Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adventures In Drumming, Part One

A guest sat in on the Zappa class yesterday. Professor Hollinden introduced him to us as his friend Simon. He mentioned that Simon was currently working for Yoko Ono, but in the past has worked with Paul McCartney and FZ.

In that instant, the name popped into my head: this was Simon Prentis, who wrote the liner notes to the 'Lather' boxed set in 1996. I approached him after class, talking to him about my love of Yoko's work as an artist, filmmaker, and musician. Then we talked a bit about working with Frank, and then I asked, "Are you Simon Prentis?"

"Yeh," he said in his British accent.

We talked a little more, but we both had places to be. Not to sound arrogant at all, but I think I caught him off-guard by knowing who he was. Personally, I don't blame him. If some round-headed kid came up to me on another continent and said, "Hey! You're Alex DiBlasi, right? I saw your video on YouTube..." I'd be more than just a little surprised.

As I was leaving the music building, I bumped into one of my classmates from the Zappa class. We started talking about meeting Jimmy Carl Black, which led to me mentioning that I really liked him since I too am I drummer. Turns out this guy, Joel, is in a band. A band that is losing their drummer in January, as he is shipping off to Iraq. Funny how this happens, but I'm turning 21 in January, and while I know many bars let you play with a group if you're underaged, it just has a nice "Huh, whaddya know" quality about it.

I told him I'd be willing to audition if he wanted. He seemed excited, so I take this as a very good sign. However, it sparked an old flame in my head of being a professional musician - as discussed in the below entry (I'm really not intending to have this bizarre narrative flow, but it's neat) - and I have come to an inevitable decision:

I'm going to record my audition this weekend while I'm at home. This has been something I have kicked around off and on since I joined The Heliocentrics back in September of 2006, and probably before, it's just that also piqued my interest in doing this.


The actual process is long and work-intensive. Not boring, though. At least not in my mind. One tripping block Eric and I ran into with Hobbyhorse was that we had NO IDEA how to record my drums. Recording them live seemed tricky, especially in that god-awful house we were in all summer. Still, I was pleased to find our 11-year old Packard Bell computer mike that came with a Windows 95 computer. I was even more pleased to see it worked on my 2005 Hewlett-Packard Windows XP computer. It's a little sensitive in that just TALKING INTO IT can send the audio into the red.

Still, I'd rather deal with a mike that was TOO good rather than deal with a shitty pickup (Eric had some wiring problems with his guitar this summer as well as his amp cables), as compensating for that can really only be solved by buying more stuff. Buying requires money, something in short supply for a 20-year old college student.

To combat the problem of this oversensitive microphone, I'll make all the necessary sonic adjustments for the mic input on GoldWave. (Did I mention I am dismantling my desktop computer to BRING IT HOME and make this recording?) Testing this out would require striking each drum and cymbal, then playing a few bars of a beat - I need to make sure the hi-hat, the quietest part of my kit, is audible while seeing to it that the ride cymbal and snare drum, easily the LOUDEST parts, aren't peaking the audio.

Ensuring a balance of sound means that the microphone (which has a rather short cable) is mounted in an apt location. Putting it on the floor may be too resonant and bass-heavy, never mind the chance of it picking up the SEISMIC ACTIVITY created by my incessant pounding. It will be on the bed, which might mean that the computer has to be set up on my bed. This will have to be done as carefully and delicately as possible.

The next issue I have considered is the resonance in my room. Being an old house, I really don't know what the walls in my house are made of, other than that the sound BOUNCES AROUND like crazy. It is only after playing in my room that I get a few days of minor tinnitus. I know it is because of the resonance in my room. Using duct tape and as many blankets, towels, and quilts I can find, every possible square inch of my walls (and the windows, too) will be covered. Who needs sunlight, anyway?


I have come up with a list of songs that I think can showcase my balance as both an uber-dextrous drummer and as a human rhythm machine:
"Another Girl" - The Beatles
"Strawberry Fields Forever" - The Beatles
"It's Only A Northern Song" - The Beatles
"Big Eyes" - Cheap Trick
"World Of Pain" - Cream
"Right Here In My Arms" - HIM
"Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly" - HIM
"You Know The Drill (Original Version)" - Hobbyhorse
"Two Minutes To Midnight" - Iron Maiden
"Top Of The Pops" - The Kinks
"I'm In Disgrace" - The Kinks
"Rock Is Dead" - Marilyn Manson
"Brown Shoes Don't Make It" - The Mothers Of Invention
"It Don't Come Easy" - Ringo Starr
"The Hardest Button To Button" - The White Stripes
"The Amazing Journey/Sparks ('Live At Leeds' Version)" - The Who
"Pinball Wizard ('The Kids Are Alright' Version)" - The Who
"Peaches En Regalia" - Frank Zappa

It might be too much for one CD. And that's okay, I can pick and choose.

Still, I think actually having recordings of myself makes for a resume of sorts.

I'm going to mail CD's of my playing to record labels all over, be it LA, New York, Nashville, or New Albany. More than anything else, I'm doing this to finally shut up, get off of my ass, and go for it.


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