in static hifi

Sept. 5 and 6: The Fame By Proxy debut

Oh hai! Remember how we used to do show and tour reports? Now that we have a swank new website that can be updated easier than the last one, i'm gonna try to get back on that again.

So this weekend we officially began selling our new full-length, Fame By Proxy, via a pair of shows in Milwaukee and Madison. The first, on Friday, was at the Frequency in Madison, a new club opened by our good friend Darwin in the space where the Slipper Club used to exist. We spent the first couple hours of our time at the club drinking free PBR, eating pizza, and watching JJ Hardy hit a walkoff single to beat the Padres in extra innings.

After a lovely set by Cincinnati's Ampline, we took the stage and i immediately shat the bed. I've been having issues with the locking mechanism on my DW500 kick pedal since i bought it in June, but Friday night took the cake. Not halfway into "Defenestrate Me" my kick drum was on a 45 degree angle from my foot, and the pedal was getting wedged on the drum head about every third strike. Very frustrating, very distracting. And for some reason i decided to power through on "Paulding Light," and it just got worse.

I tried to adjust the pedal properly after "Paulding" and had no luck. My now-soured mood was being compounded by a complete lack of audience enthusiasm, so i threw the pedal toward the front of the stage, stormed downstairs, grabbed Ampline's drummer's pedal (in a funny moment, he yelled "HEY!" then ran up, adjusted something on it, then handed it back to me), came back upstairs, threw my kick pedal off the stage and into the stairwell leading to the back alley, and installed the Ampline pedal. From then on the set went off pretty much without a hitch, except that i was so thrown off that i played like shit the rest of the set.

Still, despite my frustration and the near-complete lack of audience response, we got nice comments from the sound guy and a few other people, and one dude bought $30 worth of stuff while explaining to Yale how he has a ton of friends in the UK who apparently LOVE us. Hey, cool, know someone who can get us over there?

As it turns out, it was a good thing that we got a less-than-solid performance out of the way the night before our proper CD release in Milwaukee, because our set at the Cactus Club on Saturday brought the pain. We took the stage in a fairly packed room, launched into "Defenestrate Me" (complete with a new Iron Cobra kick pedal which i bought earlier in the day--lesson learned, only buy Iron Cobras from now on. This is how brand loyalty happens), and proceeded to blaze through the best performance we've executed in months.

The show was free, so we were hoping for an insanely packed Cactus Club. As it stood, a wedding prevented a lot of our friends from showing up, and there were random other people i expected to see that didn't make it, and that was disappointing. But! The lack of familiar faces (and make no mistake, there were still plenty, and it was great to see all of them) was more than made up for by the large number of people there whom i didn't recognize. Having a ton of friends at your show is great; but having a crowd that's half friends and half people you don't know who still came out to see you? Even better.

The other bands last night were outstanding as well--King's Horses (subbing for a too-sick-to-play New Loud), White Wrench Conservatory (because obviously they're going to play our CD release, duh), and our Portland-via-Madison labelmates System & Station were all fantastic. All in all, we put together a solid night of free kickass rock 'n' roll for a packed room. That. is. awesome.

So hey, thanks to everyone who made it out! You made our CD release last night feel like an incredibly special moment with your dancing, your "hey hey!" singalongs on "Success!", and your demands for an encore which we didn't honor because we're jerks. Our next Milwaukee shows will be a pair of basement gigs in October, but before that, we're heading out on tour! See you when we get back.

By the way, final tally for CD sales at the release show:

Fame By Proxy sales on Friday: 1
Fame By Proxy sales on Saturday: 6
No More Music sales at its CD release in 2004: 7

So, we're on our usual pace! We'll be rid of these CDs by 2013, for sure.
in static hifi

3.28.08: Beat Kitchen w/the pAper chAse--"'Big Guns' By Skid Row is actually about firearms"

It always seems to throw people when i tell them that i still get nervous before shows sometimes. "Really?" they ask? Yep--i, who is generally pretty damn comfortable on stage and has been doing this for years, still get nervous before certain shows sometimes. And for some reason, this all-ages show at the Beat Kitchen had butterflies churning in my gut when i woke up at 7 AM. I've never had them THAT early.

But we were of the opinion that this could be a huge show for us. All ages, Chicago, with one of our favorite bands in the known universe. The room was sure to be packed wall-to-wall with impressionable youngsters with disposable income, right? So we worked overtime to finally re-stock our merch: buying more copies of Hot Nuggets! and No More Music from our label pals and finally ordering a new run of t-shirts. So we arrived at the Beat Kitchen ready to win over a ton of new fans and move some units.

Ah, those silly expectations.

By the time we started playing at 8:20 PM (ten minutes earlier than the advertised start time of 8:30--um, er? There was some explanation about new liquor laws in Chicago dictating an earlier end time for all-ages shows, but still...10 minutes was going to save the night? Eh, whatever. The Beat Kitchen's been good to us so i won't bitch too much), we discovered that apparently Chicago trains their people at a pretty early age to arrive late for shows. We started playing in front of about 20 people or so, and by the time we had finished, several more had trickled in. But by the time Reds and Blue finished and the pAper chAse started, the place was wall-to-wall packed, as expected, with i'd guess about 20% of those people actually seeing us play.

This is something i'll never get--i think if the pAper chAse had played by themselves with no openers, a good number of people would have thought "what the hell, $12 for one band?" Yet they're fine just showing up on time to see them and no one else, i guess. I dunno. No sense in bitching about it, and at the end of the day, i'm not really that bummed--just bemused by the average concert-goer's willingness to not get their money's worth. I mean, it's very rare that an opening act wins me over in the first five minutes of a show...i get that. Very often they're not much to write home about. But it's still nice to give 'em a chance, ya know? I mean, you're spending the money on them.

Anyway. I can't control other people's habits, so no sense in wasting time thinking about it (even though i just did). As for our set, it was fine. We were solid and played well, and those people that were there for us enjoyed it (i even heard laughter during our between-song banter, so ha!). So mission accomplished to the best of our ability. A few roadblocks like Rev.Ever breaking a bunch of guitar strings didn't really derail us at all, and playing was fun, although i got tired out really quickly for some reason, be it lack of sleep the night before or the Beat Kitchen food not agreeing with me. Not sure.

Reds and Blue were enjoyable spacey keyboard indie rock (confidential to white, wrench, conservatory.: you should probably get in touch with Reds and Blue about swapping shows), and what can i say about the pAper chAse? As usual, they were ungodly and incredible. They opened with a pair of new songs that felt 8 minutes long each and still had me grinning and giggling like a doofus at the pure musicianship being shown on stage. The more and more i see that band, i can't help thinking, "John is a fucking genius. And he's a fan of OUR band? Really? How? Why? The amount of talent we have as musicians probably fits into his pinky finger and he's told me he loves us? What?" It's truly humbling and weird and awesome to think about that.

The show ended by 11 PM, so we were able to jaunt over to Quenchers in time to see our pals Bear Claw, but unfortunately miss the Conformists. Ah well. Bear Claw were excellent as always, and we got to say hi to some Chicago pals that decided to spend the evening over there instead (which, hey, it was free and the bands were awesome and we had played in town three weeks prior, so sure!).

Oh, and our merch sales? Two t-shirts sold to friends. I couldn't help but laugh at all the effort we put into re-stocking the shelves. The good news: we have plenty of t-shirts for sale next weekend in Madison and Milwaukee!
At Practice

March 2008: So far.

We have played a few shows this month, and we have been sorely remiss in writing about them. In an effort to get us back into the swing of things on that tip, i will now post some brief summaries of these shows we have played. These will not be as detailed as they would have been had we stayed on our game and posted about them as they happened, but what are you gonna do? At this point these are more for my benefit that yours anyway. SO THERE.

March 2: Mad Planet, MilwaukeeCollapse )

March 7: Cal's, ChicagoCollapse )

March 8: The Attic, ManitowocCollapse )

March 14: Cactus Club, MilwaukeeCollapse )

March 22: Corral Room, MadisonCollapse )
planet

10.22.07: Cactus Club with Captured! By Robots

Last night's show with the mighty Captured! By Robots reinforced for me an important lesson in playing on stage: fessing up to a bad set on stage is very tricky business. If you joke about it a few times, it's maybe seen as self-deprecating and the audience may not get that you really mean it. If you let it affect the overall show, though, it runs the risk of derailing the whole process in a feedback loop of mistakes and frustration, thusly ruining what the audience may see as a perfectly fine set of music. Always remember: The audience doesn't know your songs as well as you know them.

Last night, i think we walked the tightrope of a derailed set, but managed to avoid the feedback loop and still pulled out a set that was fun for the audience, even if it was a bit of a chore for us. I blame myself. See, things were running behind schedule because the C!BR setup (drums on one side of the stage, toms on the other, among other roadblocks that come with an all-robot band) forces Alex (Cactus soundman to the stars and all-around amazing human being) to re-think a lot of his usual setup. Thus, by the time he had us miked and soundchecked, it was a little after 9, which was the announced start time of the show. To make things worse, Yale was having pedal issues during the setup process. This didn't slow things down, as it happened during Alex's setup, but i was so paranoid about Yale's tone being off or weird due to a swapped out pedal (he was also borrowing White, Wrench, Conservatory's Ampeg bass amp as his Ampeg Reverb Rocket is in the shop--similar amp, but slightly lower frequencies as a result of it being a bass amp, obviously) that i wasn't really paying attention to the sound balance on stage. WWC's amp is quieter than Yale's, so our on-stage sound was pretty quiet overall as a result.

My mistake: Right at the beginning of the set, i notice that i'm not hearing much of Yale's guitar at all, so i ask Alex for more in my monitor. Soon, Yale's guitar is all any of us can hear. And since we're too stubborn to make multiple monitor requests during a set (we have a sort of unofficial rule where we make one monitor request per show and then shut the fuck up and deal, because musicians who constantly harp about the monitors during their set are annoying, so none of this is Alex's fault), we soldier on. All throughout the set i am operating under the assumption that while it sounds crappy to us, it's sounding fine to the audience, so i keep thrashing about like i always do. The audience is receptive--at least, for it being a Monday night crowd!

The second half of the set starts to derail a little, though. "99 Probalos" is a slightly more midtempo song for us, and we haven't played it live enough times to figure out how to keep the energy up in the set while we play it. I'm not entirely convinced that we should play it live very often. This leads into "The Buzzard," which i believe goes well enough, except i flub a few fills in the disco bridge. Then, we gloriously fuck up the opening of "Success!" when i completely misjudge where Rev.Ever started playing the opening riff. I come into the verse about a measure early and it takes The Wizard and Rev. a bit to readjust. Fuck. By the second half of the verse, we seem to be back on track, but yeah. Dudes on stage at this point are getting crazy frustrated with the unbalanced mix and resultant performance fuckups, and by now i sort of feel like i'm punching the clock with regard to my stage presence.

Fortunately, "punching the clock" for me looks like most other drummers "going all out," and as we climbed off stage, i overheard people saying good things. Yale's lady Beth and my roommate Scott both agreed that the set sounded totally fine--Scott didn't even catch the "Success!" flub (although Beth did, but she said we got on track nicely). To top it off, a group of younger dudes dressed up in Secret Service outfits at the pre-tour behest of JBot (this season's C!BR tour was a recap of the last seven years of the GWB Administration, complete with JBot dressed as Dubya, GTRBOT dressed as Cheney, and DRMBOT making a creepy, creepy Condi Rice), who were recently 21 and had never seen or heard of us before, loved us, and are likely coming to the Borg Ward show on Nov. 2nd. If we played well enough to actually convert new fans, we must have done all right.

So there you go. Obviously, no one is happy playing a sloppy set, and it gives us stuff to work on, but they happen. It's taken me a few years to learn this, but if we snooty indie-rock noise "arteests" can remember that we're also entertainers, and that the audience left entertained...well then. Mission Accomplished.

And speaking of "Mission Accomplished," the Captured! By Robots "Dubya" tour is a riot. Not my favorite C!BR gimmick tour ever, but GTRBOT constantly screaming "I'M GONNA SHOOT YOU IN THE FUCKIN' FAAAAAACE!" is awesome, and the cover of "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who is fucking unstoppable. Go see 'em when they come through.
At Practice

09.15.07: !OUCHO! Fest, The Mutiny, Chicago



For the last nine years, Joe Sepi and his band (appropriately enough entitled *joesepi*) have hosted !OUCHO! Fest at our favorite dive bar in Chicago, The Mutiny. The gist of the whole deal is this: lots of bands, free admission, and free grillin'. Apparently the owner of the Mutiny makes an annual trek into Wisconsin to buy a shit-ton of sausage, and the Mutiny faithful reap the benefits. This year, we were fortunate to be one of the bands invited.

We made our way down to Chicago with a van filled with nothing more than guitars, pedals, the synth, and some cymbals and hardware, as there are so many bands playing that for the sake of expediency, all bands use the same backline. We normally detest this practice, as playing through other people's gear seriously changes our sound most of the time, but in this case, the spirit of the proceedings (a bunch of folks just getting together to eat grilled meat and play rock and roll) was more important than us having "our sound" exactly the way we wanted it, so we were happy to have a light load to carry this time out. Also in the van was our pal Christopher McGarvey of Chicago's A Vast Amount of Scientific Data, as he lives in Milwaukee and needed a ride down.

The Mutiny is just the way we left it last time--a fucking hole in the wall, and we couldn't like it more this way. We each hooked ourselves up with their huge $6 mugs of Pabst (which are about the size of half a pitcher), and took in the tunes, notably great bands like the aforementioned AVAOSD, The Chrome Robes, Century Rocket Building, .22, and *joesepi*, all of which were completely outstanding and filled with rad dudes. Hot hot photos of them all can be found here.

One big plus that !OUCHO! has over your typical Mutiny gig is that the crew brings in actual sound guys and monitors. This didn't help us on stage very much, as all i could hear was Yale's guitar and a little bass, but still, it helped greatly for the audience, and for the bootlegs being recorded of our sets by the sound dudes. Listening back to the recording of our set, it's as i thought when we played--not our best night, by a long shot. Tones were weird thanks to the foreign gear, and many many things were out of tune during many many parts of the set. Still, troopers we are, we slammed through and made it entertaining, and at the end of the set, no one apparently had noticed that it was an off night, because we were the recipients of many handshakes and accolades. Hey, cool, i'll take it. These positive response was received despite my insistence on renaming nearly all of our songs as slams on Chicago sports teams. "This next song is called '200 Million Dollar Payroll and the Same Record as the Milwaukee Brewers.'" "This next song is called 'Rex Grossman is Wisconsin's Favorite Quarterback.'" Etc. People laughed more than scowled, apparently.

We took off for home around 1 or 1:30 AM after an evening of grilled meat, awesome rock (from everyone else), and lots of quality time with Chicago pals like Faiz (formerly of Danger Adventure, who was playing with *joesepi* that night), Zach of the ex-Hit Commission of Champaign, and many many others. We're looking forward to bringing A Vast Amount of Scientific Data up to Milwaukee on November 2nd, and looking forward even more to showing them a good time at the Church of Murray afterward. Bring it on, Chi-town!
At Practice

IfIHadARepliTour.

O Hai.

At some point, i'm sure there will be recaps of our four shows this weekend with Oakland, CA's Replicator, our best friends in the rock 'n' roll world. Until then, i invite you to read Replicator guitarist (and sometimes HiFi guitarist--twice equals a trend, Neutron) Conan Neutron's tour journals on Superstarcastic.com.

Already posted are his takes on the Cincinnati and Detroit shows, with Chicago and Milwaukee coming shortly. Dig it.

its 1982 all over again

I am totally going to do one of these...


So things start out bad... the Dr. informs me that the back hatch to the van is not working, since the side door dosent open either this is really not good news, we somehow figure out how to load everything but the bass cab, through the driver side door, over the middle seat and into the back, as if normal loading isn't sucky enough we have to do "extreme" loading...

We pull up to the venue (an old market of some sort) and unload basically having to do everything above only in reverse. E=MC Hammer play a great set, I normally hate slap Bass but they make it work...

we sit through a bunch of "hardcore" bands and then leave to get some subway, it should be noted that I do not understand playing hardcore in 2007 anymore than I understand playing in a cover band.

conversation at Subway...

Larger black female sitting at anougher table to me "are you a basketball team?"

Me "YES"

we got back to the venue in time for Cougar Den, who were great and reminded me of the late 90s Ohio scene (Armstrong secret 9, Hairrot the Spy) I really liked them...

a bunch more bands played, and then we were up...

The set started slow, I broke a string during the 1st song, and DR. really messed up Premeditated, after the set I learned he sprained his ankle very badly during this song. By mid set we had the crowd in the palm of our hand... people were dancing and rocking out...

after us Get Rad played... I do not get, GET RAD (see statement about playing hardcore in this day and age) people were doing spin kicks and picking up change, I find this funny to no end, but am scared to laugh as anyone of these hardcore kids could kick my butt...

THE END!

I will now go listen to our track X-13D which will be on the WMSE Cook book comp. we recorded it this weekend and it features a really messed up drum machine/synth played by the Wizard...