Archive for February, 2010

More cowbell – er… woodblock!

Friday, February 19th, 2010

One of the (many) fun things of playing in a New York City band is that you get to be in a lot of different rehearsal studios. woodblock That’s great, because we don’t plan our rehearsal very far ahead, and with so many places all over town we can almost always find a place, even last-minute.

And another fun thing about it is that – as a drummer – you get to play on so many different drum kits. There’s an element of frustration to that, too – I always end up spending at least 15 minutes each rehearsal moving around toms, adjusting hardware, and changing the ‘resident’ cymbals for my own. And for some reason the cheap and beat-up kits always sound great and the $3,000-plus kits always sound crap (which goes to show that investing in an expensive kit means nothing if you don’t know your Drum Tuning 101).

But recently, in one of those studios with a bad-sounding expensive kit, there was this treasure chest of percussive delight – rainmakers, shakers, claves, cowbells… and an ugly green cheap plastic LP woodblock. I went "hmm", attached the little green woodblock to my hi-hat stand, and without telling the other guys just started using it.

So Rob was like "is that a little woodblock action going on there?" and I was like "yeah" and he was like "killer". So the woodblock sound had found a fan base and it was decided I should get one.

The next day I went to the music store and tested every woodblock and cowbell they had in search of the best sound. I tried all the red, blue, black, stainless steel, and actual wooden stuff they had, in every possible price range; even considered getting an electronic pad with programmable percussive sounds; almost ended up with an overpriced matte-black block because it looked so cool and was endorsed by one of my favorite drummers; and in the meantime my girlfriend patiently followed me around the store while the store clerks started to throw me increasingly annoyed looks and every other customer flinched at the sound of me whacking on the next piece of metal or plastic or wood.

I ended up buying an ugly green cheap plastic LP woodblock.

“Sausage & Peppers…A Different Kind of Heavy Song”

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I often feel like all my songs need to be about deep and moving elements of my life. I rarely let myself write about some small little pleasure in my life. It feels strange to write a song about the fact that I dig watching “24″ and “Survivor”. I would feel odd writing a song about the awesome Chipotle app that I got for my new iPhone. So today I am going to cross that barrier by writing this little ditty.

“Sausage & Peppers” (to a very major key jaunty tune)

Yummy yummy sausage in a nice warm piece of bread
Peppers in my mouth and joy in my head
Sausage Pepper sandwich, please never go away
You are different but you are as good as PBJ.

Yummy yummy sausage sits alone on my plate
I really should eat it after the PM known as 8
But down into my tummy you will simply slide
Sausage pepper sandwich, will you be my sandwich bride?

Oh, sausage pepper sandwich.
Oh, how I love you so
Oh, sausage pepper sandiwch
There are tears in my eyes
You are just the perfect size
And they also give you fries!

Yummy yummy sausage from the little place next door
You can be my sandwich pimp and I, your sandwich whore
You are the stuff of legends that will forever be told
Oh sausage pepper sandwich…you are even awesome cold

Shaker Spaz

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Are you a shaker spaz? If you have experienced any of the following, you may be.

1) You can dance and rock to the beat and yet, when you have a shaker in your hand, you just can’t keep the rhythm.
2) You have stood in front of a microphone trying to record a 16 measure shaker part and, by measure 12, you are shaking to something that is definitely not the beat of the song you are recording.
3) You have watched all your friends/band mates shake the shaker and make it look simple, but then when you try it, you become way too aware of what you are doing and are thus unable to exhibit any kind of soulful shaking.

If, after reading this, you now feel you may be a shaker spaz, fret not. Many have been where you are. There is still hope. The one and only way to cure shaker spaznocity is the following:

Keep shake-a-laking.

For some sa-weet shaking, come check out The Hillary Step live at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton St. btw. Orchard / Ludlow) this Friday night, Feb 5th, at 8pm.