My New Drum Kit

February 29th, 2008 |

OK now just wait a second. Hear me out. There is a perfectly good explanation for this. I’ve been looking into buying an electronic kit for a while now. I sold my acoustic kit to my cousin back in December and I’ve been holding onto that money and my money from Santa ever since then to give myself time to make the right decision. I have made it.

Everybody I talk to about electronic drums gives me the usual roll of the eyes. I expect that. In fact I kind of roll right along with them because I can definitely sympathize with their bias. I never in a million years ever thought I would own an electronic drum set. There’s just something so Van Halen 5150 about it. But I have since come around to the dark side and have been so thoroughly persuaded that I’m now singing the praises of this technology.

I’ve put together an mp3 of me giving a sort of demonstration of what these things are capable of. There’s also a bunch of commentary with me explaining what’s going on. So if you’re into that sort of thing (or if you just like to hear me talk) download the mp3 and keep an open mind. I’m pretty certain you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Click here to download the mp3.

Here is a link to the library of sounds I’m using if you’re interested in more information on it.

Happy Birthday Angel!

February 27th, 2008 |

Angel has been getting older and older since the day we met. I can only pray that she’ll soon be as old as me.

I’m thankful the Lord has blessed me with such a cool chick. She even went by and got us Chinese food for her birthday on her way home from work.

After Riley finishes his homework we’re going to continue the celebration by eating devil’s food cake until we throw up. We still know how to party. Woot!

Falling For Me Talking About Falling For Me

February 25th, 2008 |

It’s always good for me after I put a new song on the site because then I actually have something to talk about.

I had mentioned before that this song was a tribute to the Jellyfish style of songwriting but after giving that some thought I think that might be a little inaccurate. I actually don’t think the song itself sounds like Jellyfish at all. I think that if I just played the tune with an acoustic guitar no one would immediately think Jellyfish. I think the song itself sounds more like Rufus Wainwright than Jellyfish or The Zombies or whoever.

It would have been more correct for me to say that the arrangement is in the style of Jellyfish. From using a pick on the bass, to the timpani/marching bass drum punches, to the bells in the guitar solo, to the layering of all the parts at the end. That’s all taken directly from the Jellyfish text book. The horn section stuff is probably more along the lines of The Zombies style of arranging. And the use of the (unfortunately faux) theremin is a little nod to The Beach Boys.

I certainly learned a lot about my limitations as a mix engineer working on this song. Jack Joseph Puig I am not. I kept checking my mix against Jellyfish along the way even though it made me hate myself more and more throughout the process. I had to keep reminding myself that I’m just some local schmuck making music for fun and not a Grammy-winning engineer. I really just need to portray the song the best I possibly can and stop thinking that I can make a world-class recording. Me wondering why my mixes don’t sound like Puig’s is as ridiculous as some dude with a video camera and some editing software wondering why his kid’s birthday party movie doesn’t look like Saving Private Ryan.

I should mention that Brian McClelland makes a cameo on background vocals at the end when the ‘right before my eyes’ part comes in. Brian also let me use his keyboard and his bass I think. I don’t really remember exactly though since some of this stuff was recorded almost two years ago. Thanks Brian.

If anyone is interested in hearing the original demo of this song you can download it here. At the time I was really thinking of going for a hyper-stylized vocal thing as you’ll plainly hear. The drums on the demo are just some pattern on this $25 keyboard Chris Gustave gave me a few years ago. I liked the pattern so much that I did my best to emulate it in the final recording. As with all of my demos the lyrics are different and sometimes just nah, nah, nahs but you’ll get the idea.

Falling For Me – Available for Download

February 22nd, 2008 |

OK here it is – finally.

Falling For Me – CD quality .wav file – 35.8 MB

Falling For Me – 256Kbps .mp3 file – 6.6 MB

Hope you like it.

Done?

February 18th, 2008 |

As far as I can tell it sounds like ‘Falling For Me’ is done. I’ve given it the living-room-stereo test, the Riley’s-jam-box test, and the car-stereo test. It passed all three which usually means it’s ready to ship. I may let it sit for a few days and then give it another listen just so I have fresh ears but I’m pretty anxious for everyone to hear it so I may not. Not sure. Check back tomorrow.

The Dysfunctional

February 12th, 2008 |

I heard a while back that Nate Williamson and Mike Gregory (keyboards and bass respectively) were in a new band and I finally got to see their website today. Nate and Mike were both in The Formula Kid which was my band before I officially retired from rock stardom. Their band is called The Dysfunctional and also features the face-melting guitar stylings of our good friend Josh Kohn with Tony Vrooman on lead vocals. Tony fronted the legendary band Vitamen A. Mike Clement was the keyboard player in Vitamen A and also played in The Formula Kid for a short while and can be heard on the song Lunar Beams. Mike Clement and Josh Kohn used to play in a band together called Sonic Death Monkey (note the High Fidelity reference) and that band had Steve Nowels as its bass player. Steve Nowels was also the original bass player for The Drew Johnson Band and The Formula Kid.

It may be obvious already but if it isn’t – St. Louis has thousands of great bands but only about nine musicians.

Go check out The Dysfunctional website and dig what the boys are currently up to.

My song ‘Falling for Me’ is trudging along slowly if ever so unwillingly. ‘Falling for Me’ is my Jellyfish tribute in case you don’t remember. This song has presented some unique challenges that I am wholly unqualified to solve. But I’m learning.

The song has about 60 tracks. That’s about three times what I’m comfortable with. And that’s also far more than my PC is willing to juggle at one time. So that means there is a bunch of sub-mixing (bouncing multiple tracks to one track) that has to happen. I hate sub-mixing. Sub-mixing is like putting together an entire grandfather clock without instructions and then learning that you switched one of the 3/8″ screws with one of the 7/16″ screws and then having to take the entire thing apart and start over. Except with sub-mixing you actually put the entire thing together just to see if you can get away with switching the two screws. And you can’t.

This whole game is for the not quite express purpose of pleasing your processor by letting it run one track with the huge horn section instead of running 12 tracks – one for each horn. So you EQ, compress, and reverberate each individual track, get them mixed just so, and then bounce them to one track. In my case the process thus far would take approximately three weeks. Then the horns are all there on one track all nice and tidy when you realize that the french horn isn’t quite loud enough and the clarinet is a tad muddy. What I usually do at this point is yell for a little while, bang my mouse on the desk, and curse the day I learned to play guitar. Then I take the grandfather clock apart and forget which screws I switched in the first place.

And this is just the beginning of sorrows.

New Pictures

February 2nd, 2008 |

I dumped the pictures on our camera today and found some pretty good ones.

A couple of weeks ago we took Riley to the arch for the first time. This is me and Riley right before we got into the #6 pod of death to travel to the top.

Drew and Riley Johnson

This is Riley looking out the window at the top.

Riley Johnson

This is our cat Lenore tolerating Lilly a few weeks ago.

English Mastiff Puppy and Cat

These are a couple of Lilly from just a few days ago. This dog is growing alarmingly fast.

English Mastiff Puppy

English Mastiff Puppy

This is the greatest snowman ever. He was born yesterday.

Snowman

This is Riley getting owned by daddy in a snowball fight yesterday. The snowballs in these are headed towards his face not coming from his hand. My aim is flawless.

Riley Johnson

Riley Johnson