At some point in early 2008, I despaired of ever working with another drummer ever again. I liked programming drum tracks just fine, but when it came to playing live, I always found it horribly arduous working with a drummer to recreate the recorded versions.
As a solution, I got myself a looping pedal (the Boss one: cheaper) and decided to play along live to the beats I make scratching the strings of my bass.
In another recent development then, I'd added an extra pickup to my Danelectro Longhorn bass, one just to capture the high string set (1 bass G string and one guitar G string, both tuned up to B) with a separate out.
ALSO, roundabout then, I'd bought myself a vocal harmonizer: you stomp the pedal and suddenly your one voice sounds like the Eagles singing harmony behind you. This would also be part of the live set up from thence forward.
It all sounded so good to me that I thought, "Ah! I must record an album of songs using this arrangement [new bass + scratch loop + vocal harmonizer] and then when I play live, I'll FINALLY sound just like my recorded version."
And so I did. 15 new or slightly used songs, (none previously released anyhow). I even toyed with my vocal style a bit, aping the Peter Gabriel/David Gilmore moan plus pronouncing my 'R's like Springsteen.
I finished the album, listened back to it, liked the instrumental part, hated the vocal stylings, and filed it away to fix later.
So the rest of 2008 I instead did another new album, "Ever So Transient," released it in 2009, and then fell into the whole Thebrosmad rigamarole through to summer of 2010, and looked around, looking for something quick and easy to release as just me.
I gave another listen to that forgotten album of 15 songs, and found it to be better than I remembered.
New vocals, some drums added and it could be superb, I reckoned.
Initially thinking I would release all 15 tracks as an album, I scaled it back to the first 6 as an EP, since it's that kind of an era. "Give the people less, but more often" is my new credo for music.
I know I started off with a kind of "just release any old thing" attitude, but this EP became really fun for me to finish off, and the results I'm horribly pleased with.
First, the challenge of adding drums LAST to an album. The rule is, generally: NEVER DO THIS. But, like all lobsters, I only do stuff backwards, so that was no affront to my sensibilities.
The loop groove was already in place as a tempo guide, so the drums I added, using the finger pads on my Zoom RT123, were free to be a bit more primitive and expressive, and not so much beat-anchors.
Also—a first for me—I had a swell time coming up with cool backing vocals for some of the songs. Usually I don't do that, because I won't be able to recreate them live, but I just wrote it off. It was too fun to miss. I guess I got used to enjoying backing vocals from Thebrosmad, and wanted to one up those recordings with even better vocals. I feel like I did. The backups on "Some People" almost sound like a passel of Phil Collinses to me.
In designing the "cover," I did my usual reliance on a good photo, this time by a fan of mine, and all around artist in his own right, Jov Luke, who happened by as I was doing an on-the-street promotion for an upcoming concert in Portland.
Twilight had fallen and the city lights gave me a swell halo as I stood on the plywood and astroturf platform that makes up my portable stage, perched precariously on the tailgate of my beloved Buick Roadmaster.
It seemed apropos to use that image. Anybody nuts enough to play songs on a self-constructed stage like that, parked on a city street surely conveys being "commited."
As indeed I ought to be.
released August 27, 2010
vonHummer: everything start to finish, except the cover photo by Jov Luke, and the back cover photo by Cris De La Fuente.