Forever a Clone

I'm just a clone, talking away while nobody listens

Archive for the tag “Music”

I <3 Las Vegas

This morning my world got a pretty big jolt of bad energy flow through it.  Las Vegas, what I love to call my home away from home, was the scene of what is now the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States of America last night.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading on my phone at 4:25am when I woke up and to be honest, I’m still in shock right now.  How could this happen?  I mean, I know how this could have happened, but I guess the better question is why?  The question that is swimming in my proverbial magic 8-ball of jumbled thoughts is something to the effect of “How could anybody have any sort of hatred in their heart for a fellow human being to take their lives?  At least 50 innocent lives taken and over 400 innocent people injured because of a grudge over something that at this time in the morning we just don’t know yet.”  It’s so stupid.  Hatred is just dumb.  Negativity is just dumb.  Sure I have dislikes for things that go against products and sports teams that are rivals to said things, but never in my life have I ever thought of violence against these things or the people who support them.  Hell, even counter ideologies to my beliefs, yes I get frustrated with close minded people, bigots, racists, and all others who at least try to push their conformist agenda towards, but never have I EVER thought of inflicting violence towards anybody else for simply not believing that they should live their lives according to MY rules.  I do know, however, that there are a lot of these types of people who are now and have been for a while now who have been coming out of their hiding places and spreading their ideology of hatred under the veil of racism, homophobia, and general bigotry and are being empowered to act on their hatred and to be honest, it’s scary.  It’s scary to think that something like what happened in my beloved city of Las Vegas can happen anywhere.

What can we do about it?  Ban guns?  Sure, we can.  Will that stop the negativity?  No.  People will find other ways to turn their hatred into violence and we’ll still have massive loss of life.  What we need to do first is embrace love.  Love is the thing that defeats hate.  People need to learn to love and accept their neighbor.  People are different.  They are going to have different beliefs than you do.  People are going to pray to different deities than you do.  People are going to like different music than you do.  People are going to have a different skin tone than you do.  Hell, they may even be sexually attracted to people of their same gender while you do not!  And you know what?  ALL OF THAT IS OK!  Love and acceptance.  That’s what we need.

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Kick rocks, January!

I can’t believe we’re in February already!  What the hell happened to January?  Wait a minute.  I can tell you what the hell happened to me in January.  With the exception of one piece of good news which I’ll share with you momentarily, January 2017 was a clusterfuck.  Apologies on the vulgarities, but there’s no other good way to put it.  January was a giant clusterfuck.  Each week it was one bad thing to replace the other and I felt like I couldn’t escape it.  I was like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV when Drago was kicking his ass from corner to corner.  By the way, why the hell didn’t that ref stop that fight after about round 2 or 3?  Anyway, I digress.  What the hell, January?  I haven’t had such a bad time in about 5.5 years.  I suppose as equally as odd, I didn’t let it completely ruin my mood as before.  I wish I could tell you how or why it was, but maybe it’s because I’m in such a good place emotionally that even with past 5 weeks of spectacular and individual train wrecks, I’m such a stronger and more mature person emotionally that I just let that shit slide.  All I can hope for now is that February is a good month and makes up for January, the party pooper.

As for the good news that I mentioned a paragraph before, the idea that has been floating around for at least 2 years with the band is finally going to happen this May.  Let me back track a bit.  6 years ago last month, we recorded our album “Zombie Platter” in an advertising agency that just happened to sometimes double as a recording studio.  This was the 4 of us’ first time ever actually recording music and we had no idea of what to expect or much less what the hell we were doing.  To be honest, we barely knew our songs well enough to go in there and record them.  But we were ambitious and had the desire to do it and we did.

You can stream that album now on your streaming service of choice (Spotify, iTunes Music, Google Play, etc.) by either searching by our band name, Searchlight Needles, or the album title “Zombie Platter”, by the way.

Anyway, 2 years ago while on a trip to visit one of the guys in the band, we caught a performance by the band Quiet Company.  They were playing at a bar somewhere in Deep Ellum in Dallas whose name escapes me, but anyway these guys were incredible!  Their energy on stage was electric and palpable.  They had a dude selling a couple of their albums and some other merch, so Gonzo bought two albums of theirs.  It was a great thing he did because about 2 hours west of the DFW metroplex we put the CDs on and it inspired us to re-record our album.  Ever since we finished the album and played it back for ourselves we actually learned the songs better (if that makes any sense) and therefore played them even better on stage.  Not only that, but the favorite tunes that we play at every gig eventually started to morph and mutate as we spiced things up with new fills and new energy to each song.  Gonzo and I thought that the way we play the songs now are better than the way we recorded them so why not give them the definitive editions of them, right?  So, we brought the idea to the other 3 guys in the band at the time (the lead guitarist has since moved out of town, but wasn’t part of the band when we recorded either) and they were all for it.

Of course, nothing came of it until April or so of last year when we went to practice at a recording studio in town that also rents out practice space.  The guys in the band thought “Why not record us live in a single take instead of the way you’re supposed to record music?! (which is tracking each instrument individually, in case you were wondering)” We all agreed that it would be cool to do that and try it out, so when we approached the people at the recording studio we practiced at with the idea we got something to the effect of “Ahhh… well… that’s really not the way you’re supposed to record albums… blah blah blah.”  And I almost felt like telling them “We know, guys!  We did one; we just want to record this way instead!  Would you want to do it or not?”  But we just brushed them off and off went the idea.

The idea never died in these past couple of months though and for some reason the idea really gained traction again last month and we tried to reach out to the same recording studio again and got no response (F those guys, by the way.  I won’t mention their name, but F THEM!), so Gonzo reached out to a friend of the band who played in gigs with his band before I joined up because he had recording equipment back in the day.  Turns out that he apparently still had some of the stuff but didn’t really record anything anymore but he knows a guy who does and got us in contact with him.  This guy, Chris, is a BADASS.  Instead of stopping Gonzo and I during our initial meeting to discuss the project at “Well, what we want to do is record the 4 of us playing at the same ti…”, he was all for it!  That alone was a fresh enough take to be open minded enough to want to be a part of it, it made us excited for it.  We couldn’t wait to tell the other two guys in the band that our meeting was a success and we were going to do it if they were up for it and the ball started rolling there.  It what has seemed to be perfect and beautiful timing, a gorgeous and new recording studio has opened up in town by the name of Star City Studio, and as you can see from the article I linked to, these people have created not only a recording studio, but a gorgeous masterpiece AND so happened to have THE perfect place to do what we want to do, which is record live and that’s what we’re going to do in Studio C.  I recorded a YouTube video that shows the centralized control room and Studio C to show to the guys, but more for myself so that I’d remember just how excited I was to see the place where one of the best moments in my life will happen.  Yes, I called it already!  This will be a big accomplishment.  We’re going to release it to the world so that it can be heard and purchased on every platform imaginable (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc.), so that will make two albums of our hard work and dedication that I can show the world.  Show the world that I did something.  I left a mark.  I existed.  I hope it really takes off and makes at least a little bit of noise, if even just locally.

So, we’ll see what happens!  We’re going to record 15 songs live on May 27th of this year in front of whoever wants to show up and be a part of (at least our) history.  I can’t wait.  Our practices and preparations are going to start next week, so I’m sure that things will start to take shape then!

Life is looking up.  Hopefully for you all as well.

For the love of music

I started this blog 5 years ago today.  FIVE!!!  Can you believe it?!  A lot has happened in those 5 years.  Deaths, moves, stupid relationships that I SHOULD HAVE NEVER gotten myself into, divorces that friends had, babies that friends and family had, parties, drinking… more parties… more drinking, and just a little bit more partying and drinking.  Oh!  And jamming here and there with the band happened.  It’s been a fun ride.  I’ve gotten the chance to meet a bunch of new people from all over the world, created close friendships that will last longer than, well… a while, and I’ve also gotten the chance to really know myself.  One constant thing that hasn’t changed, however, is my love for music and specifically the love of playing my drum set.  I think I’m in love just as much or even more than I was when I wrote this love blog to my preferred brand of drums 5 years ago.  It was my first real blog, actually.  It’s what I was and still am in to.  Playing music.

Funny thing about playing music, though, is that I haven’t done much of it in the past year and a half or longer.  Life and near death has gotten in the way of the band.  Nothing sucks more than that, man.  Right now, my drums are sitting zipped up in their cases in a corner of my bedroom.  My beautiful red burst Tama Silverstar 5 piece maple shell set is nothing more than a side piece right now, a constant reminder of what was and what could have been.  I miss playing so much.  Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want to play anything with anybody just for the sake of playing either.  I need to feel a part of something and I need to play the music that makes me feel alive.  Pretty much that means everything with the exception of that speed metal/death metal garbage.  I don’t care what anybody says, that “music” SUCKS and I’ll admit that I’m not fast enough to play blast beats and hit my snare with occasional tom fills for 4 minutes or so at a time, but I also find that trash very boring even if I could build up my stamina to do it (which I know I could if I just sat at my drumset for a while nonstop every day for a week or two) I still would refuse to join a band that played that garbage.  Anyway, my very strong dislike for that crap aside, it’s very unlikely that I’d be able to get a group together that would play everything from George Strait and Alan Jackson, to Michael Jackson, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, The Gap Band, and Bruno Mars, to Mötley Crüe, Poison, Bon Jovi, Ratt, Guns n’ Roses, Van Halen, Chickenfoot, and of course I can’t leave Pantera, Metallica, Steel Panther, and Hellyeah behind either.  Who would want to do that, right?!  Those are just some of the things I’d like to cover off the bat.  Anyway, it won’t happen.  But it would be nice if it did though!  Instead, my drums will stay where they are, in my bedroom until we (Searchlight Needles) get off our asses and decide to play again.

Getting back to that, looking back I really miss everything about being in the active band scene.  I miss the practicing, the gigging, and most of all the recording.  Granted, we’ve only recorded one album 5 years ago (that you can still buy on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon or stream each track on YouTube too!  We’re a topic on there!), that was still an experience that I am craving to have again.  I think if I had the money for it, I would probably be constantly recording.  It’s so much fun to create music, record it, and have it there as a permanent memory.  AND you can share your creation with the world if they want!  It’s a beautiful thing with this technology in this day and age.  It also sucks at the same time because with the exception of a lucky few artists, there is no more money left in music.  I should make myself clear that I don’t play music for money because I’ve never made a dime from playing with my current band and I have been very happy about being able to play and create with my best friends, but in the crazy chance that some record exec were to hear it, there’s no way that a indie band like ours would make it in today’s music business culture.  Sure there have been very famous bands that have come out of here, most notably At The Drive In and the band that came out of that breakup, Mars Volta, but out of the countless other bands only another hipster/weird/who knows what band named The Royalty have gotten signed, but their contract got terminated after a year and that band pretty much broke up after that.

So, I say all that to say that I miss creating music.  I miss playing the songs I like playing right now and I’m dying to play the songs that I really love to put my little percussive spin on them, then to create my own music from all of my musical influences after that.  I want to do it for the love of the art and not for the cash or the bar tab I’d get for doing it.  I hope it happens sooner than later!

Good Feels

Man, what a week it has been!  The world seems to be upside down.  Seemingly impossible things have been happening starting with my favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, winning a very important division game, solidifying their place atop the NFC East with a record of 6-1 (should be 7-0.  We should have beaten those stupid giants!), and being ranked as the 2nd best team in the NFL by ESPN.  Then last night all of the curses that were put on the loveable loser Chicago Cubs were put to rest after a long 108 years as they won Major League Baseball’s World Series Championship.  I, of course, joked on Facebook that we’ve seen it all now quoting funny and probably semi-offensive things that we’ve witnessed.  L O L!  We better enjoy the fun times we have going on now here in the States before chaos erupts come Tuesday night.

All kidding aside, I have had quite the interesting week as well.  This week really feels like Holy Week for me, as I’ve gone to Mass 3 times now.  I went Sunday, as per my Sunday obligation, then we had another Holy Day of Obligation for All Saints Day on the 1st, and I decided to make it a point to attend All Souls Day at this church to honor my mom, who passed away 8 years ago this past June.  The mission itself has been in existence for 325 years, but the current church has been around for 173 of those years.  I didn’t know what to expect driving to the church, but once I got there I was really blown away by the beauty of the church.  I felt the energy, if you can even put it into words like this, of a positive and happy place.

The Mass itself was incredible.  The Mass for All Souls is pretty much like the Requiem Mass which is offered in funerals.  The differences are basically the readings; there is a sequence in the All Souls Mass and the fact that there is a coffin-like oblong box in place of an actual coffin.  It was very very spiritual and moving.  I was telling some of my coworkers today that after Mass ended all I could think about is how I couldn’t wait to die.  I know, I know!  It sounds morbid, but the Mass was so beautiful and peaceful that I thought to myself “You know, I think that the people that will show up to my funeral Mass will be a peace.  It won’t be some kinda sob filled affair or nothing like that.  Just a solemn peace.  I’ll go out the right way.  Of course, the people I mentioned it to didn’t understand the true meaning behind what I was saying because every other word out of my mouth is a joke of some sort (as those of you who know me in the non-digital world can attest to), but I’m really looking forward to it.  It makes me want to write out a will right now just to be assured that my next of kin don’t go against my wishes and give me some non-denominational “service”, cremate me, and/or have my funeral Mass at some Novus Ordo Catholic parish.  I’d be sure to be pretty pissed off in Heaven or Purgatory if that happened.  It’s the Extraordinary Form (Latin Rite) of the Mass offered by one of my FSSP priests with my dead body in a coffin in a black suit with a few of my favorite band t-shirts (Steel Panther, Metallica, Pantera, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles), one of my pairs of drumsticks, and a picture of my nephews (if I don’t get married and have kids of my own by then) thrown in the casket or nothing. THAT’S the way I was to flash the proverbial deuces out of this world.

My week with baby Jesus is going to continue tomorrow, as its first Friday and I’m part of one of the Nocturnal Adoration Society groups here in town.  Heck, it might be the only one come to think of it, but in either case, I’ll be there most of the overnight on Friday night if I can stay awake that long. I’ll find out if I can as the night progresses.

With all that said, all of my partying with baby Jesus has given me a forceful break from my normal weekly routine which is pretty much wake up at 3am, hit up my gym, go back home and make some breakfast, get gussied up and get to work, go back home in the afternoon, eat, pass out, repeat.  It’s an odd existence for some, but having my days filled up the way I do suits me.  If only I could find ways to hide on 3 out of the 4 Saturdays in the month and keep those days to recharge my batteries, I’d be golden!  A kid can wish, can’t he?

All I know is that I gotta get home today, get to some of the housework that I’ve had to let lapse due to me not being at home in the evenings at all this week, crash out early, and try to make it to the gym tomorrow morning to jump start the routine again.  In the words of Jack Burton and Wang Chi in the film Big Trouble in Little China,

“Jack Burton: Feel pretty good. I’m not, uh, I’m not scared at all. I just feel kind of… feel kind of invincible.

Wang Chi: Me, too. I got a very positive attitude about this.

Jack Burton: Good, me too.

Wang Chi: Yeah!

[pause]

Jack Burton: Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?”

Take it easy, y’all!

An insight into my love of music

Of all of the influences in my life, I want to say the biggest one is music.  I LOVE music!  My entire life revolves around music.  Ever since I could remember as a child, music was playing in my house.  I grew up with a number of different genres of music too.  My mom and dad would go from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr, and all the way to music like The Latin Breed, Emilio Navaira, and Selena and everything in between.  I never found it strange to listen to a rock track followed up by a Tejano tune.

There were plenty of weekends where our nights would be filled with so much music that it would fill my soul.  I remember those nights listening to the pop songs of the day, like tracks from Prince, The Police, A-Ha, Wham!, The Go-Gos, The Bangles, and Madonna to name just a few that got added into the mix along with everything else.

It was when I was about 6 or so when my godfather came over to our house in Anthony and brought me a stereo receiver and a pair of speakers (hey man! It was 1987!) that I also started to expand my musical horizons.  My parents, for as much as they did kinda monitor what I would watch and listen to, pretty much let me listen to whatever I wanted to and that’s when I turned the dial over to the rock stations in the area and found hair/glam metal.  I remember summer days when I’d be blasting out Mötley Crüe’s new hit single “Girls, Girls, Girls” and just having a rocking time in my bedroom.  Looking back, I wonder why my mom didn’t come in and ask what the hell I was listening to, but I was hooked on rock, man!  Soon enough, my sister and I were listening to Bon Jovi and I felt immersed in the rock genre.  I wasn’t out about it, you know?  It’s not like I could demand that I grow out my hair and aqua-net the hell out of it, or could I show up to 1st or 2nd grade with a Crüe or Poison shirt on, but I loved the music nonetheless.

I was 7, 8 years old and I was as nearly as all over the map with music as I am now.  I loved country music, loved Tejano music (and the beautiful women Tejano singers), loved classic rock from the 50s, 60s, and 70s (even though 70s wasn’t really classic back then), really started to get into the pop/R&B/Hip Hop music of the day too, and I loved my hair metal.  I really have to say that I love my parents for exposing me to such a wide variety of music and allowing me to discover so much more too.

Things started to come to a focus even more when I was around 8 or 9 when a good friend of mine and I decided that we’d really get into Aerosmith.  That band is still one of my favorite bands, although I’ll be honest in saying that I really like their earlier work when they were really rockin’.  Anyway, this was the Permanent Vacation/Pump era and this is where things are starting to change for the band.  We didn’t know any different and we loved the band for what they were.  I was a pretty big fan.  I had a few tapes, and I even got the permanent vacation home video (that was later borrowed and never returned by my 6th grade teacher.  LOL!) It was the first time that I focused any fandom to one artist.

Things took an even bigger swing musically when I moved to the east side of El Paso when I was 10.  It was the fall of 1991 and Metallica’s self-titled album (commonly known as the black album) had been released in the summer of that year and the single “Enter Sandman” was all over the place.  I really can’t tell you why I hadn’t heard it before.  Maybe it was the fact that I was really into listening to my CDs at the time and not the radio, but again my sister came to my rescue and turned me onto this song.  That changed my entire life.  I don’t know what it was, but I quickly became obsessed with that band and that song.  I remember it was later on that year at some point that I got the black album on tape and I listened to it nonstop!

Things didn’t change much for about the next 8 years.  Anybody that knew me in high school that I don’t really talk to now would probably recognize me and know me from all of my Metallica shirts.  I think I counted 16 of them at one point.  I was that into them.  The timing of me getting into them and their changes were hand in hand as well as by the start of high school in 1995, I was also branching out into blues, and more of the contemporary heavy metal of the day.  Metallica, at the same time, were writing and recording their albums Load and ReLoad at the time and those disks are very blues heavy, much the chagrin of many a heavy metal fan.  It was them cutting their long hair off, AND playing blues-y music that really pissed all of these heavy metal guys off.  I didn’t care.  I LOVED it.  I was listening to almost anything I could get my hands on.  Jazz, Classical, Industrial, Heavy Metal, Funk, Blues, you name it and I was into it.

High school was a funny place for me, when I really think about it.  Being in band (marching, symphonic, and jazz) really lit the fires of my love for awesome drumlines (because I was on the snare line in marching band), classical music, and all sorts of jazz.  I mean, I liked jazz music beforehand thanks to the jazz-rock fusion bands my dad liked and listened to, but the pure jazz ensembles and famous artists like John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald, etc were unknown to me at the time.  I would find myself listening to the local jazz station just soaking up everything they were playing.  Heck, even when they’d switch to classical music, I’d still be listening.  Jazz and Classical music, I found, would give me such peace and still do.  The talent by all of the musicians just blows me away.  The composers as well, just amaze me.  I’m probably one of the few weirdos who love movie soundtracks and composers in that subgenre like John Williams, Danny Elfman, Ennio Morricone, and Jerry Goldsmith to name a few of my favorites.

So, I say all of this to say that fast forward to now.  I’m still into the same styles of music as I was before.  I’ve actually branched out into more specific subgenres like chillout/downtempo/lounge/whatever else you want to call it jazz music, Bebop jazz, old-style country like George Strait, Alan Jackson, and the like, Heavy Metal that has awesome guitar solos and great drummers but isn’t too fast like Metallica, Pantera, Hellyeah, and Steel Panther (yes, I know this band heavily conflicts with my religious beliefs, but damn do I love the music!), and I still listen to everything else that I’ve mentioned previously as well.  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have music.  Music is usually the first thought of mine when I wake up and aside from listening to podcasts, listening to music is what I do most often.  It’s what continues to shape my life. So, I guess if you really want to know more about me, just take a look at my music collection and you’ll get a taste of what made me who I am today.

 

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