I can do ALL of my necessary recording in it. One set up for vocals, a different one for acoustic guitar, another for drums…you get the picture. To do that, I needed sound baffles. A quick Google search told me what they’re made out of, and to my surprise everything was available at my local big-box hardware store.
So I made some:
While not inexpensive, they cost a fraction of what 6 weeks in someone else’s studio would cost. This just helps prove that you don’t need to go down the old road anymore. Just save your dollars, use the internet to learn how-to, and do it your-freaking-self. (I’ve seen inventive people put together photography studios, video production suites, you name it. The internet is the most powerful tool available to creators.)
We only have ourselves to blame if we aren’t moving forward.
PS I’m starting to think I could build my own guitar amp…
For your viewing/listening pleasure:
Happy effin’ New Year! I trust everyone had a blast for NYE? I started my night characteristically late…walked in the door at “3…2…1…Happy New Year!”
Here’s me, looking all dapper for NYE:
I was party hopping. St. John’s is such a small city that you can actually make it to like 4 parties in one night. That way, nobody gets mad at you for double booking stuff – except dates probably.
Anyway I’ve started the new year the same way I ended the old: in the recording studio. I don’t make resolutions, but one thing I want to do this year is increase the pace at which The Complete releases music. Unrealistic goal? We shall see.
So did anyone get anything cool for Xmas? My friend gave me this awesome thing that shoots 2 litre bottles up in the air but it’s been SO DAMN COLD outside that we haven’t had a chance to fire it up yet. Frigging winter, man.
Anywaaaaaaays, back at it!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.
I don’t watch the 24 hours news cycle. I don’t listen to Top 40 radio. Yet somehow I still know details of Lindsay Lohan and Taylor Swift’s personal lives.
And I couldn’t care less. Lohan gets in a fight? Throw the idiot in prison like you’d do to the rest of us. Taylor Swift gets her heart broken? As if that’s never happened to anyone before.
But I know less about pop-tart celebrities now than I ever did. You see, old media’s reach is not as extensive now as if once was. I have options. I read the news, just not CNN or Fox. I listen to more music than you, just not Billboard’s Top Whatever.
The rise of the internet is the rise of choice. And that’s what really troubles the RIAA and MPAA, not ‘piracy’. Your entertainment money isn’t going into their pockets anymore. Why should it? Hollywood remakes and junk-food, sound-alike music? Thanks, but I’d rather pay $30 to see Alkaline Trio than $30 (tix and food) to see the same Transformers movie over and over.
The old guard is losing our attention with the same old, same old. The future of entertainment belongs to the great writers, the great singers, the great songwriters, the great PERFORMERS.
Quality will win in the long run. The Stones are celebrating 50 years. Where’s Miley Cyrus?
So AC/DC finally put their catalogue up on iTunes.
Why hold out like that? Why not make your music as available as possible? I like AC/DC as much as anyone else, but even I didn’t know that they WEREN’T already on iTunes.
And come on, I bought all those albums on CD when I was a kid. Everyone and their dog has Back in Black already. Does their label really expect us to buy it again?
And besides, if their stuff wasn’t on iTunes until now that just means everyone who wanted it already got it from The Pirate Bay years ago.
Wanna know how much it cost to put together the video for “Fly Away“?
And that was for the drum kit rental.
Fly Away and Hey You were experiments. I wanted to see if I could make YouTube-quality videos with materials that I had on hand. Turns out I can. That’s a major confidence boost and experience raiser. I’m now able to make the music I want to make AND have near total control over the related artwork (ie the videos).
FYI I won’t be making ALL of The Complete’s future videos in-house, it’s just super convenient. It’s great to know that I CAN if I want to. (“Dream” and “The Things You Say” had a proper crew and budget, and the upcoming video for “Run” did as well)
This is such an amazing time to be alive. If you have access to a computer and an internet connection you can learn to do anything. No excuses, the world is at our fingertips.
I ran into 2 acquaintances tonight. They usually party with a 3rd guy so I asked where he was. They look at each other with idiotic grins and start laughing. Apparently they were at the Cotton Club last night (a strip bar) and the 3rd guy was getting lapdances…for 2 hours straight.
Now it’s like 20 bucks a song (uhhh not that I’d know…) and he was blasted out of his mind. So after 2 hours of drinking and getting felt up by a stripper, the girl finally goes “that’ll be 1000 dollars please.”
Let that sink in before you read on.
Anyway, at this point he’s too drunk to stand so he does the next best thing. He GIVES HIS BANK CARD AND PIN NUMBER TO THE STRIPPER and tells her to take out whatever he owes. Always a good idea.
Now that would be a pretty good story even if it ended there. Fortunately for all of us, it does not. See, he’s actually here in town on a business trip. The reason he wasn’t out tonight is because he’s in his hotel, trying to think of the best way to explain all that to his wife…
…who’s home in Halifax, 7 months pregnant.
Drop what you’re doing and listen to this:
This is how you have a 50 year career…by WRITING GOOD SONGS. Whatever else the Stones may be, they are expert songwriters first and foremost. They didn’t win one of those stupid American Idol-type shows, they didn’t write one good song and milk it for decades, and they’re not a nostalgia act (like The Eagles or Roger Waters [sorry Roger.]). They’re a frigging BAND who writes good songs!
What a novel concept.
The Complete releases a new song/video every 6-8 weeks, and today is the day:
You can also download Fly Away for free right here: Fly Away download link.
This website shows me what search terms people are using in order to find it. Most of them are things you’d expect to see (“The Complete”, “Kevin Williams” etc). Some are not. For your reading pleasure, here’s a small sample of the “not”:
-”Paul Stanley’s asshole”
-”johnny depp special effect makeup” (why would that bring anyone here?)
-”law and whoreder”
-”rotting doo ward” (I have no idea what that is)
-”funny nickelback tweets”
-”up her wazoo”
-”jason stackhouses he man jumper”
-”doo doo doo ch ch ch song”
and the pièce de résistance:
-”show me kevin williams getting fucked by everyone who did him!”
I have no words.
So last week MTV put a profile for The Complete on their website. Pretty cool huh? It doesn’t do anything (like tell jokes or anything), but it makes me look a little more legit I suppose. Now when I’m talking to girls I can be all “so did you see my artist profile on MTV?” and they’ll be all “Let’s make out.”
A music store in St. John’s was having a clearance sale this week so naturally I was down there, sniffing out deals. The place was pretty much picked clean but they had a rad Egnater guitar amp for dirrrrrt cheap. I said YOU ARE COMING HOME WITH ME and it did. We are now bff’s:
If it had a sense of humour and a vagina I’d marry it.
In actual band news, the next song is tracked and (almost) mixed. It is called Fly Away and it’s faster and more rockin’ than Hey You. Goes in for mastering on Monday and I’m filming a video for it tomorrow. WOO.
I’ve seen some of the footage from the music video for Run that we filmed earlier this year. It. Is. Stunning. Run was done with a film crew and stuff so it’ll take longer for it to come out but the wait will be worth it. I basically crapped my pants at the picture quality.
I had a party on the weekend and wanted to do something cool. Lucky for me I found THIS:
A friggin’ Transformer pinata. Tough as Optimus Prime is though, turns out he’s no match for a Louisville Slugger.
Alright mateys, back to work. I’ve gotta finish that mix.
1 – I am way too dependant on the internet. The whole time the power was out I felt like I was missing out on a new funny cat picture or something.
2 – Eating nothing but gas station food for two days might SOUND awesome (…) but it is not. Bluuuuggggghhhhhh.
3 – Driving through a modern city with all the lights off is a surreal experience. Creepy even.
4 – Newfoundlanders are the worst drivers in North America. Either people don’t know the road rules or choose to ignore them. This makes for some pretty hairy situations at major intersections when there’s no power.
5 – There’s way more stars than previously noticed by me. We’re like…insignificant specks of dust or some junk.
So I’ve set up my schedule for the fall to include the release of some more songs w/a corresponding video. Some people have asked why I don’t just release them on an album.
I think of it like this: how many albums do you own where you only listen to 2 songs, and skip the rest? Be honest. I’ll bet it’s most of them. There’s a lot of reasons for that I think. Perhaps the most obvious being that bands are often rushed in the studio and can’t always give each song the polishing it might need.
I don’t mind having less material if it means that there’s fewer C- and D-quality songs in The Complete’s catalogue. I work out of my own studio which means I’m not paying someone else by the hour. There’s no one looking at their watch or demanding 10 finished songs by the end of the month. That’s a pretty sweet situation. (The downside of course, is that it’s easy to be a lazy sack of crap.)
Maybe a bigger reason though, is the fact that most people (myself included) flock to YouTube when they’re looking for music. If I hear about a band I think I might be interested in, I don’t buy the album sight unseen (like I once had to. How many times was I pissed off and disappointed?). Instead, I just search YouTube.
Since The Complete is a fairly new act, I can’t really take 6 months and lock myself away to do an album either. It’s my intention to release music on something like a regular schedule in order to try and keep people interested/paying attention.
The old music industry has run into problems because its entire infrastructure is set up to sell you a round piece of plastic. In the old days albums had astronomical profit margins. Problem with that is, music is 1′s and 0′s now. For better or worse, I think it’s time we musicians embraced that. With that in mind, I’m currently operating under the belief that it’s all about the song. If my songs are good enough, people will hear them. If not then it’s back to the drawing board.
Some people HAVE asked me for a physical release though, so I may collect everything at some point and do a short run of Vinyl or CD pressings. For the most part however, I’ll be focusing on the song/video format for the foreseeable future.