The problem of cymbals

So, yes, I have been rushing around trying to get ready for this trip. I got my passport mailed off, and also got the news that I will be better served by bringing my own cymbals. This is a problem on two levels- one is that the cymbals for Music Hates You are massive plates of bronze- the sort of thing that could double as a shield if one got into a dustup while drinking at Medieval Times. However, much of the Low Lows material is played with brushes. This is one step up from breathing hard on the drums. Striking a massive heavy cymbal with a brush is a fart in a hurricane. No sound shall emerge. This is bad.

Additionally, all of these massive cymbals, I am a bit ashamed to admit, are broken. Life’s tough when you’re a Music Hates You cymbal. Really tough. When a cymbal breaks, whatever magic symmetry that makes the ringing crash of a cymbal possible is interrupted. I don’t know exactly what the physics are, but I can certainly hear it the second a cymbal goes. Suddenly the tone goes from warm and bright and majestic to the disheartening “tank tank tank” of someone bashing a serving platter with a spoon. It’s depressing.

So, new cymbals must be begged, borrowed, stolen or, god forbid, purchased at retail price. (this last one is the least likely option… because that would involve spending MONEY, which is in short supply around here, let me assure you.) Then I have to check them as baggage- a proposition that seems nearly certain to end in tears.

I am hoping, HOPING that the Bosphorus cymbal company comes through with some kind of deal for me to endorse their fine products.

So, yeah, leaving the country and stuff

I have indeed been invited by the Low Lows to fill on for their regular drummer on their European tour. I will be On the Continent from the last day of (r)Oc(k)tober until late November. Watch their site for confirmed tour dates. I am going to be posting them as fast as I can over here.

To clarify: I am only taking the briefest leave of absence from Music Hates You and taking this once in a lifetime opportunity to play with Parker Noon of the Low Lows (who I think is a genius) and I am not replacing Jeremy Wheatley for longer than a brief heartbeat in the grander scheme of corpus mundi…

I will probably be blogging the whole trip here. I will post tour dates as they are confirmed…

Right now they are:
Oct 31 2006 8:00P- The Luminaire London / UK

Nov 8 2006 10:00P- the Luminaire London / UK

Nov 9 2006 10:00P- the Hope Brighton / UK

Nov 11 2006 10:00P- the Adelphi Hull / UK

Nov 12 2006 8:00P- the Cavern Exeter / UK

After that, it’s on to France, Spain and then Italy.

What I have been up to

It’s been all about music in my life, lately. I haven’t really had time nor heart to spend a bunch of time fulminating about politics, which is one of the reasons that this space has been sorta dull lately… BUT allow me to bring everyone up to speed, if you’re interested.

First some news about my band:
Music Hates You’s record “Send More Paramedics” is now available from the iTunes Music Store…. how about them apples? (ahem)

I have been really concentrating on getting the best tone possible out of my drums this week. This is due, in part, to having spent all of Tuesday afternoon and most of Tuesday night working on local drum-maker Henry Parker’s computer. Much of the work involved brief interactions with the machine, followed by long periods of waiting while files were copied or software was installed. While the machine was just chewing on data and being boring, I would run into the drum room and bang on stuff.

Henry makes really nice drums in very limited runs. You can pre-order kits from him and he will make it to your specs, but he’s way too expensive for me! However, while we were waiting for stuff to happen it was fun to go bash on stuff. He has a one-of-a-kind aluminum custom snare that I played for five minutes and then had to own. Of course, that one’s not for sale. bastard. He also has a kit made from the wood of a pecan tree that was struck by lightning in his front yard. He had it cut down and milled on the spot, then he sent the wood to a shell-maker. It’s long been alleged by some custom drum makers that lightning struck wood has a unique resonance and tone. I wouldn’t argue against that after hearing the snare drum from that kit. Something else, I tell ya.

So, in my quest for better tone and chops, I have been spending a lot of time studying the Rock Drum Archetype, John Henry Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

(If you’re a musician or just have a love of great drumming, you should click that link. There’s a ton of good information there.)

Here is a cool repository of drum outtakes from ‘In Through the Out Door’. As I have been scouring You Tube and other sources for video of Bonham playing, I have been struck by an inescapable conclusion- Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are kinda bozos. In ALL of the footage I have been watching, Plant and Page are way downstage from the rest of the band, Plant prissing around like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and Page staggering back and forth, junked out his mind and missing notes left and right. In the meantime, the greatest rhythm section in rock and roll history is behind them holding it down, Charlie Brown.

Plant and Page clearly think that THEY are the show. Here’s newsflash, girls… Bonham and Jones are the show.

OK, that’s conclusion number one.

Conclusion number two: Need to get one of these. Ludwig Supraphonic 402 6.5″x14″.

Nothing sounds like those drums. They’re not cheap, however. Layaway, here I come.

You might find this interesting, if you’re at all intrigued about how to make drums sound a certain way- here is an interview with one of John Bonham’s drum techs. Interestingly, I was doing most of this stuff already- head types and tensions and cymbal types and sizes. This just confirmed it for me.

I am thinking of chasing down a Ludwig sponsorship, to see if I can get one of their new lucite kits.

and…. is it time to get a gong? Help me out here, folks….

Does this podium make me look fat?

Actually, the podium looks like half a million free minutes of AOL.

(photo by Spotted)

That’s me yammering on about what an honor and a privilege it is for Music Hates You to be selected as the 2006 Flagpole Music Awards Best Punk/Hardcore band.

from l-r:
Noah- vocals and guitar. Hidden behind him is Big Andy from The Dumps. Then Forest, Bass player for MHY. Craig Lieske, presenter and guitar player from Garbage Island. The right leg and wrist you see is Jeff from The Dumps, then some guy, and far right is Zaxx from Music Hates You. Who knows what I was yapping about, actually? Might have been anything.

There are more photos from the Flagpole Music Awards here.

I wish I’d seen this

The Roots played Radio City Music Hall, and this happened:

The Roots, along with R&B singer Bilal, covering Radiohead’s “Everything In It’s Right Place.” I’m speechless. The best hip-hop band of the past decade covering the best rock band of the past decade.

I would have cheerfully thrown away every penny I have for the rest of the month just to see that four minutes of the show.

You can read about drummer Questlove’s travails from the night before, which was NOT a huge success by his own admission, here. And his blurb after the triumphant NEXT night here.

I need to see the mp3 pusherman and get some Roots stuff. This sounds like it was a hell of a show.

The double triple life

Yesterday I worked a full day, went home and did as much work for the fruit trees and the garden as the rain would allow, and then went to Music Hates You practice, where I played drums so hard that I put the bass drum beater through the bass drum head. Bass drum heads are made of mylar- a petroleum-based plastic (aren’t most plastics petroleum based?) film similar to kevlar, the stuff they make bullet proof vests out of. It’s unusual to break one. What’s really remarkable is that this is the third or fourth time it’s happened in my twenty years of drumming.

Then I went to Casa eponymous, where he and I tried to figure out how to take over the world(‘s media).

Sleep? I jammed a couple hours of it in there somewhere.

I’m not a workaholic. I can quit any time I want.

you’re not gonna believe this

Check out this photo-

My friend Casey Burns dug this photo up from the Five-Eight national tour from, what, 1994?

From left to right, it’s me, about forty pounds ago, Pete Krebs from the band Hazel, Casey behind us with his hands up, some guy?, Sean from Five-Eight. Front row L to R- Lance Bangs, filmmaker and husband of Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, Mike and Dan from Five-Eight. This was taken in Portland the day after we played La Luna with Hazel and Satan’s Pilgrims.

I need to figure out what I was (or wasn’t) eating back then. I can’t believe I looked that skinny.

Last night I had a session, and today I can’t uncross my eyes

I love session work so much. You can’t imagine how much. Last night I played one song for singer/songwriter Jason Beckham. I have only heard the ONE SONG that we played last night, but I dig that song just fine.

The session evolved nicely, though I am sure it cost JB more in time than he would have liked. The more we played the song, though, the better the drums got, until finally, at about 1 am, it had evolved from my first sketch, which was a sort of Tom Waits-ish circus jazz/soul beat, to a full-on John-Bonham-gets-pensive-with-the-guys-in-Crazy-Horse rumble.

It’s my dream job- session “side man,” as they used to say. Even after a full nine-hour workday, MHY practice and the fastest dinner I have ever eaten sitting down, and four full hours in the studio, I popped out the front door wide-eyed and laughing at 1:30 am.

My poor, long-suffering twin brother got one of those “HAYWHATAREUDOIN’?” calls before I realized that it was well after midnight…

Of course, after only sleeping about four hours, today I am a mess, but at least I got my session fee in my pocket and I am playing again tonight.

p.s.- I am getting some glasses today. photos will follow.

What good is knowing a musician?

If he doesn’t tell you about cool bands?

Highly recommended are the following:

Des Ark from Durham, NC. I don’t know much about Des Ark except that she occasionally collaborates with a drummer called Chris Newsom, and they make jubilant and noisy rock. You can buy some of their music here and hope that they come to your town.

Also in the same sort of pre-signed and esoteric file is LKN. LKN is one woman, Lauren Kathryn Newman writing and playing all music and instruments. She has a rotating cast of dozens playing the other instruments when she tours. I love her songs and she’s got a pretty cool dog, too.

In the Southern Rock world, you gotta check out Artimus Pyledriver. You can hear their music on their MySpace page. Definitely worth a listen. Southern RAWK that goes to 11. Also, fellow Mopar enthusiasts, to whit:

More stuff as I stumble across it.