Road To Rocklahoma II

Date: 21 October, 2008  |  Posted By: Mark  |  Category: Rocklahoma 2008  |  Comments: 0
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OK so this is all the material I have for the Rocklahoma trip. I had a bunch of videos and pictures to sort through. I figured I’d keep it to my personal experiences here because you can always go visit KIX’ MySpace or fly around on YouTube to see pictures and videos of the band. I know it’s a little late (and probably largely irrelevant by now, even more so than it was a week after I got home lol) but with changing the Funny Money web site over to the new format and working with Dean to finish up some of his tracks so we can finish up working on the three new Funny Money tracks we recorded drums for, I just have not had the time to edit this mass of video footage together into something worth publishing – until now.

Scott, Jimmy and I got to Oklahoma City at about 3:00 am or so. Of course the hotel where all the bands were staying had no rooms available but we figured it was worth a shot, our rooms wouldn’t be ready until noon. No biggie, we went down the street and plopped into the Ramada for some well earned sleep. When we got back to the hotel around 1:00 the next afternoon, I saw Nuno Bettancourt from Extreme hanging around the lobby. They were playing Friday night and I was looking forward to seeing them. We decided to check in and head on over to the festival grounds to see what we were in for. Night Ranger was on the bill that day too, Scott especially was ready for that.

We caught the shuttle from the hotel over to the grounds, about a 45 minute drive to Pryor, and I was immediately impressed with the SIZE of the place. Campers, RV’s and crap just as far as the eye could see. The stage building was enormous and you could see the Jumbotrons from far far away. As clear as if you were holding one in your hand, even in the blazing bright southern sunlight. As we came through the gates, our driver commented on a crowd of big burly guys hanging around, apparently helping festival staff doing whatever was needed, saying, “there’s THC…” The were dressed in all black, wearing leather jackets (in 100 degree Oklahoma heat) with Texas Hippie Coalition logos on the back and the occasional cowboy hat. I’d kill for one of those jackets they were so cool! These were some downright serious looking dudes. Much later, like three weeks ago, Scott figured out that when he lived in Texas way back when, he used to play in a band with the guitar player. Small world indeed. At the time I didn’t know if they were a band or a motorcycle club or a pot smoking club (THC and all) or what, but I knew they had a cool name and I wanted one of their leather jackets!! Check out their MySpace, they are a killer southern rock/metal band, sort of like Pantera meets Lynyrd Skynyrd – and I dearly love me some Skynyrd! THC has some good songs and cleary they are good players in classic southern tradition. Buy their CD, you’ll be glad you did.

Back to the Studio

Date: 01 September, 2008  |  Posted By: Mark  |  Category: Tracking New Songs, Videos  |  Comments: 0
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On Aug 15th, Jimmy, Rob and I ascended into the Virginia hills arriving at Dragonfly East Studios to record three new songs for the upcoming Funny Money CD. Our host and engineer was our good friend Scott Spelbring. Dragonfly has a tremendous live room for drums, and Scott has a very impressive collection of mics. Probably more importantly, he knows his live room very well and knows how to get the best sound out of it. In fact it’s so live and loud, that when I told Scott that Rob and I intended to sit in the same room as Jimmy to try and get that live vibe down, he did a double take and said “man are you sure?” I said we were and he just gave me that kind of chuckle that people give you when you are about to do something stupid while they get to be endlessly entertained by your ignorance and discomfort!

Jimmy used Scott’s kit and brought his snare and cymbals. Scott got everything mic’d up with some nice super-high room mics to get all those pretty reflections of those drums bouncing off the wooden walls. We did some test drum tracks with Jimmy using his Zildjian snare, the one made from cymbal brass that he got from them back when he had an endorsement. It’s possibly THE loudest snare ever made. It sounded really good with some ringy overtones, and we weren’t sure if that whas what we were looking for. Scott suggested we try his Ludwig Black Beauty just for fun. Jimmy played for a few minutes and we recorded it and took a break to listen back. Jimmy decided he liked his Zildjian better. It did sound great, so did the Black Beauty but they were too different to compare really.

With the drum sound set, Scott took off for a few to get his dogs from his house and bring them over for company. Jimmy Rob and I decided to run through the arrangements of the three songs and we did quite well! Originally Rob and I had the idea of recording my bass and his guitar at the same time to capture the live vibe as best we could but we spent alot of time working on drums and we figured we’d probably want to redo some parts later anyhow. We decided we’d just sit in the room and Jam with Jimmy as he tracked his drums.

There is a famous story about Keith Moon’s antics in the studio during the recording of Who’s Next. He and producer Glyn Johns along with the first engineer had spent about three hours working on drum sounds, moving mics, changing drums, tuning drums, etc. When they finally “got it” Moonie asked the guys in the control room if everything was just how they wanted. They answered “yeah man we really got it” and Moonie asked “are you sure” they replied, “oh yeah perfect Kieth, just perfect.” Then Moonie promptly stood up, and walked right through the front of the kit, brandishing that wide evil grin of his. Great story.

The point of that story as it applies here is this. The room we recorded drums in was very live and hyperactive. I was sitting about three feet from Jimmy and his pounding the kit was so boneshakingly loud that I had to look up from what I was doing because it sounded like he was walking through the kit continuously! At which point I would be in rather serious danger of big heavy things falling on me. I play with Jimmy alot and I’m pretty used to being in close proximity of his powerful drumming, but when he has something he does not normally have – a gargantuan reflective room as an amplifier – it’s downright scary shit!

Here’s a video of some of what we did. It’s long and mostly pretty boring, it’s kind of like watching a video of somebody at work, nothing exciting about a bunch of people taking their job seriously. Even in a cool studio making music. But that is how it is in the studio and so here you go!

New Song Sample

Date: 17 August, 2008  |  Posted By: Mark  |  Category: Tracking New Songs  |  Comment: 1

Friday night 08/15, Jimmy Rob and I went to Dragonfly East Studios with Scott Spelbring residing over engineering duties, to begin tracking new songs for the new Funny Money CD. We’ve written a bunch of songs and we decided to start tracking with three songs we thought were pretty finished and pretty great – the best of the bunch we have right now. I’ll write another post detailing our first session and how much fun we had when I am done editing the video from the session.

Jimmy at Dragonfly

Jimmy at Dragonfly Studios 8/15

I’ll give y’all a demo version of one of the songs we are tracking for you to hear how a track evolves from the demo stage to the version we feel is good enough to release. This is an older song that was written by Rob and Craig Stegall ages ago, one that Rob and I felt strongly enough about the music and feel to try and pull it from the vault to revive it as a Funny Money song.

This song was in dire need of new lyrics so I went about re-writing the lyrics using some ideas Rob and I wanted to explore using only the original title. I think Craig came up with the original title, which was “When Love Seems Dead.” For the rewrite of this song, Rob had the idea of using the simile of how at any given point in a relationship, “love” with someone can be like a dog playing dead. So we expanded on the idea walking ourselves through similar scenarios we’ve both been in. How sometimes when you reach a point in a tulmultuous relationship when you are not sure if the love is actually gone or if the love is just playing dead. Like when you have problems with someone you are supposedly in a serious relationship with, you talk about things, try to resolve them and nothing happens, there is no forward motion. Sometimes you just get sick of it and it seems like they do nothing to help the situation and it’s all one-way. Where the rubber meets the road, it’s all you and no them. You’re just like “yeah this thing is almost over now” and you feel that emotional door closing a little, that slightly uneasy sinking feeling of going down the far side of a long swale in a speeding car. Then suddenly the other person does something cool or unexpected, maybe start acting like they are more into the little thing you have built together than last week, or do something huge they said they would do for you on an emotional level. Something out of the ordinary arc of the relationship that gets your attention in a positive way. And you think, “Hey this might be alright! Maybe things will work out…” and you get all excited again about this person and your relationship, so you “throw it a bone again” and keep trying until the next time love plays dead. But once you start feeling that way, how do you really know which it is? Is love dead or is it just playing dead like a little dog trick?

I tried to put that whole space that we are all familiar with, that ebb and flow of the shaky love-not-love thing into these lyrics and I hope it makes a connection with listeners. It’s definitely something we can all relate to. So this song is about those feelings and the uncertainty of what it feels like “When Love Plays Dead.”

Remember this is NOT what we recorded, this is a demo, with crappy plug-in guitars and a Jimmy-approved BFD drum track. Oh and Steve didn’t get around to singing on the demo, so this is Rob belting it out. Enjoy!

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