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Friday, February 28, 2014

Strange Communication Compilation

When I was a little guy, I knew right off that I wanted to be in a rock and roll band one day.  But more than that, I wanted to BE the band.  I wanted to play all of the instruments, and when I came to understand how multitrack recording worked, I realized that I really could be a one man band.  Once I started recording songs on my own, I started branching off into a plethora of styles, so I would give each group of songs in a similar style it's own band name.  Before long, I was putting together compilation cd's featuring ten or twelve bands, that were all just me under different monikers.  I decided to start a pretend music label to house my pretend bands.  At first it was called Black Vibrations, as I was beginning to dabble in psychedelics and was fascinated with the idea of bad trips and bad vibes.  This later morphed to "Bad Mantra".  I carried this fake label with me into my thirties, when I began to wonder, what is the difference between a "real" label and my "pretend" label?  Do I need some kind of business license?  Bands don't need to do anything "official" to become a real band, why should my music label?  I decided in the end, that if I put together a compilation cd featuring Wisconsin bands that didn't quite fit into any obvious genre, made up a nice, professional package for it, and had it professionally duped, with a real bar code on the back of the case, my music label would indeed become a real thing.  So, in April of this year, I began putting together Bad Mantra's Strange Communication Compilation Vol. 1. It took about two months and two hundred dollars to put together a comp cd and have 100 copies made. In the world that we live in, anyone with a laptop, a printer and a little ingenuity can become their own business. I've since put out a cd for a local black metal band, a four cassette collection for my one-man noise outfit, made my own stickers and t-shirts, and recently put out a cassette EP for a rock band that I play in with a couple of my buddies. "Do it yourself" has taken on a new meaning, in that you can do it yourself and make it look like it was professionally done. If you're still putting off doing that thing that you've been meaning to get around to, do it now! At least start it now. Nothing is more satisfying than coming up with a good idea, and executing it.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No-Budget Filmaking!

After spending a few months fooling around with my thrift store camcorders, I decided to upgrade to a better camera.  My only criteria was, a budget of $50, a flip out screen, and the camera needed to record to something other than video tape, i.e., a disc or a card.  I picked up this Hitachi dvd cam for $50 at a pawn shop.  I had to buy, and return two different cameras that didn't work prior to this one, such are the perils of pawn shop shopping, but I still think the money you save when you score something good is worth it.  I did some research on DIY steadicam rigs, and I put this together for about $10.  Its all pvc, and the base is a coffee can filled with cement, which works as a counter weight for a steady picture when filming.  The microphone shockmount was made with pvc and rubberbands.  The mic was purchased on ebay for about $30. You can buy one here:
These mics are WAY worth the price.  Yes there are better mics out there, but on a budget, I can't say enough about these guys.  I record the audio onto a Sharp minidisc recorder, which was given to me from a freind.  This entire setup came in under $100, and really works great.  Here's a video I shot the other day, this is only an example of the camera and stabilizer, as I just put some music over the finished video.  Check out this blog for tons of low-budge filming tips, as well as instructions for the stabilizer and mic shockmount:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Style with Ease

Every few years someone comes along in the world of skateboarding and raises the bar on creativity, style and ability.  Here are three skaters that have, in my humble opinion, shifted the paradigm at certain points over the last 25 years. There are a LOT of people that could be listed here, but I wanted to  highlight three guys that I feel have outstanding original style and influence.

Bent Savants!

I spend an unhealthy amount of time searching the web for new ideas and inspiration regarding circuit bending and instrument/video modifications.  Over time, I've stumbled upon a handful of people that are doing insanely original, mind blowing things with a dremel and a soldering iron.  Here are five people that are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with bent electronics in a basement workshop.

Gils Geiskes

Tanner Galvin

Mike Walters

Peter Edwards

Drew Blanke

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Feedback Looping!

This is a video I did awhile back on feedback looping.  Using this technique, you can make some really cool sounds using only a mixer, or you can play effects pedals, as if they were their own musical instruments.  Dig!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Get Bent!

Here are a few good documentaries on circuit bending.  Enjoy!

Folks Y'oughtta Know: Shane O'neill

The first time I saw Shane O'neill was about seven years ago.  Shane was fronting the local rock outfit "Screamin Cyn Cyn and the Pons".  I hugged him and thanked him for being awesome, and went on my way.  Three years later I started dating one of his best freinds, Grace, who eventually became my wife.  I moved in with Grace and Shane, and we lived together for a couple of years.  Sometimes you hear someone say how such-and-such's life would make for a good reality show.  This is true for Shane.  For real.  Every day, every moment of Shane's life is a story to behold.  He is genuinely one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Sometimes he's funny on purpose.  Usually he just is, whether he's trying or not.  Shane moved to New York City awhile back.  Screamin Cyn Cyn and the Pons still get together for a show once in awhile, otherwise Shane performs on his own under the "Shane Shane" moniker.  He has opened for Del tha Funky Homosapien, and Lady Miss Kier, among many, many more.  Shane exudes creativity, originality, and do it yourself positive energy.  He is sweet, kind, and human.  Shane is a great American, he should be a household name.