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!
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.
Those Who Dig is a music blog co-founded and now administered by my friend and bandmate, Ivan Eisenberg. The blog fell into a lull over the last year or so, but we’re kicking it up again with posts and a new video series focusing on local music. We’re of course focusing on the Milwaukee scene for now, but hope to add satellite authors soon. I haven’t officially posted anything to the blog yet, but I will soon!
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.
The Echelon String Quartet hosted a day of lectures and performances at their alma mater, UW-Whitewater last week. As part of their closing performance, they played two of my arrangements, “Maps” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and “Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine, and an original, “Serenade in F minor.” Here are the wonderful recordings! Thanks a ton to them and UW-Whitewater.
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.
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 »
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.
Now that I’ve played about 20 shows this year and have attended at least a dozen others, I’m really noticing some strong trends, both positive and negative. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a pessimist, so I’m going to focus on a lot of negatives, but I’ll also offer some solutions. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been learning a bit about the mastering process with the recent Else and Pay the Devil recordings. It occurred to me while I was listening to the Else demo at work that it sounded better through iTunes than it did online. I attributed this to the EQ settings within iTunes and then thought,”Well, if this EQ sounds better, why don’t I just apply that to the track?”