November 30, 2013

Forget the Words - New Song

Wrote this song over the last couple days. Still haven't decided if it's done or not. Let me know what you think.

I can't speak my peace,
not while I'm using these words.
I know I can't make it real,
but I'm sure as hell it works.

I am talking to you,
I just can't find the words.
You'll say I'm not acting real,
but let me show you how this works...

The devil's talking to me
and I'm trying not to listen.
He says he'll give them up for free--
all of the pieces that I'm missing.

He's singing, "come closer to me."
So I'm singing, "come closer to me and forget the words."

I feel, that it works
Forget the words
I feel and it works
Forget the words

November 12, 2013

It Takes Time

I've been squirming to post something lately--it's been awhile.

My school schedule is keeping me busy, so I put a hold on updating the blog for the sake of squeezing a little practice time in. I figure if I don't have the time to continue recording, I might as well write a bit here and there. It's always nice to have new stuff coming in. 

While I'm feeling overloaded with schoolwork, I'm pretty excited to graduate this year. It's been a lot of work and kept me from really leaning into music, but at the same time it's given me a chance to warm up to my plans. I've realized getting school out of the way is the most essential step to be taking in this process right now. In that, I'm feeling a lot of momentum built up that I look forward to using after graduation; I'll get back to recording, gigging, and writing--and with more time on my hands I can give more attention to each.
Until then I'll keep building the momentum, practicing between homework assignments.

Here are some of the "sketches" that have come out of the build up most recently. Thanks for listening!

I couldn't let you have my smile
'cause mother kept it for awhile
it was the grin of all my worst mistakes.

It mocked the brave so I could hide;
lips truly red even when I lied.
I guess it wanted love and that's what it takes.

I've been gone alone so long now I don't know my name
so do me a favor;
tell it to me. Does it taste like boiled blood and guilt, or shame?
Or did it lose it's flavor?
--From when I left town and took with me all the dogs you tamed
and told them the truth
that they don't have to listen when you tell them to stay,
and then I let them loose.

August 25, 2013

Evergreen Wolf Song Preview - Studio Results

I needed a break from recording to give my hands and voice a rest--so I did a rough, incomplete mix of Evergreen Wolf Song for ya'll to preview. It was recorded less than 24 hours ago, so very little has been done to it as far as editing goes (hence the low volume and harsh dynamics). I applied some reverb and adjusted the EQ, but that's the extent of things so far. In the end, it'll (likely) be decorated with percussion, bass, and some backing vocals. There might be a second guitar in there somewhere, as well. We'll see. This is just the base-level shit here.

I want to say, I'm pretty happy with this one so far and I think it serves as a good example of the mood and groove I've been trying to capture with my new recording strategy. It's one take from start to finish, performed live to a click track. And it's not the cleanest recording I've ever done (there are some mistakes here and there) but overall it seems genuine to me. It sounds and feels like my music--the way I hear and feel it in my head.

Anyway, here it is! Thanks for listening!

August 13, 2013

Tear Me Up - New Song

I've been recording more than I've been writing lately (which feels intensely good to be doing) but I've got one new song to share with you. I've chipped away at it for a little while now and, although I may revise it later, I think it's ready for a listenin' to.  

I've been living with my demons
and the nights can get a little rough
but I trust they won't betray me
I know them well enough

Sold it to me as simplistic
they said I just gotta keep it clean
but I'm dirty--my life is limbic--
I fuck and fight and feed and then I flee

If you can't hear me barkin'
I'm gonna have to use my bite
Feelin fierce 'cause I've fallen
I'm down for a fight--
tear me up, do your best

I can feel the snake inside me
coiled up in my gut
hissing rage and rattling things
just to make me throw him up

I've taken too much
so don't mind if I shake
I'm all out of touch
I've gotta learn when to break
I need to break

If you can't hear me barkin'
I'm gonna have use my bite
Feelin fierce 'cause I've fallen
I'm down for a fight--
tear me up, do your best

August 11, 2013

Introducing: My Home Studio Setup

In my July 1st post, I related some issues I'd been having with recording and promised a more detailed explanation of my new outlook, process, and setup. So, as promised, here's the rundown on...

Being a performer, my music sounds best when recorded live--so that the interactions between my guitar and vocals are captured. The way the two flow together as they're simultaneously produced during a performance gives the music its heart, genuinely expressed. As an artist, it's the genuine expression of the music that concerns me most when recording.

Yet, in the past I've found myself focusing more on the quality of the recording--the perfect isolation and "mixability" of each sound, etc.--rather than the quality of the music. As a result, I recorded the guitar and vocals separately to a rigid tempo and never accomplished what I'd consider to be a heartfelt recording of self expression. But now my approach is different and things have gotten better.

With the heart of the music in mind, I've set up a home studio in which I can capture my live performance by recording the guitar and vocals simultaneously, but in such a way that they can still be adjusted separately afterwards. To accomplish this, I'm using two microphones; one captures vocals while the other captures guitar. However, to make sure each microphone only captures what it's meant to (no vocal sounds on the guitar track and vice versa), I've had to get a little creative. Check out the studio floor plan:

Basically, I record the guitar inside the closet and the vocals outside the closet. In the closet, a microphone captures the sound of the guitar as it comes through an amp. This effectively produces a guitar track free of vocal sounds.

Outside the closet, another microphone captures the vocals. To avoid capturing guitar noise from the amp in the closet, I placed a chair between the vocal mic and the closet. To avoid capturing acoustic noise from the guitar itself, I placed a sound barrier (a music stand, some foam padding, and a variety of blankets, pillows, and shirts) between the microphone and the sound hole of the guitar. With the addition of a rug-covered spare closet door and some more blankets, most of the acoustic guitar noise is absorbed and deadened. The resulting vocal track features only quiet, distant guitar sounds which can't be heard above the isolated guitar track once mixed.

As for the recording quality, it's good enough. I mean, I'm no audio technician--you can hear the click track from time to time, the vocal track isn't completely isolated from the guitar, and the guitar sounds less acoustic running through an amp. But, I'll work with what I've got and worry about polishing things up later during the mixing and mastering stages. It's been done before. Besides, it's the performance that matters most.

That said, new recordings are coming soon. So get stoked and stay tuned!

August 10, 2013

Rough Drafts, Revisions, Experiments - Now on the Music Page

I've recorded a lot of crap since I started "keeping track of the process" on this blog. I've posted half-written tunes, songs with incomplete lyrics, and experimental recordings, but only the more "presentable" recordings have been posted on the Music page. However, in keeping with the theme of this blog I decided it would be best to include the rougher recordings on the Music page, as well, where they can be more easily accessed. They're not tidy or polished--nor meant to be--they're simply a record of the process. And the process is never pretty, but the experience is. So, feel free to visit the Music page and peruse the process--all in one convenient location!

That being said, I have a small recording update: My studio is set up and I've begun recording. I'm four songs in and things are moving along at a comfortable and comforting pace (I'm currently only recording guitar and vocals--bass, percussion, lead, etc. will follow shortly). I'll be sharing a cluster of tracks for you to preview soon! 

July 30, 2013

New Space, Getting Started

Things are getting real! Here's what's been up and what's going down:

First of all, I just finished my online summer school stuff, so I finally have a substantial amount of time to dedicate to recording!
Second, Hailey and I--and our cat, Fizgig--moved into a new apartment this week. So, we've been busy with all the packing-moving-cleaning stuff, but I'll soon have my new recording space in working order and ready to roll. I'll be cleaning it up and doing sound tests between now and Friday, then I'll set up and start recording over the weekend.

We'll see how it goes. I'm planning to put up some blankets and carpet to catch noises coming from outside the apartment (namely the booming hip-hop bass lines and growling diesel engine noise from the neighbors next door), but I have a feeling some background noise is unavoidable. I'm okay with that, though. My new philosophy regarding music is that it's all about the performance--not the sound quality. Some muffled noise from the neighbors shouldn't spoil the performance if it's good. That being said, I feel there are fewer obstacles/deterrents to recording than there's been before. Which is exciting.

I'll be posting pictures and updates regarding my new space and setup within the next few days, so be sure to check back soon. I'm anxious to get recording so I can share some new sounds with you!

July 1, 2013

Performance and Recording at Home

It's been awhile since I've posted--and it's been a good long while since I've posted about recording. I have reasons. Let me explain.

Honestly, I've avoided the topic of recording (since late January) because things haven't been going exactly as planned. About the time I started this blog, I had the opportunity to use my school's student studio to record, but in the process of doing so I ran into a few problems and discovered some things about myself and my recording style.

While the student studio has lots of nice gear to offer, the workstation proved itself finicky, it was inconvenient to go to because of my work/school schedule, and it's a shared space (messy, disorganized, and the like). On top of that, while recording in the studio I found it really hard to get into the "groove" of things--my guitar work was poor, my vocals were weak, and as a result of that I ended up spending hours at a time just trying to record a single track. Simply: things weren't jiving for me.

So, I spent some time trying to revamp my approach to recording and discovered a simple yet profound truth about myself: I'm not an audio technician--I'm a performer. What I mean to say is that when I sit down to record a guitar track... and then a vocal track... and then a bass track--I'm not performing! At that point I'm just playing guitar or just singing, and the performance is lost--the "groove" or "magic" or "heart" (or whatever you want to call it) just isn't there.

Since coming to this realization, I've done a few test runs with live recording (guitar and vocals simultaneously) and the resulting sound is way more natural and genuine--and it doesn't take me hours to do! However, recording that way is a little tricky. To get the best mix, you want to isolate the sound of the guitar from the vocals and vice versa. They make special microphones that "listen" to only what's right in front of them, but I don't have the money for those. So, I did some research and developed a method using the microphones I've already got--and so far it sounds pretty damn good. Basically, it's a matter of mic positions and sound barriers. (I'll post a more detailed explanation of my process and setup another day.)

To wrap up: I've had a few setbacks, but I've gained a lot from working through them. I'm back to doing everything from home now; it's a basic, no-frills kind of a deal--but I'm digging the sound and I finally feel like I know what I'm doing.

Stay tuned! There's much more to come!

May 23, 2013

The Red Room

I don't even have a picture to share, but I played with Max Moser at the Red Room in Boise last night and felt I should report that it went quite well. It was a forty-five minute set of original material--and though the bar scene was thinned out (as to be expected on a Wednesday night), we were paid a listening ear and applause from everyone there. Max backed me up on a cajon we put together ourselves in his backyard. It's pretty cool what you can do with a guitar and a box made out of plywood. Tomorrow night we'll be at Shangri-La chillin over some vegetarian cuisine, so be sure to check the Shows page for info on that and stay tuned for more gig dates. There's more to come!

April 28, 2013

Cussin' and Cursin': A Prayer - New Song

Started this yesterday, finished it today. What do you think?

I know my mouth
might need redeeming someday
but I don't
plan to pray until then
'cause I'm clean
from the dust,
never swore, never cussed
—no shit.

I guess I'll start prayin'…

But you cursed the ground
so I'd say
I'm sound just callin'
my cussin' cursin'. I'm keepin'
loose my tongue
and warmin' up my lungs
so we can talk person-to-person.

Jesus Christ, God
damn it
I'm so tired of this

'Cause we fucked it all up
to the point where I'm
tryin' to hold back from cryin'
to you,
but I know why
we stumbled--we're both pissed,
high, and humbled
because we couldn't seem to
get a good view. But I'll take another
shot with you, and
why not? It feels good
when we're singin' together
and it might not sound nice, but
fuck soundin' nice.
It's not like we've got forever.

Jesus Christ, God
damn it
I'm so tired of this

I know my mouth
might need redeeming someday
but I don't
plan to pray until then.

April 19, 2013

Survivin' on Sin - New Song Progress

Take me to Babylon,
I'll settle in there, forget the Son.
I'll live my life with the blinds--
completely shut down but doin' fine.
I'll sink in
I'm thinkin
I am survivin' on sin.

I've heard I'll get to know the mistress:
"She's always talkin', lying listless.
She'll drink the wine until she goes down.
Pale beneath purple, everyone knows about her lines."
I'm cheatin'
I'm breathin'
I am survivin' on sin

There is no place like the guillotine,
all said and seen.
There is no place like the guillotine--
sharp, shine, and sheen.

It's all I've ever known--
when this sentence ends I'll be at home.
'Cause then I'll find my head
and it'll be wearin' the devil's red sign.
I need it
I bleed it
I am survivin' on sin

There is no place like the guillotine,
all said and seen.
There is no place like the guillotine--
sharp, shine, and sheen.

April 8, 2013

New Song Rough Draft - No Place Like the Guillotine

I've been working on this one for a few weeks now and like the overall direction it's headed. I plan to include more lyrics during the last half and envision the final cut involving some electric lead and a drum kit played with brushes or something. What do you think?

Take me to Babylon. I'll settle in there,
forget the Son. I'll live my life with the blinds--
completely shut down but doin' fine.

I'll sink in
I'm thinkin'
I am survivin' on sin.

It's all I've ever known; each sentence ends
and I feel at home, because then I find my head--
and it's always wearin' the devil's red smile.

I bleed it
I need it
I am survivin' on sin

April 4, 2013


I'm quite stoked to announce that I recently ordered an SWR California Blonde "acoustic instrument amplifier" (aye, not just for guitars) and it just arrived in the mail today! I'm not entirely certain of the year it was made, but I'm pretty sure it's from somewhere between 1999-2002. I haven't had a ton of time with it yet, of course, but so far I'm impressed with it's big bold, natural sound. For an amp that's probably 12 or 13 years old it's in great shape. It's pretty dang loud, too! It's labelled at 360 watts, but I'm pretty sure that's only possible with an extension speaker. Standing alone, it's probably around 160 watts, though I could be wrong since I don't have the manual for it. Either way, it's going to be perfect for gigging; not only does it have volume and voice, it's also got an XLR microphone input I can sing through while playing. So, in the absence of a PA system the show can still go on. It's just great. Anyway, take a look!

March 30, 2013

Gigs of Late

In an attempt to fund my musical endeavors and "get out there," I've started playing some small gigs whenever I can fit one between work and school. So far, I think they're going pretty well. I enjoy sharing my music and playing for people--I just don't do it very often, so it'll be a little while until I feel totally at home in front of an audience. Overall, though, I'm having a blast. It doesn't seem like anything too exciting, but being heard is pretty thrilling after you've poured hours into writing and practicing a set. Live music is an awesome form of communication--so, I'm feeling pretty stoked just to be doing it.

The last I played was at Salt Tears, backed by Bobby Reeves on drums. Thanks for playing, Bobby. I'd say we make a pretty damn solid two-piece. We'll be doing more together in the next few months. Check the Shows page for upcoming performances. Thanks!

March 3, 2013

Promo Flyer Template

Tonight my good friend Max helped me put together this flyer template for small gigs. It's designed so that any location, date, and time can be written in before it's slapped on a bulletin board or window. Simple and easy to look at, it's just what I need. Thanks a ton, Max!

January 29, 2013

2 New Songs, 8 New Recordings

In an attempt to put myself out there a little more, I decided to post a set of "live takes" to serve as an example of what I sound like flying solo. I figure until I've got a band to more closely align my studio sound with my live sound, I might as well have some stuff posted that represents what I sound like when it's just me and Darla. I recorded the set at home and all in one night. Some are better than others, but that's how it goes playing live.

Aside from a couple of rough draft demos, the 8 songs I posted have yet to be officially recorded. Thus, they're all relatively new to the public ear. 2 of them, however, are brand new--never before heard; "Handle the Hurt" and "Antigospel." 

So, visit the Music page and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy my live takes.