Monday, May 23, 2005

"The Feeling" - you and a drummer approaching telepathy

The posts are coming out of me thick and fast today. I suppose I should adopt a less wordy style and start sticking buzzwords in like other less verbose bloggers...

bt i cnt b bthrd. :)

Dan the Drummer Dies Divinely Demented
Dan and I have started having those "moments" that drummers and bassists should have (and which I haven't really known for a long time, not having rehearsed extensively with one drummer for a long time now). I'll put a little background in.

This song, "funks me off", is a real funk blast, but it's the tune where we get a solo each with an intro spot from Jake. You know, the music hall number. The guitarists are big fans of rawk and/or roll and they've come up with an impressive harmonised twin guitar offensive for part of their solo spot. Dan (bless him and his slightly injured hand - another thing we have in common, my right, his left) plays much more driving bass drum parts during this stuff, so I decided to stop being quite so Flea and instead kept a tight low E to octave E with his bass drum.

When we finished working through that the first time Dan shot up from his kit, eyes blazing and proclaimed loudly that he was in love (bless) with that section of the track now, and could we play it again?

This we did. Dan's got a really solid right foot, he doesn't wander too much bar to bar and that's the real trick.

However, at one point we stopped as someone called time (they wanted to say something) and Dan ended the drums with a little fill across the whole kit, which I matched beat for beat by accident on the bass. Javier (keys man, and some player) was freaked and said we'd started to achieve some mental symbiosis of some kind :)

This, as any bass player knows, is exactly where you want to get to. And in perfect time for the gig on wednesday. Nice.

Dan gets the stitches out from his left hand today. With any luck this won't impede his progress at all... cross fingers. Me, not him.

Know your amp. Or at least the size of the %!?& thing!

I decided the 4U case from Stagg wasn't the best for the job, so I decided on a pukka (excuse Jamie Oliver quote) SKB flightcase from Flightcase Warehouse. Top speed delivery, it arrives today.

But you see, gentle reader, the case is a 2U effects rack. So not only is it not deep enough (I need 455mm) it's also not tall enough (I need 3U).

What was I thinking? D'oh!

Turns out, though, that FCW guys have a great attitude and good returns policy. As soon as I get the invoice I can return a copy of it with the goods for a full refund, and I'll be ordering a replacement 3U full depth case from them ASAP. I the meantime I'll just have to put some extra support into the stagg case somehow... I do have some ideas. :)

The Band
I love being in this band. Everybody is so full of energy, it infuses me with thoughts I haven't had for a long time. Last night, for example, I actually found myself planning a solo in "funks me off", replete with big machine gun triplet outro!

It's just so much FUN!

Blimey! Of speed and where the loud things are...

Holy crap, that woke me up - the blogger new post page loaded ultra fast!

It's all good news, well almost.

The Amp Saga
I've decided to end this long-running battle to have my amp and have it working. To recap, the final story is now:
1) Get amp delivered 5th April
2) Finally purchase cabs for end of April.
3) Discover amp not working, just mains hum from the speakers.
4) Take amp into london bass centre myself (31 Kgs of it) at overall cost of around 40 quid
5) Amp takes 3 weeks to get back to me despite my leaving them my address and receipt details of transaction for guarantee job
6) TNT don't deliver despite Nic being in all day
7) Amp finally gets back to me and TNT have managed to play football with a 31Kg flightcase.

Seriously, the box the amp in the flightcase had fragile tape all over it, and it was fully of holes where crap had pierced the box. Nightmare worst case scenario for 1250 quids worth of amp.

All that was wrong with the amp initially when I took it back in was an internal connector which had fallen off. When I looked inside the Amp after removing its slightly bent (I kid you not) form from the case, 3 connectors and the frickin power tube were all flapping around in the case of the amp. Thankfully the tube wasn't broken.

I put the poor thing back together and it seems to be working fine - big volume test last night at rehearsal, it sounds excellent - but it's been shafted more by trying to get it fixed.

I'd recommend that if you buy anything from the Bass Centre, ask them explicitly not to ship by TNT, and that if they do, you'll send back anything which looks like it's been shat on by a neanderthal asshole in a luton transit.

I've decided not to go any further. The amp is currently working. If it stops, I'll get warwick to fix it, not the bass centre. There are dents and scratches on the body of the amp which give me the impression that it may have had some rough handling before it went back into the flightcase as well, but that's a different story.

I'm mightily pissed off with all of them, the useless bastards!

Still at least it's working, looks great and sounds better.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

... and now it's couriers that are the problem. Oh yes.

Yeah, right. Apparently it did get despatched on friday, 24 hour delivery, so it should have arrived yesterday. My guess? The driver was too pissed to drive and left the van at a pub.

Bet it's broken when it arrives as well.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I'm so PISSED OFF with EVERYBODY!

In other news....

We've got quite a VIP for the gig on the 25th. Major vocalist from leading band! No more to be said...

Curse the Bass Centre. Curse them and their nose hairs.

This isn't funny anymore. I rang on Friday from Rosemore during packing of the last dribbles of crap, only to be told they don't have any contact details for me at all (lost the stuff I filled out when I dropped it off) - not even a phone number.

This was actually useful in a perverse twist, as I could get it delivered to the new house. So I quoted them the new address, and was told "despatched friday for delivery on monday". Fat chance... no sign of it yet, now I'll have to ring them AGAIN.

They don't even stock the strings I need anymore: last time they had to get them shipped in from Birmingham!

Time to buy elsewhere, I think. Why is it always this way? You find somewhere you can get what you need, then they either get conglomerated or just bought out, and BANG... there goes the stock range down to the lowest crappy denominator (korean built bass fest for 14 year old kids with daddy deep pockets and only 4 and 5 string sets of strings)... same happened with Sound Control when I used to shop there.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Moving completed... BUT...

Well, I'll include the odd non musical posting as well.
The New House
It's wonderful, the pictures do it justice. The internals are in a better state than Rosemore's, and very shortly we'll have a new boiler as the current one has been trashed by bits of chimney falling into it - they forgot to line the chimney (oops!) - we found this out the hard way when we tried to fire up the boiler on tues only to be rewarded with a thin wisp of black smoke on top of the house and an overpowering fuel oil fume smell inside it :) Luckily a little air cleared the smell.

Turns out this is a silver lining - new boiler = more efficient, plus it'll have separate timers for heating and water, which suits me.

The old house is quite forlorn: I didn't think I'd have any moments where I regretted moving out of it, but to be honest I don't think I realised how much I like the place. Got a little something in my eyes looking at the rabbits frolicking on the back lawn. Then I went back to moving furniture we're ditching about :)

Nellie the Virago is taking the luxury path to the new place courtesy of specialist bike movers, who sound like they really do actually care about the bike!

The new house is, of course, totally full of boxes, but Nic is doing a spectacular job of working through them. She managed to get the 2-man-lift TV out of the box and onto the TV unit thing herself, which means I'm now a little scared of her.

Had to miss weds practise, which I was really looking forward to, but to be honest my stuff was all over the place (the move guys were enthusiastic to say the least!) and I was exhausted after 12 hours of packing and moving stuff. I drank about a litre or so of red bull type linctus-sweet drink, so i figure I probably had about 400 MGs of caffeine.

The studio does not exist yet, but will soon. The new Warwick Pro Tube IX amp, BTW, still isn't in my hands but should be delivered (to the new address) on monday. Luckily they didn't have my address (or phone number, I might add - lost that bit of paper very well. I think the Bass Centre may be losing it a bit, esp since they became part of House of Guitars. Seems like they're not really on the ball any more) - so I could ask them to actually deliver it to the new address.

This sunday's rehearsal will be top fun, and the first run up the M40, so I'll be measuring miles and time. We've got to learn loads of new tracks in time for the first gig on the 25th, three half hour sets need to be filled.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Bloc Party Addiction

Wow, I'm getting completely addicted to Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. Heard of them last year when in Amsterdam with a bunch of miscreants I knew at Uni. Great week (orange day at the weekend, stupendous fun, I'd recommend it to anyone, the whole centre of the city becomes like one big festival site).

MTV was on most days and nights, and Bloc party's "Banquet" seemed to be on all the time, it hooked me immediately, all spiky and catchy.

Now I can't stop listening to Helicopter!

The Band
Things are getting even more interesting. Jake seems to have red bull for blood, he's on the scent of something big, I reckon. Dan tells me he and Jake have been sorting loads of stuff, and we've got our residency gig sorted, it seems: starting on the 25th, I gig each week, a greater gig frequency than I've ever had before.

This will be where hard work actually starts!

Also, I hear stuff from the guys that the gig on the 25th will be pretty special, with lots of "interesting people" coming along... I'm trying to concentrate on my part to play in all this, rather than getting carried away.

Still, it's great to have something which has some speed building up behind it, rather than the years since I left uni, which have been filled with small short-term alliances (although the ones in london were fun, I can say I've gigged in london - and the wedding reformation of Citrus Waltz was top fun)...

I'm a little scared. Bear with me. This is actually a good thing, maybe this'll push my technique to new places. I've always wanted to be as fluid as Zender... maybe this'll do it.

Currently I'm listening to Belle and Sebastian... odd stuff.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Clouds and sunshine...

Hmmm, a bit of a hackneyed title, but I'm no lyrics man.

Stuff has happened. Not all good stuff, but life is supposed to challenge you a bit and I've spent too much of mine so far trying not to get into situations where I have to make decisions: I'm pretty sure at some level I'm always petrified of making the wrong one.

El Stacko
Well, I got some speakon cables last saturday (ta maplin) - pity they didn't have any 2.5mm diameter conductor ones so I'll have to see how these 1.5mm ones work out in the short term - they're all I could get. I also took the time to buy some "proper" XLR to XLR balanced mic cables.

I spent a portion of the weekend meeting up with some old friends down on the Reading meadows, where they were chasing around after coloured plastic discs which sail when thrown. I thought only retrievers did that, but there you go, there is a game called frisbee.

On arriving home, yours truly eagerly hooked up all items, and turned on the amp (mute on, of course, although I'm sure the amp has speaker protection). Preamp lights are on, we're go across the board. Plug in the 6 string (no pod yet), hit the mute to turn it off and....



I fiddled with cables (checking their polarity and wiring against the helpfully located labels on the amp and cabs) for about half an hour, but nothing could elicit any noises from the stack. The poweramp section is buggered. Arse.

So, I rang the bass centre in london (or now, the "house of guitars" as they are known) and yes, they are open on sundays, but the amp guy doesn't get in until tuesday (bank holiday monday y'see) so I could drop it off.

Wanting to get things moving as quickly as possible, I got up early on sunday, and tried to get into london (ealing broadway by car, then overland to paddington and circle to liverpool st, then a shortish walk to their place). Took me 3 bloody hours, lugging 26 kilos of busted amp. Thankfully the luggage shop ("left luggage") in Paddington has baggage trolleys which will take 30 kilos, so after I hit paddington things became a tad more comfortable.

So far all I know is the amp guy is looking at it. Grr. I'll ring him in a minute and see what I can find out...

The Band
Things seem to be moving apace: our residency at Bridge in oxford looks to be in the bag - 25th of May is our first gig. Last night, however, we played something of a mini-showcase style gig for some assembled contacts of Jake's. It's gone awfully well... but I can't reveal any more than that right now. We really did play blindingly well though, Dan's drumming is becoming something of a revelation!

Phew! Enough for now.