Saturday, December 13, 2008: Free picks -- the bane of my inbox
Awhile back I was offering a free guitar pick to anyone who joined my mailing list. All went well until I ran out of picks.
So, I dutifully updated my website, removing any mention of free guitar picks. Turns out that's not enough.
Google, and I suspect others, cache much of the website search results they display to users. That along with outdated cache's of my website throughout the land have lead to my receiving 2 or 3 or more requests per day for free guitar picks.
Funniest are the little stories people include, usually along the lines of they play guitar, but can't afford a guitar pick. Um, how did you afford the guitar?
I send these folks an email explaining the situation, and ask them to consider joining my mailing list anyway.
My lesson learned is: Be careful what you post on the Web. Very careful. Things have a tendency to stick around MUCH longer that one might like.
In other news, I want to shamelessly mention again that I've lowered the prices on several of my albums to just $7.99, at CD Baby. Here's a link: http://cdbaby.com/all/jrs
The CD and download prices are the same, and I should mention also that if you buy the mp3s from CD Baby, you're getting very high quality 200kbps VBR, encoded files, using the "LAME" MP3 encoder on its audiophile settings, with no Digital Rights Management lameness to worry about.
In other, other news, I'm starting the final vocal recording on New Old Stock. The first song I'm doing is called, "Bang Your Door", which is a kinda alt-pop song. I have the lyrics complete, and this song doesn't have a lot of vocal gymnastics, so I figure it's a good song to start with.
The next song to sing after "Bang Your Door" will be "Romantic Depressant", which is a Cure-style song about this super depressing girl I once knew.
I'll keep you posted! p.s. Jason Becker has a new album out -- go buy it!!!!!!!!!!!
Sunday, September 21, 2008: Ach, lyrics
I'm working on lyrics now for 'New Old Stock'. Fourteen songs to do, and I have lyrics completed for seven. So, um, that leaves about seven more. I'm trying to decide whether to start recording (now) the lyrics that I've completed, or wait until I have all the lyrics completed. Either way, I suppose I'd better hurry up, 'cause I want to get this album done and released before Axl releases 'Chinese Democracy'.
I also want to get this album done before I turn 40, which unfortunately is not that far away.
Yes, I am become a Geezer. Being old sucks, just in case anyone in their 20's is wondering :) I'm watching Napolean Dynamite on cable as I write this cranky blog. It really does improve on repeated viewings.
Ok, enough complaining. Back to writing lyrics. C-ya in a few weeks!
Saturday, August 23, 2008: Instrumental rough mixes done
I finished the rough instrumental mixes on 13 of 14 songs on the new album today.
To my chagrin, or maybe more like unceasing frustration, I'm gonna have to re-record the guitar parts on the choruses of song 14. Actually, I probably won't be able to exactly match the tone of the original parts, so rather than just punch-in the replacement parts, I'll end up re-recording all the guitar parts. Drag.
Should be able to get it done in a couple hours though, so not a huge deal I guess.
The other songs are sounding pretty good. There's only one song of the 14 that might not make it to the album. It's temp title is Summertime. It's a remake of a song I wrote while in high school. The remake just doesn't have much spark to it, unfortunately. So, I'll likely shelve it for now and maybe work on it again in another 10 years :)
I checked the running time, and it looks like I've got about 14 minutes free. This means I may put together an instrumental track -- something with lots of indulgent guitar playing. We'll see how it goes.
After this project is done, I'm hoping to finish a 4 song project with Wayde Cooper. It's a demo we recorded way back in the 90's but never finished. I have one song, Wayde has two, and the final song is from Nicolas Valenz. My hope is to get Wayde, Nick and myself collaborating to finish the songs. Dave Beardsley is on drums, btw. His parts are done, and they are killer!
With that complete, I'll get back in touch with Peter Orullian, to get (re) started on Inner Resonance's second album. This will be a concept album. Peter already has an excellent story ready -- I hope I can come up with music worthy of it.
I do have quite a bit of music demoed for the second IR album, but listening back to it, I'm not content. I think -- I know -- I can do better.
Back to the current project, I'm thinking as I type this that I may put some excerpts up on this page and my website. I hesitate a little because they are works-in-progress. Then again, I ain't famous, so what should I be worried about? :)
Alright, back to work. Gotta, gotta finish this album.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 Guitars are done; getting ready for vocals
This past week, I finished all the rhythm guitars on the New Old Stock album!
This week I'm editing the parts, which consists of cleaning up the beginning and end of each individual audio file. For example, I played the 1st verse as one audio file. So, I go back and mute any noise that's at the beginning and end of the audio file.
Actually, each 'take' consists of two audio files: one that is a direct recording of the guitar, and the other that goes through an amp (or amp simulator). Plus, I doubled each part. So, for each take (like a verse), I'll have at least 4 files to edit.
Wait, it gets worse. I played 4 different guitars for each take: a clean electric guitar part, a distorted electric guitar part, and two different acoustic guitar parts. And I doubled each guitar part.
This means that some parts of the songs will have 16 individual audio files, just for guitar. And that's just one verse. I play each section of each song separately, and I don't copy and paste parts (I don't play one verse and then copy the performance for the other verses).
Lots to edit.
I overdid it on guitars because I want to have lots of options when it comes time to arrange and mix the songs. I want to be able to have heavy, distorted versions of the songs, and acoustic versions of the songs. I hope all this extra effort is worth it!
As I'm doing this, I'm mixing the album too. I've found that mixing as I go works well, especially when using software (I use Sonar Producer v7). I get to hear what the song will sound like, and I won't have a huge mixing job to do at the end of the project.
When I get this editing crapola done, I'll make some rough mixes, and will post a few on this site. Then I get going on the vocals.
Which reminds me, if you want to practice vocals with the best, sing along with Queensryche's Rage for Order. I've managed to lose my CD of that (and this was before I moved everything to a wma player). Looks like I'll be buying it again. I hope the guys in Queensryche appreciate that I will have bought that album five times! 1. Vinyl, 2. Cassette, 3. Another cassette 'cause old one wore out, 4. CD, 4. Another CD 'cause I lost the first CD.
It's worth it. It is one of my all-time favorite albums, up there with Rush's Moving Pictures and Dream Theater's Images and Words.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 Northwest Shred Fest 2008 CD is Available
The Northwest Shred Fest 2008 CD is available now! This instrumental rock CD features the guitar wizardry of: John Jaunese, Ed to Shred, Ed Degenaro, Saed Bawaney, Brian Hunsaker, Wayde Cooper, George Varghese, Rich Nakatsu and yours truly.
To hear sample audio clips, check the Northwest Shred Fest 2008 My Space Page.
I have a limited number of CDs available from the first run. You can buy them from me directly for $10.00 (which includes shipping). Payment through Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact me if you need more info.
Now go out the Northwest Shred Fest 2008!!!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008: Back in the Saddle, Again?
After and extended and unremarkable absence, I got back down to the studio this week to continue work on the New Old Stock album. I'm finishing up the acoustic guitar parts. I have exactly four songs yet to finish.
Changing the subject, I read a quote from Jan Akkerman recently. To paraphrase: You can play 3 chords to 10,000 people or 10,000 chords to 3 people.
I have lived the truth of this statement. I've been into progressive rock music for a long time. Lots of chords, fast playing, yadda yadda. Audience size for this music: small.
The simple truth is, most people like simple, memorable music. They don't want to be impressed by how fast I can play, or how complicated my songs are. They want to hear music that makes them feel happy, or sad, or angry -- they want an a song that produces an emotional response. Audience size for simple music: LARGE.
So, do I play 3 chords and please 10,000, or 10,000 chords and please 3?
I just don't know. While I ponder the paradox of music, check out these cool Dean guitars.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008: Ouch
Acoustic guitar makes my fingers hurt. I need to practice more acoustic guitar.
Because I have no wisdom of my own, here is some from Monty Python:
"Strange women, lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not some farcical aquatic ceremony."
Saturday, March 29, 2008 Palomino: Done
Tonight I finished the Dean Palomino parts on my never-ending album project, New Old Stock!!
Next up is acoustic guitar. At the same time, I will complete the lyric writing.
I have a dream that I actually finish this album. I hope that dream comes true. I still think I'll have my album out before Axel's Chinese Democracy. Stay tuned!
(p.s.) Here's a totally unrelated picture, of my Dean Seven String guitar.
Friday, March 07, 2008: Keep on keeping on
The past few weeks have not been music-friendly. However, I did finish strummy guitar on a bunch more songs. There are only 3 songs left now that need the strummies.
Next up will be acoustic guitar parts. I think I'll get started on the remainder of the lyric writing that needs to be done. I'd say about half the songs have lyrics in some stage of completion while the remainder have no lyrics at all. I gotta quit procrastinating on lyrics!
I'm also thinking I might post a few preview clips of the new songs, in their current instrumental state.
In other news, three albums I'm on are available now from Amazon.com. Here are links to the downloadable mp3 versions of the albums: JRS - Loss for Words JRS - Spank Your Inner Child Inner Resonance - Solar Voices
You can also buy physical CD versions of these albums. Links to them are on the Amazon page links (shown above).
Please go to Amazon and buy many JRS and Inner Resonance mp3s and CDs. I'm quite certain you won't regret it. I know I won't!
Sunday, February 10, 2008: Busy Busy
Last couple of weeks have been busy. I remixed two songs for an upcoming NW Shred 2008 compilation album. Artists slated to appear on the album include, Jeff Gilbert, Wayde Cooper, Saeed Bawaney, Brian Hunsaker, George Varghese, Rich Nakatsu and John Jaunese. Check out the web page for audio demos.
For the remix, I changed the arrangements around, changed the drum sounds, and changed the bass sounds. For drums I used Toontrack's Drumkit from Hell Superior. For bass I used Chris Hein's E-Bass from his new Chris Hein Bass Library (www.chrishein.net).
I LOVE Chris Hein's E bass! He's included programming/scripting that allows the user to randomize many of the articulations. Chris has recorded just about every sound an electric bass can make. The wealth of sounds, combined with the articulation control and randomization makes the bass come alive. I highly recommend this bass. Here's a link: Chris Hein Bass available from Sounds Online.
I also finished strummy guitar on another of the songs I'm working on for my New Old Stock album. Still a bunch to do. Will that album ever be finished? Stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008: 5 more
Finished Palomino strumming on another song tonight. 5 more to go!
I've been asked what guitar I've used most to record. On the current album-in-progress (New Old Stock) it has been my USA Dean Hardtail. Here's a picture:
I've had my Hardtail modified to let me coil tap one or both of the pickups. I get a nice quasi-single coil sound. This guitar is loaded with Seymour Duncans, a JB and a Jazz, I believe. I've used the Hardtail for almost all the rock guitar rhythm parts. Will probably use it for most of the solos too!
For stuff requiring vibrato bar wanging, I use my Dean Custom 450. It looks like this:
This picture doesn't show it, but I've recently changed out the EMG HZ pickups on this guitar for a Seymour Duncan Distortion, and a '59. Sounds very cool now. This guitar has HUGE frets and an almost-flat fingerboard radius. Very shred-worthy.
Ok, time for bed.
Monday, January 07, 2008: 2008 and it ain't done yet
2008 now and I still have 6 songs to hit with the Palomino! I finished up one song tonight -- one that I hadn't completed as of the last blog posting.
If nothing goes funky this week, I'm hoping I can finish (the Palomino parts on) one song per night.
Then I need to get a haircut. Badly.