Archive for October, 2009


Mmm, Peppery

Friday, October 30th, 2009


In asking for suggestions for potential merch that we could have on hand at shows, K-Billy suggested dd69 pepper spray.  He didn’t elaborate as to whether it would be for the band to use (you know, for a Bob’s Country Bunker kind of night) or if it would be for people to buy so they could escape the east bank.

I think we’ll keep working on more merch ideas.  Thanks KB for your “outside the box” thinking!

Timely Articles

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Just a couple days after posting some thoughts on the value of music, including waxing nostalgic for album covers, I ran across a couple of related things.

First, a cool article on album covers over at the Discmakers blog. It was nice to see some of the comments echoed my interest in giving music some physical value.

Next, a site that apparently knows what the value of music is: about $0.14 per song.  Interesting.

And the current issue of Recording Magazine has a Fade Out column that’s all about the current value of music, along with some speculation about ways musicians can still make money.

I guess I’m not the only one trying to figure this stuff out.

What’s Music Worth Today, Anyway?

Monday, October 26th, 2009

On Friday during a break at a Skinny Moo gig, I was talking to bassist extraordinaire Mike “Brown Note” Crow about the way people consume music nowadays.  We talked about the fact that when people download songs or albums, maybe they get some small digital copy of the album cover, but not much else.

Mike said that one of the things he looked forward to most when he bought an album or a CD was putting on the music and then poring over the album art.  Reading every word of the liner notes.  Maybe finding things in the album design that were related to the music that he was listening to.

When vinyl ruled, the large format of the packaging was a big enough canvas for really cool art.  At some point, the LP package went from a simple sleeve to book-style folders, some with pages of text and pictures.  It was something like a guidebook to the album and artist that you could carry around in your pajamas, at least as far as the headphone cord would let you go.

CDs, with their smaller size, still had booklets that went with them.  Sometimes the booklets folded out into one big sheet, and sometimes they were bound in the middle like a regular book.  Either way, though, it was still something physical that you could peruse while listening.

Of course you can find all the information you want about an artist and an album on the Inner Nets.  More than you could ever include in physical packaging.  But somehow (even if you are sitting on the couch with your smart phone, looking at album details while you listen to the music) it’s not the same.

There are no pages to get dog-eared from countless re-readings.  There’s no album sleeve to gingerly handle so it doesn’t get ruined.  There’s nothing tangible that you take care of to show that you value the intangible music that the object represents.

So what is music worth to people today?  Are songs just disposable nuggets that hopefully encourage people to buy t-shirts and  tickets to shows?  If everyone gets music for free, what value does it have?

drunkdude69, Brought To You By…

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Since I’ve been thinking about the whole “no one wants to pay for music anymore” idea, along with the “Metallica brought to you by Summer’s Eve” thing, I wasn’t really surprised to find this article at

From the article (about Microsoft sponsoring an entire episode of Family Guy):

Really the thing we should all be worried about is that Microsoft Guy could be the start of a trend, not of product placement in television – that ship has sailed – but of entire shows being rebranded at the whim of technology companies.

The similarity to what we talked about at Podcamp 4’s music panel is eerie. If the idea of having corporate sponsors subsidize music in return for shameless promotion is foreign to me, this next step is completely alien:Will we get to the point where  artists write entire concept albums singing the praises of their sponsors?

Yes, I think it sounds like a ridiculous idea. But the idea that a Family Guy episode would be built around promoting Windows 7 sounds equally implausible. And yet it’s happening.

Well, I’d like to write more, but I have to get to work writing lyrics for our new record The Miller and the Light. Hey, a band’s gotta make a living.


Two BPM Turns Jam Junk To Tight Tuneage

Friday, October 16th, 2009

We had a productive studio night on Thursday.  We’ve got a handful of tunes that we’ve been working on that are on heavy rotation in our heads.  One of these songs is going by the working title of “Reigning”.


When we’re jamming without a drummer we usually run some kind of click or drum pattern in the background.  It keeps us together, and later it lets us build demo drum tracks with audio loops or MIDI drums or whatever percussion thing we want to use.

Sometimes we adjust the tempo of the click to fit what one or the other of us is playing.  For example, let’s say that Mike has a riff that he left himself in a voice mail (which happens a lot).  When he throws it out, he plays it at a particular tempo that feels right to him.  So we’ll match the tempo of the click to his playing, using tap tempo on one of the various and sundry pieces of gear in the studio, or on someone’s iPhone.  There’s an app for it. Shocker.

So, in the case of “Reigning”, we wound up jamming at 77 BPM (beats per minute). At the time it felt good, but we might have been impaired at that juncture.  Like the guys at Should I Drink That, as the night goes on we get a little, ahem, loose:

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A couple weeks later, we tightened up the arrangement, built some demo drum tracks using ACID, and re-recorded some stuff.  It was starting to sound decent.  For some reason, though, the tempo started to seem a little… plodding.

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What to do?  We had already recorded some pretty good tracks that we were hoping to keep.  If we changed the tempo, we’d have to re-record all of that.

As a test, we used a time compression/expansion plug-in to take a mix of the song from 77 BPM to 80 BPM.  You wouldn’t think so, but that little 3 beats per minute change made a big difference in the feel of the song.  We chewed on it for a little bit, and finally settled on 79 BPM.  It still keeps the pounding rock vibe, but tightened everything up in a way that is subtle, but noticeable.

So last night KB and I dropped new guitar tracks to the sped up version of the demo drums.  We added a little more instrumentation and reorganized some of the song structure.  Now all we have to do is have Mike re-record the bass part (we compressed his bass part to the correct tempo for recording purposes last night), and finish the lyrics.

We’re feeling a kind of Robert Plant lyric vibe – you know, like Middle Earth mystical (wait, let me get my 12-sided die), or epic mythical journeys.  Or some crap like that.  We’ll see where the idea juice takes us, and we’ll post the whole thing when we’ve got it about done.

Until then, here’s a snip showing the difference that 2 BPM can make.

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