One Of Those Days

That was yesterday, one of those days.  It wasn't a bad day or anything, we don't have those in Mexico.  I just couldn't find my groove in the studio, or more correctly the spare room where the desk has been excavated from the crap that buried it.  Living is an exercise in entropy, clean a room and see what happens to it.  There's nothing like recording yourself to so you how sloppy your playing is.  I feel, listening back, that it's the lack of a band that makes it hard to record a rock song.  It's not impossible it's just kinda slow.  That's not to say it's slower, just that time passes differently.  

With a band, you would rehearse the song and work it out live in real time, each musician finding their place in the mix ideally.  As a solo artist, with limited resources my process is a bit different.  Generally, but not always, I start with the guitar to a metronome.  Then after a couple takes I might give up and go with guitar and vocals, no metronome, just to get the actual bpm average that I would play the song to freely.  I think that's the hardest part because I don't play the same pace when I sing and play together.  I was a drummer in a band and sang almost all the songs and boy did they both suffer.  And fluctuate, the bass player we eventually added, to thicken our sound, hated my drumming.  I'm not sure he liked my guitar playing any better when we found another drummer, I was into my noise phase, I liked sounds that made the listener uncomfortable.  I still do but not when it's the out of time instruments making the music sound like noise.  So instead of having a week or months of playing a song as a band, I go from playing it myself, freely, without audience to putting it down on 'tape'.  Just writing it out shows me the problem.  I then fiddle around and build a rough drum track for the song and re-lay the guitar track to it.  Invariably I have to fart around tweaking the drums and my guitar playing and this can take many takes, depending on how many times I fuck up.  After that I will think about the bass track.  This starts the whole process again though and I retool the drums and end up re-tracking the guitar.  I'm hindered too by my lack of bass guitar, so either I have to record a midi track or play bass on the guitar and then transpose it down an octave.  Both are slow and don't always sound the way I feel a bass player might attack the song.  That's a big part of it too, what I hear vs. what I can play.  I'd like to think that a drummer and a bass player would have their own unique feel that would add that interpersonal element.  I know that my playing is tainted by my own style.  I can play enough instruments, rudimentarily to know that I'll always sound like me no matter what it is I'm playing on.  It's like a certain personal cadence, dictated by my own natural vibration.  If I get past this point then I'm likely to get hung up on vocals.  I'm not the greatest singer.  I know what's in key but I can't always get there.  So if I wasn't careful ahead of time I might come to this point and realize I have to go back and rebuild from the ground up.  I will try a different key or tempo if I really can't hit the notes or I'll just let it die, another forgotten track living in the cloud.  Sometimes though I know it's a winner if I can just get through it, or I've put enough work in that I don't want to give up.  I mean I'm working with enough limitations already I don't need to add my own paralyzing criticisms and crippling comparison to the mix.

Our Own Paradise was one of those songs.  I must have done 200 plus takes on the vocals over the course of a month trying to get it to sounds as poor as it does.  Does anyone like the sound of their recorded voice when it's played back to them?  I do on some songs, but not that one.  I had started the song with an arpeggiated keyboard sequence and built it around that, even though I wrote the song on an acoustic Riversong guitar.  I went as far as recording it in a different key but then the music lost it's punch.  Acoustic it's a whole different song.  It stands on it's own and I might even like it better, I sing it way better, it's got more feels that way, but thee disco version is more fun.  That's what I was going for.  I know that I chose to put out an album of instrumental electronic for the ease of it as much as for the enjoyment of listening to it.  There's very little actual playing on it, some keyboards, some guitar and singing only on the one song.  I can put it out and field judgement solely on my sample selection.  It's a step forward and much needed.  I have hundreds of songs written and awaiting the inspiration to record them.

That's the hard part, which to choose.  I don't want to make a definitive version of anything.  Songs are living and breathing things that change and grow over time the version I put out today could sound nothing like version I play tomorrow.  But I suppose you'll never hear either one if I don't put something out.  Yesterday I was looking for a song that I thought could feature another musician.  Recently I've reached out to  a friend and guitarist from the The Dangerous Experience, as our band was called.  Our history goes back to high school where the first incarnation of our band was called Stardog.  It was unfortunate that Keanu Reeves had a band named Dogstar, it cast a long shadow.  I got the name from a Mother Love Bone song title, I'd never heard of Keanu's band.  As history goes there's some bumps in our past and truth be told I had pretty much given up on 'Jim' as I'll call him.  He's an amazing guitar player though.  He's got the gift of the groove and a strong voice, a much better singer then me, but not much of a head for words, written or remembered.  We wrote a lot of great songs together, he'd provide the hook and I'd bait it.  Truth is when we played in The DXP or TDX I wanted him to do most of the singing but he couldn't remember all the words or he didn't want to be heard singing them.  Years after he was covering our songs singing them at the pub in the one dog town he lives in and admitted he'd never really understood the words until he'd sang them and had a much deeper interpretation now.  That's all I could hope for, my  shit is deep.  Listen to me claim ownership of it.  I don't know where much of it comes from, I can recognize influences, lines poached from books, but I just help structure what comes out.  I spent most of yesterday afternoon and into the evening working on a song called 31 Flavours that's kind of a bluesy rocker thinking it would be a good fit to add a second guitarist for the solo's, maybe a different vocalist, but I couldn't get it off the ground.  

I got to follow the inspiration and yesterday I was trying to make it work instead of just enjoying myself.  That's why I switched to making fun electronic songs before and now I have one of my favourite instrumental albums to listen to.  Sometimes you don't want words pulling your thoughts in their direction.  I over listen to it.  It's on repeat for driving around the city, doing yoga, reading, writing.  I'm like that, sometimes I think I'd fall in the spectrum somewhere.  Self diagnosed ADHD and Autistic, a hyper hypo, one time, one time, one time.  Don't worry in less then two weeks time it can be your favourite too.

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