Sunday, February 27, 2005

Nelly the Virago packed her trunk...

Well, she would if she had one.

Just testing a flickr photo-to-blog thing. Seems to work fine... so I've posted a pic of the virago all the time, trouble and cash is going to see me cruising along the congested berkshire highways on :)


Friday, February 18, 2005

My studio line...

That one'll be totally lost on anyone who never saw the adverts for the haircare product line :)

Life is full of ironies... I spend a small fortune on a centrepiece of top tech (the new mixing desk) and my time gets constrained so I can't actually plumb it in until a week later! The poor thing's been sat on the floor leant up against a variety of things while I dismantle the studio and try to work out how to rearrange things.

Jake's set up in Crawley is pretty good. I don't need a keyboard right in front of the desk though (the cheetah would no doubt go through any desk I put it on!).

I do like the idea of using some other piece of furniture to make the desk deeper, then I could place the monitors further back and perhaps raise them. This little escapade is starting to persuade me I do need two flat panel jobs, so I don't have half the problem I've got with space taken up by the old CRT monitor.

Decisions, decisions... hopefully I'll have something I can use by the end of sunday.

..:: The Crawley File ::..
Well, it's a break in rehearsal for a few weeks while various people (including me, off to canada) go on hols. The last rehearsal was stunning - like I said in previous posts, I was deeply embarassed when I heard myself playing from the previous sunday. So I backed off, adopted some kind of strategy for building a bassline towards the end of a song, didn't experiment wildly... and it felt really good. I'll be spending more time listening to the tape I made then and getting some solidity cast about the parts I play.

I've also been entertaining ideas of using all this nice new studio equipment to record other people... perhaps for cash?

Speaking of cash, my pile of ebay-ables continues to grow. I need to leverage the unbridled power of this 1.1GHz laptop to get the calibration and customisation of that pile of GD35s into some sellable state!

And my dad loves his birthday present!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More rehearsals....! Oh, and -

I passed the motorcycle theory test OK.

More rehearsals? Well, there's something I haven't been able to write about in a long time :) It's going really well. On sunday, I even took the old 4 track with me, miked up the room and DId the bass in to the other side so I could have a reference to what I was playing.

I was not very impressed!

Ach, it's like hearing yourself talking on tape for the first time if you haven't done it for ages. I decided I need to pay more attention to song structure, tension, build and release, etc. Especially when the songs are played live. The recorded versions have build in them, but live it becomes a bit more organic.

What I heard on tape wasn't too bad in places, with some good ideas, but basically I heard someone going batshit after too much time practising at home. For shame, Andy! Far too busy, needs more consistency. I need more time to actually learn the song structures and think about what I want to play. At the moment I'm still doing a lot of improvisation, which isn't what I have in mind for this project.

So right now I've got the 4 tracks on the CD Jake gave me on rotation here while I type to help me get more perspective. In particular, I'm going to cut back on the "run before you walk" aspect of my slap playing :) Some of the tracks also need some small amount of melodic variation introduced via the bass, perhaps.

Another rehearsal tonight. Hope my poor exhaust doesn't drop off... actually, that's a good point. I'd better take a closer look at that later, it's the pipe into the back box that's got fumes blowing. I might have to implement that temporary repair sooner than I think...

And Joost is coming over tomorrow night for some funk as well! Things have suddenly exploded and no mistake. The good news is I must have been practising a decent amount before all this started because my hands are fine: the fingers of my right hand are getting so strong I can feel the muscles in them as I type :)

I started dismantling the studio yesterday evening, I need to rethink the arrangement of things in light of a new Mixing desk I've purchased. I wanted something to replace the old folio 12 channel stereo mixer I've had for years, and get some automation with Cubase going - some control surfaces rather than trying to use mice scroll wheels to mix with.

And Dolphin Music stepped in with an offer on the Soundcraft 328XD which couldn't be missed (well, once my traditional scottish reserve stepped in and I checked the deal for holes three times, also checking the online downloadable manuals for mentions of Cubase and the possibilities therein)... so I ordered it last thursday, and it arrived on friday. Impressive. The flightcase will take a couple of weeks though.

Great live desk, and I haven't even hooked it up to Cubase yet(!) - this is why I'm reorganising the studio.

In non-musical news, the car is costing a fortune at the moment. 320 quid of hydraulic servicing (regular stuff, spheres, filters, new LHM etc - just all at once), 200 quid on new Michelins, and now the exhaust needs replacing... and I've got a service coming up in 800 miles and want to get that poor bluetooth car kit fitted which has been kicking around the boot for about 12 months or something... argh! Oh, and we're running out of heating oil, but who wants to refill a tank at 500 quid when you're just about to move out? Not us.

Grr. Oh well, I'll just go mad in Canada and pay for it for the rest of the year :P

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Of Bands and Bikes...

Well, wish me luck. In 5 minutes I pack up for the day and roar off in the Xantia to go do my Motocycle Theory Test (gulp).

I'm not overly worried, but it's only human to have some butterflies.

. . : : Music News : : . .
In other news... had the first "whole band" experience with Jake's troop up Crawley way. Fan-tastic! The sort of high-octane funkery I've been missing for years, with musicians who can lay a groove down (great feeling for a first get together, I can tell you) and a pretty talented writer in Jake, who MCs the band really well. The man's got stage presence up the wazoo.

And he likes the Q-Tron, which is also brilliant.

Seriously, I was exhausted by the time we finished at 9:30pm, I played some of the best funk I've played in ages, and I get the feeling if I stay with them I'll start making some huge leaps in ability and bassline writing, especially in slap terms. That sort of "laid back" slap approach that pop/funk often needs, without insane triplet action - I played some of that last night, it felt like grabbing a rope that was just in reach before swinging across a chasm, then losing it for a sec, then getting it again... I want to nail that sort of bass playing!

Drummer's great, really solid - but hi hat patterns for soul music seem to wear him out :) In his defence, it sounds like he's really busy, with showcases, etc.

The only thing they're worried about is if I can commit to the project (love that phrase!) - right now, I think I'm committed, but what about those pressures... the upcoming move house thing, trying to ensure Nic doesn't get muscled out as I continually play gigs and rehearse, the crappy day job (which I'm having enough trouble getting connected with at the moment as it is)... can I tell Jake I can guarantee my fidelity? Hmmmm. I should be straight with him, definitely.

Oh - and I've ordered an automated Soundmaster mixing desk to control Cubase at home. Dog's proverbials! More later - gotta go home and get the paper bit of my licence. Oops!

Andy the Happy

Monday, February 07, 2005

Could it be...

Well, went to see Jake in his Crawley studio yesterday. Great guy, full of frenetic energy and very definitely keen on funk and getting people dancing. Crucial, that. Great studio, too. Protools on a Mac G4, automated desk, plenty of good outboard effects. Sounds great.

I got put on the spot when he rolled out a track he was working on (nice twisted beat) and attempted manfully to try to get busy over the top of it... cue sweat moment, that actually felt like the audition bit :)

Then Jake picked up a parker fly guitar and started reeling out some stone funk choppiness and the funk, it flowed into me in ways I haven't felt since I was with the Apostles back in St Andrews - real jamming, playing with the beat and the interplay was great: real chemistry.

I'm hoping this'll be the start of a great friendship, and the opening of a wonderful musical chapter - gigs, recording, and the redevelopment and sharpening of my funky bass identity. I'll keep trying to play Jazz for the chops, but I'm
focussing my energies on this project: I want to make a real go of it.

Jake's got so much material backed up and waiting to go - he's just trying to get the band together to play it.

Possibility of harmony vocals too: can't wait to really stretch myself.

I'll be pouring a lot more energy into things from now on, I hope...!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

At last! Likeminded Funk Folk!...

Well, it finally happened... I hope!

I got the call last night - all those websites I registered with, and it turned out to be ads in the local freeads paper which do the business. I had that one call from the south coast about ferry band slots, which sounded like fun - but perhaps not compatible with even my relatively easy going flexi-time at work - and now...


I got called by a guy putting a funky act together in Oxford, which isn't too far to drive for the right style of music - and this is it. My influences seem to align with what they need, which is great (and certainly welcome! I'm not compromising again, I've spent time in bands I just didn't enjoy and it grates - it's actually detrimental to your playing, you wonder why you're doin' it at all...) - and I'm going up on sunday to try out, and show some chops.

Not sure what I'll be called upon to do yet - hopefully I can think on what to play on Saturday. Prob some Jamiroquai will fit the bill... wonder which one I should drag into the light :)

I'm rediscovering the Warwick again after an extended period of 6 string playing. I should really practise slap more often though, either that or work out how to wrap my index finger so the nail bed doesn't get completely knackered when I snap!

Now, to put a little more effort into the new practise regime... I need to print it so I damn well use it!

Snowboarding in a month... counting down... and my Motorcycle theory test is in a week . Time to settle down for some serious study there as well.

Oh well.