Pro Tips For The Overbooked Musician

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This is what my June looked like time wise:

  • 5 days recording at Tiny Telephone
  • 16 rehearsals with various bands 
  • 3 days of mixing at Tiny Telephone
  • 6 gigs in the month of June
  • 4 of those gigs were with 4 different bands, all in 7 days
  • I spent roughly 25 hours that month practicing songs and shedding on my own
  • I worked approximately 50 hours a week at my real job. 

Here’s what I learned. 

Breakup With Your Girlfriend, Google Calendar Is Your New Wife

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Anytime you get an email for a potential rehearsal or gig, do two things immediately.
1. Put that hold or that date in your calendar.
2. Respond to the fucking email.

The more you delay your response the more stress you cause the band leader. People’s calendars fill up fast. Make sure they’re not holding potential dates, missing out on cool shit while awaiting your reply you were too busy to send during a Netflix binge.

The only thing keeping me sane/slightly organized during June was my Google Calendar alerts. Don’t try to juggle dates in your head or on paper, automate that mamma jamma.

Your iPhone Is Your New Bullshit Detector: Record Your Practices

memos
Active listening can help your practicing tremendously. I took voice memos of most of the practices I had before gigs to see what I could improve upon, made notes, and practiced staying in the pocket or picking out better fills to play while I was practicing alone. When I got back with the band for the next practice, the improvement was noticeable (to me at least).

After I played in LA this month with DonCat, we reviewed the tape of the gig. At Slims a week or so later, we sounded way better because we all talked about what we wanted to work on.

Hang Out, Bro

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The hang. The mystical hang. It influences your playing so much. Don’t be a ball of stress when you show up to practice, it affects your playing. Have your shit together and spend time after the practice to goof off with your lovely bandmates.

Or go Split Screens style and spend 5 minutes in-between songs making hair metal references or wildly inappropriate jokes about the each others’ parents. Being relaxed and being a good dude helps the music.

Don’t Spam People

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I had a hard time balancing my need/desire to get people out to the shows with my fear/self-conciousness about spamming peoples inboxes, Facebook feeds, and Twitter timelines.

This is a delicate art, getting your friends to shows. I still don’t really quite know how it works, I think it has to do with viral gifs or something. Anyway, keep the FB pleas to a minimum, and if you’re going to do it, be funny (or try). I could follow more of my own advice on this front.

Be Thankful

Lastly, and most importantly, be thankful you’re playing. I cant thank Debbie, Duncan, Chris, Jesse, Jess, Andrew, Phil and everyone that came out enough. It’s a privilege to get to play with you guys and call you friends. Shut up I know I’m too sensitive already.

June: The Month of Recording, Gigs and Drum Whoredom

cacGreat googly moogly June is busy. I will make it out of this month on the coattails of Americanos and post-band practice burritos.

For starters, I recorded 3 songs with Jess Silva and Andrew Nelson at Tiny Telephone Studios with the wonderful Jacob Winik behind the boards. We’re working on mixing/mastering that now.

For the rest of the month, I am a drum whore. I’m playing with Edwin Valero (Jess & Andrew), DonCat, Split Screens and Debbie Neigher. Here are the gigs:

10014579_10152300431937767_2131227472_n 6.12 - Secret Show w/ Debbie Neigher (shhh only the coolest kids know about it)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
doncat6.18 – Hotel Cafe w/ DonCat (you know you want to drive to LA to see us play. I mean, look at Duncan’s mustache. That’s worth the trip right there)  [tix]
 
 
 
 
 

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.38 AM6.22North Beach Bacchanalia Festival at The Emerald Tablet w/ Edwin Valero (come see us perform the songs we recorded) [info]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

628x4716.24 – Amnesia w/ Split Screens (we’re playing with Picture Atlantic + Rin Tin Tiger aka the solidest bands ever) [info]
 
 
 
 
 
 

doncat6.27 – Slims w/ DonCat (Did I mention Duncan’s mustache already? Come for that.) [tix]
 
 
 
 
 
 

10014579_10152300431937767_2131227472_n6.29 - Brick and Mortar w/ Debbie Neigher (we’re playing with our buds Rio Rio + Ghost Town Jenny) [tix]

 
 
 
 
 

Thus concludes my drum whoredom for the month of June. Stay tuned for more shows, lessons and whoredom.  

 

First Day With The Roland SPD-SX, Looking Back On Spring and Forward To The Summer

I’m now the proud owner of a Roland SPD-SX. For those who aren’t freakishly obsessed with drum samplers, the SPD-SX is a sampling pad that lets you trigger loops, samples, live sample and play electronic kits in a live setting. It’s basically the unicorn of drum gear.

I got back from the DonCat mini-tour this past weekend and had the pleasure of nerding out on the SPD-SX to a few tunes Jess, Andrew and I are working on. Here’s a video of the results

When on tour, always bring a nerf football.

When on tour, always bring a nerf football.

I’m recording at Tiny Telephone with Jess and Andrew this summer, and also playing a bunch of shows with Debbie Neigher and Split Screens. This summer is shaping up to be a busy one and I’m excited!

Also, check out the full audio from Split Screen’s gig at Bottom Of The Hill here. It was a killer night and we’re stoked to play there again on 4/17.

Daytrotter Video Blog

It finally happened. After months of scheduling, we recorded Daytrotter Sessions as part of Daytrotter’s Noise Pop series. It was a blast drinking way too much coffee and recording with my friends.

Here’s a short blog from the sessions with Debbie Neigher and Split Screens. Enjoy.

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Pridgen’s Lessons And Bike Accidents

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I knew I was totally screwed as soon as I turned the corner. I was trucking down 14th street on my way to a lesson with Thomas Pridgen (of drum god fame), I turned the corner and — pothole. One Jabba the hut’s sand pit (a Sarlacc) sized pot hole. 

I flew over my handle bars, caught myself partly with my hands and a little with my face. But, my bike was fine and I could still get to the lesson on time. 

I asked Thomas if I could wash my (bloody) hands before we started. He was his usual chill self about the whole thing and just replied “Damn man, it looks like you got in a scrap.” 

 
 
 

The Lesson

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Thomas doesn’t write anything down, or slow down, and it’s awesome.

Right when you sit down at the kit, he’ll start playing 7 stroke rolls over a bassa nova bass drum pattern and tell you to switch your hands. I immediately think “What? What do you mean switch my hands? I’m barely keeping up with my dominant hand.” Of course, I say nothing and just do it. Then, as Thomas knew all along, you’re doing it. You’re strengthening your weak hand, you’re playing some crazy pattern in 7/4 that he won’t slow down so you can understand, and won’t write out. You just do it. 

Thomas says that he looks at some of the drills and patterns he teaches as shapes. You can’t break them down into these little bitty parts because you lose the sound. 

His advice during that lesson:

Just make the drum sound good. Work on when you hit the snare, it doesn’t sound like anybody else, it sounds like you. So when somebody wants to hire you, they say ‘I want that guy, because he just makes the drums sound like they should, like they fit.’

At the end of the lesson he complimented me on being one of a few students that could get through his snare drills. I freaked out like a little girl on the inside. 

I’m incredibly excited to be learning from Thomas and I’ll post lesson updates in the future. 

 

 

 

+/- “Rewrite The Story” Drum Cover

Here’s a cover of “Rewrite The Story” of +/- new album “Jumping The Tracks”

It was a really fun song to learn, and even more fun to play. I love the bell pattern Chris Deaner chose on the choruses. Killer stuff.

PS – Buy their album at http://www.plusmin.us/store.php

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Kicking 2014 Off Right

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The King looks over my kit

 

I’m now the proud father/owner of a C&C Player Date kit. Thank you the good folks of Revival Drum Shop for expertly packing the kit which ensured it was transported safely from PDX to SFO. 

New Year, New Kit, New Tunes/Tour

TunesWith the new year I’m finishing new tunes which will be done by my 25th birthday March 1st. If I haven’t completed the remaining 2 songs by then, you can come to my house and burn my clothes.

Kit: The drum covers, they are a’comin. The first one on deck is Maps and Atlases “Everyplace Is A House”   

Tour: Split Screens is hitting the road again in the last week of January. We’re kicking off the tour with a show at Amnesia Tuesday January 21st. It’ll be a party. I’ll post the dates on the shows page. 

 

I hope the new year brings you excellent burritos and perfectly roasted coffee. That is all. See ya on the road! 

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Unravel With Debbie Neigher, Live at Viracocha

Here’s the video from the show Debbie Neigher played with Mary Lambert at Viracocha. It was an awesome night.

Altamont

Well, it took longer than I expected, but the video of my first song “Altamont” is online here

Writing (and completing) songs is a strange cathartic process. I even had to mourn the loss of one Midi keyboard along the way. (RIP Keyboard). But, I got the itch now. I’m writing a few more songs in hopes of putting out an EP early next year. Thanks for reading, check out the video, and yes the tune is in 7/4. It’s my favorite time signature. 

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Dear Piano Gods, Give Me Strength

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Dear God I forgot how hard writing music is.  Playing piano is difficult and as a short dude who never grew up to be 6′ 1″ like his Dad and therefore still has “puppy paws”,  it’s harder. That’s my absolutely terrible excuse. My friends call me out on my excuses and that’s what makes them good friends and bandmates. Over the past two months, playing shows with  Debbie NeigherFox and Woman, and Split Screens have made me realize two things.
 
1. I have insanely talented friends that I’m stoked to be playing music with

2. Writing music makes you better at your instrument (even a caveman instrument like drums).

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to write a few songs I can record drums to. Yes, they are mostly in 7/4. No, I’m not singing (I reserve my dulcet vocal tracks for behind the drum set when I sing off-key to a harmony part I don’t actually know). And no, I’m not recording in a studio. These tracks will be videos and they’ll be up on SoundCloud.

The first song will be done in the second week of September. Until then, please give me piano lessons and correct my harmony mistakes. Thanks!
(Also peep the shows page for two new shows with Split Screens and Debbie Neigher in September.)

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