Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Done And Done. Issue #138

I'm not gonna front, I really don't have a specific theme or story I want to write about this week other than the KIRBY KRACKLE album is done and I'm exhaling. In a good way. I'm just gonna go with it here...

It's been a pretty intense 3 weeks that has felt like a few months with everything we crammed in everyday to get this thing done in the time frame we set. The album will be mastered in a few days and then the printers next Tuesday. When its all done I think I'm going to find myself wondering what to do cause in a lot of ways writing and recording this album has got me and helped me through the life changes of the past 6-months in a way I did not expect. I found myself 5 months ago with KK partner Jim starting at a computer screen with 11 slots to fill and only a handful of ideas. All I knew was that the fun we had during the 1st half of 2009 had surpassed any expectation I had of the first KK album, and I wanted to re-create that ten-fold in 2010 with the follow-up. Bad.

I've heard over and over throughout my life that in extreme life transition the best art is made. I never really believed that. It always mostly sounded like a cop out to believe that extreme trials and the life of the grind would equate good art. Kinda like setting that precedent meant that if anything comes out of it it must be good even if it sucks, right? Hmmmmmm. Seemed sketchy to me. Most of the time I feel like a pretty happy guy, thankful for what I have in my life and my friends and I like to think that is the main creative fuel for me and my art. So, imagine my level of discomfort when I realized I HAD to make it in the exact opposite of life situations and that the result would be what I would have to stand behind for the next year regardless. Didn't seem like a recipe for success at all. It didn't look good to me at the time, but every day Jim and I would get together to work on the songs and just do the best we could despite what was happening throughout the peripherals. After we worked out the skeletal framework and guitars/lyrics were done, we were lucky to present the songs and concepts to our amazing live band Nelson (drums) and Byrce (keys). Not involved in the first album but an intricate and important part of the live band development; they helped shape the songs and pick up the gusto when I wasn't quite feeling like it many times. We couldn't have done it without them I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such smart and empathetic artists.

Once all the songs were arranged and ready to go and despite months of delaying till stuff was "right", we stepped into the studio with producer Don Gunn for 3 weeks of tracking and the most intense recording experience I've ever been a part of. He pushed me and I pushed back and I highly value the working relationship we have in understanding how the other person creates and how to get the best possible product we can make. That was the goal from day one and I'm very happy to say that the new KK album "E For Everyone" is coming out in March on schedule. If I can say it obviously subjectively, and something that I would have never thought would have been possible to say when life changed 6-months ago; this is the best piece of art I have ever created. Then again, maybe I'm not the best judge but I do know this...I am so proud of it and what it means to complete it in a way I haven't yet felt in my life. Everyone worked so hard and long and it's surreal it's done at all, much less how I feel it turned out. I CANNOT wait for KK fans and followers of my music in general to hear it because though the album is about/from the perspective of comic book characters/superheros, it turned into something much more for me with themes that run deep regardless of niche or market. That feels really, really good and I hope listeners connect with it even a pinky nail as much as do. March can't come soon enough...

Excited for the future and thankful for the now,


Monday, January 11, 2010

Concentrated. Issue #136

Like most young kids, I was a big canned juice fan. I looked forward to every other night when my mother or grandmother would set out a can to thaw and use the next day. In the morning when we woke up, I would ask to make it if only because it meant I could taste the pure concentrate in it's intensity from the lid...and maybe a little in a glass too. Perhaps a bit odd. Still, this past week has felt like that; the most concentrated, compact and intense week of music I've had in a while...

Last week when I updated this blog Kirby Krackle had just gone into the studio and had began laying down final drum tracks for our new album due out in March. This past week we announced the name of the record would be E FOR EVERYONE; a tribute to the video rating system culture, and also an acknowledgment that though specifically about geek culture/comics/games, we feel strongly that it crosses the niche to rock music lovers in general. Here's the logo as it appears on our yet-to-be-released album cover...

As you can see in the video above filmed during the week, we made a grid of all the parts/instruments that needed to be recorded. In a "normal" band situation (no band is normal) the different people take turns layering the songs with their specific parts/talents and the rest of the time is spent listening/playing video games/sleeping on the couch etc. Our process was different because once the drums were laid down it was my show solo style to make stuff happen from there on out over 6 10-hour days of loud guitars, vocals, bass and misc. additions as the songs flourished. It was a very different, fun, and honestly exhausting way of recording that I haven't done outside of my own studio in the way of so much needed to be recorded by me. Still, it was a great way to stretch and see what I'm able to get done on the quickly ticking clock before the album goes to print in a few weeks. Once the first day of instrument tuning (or lack of tuning) issues and then my developing bad attitude as a result was in the rear view mirror, we started to hit our stride. The few videos below are a taste of what it was like tracking guitars and we had been sharing them via twitter (www.twitter.com/kirbykrackle) all week to include our fans on the process if they found it interesting. If you've never been in the studio, it might make a little more sense when you know that though you the listener only hear my guitar, I hear the whole song that I'm playing along with in my headphones...

Thursday night brought the EXPLONE gig at the newly remodeled and reopened Crocodile in downtown Seattle. I've only had the opportunity to play Croc once years ago with a band I was helping out called SWEET LOU, so it was a pleasure to experience the new club. I was very impressed with the new layout, venue, and the employees that actually didn't hate you that you were in a band playing that night. Seriously. The venue really upped their game and professional atmosphere in general and I highly encourage all to go check it out for a great night. I'll be back as an audience member for sure. The show? I had a great time, but had to concentrate really hard on my parts after a few botched chords and realizing that my brain was still in studio mode. The sound was huge though and I was happy with the onstage mix that made my guitar sound like an axe of the gods. Truly one of the best on-stage mixes I've ever had and if you're a performer you know how important that is. Bravo Crocodile.

After 4 days of being in a studio with just Jim, our producer Don Gunn and myself, I think we were all ready to see some new faces stop by. It was good timing too because on Friday we flew our friends Jay Kinko and GMK The Great up from L.A. as they stopped by for GMK to lay down 12-bars of flow on one of our favorite songs for the album. It's a head bopper and I'm sure people that are familiar with my music will be surprised when they hear it. I literally CAN'T WAIT to play it for you guys. Sitting on my hands here.

Inside The Session with Kirby Krackle from GMK on Vimeo.

Saturday we had an off day which was nice to recharge for a lot of singing that took place on Sunday and getting many of the minor melody guitar lines and textures put on tape. Shannon and Matt from Seattle Geekly stopped by to sample some of the new jams, and Patrick from EXPLONE took time out of his day to play on our album as well. I've spoken highly about Patrick's melodic ear and face melting solos before so it was a no-brainer to have him play the parts that I wouldn't have done nearly as well. Not my wheelhouse for the hardcore rock solos, but he delivered like I knew he could and then some. So much fun for me to have a different ear interpret some parts that I've had right in front of my face for months. Very fortunate, and you'll know what I'm talking about when you hear it.

So, we're back tomorrow morning (Tuesday) and I have a day to clean the rest of my parts up before our keyboardist Bryce steps up to the plate on Wednesday for twinkling and shimmering ivory. Wish you all could see what's been going on in person (wanna come over?), and if I'm fortunate enough that some of you loved the first KK record you'll be pleased with how the new disc is coagulating. I'll be pleased. Awesomeness awaits.

Skipping in the streets is normal this time of year,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kirby Krackle In Studio. Issue #135

Hey all, just a quick blog this week an we're busting ass over in Kirby Krackle land to record album #2 at breakneck speed. We went into the studio this past Sunday for the first day of tracking and as usual, our drummer Nelson made us all look bad as he nailed final drums in only 8 hours flat. IMPRESSIVE. Yours truly doesn't operate in that world and all day the thing that can be heard the most over any set of words coming out of my mouth is "Start it again, Don". Reality Represent.

We have 7 days to crack out 11 songs and though doable, I have to live like a ninja-navy seal-marine with the Tao of Pooh to get it done in time. Thus, a short entry this week. Below are some pictures from the first few days of tracking...

The night before heading into the studio with KK I once again had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Silvertips game in Everett. They put on a great night there and I was happy to be asked back after my spontaneous social cussing problem didn't kick in last year. Double yay. My friends Michelle, Patrick, and Malorie came to support and we had a great time OD-ing on SHISHKABERRIES and random fair-esque foods. Also, this kid below is my new hero. Never repeated a dance move and went for 5 minutes straight. Baller.

See you next week and happy new year everybody!