Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Solo operations....

I think it's time to put some of my ideas on the blog - I've never been one to wear my heard on a vest under a shirt... so to speak. I'll stop that before I get accused of Frasier-esque verbosity. Oops, there I go again.

There are two ideas flying around my head to get more (local) gigs at the moment (Tempa Tempa doesn't gig enough for me, I need to be on at least one a week, and I could do with the extra cash!) - one is "highbrow" and one is "profitable"? ;)

Idea 1
This one's the "highbrow" one. I've harboured one of those muso conceits to do little intimate jazz gigs in classy restaurants for ages now. Not necessarily insane Jaco solo stuff, but something with some jazz standards where I've got a great backing track (I could get Terry to help me out here) and I play the 5 string fretless over the top - solos, basslines, depending on where in the track we are. Nothing deadly taxing, I could work up to be-bop :)

Advantages: solo gig: no rehearsals to try to arrange: can be very well prepared in advance: will increase my theoretical chops as well as my physical ones: spend more time with the 5 string fretless (which sounds amazing): classy gigs that don't go on until 2am: local to Windsor there could be demand for this kind of gig
Disadvantages: hard work (possibly): takes time to get set together: the audience will not be screaming for more (this does matter!): more gear needed (small PA of some kind)

That's not a huge list of disadvantages! Hmmmm. So, on to....

Idea 2
I don't need to go into intense detail for this one. I'll do solo nightclub gigs with a dance/funk crossover thing. Still using backing tracks, but with live bass (and maybe vocals, could use samples). Maybe George could do some vocals for me (she's got one hell of a voice).

Advantages: Insane audiences: great feedback: I already know the chops (funk funk funk funk): opportunity to be really creative using tools and samples I already have: don't necessarily need outside input for the backing tracks: a little further afield (london/reading) there could be a real demand for this stuff

Disadvantages: Late gigs: may need more gear (although this isn't a given): money may not be as good: might need more people (george at gigs?): local area (windsor) may not have a great demand for this kind of gig.

Hmmm. I do love audiences to go mental. Best part of the job!

As you can see, it's a couple of great options. I'll mull it over, shall I?

Ooo - and my eBay hobby has started up proper, I'm selling stuff like there's no tomorrow! I've just about got my packaging activities streamlined, and last night I started using "Turbo Lister" from eBay, which is a cracking tool. Much easier and quicker than using the website! Like they say on unnovations - "once you've got one, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it"

Monday, March 27, 2006

The slide towards luddite?..... the new Tempa Tempa site's "up"!

Well, I relented and did something to get [ TempaTempa website ] up and running. Telivo, who I got the domain off, were doing an offer on domains for £5 / 2yrs. So I used their forwarding to take it to... a myspace site ;)

I apologise for not creating an all-singing, all-dancing website (or even doing up the Janeiro one with a new logo!) but to be honest, the day-to-day bits of the website which i was editing were pictures (which I can still do - I'll put the pics on the Janeiro webspace and use a scroller from [ ] to display them on the MySpace site) and news (I'll use the [ myspace blog ]) - so I'll just use the MySpace site and think of something else to do with the domain and the webspace.

I might tinker with Flash to make a front end animation for the tempa tempa site before it redirects to the Myspace area... that'd be cool.

Music News - how to warm up quick and keep finger-fit
I found my hand exerciser thingy - no sniggering - and man, I'd forgotten how much it helps. If, like me, you struggle sometimes to squeeze in practise and want to cut down on warm-up time (I do have a full warm up exercise program which lasts anything up to 25 minutes!) one of these little dudes is a must. I also have a medium tension rubber band wrapped around it which I use to warm up the extensor muscles (?sp?I think that's right) by opening my fingers in a fan with the rubber band attached.

If you use the exerciser for about 15 minutes while you're doing other stuff (say, checking email or eBay or whatever) then when you finally get to picking up the bass, you're already mostly warmed up and can move on to nailing that Bach cello suite or Jaco solo (arf arf) piece you've been working on.

If only I could invent one for slap warm ups...

Never happy, eh? Roll on the 30th and another IZIs gig. Hopefully this time I can back away from the audience a bit: one thing's for sure, I'll be taking less gear with me!

Big shout to Jo Theones at Fox FM!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The joys of eBay n stuff

The linky thingy in the title is my eBay "shop" (well, it's a list of the items I've got on there). I've actually been getting my arse in gear and listing a lot of the stuff I've got stashed away for eBaying. Hopefully it should prove a lucrative sideline, and clear a lot of junk out of the house to boot.

I wonder if eBay is killing the lovely British Car Boot habit? Although it costs to list things on eBay, and it costs to use PayPal (something I'll put up with in return for the ability to have non-paypal customers be able to pay me with credit cards), it's a small price to pay not to have to fill a car with stuff and ol paste tables, etc. There's something about browsing through other people's junk which is very English though. Read "nosy". I guess there's no way of knowing what's happened to car boot sales...

Podcasts - inevitable
I've got into iTunes podcasts, finally. There's wicked electronica podcast from Gowan, a mate here at work (who has just been made redundant, the lucky sod) which I've subscribed to. I listened to most of the Ricky Gervais ones as well (who didn't, I hear), and I was into the pub landlord ones but they seem to have stopped for some reason...

iTunes: quality music?
I don't buy songs from iTunes though. I have this thing (probably from being a musician) about fidelity (or at least trying to get the best I can). When you buy compressed audio from these websites, you're not getting CD quality. As ever, perception is a fickle thing, so you just get used to not hearing some of the subtleties the producer and artists put into the music: while I've little doubt there's plenty of fiddling going on during mixdown with a view to how it will sound on an iPod, I just need to have that CD so I can make the decisions about sound quality: I don't want to download something for the same price as that track would cost on a CD and not get CD quality!

Plus, this method of buying tracks will have the inevitable effect of cheapening the best music. Not literally, but artists will be under constant pressure to come up with singles all the time - no room for any artistic "indulgence" (as a label would see it) - and you won't see CDs "crafted" in terms of their being a musical journey on their own: 7 to 10 tracks of music, chosen by the artist and arranged in an order that's pleasing to them.

Without being a luddite, this legacy hangover from LPs about putting many songs on a media so they are distributed all at once is surely a good thing: I don't like crap filler tracks, but there are plenty of songs which never made it to singles which I love (I'm a big fan of Queens of the Stone Age and some of their more "out there" stuff is brilliant, but not populist - and all the better for it).

I fear that iTunes, with the ability to audition tracks before you buy them, will not only kill CDs but it'll make life really difficult for people who want to make music from their hearts. Another bean-counting nail in the coffin of music that touches the heart, eh....?

Janeiro / Tempa Tempa
Well, I think I've probably relented on the "build a website" front. Only slightly though - I'll build a tempa tempa framework which houses stuff on other sites like MySpace. Neil doesn't think we've got enough of a following under the name Janeiro to be worried about moving to another Myspace site. I have some reservations, but he's the boss! I won't be buying another URL for the name out of my own pocket though. I'll have to work out what to do about that - I do have some ideas using Javascript cleverness from a while back.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I spent time... in MY studio! - Duhn duhn duuuuuuuhn -

Sorry about the dramatic music.

Yes, yesterday I got to spend a couple of hours tinkering with Cubase and a little bbit of composition with some hip-hop and laid-back rhodes. Coming along nicely. Finally got the Cheetah hooked back up to the system as well - glad to have finally got that done - and discovered it needed some values rewritten (including sensitivity, which was well out - no way to play quietly on a rhodes? Shum mishtake!). Easy done though, it's doing a great job again. Must replace the springs on those dead keys though.

I'm rewriting my solo to the Tempa Tempa (must get used to that name) track "funks me off" as the trading stuff that Dan and I used to do doesn't apply anymore. I'll need something that's a couple of 12-bat rotations long which builds properly. No small order for me, that one... I hate soloing!

The gig last thursday taught me how much I like being at the front all night... nervous? Me? Yep, it happened... thankfully there was a second solo spot in the second set where I opened up a little more but to be honest I just didn't feel comfortable in the first set, too close to the audience.

Oh yes... "too close to the audience"... jeez, in their faces - several of them were treading on my cables! Next time it's no stack for me (sob! why did I buy the damn thing?) I'll be taking the Warwick CCL combo, that way I can sit on it and stay away from the crowd a little.

We're starting to get some contacts through the nights we've played in the Pop bar in Soho as well, which is cool: a night called "ZenFM" at a rather spiffin' looking venue (also in central london, further north east, thank god!) - more news when there's something to tell!

Ho hum. Time to kill a bit more time at my desk. Currently I'm reading "Feel the Fear... and do it anyway" which, to be honest, isn't telling me anything I hadn't already confided to myself. Self-awareness of why you don't do things is one thing (and believe me, I spend plenty of time second-guessing myself there): the book doesn't really scratch the surface of overcoming those fears (not really, anyway) apart from using glib over-simplifications like "everybody else is scared too you know". I haven't ready anything revelatory yet - no "eureka" moments.

Then again, it's an American self-help cod-psych book... what did I expect?

Maybe I'll write my own book called "Ultimately, who gives a crap?" about how the end point of our self-obsessed society is total anarchy, led by enormously rich people. I'll subscribe to that, as long as I get big guns!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I feel like Giggin' tonight (flap flap)

Just a random google found link there... heh heh

Yes, tonight it's back to IZIs in Witney: the club with more glass, metal and dancing ceiling poles (I kid you not) than any other. I think the PA tonight is being done by our good friends from Nottingham as well (the nutters!) - how they manage to get all the way down here I really don't know!

I really should get myself a PA together, but where to store it?.... I'm still not sure I need all the amplifiers I have (I still have the Warwick CCL and an extension cab, a 2x10 trace elliot cab)... It's GAS all over again (for the uninitiated, that's Gear Acquisition Syndrome)... I've even been wondering (prepare yourselves) if I should be taking more than one bass to gigs! And do I really need effects! (GASP!)

Well, the pod could stay.

That wedding I was at was a blast - but getting back was even more fun, as Fleetwood and the whole west area there got blanketed with snow and blizzards: now, I know is pretty cack at dealing with winter weather (or leaves, or heavy rain, or pretty much anything that allows us to have an excuse) but apparently the M6 was down to 1 lane. So Nic and I shot over to the M1 (under TomTom's guidance) passing through places with power cuts and snow laying on the outside lane (still got nutters doing 80 there though).

-1.5 degrees C up there as well: bloody nippy. Then we get to the M1 and lo! as soon as we head south by the time we get to Watford Gap it's 5 degrees outside! It's like the southeast has some wierd Eden Project thing going on - we never get snow, it's not fair. I'd love to snowboard down a hill in England, it'd be well wierd!

I never did find out if Aviemore is ski-able at the moment...

Ooo! Nic and I are going to go down the Caledonian Canal this summer - not sure if it'll be 1 week or 2 - in a cruiser! We'll take the bikes and have a great time.



Thursday, March 09, 2006

Weekenders on acoustics...

It'll be a nice busmans hol this weekend. Going to my good friend Peter Cridland's wedding, and Citrus Waltz (speak their names with hushed tones! WABTEMGASP! and other complete gibberish) are going to do a little acoustic set, with Greg playing an indian Dhokan I have in the studio!

This'll be a giggle, especially cherry headbomb, which ain't ever been played like that! I'll have to find some time this evening to play through one or two (or at least get them on the pod so I can play along!)

Whatever happens, I'm sure Pete's wedding will be a blast. The man knows how to party. Not that I've fed any stories to the best man, mind... giggle


Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Ah, this is the experience of a large funk band that I remember! Having trouble getting together for rehearsals!

Although, in our defence, we've done pretty well up until this point.

Last night's get together ended up canned due to lack of guitarists: Jamie is ill, bless, not to mention he's stuck in Peterborough(! don't ask) and Richies BMW (which did a fine job of getting us back from london) needs that knocking noise seeing to. Suspension bush collapse ahoy, not good to leave that or it damages the arm, resulting in more expense and no mistake!

So I went unrehearsed last night. Wah! I hope to have some fun this evening, spend an hour working on just Tempa Tempa tracks. Still feels a little wierd referring to the band under that name, s'not right...

Those EMP strings from warwick work a treat, btw: long life on my 6 string, they still sound good enough to gig. Plenty of punch.

Must drop some EMGs into the old hohner 5string, I hear you can turbocharge them to 18v with an EMG approved mod from their website(!)

Fun fun fun drool slobber

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A quick post before bed...

Music stuff, really. Honestly. :)

Rehearsal tomorrow, at Terminal Studios - Neil recommends them, so they've got to be good... :) Late start at 7pm, until 11pm, so at least I'll get home around midnight (given that the studio is near london bridge!)

Spent today noodling about on the Warwick 4 string, making sure that the improvements I made on "Chromatic Fantasy" on the 6 string on saturday could be carried through to my 4 string funk machine: funny how much difference that string spacing makes, but I got it nailed. Nice! Plugged the warwick in on its own into the Pro Tube IX upstairs and was struck by the tone I got... there's something to that "direct is best" attitude. Maybe I should experiment with the effects loop a bit, rather than feeding the effected signal into the front of the thing...

This evening I've dug out the ol' hohner B-Bass, which is sounding very fat, passive (NEED TO CHANGE THE BATT) through the Pandora... nice sounds to jam to some Incognito with. Just got the new Incognito album (well, last years, anyway!) - "eleven" - it's a cracker, full of mellow funkiness. I'm enjoying it.

Unlike McDonalds, who I read are closing (yes, closing) 25 stores as Britain finally wakes up and smells the sickly-sweet buns and realises it wants to live, dammit :) It couldn't happen to a nicer multi-billion whatever franchise operation. I hope ronald rots with a bellyful of abused beef...

But enough of that! Next week holds an IZI gig (more pole dancing for Andy no doubt) and the promise of some interesting times... I hope. Even work is almost palatable...

Peace out y'all