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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