I spent almost zero time outside (since it was November and cold and ugly), but I did get some nice instagrams of beautiful Sebago Lake:
And the biggest tree on earth (that used to be twice as tall) down the road from my house:
(that's 1 tree)
I took in some lovely sunsets while buying groceries and pizza (LOTS of pizza):
This one has zero editing or filters. Pretty crazy.
And I even saw the first snow of the year, which was neat, but a tad disappointing since I thought it might be a huge storm and I'd be snowed in with music (an image I've had in my head for awhile- writing music with falling snow as a backdrop). Seems a bit silly to be upset that it didn't snow, since as I'm writing this, there's a shit ton of it outside and we still barely have sidewalks and can't park our cars on the road, but still. Back in November (I'll never catch up on posts), snow was a new thing.
Here's how my trip worked out: I drove to Maine on a Friday night, then woke up at like 6:45 the next day to take my parents to the airport for a 9am flight out of Portland. I then drove to Mass for a party at Pat Mcmanamanamanaanan's house, then drove back to NH at 3 in the morning. I hung out in NH for a few days, then headed to Maine. Somehow this time, I was in an actually efficient mode and got my drums set up on day 2. Of course I lost hours of work when, after I set up mics, I realized that my bass drum was rattling like crazy. I completely took it apart and realized that the outer rim sounded like a marble was rolling around in it when I moved it around. I called a drum shop about getting a replacement and the super helpful dude on the phone said that it was more likely how I tuned the drum that was causing this. He said he's never seen a rim from that series of drums not rattle like that. And sure enough, when I took the other one off, it did it too. What a weird design flaw. So after hours of fiddling, I tuned up everything and was good to go.
Now I just needed inspiration. And for once, I found it oddly easily by using a classic trick: tunings. I started messing with tunings to see if I could come up with anything neat in an obscure tuning, and eventually became downright prolific with a tuning I already knew I loved and had written stuff in before- the super emo tuning (it's what American Football's "Never Meant," a perfect model for emo music, is in): FACGCE.
So my days fell into a pretty standard flow of: get up late, eat, watch TV, fiddle around on the internet, then fiddle around with my acoustic. I'd sit and just play until something good came out, and something always did (at least to my ears). I tried some other tunings, but FACGCE was the winner. I pretty much wrote something I liked every day, then went downstairs, recorded the guitar part, fiddled around with it and figured out layers, figured out and recorded bass parts, then played drums. It was awesome. The previous trip, I was all stuck on the idea that I had a limited time to record so I had to GET THINGS DONE, which oddly made me not do anything and avoid it like it was work. This time, I was just messing around and trying things, so it was fun. I figured out a few days in that my new goal was to write the basics for songs I liked and play with mood and beats and just get a basic recording of the basic parts done, then spend the winter and early spring figuring out structure, other layers, lyrics, etc- just basically put the songs together to the point where I'll know exactly how I want them to sound, then go back to Maine when my parents go on their yearly April vacation and attempt to record final, or at least waay better and much more complete versions of the songs. So it turned into a "try shit out and see if it sounds good" recording trip, and it was awesome. This was what I had always dreamed of when dreaming of having a recording studio in my basement- just the ability to come up with something I like and being able to record it on the spot and instantly hear what it sounded like.
I took a break a few days in and headed back to NH to wait in line to get the new Call of Duty game.
I will never do this again. It's stupid. We did it last year and it was fun, but I always wondered why we stood in line for an hour and dealt with a bunch of bullshit just to get the game that night when I could pre-order it and just buy it the next day, or wait a week and just walk right in and maybe even be able to get it cheaper. Not only that, but last year, the game was new- it was a whole new world being opened up to me after not playing any video games for like 6 years. This time, after 2 hours, I hated it, and have only played it one night since. So it wasn't hard to stop playing and get right back into make-music-mode. And I did!
I went back to Maine the next day and got to work. Here's pictures for the sake of pictures. Here's my odd-to-everyone-but-me drum set up. I'm a left handed drummer who plays open. Makes way more sense to me than normal drumming, but every drummer who sees it is very confused.
I didn't bother setting up my keyboard this time (actually I did one day and realized I left the cable I needed in NH, oh well):
Wider angle. I love this set up:
And here's an absolutely horrible 360 Panorama of the room with me at the drumset. Good work, 360 Panorama app- your accuracy blows me away:
(click to make this big, it's hilariously bad)
Another thing I did right this year that I screwed up on last time was to set lights up around my drums. Back when Hilton and I had our first practice space, I had it set up so I had foot pedals (light switches) to control a series of like 8 different light set ups. Every song had its own colors, and it was extremely awesome. I stopped being that ridiculous, but every practice space since has had lights of varying colors. I can't explain how much that helps me to get into the zone to make beautiful epic music.
Who wouldn't want to play drums that practically glow?
So, it was an awesome trip. I wrote a bunch of stuff I liked, I recorded an electric-and-with-vocals version of a song I wrote like 10 years ago and have never heard, and most importantly, I accomplished what I wanted while having fun. It's so awesome having your own studio. I wish I always had this set up.
So here are samples of every song. I have to warn you though- these are not only not professional sounding recordings, but I haven't edited anything other than basic volume levels. Some guitars were done a few times, but mostly everything is 1 take, and all drums are 1st takes without even really writing much for beats beforehand other than maybe 1 or 2 play-throughs. I'm not trying to make excuses- just saying- these are DEMOS. These are "I want to hear what this might sound like if I did this" parts of songs that I decided to share with the world. I also recorded basic vocals and some harmonies for most of these, and no way am I sharing those yet. I did something that I imagine a lot of bands do, but it's still pretty hilarious- I sang gibberish and words that don't even make sense. I did this back when I was the singer for a nu-metal band but I did it while practicing by basically just not fully singing into the microphone. This may have been the first time I recorded gibberish tracks and even tried out harmonies with them. It makes for a hilarious and frustrating listen (since I'm not saying anything and some of the notes are HORRIBLE), but I can't even explain how much it helps. I now know where the big hooks on some of these are going to be, and I now can hear melodies in my head that weren't necessarily there before. Unfortunately, I can also hear a bad one that I absolutely despise but can't seem to forget, but whatever. I even have to figure out how to use lyrics like "I should have waited for the rain" because I ended up singing that as the huge hook in a song. Weird how those things happen. When these are done, I may release the gibberish vocal tracks for a laugh, but we'll see.
The songs mostly took on a late 90s/early 2000s midwest emo sound, like mineral, pop unknown, cross my heart, american football, or the appleseed cast. I love this stuff and am psyched music was coming out of me sounding so much like that specific sound. I'd like to make it weirder and less straightforward with time, but for now, I'm very happy that my solo project is going to end up being an homage to that sound I miss so much (nobody seems to make that kind of music anymore).
Anyway, here you go, all 3 of you who care about this:
November song 1:
There's promise for some good noodly emo here. This one is in FACGCE with a capo on the 7th fret, and although I love the feeling, the recording is pretty much 4 minutes of the same thing. I'm finding it pretty hard to find chords that work with such a high tuning. Maybe I should get over the idea of chords... american football barely ever played chords.
November song 2:
I love the verses and I love the chorus more, but unfortunately they don't have much to do with each other, which is something I always try my hardest to fight against. A song with good flow is key, so I may end up having that chord progression just happen at the end of the song... We'll see. I came up with some almost-screamed super high vocal melodies and background "ahhh"s I really liked at the end of this. This one also has a particularly noodly and way-too-hard-to-play part in the middle that's either gonna get cut or turn into a much longer, more epic part... I've been brainstorming in my head and it could end up being awesome. I just need to learn how to play guitar first.
November song 3:
This one is based on an acoustic guitar line that you can barely hear (I played it horribly anyway) that I wrote yeeeaaars ago, either on the deck of the apartment I lived in in Somerville, or on a chair in the woods in Missouri when our van broke on our roadtrip so long ago. I've always remembered it (but forgot the end, and I think I finally fixed that), and it goes into a guitar line that I love even more. The 16th note (and messily played) lead was written on the spot and I love it, but I feel fairly confident I accidentally stole it from someone. The vocal melody I came up with is the most natural melody over this, and I'm pretty sure I stole that too. I hope I didn't, because I love it. I recorded about 4 minutes of this just building louder and louder, and I have no idea where I'm going to go with it. This one will be a lot of work. And it somehow sounds better than any other one... not sure why. The drums are very crisp.
November song 4:
This one is quite different, clearly. I've always wanted to make a folksy/americana-esque song in the vein of The Snake The Cross The Crown or The Head and the Heart. Unfortunately, that requires the ability to play quick finger picking guitar cleanly, which is something I was working my way towards at one point, then completely lost. I don't even remember how to play most of this, it sounds completely different from anything else I've come up with lately, and it's in a very weird tuning (F#A#C#F#A#F#), so it may be a lost song that I never do anything with. But who knows. I feel like the main line sounds like a happier, less good version of this, so who knows, maybe with some work, I could clean it up and turn it into something good. But I'm not too psyched about it, so that's probably doubtful- just wanted to include it.
November song 5:
My recording of this song currently stands at 10 minutes with lots of buildups, dynamics, etc. But I'm still not psyched about the main chord progression. When I put vocals to it, I realized where the heart of the song lies and what I need to do to make it epic, I just am not sure how much involves re-writing progressions, just moving things around, or coming up with a better bass line. I wrote the most with this one, figuring out how many times each progression is played, etc, before I recorded it, but it clearly is waaay too long and there's waaay too much. This could end up being the one I'm the most proud of for being the sound I'm looking for, or it could end up meandering, 10 minute disaster. We'll see!
November song 6:
This was the simplest song I recorded, and the quickest. I pretty much came up with the main line and said "ok, let's go record." The layer makes it, and that was written pretty quickly too. This one is another example of a song with awesome verses and a horrible chorus/chord progression. And I came up with vocals over it that I absolutely despise now and I can't hear this song without hearing them in my head. I have to figure out how to write something that's the complete opposite to fix that. I love the dark, head-noddy groove of this though.
November song 7: This was me trying to figure out how to write a song around a part I have/remember what I wrote before. Not really enough to share.
November song 8: This was me recording a song I wrote 10+ years ago that I've never recorded, solely to hear it with vocals and drums to see if it's worth recording. It may be, if I can learn to sing first. It probably doesn't fit with these other songs though, since it's in regular tuning and is pretty dark. It was a great release though, to finally sing lyrics I've heard in my head for years.
November song 9:
Haha, horrible recording, I know. This was an attempt to do something with no real dynamics or parts, just a flowy feel and a song that is the same chord progression over and over again for 5 minutes, just slowly building. I layered vocals (just background ahhhhhs) and then ended up oddly shouting a part over and over again. Layering drums (although fairly disastrous here) ended up being pretty neat. I played the whole thing for 1 person and they said it needed dynamics. What it needs is a better recording with better playing, an actual line in the background instead of just me fiddling around. I loved playing it though, and it got stuck in my head like crazy. It was the last song I wrote and recorded on the last night of me with my own studio, and it sounds like the end of an album- just a slow, zone out, head nod song. For some reason, it reminds me of a Taking Back Sunday or Straylight Run song. It sounds awful here, but I like it and there's definite promise there if I can clean it up.
So there you go 3 people who stayed this long and listened, these are the songs I'm currently working on. As expected, I haven't really worked on them at all other than listening to them randomly, and the only music I've done in the last month was to record the basic parts for an entirely new song that sounds way too much like some of these. But now that the Christmas mess is over, hopefully I start figuring these out so I can record them in April, edit them/ignore them over the summer, and release them in the fall, when all the best emo music should be released.