The Return of Weezer

Rivers Cuomo was on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and I just got a chance to listen to it this morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect. As Maron himself mentions several times during the interview, there is some rumor and mystique surrounding this dude, this sort’ve “eccentric genius” thing. I don’t tend to follow a lot about what goes on with musicians’ personal lives, you know? As long as they’re not out there doing something egregiously evil I’m content to just listen to the music and let the rumors slide on by. I’ll admit that I was curious though, based on what little I’d heard, and by Maron’s apparent nervousness about it. I found that despite a little awkwardness it was a good interview with some interesting tidbits.

For example, Rivers Cuomo was a metal shredder back in the day? That actually makes a lot of sense and puts some of their sound into context. You get this hint of restrained metal guitar sometimes, like it’s on the verge of going thrash but then pulls back into the pop sound they’re trying to focus on. I like it. It makes it kind’ve tense. He also said that he’d created a couple of playlists on Spotify that are called Shit Rivers Used to Listen To or something along those lines which I thought would be really interesting to check out, but I can’t seem to find it.

In light of that podcast and the release of Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End, I decided to go back and listen through their discography, which includes a few releases that I’d never listened to. I’ve come to the conclusion that unfortunately I think I like the poppy, straight-up rock stuff better than the tunes where I think Rivers gets more adventurous. The Blue Album is definitely still my favorite; “Say It Ain’t So”, “The Sweater Song”, “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here”? I love the intermittent harmonies, the soft-hard-soft contrasts, the dirty quality of the guitars, and the tunes were just generally catchy.

I didn’t realize what a big deal Pinkerton was in terms of musical direction for them. Apparently people really hated it. I’m not a huge fan but I found it inoffensive. In fact for me it was largely a little boring, kind’ve all over the map stylistically, and I just wasn’t into some of his vocal affectations. The one standout for me was “Tired of Sex”, which is my jam! To this day I hear that booming bass drum, the dirty fuzzed-out bass, and I can’t help but start nodding my head and gearing up. In fact, let me go listen to it right now.

—–

Alright, I’m back. I’m gonna have to ask my buddy what that drum style at 1:08 is.

I’m not sure why I liked The Blue Album so much and am really not all that moved by the later ones. I think I ultimately don’t dig Rivers’s vocal delivery in general, and the songs that I enjoy are those in which it’s more understated. I’m also not feeling the kind’ve poppy, silly style they’ve embraced on many of their albums. It’s like The Blue Album was an anomaly. Having heard the new single, “Back to the Shack”, I’m not optimistic that I’ll feel differently about the latest album. I’ll give it a listen though.

BTW, my buddy says it has no name. He liked my description though: pa-kum pa-kum.

 

Dude, Pimp My Guitar

I’m not a gear head.

I feel kind of ashamed every time I say that because it makes me feel a little…less. Actually, I didn’t know it was even a thing to be until two bands ago, when I played with a dude who was an absolute gear head. He was a lead guitarist whereas I’m definitely on the rhythm side of things, and he had an affects board that he made sweet love to every chance he got. It was a jam band of sorts —and I should never have been in it truth be told—so every rehearsal was essentially us listening to him wail away with various affects. The drum and bass played along and I tried desperately to simply not play a note that would sound too obnoxious.

Anyway, that guy was the first one to criticize my humble setup. I played a Mexican Squire through a Fender Princeton Reverb. Here’s my Squire:

squire

Nothing amazing but it did well by me. Our lead guitarist however scoffed at the entire thing and told me I needed a new amp (too quiet) and a new guitar (no specifics given). I was relieved when that band broke up. His words stayed with me though. I did upgrade my amp to a Fender Mustang modeling amp, which I dig the sound on and the volume…well, let’s just say he may have been on to something about the amp. I had a blast playing through that thing. I received unsolicited advice from a friend of the band to upgrade my guitar as well. One day, walking past a little guitar shop I saw a Fender “Fat Strat”. I went in to try it out and walked out with a new guitar. Just like that. That was a good decision.

I’m still not a gear head but I do “hear” things now, and I have come to the conclusion that I could use a bit of a pickup tweak. I went to Seymour Duncan’s site because frankly their name is among the first to come up when talking gear. I did their tone selector and it came back with this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 10.20.48 AM

 

I’m not about to just go out and drop bucks on some pups without doing my due diligence though, so I’m looking for some alternatives as well. I learned what I could about pups and what differentiates them (active vs passive, moderate vs high output) so I’m off to see what’s out there. I also used my Squire as a guinea pig last night to see just how much of a challenge replacing them myself might be. I’ve wielded a soldering iron once in my life, without particularly impressive results, so…it all appears to hang on my ability to use that tool.

Anyone have recommendations for other brands/pickup types?

Thoughts on Organization and Planning

I was hanging with the kind folks of @GoGirlsMusic and their followers last night and the topic was “Organization and Planning”. My initial reaction was kinda vampire-hit-with-daylight:

vampire

 

My second reaction was “What would I organize and plan in relation to my music?”, and that made me stop and think. I had seen something a week or so ago that essentially said you have to treat your music like a business and this chat topic was pretty much in alignment with that idea. I’ve never thought to do that with my own project.

I started And Then There Was One because I felt like I had more musical output than would fit into my other band, Six Times Seven. We have a very specific sound now that songs like The Girl Who Fell would not fit into. That plus a desire to gig more was enough of a catalyst to launch this project but organizing and planning were a bare minimum. It mainly consisted of me talking to myself in the shower, drawing out roadmaps in my head and verbalizing them to myself (because that makes it more real, you know), and maybe jotting a few notes down somewhere. I’d joked in the chat that Evernote was my Idea Black Hole, but for me it very much is a place where plans go to die. It’s not because it’s not a great tool; I just don’t use it properly. Or maybe I overuse it. I can’t really tell at this point.

My method for getting ATTW1 off the ground consisted of a few very basic steps that came out of those shower sessions:

  1. Record some music
  2. Create a Facebook page and invite my friends
  3. Upload music to the usual music-sharing sites like Soundcloud and Reverbnation
  4. Tweet

This was fine as a blueprint, but was woefully lacking in detail and organization. I had a half-finished Facebook page and Twitter account but no music to promote. I had a registered domain name but working up a website was more difficult than I’d anticipated. In addition to not being very organized I’m also easily distracted. My 9-5 is in technology so the website portion diverted a lot of my attention. Instead of concentrating on the music I was trying to learn HTML5 and CSS. Soon I realized I was trying to juggle so many different balls that none of them were getting completed. I had music on Reverbnation and Soundcloud but…then what?

The other aspect of being organized and planning is the promotion of all the things. I now have all of these resources set up and lack the information needed to drive traffic beyond what I get from my friends. You can’t harangue your friends for too long. They get tired of that pretty quickly. Perhaps if I had planned things out a little better I might be padding this entry with all kinds of keywords meant to get people to my blog. Or I’d already have hundreds of Twitter followers. Or I’d even have recorded more than one of the many songs I have.

The challenge I have ahead of me is pretty clear. I’ve laid a foundation, but it needs strengthening. I have to plan for how I’m going to get more of my music recorded in a way that represents it best, and then for how I’m going to most effectively share it with people. This is beyond casually Googling things like “How to get more likes on Facebook”. I’ve made the first step by involving myself in at least one music community, and that has been immensely useful after just two chat sessions. In the meantime I need to get cracking on recording the rest of my music. I promised my small but important public one track per month. 🙂

Fanvids and Exposure

Fanvids are a great way to get exposure for your music. I think it’s even better than a lyric video. If you’re not an established artist chances are few people will stumble across your lyric video. Plenty of people flock to YouTube daily to Google for videos/clips of their favorite onscreen couples though. I’ve discovered a fair amount of new music —even from bands that I already knew! — via searching YouTube. I typically am looking for actual clips of a movie or tv show, but sometimes you just stumble across something that gets your attention. I first heard Lacuna Coil’s amazing rendition of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” by way of a fanvid made for the movie “Amour de Femme“. And this video introduced me to Sia:

And this video introduced me to the impressive tune “Diem ex Dei” by Globus:

I wish I had the skill (and patience!) to create a fanvid for myself. Since I don’t I’ve been looking for someone to make one for me. I figure it’s a win-win, right? I get exposure for my song by having it used to create a video for a popular fanbase (say, Swanqueen or Paily or something like that) and the creator of the vid gets to use a song that won’t get yanked from under them for licensing as well as accolades for a video well done. Right? Yeah, no one I’ve reached out to for this has bought that either. :/

I still think it’s a better way to get reach than a lyric video, and I”m certainly not in a position to come out of pocket to do a real video, so I’m going to keep trying to find someone willing to do this. I’m excited!

I’ve been reading a lot of guides about how to best get your music out there for people to hear. One of the pieces of advice I’ve seen in a few different places is that it’s recommended practice to use a picture of you on your Twitter/Facebook/whatever profile instead of something abstract like a logo. It’s supposed to help your fans connect with you. I get it, I understand why, but I’m really hesitant to do so for fear of it having the exact opposite effect. No one would pass me on the street and say, “Oh, I bet she makes pretty rock music.” I would really hate to have people bypass my music all together, not even bother to give it a listen, simply because they look at my profile picture and make an assumption about the kind of music I create. I’ll have to really think about this. I suppose I could always hire a professional photographer…

Welcome to the Show!

You’ve found your way here either because you’ve followed a link from Facebook or Twitter or Reverbnation, or you’re just an adventurous Googler who happened upon my site. Either way, thanks for coming. This is the official website for my solo project, And Then There Was One. I’ve just gotten started with this project so I don’t have a ton of material to share. I have one professionally mastered/produced song and a lot of thoughts. My intention is to release something once a month, whether it be a “finished” song or a demo done in my den with Ableton. Thanks for checking out the site!