Well, I finished. Bad Friend Brigade.
Sinus cold aside, I didn't spend a lot of time on this one. I should have, but I couldn't really carve out more.
All told, I think I spent a total of 6 working days on it. Which, I'd think is sometimes plenty of time, but that's really only possible with a full band. I did all the instruments for all but Monkeys, They Not for Kings. I would think that'd be a challenge for even Dave Grohl- but I am not an 'experienced' drummer. So I would have seen better results with more time allotted. Lesson learned.
That said, I REALLY like what I managed to accomplish. With 4 songs started from scratch and three more FINALLY clicked their final puzzle pieces to become a 'song' rather than just an idea for a song.
Coming into the Challenge month, I already had 10 songs/ideas I thought I would work. That swelled to 16, and the 10 tracks that made the deadline were the ones that moved without too much force.
I'm most pleased with Cold Mountain. With it's potential, at least. I am also most disappointed with it because of the glaring tempo/vocal stumble. I hope to fix that before Jukebox time. I also regret not getting to record the accordion for it. Again, hopefully by Jukebox time.
Beyond that, I'd change 4 guitar solos and at least 5 of the vocals.
But first, I'm gonna go listen to some other RPMers...
NOW/here spent the snowing bitter ass cold in lovely downtown KC, MO recording our debute CD. 11 hours later we got 9 songs from scratch plus some overdubs on a previously recorded tune, and with one more tune from a previous recording session ready for some fresh mixes. aside from a brain fart on a song that should have been done lickity split, and not the 2 hours that it took, and aside from click track issues that our drummer had, it was a rather enjoyable experience and will hopefully lead to world-wide domination by the middle of this year when it's released. We have vocals left to record in our next 10 hour block in 2 weeks and some serious mixing with a few guest producers and then the sky is the goddamn limit. I feel very calm about it now, but man, when the snow was coming down and everyones glazed eyes were just staring at each other, I thought we were sunk for sure. I will keep you up to date, because I know you care. please go on Facebook and like us, /nowherekc, and you'll be kept more in the loop that some odd postings on this website.
Friday afternoon we went down to Fred's for the drop off party. CBC radio was there and did a live spot with livestreaming, combining interviews with performances. Glad to see the hoopla is still going strong!
Little one got interviewed, and initially got so scared he was shaking and bolted before he went on - natural when there's dozens of adults, a video camera and an unfamiliar environment. After some encouragement from a few people, he went on and handled it like a pro. Not bad for five years old.
Afterwards, Alex and I went to have a bite and a beer. Good times, and a job well done.
So we're done. Feels a little strange, almost like being teleported from January to March. That's even apparent on the homepage - 330-odd days to go, and I thought "why isn't it 360-something?" A whole month has passed, like a blur. It was a short month, a long month, a fun month, a frustrating month, though more short than long, more fun than frustrating. Even today I felt a compulsion to text Alex about an idea, or a question...and ultimately asked "the album is done, right?" to which he replied "I haven't touched a guitar all weekend, so yes it must be done." So now we return to our regular and routine lives, of work, of family, of jobs to be done, of snowclearing (round these parts!) and reconnecting with all that was put aside for a few weeks. My dog is wagging his tail at me again and knows that his requests to go for a walk are answered regularly again, the to do list is tackled with a vengeance, and the ears are ringing a little less each day.
Towards the end of the month I thought "I'm done after this." Now, I'm a little more open to returning.
So, thanks to everyone for your love and patience, for your support, and encouragement when it got tough. It's easier when you have all that in place.
onward with everything else.
I think Paul mentioned something to me around the turn of the new year about the RPM challenge and how we should have a go. It might have even been NYE itself, slurping Moscow mules and listening to teeth grindy garage in a friend's basement. Anyway, seeds got sown - and, if there is any theme to this piece and to the whole process, that might be it: put a little notion in mind, it seems, and quite often it grows, not just into something tangible but sometimes something really great.
Paul and I had knocked around in bands years ago, gone separate ways musically but stayed friends. The idea of chucking out an album, come what may, seemed like a good 'un. It would be a good excuse to be silly if nothing else.
Anyway...bang on first of feb the phrase Paper Heart arrived in my head. A few chords later, and a little bit of recording on my iPad using GarageBand, I had a little demo to take to Paul. In retaliation, like some crazed mud slinging urchin, he started throwing ideas back at me, moody little demos with brooding guitar, programmed drums, copper bottom melodies.
We had a first jam, working on the music for what would be the track Which Way is the Sky. But we didn't have too much, a handful of ideas with working titles like Monday tune, Sunday tune.
But horizons expanded. On my daily train hop home, I bodged up a weirdo techno tune on GarageBand. I've got a techno track, I told Paul. Yeah, we'll have that, he said.
Conceptually, the whole thing came together in the pub, as it so often does in these parts, probably all parts, I don't know. We sat down over some local Sussex ales and crisps (chips if you're reading stateside) and kinda inventoried what we had. I had a short story and we looked at that for song titles and band names. Four pints later we had a name, Hot Money and Mr Cheese, and had plotted out 10 tracks - some written, some half written, some not even began but with working titles or an idea like 'punk one' or something. Even at the ideas stage we knew we wanted to take the listener on a journey and were aware of the pace of the songs we had and the pace and mood we wanted in the ones we didn't.
I started jamming along at home to Paul's demos and wrote the lyrics for what would become Uncertain, although at that time it was called Hot Money meets Mr Cheese! The angsty riff in this was actually written by me 10 years ago (sorry if that contravenes regulations - it's the only thing that does) but I'd forgotten about it. Paul dredged it up, gave it a floaty CG bridge thing and flung it over to me. I put down spacey Hawkwind bass on it and wrote the words.
At my house, towards the middle of the month we had a massive recording session and the whole thing just came together - band name - album title - everything. Uncertain took shape quickly with us both singing lead which sounded good (or at least better than with just me) and set the tone nicely for a collaborative album. Planets had to come next. For me the stand out track on the album, it's got a great hook which, if you give it a few listens, will lodge itself in your ear for weeks and months. Paul's lyrics are killer on this one, introducing the characters of Alistair and Erica while, 'the stars align and planets all interconnect.' We both love The Hold Steady and the characters Craig Finn creates and recirculates so maybe there was a bit of that but also...this thing was turning into a bit of a concept album although we didn't really have any idea what the concept might be...
For those of us raised on a strict diet of the principles of punk, the words, 'concept album' may well conjure horrific images of Rick Wakeman surrounded by moogs, triple necked guitars and tiny stonehenges on stage but it's not all bad. Tommy, Court of the Crimson King, Plastic Beach, A Grand Don't Come For Free: we love these albums. Hell, we thought, if that's where the muse is going to take us, that's where we'll go.
The track Which Way is the Sky? came out of a couple of hours of chanting and singing space themed nonsense upstairs. It's nice to hear you boys are having fun, said my finance, a little tersely. Might be a good time to put a shout out to all co-habitees of spare room recorders. We love you back! Anyway....Paul mixed the whole glorious mess together. In many ways it's the cornerstone of the album: out of that came the album name, band name and the whole ragged concept. Paper Heart's up next, galvanised by Paul's bass and slinky slide work and side one (we like to think there are two sides to this recording) closes with the boisterous Lucky Bottle.
The rest seemed to arrange itself. Side two opens with another quality Paul composition, Not Fancy Dress. This one's been getting a bit of attention amongst our friends. Space Pirate Attack's goofy punk funk takes us into Saturday's Fat Cigar: my electronic diddling, an excerpt from that short story and some New Order bass from Paul. Oh how the seeds grow! Different Kind of Green is floaty, moody and reflective, maybe Alistair re-evaluating life in the light of his alien encounter, and Heading Home takes us back there, replete with child's accordion solo!
For anyone reading this and thinking of RPM 2015, I'd say go for it! It's been a great experience.
The Telescope Visit
Think about it. What do you do when RPM ends with February?
RPMarch, of course!
who's with me?
...this should make you feel better.
Created, mixed, mastered, and mailed. It was the first time we actually completed this and I'm over excited about it. The name of the album is Honestly and everything is on our profile playlist. Check it out if you'd like. It was fun playing!
As I'm not finding a way in to the Jukebox I'm following the lead publishing my 2014 CD which I just mailed off this morning in the nick of time, on Bandcamp and Alonetone as well as here via my page player. Striping that in here. Thanks for the listens and congrats to all who participated this year. Jim
Recorded until the stroke of midnight. Mixed and edited until 3:30am. Put it on a disc and printed the cover. Asleep at 4:00; awakened by my twin four-year-olds at 6:45am. Made them breakfast. Made myself coffee, then more coffee. Then more. Got to the Post Office by 10:30am and sent it off. Went grocery shopping and listened to the album on my phone. Not happy with the vocals on a couple of the songs and will fix them soon, and give the whole thing a proper edit and mastering. But for now I want to sleep. And sleep. And sleep.
2014 was a bit of a disappointment for me. I had thought 2013's album, Pixel Herd, was fairly strong compared to my past RPM releases, and so I was hoping this year would be a further step up.
Unfortunately, this year February turned into a laundry list of everything that had gone wrong with all the previous RPM Challenges I'd taken part in, combined. Illness, weather, job overtime, technical problems - ugh. It took the better part of February just to get my act together enough to toss together a fairly quick avant-garde noise album.
Not that there aren't interesting bits about it, otherwise nobody would be allowed to listen to it. Still, it's definitely not what I had been hoping for. Plus, I'm chagrined to note that my non-RPM output over the last couple years has been minimal at best. Something's going to have to change.
Anyway, I don't want to moan about my shortcomings over and over; I need to move on, get going on other things. So I'm cutting this short, and probably this is all anyone will hear from me in this blog until next RPM...