Pop

These pieces are from my various rock, techno, and soundtrack projects that use guitars, basses, drums, and conventional pop songwriting. I’ve also included my arrangements of pop songs in this category.

Music in Metal Tales

January 29th, 2017

My metal rendition of the music from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is now included in a video game! The game, Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods, is an arcade-style animated game from Spanish based Nuberu Games. You can view some game play footage and read more about the project at their official site, http://metaltales.com/.

And check out my name in the credits in this review video!

{ELSE} Who Will Cry Re-Release

January 10th, 2017

Another chapter in the project that never ends. This, I can say, is really truly the final chapter though. My primary project, {ELSE}, released a remixed and remastered version of our debut album, Who Will Cry, today.

I started recording this album in December of 2013. My guitar parts and bass were done in a few weekends, and then the long waiting game started. The first initial roadblock was that our singer, Juan, decided to leave the band right at that time. This meant that for the first part of 2014 we had to split time between auditioning new vocalists and recording.

We found our current singer, Shane, and he had learned the material by the summer of 2014. I also moved into my house during that time, and made the switch to Mac with a new laptop. I spent a few weekends transferring all of the old files to the new laptop and we finally started the process again.

After a few gigs we felt that Shane was comfortable enough to record, so we laid down vocals in the fall of 2014.

Meanwhile, our drummer, Joe, built himself a studio to record drums, but that isn’t cheap or easy so he wasn’t done with drum tracks until January of 2015.

Only the next weekend or so we finally got around to remaining guitar tracks and I went through about a month of intense mixing and editing in February of 2015. Because this was my first true album, I had a lot of lessons to learn along the way. The drums were very, very difficult and our lack of a proper pop-filter and screen on vocals meant that I had a lot of consonants to scrub and compress. The timeline of everything was so spread out that as I learned a new technique I would go back and apply it to some of the tracks that were already a few years old.

Finally, on March 20, 2015, we had our CD release party! It was done!

Haha, no, not at all. I was immediately unhappy with a lot of the album and in June 2015 sent it off for a remastering and a new digital distribution. The remaster was a bit better, but I still had problems with the overall sound and some of the individual performances.

Therefore, I opened up all of the tracks again and tackled problems. In the second half of 2015 I started remixing just a few songs. I focused on making a rounder, less tinny sound. Over the years, we have backed the treble and presence of our guitars down, so that needed to be reflected. I did the same on the FX channels and the result was that without so much very high-end clutter, all of the instruments were clearer and louder. I also worked on the drums, particularly the lower end and added more oomph the bass drum and a heck of a lot to the toms. I think the new tom sound is actually the most improved part of the album!

Into the winter of 2016, I applied those edits to the entire album. That sat for quite a while, and finally in December we re-recorded a few vocal parts to get rid of lyrics we were frankly sort of embarrassed by. I then ran everything through my own remastering and submitted for re-release through CD Baby.

The very last delay was a wonderful Hawaii vacation into the 2017 New Year, but upon return, the final proof was ready for review. I did actually find an error in it that needed to be fixed! So, one final fix, click that “Approve” button and finally, it is done.

Now, the hilarious thing is, I still have some problems with this version. I messed up a noise gate on a tom in one song and you can hear it opening and closing, adding a weird accent to some cymbal hits. I also introduced a small pop in slicing a vocal take. I also kept finding other new problems, but almost 100% of the time I would listen back and find them in the older versions, meaning that after two years and hundreds of listens I was hearing these things for the first time. I decided to just leave all of those. I also think the guitars are still not where they could be, but I really need to stop nit-picking and move on.

The new demos I’ve been recording in the last few years all sound as good, if not better than the album, and all of the learning I did working on the album is definitely a contributing factor. I think that our next album, which we hope to record later this year, will be a breeze compared to this. I don’t think I’ll need another two years of learning about compressors, adaptive limiters, noise gates, flex tempo and pitch correctors. I’ll just start with the current settings! We’ve all also improved at our individual crafts – Shane sings stronger and more in tune, Nate and I have greatly improved our guitar tone, Jon and Joe play with more consistency – so I am hopeful there will be little editing this time around.

With Who Will Cry, although I’ve said it before, I am finally done.

Wedding Season

September 27th, 2015

… is over. This year, Ellie and I attended and performed in three weddings. Each wedding had a different ensemble and type of music, and for each, we had to arrange the music. It was fun and I know it’s a greatly appreciated contribution, but it did sideline much other composing, arranging, and practicing. Read the rest of this entry »

Whiskey Doubles Available on iTunes

June 2nd, 2014

Bandcamp-CoverWhiskey Doubles debut effort, Honey Creek EP, is now available on iTunes and Spotify! We recorded, mixed, and mastered everything ourselves and are incredibly proud of it.

Buy Honey Creek EP on iTunes »

Of the North Disbanding and Reforming as Whiskey Doubles

April 11th, 2014

After playing in the 6-pieces folk outfit, Of the North, for the last year and a half, the band is disbanding. I joined a band at a time when they were getting a bit bored with their material and added my cello to help change things up. As Nate, the bandleader and songwriter, started working on new material, it started to head down a pretty different path than the previous material. The new material is smaller and more intimate, and works better with a smaller, more melodic ensemble. Therefore, the band is reforming as Whiskey Doubles, keeping Nate as the singer/songwriter, me on cello and percussion, Nate’s wife Kristen continuing backup vocals, ukulele, and percussion, and adding my wife, Ellie, on banjolele, vocals, flute, and percussion. Kristen will also bring out her clarinet for the first time with the group, so we are expecting a lot of small chamber orchestra instrumentation.

We’re practicing hard, working on recording, and have already begun setting up a website. Read more about Whiskey Doubles on our website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

Heironymus Bosch – Garden of Earthly Delights, A Metal Tribute

February 21st, 2014

Last week, the internet, or at least the internet if a lot of your friends are musicians and historians, blew up with the transcription of music written on a man’s butt in the depiction of hell in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. The hymn reminded me a lot of the stuff I heard in early music history, very simple, kind of plodding, and close to modern harmony with just a few odd cadences. It was definitely a decent minor key melody though, so I decided that given the melody’s history, I’d adapt it as an orchestral metal tune.

The melody was only available as an audio file, so I first had to transcribe the transcription. The only difficult part about this was that I wouldn’t exactly call the phrasing natural, or at least not as I’d like it, so I did slightly change some of the rhythmic values. I then determined what chord structure to put underneath the melody and started writing parts. The bass part, a bit more active than in traditional metal, came first. Rhythm guitars came next and focused on galloping rhythms, palm muting, and opened chords in the 2nd half of the progression. I was able to do all this between midnight and 2 last Friday, after I returned home after a party.

Saturday morning I recorded those and programmed the drums in FL Studio, then set to work on writing out the strings and brass. After rendering the orchestral elements with EWQL Symphonic Gold, I mixed what I had so far together. Then it was time for the leads.

I first wrote two additional lead guitars providing some counter-melodies and arpeggios towards the end of the song. You can hear those split hard left and right. The final piece was recording the hymn as the lead guitar part with a good dose of pinch harmonics and vibrato.

A few rounds of mixing, some quick intro and outro slides for the video, and it went up on YouTube. What a way to spend a weekend.

Radio Appearance with Pay the Devil

December 15th, 2013

Pay the Devil made an appearance on MSOE‘s radio station, WMSE, on Friday morning to promote this last week’s show with Of the North. I had already taken the day off of work to get some Christmas shopping and other errands done, so it was great to throw in an extra trip to be on the air. We did some interviews, played 3 songs, talked about the show, and then at the end an Of the North original was played on the air.

Listen to the archive recording (12-13-13), starting at the 52 minute mark »

Else Demos Released

December 9th, 2013

All (well, most) of the Else demos I’ve worked on over the last few years have been officially released via Bandcamp. I’ve spent countless hours writing, revising, and recording this material at a pace of about a song a month. All guitars/bass/FX are performed by myself  and recorded at home using my Line6 POD X3 Live.

Listen to the Else demo material »

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pros and Cons of Home Recording

November 22nd, 2013

Else is about to embark on a pretty significant home recording project, aiming to record 8 originals in the best quality that we can. We decided to do all of the recording ourselves, an increasingly popular option given the relative afford-ability of modern recording equipment. The decision was not made without first weighing some pros and cons, detailed below. Read the rest of this entry »

New Quartet Arrangements

November 18th, 2013

First of all, some exciting news… I’m engaged! We’re currently in full wedding-planning mode with the date set at March 29th. Part of the ceremony is going to involve the Echelon String Quartet, including two new arrangements. In the spirit of getting things DONE, I completed both in a stupidly busy week.

Read the rest of this entry »