Music Monday Vol 2… also, I know it’s Tuesday

So, I was sitting here thinking about what to write about… and I forgot to do a music monday post!!!

It’s been a crazy week and weekend… and frankly, I’ve had a bit of writer’s block… I think the fear of the Daily Prompt leaving has got me in a tizzy…

Regardless, here’s what I’ve been listening to!!

I recently got asked to sit in for a gig with another local band next month.  They play a lot of great music!!! A lot of which is complex, and actually has me TRYING to play the bass.. which is not something I often have to do… My band tends to pick simpler songs, for whatever reason.. but I love the technical stuff!!!!  So, here are a few of Graces Downfall’s cover songs and originals that I just love to play!

Cult of Personality – Living Colour

What a ridiculously fun song to play!!  Listen to those syncopated parts.  That bass is phenomenal!  There are some pretty complex riffs in there that have to be tight, or this whole tune can fall apart!! I really enjoy flying all over the fret-board for this one:

Such an awesome tune… I hope you enjoyed that as much as I do!

Hysteria – Muse

No no, not Def Leppard… This song by Muse has one of the most badass bass riffs to come out of the last 15 years… It not only sounds hard to play.. it IS hard to play. I find myself having to focus on not ‘tripping’ over my own fingers to blast that bass line out!!  Check it out:

Chris Wolstenholme is one hell of a bassist, and the perfect fit for that Trio.

I Only Lie When I Love You – Royal Blood

Royal Blood is my current music obsession.. I love Mike Kerr’s style of playing and vocals.. the way he makes his bass sound like 3 instruments is unreal!!! My drummer and I also cover their songs Figure it Out, and Out of the Black during live shows in my band Audiobox. This will be my first time playing a Royal Blood song with a 4 piece band, and I still am no less excited!!  This song is both heavy and poppy. The riffage coming from Kerr’s bass, matched with the Ridiculously underrated drumming of Ben Thatcher, just kicks ass from Britain to here and back!!

Guerilla Radio – Rage Against the Machine

Here’s a band who needs no introduction… And here’s a song that just pounds on your ear drums from start to finish. Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk make up one of my favorite Rhythm Sections in 90’s rock… I’d say the only other bass/ drummer duo that can even come close to the talent these two would have to be Flea and Chad Smith (of the Chili Peppers).   I love the bass line in this song.. it’s somewhat minimalistic, and serves the rest of the music perfectly. There is so much more that could be put in here, but it’s not necessary. Tim has always been good about serving the music and playin only what needs to be played.

Fight – Graces Downfall

Here it is, one of the (many) originals by the band I’ll be sitting in with… Their bass player Grant Williams, who is a good friend of mine, can really write some wicked bass parts! I am honored to get a chance to fill his shoes for an evening and play one of the songs he helped write!! Kenneth Norton is one of the best singers in the Pennsylvania music scene, in my opinion, and Mark Yanish’s rips on the electric guitar!! If you haven’t had a chance to check these guys out, you really should! They are, without a doubt, the heaviest hitting band in the North Eastern Pennsylvania music scene!

So, there you have it!!!

If you’re in Pennsylvania, I’ll be playing with Graces Downfall on June 9th at the Oak Street Express in Taylor, Pennsylvania!! We will be rocking all of these great tunes and more!!!

Thanks again to ReadRantRock&Roll for giving me the idea to do music monday!!
I hope you enjoyed what I am listening to and have a great week!!!

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Gear Talk: MXR M80 Bass DI+

The MXR M80 is a modest little stompbox with the ability to dial in a HUGE range of tones!!! 

I’ve been wanting to get into the world of music gear reviews for a while now, so I figured, why not start with the heart of my bass guitar rig! The mighty MXR M80.

I am just going to specify, that this is NOT a paid review. I am doing this of my own free will, and any views expressed here are my own. (Although, I am open to having companies send me gear to check out!!!!!)

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Just look at that thing. It’s ready to rock!!

So, why should this be an integral part of every bass player’s arsenal you ask??? Well, let me tell you.

It is the ONLY pedal you will ever truly NEED

I say that, being the owner of many guitar/bass pedals.. but honestly.. it’s the truth. I can go to practice with just this bad boy and be confident that I can get a good Finger style tone, slapping tone, picking tone, or throw some dirt on the signal without needing anything else.  So, I’ll tell you how the thing works, and then give my final thoughts on it!

Let’s talk about features..

First, the ‘clean’ section

We will start with the simple things, on the top left you will see a volume knob, this is the obvious one.. When the left button is activated, the ‘clean’ circuit is engaged. At about 12 o’ clock you can pretty much match the passive volume of your bass.. which means you can use this volume knob as a boost, if you turn it above that point…. Now, if you look to the left of that knob there is a ‘Color’ switch. When that is engaged, it activates a preset EQ setting that scoops the mids, and boosts some bass and treble frequencies to give you, arguably, the best clean tone I’ve ever heard!!! I usually keep that color switch on, and set the volume to match my passive volume… That way I can have a completely different tone with the push of a button!  I have also used this pedal as a kill-switch, when I first created my “Royal Blood” inspired pedal-board… So, Just in this first section of the pedal you have 3 very realistic uses.

The Distortion section

The distortion portion of this pedal is WIDELY adverse. You can get anything from a light little bit of dirt on your tone, to facemelting screaming distortion!!!  Starting with the Volume knob, which obviously determines your output volume, which you can again match to your clean tone, or boost a little louder (I often find myself having to set it a little louder than my clean tone, for the sake of retaining low end.)  To the right of that is the Blend knob. This is key to getting a great tone out of your distortion pedal. I usually set this between 12 o’ clock and 2 o’ clock, depending on how heavy of a tone I want. If you go much further than that, you really start over-saturating your tone and lose all hopes of having some bottom end.  Next, is the Threshold knob and the gate button. The Threshold ONLY functions if you have the gate button pushed in. There’s a nice LED indicator that tells you when the gate is on, and this is a great on-board tool to keep you from feeding back when using heavy distortion. The Threshold controls the cutoff volume for the gate, so the higher you have it set, the faster it will quiet your signal as a note decays… I usually have this set all the way up and turned on.. you may have to set the threshold down a bit, depending on the incoming signal…  Finally, the gain knob which determines how MUCH distortion is added to the channel… I find it funny that this pedal seems kind of backwards, usually the gain is first in the order of knobs on things.. but anyways… Higher obviously means MORE distortion… This works differently from the blend knob… The Blend is choosing how much of the distorted channel is outputted compared to how much of the clean channel is left in the mix. The GAIN is how distorted the distortion channel is! I know that may be a little confusing, but it makes a difference in the overall tone!

3 band Equalizer section

Alright, we’ve dialed in our clean tone.. we’ve got a distortion that will blow the windows out of the club!!! Now, we are on to the final touches of perfecting our tone!  The EQ works with both the clean and distorted channels, so finding a happy medium between the two is a must.. I often find that I need to boost the mids a little and the treble to get the tone i want… You may like a low thumpy bass… So boost it!!  I am not entirely sure where the cutoffs are for the three different knobs, MXR doesn’t really share that information (as well as the EQ curve for the Color switch..) BUT, if I were  to venture a guess the bass would be around 100 HZ, Mid somewhere in the 2.5khz zone and the highs in the 10khz range… It’s not the MOST advanced EQ, but if you’re looking to bring up a certain part of your tone that’s lacking, it will definitely do that.

Ins and Outs!

Alright, You may notice that this doesn’t just have the standard input and output like most pedals do… You have options!! And we like options!!

The regular input and output are a standard mono 1/4″ jack.. this is what you will most likely use with this pedal. If you’re like me and you run it at the end of your chain, you also have the option to Direct out, which is a standard XLR output with a ground/lift switch. I generally leave that switch pressed down, as it can get quite noisy if you don’t… even with the standard 1/4″ output.  Another fun feature is the Parallel output on the right side of the pedal. You can essentially use this to split your incoming signal, if you like to run more than one channel… but I wouldn’t suggest it.. it gets noisy. This output is best suited to add a tuner to your pedalboard… Especially if you have one of those garbage Fender tuners that sucks the life out of your tone, when used inline!  (Do yourself a favor and buy a snark floor tuner… I’ll do a Tuner shootout in the future.)

So, that basically covers the functions of the pedal…

In closing… The MXR M80 is a modest little stompbox with the ability to dial in a HUGE range of tones!!!  I have been using this pedal live for at least 11 years… It has been used at EVERY gig I have played (Except for one where my power supply shorted out…), and there have been hundreds…  I have never had to replace it (although I did buy a backup once, just in case.)  It is built like a brick shit house.. I have NEVER had a knob, LED, or even a jack go bad in mine… Take it from someone who’s been playing bass for 18 years. If you don’t have an MXR M80 DI+, do yourself a favor and get one!!!

 

Thanks for reading this!!! I hope you enjoyed it!! Should I keep doing the occasional gear review? I have a passion for my gear, and love sharing what I use with the world!

Peek-a-boo

Today we are supposed to write our feelings on the word Disappear.

I’ve already deleted one blog post on this… it got a little too despairing for my tastes…

So, I’m going to go a different route!!!

My band, Audiobox, is in the studio!!! It’s been about 5 years since we released our first album…. and now it’s time to bring you our second full album!!!

We decided this time around to record our whole album in-house! And I literally mean ‘In-House.’ We bought the equipment, made sure it worked (Check out our single Summer Days, below), and now we’re doing the real thing!

What does this have to do with Disappear, you ask? ‘Disappear’ is one of the new songs on our upcoming album, and my personal favorite!!!  As a bass player, it gives me a chance to do two things:
A. Play some funktastic slap riffs.
B. melt faces with some overdriven bass thunder!!!

It’s so much fun to play, because I get a chance to really show off my favorite techniques on the bass guitar… from slapping and popping like Flea, to playing huge chords and bending pinch harmonics like I’m some kind of guitar player…. Well, enough talking about it.. Here’s Cellphone video that someone got from a local venue of us playing Disappear as a 3 piece, before we hired on our 4th Member:

The quality sucks, but you can hear what I’m talking about there… It’s rock and roll… it melts faces… and listen to those bass riffs!!!

Anywho, as excited as I am to share our new music.. I’m more excited to be at the controls of the studio. I love performing music, but not nearly as much as I enjoy recording it… bringing a bunch of raw files together, mixing them, adding effects, making them sound great together is such a great experience!!!

Are there any other Musicians out there? Do you enjoy recording as well??  I love having a home studio.. it was a dream of mine ever since the first time I recorded a song with a band.

Alright, shorter post today, but I have to get some work done!! Thanks for reading, and keep rocking out!!!

Music Monday… what has Joe been listening to?

In response to a friend’s blog ReadRantRock&Roll, who does ‘Music Monday’ posts Like this one, I’ve decided to give it a go!!!

I am always listening to different kinds of music.. as a musician who often covers other artists, I am always looking for something new to translate into an acoustic version to play!!

My mind has been in a weird place the last two weeks, and I’ve been looking at how other artists cover music.. and I have two extremely different artists I’ve been digging into lately.

First off is Mr. Leo Moracchioli, of Frog Leap Studios… This man has a HUGE talent!! He records his covers in his own studio and plays EVERYTHING!!! My dad actually showed him to me the other day, and the first song I saw was this incredible cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues:

My goodness.. what talent!!  After that, I found a cover of an old song I used to love listening to, where he collaborates with the ALSO very talented Mary Spender

The creativity is amazing!! I’m a huge stickler for metal covers of non-metal songs.. so this one really hit it out of the park for me!!!

As much as I love writing original music, I really enjoy the creativity that comes with a good cover artist… It just goes to show that there isn’t only one correct way to do things… And this next artist shows that in a big way! Not only is the man unbelievably talented, he has a very defined and unique character that makes him both mysterious and enjoyable!!!

I am talking about none other than Puddles Pity Party.
The saddest clown on Youtube, with the most powerful and soulful voice I’ve heard in a long time. His booming baritone just haunts your soul and draws you in… I really can not express how much I love this man’s voice.. I consider myself a baritone vocally… but man.. I can’t even touch the strength he has in his singing!!!

This one hit me hard.. I love this R.E.M. classic, and Puddles brings a certain eeriness to it that just keeps me listening to it again and again!

I mean.. come on… that is raw talent and power there!!!

Another one of his songs that really gets me is this one, which he performed on America’s Got Talent last year:

I absolutely HATE that song, in its original form, but Mr. Pity Party brings it into a whole different atmosphere that is chilling and full of life!

That is the type of cover song that makes me happy… I cover Britney Spears “Baby… One More Time” and I love seeing people’s reaction when I am singing it.. and I often hear things like “I enjoyed that more than the original!” Which is the best thing you want to hear after performing a cover!!!!

I ended my Commute listening to one of my favorite bands “Twelve Foot Ninja.” The Australian quintet brings a whole new meaning to the word Eclectic. Their music transcends genre and keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what you are going to hear next!!!

I give you my favorite song of theirs ‘Ain’t that a Bitch’

 

Thanks for reading and checking out some of my favorite tunes for the week!!! What songs are you listening to right now??? Do you have any albums you think I would enjoy? I am thinking about doing some more album reviews!!!

Take care, and many many thanks to ReadRantRock&Roll for giving me the suggestion to do a music monday!!! make sure to go check out her blog!

Place in the World (On Stage)

Place in the World

I grew up in a very musical home. My Father played bass in a very popular local Rock cover band called Night Flight.  My parents were always listening to music. My mother was an artist, who also would sing around the house and plunk on a guitar. Dad also played the acoustic beautifully.  Ever since the first time I saw a concert, I wanted to be a musician. The cheering crowds… doing something you love to entertain others… it was like a little piece of perfection that I had to get my hands on.

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I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Losch, telling my mother that “If that boy doesn’t grow up to entertain people, he will be wasting a huge talent.”  after my breathtaking performance of Prince Charming in the play version of… ‘Cinderella’ (End Sarcasm)

Performing to a crowd is my place in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small bar packed with people, or a large professionally built stage with top quality sound and lights. As long as I am playing music and making people happy, I am content.

My wife always compares my love for music as being a physical part of who I am. She has said things like “Not being able to play music, would be like losing one of your extremities.” And it’s true… performing music has been my leg to stand on, for the majority of my life…

So, there it is… The awesome picture I used above was from a performance at Fat Daddy’s in York, PA. Photograph Credit to Christine C Photographie, for more of her amazing work, you can look here!

 

Thanks for reading! What are your passions? Where are you the most comfortable in this world? I know it’s the photo challenge, but I want to hear your personal thoughts on this!!

Have a great day!

 

Oh where, oh where has your little Joe been

Firstly,

I’d like to apologize for my absence. Though my followers are few, you’re my followers.

My youngest child was born unexpectedly at the end of June (5 weeks early!) and my life got pretty busy for a while!  My wife and baby are both healthy. Her big sisters are all super proud, as am I… for the strength and fortitude they showed through a slightly bumpy ride.

That being said,

I am going to make a better attempt at writing posts!  There’s been a lot of good going on in my life, and I’ve got a lot to share!

I’ve been playing a lot!

My acoustic shows have been plentiful and full of great crowds of people. I’ve had more people coming to ME for bookings, as opposed to having to seek them out myself.. Which is great!!

I’ve begun teaching

my wife, mainly, to play guitar! She’s a fantastic singer, and she also wants to take on the role of a solo performer. We’re also working on building a nice, completely mobile, 2 channel recording rig, that can be used in studio, or live performances… but more on that later!

I’ve been trying

to push myself back into the world of social media… I’ll be posting some cover videos and even some of my original music, as I get situated with everything..

That being said:

Thank you all for hanging out and not writing me off yet!!  I am going to make a real attempt to update this weekly.. I doubt I’ll have time for daily posts, but we’ll see what the future brings!

As always, thank you, and have a great day!!

 

New(ish) Music – Friday! Royal Blood

I’m going to start this one with a rant… and then a review… and who knows what else!

When one of my favorite bands releases a new album, I like to listen to it, in its entirety, a few times, before making an assessment.

The problem is this: Today, bands like the hype leading up to an album, MORE than they like giving their listeners something new to listen to.

Which brings me to today’s album review: How Did We Get So Dark, by Royal Blood.

Royal Blood is a 2 piece power duo, with a very unique sound. Aside from the obvious drumming & vocals, all of the rest of the noise you’re hearing comes from a bass guitar that runs through an intricate array of effect pedals, and ends up sounding like a grunge orchestra.

From start to finish, this album is solid rock and roll. Gritty, raw, and real. I remember reading a review with Mike Kerr (bass,vocals) where he discussed not wanting to record anything that he can’t replicate in a live setting.  THAT is my attraction to this band, because too many musicians rely on loops, instead of raw talent.

I will say, I was a little discouraged on listening to this 10 track album, for the first time, because 4 of the songs have already been previously released (1 of which was over a year ago…) and they have kind of lost their “new song sparkle” to me. Which is what I was referring to, in my earlier rant. I don’t want to get a “New Album” and have heard almost half of it already… I want to have a fresh experience, and have my ears tickled with new art.

That being said, the subsequent tracks on the album are incredible. Mike Kerr’s mastery of his monstrous pedalboard, mixed with powerful muse-like vocals, and riff-rock bass playing; backed by the solidity of Ben Thatcher on the drums, give you an album that is worth your attention!

It’s hard to make a dent in the music scene like Royal Blood has, in such little time, then be under pressure after a few years of touring to write a follow-up album and have it be good. They have gone above and beyond our expectations, and delivered another fantastic release!

My only hope is that we get another Royal Blood album before 2020!!!

Here’s some more blog posts, on this fantastic band:

Michelle Geslani on the new album
Speedy Sailor on “Lights Out”
jokevrijens on the most recent single “I only lie when I love you” , before the album’s release

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a great weekend!