STEPHEN METZ took these snaps at The Northside Tavern in Cincinnati, OH on November 13, 2010
YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PICK THESE UP AT OUR SHOW NOVEMBER 24th AT THE SOUTHGATE HOUSE BALLROOM IN NEWPORT,KY
We are excited to announce that we will be playing with our good friends The Pomegranates on Wednesday, NOVEMBER 24th at the Southgate House Ballroom located in Newport, KY for the release of their new album entitled “One of Us.” I have heard some tracks from the new record and I can tell you it sounds incredible.
On October 31, 2010 we set up in the woods in Burlington,KY to record a song entitled “HAIL HOLY LIGHT!” Before you fire up the video please make sure you pause the audio stream at the top right corner of our site.
We are playing Brink 2010 at the Northside Tavern Saturday, November 13th. Brink is a showcase that highlights bands new to the Cincinnati music scene.
“Because I know that time is always time
and place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice”
T. S. Eliot from the poem Ash-Wednesday
October 25. 2010
We live in a culture of recording. With social media (and blogs like this one) we record everything from what we had for breakfast to the more intimate details of our life. We record these events with video, photos, words and audio. Recorded music is not divided between professional and non professional anymore. Anyone can record a song and find an audience. New music is released into this culture of recording and posted up on websites with photos, videos and words and is then consumed by anyone who comes across it. It is then added to the listeners recording device (ipod, computer, youtube channel, facebook etc…) or left in the digital river. I don’t think many would disagree with this. The debate might be wether or not a “culture of recording” is a good thing. I should say here that I couldn’t take a side at this point.
The question I am asking myself is this: As a musician, how do I respond to this culture of recording? A good friend of mine keeps telling me that I am wasting my time asking this question and should just keep my head down and keep recording music. She is probably right. However, I have a hard time understanding how to work in this new culture. I see some musicians adapting to this culture in ways that I think are interesting and I see others ignoring or resisting this culture which I find mind boggling. As someone who has recorded most of my life with journals, four tracks and eventually computers I have great sympathy for this new culture. I think we might have something in common.
I should note that these thoughts are inspired by a book Henry lent me called The Recording Angel by Evan Eisenberg. The boombox image was made by my good friend Phillip Lavelle
Snaps by Michael Wilson…
Monday, September 13-Tuesday, September 21
I understand how people listen to music today. Videos and songs are posted on facebook. A friend mentions a band from the past or present and you google it. Music has returned back into the hands of everyday people. For now, at least, the pop star doesn’t really matter. We are so busy reading about our own lives and the lives of our friends that we don’t care too much what the stars are doing. Music icons don’t have the same power that they did which means we don’t buy a record just because this or that pop star is on the cover…we don’t have to buy music anymore.
There are things to lament in this tale and other aspects of the story that are promising. Moving from an industry driven medium to a folk art medium feels really good. Of course some of us will remember with fondness looking at pictures of our favorite pop stars in the pages of Rolling Stone. They were the untouchables, separated from our reality thus separating us from our reality. We have the old industry to thank for those moments. Still, whenever art is in the hands of the people new and exciting things happen. Music didn’t start out as a way to make a buck. It started out as a way to communicate. In this way music is being returned to its rightful place.
The next step is understanding what music is supposed to sound like today. Henry and I will often scratch our heads looking at the computer and trying to make sense of it as an instrument. It can do virtually anything with sound. No sound is limited to one definition. A kick drum can be made to sound like a symphony. A vocal can be made to sound like a guitar. You can chop up samples and spit them out in a million different ways. We try to tame the beast by starting with a composed song. We make sure the lyrics, chord progression and over all feel are working and then try and get the best possible sounds we can so that the full sonic spectrum is used well. What we are left with is a piece of music that is in flux. With the stroke of a mouse we can completely alter the course of the song.
The flexibility of a song is nothing new. I have been listening to one of Alan Lomax’s blues compilation and there are two versions of “Cherry Ball Blues.” There is one by Jack Owens and Buddy Spires and another by Skip James. They are two completely different songs when put side by side. Skip James’ high whine is a plea while Jack Owens lower timbre is a lamentation. Many songs were like this before the dawn of computers. What changed with recording software was the immediacy of being able to alter a feel. One can switch from Skip James to Jack Owens with a push of a button.
What we are left with is an undefinable sound. It is in many ways like folk art. Most bands and musicians today do not come from a specific musical discipline like blues, rock and roll, jazz or rap. Musicians of the internet age consume whatever music they happen to stumble upon which creates a musical wikipedia where the definitions are left up to whoever wants to give it a go.
In my mind, all this can be good. It is just going to take a while to make sense of it all.
It was a perfect first night of recording. The evening started out with sun and rain. Storms kept getting blown past us but the blue sky didn’t disappear until eventually the sun went down and it was dark and quiet.
Henry and I have been writing Pop Empire’s debut LP since we first started rehearsing the live performance of the”Rainy Child” EP this past January. Our EP was a lot of cut and paste/push and pull between Henry and me without much of a live performance during the tracking stages. We then had to figure out how to make the EP happen live which on some songs proved very difficult. The process of learning how to play sample and synth based music live taught us a lot about what we wanted our sound to be and what we didn’t want our sound to be.
We tracked guitars tonight and immediately the advantage of recording in a controlled environment as opposed to playing live became clear. When Pop Empire plays live I am not able to turn my ’69 Fender Twin Reverb past 1 1/2 because it would be to loud for the stage. When we recorded guitars tonight for “Devil Was a Preacher” and “True Believer” I had my Twin Reverb turned up to 3 which made it sound like some down home rock and roll. I tracked my Fender amp with a Beta 52 (it is normally used to mic a kick drum). I have a 20 watt Dr. Z high gain amp (The Monza) that I switch on for leads. I mic’d my Z with a 57 slightly off axis. No effects were added…its just the sound of my Gibson 135 semi hollow body working these amps to the bone.
We got together again tonight to prep for next week’s marathon recording session. We tracked guitar for “Like a Body” and were very pleased with the tone and the take. We then moved on to some mellower material and had trouble figuring out where to take the song. Our original composition was not matching the tone we wanted to use for guitar. The guitar amps are howling and we are loving it, however, it is painting a different picture from the sketch we had started out with. I have learned to let the elements that are working push me into the right place creatively. I am ready to get lost in this record…I might already be there.
A friend shared this with Henry and me. There is a lot of things that I like about this video.
Before you click on the video, please pause our audio stream in the top right hand corner of our website.
I hope you enjoy it.