Tuning Up the Hot Rods, vol. 1

One of the upsides of “downtime” is catching up on my instrument maintenance. So I started with the hot-rodded ones: they started life as basic and unremarkable and were then transformed into… well, you’ll see. Number one is only modded a little. Neutrik locking output jack and Dunlop straplocks (both standard on most of my modified instruments), and a momentary killswitch where the old jack used to be. It already had the graphite neck and LSR tuners. Usually tuned to E-flat and my main go-to for Strat sounds.

This was one of my main guitars used on the Bardela EP. The Crow is a good demonstration of it’s capabilities.

Slogging Thru The Archives

One of the advantages of having retired (willingly or not) from performing live is extra time to organize the archives of demos, live recordings and outtakes that have piled up over the years. Some of the demos actually have found their way out into the world as completed songs, others will probably remain unheard until I at least get a better grip on sample clearance. When I was just learning how to record/write/arrange it was long before DAWs and even affordable samplers. So my drum choices came down to using a primitive drum machine (“paging Dr. Rhythm”?) or making drum “loops” by playing recordings through my digital delay stomp-box and trying to hit the HOLD function at just the right time. As a result I have some rather amateur sounding songs with some of the best (unwitting) drummers in the world. Most of these tracks are of no significance or value except to me and the glimpse it gives to moments in my musical development. Still, I might share a couple pieces down the road.

Bass Rig

The Bass Rig [not pictured: Trace Elliot (small-ish) and SWR (big) amps and FCB1010 midi controller]

So, what is going on here? It’s actually pretty straightforward and super-flexable. First, the pedalboard:

The pedalboard can be used as a standalone rig for more basic needs. For more complex needs we add the rack (controlled by Behringer FCB1010 foot controller sending PC, CC and note messages):

Amps are either a Trace Elliott combo (for smaller gigs) or a SWR amp and 8X10 cab (for larger/louder).

RSF at the Mill

Meet “the Grateful Dead of the Northeast Basement IDM Scene”.

The entirety of the “Regional Science Fair at the Mill, 05/04/01” bootleg is the current offering on the RSF SoundCloud page. This is one of the best examples of the band at the height of it’s initial run; the sound of the band in it’s happy place. Also features special guest appearance by Darren Case on sax.

Turn your thermostat up to 105 degrees, grab a cup o’ Purple Jesus and look nervously at Pub Safe and it’s the next best thing to having been there.

Diving Into the Archive…

Ancient Audio Artifacts.

DAT, ADAT, Minidisc, Cassette, VHS; I am surrounded. Using my free time to sift thru the archive of my work from the last 35 years. So many forgotten moments, sessions, whole projects even, lost in the hazy mist of memory.

Until now. Among the projects being (re)discovered:

  • Multitracks of John Tower Group, Regional Science Fair, Christensen/Watts/Chestnut/Tan, and various albums for others.
  • 2-track recordings of gigs dating back to ’92.
  • An absolute treasure trove of Fools and Fodder relics (board tapes, demos, rough mixes and 2 different shows on video bookending the life of the band.
  • Hours and hours of 4 and 8-track sketches, demos, failed attempts and experiments.

All of these will eventually be transferred to a DAW/drive for long term storage and who knows? Some of it might see the light of day in some form or another. Actually, the Regional Science Fair gigs might make their way onto the band’s Sound Cloud page in case there’s anybody who wants to relive that mayhem. More on that soon.

Where Did That Month Go?

One would think that suddenly having most social options and locations off the table would free up a lot of time for creativity. Many of my friends seem to be kicking productivity into overdrive. Me? Not so much. This is also with a reduced work load/week. I seem to be paralyzed by the expanse of options. So I am trying to move obstacles out of the way, organizing, cataloging, and prepping. Making space for when I can focus again. Sounds logical and simple; feels anything but. More soon, I hope.

Pedalboard

The current guitar board sit rep:

Honestly, more straightforward than it looks.

Every sound I will need or have been known for, for any situation or setting.

GTR -> EHX Freeze -> Digitech Ricochet -> switcher*-> Line6 M9 (for basic delays and modulation) -> Veretex Boost (with expression pedal – not pictured – for volume control) -> Boss DD-8 (for glitching and miscellaneous weirdness) -> TC Electronics Wiretap (for recording parts of interest) -> Pigtronix Infinity 2 (looper) -> dry out to amp 1 (usually Marshall 8020) / loop out to volume pedal 2 – not pictured – -> Akai Headrush -> amp 2, monitors or direct boxes for FOH

* switcher settings: 1. Clean direct, 2. TC Hypergravity compressor -> Veretex Steel String drive -> Walrus Audio Slo reverb, 3. Catalinbread SFT overdrive, 4. Catalinbread Galileo overdrive, 5. Paul Trobetta Tornita (Kitchen Sink) fuzz

… and the orange box is a countdown timer/clock