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Growth

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.

KW

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A Snapshot of This Week

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?

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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).

Luckily, no haemorrhoids.

Lookout bridesmaids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”.

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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.

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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.

Basically I cut up a water jug, like all the pros do.

Basically I cut up a water jug, like all the pros do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: this is a diffuser, not a ring flash. It made everything yellow…perhaps I should have washed it first.

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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.

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Anyone hear any good new music lately?

Besides The Complete, of course. 😉

A Life Update

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:

Fear.

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.

So where am I now? HAPPY. I have a life! I have friends! I do stuff! I get up every day and work on MUSIC. MY music. And I’m good at it…fucking amazing actually. My confidence is not in the toilet anymore. I don’t practice to avoid life, but because I LOVE TO PLAY. Jesus, it took forever but I feel like I’m myself…maybe for the first time ever. And I happen to be awesome.
It may have taken me a little longer to grow up, but at least there was an unexpected benefit to that. Tens of thousands of hours of practice? Yeah, damned if that didn’t create an over-prepared monster.
KW

7 Things Musicians Need To Stop Doing

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.

Old-Man-Rant #1: Facebook

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.

The Rental Guitar

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.

A brand new guitar.

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:

Yuck.

Yuck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

KW

PS Shouldn’t a rental guitar be ready-to-play condition? Particularly a new one?

Radio Sounds Like Shit

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.

Twats.

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.*

KW