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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.

Folks Y'oughtta Know: Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher


I met Joe Pickett when his family moved to Neillsville around 1990.  I can't imagine how dull and sad my middle/high school years would have been if Joe had never moved to town.  Joe would make me be part of his pranks, and real-life comedy improv, like dressing up like old men and going to the movies, or acting like I didn't speak english and he was my interpreter. Joe's interest in good underground hip hop in rural Wisconsin in the early 90's made him more punk rock than anyone I knew.  Joe would print up signs saying things like, "smoking encouraged in gymnasium" and hang them up before basketball games.  Joe and Nick Prueher had been close friends before Joe moved to Neillsville, and they got back together during their college years, and began making short films.  Soon they began work on "Dirty Country", a documentary on R-rated country musician Larry Pierce, but when their budget ran out, they put together a show featuring the best of the worst found VCR tape footage they had acquired in thrift stores and garage sales over the years, and called it the "Found Footage Festival", to fund their movie.  The FFF struck a chord with audiences all over the world, and they've been on tour with the show since 2004.  Joe and Nick are comedic geniuses  and great Americans, I think they should be household names.

Folks Y'oughtta Know: Jacy Catlin


I met Jacy Catlin almost twenty years ago in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  I was fresh out of high school, playing in  a punk rock comedy troupe called the Beatles, and I knew this man was destined for great things.  Jacy and I were never really friends, more like casual aquaintences, I admired him from afar.  In truth, I felt he was a comedic mastermind, to the point that I was truly intimidated by him, even though the man is one of the nicest and most humble people I have ever met.  Before I had even met Jacy, I had come across a couple issues of "Boba Fett", a kind of cartoon zine he had put together in a punk rock format.  Later on, I got my first look at the legendary zine, "I Eat And Drink Diarrhea", a love it or hate it collection of childish comic strips and essays based on poop and pee humor.  I have three issues that I read to this day, nothing makes me laugh out loud, over and over again like IEADD.  Jacy put together a few bands, most notably the Pale Riders, a perfect blend of Ennio Morricone and punk rock.  Jacy also had a few short videos online that were absolute comic genius.   I felt like he was one of my great comic secrets until recently, with the advent of twitter, Jacy has tens of thousands of followers, and is getting more attention everyday.  Most recently, his Vines have been getting a lot of attention, this shit is funny to the max, and if you don't get it, I don't get you.  Jacy is a great American, I think he should be a household name.
 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Folks Y'oughtta Know: Sam Mcpheeters

About fifteen years ago, a friend turned me on to Born Against, and it was one of those moments where you discover exactly what you have spent the great majority of your time looking for.  Born Against was crusty and mean, while retaining a sense of humor and ripping riffs that were infectious, powerful and unique.  The lyrics were actually smart and insightful.  Born Against's brand of punk rock would become the standard for me, even to this day.  Sam Mcpheeters was the voice of Born Against.  In the early 90's he started Vermiform Records, I still buy anything I can find on the Vermiform label, and am rarely disappointed by what I get.  In '94, I came across a cd by the band "Mens Recovery Project", featuring none other than my man Sam.  MRP was to the synth/noise genre what Born Against was to punk.  It was kind of in the genre, but way more than that.  It was weird, funny, scary, timeless.  Later still, Mcpheeters came out with his spazzy-rock band "Wrangler Brutes".  I recently bought their album Zulu for the second time.  Again, ahead of it's time, Zulu is raw and real. Sam is also a fantastic artist and writer, he has written pieces for Huffington Post, the Village Voice, and Vice, and has recently finished his novel "The Loom of Ruin".  I think Sam is a great American, and should be a household name. Somehow, Sam's writings and artwork perfectly encapsulate mankind's tendency to be, and to remain completely, hilariously, and frighteningly absurd.  Check out the jams:
 

Trucking; Once Around The Sun

It's coming up on one year behind the wheel of a big rig for me, and I'm happy to report that I have lived to tell about it.  My anniversary with Schneider National is coming in early June, but I started driving school in April of last year.  Here are some stats:  I've currently driven about eighty thousand miles, that's more than three times around the earth.  I'm hoping to have one hundred thousand by June.  I've driven in 27 states.  I've had about ten flat tires on trailers I've picked up, in that situation you can usually drive it to a tire dealer in the area, a little nerve racking, but not a big deal.  I've had one blowout on the front passenger side of my truck while driving.  That left me sitting on the shoulder of highway 10 in Florida for about eight hours waiting for a mechanic to get to me.  I am on my second truck, the first one was taken out of service after rolling over 750,000 miles, 65,000 of those by me.  I've traversed the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains over twenty times, sometimes through snowstorms, sometimes at night, a few times both.  Probably the biggest event of my career so far happened,as I write this, about five hours ago, south of Richmond, Virginia.  I pulled out of an intersection on a green light in too high of a gear going uphill with a full load, and broke a drive axle.  I had to sit in the second of four lanes of traffic for about an hour, blocking traffic for miles while waiting for a tow truck.  Things like that are surreal, but not nearly as bad as one might think a situation like that could be.  I'm proud to say that I haven't had any accidents, and haven't hurt myself.  Accidents are a common thing in this industry, it's hard to maneuver a big truck with a 53' trailer around the country without bumping a fixed object, or worse, another vehicle.  The truth is, I come really close on a daily basis, and that's part of the game.  This is the first job I've ever looked forward to when I wake up in the morning, I love being on the move.  Doing something that you can enjoy changes everything for the better.  Roll on!
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gavrick!

Here is some more video stuff I've been doing.  I was dabbling in stop motion when I realised that simply narrating still photos would be so much easier.  I took about 15 photos of these poseable figures, and I can use those photos to make as many mini episodes that I can come up with.  We encourage our two year old daughter to name all of the dolls and action figures around the house, mainly because the names that she chooses are always amusing.  She named the male figure I used in these videos "Gaverick", which is a real name, but I thought she was mixing "Gavin" and "Rick", so I mistook her name for "Gavrick", which I think is pretty funny.  So without further ado.....

Rock Solid!

Here are five albums that I have owned for ten years or more that still get regular rotation.

Tool "Aenima"
Anyone that knows me at all, knows that I'm gonna mention this album.  In my early twenties, I was wandering into some murky territory as far as heavy music is concerned.  I happened to get a last minute ticket to the Lallapalooza festival in 97, in all honesty I was going to see this ripping new band named "Korn", but to my disappointment they had cancelled at the last minute.  I was bummed, but I did notice that Tool was playing, and I was kind of digging the videos they had on MTV.  From the second they hit the stage, I was enthralled.  I had been to a handful of shows by this point, but I had never seen anything like this.  My life changed that day.  I became obsessed, it's all I would talk about for months.  I bought all of their albums, but Aenima was the one that I played repeatedly, over and over and over.  For years.  I think it was about two years later that I started digging on Clutch, and that was the first time I started weaning myself off of Aenima.  I put it away for awhile  but I just recently started listening to it again, and it's still great.  This album is the closest music has come to "magic" for me.  Zeppelin goes there sometimes, and there's a lot of heavy bands that can give me the chills sometimes, but this album, from start to finish, it's eerie, there's something going on in there.  Something I can't put my finger on.  My interest in Tool's output pretty much ended with this album, I've tried to listen to their later albums many times, and the music is very similar, but it just doesn't have that "thing".  Maybe my favorite album ever.

Guns 'n Roses "Appetite For Destrucition"
My dirtball neighbor turned me on to this when I was eleven years old.  Who can deny what a rock and roll masterpeice this is?  What can I even say about this album?  It's perfect.  No one will ever do it again.

Sonic Youth "Goo"
I picked this up on a whim when I was fourteen.  I was buying whatever Thrasher magazine was promoting at the time.   I was into it from the first time I listened to it.  It was one of those times that I knew my life would never be the same.  It was the first time an album seemed like a work of art to me.  It was noisy and melodic at once.  There were tones coming from the guitars that I had never heard before, and haven't heard since.  I recently bought Goo for the third time, and upon listening to it just the other day, I can't get over the guitar tones.  I've been playing guitar for twenty years.  I didn't know what Thurston and company were doing to get those tones when I was fourteen, and I still have no idea how they make those sounds.

Clutch "The Elephant Riders"
I mentioned earlier how Clutch was the band to get me out of the Tool bender I was on.  My buddies and I were full on into Clutch from the get-go, but when Elephant Riders came out, I knew this was my favorite, and it still is.  I tend to lean towards the mid tempo stuff, no matter what band it is.  The lyrics are smart.  The songs are clean and tasteful.  The premise is something about civil war soldiers riding elephants.  Clutch is still one of THE best rock bands on the planet, and I could listen to this song till the 011101010101000's fall off the disc.

Faith No More "Introduce Yourself"
Like most dudes my age, I fell headfirst into FNM when the "Epic" video started getting play on the MTV.  My freinds and I would all buy a different album from a band that we recently got into, then dub up some tapes so we all could have that band's entire collection.  We soon realised that FNM had a different singer before this Mike Patton fella got on board.  SO completely before it's time, Introduce Yourself became THE album of our youth.  The funny thing here is that I am an enormous Mike Patton fan, but when I listen to the Chuck Mosely albums, I can almost smell my buddies stanky room when we were in middle school, casting spells on girls we were crushing on.   I just purchased this for the third time, and it's so good it creeps me out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homemade Tape Delay


My latest project is a homemade tape delay effect, made out of a tape recorder, a walkman and a radio shack mixer.  This is probably the third time I've set out to make one of these, and this is the first time it's actually worked.  The concept isn't that far out, but it's just hard doing anything with cassette tape, it's skinny, the tension on the tape has to be just right, tape players tend to eat it, and on and on and on.  The sound I get is still a little warbly, but not too bad.  Here is a crappy diagram of what I did, followed by a link to what it sounds like.  Notice at the end of the recording, I just let it repeat itself, and it kind of just degrades into oblivian.  Some of the connections were 1/4" to 1/8", I made myself some cables with 1/4" on one end and 1/8" on the other.  These have come in very handy for weird little projects like this.