You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.
I haven’t been feeling especially motivated to blog lately, but stay tuned… there’s some good stuff in the works. The Hubbard interview was a cool thing in a lot of ways, and it prompted me to spend some time contacting other players that I admire so I could interview them as well. Getting in touch with these world-renowned drummers was surprisingly easy, and they’ve all been very gracious and more than happy to geek out and talk shop with me. The theme has been studio work, and I’ve got quite a few interviews in the cue now. So, be on the lookout for a great series of posts on studio playing coming soon… featuring exclusive interviews with some of the most proficient and in-demand studio players in our country. It’ll be like my blog Christmas present.
I dropped the ball on AOTW for two weeks in a row there. Whoops. Had a busy run for the first half of December I guess.
Anyway, I’m back at it with a great record for this week… and it’s a blast from the past for me. That’s right, for all the haters out there… I’m putting Phish in the AOTW series, and I don’t feel bad about it. When I was in high school I thought Phish was God’s gift to music… the perfect band that played the perfect songs and never did anything that shouldn’t be wholly praised. Well, let’s just say I think a little differently now. I’ve grown as a musician to the point where I see the legitimacy of much of the criticism commonly brought against the jam band giant, and I’ve not listened to them for more than a hour over the last 6 years.
And yet, this week I resurrected their last studio album, called Undermind. Listen people… it’s good. Ok? Just accept it. Phish made A LOT of good records in my opinion, but this final offer from them is undeniably good, and a record where I think they successfully shed a few of their immature habits from the early years, and in so doing they managed to actually put together a SERIOUS recording from the “Jam Band” genre.
A big part of Undermind’s coolness is the fact that it was produced by the fantastic Tchad Blake. Blake has never produced anything that didn’t turn into complete awesomeness… and Phish is no exception. It’s actually a testament to Phish’s ontological cool factor that Blake even agreed to do the record, because I’ve heard he’s prone to rejecting offers from serious bands if he thinks they aren’t hip enough… (rumor has it REM has been trying to get Blake to produce one of their records for 10 years, and he won’t even return their phone calls). Blake took most of the things I’ve always disliked about Jon Fishman (Phish’s drummer) and “fixed” them, all while keeping Fishman in his element. The guitar playing is incredible, which is nothing less than expected from band-leader Trey Anastasio (in fact, I highly recommend his self-titled solo album). The songs are a great example of Phish’s aimless lyrics and smart harmonic composition. The flow of the record is comfortable and natural. And the improvising… well, that’s always been their greatest strength.
So, just indulge me and check out Undermind by Phish. I think you will like it, and if you don’t… I don’t care.
PS. Let me reiterate that Phish is not just a band with a cool record I’ve been listening to lately. Phish’s music was the single-most dominant influence in my formative years of playing music. I’ve seen them 36 times live, and I own over 400 bootleg tapes of their live shows. That’s right… TAPES. The band is an enormous link in the chain of my musical development, and although I don’t consider them to be musical divinity like I once did, I still think anyone/everyone who strives to be creative in making music will benefit from listening to Phish.
Jeremy Sanoski is a dude I’ve been playing with for a few years now. He’s a super cool guy with a GREAT voice, and the band is what you would call a typical power trio (me, Jeremy, and my friend Phil Hicks on bass). Jeremy has a very “classic rock” sound, and the music we play ends up feeling like a cool combination of AC/DC, Foo Fighters, and Green Day.
Anyway, we’re tracking a full-length album this week at Hewitt Studios, which is where we recorded the episodes for the Risen Drums Video Lesson Series. The very boss Matt Berry is producing/engineering. I’ve got the big kick drum from the orange Bill Mike kit in the saddle for these sessions, with some other acrylic toms in standard sizes.
Man, the acrylic sound has really been growing on me… especially in the studio. You can crank them WAY down to get some serious depth and spank, but you don’t lose any tone. I guess that’s because their more dense, right? I don’t really know. Somebody help me out if I’m wrong here, but I think the SOUND of the drum comes from the drum head, and the shell just causes that sound to bounce around a little more or less depending on the density. Well, acrylic seems to get the sound moving quite a bit, even at a low tuning.
More from the studio tomorrow…
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Jason Harms Quintet gig at Bethel last night. I very much enjoyed the performance and the atmosphere surrounding it.
The new record, The Land Of The Fear Of Men, is now available for no charge at noisetrade.com. Head over there and get yourself a copy. But, in going the download route, you’ll miss out on all the incredible liner note artwork done by Adrian Johnston. The full series of the work used on the record has been compiled in an 80-page book, which you can preview or purchase at Adrian’s website. Be sure and check that out, but in the meantime, here’s some snipets from the series, beginning with The Land of the Fear Men liner insert…
Jason and Adrian took a “Tolkien meets Bunyan” approach with this map of the fictitious “Land.” It represents the place where we all often go, when we are thinking too much about the opinions of others, and letting those thoughts drive our actions in a wrong direction.
A depiction of man’s struggle in life, and the sorrow that sometimes feels crushing…
This dude is deciding to set out into the “Land”… thinking that it’s going to benefit him. “There is no armor in the Land, only chains.”
PS. I just put up the opening track from Land of the Fear on my myspace page, as well as one of the tracks from the recent Westwood Church album by Joel Hanson. Joel’s working on a solo record right now, but we play every Sunday night at Westwood and they opted to have us record an album of their favorite worship tunes that we play each week.
Last June I spent a week at Pachyderm Studios recording a new record for my friend Jason Harms. The album is now complete, and we will be performing the music in a concert at Bethel University this Tuesday (12/9). The album, titled The Land Of The Fear Of Men, will be available in hard copies with full-color art and print.
The cd-release performance will be at the Benson Great Hall on Bethel’s Roseville campus, and we will probably get going around 7:30pm. The music is very powerful, and the event is free… so just show up and enjoy!
Check out Jason’s website to learn more about the record.
Tonight I’m playing a couple gigs with Ryan Paul & the Ardent, an alt-country-ish thing I’ve been apart of for a little while now. We’re closing out the night with a late set at Lee’s, but before that we’ll be at a very cool event in downtown Minneapolis for Urban Ventures. It’s the release-show for a benefit compilation disc recorded at the Urban Hub studio, one of the youth centers operated by Urban Ventures. We tracked a tune for the album a few months ago, and I really like the mission of this organization. I suppose it’s just a standard “get kids off the street” kind of thing, but the folks at Urban Ventures seem very sincere and they’ve had a great effect in the Minneapolis neighborhoods. Disregard the RSVP thing, and come check it out tonight if you can!