Monday, December 31, 2007

Real Guitars Are For Old People. Issue #30

A few nights ago I was introduced to the gaming phenomenon known as "Guitar Hero" through it's recently released offspring, "Rock Band". For those of you who don't know (and I'm sure most of you do since I'm kinda late on the bus), these games follow the system of a "dance dance revolution" type experience where you must match up your movements (Hitting a series of 6 buttons and "strumming" the guitar controller) with a patterned grouping of color buttons in the rhythm/timing of how they are displayed. In "Rock Band" you not only have a guitar controller, but also an electronic drum controller setup, as well as bass and a mic which actually can tell if you are off pitch or not. Once you have everyone on their instruments you are ready to rock through a series of songs including "In Bloom" by Nirvana, "Say it ain't so" by Weezer, and "Should I stay or should I go" by The Clash.

To quote a phrase by uttered by "Stan" last month on SOUTH PARK...

"Real guitars are for old people."

As we played (here comes the old man), I found myself wondering how many people would actually be interested in starting a real band after their "Rock Band" experience, and how many hours logged on this game could have translated into an actual gaining of real guitar skills. I assume some as you would gain some finger dexterity, rhythmic skills, and you would get better playing in time since you perform to the equivalent of a metronome. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a waste of time because I loved it too, and I think it's probably more healthy considering it's "just for fun" and probably wouldn't turn someone in a head case like most of us musicians are.
Even cooler is where you get the "band practice" experience through the Xbox live service by logging in from separate homes for a full concert. Somewhere in America this conversation is happening..."Dude, Mike didn't show up for the gig tonight. I really need to know how serious he's taking this project. I want to take this all the way to level 99 and I don't know if he's in it for the long hall. Does a band talk work for you tomorrow night after I finish all the chores my mom gave me?" drama, even in a virtual world it manages to find it's way in...

All in all after playing it for a few hours I actually found it pretty hard and VERY fun. The way the programmers mixed the songs so that the guitar tones are HUGE really made it feel like you were playing through a big amp. I had so much fun in fact, that I told myself I couldn't get it do the fact I might lose my job by forgetting to write real songs and instead focusing on getting a "230-Note Streak" on the guitar solo to Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead Or Alive".


Might make a good story though. :)

See you in 2008!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays! Issue #29

Today is Christmas Eve and on behalf of the band and I, we want to wish you a very Happy Holiday Season! For those of you who are currently stuck in retail hell...get home soon. There are many things to be thankful for this year, and your continued support and interest in the music is a big part of those reasons so thank you! I hope you find time to relax this week, and please enjoy this stocking stuffer in the form of a video from the "SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM" CD Release show in November!

Happy Holidays to all!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crocodile Tears. Issue #28

In case you haven't yet heard, Seattle's own Crocodile Cafe shut it's doors for good abruptly last Saturday. The club opened it's doors April 30, 1991 and since then had become nationally known as one of the best rock clubs and places to see music in the Northwest. I've seen my share of shows at the Croc and though I unfortunately never played a bill there under my own name, I am thankful to have stepped on stage for a night while I was temporarily the lead guitar player for SWEET LOU in 2003.
I know that a lot of people are sad about this as it was a destination spot for music lovers who knew the evening would be ABOUT THE MUSIC (what a concept), but my reminiscing comes more in the form of what it symbolized to me as a young teenager in North Seattle...

When the Seattle Scene "exploded" in the early 90's, I was a 12 year old just starting to discover music (and my teenage identity) who every morning ate breakfast while flipping through the paper to see what exciting band was featured this week, and hoping there was a picture of what was sure to be my favorite new band (I didn't know many).
When you read interviews now with the popular Seattle bands of that time, they dismiss the "Seattle Boom" as annoying and unnecessary; an artificial hype that couldn't sustain itself and ultimately destroyed many bands in the process of unrealistic career expectations. I can totally understand that point of view if you were involved directly in that time, but for me as a young suburban kid looking into a yet unattainable world of music and art...I FUCKING LOVED IT.

SCREAMING TREES, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM...these guys were like gods to me and still to this day I wish I was of age at a time which appeared to me like pure magic. It seemed like at the core of all this was a Valhalla-like club called the Crocodile Cafe. This was the place I always felt like would be my first destination of choice should it work for a 13-year old to get away with a fake I.D.
All the good shows seemed to happen there, and it seemed like THE place I needed to get into first when the time was right; a mystical realm where you were transported into rock and roll ecstasy.

When I finally did play there, it was exciting but I also had the feeling that I missed out on being a part of a different time and that no experience could be what I had built it up to be in the head of a music obsessed teenager. The Crocodile Cafe I will hold in my memory was the Candy Cane lane of music and the unattainable woman of adolescent dreams...

As stated in my good friend Patrick Porter's blog, it is very difficult to run a successful business, and even harder to run a good music venue. The Crocodile Cafe did it for many years and for that reason alone it deserves our respect. Still, I wonder what this means in the bigger picture of things. With more and more live music venues closing in the past 5 years, we see an increasing trend of live music seemingly becoming lower and lower on the entertainment priority list for the public at large.
You have to ask yourself (especially someone in my line of work) why this is. In the age of Netflix, iTunes, and everything clawing at your entertainment dollar while sitting at home; it appears that more and more live music is taking a backseat. I by no means am offering a solution or saying I know why this is, but more or less just throwing out the questions that need to be asked no matter how uncomfortable.

Does live music matter anymore? I think so, but then I'm also pretty biased. :)
I think here is also where some of the responsibility lies with local area musicians in any city that make up most of the weeknight billings in clubs like the Crocodile.
I know that it's a challenge for myself and ALL fellow musicians to get new people out for shows who have never heard your music before which is half the battle in expanding your fan base. It's not that these people aren't extremely talented (many times they are), it's just that many people have been burned on exploring the local music scene and not being "met halfway" in the relationship/live performance. I can completely understand because for years I too have tried to catch the random newly hyped local band expecting the best and found myself leaving disappointed. Does that happen all time? No, but enough that I can understand why "Joe Music" may have given up on supporting his local music scene. I also know that that's probably a pretty unpopular thing to say, but unfortunately that's what I feel may be an ugly truth and probable contributing piece to the puzzle of why more and more clubs close. I'm all for original art through and through, but there's a reason why even though we're force-fed "American Idol" groups against our will, we turn around and make them the biggest selling albums of the year. Why? I believe it's because people want songs they can relate to that tell a story and artists that they can believe in no matter how the artist reaches their success. If the average listener/show attendee got the same feeling from the majority of his/her local music experiences, I can promise you the Wednesday nights would be packed, clubs would be thriving, and "I work early" would be and excuse of the past.

With more and more venues closing and the corporate airwaves getting increasingly homogenized,I think it's a challenge for all of us (myself included) to up the local music game. This isn't a half-assed pathetic call to arms that so many of us have read over the years for "invigorating the scene" (I'm not sure there's even a scene anymore) that never happens, but more of a look into how we artists may be part of the problem. I'm talking stronger songwriting, I'm talking stronger performances, I'm talking about taking the time to learn how to sing the parts right (you'd be surprised), and I'm talking involving "Joe Music" in a way that I think people are wanting to be involved from the heart void of any "scene" or exclusivity. I'm not saying by any means that this is a responsibility to be filled my myself or ANY one band at all. What I'm saying is that we artists collectively have a responsibility to the venues we play to bring quality entertainment to the table and they equally have a responsibility to us to provide the environment where that interaction can take place between artist and performer. If one of those things is unbalanced, it's not working for anybody be it performer, venue, or listener.

"Build it and they will come?"

Maybe, maybe not; but we don't know until we do. I'm sure this will be a pretty unpopular viewpoint (A.K.A. piss some people off) of a what I consider to be a crucial piece in ensuring local music sustainability, but I encourage you to tell me why you disagree if you do for both musicians and listeners alike.

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Now What?/6-Month Recap. Issue #27

O.K., I am partially back among the living now, at least enough to write something that might be interesting. This has to be one of the worst flu bouts I've had in a while, and I am ready to be out it the world (shoreline?) again.

Hmmm...lot's I wanted to write about last week. Let's start with the "SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM" CD Release show at the HIGHDIVE. Lots of fun, and I hoped everyone enjoyed seeing new full ban lineup. Seems like there are lots of new people around that had never been to a LAYMANS TERMS show before and thought that I was just a acoustic artist and were slightly confused. That's funny because I always thought people were confused when I would just play solo which used to be the exception until the past year when that's how I've been playing mostly. I really enjoy playing with the new band, and I hope you got to rock out!

It had been about 5 years since my last CD Release show (LT's "Everything You Love And Hate"), and the event in itself has always served as a "Christmas like" event for me; something you looked forward to for months and put a lot of weight into thinking it was the most fun you would have all year. Not so much self-pressure was put into this one, and I think that is kind of representative of the way music has changed for me, probably in a good way. Instead of having it be the end all personal inventory event of the year, I viewed it as more of a snap-shot in time and more of a celebration of accomplishment with friends. I found the whole process of recording, promoting, and organizing the event much different experience-wise since it was under my name instead of a separate band identity. In some ways it was a lot harder being all on my plate, and in many other ways much more fulfilling when success's came and challenges were overcome in the process. A year ago, I thought a solo CD Release would be years away and for that I'm very thankful in having been given the tools to speed up that process...

That said, I've been thinking while sitting with a head full of goop on the couch this week (and watching "Keeping Up With The Kardashians"...I'm sorry) that perhaps I've let the focus of this blog slip a little bit. When I started it, it was all about the process and bringing readers on the journey of how the hell I was going to make getting back into doing music as a job. I think I've done that mostly, but I know I've let explaining the process (as short and painlessly for you as possible) get away from having print time. Maybe people don't mind, but until I get comments saying "STOP WRITING ABOUT THAT" I think I may explore it a little more....


A: First and foremost, I know many of you have forgotten where the record stores are in your area (what's a record store?). If this is the case for you don't worry, I've got your back....

You can find "SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM" on iTunes for $6 by downloading directly HERE!

If you would like a physical manifestation of the album, feel free to hop in your suburban northwest vehicle and go to EASY STREET RECORDS on lower Queen Anne, or your nearest SILVER PLATTERS. Stocking stuffers friends, stocking stuffers...

Here's a picture of my dudes and I before the CD Release show! I love this picture.

We also had local photographer Heather Canik film the show on her SUPER nice camera (2 shots still and roaming), for a nice video to be put together in the next month or so. I've seen the footage and it looks great! Now if we can only piece together enough footage where I'm not standing there playing while catching flies like a mouth breather. "Art imitates life imitates art imitates..."

As I stated last week, I wanted to do a little 6 month/half-way point re-cap for this year long deal I signed on for with ISLAND FILM GROUP. So far I've gotten to do some pretty cool stuff in the form of the following below...

#1: Record a solo album.
#2. Get a full performing band together and release the album.
#3: Sell a song to a T.V. show, "Beyond The Break" ("Thicker Than Leather" off SFTOR).
#4: Record and release my first produced E.P. for another artist in the the form of Gigi Edgley's "...SO IT SEEMS".
#5: Play a 10 date tour with TJ SHERRILL.

I feel that these things have set the path for what I am hoping to accomplish in the next 6 months. First and foremost, I need to do everything I can to promote the disc, and with that brings more touring, and more playing out of the Seattle area.
On top of staying fresh with my own material, ISLAND FILM GROUP has some projects coming down the pipeline I need to start preparing for and once I can share I will pass it on.

Gigi Edgley and I are also looking to do some performance dates in the late winter/early springtime, and TJ and I plan on expanding the tour radius as we step into 2008. As always, I'm sure there will be some unexpected steps along the way and I'm welcoming those too...:)

Next week I'll talk some more about COLLIDER and clear up the difference between that and the Kyle Stevens Band a little more in-depth...

P.S....hope no one got to flooded earlier in the week. My garage did a little bit and I became and expert in water diversion as my yard was dug up to create some different drainage paths. I was feeling sorry for myself until I saw pictures of our friends in Chehalis. NOT GOOD. Stay dry, and see you next week...


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Feeling Like Crap. Issue #26

Last Wednesday was the last of 2 CD Release shows for "SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM", and thank you to all who helped us birth her @ HIGHDIVE. This the halfway point blog entry wise documenting my year development deal, and I had planned a big review of the show and summary of the year so far. Unfortunately, that wont be happening this week because I have the flu and I don't even know what I'm typing. You deserve better than reading the ramblings of someone half coherent, so I'll make up for it next week.

Also, if anyone took any pics of the concert please send them to, and I'll put them up on here next week.

See you soon,