Wednesday, January 30, 2008

After-Practive Feelings

Well we finally got together for the first time in like....a month as a band. I didn't think it would be that exciting but it's really exciting. We had a very solid practice and assembled 3 new songs. That puts our total at 12 which is close to what we want before we start looking to actually record.

Joe and Owen have been gone for a while but the grooves and riffs of this last practice still linger in my head. I'm still banging the drum beats to one of the new songs out on this desk as I write this blog and I can't help but think that I'm not the only person in the world who finds this stuff catchy and enjoyable.

We set a goal for ourselves to write three more songs before the end of February so that will put our grand total at 15 and we will begin preparing for recording "The Album". It's funny to think that we've discussed it for so long and we've done a demo and we've played 3 shows and we're finally at the place where we have almost enough songs to go into a studio and do them all up right and get it replicated and start sending it to labels and stuff.

I honestly hope that this band is just not running off the enthusiasm of our friends. I hope that we can actually have people connect with the music we're making. I want people to dance in their living rooms to our music and play it at parties while they're off getting drunk and having a great time. I don't want it to just be...our thing.

damn I sound optimistic...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reving High

I was going to set this post up as another interview with myself but then I decided I should probably break that until I have another good question to ask myself. So putting that on hold for now let's talk about something awesome I discovered today.

My sister introduced me to this thing a while ago called "NaNoWriMo" which is just crazy writerspeak for National Novel Writing Month. It's this crazy month where writers are challenged to write a 40,000 (I Think. She'll correct me if I'm wrong in the comments section) word novel in the month of November. This is crazy for two reasons. First it's insanely difficult for the average person or even the average writer. I think only something like 2% of the people who actually sign up end up finishing. Second, it's an incredible wake up call. It involves a community of artists all independently trying to do the same thing and there's an incredible sense of motivation from other people and from the weekly emails you get from the NaNoWriMo headquarters. And then recently I discovered that there's another thing like this called "Script Frenzy" where you write a 100 page script in April. Again, same craziness, same positives.

So I was browsing the internet today and I discovered something even more awesome. It's called the RPM challenge and its simmilar to NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy in that it lasts a month and involves creativity but its point is to create an entire album (at least 10 songs and at least 35 minutes long) instead of writing a lot.

So I'm taking the RPM challenge as sort of a way to jumpstart my solo project (currently called Prior Peter although that might change...we'll see) and as a way of getting a head start on my 2 hours thing.

I'll keep you folks updated as to how things are going and such from this blog come February 1st and we'll see how this madness progresses.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Questions I Wish People Would ask Me: Part 2

"Hey Ben"
"What do you want?"
"Whoa don't sound so angry. What's the matter?"
"I took a jump and bailed really hard knees first and slid down a hill rather far"
"That sucks"
"Yeah and then to top all of this off a snowboarder who didn't spot his jump before taking it cleared me by about a foot and a half while I was retrieving my skis"
"wow..."
"yeah so if you're a snowboarder and you ever are in a terrain park please spot your jumps or I'll have to curse at you loudly. But I'm being grumpy due to this large bruise on my knee. What did you want?"
"Oh right well I was just wondering what you've been doing since O nO! went on hiatus. Any side/solo projects or anything like that."

Well let's talk about that. The last O nO! related event was like....4 or 5 weeks ago now with that crazy house party which was pretty sweet but sad in some ways due to the fact that it signaled the end of O nO! for a while.

However I haven't really stopped moving with the music since then. Two days after the O nO! party my friend Tyler came over. Tyler is one of the few friends from high school I still try to keep up with. Last year shortly before school ended we got together and recorded some songs partly out of my desire to learn how to record stuff and such and partly because Tyler is an awesome songwriter and has some really cool ideas and he had a really strong desire to record some stuff before he finished High School. So the result was "A Productive Mess" 8 songs that we recorded in a weekend all of varying quality with a few covers thrown in to Tyler's original songs. So a summer went by and then October rolled around and Tyler sent me an email saying he wanted to record a few more songs around Christmas. So we set a date, I rented some equipment, and on the morning of Wednesday December 19th I drove to Belleville and picked up Tyler.

The remainder of the day was spent recording four songs (one cover and three originals by Tyler) all of which were very high quality and sounding really good. We called this second collection of songs "More Productive Mess". You can download the four songs we recorded together from here
Kerosene (The Stuff that Blows Up)
Nothing
Take a Walk on the Wild Side-Lou Reed
Untitled

So that's my side project. Just for further information me and Tyler named ourselves "VanGrzesik" and I play drums and chimes and sax and do a few backup vocal things here and there and Tyler plays all the fretted instruments and sings lead on everything.

As for a solo project from me that's something that's been stewing in my brain for the past couple of days while I've been out here. See....I've got some loops sitting on my looping pedal at home but I didn't really know what to do with them. They're pretty layered and definitely far from anything I've done with O nO! and distant from most of the jazzy stuff I've written for acoustic but I like the layered sounds that are coming out so much that I've decided to just go ahead and start working with them anyways.

So while I was thinking about this looping pedal stuff I was also thinking about some other things that I've written in the last year and I came to the conclusion that I should at least attempt to record some of this stuff for future reference or whatever. So in the last couple of days I've resolved to try and record 2 hours worth of songs. I don't know if I'll make it, I don't know if I'll get close, and I don't know how difficult it will be but that's my goal and we'll see where it goes from here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Questions I Wish People would Ask Me: Part 1 of a series

"Hey Ben?"
"Yes?"
"You're into music aren't you?"
"One could say this is true"
"So what would you say was the best music for this year"

"Well now... I think it's about time for Ben's lengthy list of music he thought was excellent this year.

I'm going to do this in terms of songs as opposed to albums because I don't think I actually bought 10 albums this year that were new....maybe I did I dunno

All of these songs have only one thing in common. After listening to them a bajillion times I still love them to death.

Selfish Jean-Travis
You may be wondering (as you will with many other tracks in this list) who is Travis? But this question is irrelevant. All you really need to know is that something about this song is excellent. It probably has something to do with the multi pronged onslaught of the driving drum beat, simple but catchy baseline, wailing vocals, and a very catchy high guitar riff.
Kitchen Sink-Amon Tobin
Some people make music. Amon Tobin is not one of these people. Amon Tobin is an uber arranger. He takes samples of other peoples music and then reorganizes it into a song of his own creation mutilating the original samples beyond all recognition. For his most recent album Foley Room Amon decided to abandon his practice of using vinyl samples and instead recorded sounds; lots and lots and lots of sounds of everything from machinery to experimental string arrangements to motorcycles. I'm sure his microphone got a workout. Anyways this is one of my favourite songs off that album because it's a song made entirely out of water related noises and it sounds awesome. IF you ever can't pee go listen to this song and you'll be running for the lavratory in minutes.
Finer Feelings-Spoon
I've read many a review of Spoon that says their music is great due to their minimalistic approach to music making and the simplicity of their songs and some other stuff but that's all a load of crap. Spoon's music is great because they have sweet baselines. In fact, that's the only reason any music is ever sweet; because it has a sweet baseline. That's why having an excellent bass player in your band makes you so much more commercially viable. Anyways, this song has a sweet baseline and the singer does some cool things with his delivery of the vocals. He makes me think of.........someone.
Florida-Modest Mouse
Everybody listened to Dashboard off this album and they were like "oooo Dashboard, it's the best song on the album". Much like Spoon being good because of minimalism, this is a load of crap. The best song off "We Were Dead Even Before the Ship Sank" is Florida. I've listened to it a kajillion times and it's still my favourite song of that album. I will never get sick of it. Why? (other than the fact that it has a sweet baseline of course) I don't know but I'm going to go listen to it again to try and find out why.
1 2 3 4-Feist
Ok so it was on an iPod commercial and now it's a huge hit and she's up for a pile of grammy's but before all that happened she played this song on a stage on Toronto island and I loved it and I still love it. It's so happy.
Kreuzberg-Bloc Party
It's my favourite song off Bloc Party's new album because it has a catchy guitar riff and it's about people who feel ripped off by the world. What more can you ask for from Bloc Party?
No Cars Go-Arcade Fire
Ok so this is kind of cheating because I've been listening to No Cars Go since Funeral came out because it was on Arcade Fire's original EP but the remake somehow makes this already great song even better. It makes me want to pick up a marching snare and start wailing along with it.
Floorplan-Tegan and Sara
This is one of those songs that will stay stuck in my head for extremely long periods of time due to its catchy guitar riff and Jason McGerr beat. That Jason McGerr....he has his own style of drumming now.

And that's pretty much it I guess....look for part two of this series sometime in the future.