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!!!

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Thin, a tale of patience and overeating

“It’s hard to make excuses when you have a mouth full of pizza”

Who could have thought that a 4 letter word like Thin could have so much depth to it.

Between my wallet being thin, my patience being thin, and my waistline not being thin enough, It’s definitely a word that holds some weight for me. Ironic font used here

 Patience,

Has always been a problem for me. I like instant gratification… I find myself getting into last minute projects that I expect to be ready in an unreasonable amount of time… I think it’s probably one of my worst qualities, as a human being, and something that I’ve kind of been forced into working on in the last couple months.  If any of you have children, you’ll understand what I’m talking about!!  I found myself not letting things go and expecting too much from my little ones. It creates an unnecessarily uncomfortable atmosphere in the home and sometimes you just go on a spree of wanting things done your way, without looking at the root of the problems you’re facing. I know that’s kind of vague, and I intend it to be, but my biggest takeaway from my impatience lately is to let your kids be kids. Let them enjoy childhood, because let’s face it, we would all trade the last 5 years of our life, to experience a day of being a child again.  I know my upbringing wasn’t… normal. My parents were ridiculously strict with me, and could be very impatient, I was a bit of a loner and very socially awkward as a result of this… and also battled a lot of depression because I was always second guessing myself… So, instead of having thin patience, I find myself trying to encourage transparency with my kids, and letting petty things go… because they’ll eventually learn how to clean up after themselves and mature into fine adults.

Wallet…

Money, it’s not easy to talk about… and as thin as my patience is, I Find myself also living paycheck to paycheck far too often. It’s a struggle, and one that no one likes to deal with… but, as important as paying your bills are, NOT obsessing about your finances is also important. Money IS the root of all evil, as we all know… which I guess means I’m not that evil.. cause… ya know.. all my money goes to everyone else!! haha!

Weight

I answered a Facebook question the other day that asked what excuse I use for not going to the Gym… my response was “It’s hard to make excuses when you have a mouth full of Pizza.”
And I wonder why I’m not as skinny as I used to be!!  This bothers the heck out of me, mainly because I’ve gained 30 lbs in the last 5 years… What can I say? My wife and I are both great at cooking.. and she bakes the best everything you’ll ever eat!!! I just need to learn some self control… and I think that also is something that can be considered thin… My self control… my ability to choose between making a healthy salad.. or eating a #2 from Burger King is miserable… I think this may be a partial side effect of anxiety.. and some mild depression, but who knows. I either need to get my butt in gear, eat better, and exercise some more.. or find a job that isn’t sitting behind a desk all day… I’m telling you what, desk jobs will freaking kill you… I’ve been doing them for 3 years now and my health has never been worse… I look at myself and can’t believe I’m only 30 years old, and in just Godawful shape…

Anyone have any tips? What do you do to keep yourself in shape, or do you also need assistance with getting the motivation to better yourself??

Thanks for reading!! I know I’m a little scatterbrained lately.. but I’m glad to be back here sharing my thoughts!

Pedigree (Time to get over yourself)

Pedigree

The first word that comes to my mind, when I hear the word Pedigree is breeding…
The act of selectively choosing the best mate for an animal to get the most “pure” breed from that specific bloodline…

Seems kind of messed up when you think about it… Although, Royalty doesn’t seem to work too differently sometimes… Taking natural selection out of the equation to keep a bloodline ‘pure’

For the rest of us, what does this word mean?  Nothing really… our parents have their own individual story that includes the birth of a child. By random chance you ended up here.. (Note, I am not devaluing divine concepts, or the miracle of birth.. as both are important to me.) BUT, here you are. You didn’t choose to be born here… and depending on your parents you were dealt a specific set of genes at birth, that make you who you are… Almost like a poker game. Whether you were dealt a pair of 2s or a Royal Flush at birth, you still have challenges you have to face throughout your life… Fortunately, our decisions in life are all our own. You may get dealt random occurrences, be it positive or negative, but the way you respond to those things is what matters.

I had a random thought this morning that I tweeted: “It’s so much simpler to find the positive side of a situation, than to twist any occurrence into a story where you are the victim.”  Which I followed with: “But, I guess some people are just too hell-bent on receiving unjust sympathy.”

In other words, instead of letting anything negative effect you negatively, find the best possible thing about the situation and hold onto it.

I’ve been going through a really rough time the last two weeks, and though I feel like I’m grasping at straws, I feel like I’ve turned a leaf with my ability to see the positive in a bad situation, and it’s pretty much been the only thing keeping me sane lately…

I am so sick of people blaming the world for their situation. If you’re not happy with something about your life, fix it. If you grew up poor and uneducated… read a book, go to the library, get online and educate yourself on something.  Education is the most important gift that we can give ourselves.

I personally never went to college… BUT, I know how to do a plethora of things.. I am a self taught musician, mechanic, wood worker, I can solder and fix guitars/pedals/amplifiers, I have my own recording studio that I learned how to use by experience and reading, I can use photoshop, and just learned by trial and error!

You wouldn’t believe how much happier you could be if you just teach yourself a skill. There is nothing more liberating than being able to do something, looking back on it in a few years, and being proud of where you’ve come!

So, in a cliche nutshell.. you choose your own path. Don’t be a victim of your circumstance… Take a few minutes out of your day, get your nose out of Facebook, and teach yourself something!

Thanks for reading, and I am again sorry that I have been away for so long. Life has been insane lately… but it’s been nice to get some things off of my chest in blog-form.

 

Take Care!

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!!

 

Musical Inspirations Vol. 2: Nobuo Uematsu

I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is that?

Nobuo Uematsu is famous for his composition/arrangement works with the video-game company Square. He wrote most of the scores for over 30 of their games, including the core Final Fantasy franchise.

Also keyboard player for “The Black Mages” a group that took music from the franchise and turned it into a rock band.

Okay, but what does that have to do with you?

Glad you asked.
I try to find inspiration in every kind of music I listen to, and some of the best music I’ve ever heard has been written in video-games!

Don’t believe me? Can you recall the music from the classic NES game Super Mario Brothers? I bet you can. How about any music from The Legend of Zelda.. It’s iconic.

Personally, Nobuo is the reason I managed to figure out how to finger-pick on an acoustic guitar, and I’m honestly not too bad at at!
Specifically this piece of music:

It’s a beautiful piece of music and unless you know it’s from a video-game, you would never think otherwise.

His music is very technical and interesting. I think I hummed the boss theme from FF8 all the way through my 8th grade year of school, because it was such a memorable piece of music.

Then there’s the mighty symphonic “One Winged Angel” which sits near and dear to any RPG nerds heart.

I saw an interview once where Uematsu explained the writing process. It wasn’t meant to just be a symphonic piece. It was written in a way that it could also be a Rock piece. A perfect bridge between the big band style & the modern era heavy metal.

Isn’t that beautiful? I sure think so.

Being a long time band-geek has its advantages,

Through my early years of a musician, I learned how to listen to a massive group of people playing instruments, and being able to isolate each individual part, in my mind.

It’s one of the reasons I love modern progressive rock. There is SO much to listen to, I can sit and get lost in the music, without being bored with repetition.

People who arrange pieces of music like this, are the types you should be listening to. They are smart about writing. They know how to take an idea, and implement it through a whole arsenal of tones and sounds.

 

So, I challenge you:

Next time you’re listening to music. Actually listen to the music. Don’t idly drone words and zombie your way through albums. People put every single detail into a song, for a specific reason. It’s our duty, as fans, to find those details and appreciate the beauty of what’s been written for our entertainment. Really think about the way the music feels.

If we had more people like that in the world, music would be a hell of a lot more fun to write!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re all enjoying this look into my musical inspirations, as much as I am!

Musical Influences Ep1: Victor Wooten

If there’s something I can talk about, until I’m blue in the face, it’s music.  From theory, to its effect on our mood, deep lyrical ideas, to chord changes that give you goosebumps… it’s something that is such a large part of my life, i find a way to integrate it into every part.

I’m going to try a ‘series’ of posts talking about my biggest influences, as a musician. These are in no particular order (well, maybe this one is the most important, but the rest won’t be..), and I will write them as I think of them!

Does the name Victor Wooten mean anything to you?  Funny, that you probably haven’t heard of a guy who is a recipient of 5 Grammy awards; as a bass player, written 3 books, is an all around decent man, and an incredible teacher.

Probably because he isn’t a pop-star. He’s just talented beyond your wildest imagination!

I got to meet Victor briefly, and I promise I’m not going to romanticize this meeting. I was starstruck. My jaw hit the floor as I stood in front of the man who has no idea I exist.  What he didn’t know is this: I picked up the bass guitar from watching a VHS tape my dad had recorded of some Jazz festival in the mid ’90s, of two songs Bela Fleck and the Flecktones played.
After a few brief moments of silence, as I stood in front of my biggest influence, my friend Matt looked at him and said “He’s a really big fan.” I shook his hand, then ran into him later after his show. He signed the pick guard for my prized mid-80’s Fender Jazz bass, and I went on my way.

“The Sinister Minister” is the song that made me want to play the bass. The funky groove, high energy, and that damn bass solo.. From a song that didn’t even have spoken lyrics, is what captivated me to start plucking on a bass.

In fact, here’s the exact video that sparked my obsession:

Now that you’ve seen that… and I really hope you did. Maybe you can understand a little more about me, as a musician.  When I picked up the bass, I wanted to be able to to that.  After years of practice, I haven’t learned all of his tricks, but I’ve taken bits from his style of playing and added it to my own mixed bag of styles to create MY sound.

Here I am, almost 18 years later, hailed (not by myself, mind you) as one of the best bass players in the area. People know who I am, and I have a local “following.” It’s a weird concept to me, because I’ve never really thought of myself as that.

Aside from being a great musician, Wooten is also a great human being. He’s very in tune with nature, one of THE most modest people you would ever want to meet, and very kind.  He speaks to young musicians in a way that will comfort them as they come into their own. One of my favorite quotes of his, that I use all the time “You are never more than a half step from a wrong note” encourages the idea that if you DO hit a sour note, just bend it up or slide down and you’re in the ‘right key’ Now, from a young aspiring musicians perspective, that’s some impressive advice.

His website had (may still have) some of his lessons, when I started really beginning to understand how the bass worked.  A couple were sort of life-lesson sort of things, but a few were very deep into his methodology of the bass guitar.  The one that changed my ideas on the bass forever was the “Thump, Hammer, Pluck” Technique, which took me forever to understand (mind  you I was 13-14 years old trying to decipher the knowledge of a life-time musician.   The idea that you don’t have to play every strike of a note with one hand, is the basis.  Thump – to strike a string with your thumb, Hammer – to hammer a note, and Pluck – to pull a string or ‘pop’ it with one of your other fingers. I would spend hours at school drumming triplets out on my desk in this fashion: Right thumb, any finger on my left hand, then my right index or middle finger. This eventually evolved into the tump,hammer, pluck,pluck, or the thump, hammer, thump, pluck.. or any variation of alternate notation… It’s how he plays so fast- with seemingly no effort at all. It’s genius ideas like that, that have made him the number one bass player in the world.

I hope you’ve learned a little bit today about music, its influences on me, and why I’m so passionate about something other people tend to overlook.

Thank you, so much, for your time! Hope you all have a wonderful day!
-Joe

Oppression, in Uniform

Uniforms...

Any blue collar worker wears them… I’ve worn many: From Pizza Delivery, to factory work, writing parking tickets, doing maintenance, and now my job as the Dispatcher of the city of Williamsport. Nothing makes me feel more restrained, at my workplace, than not wearing my own, comfortable clothes.

There is nothing like the joy of removing my work boots, pants, and shirt; then putting on my own comfortable jeans, chucks, and a T-shirt, it’s like a small victory every day!

Which brings me to this point: Just another thing I love about being able to do music, as a second job… wearing whatever the heck I want!! There really are a lot of perks to being a “working musician.”

  • I get to do what i love, and get paid for it…
  • I get to dress as I please, and people can’t tell me otherwise…
  • I am the guy with the microphone… This has more power than you can imagine.. I say things, and people have no choice but to listen. I can make jokes, tell them to give the bartender money, entertain them, and they have no choice because I am the loudest one in the room!

Back to the topic at hand… Nothing makes me feel more like a “number” or a “drone” than having to be dressed like the people I work with…

I even have to dress like I”m going out to pave, even though I”m in the office… Bunch of crap, but it pays the bills!

Of course, in the same breath, I played in the marching band in High School, those uniforms were uncomfortable, but damn we looked good as a group.. So, from a “team” perspective, I suppose it makes sense.

Ah well.. I suppose I can’t complain too much.. The real men in Uniform are our military services. Those guys have to endure the harshest conditions our world has to offer AND They have to do it while in uniform. So, hat’s off to the guys who REALLY sweat their nuts off! Just remember that when you’re ready to complain about what you have to wear to work. There’s people out there who pretty much live in their work uniforms, and do so WHILE putting their lives on the line!

Thanks to the great men and women who protect us, once again. It can’t be said enough, especially by people who claim to be artists, and are free to express in this world.

Have a great day, readers!