Well…this really is just me. But I’m hoping it will be the first of many. Plan on seeing more videos from my various musician friends as they come through town.
This is an alternate version of a song on my album.
Well…this really is just me. But I’m hoping it will be the first of many. Plan on seeing more videos from my various musician friends as they come through town.
This is an alternate version of a song on my album.
“Find what you love and let it kill you” – Charles Bukowski
Over the weekend, I randomly decided I wanted learn how to use Microsoft Excel. After 2 hours of watching tutorials on YouTube, I was making a pivot table on the recording gear I want to buy, how much it will all cost, when I should buy it (based on another chart I made of things I’m selling), and in a way that will remove items when I switch its status to “purchased.” For most people, this isn’t complicated. The point is I went from having never used a program to being able to make that in 2 hours.
It’s powerful to realize that you can learn anything you want.
People often say to me that they wish they could play a musical instrument. They say, “I always wanted to play guitar, but I just don’t have a musical bone in my body.” YOU CAN! I always respond with, “While you may never be the next Jimi Hendrix, I guarantee you can learn a few chords.” And you know what you can do with a few chords? Play along to the majority of songs ever written. Learn 4 or 5 chords and then play along to a song. It is really that simple. It might take 2 hours, or 2 weeks, but it can be done. And with the tools on the Internet, it’s easier than ever to access the information needed to learn.
For me starting out, I learned “Free Fallin”. I think I was 13, and my Dad made me a deal; play one song all the way through, and he would buy me a guitar. “Free Fallen” has 3 chords, so I knew it would be the easiest way to get what I wanted. I guess I was both driven, and lazy at the same time. I learned 3 chords, and I got a guitar. How hard could that be? A 13 year old figured it out without the Internet and no prior musical knowledge. A chord book, a CD player, and little bit of time.
In the article “Find what you love and let it kill you”, pianist James Rhodes writes, “We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity.”
This is a great read for musicians. But what I found more interesting was how I think it is a great read for everyone. Like the author, I have been asked those same questions about following my “passion,” and I have met too many people who don’t seem to have that part of their lives fulfilled.
What would you do with your time if you won the lottery? Not only should you do that thing as much as possible, it’s also important to KNOW what it is. And what it isn’t. I know I watch TV too much and I check Facebook too often. But, there is time for you to pursue what you love if make time for it.
I can’t say anything in this article better than it was written. If you’re wondering what your life is “about,” give this a read and see what you wish you were doing with your free time. And then… you know… start making the time to do it.
After last week’s stripped down acoustic track, Luke and I wanted to take a stab at recording a song with no acoustic guitar. I was excited to experiment with different instrumentation to provide a more ambient backing track. This song a week thing is a great way to explore new sounds without being confined to a palette like on a full album.
Since this song is all about the words and the chord progression stays the same throughout, I knew I wanted to make the music change drastically from verse to chorus. The traditional approach is for the chorus to get bigger. For this song, we did the opposite: we made the chorus the quieter parts of the song. The lyrics feel like they’re building, and getting more intense, and yet that chorus lyric is such a simple question. So, I wanted everything to dry up, and make the chorus the most intimate part. Kind of like if you were actually asking someone “Can You Feel My Love?” when you’re both alone.
First off, we decided to make the piano the main replacement for the acoustic. I have some good samples, but I’ve always liked layering instruments that are playing close to, but not exactly, the same thing. So, I put down a basic piano part with one of my favorite Reason Refills, and then recorded a pass on my real piano. Then, I panned those slightly off from one another (reason more left, real more right)
To add some ambience, I thought it would be a good time to try some electric guitar. There hasn’t been any yet on this project. (Can you believe it?) Generally, I’m not a big fan of recording electric guitar because my brain doesn’t work that way, but I do love it when adding spacey sounds. My go-to tools for that are my Gretsch Country Classic, Fender Deluxe Reverb, and a few key pedals. I’m a Strymon pedal junkie. I have the comp, Blue Sky, and el Capistan, and I use them every time. Here’s what’s going on:
–The “pad” sound that starts the song, and lives throughout, is actually 3 different guitar recordings. I use my Boss giga delay for 2 things: Edge guitar parts (because you can dial in the exact BPM), and making a hanging pad. Unlike other delays I’ve found the giga delay has a setting where putting the feedback to 100% won’t oscillate out of control. Whatever you send to it, just hangs forever! So, I’ll slowly swell notes into the delay (that work well in the key) until I’ve built a chord pad that sounds almost like an organ. In this case, I did this process 3 separate times, and blended in different amounts of my Strymon pedals for each. Pretty cool.
–I also put down two more straight-ahead electric guitars. On the right, is the giga delay “edge” setting. On the left, is just following along with the chords with a TON of long Blue Sky verb, and some Strymon el Capistan (lots of tape age dialed in, roughly timed with the 8th note of the song). The Strymon pedals are amazing for adding a lot of space to the guitar. They are seriously my favorite guitar gear in my studio.
Go visit Strymon’s website and watch the videos. You’ll be hooked.
–DRUMS! I’ve talked a lot about drums in these Brindley posts. What I did this week isn’t too far off from past songs. There are two kick/tom tracks, a snare/tom track, a cymbal swell track, and a basic ride/cymbal track. It makes a cool sea of drums! But, one thing that is adding a lot to the “vibe” is the UAD Echoplex on one of the kick/tom takes. I bought that plug-in almost a year ago, and only now fell in love with it. On a take with “4 on the floor” kick, and muted tom (sweatshirt over the head) on the upbeats, I added the Echoplex across the drum buss after the rest of my normal treatment. Set the repeats to happen a few times, and panned the echo to the left. It’s hard to hear, but it was a fun element to add!
–The vocal is pretty straightforward. I didn’t want to cover it up too much with effects, and the background tracks had plenty of vibe. After all…regardless of how excited I am about the production, it’s still all about the words. And of course, Luke’s vocal!
The result still sounds like Brindley, but with a bit of twist.
Check out “Can You Feel My Love” at Brindleymusic.com
Any questions, or thoughts, shoot me a message at email@example.com
So far in 2013, I haven’t played any shows. Even though we’re only 6 weeks in, that is probably a first for me since I left college. But when The Alternate Routes asked me to fill in on bass for a show this week, I had to say yes! Even though I’m trying to tour less and focus my efforts this year on my studio, it’s always fun to play with old friends.
Tim and Eric found me at Berklee, and my seven years being a member of the Alternate Routes played a huge role in what I’ve been up to since. The producers we worked with inspired me to start building my own studio, and I got some street cred as a player from that time on the road. I played about 600 shows with them! We opened up for Stephen Kellogg a ton, and that is part of the connection that led me to my last two years of touring with the Sixers. Bringing my personal show count to around 800…
It’s strange that someone from Virginia has spent so much time in Connecticut. Between The Alternate Routes and Stephen Kellogg, it’s been a second home. I also mixed my album, and my project with The B-Film Extras, at a studio just a few houses down from where I lived with Tim back in the day. There is a lot of music talent in that state.
So I’ll head back up there tomorrow, like I have so many times before. As the song says, “It’s a 6 hour drive…” If you’re anywhere near Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT on Thursday, come on by. I’ll be there! Now I just have to remember those tunes….
This week Luke and I decided to leave “Heaven” as a stripped down song with just his acoustic and vocal. As I mentioned in my last post, Luke has a great setup at home for recording the two things he does the most, acoustic guitar and vocals. This allowed him to take his time, and hone in on getting a great performance. And, he nailed it!
There’s a quote about how the act of observation changes the observed. (If you google it, there is a bunch of information about quantum physics and I just want to find the flippin’ quote—I give up.) Sometimes working with a producer in person can drive you to the next level. But sometimes having the equipment in the comfort of your own home gives you the ability to go into your most quiet place and record what could have never been shared otherwise. I’ve found that with Luke; we’ve all been able to hear that honest, heartfelt material as a result of him recording in that space. A lot of the vocals on Hidden Wholeness, and every vocal on this Brindley project, have been captured this way.
Many artists need some coaching, or some singing guidance, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But I know with Luke, if he has the time to get it right on his own, he knows when it’s done. In his case, recording alone is a great way to remove all barriers between his songwriting and getting it captured.
Then it’s my turn to try and take it to the next level. Since there was only an acoustic, and vocal, to deal with, I wanted to try some new things out to make the most of the minimal instrumentation. That means UAD plugins. They are killer!
Here’s a little breakdown of what’s happening:
—To start there is a little light EQ, some RenAxx, and the UAD Studer. Just fixing some issues and tightening it up a bit without getting too crazy.
—Sent the acst through an aux, with a ridiculously long hall using D-Verb. I tucked that in pretty low, and added some heavy post verb EQ. Don’t write off the old plug-ins! I set up a 12.5 sec decay, and I haven’t found many verbs that can do that. Post EQ can help fix the “digital” sound of the plug-in and D-Verb can be very useful!
—Sent the acst through the UAD EMT140 plate. Set it to the “master plate” preset and mixed pretty hot.
—Once I was happy with this combination, I sent them all (acoustic, and verbs) to a new Aux so I could start treating it as one thing.
—On the acoustic Aux, I added the UAD Harrison EQ, Massey CT5, and UAD 1176. (I later added a few RenEQ’s to tame any issues I had with the final mix). I am loving the CT5! I just set it to grab more than I would normally be cool with, and ride the wet/dry mix down to about 50%. It ends up being a pretty smooth, but very taming, compressor. Then, I let the UAD 1176 take care of anything else that might be slipping through the cracks.
—In my template, I have a light EQ/Comp set up that I usually tweak to get the vocal to a normal place. Kind of what you would do if you were tracking with EQ, and compression.
—I went back to my new friend, Radiator, for the vocal. I am cranking it, and there are times when you can really hear it get gritty. Gotta do it!
—Since it is such a sparse track, I set up a Vocal FX send, and added a lot of de-essing. I didn’t want any s’s pinging around in my verbs! If you don’t know how to do this, here’s a quick walk through:
-If your vocal is mono, create a mono aux track.
-Copy all of your fx sends, from your vocal track, to this new aux track.
-Create a new send from your vocal track (say bus 35, for example)
-Set the input of the mono aux track to Bus 35.
-Set the output of the mono aux track to “No Output”
-From here, you can add any compression, EQ, or de-essers to the aux track.
-This will affect what content is being sent to your effects, without messing with your dry vocal sound.
—For the FX, I had a very short UAD EMT140 plate, and crazy long UAD EMT250 plate. But, the main effect you’re hearing is the UAD Echoplex. Normally, I set it to fully wet, but I forgot! And, as I turned it up to hear what was happening, I really dug it. It’s a little phasey, and almost sounds like a doubled vocal. Super cool! Sometimes it’s good to run with mistakes.
—For the final Vocal treatment, I used the UAD Studer, UAD LA2A, UAD1176, and UAD Neve1073. I sound like a freakin’ UAD salesmen. But since I can’t afford a hundred thousand dollars worth of gear, UAD really is a great way to improve the sound of your tracks, at a reasonable price. The presets are all a great starting point for people who need a little help. I generally start there and move the settings around to taste. Here’s a pic of a few of the plug-ins I ended up using:
It’s important to trust your own vision. You’re going to find the most success by doing that, and writing what you love. Having a small studio setup at home will give you the time, and freedom, to bring it to life. Then, if you need more, there are always other studios that can help you take it the rest of the way.
Listen to “Heaven”
Check out the rest of the Brindley Project:
My first experience in a home studio was working with Jay Joyce, on the first Alternate Routes album, Good and Reckless and True. This “home studio” had all the gear of a “pro studio”, but it just happened to be in a house. It was awesome! I noticed how Jay had things set up to move quickly. All instruments, and microphones, were just a few short steps away from being ready to record. Nothing stood between the music and the record. I know many “pro studios” put all the gear away each day for the safety of the equipment, as well as the changing of the clientele. These two approaches help the productivity of each studio setup. Putting everything away allows for the fewest number of equipment-related issues when resetting for another artist. Leaving all the equipment set up, and ready to go, allows the band to move quickly through the different instruments and capitalize on time sensitive creativity. The two big things I learned from recording with Jay was that I wanted to build a home studio of my own, and have it set up to work fast.
Since I do a lot of tracking by myself, I’ve been building my collection of gear to support quick recording. I rarely track a full band live, but I leave my microphones set up on the drums, piano, and guitars all the time. For me, this helps to record any of the instruments I have by myself. I have preamps and compressors set to my playing, and I have templates in ProTools with most of things I normally do in a song. Here is more detail on the things that have really sped up my recording process.
-I have a home network. This allows me to use my laptop, through screen sharing, to control my studio computer. When I have to track drums by myself, it’s as simple as making those tracks in Pro Tools, and bringing my laptop over to the drum set. In a couple of minutes, I can be recording a drum track without having someone in the control room, or running back and forth.
-I have all my microphones set up going to my preamps, and compressors, all the time. My kick mic is always going to channel 5 on my snake, which is normalled to one of my API preamps, which is patched to a distressor. I only have 2 distressors, so if I want to track something different with it, I’ll start by plugging the mic into the snake, and use the same chain. If more change is needed, I’ll repatch the distressor. The small percentage of time I want to try something different, I always make sure to move them back to my “normal” setup when I’m done.
-I also have a template in Pro Tools, with a close approximation of what I normally do to certain tracks. This prevents me from having to repeat the same steps every time (making new tracks, assigning inputs, adding plug-ins that I use). If you find yourself repeating steps, spend a minute to make a template. It will save you soooo much time!
-I bought a second 192 I/O for future expansion. As I get more preamps, I’ll be able to have all of my mics hooked up all the time, so I almost never need switching. My stereo Avantone CK-40 is always on the piano, my Coles 4038’s are always the drum overheads. My SM7, or Lawson47, is always ready to go as a vocal mic. I have a few more pieces of gear to acquire before this is fully realized, but it’s the goal to optimize my workflow here at Alpine Red.
-I have 4 acoustics. A “dark” Martin D28, a “bright” Taylor w/fresh strings, a 12 string, and my old Takamine strung up Nashville style. Since I don’t really mess around with open tunings, this allows me to track acoustics quickly in most of the needed applications.
-I have a bookshelf where I keep all of my percussion. For the shakers, and tambourines, that I use most often, I leave them in the most noticeable place so I can always get to them quickly.
-I leave most of my commonly used drum sticks, (broomsticks, brushes, timpani mallets, etc), on a table right next to the hi-hat.
-MIDI… I have a small midi controller under my desk and my Roland keyboard (with 88 weighted keys) is sending MIDI into the computer as well. I can audition a sound with the little guy, and move to the full keyboard as soon as I’m ready to start. After being in a studio last week that had a controller on the desk, above the keyboard, I might actually try that, too. You can always examine your situation to find improvements in your workflow!
-I have pens and pads all over the place. But, I also have a mug for pens in the control room. Whenever things get too messy, I put them all back there.
- I have 4 guitar stands (that hold 5 each), in the control room. All of my guitars are there full time, with room for artists to put their own guitars. This keeps all the instruments accessible to capture an idea.
-I have a comfy chair (in reference to the original article in part 1). I started having some back problems after a few months of regular time in the studio, and assumed it was from years of loading in/out of clubs. I bought a really nice office chair, and it went away. If you’re gonna spend 8 hours a day sitting at the studio desk this is an important investment!
-TWO COFFEE POTS! I can make coffee, and bring it downstairs, so I don’t have to keep going up to the kitchen. More coffee can also be made for anyone else who wants it. I love coffee…
All of these things combined, have saved me a lot of time over the years, and allowed me to strictly focus on performing, and creating, music in the studio.
For those of you who are songwriters, you can also get a lot out of a simpler setup. I know from working on this Brindley project, that Luke has a great recording scene at home that fulfills all of his needs. And it’s always ready to start working! He has a Neumann 184 for his acoustic guitar, and a SM58 for his vocals. Those two mics are on stands, and ready to record in Garageband with his Apogee duet. He can be recording just as fast as his computer can turn on. With today’s technology it’s super easy to get someone with a more elaborate studio to help finish a recording that you’ve started on your own. For example, Luke recorded this week’s song in his space before sending it over to me for some mixing. Check it out here!
Whether it be a recording studio, a songwriting space, or practice room, it’s important to keep this area organized, and efficient, to help you reach your goal.
With a great workspace and definitive goals, all that is left is the fun part… making music!
I started “House of Love” with a few key guidelines from Luke. He said he wanted it be pretty minimal, but that stomps and claps should a big part of the vibe.
A few weeks ago, I watched the episode of Pensado’s Place where Ian MacGregor and Greg Wells talk about their drum tracking scenario. It’s a great video, and I learned a lot. After that, I started messing around with one of their mic placements, and it’s been a game changer. I’m sure other engineers know about this, but it’s been exciting for me lately. It really locks the whole kit together.
Using my standard mic scenario, plus this addition, made a great foundation for the kick and hihat “stomp” vibe. Then, I just needed some stomps!
Sometimes in movies they use completely different tools to create the perceived sound of something familiar. Like flapping leather gloves together to sound like birds wings. Read more about that here. I tried to record stomps by putting on a pair of cowboy boots, and stomping on my fireplace. Surprisingly, I didn’t really sound like stomps. Anyone who has recorded handclaps, has probably experienced this. It sounds like a handclap, but not like the ones we’ve heard on records. My friend, who was at the studio that day, mentioned stomping on a plastic guitar case instead. I didn’t think that was gonna work. Yet, sure enough…it sounded much closer to a “stomp” sound.
Don’t always shut down ideas without trying them. You may end up being surprised. My grandmother always said that about food. Don’t say you don’t like something when you haven’t tried it.
* my cousin paid her back years later with this exchange:
-Grandma- That looks disgusting!
-Cousin- But Grandma, have you ever tried dipping French fries in ranch dressing?
-Cousin- Well, how can you say you don’t like it then?
Zinger….I think it was one of my cousin’s proudest moments. She tried it. Sure enough…she didn’t like it.
For the stomps, I just pointed my LawsonL47 down towards a plastic Martin guitar case on the floor. I did use Decapitator to grit it up, and some EQ, but it sounded pretty awesome right away.
With a weekly song, there isn’t much time to overanalyze the recording process. You just have to roll with what you’re thinking and go for it. Luke and I have been stumbling on a vocal treatment over the last few weeks, and while this song didn’t necessarily call for it, I used it. I liked the idea of the verb’d out guitars and vocal, against the dry down-homey percussion. Sometimes mixing and matching your favorite treatments, or ideas, can provide a completely new sound.
Finally, Luke wanted the song to end with a slight shift to a more gospel-esque feel. He mentioned that it’d be cool for the bass to switch to a walking line. I was a little bummed because my Nash P-Bass was getting some repair done, so I was back to the 75 telecaster bass. But, the track ended up working out fine.
I’ve never been a great blues, or gospel, bass player, but I came up with something pretty cool. This is a great example of how having a solid foundation of music knowledge can help you create music that sounds like “you”. I know the basics of what a bass player would do for a moment like this, but I used that information to create a part that was more fitting to my own style.
I’m not gonna lie. I never really liked practicing, and I’m not usually a big fan of rehearsals. But, like going to the gym, practice is an important step at improving yourself and getting the best results. For a productive practice session to happen, your space has to be set up to maximize the potential, and you need a plan in place to achieve specific goals. In my music school days, my teachers always said; “practice doesn’t make perfect… perfect practice makes perfect.”
Like anything worth working towards, a practice plan is crucial. The most productive rehearsals I’ve experienced were always mapped out with a list of goals. Sometimes, the best were also done in the shortest amount of time, as a result of those goals. A good plan keeps you focused.
The success of a rehearsal also depends on a few practical things. How is your space set up? If you can afford it, you can rent time at one of the many rehearsal spaces in your area. Having a PA with all the instruments and vocal mics set up and ready is a great way to practice the way you perform. I’ve been in countless rehearsals where there wasn’t a microphone for the background singer, or we didn’t have the acoustic guitar running through the PA. That means we didn’t really know how we sounded, and if we were audience-ready. These avoidable situations detract from the quality of the rehearsal and hurt your chance to fully prepare for the show or recording session.
We are all busy people, so we have to get the most out of the time we carve out to practice.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a rehearsal space of your own, I think it’s best to set it up, and dedicate it to being a rehearsal space full time. Go on Craiglist, and buy the parts you need, so you NEVER borrow those things from the rehearsal space.
Things to get:
Drums. You don’t need a great kit. Find something cheap, but make sure it has the same number of pieces that your “show kit” has. (i.e. 3 toms, and 4 cymbals, etc…)
Guitar amps. Loading in and out again takes up a lot of time, and really isn’t necessary. Get something cheap in the style of your amp and just leave it at the rehearsal space. (i.e. If you play an AC30, buy yourself a Night Train on Craigslist for practicing.)
Pedals. Have all those toys set up on a pedal board, so it’s always ready to go. Then you can just turn on your rehearsal space amp, plug into the pedal board, plug into the amp, and you’re making music. It is very important to practice with the pedals you use for the show. Having them neatly setup also minimizes the potential for broken cables, and damaged pedals. Ever had to figure out which of the dozen cables is busted? Yea…it sucks. A pedal board doesn’t just make set up faster, it takes care of your equipment.
Bass amp. Anything that can provide a clean sound and gets over the drums is all you need. For practice, having a massive stack is unnecessary. I’m a bass player, so I’m allowed say that. Use your pedals, of course (see above). But if you think you need to bring that 8×10 rig to every rehearsal… you don’t. Save your back. Seriously. After playing almost 800 shows, I’ve seen some ridiculous load-in scenarios. I know that you’re gonna need your back to be healthy for the actual gig.
PA. Your sound system doesn’t need to be great, it just has to be loud enough to get over the band without sounding bad. Like the guitar amps, make sure it’s ready to go, so you can turn it on, and start rehearsing. When you’re excited about a new song, setting up a PA is a buzzkill.
Microphones, mic clips, stands, & cables. You should have these things for every singing member of your band. I’ve been in a few rehearsals where we had to mount a microphone on a music stand. That is no fun. And, worse than that, I’ve spent good rehearsal time looking around all of my possessions for an extra mic cable.
Power. Have power strips set up around the room. Whether it is for plugging in someone’s pedal board, or getting a charge for your cell phone, you’re gonna need it. Another example of something that is annoying to spend time on instead of playing music.
Rugs. I’ve gotten extremely cheap new rugs from Lowes, but there are plenty of places to find them used. A rug helps your space feel better and can also deaden the sound of a “live” room to make the noise easier to handle. A loud, reverberant environment is a drag. It can be bad for your ears, and it washes out the sound, so you don’t know how well you’re actually performing.
Lamps/Vibe. A fun lamp will actually make your space fun to be in. Ikea has an awesome lamp for $20. Ever seen this guy before? I have 6 in my studio because they are inexpensive, and I don’t like standard ceiling lighting. (Who really does?)
Coffee/water. I mentioned this in part 1. If you want those things while you rehearse, or practice, have them ready so you don’t break the flow.
Basic summary: Buy inexpensive versions of everything you need for your rehearsal, and set up a space full time. Or, if you have no intention of gigging, leave the good gear set up like this. Create a plan for your practice time, so you can actually reach your goals, and measure your improvement. Regardless, a good practice space will allow you spend more of your allotted practice time actually playing music, and getting better.
Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple. – Pete Seegar
Sometimes the best approach is the simpler one. This week’s production on “Let Me Be The One” was minimal, but the “fool” in me didn’t start out that way. Sometimes deleting a lot of work, and getting back to the source, is the best thing you can do for a song.
I’ve seen musicians (including myself) get overly attached to their “part” when it comes time to record. It’s good to be confident, and stand up for your ideas, but sometimes a part just doesn’t fit. I’ve found that the more you are open to feedback in these situations, the more there is to learn. And, it’ll minimize the drama! The best songs are when all the pieces work together, and the sum is greater than the individual parts.
On “Let Me Be The One” I recorded some interesting, and sparse drums. I loved the way that they sounded, and really wanted to make it fit. I sent a version with drums, and without, for Luke to pick. But, as I was listening back to both versions, I realized that the drums didn’t add any value to the song. I was only enjoying them because I played them, and they sounded cool.
As it turns out, Luke, and I, agreed without even discussing it. When I separated myself from the performers perspective, I was able to hear it as a listener. The result is a very simple track that has been my favorite so far.
Check out “Let Me Be The One” at http://www.brindleymusic.com/
“Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime.”
This quote was passed around the Internet last week. I gave up trying to find the actual source, but read the rest of the quote here:
Rejection. It happens. Some people are unshakeable. But, more often than not, the type of person that creates art is also sensitive, and very shakeable. It’s also part of what makes us write to begin with. Like telling a comedian that a type of joke is off limits. Certain comedic bits may be totally offensive to others, but you wouldn’t write anything good if you were confined by boundaries from the beginning.
Last week was busy. In addition to my weekly Brindley song, I’m mixing some live shows right now, and had a few meetings in the studio about potential projects. I was really excited about last week’s “American Dream”. Not only do I think it’s a great song, but I tried some different things to broaden the range of this project. I’d been thinking about this one since we started, and I had some ideas. A song a week might get old if the production didn’t get switched around every now and then. Someone on the Internet made a comment about the production, and it set me off a bit. Funny thing is, it wasn’t even that harsh of a comment, and it was bookended by two very nice compliments. But, it stung.
I don’t know this guy at all. But, in a second, with one small comment, he chopped down about 20 hours of work that I did. In the business of making music, that is hopefully artistic, you’re always gonna end up with people who like it, and people who don’t. I understand this. What I don’t understand is why people need to voice negative opinions at all, and especially online. This music wasn’t submitted for a review. I’m guilty of it, too, but I’ve been trying to stop. Cut to me some years back, I might have been judging the opener of a show I was playing, or the cover band at a bar. Now, I stop when those things pop up and either look for the good, or keep those thoughts to myself. You can never really be sure what someone else might be going through.
Another situation comes to mind. A few years ago, playing a show with the Alternate Routes, someone came up to me and said exactly this; “I normally hate the song Going Home With You, but it was pretty good tonight”. It’s important to note, that this person WAS A FAN who came to a lot of shows. And, this person DID actually have the courage to say it to my face. But, the point is this person was trying to be nice. They didn’t think about what they were saying, and how it could be received.
Now, why am I writing this? Maybe it’s because I watched season 1 of Newsroom over the last few weeks. There’s no need to censor yourself, but it’s good to be aware of how the things you say can affect other people. You might not actually want them to feel that and you’re not as hidden behind your computer as you may think. If your intention is to be mean, then do it. But, don’t do it on accident because you wrote something online that you would never say to someone directly.
In reference to music, remember that despite your opinion, every musician (or producer, songwriter, painter, athlete, photographer, etc.) spent a lot of time, money, and energy to get where they are. Whether it is 8-hour days in college practicing Bach etudes to perfect their instrument, or 14-hour days in the studio tracking a new record, it takes a lot of work.
The Internet is a great part of life right now. We can stay connected, and the possibilities really are endless. You don’t have to like things, and you don’t have to agree. And, maybe I should have a thicker skin. But, next time you’re judging someone, or posting something rude online, wait it out for another second. Maybe you’ll change your mind. I hope you do.