Archive for The Band

I’m A Failure: Episode 4 – But I don’t dance.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Johnny Broken

My first opportunity for musical shenanigans in a band was a high school thing with some friends. They wanted to follow in the footsteps of Oasis (who were uber popular at the time) and while I still don’t really care for the works of the Gallagher brothers (because of Wonderwall and the line “where were you while wwweeeeee were getting high?”) at the time I figured what the hell. They needed a singer, and I volunteered.

Why did I volunteer? Beyond for reasons I’ve already alluded to, hard to say, really. I mean I’m not like, uncomfortable with singing or anything. I used to do it all the time in class during elementary school, but never on my own in front of people and I never did it extracurricularly either. When I’m alone I do sing along to music I like all the time, though whether or not I’m any good is another story. If nothing else, I at least like to think I know who I can mimic and who’s definitely out of my league. (Generally the more talented the singer, the more they fall in the latter group.) Always been more of a fan of rasps, growls, and what I like to call “rhythmic talking” over clean singing anyway, which are also easier to do

I had a few practice sessions with the band, and a recording of an original song was even played for class. While no one ever said “Oh MY GAWD you suck!” no one was fawning over my singing either. The extent of what I was told by the band was that I was going too fast, as they weren’t trying to play so punky. I guess I was more heavily influenced by a local punk scene than Britpop at the time, but after about a month they stopped inviting me to practice. Fair enough.

Shortly after that, some friends from the aforementioned punk scene, who were also a lot more inclined to metal, wanted to form a cover band. Again, I volunteered based on my “experience” with the Britpop band. I think I realized this endeavor wasn’t going to last much longer like the night I said “Yeah, sure, I’ll give it a shot” though. The metalheads wanted to cover older Metallica and Megadeth, but for as much as I say I like metal, I’ve never really gotten into any early thrash metal. After some finagling Rammstein was added into the mix, but that… probably did me more harm than good. I probably could have pulled off mimicking Dave Mustaine or James Hetfield, even if I didn’t know the songs they wanted to cover. However, while I’m significantly more familiar with Rammstein, their singer, Till Lindemann, has this incredibly deep singing growl. Which in and of itself might have been manageable, but 98% of all Rammstein songs are also in German.

To put it lightly, I’m not so good at trying to sing baritone, never mind in German. I’ve been told I can pull off a fairly impressive low growl when speaking, but my default singing style seems to be a good bit higher. Nonetheless, I came to the conclusion that maaaybe singing wasn’t for me.

Now my “friend” #3, and I’m adding the quotes because as of my typing this I’m still a little unamused with the bastard, but anyway, he’s into music even more than me. But while I’ve had more of a thing for comic books and writing for the last 10 years, he’s taught himself guitar in that time.

Now even though I have little desire to hang out with #3 now, he and I are a lot alike. We’re both anti-social, misanthropic, geeky, gamery, and of above average intelligence. So we’re both kind of inept in our own ways when it comes to dealing with other people.

So with that in mind, #3 has wanted to either join or start a band for years. Though he’d argue it, he has just as much trouble as I do getting along with people, if not more so. So when he meets new people to practice with, either he gets sick of them or they get sick of him pretty quickly.

And the best part? Every couple months he’ll try talking me into starting a band with him. He tells me I have this great sense of rhythm and would be a natural bass player. So after about 16 years of joking that I’d learn bass given the chance, I finally broke down and bought a crappy bass to practice with. I just kinda did my own thing on the bass with some advice from him, but nothing complicated. Looked up some bass tabs, and researched the basics online. Practiced for a few weeks. Wrote some song lyrics. Tried to come up with some decent basslines. As time passed though, and it was just me and #3, I started noticing a few of his habits, which as far as I was concerned, explained why he wasn’t currently in a band.

The worst part is that for as much as I do think it’s over diagnosed, he has a major case of ADD. He can’t keep doing something repetitive for very long, and if he can help it, he’ll constantly try something new. Now think about that in context. A guy who has trouble doing the same thing over and over says he wants to play guitar in a band. Where one would, y’know, practice the same songs over and over and over.

He can’t do it. He claims he’s not good enough to play lead guitar in a band, and tries to play rhythm guitar, but he doesn’t have the attention span to play the same riffs over and over in a song. So I’m supposed to keep a beat for a guy that gets sick of hearing or playing the same riff after like, 2 minutes. Which is when he starts improvising. Which is when any semblance of any sort of song structure is completely thrown out the window.

And then we both came into some financial troubles, and to make a long story short, as far as I was concerned, the “side project” band was quickly becoming a waste of time. We shelved things for a couple months, and I eventually sold my crappy little bass.

To this day #3 still tells me I’d be a good bass player if I stuck to it. Then he started showing me how to use a drum machine for the cover band he’s in, but once I thought I got the hang of it, he seemingly dropped that completely and tried showing me how to use a sequencer. That was significantly more complicated, but shortly after I started trying to figure that thing out, I finally heard the cover band.

And…

Wow. They were horrible. But the worst part is that #3 fully admitted (to me, anyway) that he hated the idea of the straight up cover band the others wanted to do, and never intended to learn the songs. So I at that point, I pretty much completely lost interest. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to practice for something that I knew he didn’t care about.

So where does that leave me? I… dunno. Like I’ve been saying, I enjoy music, and would like to see if I can actually manage to create it, but I’m strapped financially for the forseeable future, so buying a decent instrument is out of the question. And then there’s the matter of being as old as I am and basically starting from scratch, and nevermind how I still plan on not living to see 2014 anyway. It might be something that could turn things around for me, but I just don’t see how I can manage to even start anything in time before my plans for Halloween.

-Johnny

I’m A Failure: Episode 3 – It has a beat…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by Johnny Broken

As you may have noticed, I’ve been trying to avoid giving an indication of how old I am. The idea here is to tell you about what I do, but not me specifically, if that makes any sense. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t talk about my musical influences and still be coy about when I grew up. And music is a big part of my life, or what’s left of it anyway, so there goes that mystery.

So back in the day when I was a wee lad, my options for the music I could listen to were limited to my father’s interests. He’s a huge fan of The Platters and Buddy Holly and their ilk, and he explicitly told me once that I could play that crazy MTV stuff after I gave older music (or basically his music) a chance first. I don’t remember hating his music, but at the time, the likes of Madonna (To this day, I still think of Material Girl as the first song I could freely listen to.) and Def Leppard and Bon Jovi had the allure of the forbidden to them. And if there’s anything about kids that you can count on, it’s that they’ll be drawn to something they’ve been denied.

With that in mind, you can probably blame 80’s pop and hair metal for my ingrained fondness for music that’s either electronic in some way, overly catchy, or yelled instead of sung. Granted hair metal was popular at the time, but one of my cousins is STILL a diehard fan of the genre, so her and my hipster brother are probably the most responsible for what I was exposed to. Once I was finally free to purse music on my own, I gravitated towards later Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Skid Row (Yeah yeah, chuckle it up now.) as well as whatever else came around that was melodic.

My cousin, how I grew up (middle class white kid) and where I grew up (central Pennsylvania) are also probably why I never really got that into rap and hip-hop when I was young. You could more than likely toss in that “Us versus Them” mentality of metal fans versus, well, everyone else too. The extent of my exposure to anything rap-y was the super popular stuff that made it on radio and TV. Call the likes of MC Hammer or Young MC what you will these days, but they succeeded in showing the masses that there was music that didn’t involve ridiculously teased hair, lipstick, and guitars.

And then one fateful birthday during my later elementary school years, my brother gave me his old copy of the Broken EP by Nine Inch Nails. For those new to the Evil Midnight Blog, that was around the time I started embracing misanthropy because of how my classmates treated me. So as an angry little kid brought up on hair metal, the first time I listened to some of Trent Reznor’s angriest work, I was hooked on this “industrial” music. It was a perfect blend of the guitar riffs, yelling, and techno that I already liked, and the lyrics were just as hate-filled and angst ridden as I was at the time.

Speaking of Nine Inch Nails, I still get a chuckle out of my 8th grade yearbook. When 95% of the class listed “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” as their favorite song, mine was “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails. Wish it was something real in this world full of you, indeed.

As the interwebs were still a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, however, discovering new music was difficult, to say the least. Skip ahead a few years to high school, and #6 and I were getting a ride from another friend’s brother. I noticed a bunch of tapes in the car I didn’t recognize, and I meekly mentioned that I was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. Oddly enough, this produced something of a gleam in Big Brother’s eye, and he started sifting through his tapes.

“You like Nine Inch Nails, Huh? You ever heard of Ministry or KMFDM?”
“Uh. No.”
“Oh, check these out. You’ll love this.”

If you have any familiarity with any of these bands, you know exactly where this is going. If you don’t, Ministry basically created the industrial metal genre by being the first band to combine electronically generated dancey beats and heavy metal style guitar riffs, and KMFDM are arguably equally as influential, if a bit more on the rock and experimental end. Long story short, I’ve loved industrial music ever since.

So I finally had a “type” of music that I loved. Granted it’s hard to explain to someone who only knows mainstream music, and in recent years I’ve resorted to using “techno” as a catch-all term, but I’ll persevere. Of course industrial music is still my favorite genre, but I listen to a lot different kinds of music these days. Almost anything from Arkona to Busta Rhymes to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Dimmu Borgir to Elvis Presley to Front Line Assembly to Girls’ Generation to The Horrorpops to The Ink Spots to Job For a Cowboy to you get the idea.

In fact, it’d probably be easier and faster to mention what I don’t like. I’ve already covered why I hate classic rock and “hippy” music here. I also don’t like most genres where it’s intentional to NOT be rhythmic, though I can handle math metal once in a while. (If that last sentence didn’t make much sense, look up Intelligent Dance Music. It’s pretentious as fuck and extremely painful on my ears. Math Metal focuses on musicianship over being catchy.) Blindly religious music also tends to get on my nerves, as well as whiny country, or extremely braggy rap. My annoyance towards inane lyrics is also a large part of why I like foreign language music so much. I can either just ignore the words and enjoy the sound, or if I get too curious regarding what the song is about, pass off the lyrics as not translating well.

Now with this all mind, I hope I’ve established that I have a thing for music, and especially melodic, catchy stuff. In elementary school I did start taking trumpet lessons, but I always kinda sucked at that. Shifted to percussion during high school, but I was never really good at manually playing the drums either. The thing is, while I may have an ear for a beat, I’ve NEVER been good with numbers. As such, a full understanding of how music is actually made has been just beyond my grasp. I’ve never learned how to read music, but I never really sat down to try to figure it all out either. Which made learning an instrument in a school lesson format incredibly difficult, to say the least.

During high school I started joking that given the opportunity, I’d try to learn bass guitar. I mean I already looked like I was in a band, why not actually be in one? And then the opportunities to play in bands finally started presenting themselves, which I’ll talk about in the next IAF episode.

-Johnny

Jim Beamed Ahnenerbe TV

Posted in Updates with tags , , , on January 20, 2010 by Johnny Broken

A moderate 125 today.

Freaking dog started barking it’s head off for like 15 minutes straight once the oil delivery showed up at like 7AM. I mention yet how much I hate dogs?

Sent my Future Shock submission out today. The labels I used for the addresses didn’t look like they stuck completely around the edges regardless of how much I smashed them down, but, well, gah. Out of my hands now. Now I just need to forget about it for 6 weeks to 6 months. *crosses fingers*

Heard on the radio that a guy had the cops called on his mountainy home for playing John Denver too loud. The guy says he was “rocking out.” >.<

1 Day to Dark Avengers #13!

Went back to my chaotic ebil character in Fallout 3. Well, re-did the character with a save point right before you leave the Vault. I have a concept I like for as much as the game lets you build around that. So the idea was to focus on Big Guns, Repair, and Speech. (My lawful ebil Ghoul Girl didn’t have much more than 20 points in Speech until like level 8 or 10, and as such my smooth talking with her barely works.) But you don’t get enough ammo for Big Guns until, at least that I know of, you get to the Capital Ruins and encounter the Super Mutants with all their gatling guns and missle launchers. But I didn’t really want to put a lot of points into Melee, or Explosives to start, as I -think- the points from Little Leaguer on the off Perk levels might be enough to do that. But the super exploder build I’m sorta working towards with Perks like Size Matters and Demolitions Expert and Pyromaniac doesn’t leave a lot of room for Lockpick and Computers. GAH!

Ghoul Girl has a high lockpick, but jack for computers. So I figure my lawful good Cyborg Guy can focus on Science (and Unarmed) to get that out of the way. But going through Megaton again with Exploder Guy, I’ve been reminded of all the places I didn’t loot before blowing it up playing through as Ghoul Girl. (I only went for Lucas Simms’ place and the Armory before, and decided to not bother with any of the other places after noticing that Moira’s shop and Burke’s house were too hard to break into.) So I -want- a character that focuses on Big Guns and damage (Shishkebobs and Explosives) and there’s a lot of perks to work around that, but I’m at a loss, again, for the secondary stuff. And it’s more difficult than I imagined to get bad Karma if you’re not looting everything in sight. Sure he can talk to people better than Ghoul Girl, but the lockpick thing is starting to bug me.

And if… when… I re-do Ghoul Girl, I might just focus on Melee for Ninja related shenanigans. (And Lockpick and Sneak) Though I don’t know if the Chinese Officer sword would be enough, nevermind finding it early enough to be worth it. Hmmm… So that would leave Ghoul Girl 2.0 with Melee/Lockpick/Sneak, Cyborg Guy with Unarmed/Science/???, and Exploder Guy with Big Guns and…. um… crap. Back to the drawing board.

2 Days to new Supernatural episodes!

Talked to Computer Girl briefly last night. She’s, well, to put it simply, my dream girl. Granted we “met” over the muhmorpuguh we both play; I joined a vampire Roleplay (or just RP for short) guild her RP guild was allied with, and our characters got along, and things just went on from there. The vampire stuff lost momentum, and then I started my own RP villain guild and asked her to join, and that’s when I noticed the extent of her…. quirks. I had invited another slightly wackier friend of mine to join the same guild, and Computer Girl, pretty much 2 minutes into talking to Wacky Guy, pitched a fit believing she was being personally attacked and all my in-game friends hate her, and her participation in any of -my- RP based stuff has been all but nonexistent ever since. We still talk though, mostly out of character (or OOC) but the bulk of the in character (or IC) stuff we do,  is centered on her characters, which, are, well, different. And I’m stuck on superheroes and supervillains. Since the game we play is based on superheroes and supervillains.

Anyhoo, I’ve seen a blurry pic of her and she’s seen a couple decent pics of me, and we talked over the phone, uh, once.

We do have a -lot- in common though, between pop culture interests, personal styles, and entertainment interests. But the biggest problem is that she’s on the other side of the !#%&*^$@@!#^ country. And the biggest obstacle to -that-, well, okay, the second biggest obstacle after me not having the money it would take to fly over there, is that she’s so misanthropic she makes me look like the life of the party by comparison. (And trust me, I’m sssoooooo not a party person.) Which, really, if I lived in the same city as her, it wouldn’t be an issue, because I don’t really like hanging out with a lot of people anyway. I’d be more than happy to just hang out with her. But… I need some more incentive to get my ass over there than meeting a girl I’ve never actually met in real life (or IRL). So I -was- trying to plan it out that I’d fly over there with 2 other friends of mine and we’d all go to a big convention and they could do stuff on their own and then I’d hang out with Computer Girl and we’d meet for like dinner and such. Aaand then that promptly blew up in my face.

My two other friends, who were married, long story short, split up. (More on that later, possibly. I’m still trying to get my comic books and alcohol back from their house.) And then Computer Girl started whining about how she would hate being around all the people at the convention and she wouldn’t know anyone and she’d be miserable, implying that I was -trying- to find the worst possible thing to drag her to. So. So much for that idea.

So now that you have a little bit of the context, as for last night. Computer Girl also hates the Lady of Cats, (more on that later, possibly) and was complaining about the LoC being the prime candidate to take over the guild I founded. (I’m passing it on due to my not having the time, mostly due to the band and my possibly going back into theatre, or interest to rebuild the group.) So in between her complaining about that, and no, she’s not a member of my guild, and her gushing about Avatar (I still don’t really care to see the movie.) she managed to quickly sneak in a line about how I could hang out with -her- characters more. BUT! She demands “unique” character’s. And she’s annoyed that, in her words, I keep remaking my own guild characters to put them in her guilds.

My jaw about hit the floor when I read that.

First off, my main RP characters are in my guild, but as for the ones I “remade,” I only did that -once- because I thought she -liked- the character. And I moved an obsolete version of my leader guy to her other group because she kept going on about how her one character would get along with my leader guy. The other characters I’ve moved to her groups (ninja man and werewolf) didn’t fit in my group. They aren’t -there- anymore. I’ve told her I don’t know how many time that of her main guilds, I’ve been at a loss for characters to make for some of them, since her guild concepts are so left field for me. And unless I really get into a character, I will be bored to tears trying to stick with it. In the muhmorpuguh world, they call it “alt-itis.” Means you have trouble (for any one of a number of reasons) sticking to one character and you keep making new ones. I have altitis pretty bad, and so does Computer Girl. But I’ve also noticed that the last couple of times I have created characters for her guilds (whether they were carryovers from my guild or not) after we’d do a character introduction, the next time I’d see her online, she’d be playing the characters she knows I have no concepts for. I know she’s playing some weird game with me, and she even joked that she can’t help it that I’m a step behind the characters of the moment. But… still… *sigh*

And no, I haven’t brought up my counter argument to her, because I’m really tired of arguing with anyone right now

On a slightly more upbeat note, band practice went well. I’m still far from, y’know, good, only been playing on and off for a few months. Need to get the coordination down, but I think I’m getting better at that. Band guy insists I’m good at keeping a beat, which in his book is all I really need. I’m not out to be a like technical wizard or anything, but I would at least like to be able to consider myself a competent musician one of these days.

-Zer0

The Darkness

Posted in Updates with tags , , , on January 19, 2010 by Johnny Broken

A strong 125 today.

Forgot to mention that last night was a sleeping “aide” night. Been doing that for a while now since the Paranormal Activity debacle. The only regular night I do it though is Sunday, since I tend to stay up until anywhere between 3 and 5AM Friday and Saturday nights. I know I shouldn’t do that, but it’s nice to have some peace and quiet and time to myself. Only other time I take the sleeping aide are the nights following any restless nights. Somewhat related, had a weird dream about traveling somewhere with my blood relations where we were all packed real sardinelike in some white jeep like vehicle. The thing that stands out though was that one blood relation started talking to me about the cover band he saw me playing in. Which is funny, considering that I’ve only been practicing bass since November, but more on that later.

Sat down for dinner again today. So far so good there.

Sam’s Club sure are taking their sweet time with my contacts. 7-10 days from January 7th, and still nothing. Going to call them tomorrow. Depends on when the stuff shows up, but this may screw with my previous schedule of a new pair Monday mornings, which is only annoying because I’ll need to change all the reminders I programmed into my cell phone that every other Sunday was time to switch contacts. Grrr.

2 days to Dark Avengers #13!

Marvel announced a new book today called Her-Oes. It’s supposed to be pronounced “heroes” but it’s still one of the worst names for a comic, ever. Could be interesting though, it’s one of those “the superheroes are teenagers” things like Iron Man: Armored Adventures. But it focuses on Wasp, “Jenny” She-Hulk Walters, Ms Marvel, possibly Valkyrie, and it looked like Namora will be the main antagonist. And it’ll be written by a woman. Sounds amusing, but it’ll also be done under Marvel Adventures, which is All Ages, which is slightly dumbed down, so… we’ll see. Might get the first issue just for amusement’s sake.

3 days to new episodes of Supernatural!

Day 10 of the Master Roshi goatee experiment. For my next costume for the main comic book convention I go to, it was either gong to be Roshi or Darth Malak. But in light of the whole band thing absorbing my pretty cash, and the con schedule being goofy last year with the new building I figure I’ll just go for Roshi for now, and slllooowwwllly start working on Malak. And Malak would be the most intensive costume I’ve ever done by far, so better to spend some time on it and do it right. I still think I can pull it off, even if I’m somewhat short. ‘Sides, for Roshi, all I need to do is buy the kung fu shoes, pants, and shirt, all of which I should be able to buy off of one site for pretty cheap. Then it’s a matter of getting the big sunglasses, which shouldn’t be -too- hard. After that, it’s down to just letting my goatee grow out.

The thing about that though is that a bushier mustache gets annoying quick. Stuff gets stuck in it, (oil from stuff like pizza being the worst) and it sticks with you for the rest of the day, and… blagh.

It would be part of the point though of my doing the Roshi costume anyway, as I -do- resemble the character, and I could do the goatee naturally. I just need to grow out my goatee from my longstanding “pitchfork” style (a narrow soul patch, and lines from the edges of my mouth to my chin, combined with how long I’ve worn it off my chin since, jeez, after I got out of high school. Pearboy called it that, and the name stuck for me.) to the full on beard looking thing. And color it white. Blood relation #4 did mention that they sell bleach that’s facial hair friendly, but then she started rambling on about after you’d bleach it, you need to mix in like purple and/or green to get them to override each other to get silvery white. And all that is assuming that the bleach doesn’t damage the hair to begin with. And my hair isn’t that healthy as is. Still, it’s either that, or just use some sort of silvery/white styling gel, which-might- flake off all day. But the black latexy stuff I have now doesn’t flake off, or doesn’t seem like it does, so…. I’ll see. I have time to think about it, but I have almost… carry the 1…. times 2… hate math… like 3 months. Huzzah for procrastination!

Then I’ll wear last years costume on Saturday this year, and Roshi on Sunday. I’ve seen enough people wear the same costume consecutive years, so I guess it won’t be too bad if I do that again. I -did- change my Star Wars costume from 2 years ago over the one that I wore 3 years ago, still. Just need to find some other anime/manga people to do a skit with.

AOL had some fashiony things again today on the homepage. See, I pull up the windows, but then shrink them fast before they load, and look at them later when I know no one is behind me.

Okay, upon further review, one article was about how they hoped Gwen Stefani would become a trendsetter for “extreme” hairstyles on the red carpet. Bleh. Too much of that kind of stuff just looked like mixing and matching different styles on the same head, sort of like how a lot of the old D&D monsters are lame blatantly piecemeal ideas like “Oh! We’ll take the arms of a bear, the head of a lion, and the legs of a horse!” instead of something, y’know, new. (Gah, comparing hairstyles by way of D&D. I bet that doesn’t happen often.) Reminds me too much 80’s hair too, but I guess that cyclical style silliness is working it’s way back around. I like hair symmetrical, so sue me.

The other one was about dresses at the Golden Globes. The general idea still seems to be that flowing/form fitting is good and frumpy/excessive is bad. And, y’know, something that covers up in a decent manner. Doesn’t really seem to be too hard a concept to grasp. Makeup isn’t really my thing, as I still prefer a gothy kinda look, and everything else in that respect just looks, well, generic to me.

Read an interesting theory on Spider-Man 4, that Sony is so gung-ho about moving forward without Raimi and Maguire because they’re worried that any major delays will attract Disney’s lawyers who are looking for kinks in the contract. Apparently, (I -still- think that’s spelled “apper” at first) they’d rather ditch the (sadly) proven moneymakers and start over from scratch instead of deal with Disney’s lawyers. Sony also does acknowledge that the Mouse’s lawyers will be analyzing everything they do with a fine tooth comb to look for some goof they can exploit to get control of Spider-Man back asap. Still, yikes. Sounds fun, dunnit?

Guild meeting went well. Still a low turnout, but better’n last weeks. Band stuff tomorrow night. I needs me practice.

-Zer0