Fake it till you make it

March 7, 2014

This show was pivotal. This was the first time in my music ‘career’ that I actually felt like a rock star. In my previous shows with Geppetto I had made an effort to look and act like a star (not being a snob, but engaging the crowd more), but I still didn’t know how to move and hold myself on stage. Despite hearing “you look comfortable up there” I still felt awkward.

The night began with The Mailbox Order, a young rockin’ punk band who looked like they were still in high school. The audience was made up of teen friends and parents. Everyone was standing still while the energetic rockers played their hearts out. Being a performer myself I know what it feels like to have what looks like an uninterested yet obligated crowd attend. It feels really awkward to be honest getting no response from people.

B-ROD, KCEXX and I went up to the stage and got all excited. We jumped, reached for the band and then began to mosh. Then, one by one some of the younger folks joined in and the band suddenly had a real audience.

This energy went on for the rest of the night as The Feros Project, Sektau, and Save the World get the girl took the stage. All the bands were very talented and I suggest you find them on Facebook, the whole night was a blast. The time came for us to take the stage. This time I wasn’t at all nervous. I felt like I knew this crowd, they liked moshing, jumping and rocking.

We began to play and I focused on looking how a rock star looks on stage, instead of just standing there and being boring. It wasn’t long before they started to mosh. I don’t know if they were moshing out of courtesy because we moshed for them, or if they did it because they just wanted to. As we went from the outright punk songs to the harder slower rock they kept up their energy.

   

As B-ROD began to solo they gravitated to him. When I told them to clap, they clapped. When I told them to do a circle pit, they did it.

When our set was over a few people wanted to take pictures with me, and then a handful more came up to compliment us on our show. It was awesome.

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Winter Wasteland

Silent sorcerer began their set and for the first intro sounded really great. The guitars were perfectly balanced with the drums and keyboard, the distortion was just right for the style of music and they had a tightly blended sound… and then the guy started screaming or something. This wasn’t your average scream, it was weird. In my opinion they would make it much farther if the guy sang instead of this scream.

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After one or two songs Kevin and I went outside. I was trying to hide the panic that was building up inside of me as Kevin called Brandon. “You guys on your way?” asked Kevin “Woah, I didn’t mean to offend you princess” he continued. I found out about a phone call/screaming match between Brandon and GD that I’ll post later.

Kevin and I sat and chatted in his car as we waited for SS to finish playing and for the rest of the band to get there. I rolled down the window to hear if SS was still playing. They were done.

I went inside to see that they had cleared the stage, it was only like 6:20. We didn’t have 3 of our guys here, and only had a fraction of the gear. “They’re not here yet” I told GG “that’s not good, you guys are up!” she replied “I know” I walked off. I paced around for the next 10 minutes.

(Insert phone call/screaming match here)

6:30 – As I went to see if anyone had showed up I saw Brandon and Andrew bringing stuff in. We helped bring everything in to the stage and they started setting up. By the time his car was unloaded Waylen showed up with a posse who unloaded his drums.

6:40 – We had all the gear on stage, everyone scrambled to set up except for me. I didn’t know how to help, everyone has a unique setup. The sound guy was back with Waylen setting up mics as each piece of the drum set was put into place

6:43 – We began our sound check, Waylen was still setting up. First the guitars, then bass, lead vocals and back up. “Ok drummer, if you’re ready let’s hear the kick” said the sound guy.

6:45 – We began to play. Hell Mary was first. I don’t know what happened, but I messed up the lyrics on the second verse. It was bad enough that the guitars had to jump to where I skipped to. Transition was next, knowing me I probably messed this one up too. During the solo I realized we didn’t turn the fog machine on so I did that quickly. Basically the whole show felt off. I was sick all week, I was even hacking up my lungs the morning of the show. In a conversation with Waylen he let me know he didn’t even have his drums all the way set up until half way through the second song, and at one point he was down to one stick because the rest had broken.

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7:15 – We were done with our set. After the show our number one fan said “I don’t know what you guys did differently this time, but you sounded better than you’ve ever sounded before.” Somehow despite everything that went wrong we did a few things right.

First Studio Recording!

One day, out of the blue, I had a Skype conversation with Enke. We hadn’t talked since my mission ended. In our catching up I told him that I had started writing songs. He had me play a few over the web cam. Apparently I had forgotten that he said he used to be a producer. We scheduled a day to record.

Yes! I was so excited to start recording my own song. On that Saturday we spent a few hours trying to record one song. I suddenly realized recording wasn’t one or two runs through a song. I tried explaining my vision for these songs to him. Nothing was sounding all that great though.

After probably three or more hours of trying with one song he asked what else I had. I played “Is it love?” He looked excited, I had a catchy tune. He toyed with rhythms a bit and told me to play it to a click track. I sucked at it. I could play and sing at the same time, but I was terrible at playing to the clicks.

After a few tries Enke had me play each chord out on the keyboard, he spent a couple minutes programming it into something I could sing along to. When it came time to record vocals, instead of setting up a sound booth with some foam and pillows in a closet, we threw a thick fleece blanket over my head and stuck my face right next to the microphone.

A few days later I got a call from Enke telling me that while working on the song he found a way to make it sound great. Moment of truth, drum roll. How would my first recorded and produced song sound? Is it love?

Winter Wasteland: Out of Anger

My second show with Gorilla music. For some reason I wasn’t as excited to play with this group as I was the first time. I don’t know if it was the fact that we had some opportunities coming up that felt bigger or what. I’ll fill in details later. 

1:30 pm

I met Waylen up at the venue. We turned in our tickets. Last time we had 23 and were the highest selling. We had 18, and there were 4 bands left to check in. One of us had to stay until we knew what time we were going on, so I volunteered.

While I waited I heard a conversation between the lead singer of Out of Anger and the girl taking the tix and organizing the show, we’ll call her GG (Gorilla girl). I don’t know if she works for gorilla, but we will assume so.

The singer had asked how much it costs to run something like this. GG and GD (gorilla dude) were telling him there was a lot going into these shows; renting the venue, tax per person there, security, tickets, paying the bands, advertisement (ok, but for a small show like this they really don’t advertise)

I kept asking if the other bands had checked in so we would know a time. We wanted later, it’s always better. They finally gave me a ball park guess of around 6:00 or 6:45, and then said “These shows are always unpredictable. Some bands only have a 10 minute set so that will bring everyone else’s time earlier. If you’re down for 7 you should have your people show up at 5 so they don’t miss it.” I got my time, 6:45 so I let everyone know and left.

5:00 ish pm

I got back to the venue and when the next band got on stage I looked at who they were and where they were on the lineup. We were 10 minutes ahead of schedule.  Brandon had a soccer game at 5, in Layton.
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Out of Anger sounded good. It reminded me of Bon Jovi mixed with Metallica. The lead guitarist had talent, and they had good harmonies. On the downside though, I thought the drummer needed to do a lot more. It felt like a pop drum beat. I know I have no room to talk, I suck at drums. They also had some balance issues; the vocals were drowned out by the guitars and the rhythm guitar had too high of distortion for the type of music they were doing. All in all, I liked their music and I hope they make it far.

5:30

Silent Sorcerer was setting up. This the band just before us. I was getting more nervous. So far the only ones there were me and Kevin, he texted the other three to find out where they were. I was worried that Silent Sorcerer would finish and we wouldn’t have a band here to play. Brandon, Andrew and Waylen were all on their way. Brandon was saying “tell them we will be there on time according to the schedule. We are pros and won’t be late”

What’s gonna happen? 

Argyle Gargoyle

At the end of my 2 year mission in Nicaragua, the last missionary I served with had a guitar. I would spend every little minute of free time teaching myself, basically a couple hours one day a week.

I had tried a few times to learn guitar but got frustrated and quit. This time I used my knowledge of music theory and figured out fingering for several chords. As I returned to the states I found the best way to stay motivated in learning guitar was to write my own songs. I would play chords in a ton of different rhythms and patterns and then start singing what I was thinking about.

Soon enough I had a handful of original tunes. Despite my dream of becoming a rock star, I had no idea how to do it. I’d sung, taught myself guitar, and even written songs. I didn’t know how to make the leap to playing stadium shows and being played on the radio.

Around this same time I had a class with a high school buddy, David Cline. He was in the process of starting his own band Argyle. They were recording a demo with an independent producer and started playing house shows and coffee shops.

David and I would talk about our endeavors in music. I was jealous of the traction he was getting. I couldn’t even find people to form a band. Check out this song by Argyle 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLIX_HWAsZw 

Words make a difference

I don’t know how I knew it, but it was a couple of years down the road. Everything had that old soap opera haze. Then I saw her, her blonde hair hangs down to her shoulders. She smiles, today was the first time we’d seen each other in years. Suddenly everything flashes to a night a few days later and we’re walking slowly, as if to savor every minute spent together. I take a breath of courage and finally ask “Would you like to go on a date sometime?” She said no. She didn’t say that her reason was because I used the word date, I just knew that somehow.

I woke up. After a dream like this I was disappointed to see I was in Nicaragua and would be for a year and a half. I was bugged. How annoying is it that despite feeling a certain way someone could be put off by a simple word or label? As I showered I had inspiration. I softly sang the words to myself so I could remember them without anyone else in the house hearing them and making fun of me. I hurriedly pulled out my little notebook intended for lyrics and wrote them down

How come I didn’t see this happening?

She never looked like this before

She stands before me in her beauty now

It’s something that I can’t ignore

Her hands in mine

My hands go numb

I start to shake

And I lean in

She’s more than gorgeous now

(backup: but that’s not it, that’s not it)

She’s my sensation now

(backup: but that’s not it, that’s not it)

She’s everything I want

And more than everything I need

And every time we meet

She makes my world

Complete

 

Within the hour we had a small meeting and I started to tell my buddy about the dream, and the song, and how when I came back to the states I would start a band and this song would be famous. He laughed and then looked at me and said “is it funny that I actually believe you?”

The heartbeat of Central America

It’s a hot humid day, the banana plants and palms combine with the soggy sweaty heat to make you feel like you’re at the beach but you’re not, you’re at least 2 hours drive from the coast. You wake up sweating because you forgot to turn on the fan last night. You don’t even notice the mosquitos anymore, or maybe the constant layer of sweat keeps them at bay. You pick up the bucket and dunk it into the tub full of 2 day old water the mosquitos made their home, it was running low, tonight must be water night. In this area you only get running water for a few hours from about 2-4 am. Standing in the shower with your bucket of water you hold a small bowlful above your head. It doesn’t matter how hot you were when you woke up, you never get used to this. Within 2 seconds you go from dying of heat stroke to hypothermia. Showers are never that short in the states. Suddenly with this cold splash to reality you can hear the world wake up.

The neighbors turn up the music. I had grown fond of reggaeton, it takes the average dance-pop beat and throws a Latino twist on it. Change everything from English to Spanish and add a few sirens and you’ve got yourself an entire culture, like Latino hip hop and dance. The beat had the same rhythm in just about every song, I knew because as I would walk street after street the songs and lyrics changed, but the beat stayed constant. You feel like you’re always at a party, it’s a happy tropical type of music. Suddenly the economic troubles and the corrupt governments don’t seem so bad. It was almost as if it were ingrained in the atmosphere, right there with the humidity, the palm trees and banana plants. Here are a few examples of this kind of music. Lemme know what you think

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbQHGVE4Vpo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83H9wnFQw7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BTjG-dhf5s