Found this not too long ago. Pretty sick music.
In a “Recommended Reading” post a while back I suggested that everyone read The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten. Well, in case you weren’t convinced, perhaps this interview with him will push you over the edge. A great book written by one of today’s greatest musicians.
If you haven’t heard, there’s this new rapper out there named Hopsin. He’s pretty sick. Like, he’s pretty disgusting. His lyrics aren’t for little kids. But he’s also pretty sick – he’s a damn good rapper. His style is very Eminem-esk. Keep an eye out for this guy.
I’m a musician, but I don’t read books about music too much. Music is something I play, write, listen to, but I don’t really study it. Oh, sure – I took a music theory class once, and I know a bit about chords, scales, and all that, but I never sat down and studied it. After reading The Music Lesson by Victor L Wooten, I realized I did it right.
As most musicians would agree – music is a language. Well, how did we learn our first language? We were surrounded by other people who had mastered it. We weren’t taught to read or write before we learned to speak. So why do we do the direct opposite when we learn to talk (play) music? Instead of doing things the natural way, we focus on learning to read music, learning music theory, learning fancy technique, when instead we should just be playing. Playing with people who are masters will get a beginner up to their level faster than any book.
The Music Lesson is without a doubt the most influential music book I’ve read. It completely changed the way I think about music; everything from my technique, to my role in the band. The book goes through all the areas of music – groove, notes, articulation/duration, technique, emotion/feel, dynamics, rhythm/tempo, tone, phrasing, space/rest, and listening. We need to learn to focus not only on the notes we’re playing, but all of the other elements of music as well.
The best part of the book is that it’s really easy to read, and is told in a story – a mysterious man shows up to give a young bass player a music lesson. Each lesson deals with a different element. Throughout the book the story continues. It’s a real easy read, it’s fun and funny, and it’s moving. Again – this book completely changed the way I think about music.
So, I think I have what everyone gets every once in a while. Something called “writer’s block”. Kind of sucks, you know? There’s a world of news out there. I could write about Iran’s relationship with Israel. I could write about Barry Obama’s phony “budget”. OR I could write about rediscovering Buckethead. Yeah, I think that’ll work. I could turn that into a reasonable post.
As a musician, I’m always looking for the next coolest band, musician, rapper, or whatever. I think I found my favorite rapper – that’d be Lyrics Born. I can’t think of anyone else who can top his amazing mix of funk and hip hop. I can’t choose a favorite band at the moment. I’ve been listening to Nickelback’s Here and Now record for the past few weeks, but I’ve also been switching to Primus occasionally and reliving my bass virtuoso days. Musicians… I can’t pick a favorite.
I do however occasionally think of who I’d like to put together in a “super-band”. Who would I pick for each instrument, if I wanted to create the group of my dreams. That’s a tough choice, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few.
Drummers come first. I’m not a drummer, but as a bass player I know that drums and bass have to have a very tight relationship. A good drummer can set the tone for the rest of the band, and can make or break a show. Who would I chose for a drummer if I could have anyone? Well… it’s a tough choice. I wouldn’t go for Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy. No, instead I’d go for something that still has great chops, but is the most fun to watch on stage – Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin.
For a bass player? Well, it’s kind of tough because I’m a bass player myself, and I’ve had so many idols over the years. I’ve gone through a Geddy Lee phase, and Jaco Pastorious phase, and a Victor Wooten phase. I’ve learned a TON from listening to guys like that. But my favorite bass player of all time is still Les Claypool, the mastermind behind Primus and numerous off-shoots. Claypool might not be the best technical player, but he’s got so much creativity flowing through his blood that a super-band could thrive on.
Vocals… man. Again, there are so many great vocalists out there. I know a lot people might argue about whether the typical rock voice (Chad Kroeger, Aaron Lewis, etc.) is desirable in a super-band. The big names like Steven Tyler are a little too cliche. I’d want someone groovier. Someone with soul. And who has more soul than f’n James Brown?! He’d be an amazing front man, a great singer, great personality, and his funky soul could make some sick grooves with Claypool. I know he’s dead, but this is just a hypothetical here.
And who on guitar? Another tough one since I love so many guitarists. I don’t really want a Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton. Those guys are great, but I want someone with the technique that will keep up with the other guys. Don’t get me started on the Hendrix’s chops. He’s a great guitarist, but there are guys out there who would solo circles around him. And of those guys – I’d pick Steve Vai. Again, he has the technique that rivals anyone else out there, but he’s also really creative. He uses his guitar in ways most other guys don’t. And since he spent his early years around Frank Zappa, he’s bound to have a few more tricks up his sleeve than he shows.
There you have it. My super-band – Shannon Larkin, Les Claypool, James Brown, and Steve Vai. Tell me that wouldn’t be awesome.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of female rock singers. I don’t have anything personal against them, I just never got into their music. And really, I don’t think I’m that unique. Most people really only know of one big name female rock singer – Amy Lee of Evanescence. Well, I found someone new. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. Some pretty rocking songs, great guitar and drum parts, and a killer singer. I am a fan. Here she is singing along with Seether. Great performance!
I’m still getting ahold of this blogging thing. I’ve been at it for a few months, and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. I really appreciate the friendly comments on here and on twitter, as well as all of the “likes”. I’m still trying to figure a few things out – like the best time of the day to post stuff, which topics get the most responses, and how to market this blog to reach the largest audience. It’s these questions that will take the longest time to answer. Oh well. We’ll see.
Be patient while I experiment with all of this. I’ll try to keep things interesting, informative, and hopefully somewhat enjoyable. Right now – it’s a lazy post. Video again? Yeah. Video again. Hope you like Chris Cornell performing Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” live and acoustic.
Work is great. I get to spend time with great people, some of whom I consider good friends. 99% of us get along, and we all share a common interest – music. After being with the same company for almost 6 years it’s really rewarding to see the relationships I’ve built. There isn’t a more diverse group of people to be around on a day to day basis than musicians. Every religion, every political belief, every musical taste. It’s like a great big melting pot. (Kind of like what America used to be like.) I love my job, I love my coworkers, and a pay increase wouldn’t make me switch jobs. Well, unless it was a MASSIVE pay increase. But you get the point.
Getting back into the church routine has been awesome too. It’s cool going to church with friends instead of family, especially when they’re friends that are awesome. Religion had nothing to do with our friendship, but it’s helping us grow together. Since I’ve started going again I’ve also started running into familiar faces. Jeez – my church has a bunch of people I know going there, and I didn’t realize it until recently. We’re building a new family of church-going friends, without even planning it. I’m sure I’ll talk to some of these people later in the week about the sermon, the dancing, the music. That’s super cool.
And then there’s the music part of my life. Gigging is a ton of fun. Making music, and having an audience that appreciates it – nothing like it. Tonight wasn’t a regular gig though. It was a group put together a week in advance – a singer/guitarist, a bass player (me), and a violinist. We practices once beforehand for about 20 minutes, and that was it. Virtually no preparation, but we pulled it off, and the crowd loved us. Haha – there’s something cool about music being so spontaneous like that. Maybe it’s the goofy songs we played, or maybe it’s that I wasn’t playing with my normal group – I was playing with an old guy and a gay guy. Life’s interesting, huh?
And then I got to meet a few new friends. I buddy of mine brought his new girlfriend out to the show, and she brought one of her friends. All around pretty cool people. We left the bar we were at and sat down and just talked about random stuff for a couple hours. I had a few drinks in me by this point, so I was probably the most talkative one in the group, but I feel like I made a good first impression. I’m a fun guy, a good guy, and sometimes not a very politically correct guy. Good times, good times.
All in all, today was awesome. It’s days like this that I feel truly blessed. I’m surrounded with so many amazing people. I’m not the richest by any means, but I feel very rich when nights like tonight are over.
Nothing has opened my eyes (or ears, I should say) to music more than recording. Once you’re in a studio you have a completely different perspective on what goes into making an album. The production is mind blowing. Even on a pretty laid back record (which is what I usually do) the time that goes into it is beyond belief. Once you’re done you have something worth showing off, and something you’re proud of because you know how much time and effort (and money) went into it.
But having that perspective changes your views on music of all styles. Song writing, or more specifically – hit writting – is an art. Coming up with something that will stick in people’s heads for hours or days is not easy to do. Studio time gave me a new respect for pop and radio rock.
But while I learned something about music, it hasn’t gotten to other people. They still will hate a band because they are successful. And there is no band that’s hated more than Nickelback. Now, put aside the fact that they’re from Canada, which may be the only legitimate reason to hate them, and put away your pride and ego for a minute. When you do, you’ll learn to like things that are cool to hate.
I was talking to someone the other day about Nickelback, and this person just absolutely hates them. Then I asked a question – do you like Theory of a Deadman? They did. Do you like My Darkest Days? Yes. Do you like Saving Abel? Yes. Ok… now let’s analyze this.
Theory of a Deadman is also from Canada, was signed by Chad Kroeger to Chad’s own label, 604 Records, and both bands are now on Roadrunner Records. Theory’s albums usually have a mix of a few love songs, some drinking songs, and some fucking songs. Sound familiar? My Darkest Days? Discovered by Chad Kroeger, and Chad is featured on their only “hit” song, “Pornstar Dancing”. Saving Abel? Same group of songs and they were just on tour with Nickelback during the Dark Horse tour. In an interview, Saving Abel’s lead singer even admitted to looking up to Nickelback and aspiring to see the same success.
What I learned was that the sound of Nickelback is not the issue. If it was, people who hate Nickelback would also hate bands like Theory of a Deadman, My Darkest Days, and Saving Abel. But they don’t. What’s the biggest thing that separates these bands from Nickelback? HUGE success. Nickelback was liked until they became ridiculously popular. Now that they are arguably the most popular rock band touring today people hate them.
The other thing I commonly hear from people is that all of Nickelback’s songs sound the same. While there are obvious examples of this, (“How You Remind Me” and “Someday”) I’d rather argue that this isn’t a flaw in a band. An audience that has followed Nickelback for years has come to expect a certain sound. Straying from this is less likely to attract new fans and more likely to turn off old ones. If you made a record and it went platinum (sold more than 1 million copies) why would you change what you’ve been doing? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Nickelback has mastered the formula for make hit records that both men and women like. They are used for the Super Bowl, and WWE’s Tribute to the Troops show. Their songs are heard on the radio, both on hard rock stations and on pop stations. They don’t play clubs with 500 fans – they play arenas with 10,000 fans. Saying “Nickelback sucks” is like saying “Kobe Bryant sucks”. Like him or not, Kobe can back it up. And so can Nickelback.