Rehearsal

Drums awaiting the drummer

We’re now a five piece: rhythm guitar/keys and vocals, keyboards and vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. Playing live is very different to playing with backing tracks. More fluid and less tight (maybe), but infinitely variable. It’s liberating; fun, and I wouldn’t miss our Tuesday rehearsals if you offered me the world … okay, so I might. But if I had the world I’d be able to rehearse anyway, so ya boo sucks to you! 😉

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Utterly in love

Want, want, want, want, want...!

 

It began a few days ago when I was wandering the highways and byways of St. Leonards. I stumbled into this second hand emporium on Kings Road and found a cheap Roland R8 and wanted it. It was pretty peachy back in the day. But the day was some fifteen or so years ago. Still, it would have been nice.

I walked away. Brave.

Let the fingers do the walking. I was miles away, yet suddenly I was on eBay’s Roland R8 auctions. Meh. I could just about ill afford one, but ‘honestly, grow up!’ I said to myself.

And then! Oh god, and then!

I thought I’d just check out new gear. Just have a look. You know. I didn’t really want anything, particularly. Except I have all these songs I want to record and the studio is a long way away, especially when you don’t have a car. So a little cheap recorder would be nice.

Notice cheap in the previous sentence.

Fuck me dead with a barge pole! How much?!

Want, want, want, want, want!!!!

Put it this way: If I were marketable I’d be strolling the red light district. No, really, I would.

A 24 track SDHD digital recorder for under £350. FUCK!

RIP Steve

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

I never met him, but he changed my world profoundly.

I remember watching the 1984 ad for the macintosh at the Odeon Leicester Square – I can’t remember the film I went to see, but the advert was stunning.

Later I spent a small fortune on an LCII, bought a G4 when they first came out, and I still have an old G5 at the heart of my studio. I’d like to update, but sadly can’t afford to.

Apple changed the face of music and video production, which, for me, is the key to why I feel so sorry Steve has gone. But more importantly: Tim Berners-Lee designed and ran the first true iteration of the WWW (at CERN) on a NExT computer and NExT was Steve Jobs – as NExT was a lot of the interior of the new generation Macs (OSX) once Jobs rejoined Apple.

Downs and ups, and the price of breathing.

The proof of the pudding....

THE DOWN:

“We didn’t get it.” He spoke down the phone, his tone as light as possible considering he wanted to scream.
“Oh. Well, there it is then,” the reply as upbeat as he’d known it would be, the pain held in check. Both trying to kid the other that the news wasn’t as crushing as it was. The longer the wait the more convinced they were they’d got it – and the wait had been interminable.
“They’ll be others, and it was good practice you know.”
“Yes, but … fuck! I’ll have to send the Porche back.”
“See you tomorrow.”
“Mmm.”

So what have I learned from not getting a job? Firstly: not to talk about anything before it happens, and secondly: not to be downhearted. Damn me I was – for a short while – but there’s no point.

We sent in two versions, we should have concentrated on one. We were very tired when it came to mix and that was a MAJOR mistake. We did pay attention to the brief, but obviously we made errors. So, for your delectation and delight, here is the brief, followed by what they said and the two verions we submitted.

THE BRIEF:

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HUGE NY Ad Agency needs a SINGER/SONGWRITER SONG for a national NUTRITION/HEALTH BRAND’s TV COMMERCIAL. It’s estimated that this gig will pay $15-$25,000 up front, but the back will bring in more dollars–LOTS of national airplay coming down the pike. This is going to be a little complicated so read VERY carefully!

The TV spot features a male/female DUET singing about taking your nutrition to the next level. It’s starts with a guy, playing guitar. 3 seconds into the spot, he’s joined by a young woman who sings along with him and plays tambourine. She becomes a one-woman band as she begins to ALSO play a kick drum and a keyboard–added in that order, and introduced one at a time (in your arrangement).

All this needs to take place in 30 SECONDS, while they sing the lyrics below! The good news is that this is a DEMO, and the agency folks know the lyrics they’ve been handed by their client are on the fat side. Your job is to keep the CRITICAL parts of the lyric in tact, while cutting SOME fat to bring this song in at exactly 30 seconds. You can trim a “yeah, yeah, yeah” down to just one “yeah,” etc., but you MUST keep “Anthem” and “Go Nutrients” and as much of the original concept as possible and MOST of the lyric in tact. Quoting the Head Creative guy at the agency: “Write a great SONG with as much of the client’s lyrics as possible.” Easy, breezy, nothing to it, and bring it all home in 30 seconds!

Musically, this SONG needs to be UPTEMPO, HIP and FUN, and in a Jason Mraz or Bruno Mars-like style of putting (vocal) doubles or triplets on top of half notes. That could give it a cool, fun, funky feel while helping you get most of the lyrics nailed in 30 seconds. Melodically, your song needs to sound like a HIT with a KILLER HOOK–it needs to be infectious, memorable and singable.

This product will likely generate a series of TV spots, so nailing THIS one COULD get you to the front of the line for others. If your DEMO is chosen to be presented to the agency and client, you’ll need to be able to make minor changes (if needed) on Monday, July 4th so the final version can be presented on Tuesday morning. If you’re not fully available Sunday (dinner time) through Monday (dinner time), please DO NOT submit for this listing! Welcome to the intensely fast-paced, whacky world of music for advertising!

Lyrics:
You take a multivitamin every day
But you want to add a little something (hey hey hey)
So you reach for new Go Nutrients from Anthem
Can I get a funky beat on the bass drum
Take Omega 3 to help your heart
Helps your eyes and brain too…so state of the art
Probiotic for when your system feels out of whack.
Immunity? No problemo! And support that digestive tract. (Uh-huh.)
Fruit & Veggie has antioxidants galore!
Will make you glow for the one you adore. (Grrrrr)
Get on up, throw your hands in the air.
Take your nutrition next level, Start a love affair!! (Yeah yeah yeah.)

 Broadcast Quality is needed, even though they may ultimately use NY session singers for the vocals. You must own or control 100% of the Master and Composition rights. If you are chosen, the AD AGENCY will contact you DIRECTLY. The agency is not sure at this time if this will be a Work for Hire deal or exactly what form the deal structure will ultimately take. Bottom line, it will certainly be in line with whatever the Industry Standard would be in a situation like this. This is a HUGE agency, and they’re not in the habit of risking their reputation by cheating musicians–it’s not like they’re a record label – LOL!! Please submit one to three songs online or per CD, include lyrics.  All submissions will be screened on a YES/NO BASIS. NO CRITIQUES FROM TAXI. Submissions must be received no later than SATURDAY, JULY 2nd, 2011 at 6:00 pm (PDT).

——————————————

Our offerings:
Version 1
Version 2

——————————————

What they said:

Version 1:
Doesn’t sound enough like the referenced artists to get forwarded, and the vocals are a little on the not locked together very well side. We KNOW this had challenging lyrics, to say the least. Thanks for working so hard on this!

Version 2:
Similar problems as the other track had. Also, at times, the vocals sound like several people and not a duet. Sorry to be so picky, but the ad agency will be hearing stuff from a handful of NY’s top ad music people and we can only submit stuff that’s competitive with them.

——————————————

What I think!

Pragmatically, they’re not wrong. I don’t even think they’re broadcast quality – though they were supposed to be demos: ideas to be polished.

As ideas they’re okay though they’re rough and need work. Also, they don’t reflect the singers, we were given as suggestions, enough.

Both mick and I have written for commercials before. Obviously, we need to dust off our muses.

——————————————

THE UP:

I came back through the door after going to the shops, this morning, to find a parcel. Inside was something I wasn’t expecting until next month: a proof copy of my book!

Dare I say W00T! 🙂

Holding a real, physical, glossy paperback book of your own work is … mindbogglingly fantastic! The feeling is almost sexual in its intensity. The trouble is I don’t have anyone to go and and get drunk with. Mick thinks it’s ‘great,’ looked at it, flicked through it, and then went to the studio. Brigitte grinned, said it ‘looks really nice’ and then made lunch. And the cats weren’t that overjoyed, either.

But I have this persistent warm glow inside, which quite makes up for the lack of champagne and highbrow critique. And, after all, it is only a proof – speaking of which: sods law I immediately found a major mistake (misteak). What it is I shan’t say – you’ll have gnaw at your nails and guess.

THE PRICE OF BREATHING:

So … what have I learnt? Well, you have to take the downs with the ups and learn from them both. Devastating though the rejection was – and the length of time waiting had a lot to do with that – it’s not the end of the world. It’s a lesson and we’ll learn from it (‘scuse me – that sounds so trite I think I need a bucket). It’s a bummer we’re not going to get $25,000 plus royalites (bangs head against the wall) but that’s life … and the very next day I get a proof of my book. See? The universe takes away and then provides. Sort of – ish.

There’s the core of a new religion in here, somewhere. Hmm. I have a book jacket of many colours. Maybe a coat would be nice, too. And a new musical. 😉

4th July: nice for most, most vexing for me :(

4th July - a Monday AND a (£%$*&&"!!!) public holiday, Stateside.

It’s now the 5th of July, and thank heavens for that. Yesterday, I hovered around the computer all day waiting for an email, or for some weency indication of how our two, 30 second, commercials were received (see post below).

All day: nada, nothing, zip, ziltch, bollocks all. Lord on a pogo stick was I getting freaked out. The job stated: If you’re not fully available Sunday (dinner time) through Monday (dinner time), please DO NOT submit for this listing!

The job came from an agency in California, which is 8 hours behind the U.K.. So having worked out that dinner would be around 8pm there – ergo 4am next day, here, I’ve been worrying ever since. Not to mention being so tired I was almost a zombie.

Then Brigitte, who has been stalwart at preventing me doing anything silly, said “It’s the 4th, you know, Independence day. It’s a public holiday in the U.S.. They won’t be at work.”

Ooooh, the sleep was nice. But now I’m out of out of whack with my normal snoozing pattern and still don’t know anything. Mick, bless his cotton socks, is always optimistic. Me, I guess I’ll wait just a little longer (read tonight) before I start eating people.  😉

On spec.

image

Mick & I are in the studio recording a 30 second commercial for a New York ad agency. If it gets accepted then ‘Rio, oh mio oh mio!’ If it doesn’t then … c’est la vie. Neither of us have worked on commercials in years, and it’s good practice.

We’re recording two versions (should be three) and they have to be in by midnight.

We’ll hear, one way or the other, by Monday morning. Wish us luck! 🙂

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Fluffy things and soya.

Aww, ducklings. How cute!

Walking to the studio yesterday I came across these ducklings and their mother. Mr. X who breeds them is not my favourite person – not that I know him or have ever seen him. He has a little floating duck house moored in the middle of the canal and, presumably to supplement his income – or because he’s a ferocious meat eater, he breeds ducks and geese. And they’re so, soooo cute and fluffy and cuddly.

Last year, while we were recording the album, Mick and I would feed them. We’d call out ‘ducks, ducks, ducks, ducks, DUCKS!’ and they’d come swimming up for all they were worth, quacking away for their snacks. Eventually Mark, who’d come out to see what we were up to, cleared his throat and said ‘you know they belong to Mr. X and they’re for the pot.’

The fact of the matter is that I’m a sucker for cute wee beasties: be they cats, ducks,  lambs or whatever. It breaks my heart thinking of eating them and yet I’m not a vegetarian. Why? Obviously the flaw is mine and not Mr. X’s. After all, you can’t get attached to soya protein, can you?