Not Wigan (Buxton)

I’ve been travelling!

Since working for a Northern internet company and meeting a particular guitarist, and being inclined to have a little go at the guitar myself, I was socialised with a group of guitarists scattered to the 4 corners of the UK (and on occasion a little further). They have a yearly meet-up, called ‘guitar idol’. The idea behind this meeting is to rent a pub/venue, meet up on a Friday night for curry, then play two mammoth sets of unrehearsed songs which people commit to play beforehand.

I signed up to play Killing Floor, with my good friend Paul.  I will admit that I was terrified of it, much crazy tom work at 160BPM, not usually my comfort zone, but in the end I had the best fun of the evening playing this track.

If you’ve got 4 minutes, have a little look see below… I’ll be the pillar with one green arm!

Trainee firewomen and the damn internet

Lots is going on in the world, but I’ve been writing none of it down on this webpage.

I was theoretically using this site to mention to the world my ambitions for drumming.  I did some study, I got accepted onto a flash music course, and a year later I earned a certificate, coming away with a single launch, a music video and a couple of crap gigs under my belt.  Since then I’ve got a little less interested in the world of professional music performance, a lot more interested in recording and fully engrossed in internet radio.  The new widget on the right side of this page is testament to my new career systems administrating for; frankly the perfect job.  100% geeky and 100% musical.

So that’s me up to speed.  Shortly I shall be looking around for a nice covers band to play in, for fun and casual profit.  Playing drums for a crust is unrewarding in so many significant ways, but I suspect that playing them for fun again will bring back my sparkle.

Today has been great fun, I’ve scored out three tracks that I’m due to play for the guys at ukmg in a couple of weeks, I’ve been climbing, I’ve rescued a cat from some scaffolding and I’ve got an email telling me that the Guardian Job site has got its self hacked and has given my juicy juicy details away to evil hackers from MARS; the utter incompetent arseheads (the guardian, rather than the hackers. The hackers evidently know their shit).

The only saving grace is that my carelessness means that most of my data doesn’t make any sense.  They key to ID theft prevention is to make sure all your personal data is updated sporadically so none of it matches any other bit. Joy.

I phoned my bank to let them know foul agents could be at work and honest to god they said: ‘What does this have to do with us?[1]’…

‘You have my money’

‘The email you have wasn’t sent by us, or purported to be from us. All we can advise is that if you volunteer information related to your B******S account, you will not be entitled to cover under our fraud protection scheme.[1]’

So cheers guys, nice to see that A) you don’t have my back and B) you’re covering your own arses fine.  They’re going to get a letter.  Apparently if they’re informed of the risk they have a duty to take steps to protect my stuff.  We shall see, hopefully the random spread of data thats been stolen will render it useless.  I hope it pans out ok.

The cat was stuck on the second story of a scaffolded house. It managed to climb down a ladder to the first floor level which was boarded, but from there it walked off the boarding across a scaffolding pole to a corner and tried to psych itself up to jump to the floor.  It evidently knew it was a risk, it was too high to jump, but kitty was stuck, scared, mewing constantly and in no fit state to find the last ladder to the floor a few tens of feet away.  Also, since having made the commitment to the thin pole, it wasn’t ok making a U-turn to get back to the boarding.

I climbed onto a wall, reached up and tried to pick him up under his armpits, but like a clumsy idiot, I got my sleeve hooked on a bracket. The cat wasn’t much phased having been presented with an impromptu ladder and made a quick movement onto my shoulder. I managed to grab him so he didn’t fall the rest of the way down, unhooked my sleeve and couched so he could hop onto the wall and down to the floor.

He was very happy about having the ground back and seemed pretty keen to say thankyou.  Big cuddles all round.  He seemed to want to hug the floor too, rolling on it and purring..

Right, that was a long post. Shut up.

[1] Quotes are not accurate.

Free Studio

I have been getting more involved with recording and mixing as time goes on. I have subscribed to a brilliant magazine called ‘tape-op‘, they do a subscription by which you provide an email address for them to spam, ethically and legitimately, and you get a free magazine. It has awesome articles and advice.

I have had a few odds and sods of recording equipment lying around for a number of years. I was given a very high quality 10 channel soundcard as a bonus for some work I did.  I dropped it into a Windows computer and then spent several years battling with driver updates, XP optimisation, crashes, hangs, glitches, and no small quantity of problems relating to the limit quantity of ‘clue’ I had at the time.  Needless to say, my recorded output was zilch.

Fast forward several years and I’m the proud (and entirely evangelical) owner of an Apple macbook, which is simply *awesome*. I have a firewire audio interface which is great for portability and recording one source at a time and has enabled me to get pretty good (if I say so myself) at making mixes of music.

Recording the drums however brings a whole new set of rules to the recording equation. I have been plugging a guitar, a bass, or my voice into a single input, poking the record button and staying in time as much as I can, overdubbing previous takes. Drums however are pretty difficult to record with one, or even two microphones. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, or done incredibly well with one or two microphones, but it’s not generally the modern way to track the drum kit. Hell, I have a 10 channel soundcard, why aren’t I using it to record drums?… Well, firstly it’s been gathering dust in my parent’s garage for a while, and it won’t plug into my macbook… sulk.

I did spend a little while counting pennies and looking whistfully at £350 soundcards on Digital Village, but it wasn’t to be. It’s better to do what you can with what you have than continuously spend money getting nowhere, no matter how bright the LEDs are!

Being a signed up geek, I joined a London group called HackSpace and went to a few meetings, through which I made aquaintences and friends, and came into possession of an unwanted G4 power mac, none of us know how powerful it was, or how much memory it had, but it had to be explored as a potential carrier for my soundcard. As it transpires, it’s a dual core G4 450Mhz machine with just short of a gig of RAM in it. Plenty to get me started!

I went though a painful process to update it from OS9 to OS X (10.4 – Tiger) and I’ve popped an install of Logic Express (7) on it to see how it gets on… So far it’s getting on very well, but it’s yet to be used in anger.  It doesn’t have the raw power to do mixing and processing in the box, but I hope it can catch 8 channels of audio simultaneously which I can then transfer over to my macbook to mix and master.

Watch… er… listen to this space and hopefully I’ll have some recorded samples on the go soon!


I have finished; I am again a graduand. Our graduation ceremony is on Sunday evening at the Shepherds Bush Empire with much glitz and glamour.

My final exam today was sight reading, in which I know I made one mistake. Possibly I made more, presumably I’ll find out from my final mark. I’m feeling a little despondent at this point, it’s an eerie period between the work having been done and the final grading being known.

I’m also not sure what the next step will be, I’ve done auditions and have my CV in several exciting places which should produce some exciting options, but all of it hangs in the balance, up in the air. There will be no resolutions for some time. I’m excited about all the possibilities and still have so much to absorb and improve from the study I’ve done over the last year. There’s plenty still to do!

I think I’ll have a cup of tea first though….

Audition nerves.

I’ve just got back from an audition. It’s been a little while since I’ve done any new music that I cared about. I’ve been working astonishingly hard at school on jazz independance, unable to play any jazz, simply learning the methodology and dexterity to *later* play some jazz. Both incredibly frustrating and rewarding, making progress does feel good even if the end is invisible round the corner.

Anyway, I had two songs to prepare for the audition, but since I’m a) a bit nuts and b) this is cool music, I tried to learn all of it; the whole album. I’m not sure when I’ll get feedback, the guys had other people to see after me and there may be more rounds of auditions even if I make shortlist. Plz wish me luck!