good one |
| February 27th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
PM had a really good practice last night. After the usual “catching up on the past week’s events” we dove into our set for Saturday. Of course, since our set will only be 10 minutes long there’s not much to practice. Jenn’s guitar is still in the shop so for Hanging I was playing by myself. Just goes to show how I can be a little bit off on my timing when playing something akin to lead. That’s my main area of practicing for this week. After running through all that a few times we dove into some new stuff. I *love* working on new things. I always have, for some odd reason. Yes, I definitely do enjoy working on older material and perfecting it, but I’ve always loved working up a new song in practice. This weekend Jenn worked on the lyrics for Snow, added 2 verses to what I already had & changed a few other things. I’m really happy with the way not only the lyrics came out, but also with the way she sings them. I’ve had this song around for almost 13 years and I’ve never heard it sound this good and I’ve never thought as highly of it as I do now. I used to play it on bass (how it was composed), but I started doing it on guitar last year and it’s so much better. Huge improvement.
After running through Snow we went into Blue Knights, just discussing the arrangement a bit. The time signature on the main riff is being changed (Jenn’s suggestion) so I’m having to learn how to play it in a different way than I have been. It’ll take some practice to get it right. I’m really happy that Jenn pushed for it to be like that, usually I’m the one who’s so enthusiastic about playing crap in odd times. We still need to work out the 2nd half of the song, and if we want it to go somewhere else. I like that the song is so dark, and especially contrasting with things like Snow and Torch. We talked a bit about Torch too; this is one Jenn’s really excited about delving into. We talked about her idea for the lyrics and I love it. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. I feel that this song has the potential to be REALLY good, so I want to be sure that the music is just right. Jenn also gave me a project (yay! I love projects) to compose a certain flavour of song. No rush on it, but she wants it sometime. I’m anxious to see what I can do. Along with Snow, it would definitely push us more into a “classical” area and that’s pretty cool. It’s exciting for me to push myself as a composer and player, and I love that my partner is right there next to me pushing me as well.
For me, the scope of “Protean Mean” was increased with our work and conversation of the new material last night. My image of the band is changing and that’s exciting. I feel that we’re slowly growing into our name, esp. the “protean” part. I mean, I know we’ve been eclectic since we started, but I also love how we keep pushing it. It’s refreshing.
I think, as a band, we’re definitely ready for Saturday. I need some tightening up a bit, but that’s OK. We’re gonna rip it up. I’m super duper excited.
| February 23rd, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
Don and I recorded our initial podcasts on Wednesday night. The evening started off in a great way with me bringing the beer (Saranac mixed 6 pack. Yay!) and Don providing the fried chicken. It’s been too long since I’ve eaten fried chicken…I *love* fried chicken. Not as much as I love pizza, or chicken fried steak (hey! a quiz answer!), but I still enjoy the hell out of it. OK, I really love eating in general, but that’s not any revelation to anyone who knows me. So, after the beer and chicken we went into Don’s cool music room and started working on finishing level checks and all that. And then…we recorded! After the first one went so smoothly and quickly we just ate some more brownies that Lizzi made (they kicked ass) and delved into another edition of the HEAVY METAL LUNCH.
The first one was recorded in mono (wooo!) instead of stereo and for the stereo recording of the second podcast the levels weren’t set correctly so we might have to record the 2nd one again. Part of me was really happy with the second one, but then we rambled about stupid UNC stuff for 15 minutes before actually getting on topic that it would be boring for anyone who doesn’t work or go to school at UNC. And even then, that’s pushing it. So we’ll either redo it or just edit down.
Now, I haven’t listened back to them, but I’m really happy with how they turned out (esp. the first one). Who knows if anyone else will be entertained by us, but we certainly were. I’m excited to get these things edited and produced so we can put them up on the web. I’ll give more information on them when it’s available.
Boo-yaaaa! We gots a gig |
| February 16th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
Protean Mean is playing a show on 3/3 in the super metropolis of Apex. Whee! I’m really excited about this. Earlier I realised I haven’t played a show since early 2004. Ugh! That’s way too long. For being someone who claims to be a musician, I certainly haven’t played live too much this century. Well, that will certainly change.
The gig came about from Don, who came over on Monday and listened to our set and gave feedback/criticism. He enjoyed it a lot and had a lot of good things to say. Good advice given too. So Don’s got this gig coming up on the 3rd and he offered to cut his set a little short so Jenn & I can do a short opening set. Extremely generous of him. I know Jenn will have an interesting time doing “double duty” since her other band, Shades of Winter, is headlining. I think the 45 minute break will be fine for her. After all, we’re only going to play for 10 minutes or so. So I guess it’s going to be a double-double duty going on: Jenn and I start, then Don plays solo, then Jenn & Don play with their band.
Protean Mean, w/ Don de Leaumont & Shades of Winter
Pheasant Creek Coffehouse
800 W. Williams St. Suite 140, Apex, NC 27502
Did I say I was excited? I am.
| February 15th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
Well, the world survived another Valentine’s Day. Hopefully not too many people were depressed yesterday. I saw a very large number of dudes on campus yesterday with flowers in their hands, probably on their way to deliver them to some girl. It brought back a memory of what I did my freshman year of college. There was a girl I liked…and I can’t remember her name…I think it was Lauren…and I was too shy (I guess) to give her a bunch of flowers, so I bought half a dozen and just gave them out to the girls on the floor. Was that it? Damn, that was a long time ago. I think there was some reason why I didn’t give her the flowers. Maybe she had a boyfriend, or was gone or something? It probably was the boyfriend thing. Both my suitemate Ryan and I had a thing for her and we were both planning on pursuing her, but then her boyfriend surfaced so we decided to aim for other girls. But anyway, I did give the flowers to all of the girls on my floor (who were my friends) and I think that was a much better gesture than just giving them to some chick who already had a boyfriend and who barely knew I existed. I can still see in my mind the reaction of Sally when I gave her the flower, she was genuinely surprised and pleased. That look absolutely made my Valentine’s Day, and it made me realize that even if *I* don’t have someone to spend the day with, I can still be a “good guy” and hopefully make someone’s day a little brighter. It’s such an awful and forced holiday, that it makes so many people depressed on that day simply because they don’t have anyone. Things like that shouldn’t happen.
Last night’s V-day was a good one, just spending the evening with Julie. We made a pesto/scallop pasta dish and it was really good. We also made ensalada capreizi (spelling?), although we baked it this time on french bread and it was really good. We have a plethora of leftovers. I think we made enough for 4 people, at least. I know what I’m eating for dinner tonight! After dinner we sat down with the remainder of the wine, some chocolate and our latest DVD from Netflix – Divorce Italian Style. Ehhhhh, it was a decent movie. I’m sure it’s a classic in many people’s eyes, but I only thought it was OK. The ending was the best part of the movie, at least the part that gave resolution and meaning to it all. It was literally the last 15 seconds of the movie. Is it worth it for that? I don’t think so. Whether it’s true or not, the movie definitely perpetuated the stereotype that all Italians yell constantly and all Italian men are sexist perverts and their women really don’t care.
Regardless of the movie, it was still a fun night. It was our 10th V-day together, so that’s kind of momentous. Yay 10 years!
I’ll try to update later about the PM session on Monday.
That was pretty cool… |
| February 12th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
The Police reunion on the Grammy’s last night. I liked it. I haven’t actively watched the Grammy’s in about 5 years or so, and even then it got boring after about 5 minutes. Still, the reunion of one of the coolest bands from my lifetime is something I’m going to watch. I wasn’t disappointed. In reading comments on the net today it seems so many people were disappointed in the song selection (Roxanne). At first I thought it wasn’t a great decision, but after about 2 seconds it was obvious they still HAVE IT. I love that Sting dyed his hair. That was a nice touch. Both Sting and Stewart Copeland sounded great. I thought Andy Summers looked a little bit *too* old. Of course, he is older than the other two so it makes sense. They can still play (esp. Copeland), so that rules. I really liked the re-arrangement of the 2nd verse. SO COOL. In a way it reminded me of the remixes Copeland did for Everyone Stares. I wish those would be released on CD; I’d definitely buy it.
So yes, I definitely enjoyed the reunion performance. I believe there’s going to be some press conference today about them. After seeing that last night I REALLY want to go see them live. And I don’t care if they are doing it for money. Good music is still good music. I’m just worried about how much the tickets will be. Will they be under $100? Still, it’s THE POLICE!!!
I turned off the Grammy’s about 2 minutes later. First there was the award for best duet (whatever it’s called) that Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett won. Whoopie. Why is there even a category for duets? All of the nominees seemed pretty crappy, but I really shouldn’t expect any better. The Wonder/Bennett song that won sounded pretty bad to my ears. But who am I?
Then came Joan Baez absolutely gushing over the Dixie Chicks, talking about how brave and outspoken they are. Bleh. If they were conservative while being passionate and political then 1) no one would care and 2) the musical establishment would ignore them. I certainly don’t think it’s very brave to criticize the current administration. Everyone who is even a slightly left-leaning musician is doing it. Wooooo, so brave. If they were saying something different or if they actually made (gasp!) GOOD MUSIC I might care.
And by “saying something different” I mean, other than what every other liberal songwriter says. It takes no guts to stand amongst a crowd of thousands (millions?) who think exactly like you and protest the things our current administration is doing. I’m not saying that the only way to currently “protest” as a musician is to be a flag-waiving conservative. I think it’s equally lame and clueless to sing songs saying how you’re “proud to be an american” (while you drive you Chevy truck) or whatever other conservative message is pervasive in country songs. I want to see political songs, on both ends of the spectrum, say something DIFFERENT. Don’t just tow your party’s line. It takes no guts to blindly criticize the president, just like it takes no guts to blindly follow him.
I really do think there should be more political songs in the world. I just think they should be more informed (you know, that whole “reality” thing) and be willing to stand up by themselves.
I got on a tangent there that I wasn’t expecting.
In other James music/video news – I finally watched the Pink Floyd PULSE DVD on Saturday night. Since we were at friends of JennEric’s, and there was conversation, I wasn’t able to intently and dorkily watch the DVD. I shall do that at a later date. It’s really good, though. Like, REALLY good. It brought back a ton of memories from the PF show I saw in ’94. As good as the DVD is, the awesomeness of that show can’t be fully comprehended unless you were there live. We did have a good time on Saturday both at the Crazy Fire Mongolian BBQ place (yum!) and at Michael/Natania’s after the meal. Always good to meet new cool people.
Also this weekend Julie and I watched the George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. I really, really liked this too. We saw his “Dark Horse Years” thing a few weeks back which was ehhhhh, but the Concert for Bangladesh was cool. Good to see solo-George in his prime (’71). I had no idea that was his first time leading a band on stage. Good job! Who else was there – Clapton (played REALLY well, but was clearly stoned), Ringo (great as always, it never sucks seeing him and George on the same stage), Billy Preston (kick ass, great singer, great keyboardist), Leon Russell (can’t hold a tune, so unbelievably stoned I’m surprised he could stand up), Bob Dylan (I’m sorry, the dude can’t sing…and hearing him duet with George was totally painful) and a whole lot of other people. There were SO MANY people on stage. 6 horn players, 5 or 6 backup singers, 2 drummers, 2 keyboardists, a few different bassists, 4 acoustic guitarists, at least 4 non-George electric guitarists at any one point. It was truly INSANE. “Wall of Sound” defined. Still, it all sounded good (well, not the backup singers or Leon Russell) and the beginning piece by Ravi Shankar and his group was seriously amazing. So good.
The next music-related thing in the netflix Q is a Gov’t Mule thing. I only put in on there because it’s mostly about bassists and features some great players. We’ll see how it goes.
| February 8th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]
Ah, it finally came today. The email I have been expecting for a while. When I began to see bands (who aren’t already huge) saying that they had been accepted to SXSW for this year, I had a feeling it meant we wouldn’t be going. I knew that we had a slim chance, since they had until yesterday (Jenn’s birthday) to decide on the final lineup for the festival. Well, I finally got my email this evening (only a day late!) letting us know that Protean Mean was not accepted to SXSW for this year. Pooey.
Like I said, I expected it. It still sucks, though.
What’s funny is that hotmail actually thought it was a piece of junkmail! Yes, the rejection letter is a piece of junk. Right on!
Yes, I’m a bit sad. I know I shouldn’t be, it’s not anything personal. It’s just really important to me to get into this thing sometime. Naturally it continues the tradition of not being accepted (Echo Juliet & 3 Penny Opera were always denied and the various band members have ALL been denied every year since). You know, I’ll be alright.
It’s not realistic to think that our first gig would be SXSW, which it would be since it’s only just over a month away. I think that might be a bit *too* much pressure for a first gig. Gee, ya think?
So, back to reality we go.
Protean Mean did have a good practice on Monday. I sang a lot more than I have in the past and it’s really coming together. Jenn loves the way we sound together, as do I. I’m hitting my parts with a lot more confidence, not just in Surrounded, but also in She Waits By the Sea & Amnesia. I forgot my part for 10K, so I’ll have to re-learn that, but it’s not a big deal. Musically everything’s fine; all the parts are coming together in a very pleasing way. We’re still 1/2 song short of our set, so we might add some other tunes in to compensate for the temporary loss of a 6 minute song. I hope that we can get Discovery done though, because I really do want to play it at the first show. It’s important for me.
On the writing front, I worked some more tonight on the various new songs. Blue Knights of Doom (obviously a temporary title) feels better, but the ending hasn’t arrived yet. I’m at the same place for Torch that I have been for a week or two, but I really like what I have so far. I messed around with Insurrection *again* tonight (I really like it and want to have it completed and part of the set), and I came up with something I’ll throw out to Jenn on Monday…an intro thingie. The chords I have for the chorus I might just stick into Blue Knights since I’m doing the same thing. Who knows. I feel better about Frozen Gassy Animals (again, a temp title) after dropping one bit of the middle section. The new capo is presenting a difficulty for this song (adding & removing it during the course of the song), but that’ll just require more practice and a nice vocal cover-up. Oh, for those of you keeping track, “Frozen Gassy Animals” is the current version of the old Mastermonk tune, Frozen (which was originally called “I Stole Some Gassy Animals” before I brought it to that band), but now it has a different middle that I like a lot better. Nothing against Frozen, as I thought it was M’monk’s best tune; I just wanted a different middle. And I wanted the time sigs to be correct. I’m happier with it now. I think it gives Jenn a lot of room to stretch out and do some very cool melodic stuff that she’s quite capable of doing.
Other band news is that Don from Shades of Winter is coming over on Monday to critique us and our set. I’m excited to get some feedback & criticism from a trusted source.
On a side note, Don and I are going start up a podcast in a week or so. I’m really excited about this. I’ll give more information as it becomes available.