Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Once Got Freaky in the Liquid Smoke bathroom....

Last night's show was an interesting spectacle.

Combined with friends, wives, girlfriends work friends, people from work I didn't know, people I don't know, and scattered acquaintances, I would say the crowd was quite big!

Attention was captured and we held it for the entire show.

As for the new material. It has once again sounded better. The set is starting to feel "long." This is good and bad. I get tired very easily. I was worn out by the end of the show. I'm glad we took a 5 minute breather in between the last two songs, I needed it. Strangely, most of our tunes are upbeat, which is a mystery of why I feel the set "dragging." This could also be contributed by the fact "Man VS Cheetah" was being called out from the moment we hit the stage. But, Like I said, we held everyone's attention. I saw a lot of laughter and smiles during the "history" songs. It looked as if everyone "got it." That is rewarding. I also feel we have found a happy medium with set length. 16 songs is plenty. We are still 2-3 covers at every show. I'm that will change with addition of a few more new tunes. I would like to get to the point where we don't have to play cover songs. On the other hand, we always seem to make the covers we do "ours." So they are just as equally hard to put down.

I don't mind the PA situation at the Liquid Smoke. My beef with it is that every time we play there, there is something wrong with it. It's a new problem every time. And the employees there don't care. The guy last night was no help. show...we are bringing our own mixer or just bringing our own mics and cords and plugging in directly. The mixer there is a mess and there are cables everywhere. No one knows where they go or if they work. They have some nice mains on the wall, but everything is so jacked up they won't push them. Lesson learned for the third time. I hate bringing a PA and having to deal with that headache when we are playing. One less thing to worry about in my opinion. Mixer and mics. Plug it in directly. If they don't like it, then we'll just pack up and go home. It's a nice place, with good show incentives, I hate that we always feel sour over something as simple as a PA.

On top of PA problems, Josh's bass pedal was broken. It worked during practice. From my house to the Smoke, it lost a piece. a very important piece. Thanks to Pilch for saving the day. This isn't a lesson learned because shit happens. It just sucks when you are the only band with drummer and you can't borrow from someone else. Sticky situation.

Overall good show. We had a good time and we played great. In the end that is all that matters. The shows have been going so well, it just primes the pump for studio work we have ahead.

March 13th should be interesting.

Oh...and the drunk dude with the Harley Davidson shirt trying to get us to play an encore was priceless.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I'll second the comments made on "Let's Go To War."

Although I don't have much to say. It has taken 3 years and 3 people to write this one. Which seems to be a pattern in this band. For those that don't know, "I Bought The Farm" was the same way. Only it took Jakob the make the idea, me to write the song, and Matt to write the intro. That all took 4 years to happen. Interesting huh?

They words are based on the American Military History class I am currently enrolled. This song has a thesis or atleast borrows Dr. Hunt's idea of "total war." I wanted to explore "why" a little bit more, but "total war" is an ever evolving thing in the human race. Because ALL war is subjective, we have chosen a focal period of 1914-1944. Making mostly german and nazi references. This is a pinnacle period for war due to the development and extreme advancement and adaptations to new technology.

We have choices in this song, and room to breathe is always a good thing. I'm surprised that Peach was surprised that I used it as the closer in our set last week. Why not? It worked. I knew it would. if it didn't then oh well. there was only 20 people to witness (have you vouchers ready). I have also got a few lyrical choices. I have 3 different third verses. All of wich I like equally. And I've been tinkering with changing it up everytime we play until there is a comfortable medium between the three. That's what I mean by choices!! Freedom!! In reality, all three are very similar. Improv is a bitch.....especially when you are spitting out good stuff.....

A bridge would be nice. There is one already. Maybe Tha D and Tha Peach will come up with something new as a bridge. If so, there are words to be lended. Either way. With or without, the song stands alone.

Let's Go to War

Since August when we debuted the re-tooled surf/party version of "Bring Out Your Dead," whatever song is our newest is my favorite in our set. "Let's Go to War" continues that tradition this week as I find myself listening to its live version from Saturday over and over.

In 2005, Daniel and I were playing together regularly with the hope of getting a drummer and starting our own band with the two of us singing and playing guitar. The idea collapsed in on itself for a number of very good reasons. From that time, we created three to four original, complete songs. Only two of them were worth salvaging in any way, and I've been working since we started the Distractions to find ways to retool them and make them our songs.

The first success at this was a lick and chord structure that Daniel wrote in 2005, somewhat inspired by Rev. Horton Heat. I added my own words to it after listening to lots and lots of solo John Lennon that I will make the world a better place by never sharing. I was barely playing any bass at that point, and I didn't add one until I used his 8-track to make a demo of the song. When I did, I stumbled into a bass lick that turned the song into a conversation between the bass and lead guitar, an idea which I have developed more since we've starting playing it again. The idea itself, in my mind at least, owes a lot to the band Dos, so much so that I even re-made the demo with just two basses and my vocal. I doubt we'd have enough time in the studio, but I'd love to do the same with the song we're playing now as a b-side.

Sure, when we play it now, it's a buzz track that rocks every bit as hard as "Man Vs. Cheetah," but to me, I like this one for how the bass and guitar interact, an idea that I'm continuing to work on since I can listen to it and since it has some tweaking to be done to it (i.e. if we'll work in the bridge we have for it) before we hit the studio.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two New Hits

One thing that I can proudly say is that every time we've played Nashville, we've brought our A game. Saturday night at fooBAR was certainly a new contender for our best show (as was our last show in Nashville at Springwater). They give 10% of drink sales to the band, so we were surprised to make $35 on the 25 or so people there. The sound there was okay; they had a monitor and ran the vocals through their stereo speakers placed all over the bar. The stage was so small that the drums took up most of it. Daniel set up all of his stuff between the stage and bar of the door, able to smile and wave good-bye to every person who came in or left.

The crowd consisted of five our friends. Aleesha was intently watching and taking pictures of us from up close, while three of my friends played darts in the back until the very end. Daniel, who will record us in the next couple of months, came and watched the second half of our set. The rest were new to us, but I don't think they were there to listen to a band (other than perhaps a cover band). They were there to drink (which might explain why we made what we did). Any possilby interested hipsters and many of our friends were off trying to see Pavement play a couple of miles away. The crowd seemed pretty indifferent, enjoying what they heard, perking up and cheering a little more when they heard us play "Eli Whitney." It was nights like that that I was glad we had "Man Vs. Cheetah." In Murfreesboro, where the people have seen us have mostly seend us before, it's this albatross around our neck that they'll yell for and act like they're only there to wait for that song and that's it (even if that's not the case, that's how it seems). When we're playing for less familiar faces, "Man Vs. Cheetah" is the ace in the hole, the little concealed hand that I could smirk about because these people had no idea of the rock'n'roll freight train that was about to hit them and make them drag their attention to our band.

We finally debuted "Bob Dole." Daniel said, "This should be interesting," as Kelly was getting ready to start. This made Kelly start to waffle and ask if we should play it. I would've been ultra super pissed if we hadn't. I expressed this, but the older man with a cowboy hat sitting five feet from us convinced them by saying, "No guts, no glory." True enough, we played it, and it was our best performance of it so far. Stopping to laugh in the middle of it sure got everyone's attention. There's the scripted laugh when Kelly sings, "The crowed laughed and cheered," but I couldn't help but laugh and laugh during the bridge at the way Kelly sings it. There've been a number of times when the words will visibily crack me up on stage, but this was the first time in a while that had happened.

The greater success was "Let's Go to War," which has come together pretty quickly but still needs some tweaking on its arranging here and there. We had just finished Man Vs. Cheetah, and Kelly interestingly set it as the new closer. It totally paid off, and it helped us keep the rock up for another song like "Helter Skelter" used to, only this song is like 100x cooler! I was complimented on that one by my friends after the show and still later. I can't wait to burn that one down at Liquid Smoke this weekend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Live Demoing

Kelly had the great idea on Saturday to set up the minidisc player, which I use to record every one of our shows, during practice to record the new songs and create a set of demos more true to the way they'll sound on the record. The main advantage is that they take less time that recording them one instrument at a time on a digital eight-track or something. If we do it in the future, I will want to play with mic placement to optimize the sound, but at this stage in the game when we're starting to think about tracklisting and how to present the songs to the guys recording us before we enter the studio, having this is great way to take the next step in preparing to make the record. We hammered out six songs in about an hour and a half, which we hope will be as easy when we hit the studio, *hopefully* next month. We played them remarkably well since we'd had a rough practice, a pre-practice, the day before. Having full-band versions of "Bob Dole" and "Let's Go to War" are especially helpful to have at this stage in their development as well (even though I prefer to listen to the live performed version of "Let's Go to War" from fooBAR because we blew the doors off that place with that song--more on that later).

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Foo-Bar

Come watch us perform 19 songs at the Foo-Bar tomorrow night! The Foo-Bar is located on Gallatin Pike in East Nashville.

We will be doing our normal set, debuting some new songs, and pulling out some cover songs. It's a free show too! Isn't that economically stimulating??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

They Have a TAPE MACHINE!!!

I have not been able to post because of work. it has consumed most of my time....

But let's get one thing straight...we are recording with Gravity Boots! If I have to wash dishes, sell my body, sell Peach's plasma, auction Josh off at an over 40 date auction, sell Daniel's organs to science, sell crack, or apply for a doctorial research grant...we will do this record at Gravity Boots.

Yes. Money is an issue. but who care's? It's just money (see above).

The real question is..HOW IN THE WORLD ARE WE NOT ALREADY FREINDS WITH THESE GUYS??? seriously....WHY? Does the word "cool" ring a bell???

Matt just wasted his typing breath explainging how we made a "big decision." Seriously wasn't that big! But he's right...he likes to build up don't let that fool you....We had "professional" aspirations for this thing long before we even discussed it. We just kept dancing around the real issue, which is money (see above). This is still a DIY record. very much so. No matter how professional it comes or sounds. We are building this bad boy from the ground up, fortunately for us, we have TWO DUDES who are just as interested in the project as we are. This is still DIY, just a little slicker and more expensive (see above). Do you even know how happy this makes me? Us? You should have seen the look on our faces! We were like "WHOA!"

AND THEY HAVE A TAPE MACHINE! 2 INCH! How cool is that? I love working with tape. It's very archaic and natural sounding. It's world that is fun to be in. Digital is going to be the main medium but i'm excited about firing that thing up during the mixing and mastering process. It would only seem right to use the tape machine for this record.

Don't let Matt fool you on the title either. It's name will be decided upon finishing. Calling the "history record" for now adds mystery. Even if we do title it today or tomorrow (the comittee is meeting to discuss the marketing value of certain names), you won't know until the end. Like i said, part of the mystery and excitement. So far right's called Mr. Kerr Goes To Washington....if you can think of something better...let us know....the comittee will review your application and get back to you for an interview on the title...

What else? Fire under my ass? I'll tell you what will light a fire under my ass...NOT HAVING TO TURN IN A PROJECT TWO WEEKS EARLY AT WORK. I'm trying not to complain, but it would seem fitting that we have a very stimulated experience meeting the future producers of our materpiece and I get hit with more work. Sucks, but you know...more money, for studio time (see above).

We have 8 songs. So far. More on the way. Atleast 4. The writing of this thing will continue until we are long into the making. Writing is more of a discipline than an art. Lately I have bene listening to old 4 track tapes and picking out old stuff to re work into history songs. So far the stuff we have is really up beat, so I'm trying to mellow it out a bit. Which is hard. Very hard. Our band likes to rock. But slower, mellow, or just down beat songs will open us up to some newer things in the studio. We have grand ideas. We may not be able to do them, but it's fun to talk about and try. Josh and Matt like overdubs. Daniel likes multiple guitar tracks. I like everything. These first tunes are already evolving in our heads. The possibilities are endless, and fun! It's exciting isn't it?

As soon as Peach figures out a way to put mp3's on this thing, we will have demos up for listen. Plus another "making of" documentary is in the works.

This record is starting to happen.

I have more photos from the home demos but I can't seem to upload them. I'll just give them to Peach....

First Visit to a Studio

I'm srrsly surprised Kelly hasn't blogged about this yet.

Tuesday night, Kelly, Josh, Aleesha and I visited Gravity Boots Recording Studio, where we plan to record the yet to be titled history record (that's a discussion for later). The first thing I noticed upon walking in was a Self poster in the control room and then a Fluid Ounces poster on an opposite wall and some other Spongebath bands' posters on the walls. I knew we were among friends then. The guys working there were cool and definitely seemed interested in the project. The studio space was good and can accomodate our needs.

Their rates are doable, although we'll still be scraping to put together all the money. We're hoping to get an idea of how much time it will take to record by going in for a couple of days in April or March. With as many songs as we have ready to go, we're excited to start committing them to 1's and 0's, and I could tell that just being in the studio with two interested engineers was enough to light a new fire under Josh and Kelly. Hopefully it will push Kelly and me to write some more songs as well and wrap up the writing process.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Big Decision

We've had a lot of discussion about what we want this record to be. Some aspects have developed organically as we've compiled the songs and chosen which topics to write about. Some are still being discussed. Before it becomes old news, I think it's time to discuss a major decision we made that has crept in pretty slowly.

The initial vision for this record was two-fold: record it at home, yet make it much better in production value than the previous CD. This began to create problems as we found it difficult to do both, and this ultimately led to a discussion of whether to record it in a proper studio. With money being the biggest factor, we first envisioned recording in different studios, wherever we could get it done on the cheap or maybe even free. Then we'd include some other tunes recorded at home and make the record that way.

This led to more problems. How long do we want to spend making this record? How much money do we sink into recording equipment? Can we produce results that live up to our high expectations? The more we thought about it, the more we've realized that we want to record this record in a proper studio and have it made the way we want it. The con to this decision is cost, and we're exploring options on how to raise the money. The pro is that we can all map out some time, get together and hammer out a record in a live setting in much less time. It also can now reflect the fact that we're very well-rehearsed, which it never really could have if we'd recorded everything one instrument at a time. We hope to produce an even more energetic product as a result.

It will lose some of the "DIY" aspects that we were hoping for, which also serves for a great excuse if it doesn't turn out as well as we want it. It also opens up the question of how much we should market this CD and if we should do a for-real pressing and distribution of it if we're going to sink all that money into recording it.

We're 90% sure of which studio we're going to use, and I'll save that announcement for later once it's set it stone. The prospect of being in the studio within the next four weeks and committing as much as half the record to tape is exciting to me. Although coming up with the money poses a new problem, it is overshadowed by the building excitement over the record that has been amplified by a new experience in a studio.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Long Massive Update Ahead!! Read With Extra Time On Your Hands!

Please excuse the lack of posts. It has been a very busy few weeks. Plus I have more photos to post. I had some issues getting them uploaded, so I will save them for another posts. (or maybe just wait until later tonight to put them up)

We played two shows last week. They were fun. They were awesome. For two nights in a row, we were the biggest band in the world. At least that's how it felt. The yelling, screaming, and cheering makes you feel like you have done something right. We even sold more cd's.

We've been trying to play more new stuff and really solidify some of the new songs we have already placed in the ye olde setlist. "Bob Dole" still has not been given a debut. Tha D felt it wasn't ready for the intricate guitar parts he plays. Plus the 12 string was giving us some hell at the Boro, so it was a good thing we held off. I'm pretty sure it will get played on February 21st. For as simple of a sing it is, we alaways manage to complicate things more than they should. And it doesn't help when you are at practice and EVERYTHING seems funny while rocking out. does help...but the added humor hopefully will rear its head at the fooBAR. It's coming, I promise.....

"Whiskey Rebellion" is tighter and better, which is great because the pre-recording discussions have started, and this one will obviously be the first to get nailed down to tape. The song has come so natural and has fit in so well with all the other tunes we play, I almost feel as if I did not write it.

"Great Stink" lost its 12-string treatment on Friday night and Saturday night. The damn thing just won't stay in tune on the stage. The recording will yield the 12 string treatment. Live shows will have to settle for the 6 string. These things do happen from time to time. Other than the fact that the 12 string won't stay in tune, I have to say, "Great Stink" feels like a glove. I know for a fact I wrote this one because it took me so long to get the verses the way I wanted them. A lot of research went in this tune, and yes, I do research the material for this record. I can't pull everything out of thin air....

"Election: 1800" is still on the back burner. Something tells me it will remain there until studio time rolls around...

All in all the live shows have been going great. More and more people turn out to see us, and more and more of them are enjoying themselves. This just gives me more motivation to put more thought into the history project. So far, all the best songs have been written quickly and had no revisions...strange huh? Speaking of revisions......

"Know It All" is being turned into a song about Marie Curie, the woman who discovered radium. This makes it revisions number 5. I spent all last summer working on this song, Matt provided some lyrical assistance, only to have me totally change the entire song not once but twice! I made a final version at the start of January, and this was supposed to be the "song." Not a chance. I will admit, even with a final version, I was still unhappy with it. So...the idea was proposed to make it about Marie Curie. Come to the Feb 21st show to hear it in its newest and final glory. I'm not touching again. I'm ready to move on. It contains the first verse, and the first prechorus from the old version. Everyhting after that is different. I have saved NOTHING from the other revisions, which is strange because when I first began to work on this back in July '08, the first verse and the first pre-chorus came first and has not changed since. My best stuff is always "on the spot." Which brings me to another new song....

"Let's Go To War." It has taken 3 years and 3 people to write this song. Peach and Tha D wrote this music in 2005. They have always wanted to make it a Distractions song, but we could never really steer it into a cohesive direction. Until now....Matt wanted to write a song called "Let's Go To War," so he just re-taught me the riff and said, "Just go with it," and I did. I often wonder why we go to war, and why in history wars are fought over good, dumb, bad, and often passionate things. Ain't that America? about ain't that human nature! First two verses are DOWN. The third will be brought into light at the next practice. It's another rocker. A demo was made this past weekend with the scratch words. I'm keeping most of that. It has been refined since Peach came over and hammered it out with me. I think we have another to add the greatness that is this song YOU CAN SING ALONG!!

More to come....

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