“Secrets” & Satellite Mode

Satellite Mode are workhorses. Last December, I took a jaunt to New York to meet up with them. I nearly OD’d on Dunkin Donuts and pizza, but survived long enough to play music with Alex + Jess, who comprise the band.

When they’re not tweaking songs, they’re writing new ones, or planning a release for the finished song.

Warm Fire Lightening” hit #5 on Hypem a few weeks back. Here’s hoping their new track, “Secrets” (which came out today)  climbs even higher.

I tracked drums for this one last year, and am stoked its out! The production crew backing Satellite Mode – Gregory and Andy Seltzer – are super nice guys, and immensely talented.

Tone City: Snares In A Massive Warehouse

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I spend a lot of time in Ableton. I manipulate plugins to get some bit of MIDI data to sound like the raw, visceral crack of a snare drum in a warehouse.

Well I finally got a chance to hear what that real crack sounds like.

I did some session work for the homies of Talk Modern, a pop duo based in Portland. Duddy, a rad guy and LA-based producer, was behind the boards and was a pleasure to work with.

The Portland trifecta is drumming, eating breakfast sandos, and drinking far too much coffee. Feeling blessed to hit the trifecta. Here’s some video of the warehouse.

“Nights” and my unhealthy obsession with Frank Ocean

frankocean

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Blond(e). There are so many gems on the album it’s hard not to parse through it again and again, mining for gems.

“Nights” is a particularly juicy track. It feels like three different songs all originating from the same idea. I really dug the second movement ( if I can call it that) of the song from 1:40 – 2:37.

The beat in that section recalls a classic hip hop beat you might hear on a mid-tempo Gangstarr track, but is much more complex. The bass drum pattern switches from riding shotgun with Frank’s lyrical inflections, to jumping in on a chord change, and at it time does both.

I transcribed the beat and took a crack at it. Here’s the video + transcription.

Have the score played for you here

nightstranscription

 

DONCAT LP #2 – Easy Cowboy

DONCAT‘s second LP is here.


These songs lived with us for a while before we recorded them, and that’s why this record might feel a little more special. They feel like old friends.

I’m tremendously excited the album is out and we’re headed out on the road for a Pacific Northwest run.

You can catch the dates below.

tour

Subbing In With Hazel English

I had the pleasure of filling in on drums for my homie, Liam O’Neil, with Hazel English. Not only is the band comprised of the sweetest people, but their tunes ear candy. Here’s a video from the gig.

Thanks to the Hazel English crew for having me!

Post-show band pic. Shout out to @kylekellyyahner who filled in on drums and did a killer job 👏

A photo posted by Hazel English (@hazelenglishmusic) on Jun 6, 2016 at 2:57pm PDT

 

How To Play “Burn The Witch”

Burn The Witch

Radiohead disappeared from the interwebs Sunday, only to come back with a vengeance on Tuesday when they dropped “Burn The Witch” inducing mass hysteria.

I am not above the hysteria. I am enamored with this song.

Chalk it up to Greenwood’s minimalist orchestration, his collection of analog drum samples, or the peaks and valleys of Yorke’s crooning. I won’t be able to pick one. But, I did pick out the drum part and some samples that sound close(ish) to whatever black magic Greenwood is using.

The Samples

I used all analog synth and drum machine samples for the beat. Download them here.

  • Snare – Roland TR606
  • Kick – Jomox Xbase 09
  • Hi Hat – Teenage Engineering OP-1

 

The Beat

Here’s the beat by itself and the transcription.

BurnTheWitch

The Play Through

Here’s the play through. LP9 can’t get here fast enough.

The Road To “Easy Cowboy” + NoisePop

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DONCAT finished up the first tour of the year. Our jaunt from LA down to San Diego, over to Phoenix and way up to Portland was a fun one. We kicked the tour off with a hometown show at Bottom of the Hill with VanWave and our homies from Lower Brite.

It felt great to dig into the tunes that will be on DONCAT’s upcoming record out this year, Easy Cowboy.
 
#NoisePop2016
Now that I’m home in San Francisco (and slept for nearly an entire weekend to recover from tour) it’s back to the grind. Noise Pop is coming up fast.
 
I’m playing The Night Light with DONCAT on Sunday 2/7. Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, music is more important than the Super Bowl.
 
I’m also playing 2/25 at Bottom of the Hill with Debbie Neigher. She’s got this St.-Vincent-meets-Natalie-Prass on-a-soul-binge-thing going on right now. It’s awesome. I’m doing a ton of work on the SPDSX to capture the electro-side of her sound.
 
Here’s to a gig filled 2016. See you on the road, or at the show.

Tape Study: Jason McGerr Flips Some Paradiddles Into A Groove

jason_mcgerr
It rained in San Francisco yesterday. So, naturally, I put on flannel and barricaded myself in my practice space to play some Death Cab For Cutie.

Here’s a video and transcription of the final part of DCFC’s “What Sarah Said” Drummer Jason McGerr plays a reverse flam double paradiddle. If you’re reading that in your head or aloud, it sounds like nonsense. But Jason turns a rudimental chop into a haunting and beautiful groove. Listen below.

Mc Gerr’s Groove

You can find the transcription of the chop below, and a video of me playing it as well.

Here’s a little more info on the sticking. The lower case, unbolded letters are the ghost notes of flams. The bolded letters are played at normal volume. But, keep this one on the quiet side. It’s a ghostly groove.

Sticking

lRRLRLR rLLRLRLlRRLRLR rLLRLRL

Transcription

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Video

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18,000 Miles On The Road – Coming Home From Tour

I covered 18,781 miles via car this year on tour. That’s about 313 hours on the highway, or 13 days straight in a vehicle.

An overwhelming amount of those days were filled with my favorite things: drinking coffee and making dumb jokes with my friends, playing drums, experiencing how massive and diverse the U.S. is in a car.

The life spent on stage, doing what you love in front of awesome crowds is well documented (look at any band’s Instagram). There’s another part of tour that doesn’t involve the stage – coming home.

Why Tour?

There are many reasons to go on tour, but when I ask myself why the hell I spent nearly two weeks this October driving around the country I never have a succinct answer.

The nights spent in hotels (if we’re lucky) or on floors (most likely) with your bandmates are like slumber parties. Who gets to have slumber parties as adults?! They’re the best. You fall asleep with your sides hurting from unexplainably stupid jokes. Does that count as a reason to tour? It’s certainly a reason. But you continue on tours even when you can’t think of a good reason to. The chase is intoxicating.

The morning after I got robbed on the Matt Pond PA tour, Shawn Alpay and I were getting ready to check out of a hotel room. He asked me if I was ready to leave. I looked at him, grabbed my ear plugs off the dresser, put them in my pocket and said, “Yup, all packed up!” The set of ear plugs was my only remaining worldly possession at the time. I had no clothes aside from what I was wearing the night before. Shawn started laughing. We continued on with the tour and played a show like nothing happened the next night. The police report waited till the next morning.

A week later, I got to play a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom in front of my friends, family, and girlfriend who surprised me by flying in from her vacation in South Africa.

The way the highs and lows pop up is unpredictable, but you know they’re coming. That’s part of the rush, and the chase.

Tour is wonderful, the worst, completely foreign but strangely familiar, and I want to get back on the road as soon as I’m done vowing that I’ll rest and stay at home for a while — so, tomorrow.

The Pressure Cooker
Tour is an act of pressure cooking. That cooking takes place in a van (or Volvo, or Mazda 3). With the windows up, the van is an air tight oven. Whatever you put in it expands. Friendships sprout faster. It seems like you laugh a little louder than you do at home. The highs and lows are heightened.

When you come back, it’s jarring. There’s no gradual descent out of tour and into normal life. You’re just dropped off at home after driving up nearly the entire length of Interstate-5, stretching from Tijuana to Seattle, like that was some normal thing and not a moment in a life completely separated from your life at home.

The Abyss
With this contrast, you dive into the thought process my friend referred to as “the abyss”. There’s a sense that your life at home is a ruse, and touring is who you are when you don’t have an apartment, job, and hobbies to define you. That dissonance between those two worlds (and being thrown back into one of them) is the abyss.

I’ve been in the abyss many times this year. But it’s not a bad thing. Part of what I love about tour is how it heightens the contrast between you and your normal life. You’re more grateful for a bed, your girlfriend, and salads when you come off the road. In turn, after spending time in normalcy, you’re also more grateful for your bandmates and the opportunity to play music.

It’s a crazy pursuit. There’s no other job where you spend 10 hours traveling to work for 40 minutes. It doesn’t feel like work. Whether the show falls short or it’s the best show of tour, you still go on to the next town. It’s the pursuit, the dogged attempt to get better at what you love doing no matter what. Despite every logistical and financial hurdle in your way, you keep moving.

The Other
To put my freshman-year-at-Bard-College hat on, we’re willing ourselves towards The Other. This is the essence of the tragic/glorious metaphysical nature of tour. The Other is different for me than it is to my bandmates. It’s a future I haven’t met yet, but am working towards. That’s The Other to me. It’s knowing I’m relentlessly pursuing something that, even if I catch, I won’t be satisfied with. I’ll always be hungry to play more and perform better. Knowing that, there’s nothing you can do but go on the road to do what you love, even if that’s a little insane.

This makes coming home hard. There’s no easy way to reconcile the two worlds, and the feeling of being split between them. But I’m sure I’ll have more time to think about that during the next 18,000 mile drive.

Give The (Little) Drummer Some

I played a private gig with DonCat this weekend. Grown men and women danced and drank during our set. They were incredibly welcoming, and knew all of DonCat’s songs.

But, at the front of the crowd was a little girl, air drumming for her life, and making these faces that only a drummer can make. They’re the types of faces that make you question if the person donning them is gravely injured or having the time of their life. But you’re sure it’s one of the two.

It was clear the girl wants to drum. So after we finished the gig, I gave her some sticks and sat her behind the kit. It was adorable. I told her to keep the drumsticks, and she ran around the party drumming on everything – people, tables, drum cases, beer bottles. Let’s just hope she tries her hand at some rudiments too.
Lessons