bookmark_borderMonsoon in the Anti Chlamydia Outfit: Drums

Hey every 1. It’s me, Lord On-Time Machine.

When I was a teenager, my the instrument I played was drums. I studied them quite bit, but when I moved out of my parents’ house it was hard to practice. In apartments, I suddenly had close neighbors, so I switched to bass. On my first two albums, I’ve often heard complaints that the drumming sucks. But I was quite happy with the drumming because I got exactly what I wanted out of them. And I believe it secretly drives the album. As I’ve gotten older and fallen gloriously out of practice, my own big complaint about subsequent recordings is I did not feel as in control on this instrument. Attempts to get back in practice have often fizzled. And I focussed on bass because it made more sense live. But on bass, I have no idea what I’m doing. On drums, I still understand how they work and can do complex things, even if I sound bad. And this is how it’s been for many years.

Enter Mr. Covid. Over the year+ in quarantine, I practiced pretty much every day, just loosely jamming. But the revelation came toward the end when I was starting to look for new work. I can teach you to play drums, even if I don’t sound to good myself. And I work with a lot of drummers both as a bass player and a sound person and have a good sense of what to look for in a good drummer. So why not give lessons? I ordered a beginner’s drum book, the most basic stuff, just to look though it and think about teaching. Eureka! I felt my sound improve almost immediately. Frankly, every drummer I know should go back to the beginning and study the basics more carefully, the stuff they rushed through as teenagers and I think they know so well now. But most drummers are pretty bad and play too loud. Anyway, over the last two months, I searched for lists of the most classic instruction books, ordered a bunch and easily spend two hours a day on them when I have time. They are really enjoyable. When I was younger, I skipped all the technique stuff and focussed more on interesting rhythms. But now all I care about is technique stuff: separation, time keeping, control. There are still many problems with my playing. It may take me a year to sound as good as I expect, especially as work creeps back in and I have less time. But for the first time in years, I feel I’m on the right track.

One strange thing that happens when I go through these books, though, is I am flood with vivid memories of being a teenager. Good ones and bad ones. I guess that’s because that’s the last time I studied drums like this. And my drum knowledge is stored in the same region of my brain. Unlocking some of it unlocked all of it. It’s really strange.

Anyway, happy to working on this. My experience working with drummers has taught me the number one thing a drummer can do to improve is play quieter. That’s sure an oversimplification but one I like repeating. Just working on technique the way I have the past few months, the volume comes down automatically. It seems to be a symptom of otherwise good drumming.

Have a great weekend. Chairs.

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bookmark_borderOn Hair Dye

One thing I started doing during Covid was dying my hair. Green, purple, and/or kind of an aqua. Growing up in the 1980s and 90s in Providence, between the campuses of RISD and Brown, students constantly had weirdly colored hair that I admired, and I always wanted to do it but hesitated. I’ve tried dying it before, but it never stuck. As long as I wasn’t going to see anybody during quarantine, it seemed a good time to experiment. But what pushed me the most to sit down and follow directions carefully is the nightmares I have every night about aging.
Many years ago, I met Debe Dalton, an older banjo player with white hair that she regularly dyed with fun colors. As a young person then, I would hesitate to to chat with someone so much older. But her dyed hair drew me in. So did her banjo. These may be stupid prejudices, but as I grow older, I lose a lot of sleep fearing other people’s similar prejudices, especially as a single person, and on stage. I do not feel ready to be old yet. How can I counteract it and remain approachable? I feel like dying my hair is one way. When you think of someone sitting at a bar with bright pink hair, would you expect unfriendly, or someone you’d like to talk to? It doesn’t cover up or conceal age, but it does signal that I am not to be confused with other middle aged people. And to boot it’s fun.
I must say I feel really at home with purple hair, and this is the most important reason I intend to keep doing it. I look in the mirror and say, “oooh!” When I go out, I find people are nicer to me. Strangers talk to me. Shopkeeps make conversation, proving my theories of approachability and the potential to improve my social life. My only reservation is the the chemicals.

I am anxious to debut this new hair at the DIY music venues around town, which remain largely shuttered. I am hopeful June is the month they start booking again. I run sound at such venues so I am anxious for work. But I greatly miss meeting other musicians, and I have a ton of new songs to perform. What happens next?

Anyhoo, stay clean. Keep bathing.

In disguise,
Lord On-Time Machine

Too Close to Vomit: pukeballs .com
T-Shirt store: artichokesfordinner.com

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bookmark_borderBlog Testing Madness

Hola. Welcome to this blog. I’ve set it up and am testing it with this post. Can I really write stuff and have it appear as part of a blog? How exciting.

The technology used in writing a blog is really fascinating. Think about it. Blogs weren’t even possible 50 years ago. Yet today, with the help of a computer keyboard, a screen, an internet connection, and some servers and protocols, as well as a computer-type device at your end, blogs are easy to post and transmit.

This blog in particular is the Too Close to Vomit Blog. Too Close to Vomit is my band, and I’ve been writing, recording and practicing through out the mightiest pandemic of our lifetimes. I’m rarin’ to start playing live again, and push our sound physically into new, young, hot audiences. To do so, I’m re-adapating age-old marketing I used with my old band, Lance Romañce.

The first big push is Too Close to Vomit pens, which I hand out to everyone I meet. They are in the testing phase now, which means I ordered a small quantity and am seeing how people react to the text on them. Pens are great because people hold onto them for a little while, which means they are reminded of the band. The second thing I’m working on is the website. I needed a good URL to put on the pens. And although I already had tooclosetovomit.com, it was too long and I loathed to put the phrase on the pen twice. Hence the URL is pukeballs.com: nice, short and to the point. The website is modeled after giantrats.com, my old website for Lance Romañce. The big problem with giantrats now is that it relies on frames, which work really well on the site. But some of today’s browsers don’t work well with frames, or other aspects of the site. Anyway, I built that site when I was 19, and I am happy to build a new, fresh one. And while it has a similar aesthetic, it is designed to be at least decently navigable on your phone. But also a major feature of gianttrats.com is the mailing list archive. I ran an awesome email list from 1997-2002. I quit because it was funny to quit. This here blog is essential the older-version-of-me update to that mailing list. I took too long of a break. Anyway, this three pronged approach of pens, website, blog are the main ways I will be promoting this little band of mine. And in this post Covid world, I feel particularly ready to have a real go right now.

One aspect of the old mailing list: I fucking hate proof reading. I just write and hit enter, and you are welcome to read. I make more errors now. But once a piece is written, it’s best to move onto something else and stop looking back.

Anyway, welcome to the Too Close to Vomit blog. Stay tuned for more idiosyncrasies.

Yours in ties,

Lord On-Time Machine

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bookmark_borderRecording Analog Cheaply

The studio I use is all analog.  In the early 2000s, the analog vs. digital debate was hopt, and bringing it up at an audio conference would make people bright red.  By now, the argument is pretty much over.  Analog has found its place, and resurged in the worlds of synths and guitar pedals.  Yet for recording itself, digital is the only option for most people.  Young engineers who want to work with tape are quickly thwarted by the price of tape and difficulty maintaining tape machines and/or finding techs to work on them.  And even if you get past all that, many mastering engineers digitize everything anyway as the last step before pressing on vinyl, and people listen to music online anyway, which is inherently digital.  So why bother?

There are a number of reasons.  One is it’s fun.  It’s fun to use old equipment, and anything that makes the music more fun is good for creativity.  There are people out there that put cars together with all-original parts.  They could buy a 3-D printed part that would get their car running, but what’s the fun in that?  My favorite albums of all time were recorded in the analog era.  I’m not trying to re-create them, but they did set the bar in my mind as to how a recording should sound, and digital isn’t it.  At this point, I’ve worked with analog exclusively for so long, that it is invisible to me.  It is digital that distorts the music into some odd, strange form that I don’t like.  So when looking at how to record stuff, I’m looking at those records.  I also find screens to be a huge distraction, so working without any near is highly desirable.

But I record pretty lo-fi.  The Tascam 488 is an eight track cassette machine.  A standard stereo cassette tape used for normal purposes is divided into 4 tracks: stereo side one and stereo side two.  A four-track cassette recorder uses the same track division, though you can usually double the speed to improve the quality.  The eight track I use has half the bandwidth per channel of a four track, resulting in lower fidelity.  It does double the speed of the tape with no option for lower speeds, except as an effect.  But to many, recording to such a low quality would defeat the purpose of recording analog.

Not to me!  Fidelity isn’t everything,  Fidelity was pretty high by the 80s or 90s, but people started using too many microphones and over-processing with the advent of 24-track 2″ tape.  People argue that records sound better than CDs because they have a higher frequency response, so my cassette method goes against that.  I think what makes digital sound bad, though, is the bits.  It’s like the graphics on an 8 bit vs 16 bit vs 24 bit Nintendo.  How those bits are created, the clocks, those are all major factors in how digital sounds.  I believe having no bits at all is preferable.  And the lo-fi sound seems to suit my playing style.  Am I really worth of hi-fi anyway?

There is bad sounding analog too, but I like cassettes.  I grew up listening to them and feel at home working with them.  I like rewinding, I like the sound of rewinding.  And having been interested in audio from a young age, I learned about quality differences in cassettes just in time.  People younger than me might not know the difference between type I (regular), type II (chrome) and type IV (metal), but they are very relevant.  Metal is the highest quality but you can’t erase it, which is part of the recording process.  You also need a good tape deck that can handle metal tapes.  The deck should either have a switch for tape type, or auto-detect based on the holes on the top of the cassette.  Type II is middle quality, and you should use deck that can switch, but the Tascam 488 is no such tape deck.  That said, a lot of chrome tapes work fine.  In the tape era, Maxells were the best, and that’s what I use.  They go for $5 each these days on ebay, so they are cheap enough for people without enough money to blow on full reels.  They sound good and can take being rewound and recorded over for hundreds of takes.  The will ware out eventually, but I’ve only hit that limit once.  I’ve never liked TDK tapes.  The Tascam cannot handle the the higher-end Maxell XLII-S, which I use in my mix-down deck.  But the XLII is a great classic.  A lot of people using cassettes today opt for the cheapest ones they can find not realizing how drastically they change in quality.  But as someone who grew up in the golden age of cassettes, I think the sound quality on the high-end stuff got pretty good, and is still so cheap as to be negligible, at least compared between the cost of reels vs pennies for hard drive space.  I therefore consider cassettes and upgrade worth paying for and within mu budget.

As for the rest of my studio, I’ve maintained the all-analog rule for everything.  It is non negotiable, not something I will even consider changing.  It applies to synths, drum machines and guitar effects too.  Not all analog is good.  A lot of analog guitar pedals use bucket brigade chips, which do sound significantly better than digital, but I’m still not crazy about.  They sound to 80s to me.  I use them occasionally, but I’d much rather use a tape delay.  And someday, perhaps, replace my chorus pedal with a Leslie speaker.  When I was in the market for a drum machine in the 90s, I liked the Roland 909’s bass and snare sounds better than the 808’s, but went with the 808 because it was all analog.  The 909 has sampled cymbals.  I think there is a big payoff to this rule.  I don’t how to articulate it today, but I feel it.  I’m just trying to go home sonically, whatever that means, and this rule is getting me there.

To this day, I would recommend anyone wants to learn to record to pick up a used 4 track that’s been recently serviced, and a single microphone.  Anything you want to achieve, then, you have to think about and figure out how to do it.  There is less you can do in post production.  There are no menus to get lost in, nor effects that sound like reverb but aren’t actually reverb.  You less inclined to put on stupid effects you don’t need and get in the way of the music because such options aren’t there.  And most importantly, you can get away from the internet and put your mind elsewhere.  And dude.  It will it sound better.  I swear.

That all said, if someone wants to take me into the studio to re-record everything, I will happily do it, just so long as they pay for it.  And it stays analog.

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bookmark_borderOk. Post.

Ok.  I’m hungry and looking for work online, but I never find anything because I don’t know what I’m looking for.  My boss has not responded to text since I’ve returned from a trip[ two weeks ago.  I’m normally running sound 3 or 4 nights per week, but there’s no schedule.  I just get texts that say, “wanna work tonite?”   But I haven’t gotten one since before that trip.  The calendar is full, so shows are going on.  I’ve texted him a few times, to no avail.  And I asked the manager, hey, I hope everything is cool.  This is very unusual.  I wasn’t paying attention either because I’ve been recording.  Whatever.  I need to find more work anyway.  I’ll sort this out.  But I’m fucking starving now because I have no money left.  I mean, $10 in the bank, $8 on a card.  I’m expecting $300 in checks to arrive tomorrow, but I’ll be lucky if I have access to that by Monday.  Fuck.  So I spend today listing records on Discogs.  I wrote other venues to see if they need anything.  But, man, jobs aren’t for me.  They aren’t reliable and I’m not interested.  I liked buying and selling synths and pedals but I’m out of stock.  There’s got to be another way.

The first thing on my mind right now is recording.  I’ve been recording songs for years, but have been kind of lost with them.  Then, during an acid trip over Christmas, it occurred to me I just have to go into those recordings and fix them up and, walla, I have an album, a really good one.  So I’ve been working on that since.  It is a slow process because I’m in practice on bass, but not anything else.  There are equipment problems too, such as my bass needs a new A string, but I can’t afford that.  Other critical instruments are either still with techs or I’ve sold them because I needed the cash, figuring I could re-buy them later.  So I’m plowing through recordings, fixing up vocals, re-mixing to a better sound tape machine, re-doing basslines, coming up with guitar parts I never bothered with before.  The results are being posted live, as they are done, to our bandcamp page.  Right now I’m working on Beach Drug Dealer, Birmingham Alabama, and Sodomy Festival.  On all three, I’m re-recording drums which has taken a few weeks practice, and should be done within a week.  With Beach Drug Dealer, I’m torn between two versions.  Both need the A string on my bass, and both use the Minimoog that a tech has had since 2017.  The version I slightly favor is too short, so I’m extending it with the extra verse I wrote later, but the minimoog will drop out after the first two.  I also don’t have the acoustic guitar that opens it.  And my snare is busted so I’m using a snare I don’t like.  Never the less, I persisted.

The goal is to get these songs finished as soon as possible so I have a demonstrable album.  I will get the tracks in order and play it for people to see how it goes over; I think it’ll be a big hit.  I will shop this version around and say, hey, this is what I’m working on, I need funding to finish it.  I also need help getting to England to tour in the spring, and to promote it and press it.  Then, ideally, an actual album will be finished by the fall.  A finished album means visions are realized, parts I don’t like replaced, bad tone and poorly played instruments are replaced.  And I have to just sit on the album for a while too, put it away and come back to it, to see if any lingering ideas are nagging at me.  Then what?  When the album is ready, what?  I have no idea.  That’s why I’m anxious to shop it around.  If someone wants me to re-record it in a studio, fine.  But they’ll have to pay for it.  And it’ll have to be analog.

Anyway, for some reason, I thought that since I’m desperate for money, I had to post this album now, today, and use it as leverage.  For some reason, when it occurred to me I hadn’t heard from my boss in two weeks, my first instinct was, “I’ve got to finish this record!”  And I spent a lot of time working on it.  No, no.  I’ll start playing for people once I finish this batch of songs.  Today I started looking at grants, but those could take months to come through.  I do think I can use this album as leverage to secure some funding, but I’m also just focussed on the record and terrible about thinking about money.  But that’s what I’m thinking about today.  Hmmmm…  I really just want to eat this weekend, and get some gear repaired.

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bookmark_borderThis Weds @ Muchmore’s

Yo.  If you are sitting down and wondering what the hell you are going to do this week to relax and recuperate and take a break from all the hard work you are doing, then the place to be is Muchmore’s Bar, right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Yes, we play, and that is reason enough to swing by and see us.  But the list of other performers is insanely good.  Banjo legend Debe Dalton will be doing a full acoustic set for you drink to.  Followed by Phoebe Kreutz, of Pizza Underground fame, bring some of my favorite songs to life before your very ears.  And our very own guitarist, the hyper-talented Seth Benjamin, will be playing music so good you will internally combust and become ashes, right there in the room.  You will want to be sure to be at this one.  It’s gonna be bitchin’.  Come a little early for a set by some other people.  Bee there!!!!!

 

Facebook ivent:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1386400691500317/

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bookmark_borderTonite at Bizarre Bushwick

Yo.  Message to peeps:  We play tonight at Bizarre Bushwick.  I see a lot of curated shows, and with most bills, you are lucky to see one or two other bands you like besides the one you came to see (us).  But I will say that for the shows we’ve put on lately, we’ve been joined by our favorites.  That’s especially true tonite, with Tom of David Cronenberg’s Wife (UK) kicking it off around 9, followed by Uncle Djuzeppe, us, and then the amazing Psycho Pat.  This is a show worth coming early for.  Dinner is available at the venue, so call your friends, or go on Tinder and invite someone new, and eat there.  You will want to arrive early to ensure seating and see the whole thing.  Come on over!

 

#brooklynbands #brooklynmusic #bushwick #ukbands

https://www.facebook.com/events/1051262988393403/

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bookmark_borderAnti-Kleptocracy Fest

Hola amigos and amigettes.  Consider this your formal notice that at our April 3rd show, we have added a very special guest:  all the way from Englandio, that famous nation that is, for now, part of the European Union, Mr. Tom of the band David Cronenberg’s Wife, will be joining us.  Mind you he is a champion roller skater, and that alone should earn your respect.  He is also in town to speak at the Anti-Kleptocracy festival at Columbia University on the day proceeding our concert.  But the real meat, fabricated from plants, of his visit will be his appearance at our show.  If you’ve never met a British person, now is your chance.  And mind you that he is an excellent performer, at least as good as Beethoven of Tchaikovsky, but probably much better, objectively speaking.  Anyway, this is in addition to the already announced performances by ska band Uncle Djuzeppe & the Mob and a fucking psycho who calls himself Psycho Pat.  This show will be off the hook, like a tuna trying to escape.  So pack up your bags and camp outside of Bizarre Bar in Bushwick now, because you won’t want to miss this.  Oh, also, we are playing too, Milf City that we be.  C u there.

Chairs mates,
Lord On-Time Machine

Mark yourself GOING:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1051262988393403/

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bookmark_borderBushwick Bizarre gig on April 3

Hola friends and friendettes.  This is a quick note to inform you of our next gig, on April 3rd at Bizarre Bar Bushwick.  I guess there is now another Bizarre in Greenpoint, but we play the original, Bushwick one on Jefferson.  So far on the bill we have an awesome Russian ska band from New Jersey, Uncle Djuzeppe & the Mob, whose upright bass player will be slapping away.  We also have a Psycho Pat from the Rockaways, who plays an Nirvana’s Insecticide inspired shit.  These are some awesome dang bands, and we aren’t done yet.  More will be added to the bill soon.  Be sure to mark your calandar because you won’t want to miss thiss.  You’ll want to nbot miss it.  More soon.  Cheers!

Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1051262988393403/

 

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bookmark_borderWednesday, I said.

From the point of view of the moment I’m writing this, we have a show TOMORROW.  But if you are reading this tomorrow, then we have a show tonight, unless it is tonight, in which case, get your ass over to the Footlight in Queens (in Ridgewood).  But presuming the show has passed as most eyes in the history of time will read this message as it hangs indefinitely after this show, then you really blew it.  Sure, it is the future, from our perspective, and the at the present, from your perspective, we probably have another show coming up soon that you will surely want to catch, but the show I’m writing to tell you about now (our perspective) is going to be better than  that one.  You missed us your prime.

Anyway, here is the Faced Book e-vent (electronic vent) regarding TOMORROW night’s show.  It is on Wednesday.

https://www.facebook.com/events/258450611772178/

Be there and eat ice cream.  Also bring ice cream.

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