So I was in Ottawa for a wedding last week, my version of a vacation.
And I got to drive a Bentley! Which model? Who cares? Don’t ask me shit like that, I have no idea. The one with a steering wheel and seats. Oh and butt massagers. It belonged to a family friend who offered it as the wedding car.
Let me just say: the thing was a race car with comfy seats. I left the wedding (with bride and groom in tow), drove it in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, and could barely keep the damned thing on the road. I was thinking “man, the speed limit here is too high. You can’t do 60 and expect to not to hit the sidewalk.” Only later did I realize it was an American car and I was doing 60 miles an hour in a 60KPH zone. Here’s me, frigging flying past the redcoats who guard the Governor General’s house, cop cars all over the neighbourhood. The bride goes “um, Kevin…I keep hitting my head on the window.”
I can’t believe I didn’t get a shitknocking from the cops.
After we had the pictures done I took it back into the downtown core, which was an exercise in caution. There was no way I’m paying for repairs because I plowed it through a phonebooth or something (which actually still exist in Ottawa).
Anyway the moral of the story is the Bentley was fucking awesome.
Onto more music-y things, I’ve started learning photoshop. I wanted to start doing my own artwork for iTunes and albums and junk. I just find it so much faster and easier to do that crap myself. That’s why I prefer working alone in the studio. It’s quicker to play it myself than to teach someone the parts, have them argue about the tone, have their phone going off, yadda yadda yadda pain in the ass no thanks.
Anyway here’s the new cover photo on The Complete’s Facebook page (which is a modified version of the upcoming “Tomorrow” artwork).
Hey, when you’re an independent musician you get total control over things like that. Might as well own it.
Here’s to DIY!
Oh yeah, so after I got back from the mainland I took 2 weeks off from the gym… and let me just say, I feel like a hooker after the navy left. I’d been pretty good for most of the year about staying in shape and I just wanted to pig out and be lazy for a couple of weeks. Not gonna lie, it was awesome at first…until the gut rumbling began. So le sigh, it’s been fun chocolate bars…but you give me the unholy shits.
I’ve decided to start doing some of the necessary photography and artwork “in-house”. It’s faster if I can do it myself rather than wait for some photographer to get back to my emails/lose the pictures they took of me/say they’ll have them ready in a week but really mean 3. Photographers are as wonky as musicians.
Anyway, here’s my first crack at it:
Check out “Waiting For You”.
The past few days have seen a 13% increase in the number of The Complete’s fans. That’s by far the biggest jump that we’ve ever had.
[If you're one of the new people, hi! You're awesome!]
Normally I can account for these things. For instance, when I did a radio interview a few months back the numbers jumped a little (although nowhere like they did this week). This time though I have no idea what prompted the increase. I ain’t complainin’, but consarnit I wanna know what’s going on.
That got me wondering. What happens if someday a lot of people know who I am? I have no idea how I’d react to that. Probably I’d be standing around, trying to look cool and a bird would crap on me or something. Such is life. I wonder if that ever happens to Bowie. Effin’ birds.
Anyway, welcome new friends and thanks for paying attention! That’s all I ask really.
I won’t disappoint.
The Complete has a new song. I’m proud of it, it kicks ass:
I shot a video for it last week, currently editing it. I’m trying to increase the pace of releasing songs and videos, but editing video takes forever. I need to upgrade from iMovie to something better. Anyone use AfterEffects or FinalCut Pro? Any suggestions?
I emceed a friend’s wedding this weekend. I wrote out all this stuff to say but ended up just winging it. Things changed fast, people threw new information at me even as I stood at the podium so I’m glad I wasn’t trying to stick to a script. The photographer said I did a good job because I didn’t start off by saying “Now, I’m not very good at this but….”. People saying that shit before they say or do something gives me haemorrhoids. (Take note, open-mic-musicians).
On my way to take a whiz some SUPER drunk girl put her two hands on my face and tried to jam her tongue down my throat. Surprisingly not awesome, she might have had better luck with “hello”.
Got my Superman tickets for tonight! I didn’t see the last one with Brandon Routh…or the first one with the poor bastard who later fell off his horse so I have no expectations either way. But hey, Chris Nolan is producing it so IT BETTER BE GOOD OR I’M PEEING IN SOMEONE’S SHOES.
Been trying to improve my photography lately, thinking about getting a ring flash. I figured before I drop 500 bucks on one though, I’d slap together a DIY version and see what kind of results I can get out of it.
Update: this is a diffuser, not a ring flash. It made everything yellow…perhaps I should have washed it first.
I think I’m gonna eventually hire a few people. Doing everything myself allows total control, but man…I have no social life. Things would be a lot simpler if I had a good studio engineer and someone to edit those dang videos. I’m getting better at the latter, and I like it but holy crap it’s just taking up so much of my week.
Anyone hear any good new music lately?
Besides The Complete, of course.
I used to practice 12 hours a day.
Ever hear the theory that it takes 10,000 of practice to become an expert? I have more like 60 or 70,000.
That’s INSANE. Nobody needs to put that much time in before taking their abilities public. But that’s what I did. Every day, morning-noon-night. Practice. For years. At the time, it was killing me and I didn’t understand why I was doing it. Now I do:
I thought I was afraid of what other musicians might think of me, so I had to be better than them. Had to be a better guitarist, had to be a better drummer, had to have a better ear. And the more seriously I took practice, the harder I would be on myself. My internal voice to started out by saying “I could be better” and “I’m not a good enough player yet”, and became “I’m not good enough”. See the difference? And that became a problem.
I was no fun anymore. I used to be a blast but now it felt like I hadn’t laughed in forever. I was the kid who thought burps were the funniest thing of all time, but I couldn’t remember the last time I even smiled. I rarely hung out with anybody, and the only way I could be coaxed out was if there was booze involved. That way I could get blasted and feel like I was being sociable, without having to really talk to anybody. Because I wasn’t good enough, you see.
Healthy, I know.
And girls? There hadn’t been anybody in my life for a looooooong time. It’s not like I wasn’t meeting people, but the voice inside my head would tell me “I’m not good enough for her yet. Wait until I’m the greatest of all time, then ask her out.” I’ve watched one after another go off with someone else. That never gets easier, believe me.
So what was really going on? I was letting fear consume my life. Not of other musicians (they don’t care), not of girls, but of…myself maybe? Taking a chance maybe? Either way, I was miserable. Absolutely alone, totally detached from friends and family, out of shape, probably a functional alcoholic, borderline broke, and completely miserable.
So I knew things had to change. I thought “well, what in particular?” Motherfucker, EVERYTHING. I had to change absolutely everything about my life.
I started with the drinking. As much as I loved it (and I mean loved it), I knew it had to go. It hadn’t been fun in a long time. Years maybe. I wasn’t using it to have a laugh with my dumb little buddies anymore, but like a blanket I could hide under in social situations. Frig man, I don’t remember 2010 (but I sure as hell remember 2011. Ha ha ha I’ll go into detail about that some other time).
This raised an unexpected issue. It had been forEVER since I interacted with people in a non-music and non-partying setting. I didn’t know what to say or do. What do people talk about at dinner parties? The hell if I knew. What if I have nothing to contribute to the conversation? Would anybody even care what I had to say? Maybe I should just get wasted and moon the neighbours instead. The hardest part of all was telling myself to shut up with that shit, suck it up and dive into LIFE.
This sounds lame, but it’s almost like I had to get to know myself as an adult. And you know what? I’m actually pretty cool. I’m good at being around people. I’m kind of funny and my friends are hilarious and I’d long forgotten how much I like laughing at stupid shit. Like burps.
So I took a lot of time to work on myself (which is still a work in progress, believe me). I ditched the junk food, hit the gym, reconnected with friends and family I’d lost track of. And none of it was easy. But shit…I had to do it.
But back to the music. I’ve known since I was 4 that’s who I am and what I do. Part of me knew that I’m awesome, but the only way i’d ever make a career happen is if I just put it all out there on the line, warts and all. I had to accept that there is no perfect take, perfect vocal line, perfect song. Only good, great, excellent. The pursuit of perfection nearly killed me, and got me nowhere in the process.
Ok, so this video was super easy to make. Have a look:
How I did it:
I used the following materials:
Canon Rebel t3i, camera tripod, whiteboard, black dry erase marker, laptop (in this case, my Mac).
I put the whiteboard flat down on an electric piano stand, but a table would have worked fine. Then I set the camera on the tripod as high as it would go, and angled the lens down as flat as I could get it so that most of the board is in view. I sat on the other side of the board from the camera so that I wouldn’t bump the legs all the time and ruin the takes (this made all the shots look upside down, but was an easy fix in post-production).
Since I wanted to be able to trigger the camera from my sitting position, I set the lens to manual focus, got it where I wanted it, and used the wireless remote to stop and start the takes. Once I got the camera in focus and at the right height and everything, I made sure not to touch it or the tripod until I was finished (in order to maintain consistency between all the different takes.)
Next, I hit record and wrote out the lyrics. This actually took forevvvvvvvvvver, and I had to stop and start again any time I made a mistake (which was often enough). A few times I had to stop filming and dump the memory card into the computer, as my card is not really big enough to shoot a lot of HD video (note to self: buy a bigger card).
Once I got all the lyrics and the little drawings and stuff, I migrated my ass over to the laptop and called up iMovie (yes iMovie, big whoop-wanna fight about it?). In there I flipped all the takes so that they were no longer upside down, and removed all the marker-clisound from them. The longest part of the whole process was picking out the best takes and then trying to match them up so that they’d scroll out in time with the song.
In order to do that I had to mess with speed of the clips. Some of them were doubled in speed, others quadrupled and some are even faster. A few times I had to let the clip double back over itself (so that it looks like my hand writes the same word twice [ex at 1m 22sec]) in order to get it to fit. It was a compromise, but it worked.
Anyway, I’m pleased with how it turned out. The editing experience I got from Next Thing I Know is gonna come in handy when I put the next video together…this weekend.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Complete’s newest video:
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…