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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Final 2010 FP Post

Howdy Folks!

One last entry here before the New Year hits. It has been quite a busy last couple of weeks, especially with Christmas parties, get-togethers, what have you... But in the midst of all of the seasonal hustle and bustle, I got a chance to play a solo version of 'Silent Night' on Christmas Eve at my church, and it went well all things considered. The week prior to Christmas was chock full of distractions that minimized my time to prepare for my rendition of 'Silent Night', and admittedly I spaced-out midway through a chorus section and had to sort of ad-lib from there. In a way I felt stupid, but I also walked away with the thought that I just need to relax whenever I screw up a performance and let it go. That all being said, I was really pleased with my tones that night. My rig was: my '05 Gibson Les Paul > Marshall BluesBreaker2 overdrive pedal > Line6 SpiderValveMk2 half stack. I also used a Boss looper pedal to create an ongoing loop of harmonics to play the melody over. Aside from a couple deviant notes mid-chorus, it was all quite lovely.

So this week I have picked up where I left off in 'Marigolds' before we had to steal all of my mics to record drums for 'Rabbit Hole'. I decided to try a new method of guitar speaker mic placement called 'white noising' (some people call it 'shavering' and various other names). The method is to send some white noise into the guitar amp at extremely high decibels and move the mics around while listening to everything in headphones. The louder and smoother the white noise sounds through the mic, the better the mic placement should sound (in theory) in recording. So I bought a white noise app for my iPhone, plugged the iPhone into my guitar amp, turned on the white noise and cranked the volume. Lucas Collins was lending me a hand today, and he best described the white noise through a cranked amp as sounding like a jet engine. It was deafening loud. But remarkably the whole process paid off in spades. My mic tones have been great and much easier to dial in than what I am used to. Also, I am using one of Craig Collins' prototype Vibrance guitars (#003) and it sounds amazing in every way.

So anyway that's a quickie FP update. We start Jake's bass sessions on the 'Rabbit Hole' recording next Monday, and we are also starting rehearsals for a new song next Thurs. Things are moving along quite well these days. Will have a couple new songs to debut before too long! Good times...

Thanks for stoping by! We wish everyone a Happy New Year!

~ Todd

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Monday, December 13, 2010

'Rabbit Hole' Updates

Just a quick update on how our new song 'Rabbit Hole' is coming along. We wrapped up all of the drum sessions this past week and now the drum editing/assembly begins. Fortunately, Matt is such a kick-@$$ drummer that all 'drum editing' on my end will be simple and efficient. Do we have the capability to fix timing mistakes on the sly? Yep. Do we need to fix any timing mistakes? Nope. Matt hit the ground running (figuratively speaking of course) and he nailed all of his drum parts in record time. Un-freakin-believable how good Matt is on numerous levels.

And now all that remains to be done with the drum tracks is to bounce things down, mix the levels, EQ'ing, compressing, etc.. Also, one sonic trick that we employ is that we listen to all of Matt's kick drum hits (usually several hundred per song), we scrutinize them to find the 'perfect' one, and then I layer that 'perfect kick' with each and every other kick hit throughout the song. The Pro's call it 'drum replacement' and it is a standard procedure for most commercial recordings. And while most engineers use various 'drum replacement' plug-ins to automatically do this process for them, I like to layer each kick drum hit by hand. I do have the tools to do things automatically, but I think it sounds better when done by hand one kick hit at a time. The whole 'drum replacement' process usually takes 3-4 hours per song, and truthfully it is horribly boring. But it makes a world of difference in the final mix, especially in the sub-sonic low-low frequencies. Listen to one of our songs on a suitably equipped sound system. My mixes are never as polished as I envision in my head (though I do try as best I can), but the kick drum hits are always sonically consistent as they should be. Definitely worth the extra time involved. I'll probably start that in the next day or two. It's ridiculously cold outside right now (wind chills are well below 0*F), so what better chance to stay inside my warm little studio? This coming week should hopefully be very productive...

Once I get the drum editing wrapped up I will start recording guitar tracks again on 'Marigolds' as well as more of my vocals. At some point in the near future Jake will start laying down his bass tracks for 'Rabbit Hole' (he's already done with bass on 'Marigolds'). But we will be taking it easy over the holidays. Christmas only comes once a year and FP efforts can give it a rest until the new year. Time to recharge and enjoy the season...

I will possibly post here again before the end of the month. Not sure yet. If not, then I would like to wish all of our friends, family, and growing fan-base a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for being a part of FP and for making this last year a special year indeed. As I often say, much more is yet to come...

Peace.

~ Todd

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pre-Holidays Update: 11-19-10

Hello Hello...

Time to break the radio silence. We've been a busy band of late....

1) Writing and pre-production for 'Rabbit Hole' is pretty much wrapped up and we plan to begin the drum recording sessions the week after Thanksgiving. This one has been a lot of fun and takes us down a road less traveled. It actually gets a little bit heavy at times. And it is swampy (you can hear a very short preview of the main riff here: starts at 3:40-ish). We have a few odds and ends that aren't set in stone in the arrangement but we've opted (as is getting to be our routine) to wait and see what happens during the recording sessions. Sometimes it is just better to play off the cuff and see what happens. I also have a few falsetto parts that are a real blast to sing. I sing a lot more these days...in the car, at home, etc., so hopefully I am getting the hang of it. La la la la la la....

2) Speaking of falsettos, I've been recording the vocals for 'Marigolds' over the last couple of weeks. I sing a little bit, walk away for a while, come back, listen, try it again, etc.. But I'm not fighting the mic as much with this song as I did on 'Sycamore' and 'Some Other Year'. I've stumbled upon a fairly decent mic set-up that seems to be making things easier for me to sing. Same mic, different signal path. Live and learn. Now I just need to get used to hearing my recorded 'higher voice' without nitpicking it to death. (And yes the vocal parts in 'Marigolds' are higher than our last two songs.) I went through the same insecurities when I started 'Sycamore' (in regards to my voice in general), and so I'm glad that I am being stretched into being a better performer. It just takes time to improve....

3) On a personal note, I've been tinkering with various circuit designs with one of my spare guitars in an effort to figure out what capacitors to use in my upcoming Vibrance Guitar (yes I said 'circuit designs' and 'capacitors'...am I a geek or what?) That being said, I somehow managed to hit 'sonic nirvana' with my spare guitar (after four or five trips to the local Radio Shack), so now I just need to finish buying the parts I need for the Vibrance (albeit not from Radio Shack....the real deal needs to have high-end parts in it) and tweak things ever so slightly. But the Vibrance is well under way and Craig Collins (the owner/luthier of Vibrance Guitars) offered to build mine out of some seriously resonant walnut wood that has been drying naturally for over 20 years. I'm pretty sure this guitar will play itself once he gets it finished. I seriously can't wait....

So that's all for now. Be sure to keep checking back every few days for more updates and FP-related news...

And now it's time for me to call it a day and cuddle up next to Julia....

~ Todd

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'Some Other Year' is Finally Here!!!

FP - Some Other Year (P) (C) 2010 The FP Theory (mp3) by theFPband


Hit the big red 'Play' button to stream it. Click on the little black 'down arrow' at the far right of the player to actually download the mp3 file ('...to have and to hold until death do you part')


Lyrics:

Some Other Year

Verse 1

You and me sittin' under the tree
Talking 'bout things only you and I see...
Faraway places (and) Some Other Year...
Laughing and Dancing with nothing to fear (no...)


Verse 2

I'm waking up and I'm not alone...
You're in my arms so let's turn off the phone...
(I) don't want to move...
Want to lay here instead...
A Beautiful Day for staying in bed (yeah...)


Chorus 1

Tell me your secret...
(Now) Please don't be scared
And I won't care
No I won't care...(No...)
You've got a secret that you need to share
And I'm not scared
No I'm not scared (No...)


Verse 3

You're upset and you don't know why...
I say 'I love you...' that 'we've gotta try...
'To figure it out...
'There's no other way...
'We've gotta believe in the things that we say...' (yeah...)


Chorus 2 + 3

Tell me your secret...
(Now) Please don't be scared
And I won't care
No I won't care...(No...)
You've got a secret that you need to share
And I'm not scared
No I'm not scared (No...)


Verse 4

You say you're nervous and a little bit scared...
You're three weeks late...you can already tell...
(Your) Hands are shaking...
You're looking at me...
Tomorrow comes quickly and soon we'll be three...



Credits:

Drums: Matt Goodner

Bass, Backing Vocals: Jake Lockard

Guitars, Synth Textures, Lead/Backing Vocals: W Todd Reynolds

Backing Vocals: Thomas Holley and Mike Jett

Written, Produced, and Anything Else: FP

Special thanks to our three biggest supporters: Brittany, Sarah, and Julia, along with Charlie Hester, Todd Nardoni, Thomas Holley, Mike Jett, and all of our friends, families, and fans.


(P)(C) 2010 The FP Theory

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And so the SOY Mixdown continues...

Hello World...

I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first? Hmmmm....

First the Bad News. The 'Some Other Year' mixdown has taken much longer than I originally anticipated. As such, it will sound really good once we unleash it to our fans and friends. As I mentioned in the previous update, the Chorus vocals needed much attention in context of the final mix. It is such a guessing game when we're first tracking vocals. We end up just shooting from the hip and going for it. 'Fix it in the mix' as they say. And I'd like to say that the next songs will be easier and will have fewer issues to remedy than 'SOY' or 'Sycamore' have each had, but I think that would just be a tad delusional on my part. But honestly it makes me chuckle when I think about it. At least I enjoy the process....

The Good News: I am somewhat confident that we'll have the initial test mix of 'SOY' ready for R&D this Friday. Jake, Matt, and myself will then listen to the test mix on every available system possible, take notes, make any necessary tweaks, lather, rinse, repeat. Which means we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one. Yessss.....

So that's it for now. We're planning on resuming rehearsals and preproduction on 'Rabbit Hole' late next week. We're all very anxious to play and rehearse and write again. (And for my part I am anxious to start playing through my new amp rig with the guys.) Things are coming together nicely...

Until next time (and keep checking back for the new song to be released for free)....

~ Todd

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SOY Mixdown Update: 9-22-10

OK....so here's the deal on the new song that we're about to release. The mixdown is still in progress but going well. I ran into issues with dialing in my lead guitar tones to suit the new mix. That cost me a morning of tweaking. And then as I began to tackle the lead vocals, I ran into sibilance issues with the Chorus sections. In the context of the new mix, my S's and SH's were way too loud (uncomfortably so) and out of control (i.e. 'sibilance issues'). So I spent a couple of afternoons trying several different 'De-Essers' and a multitude of settings in the hopes of fixing the problems. That didn't work. So then I thought I'd try to re-sing the choruses with a less-sensitive microphone. That sort of worked but didn't seem like a complete fix. So tonight I heard a little voice in my head say 'Set up a Side-Chain De-Esser'. (And yes I really did hear that little voice in my head.) Mind you a 'Side-Chain De-esser' set-up is a lot more elaborate and was something that I have never previously tried. I'll spare you the technical details (you can read this link if you really must know how it all works), but I am having pretty good results so far and have learned something new in my craft that has hitherto been unknown territory. But as it is, I still feel the need to massage these vocal tracks to make them sound as good in the mix as possible. Not sure how long that will take. So to be fair, I need to push back the release date to perhaps next week or the week after(?) I'd rather not release sub-par material. Sorry for the delays....

Until next time (keep checking back for more updates!)....

~ Todd

Thursday, September 9, 2010

'Some Other Year' is Almost Here!!!

Just a quick status update on our second official song release, 'Some Other Year'. We now have everything recorded and tracked and awaiting mixdown (which should begin first thing Monday morning). This past week we added some more guitar textures (think interesting noises and cool ambiances), the last bit of Jake's bass parts on the final chorus (which proved trickier than anticipated), a few subtle synth textures (think more interesting noises and cool ambiances), and a couple spoken phrases by Matt and Brittany Goodner. There are a couple places in the song where I plan on adding a bit of synth texture if needed, but I can't make those sort of decisions until the bulk of the primary elements have been mixed properly (namely the drums, vocals, guitars, bass, etc). But I'd like to see this song out the door by the end of next week(?)

Until then....

~ Todd

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weekly (sort of) Update: 9-2-10

How ya'll doing this evening? Here's the latest...

1) We're putting on the final touches on 'Some Other Year' before we start mixing her down. Forgive us for the crazy length of time since our last release ('Sycamore'). We've had more than a few hurdles to jump over to get this one to our liking, but we seriously are getting closer. (Yeah yeah...How many times have I said something along those same lines?...Ha Ha)

One such hurdle was my guitar solo. We had the perfect melody line worked out for it but I ran into several problems with string intonation (i.e. how 'in tune' the guitar sounds), especially on some of the higher notes that I was playing. So I took my Les Paul apart and made some fine adjustments to the bridge and voila I had better sounding notes! Only bad thing was after I heard things properly intonated I then realized that hated the way I delivered those notes. Everything felt stiff and lifeless. So one step forward, two steps back so to speak. However this problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I decided to restructure my approach in how I was playing the solo. So I kept the melody intact but I put in more string bends and such for landing my notes (which was harder to do but sounded way better and gave me more control over the intonation problems). And the resulting solo is one of my best ever. I am really happy with the end result and now I'm even glad those intonation problems 'forced my hand'. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Jake is 95% done with the bass parts on 'SOY' (which is funny because he is already finished on 'Marigolds' which is next in line for release). He amazes me with his consistency. Unreal.

2) I've started singing vocals on 'Marigolds' (although I haven't had any 'keepers' yet). But I'm upping the ante on this one vocally. I have a lot to learn about singing properly, and I'm also spending more time doing more traditional singing rudiments, not so much to change my style but rather to help me get the job done easier and more quickly. Admittedly I'm a hack as far as vocals go, but I intend to change that. Over time.

3) Tonight we talked about the possibility of playing a handful of gigs next summer/fall. We all want to get out there as soon as we have enough material and are able to get our live performance polished up. This coming fall/winter will be crucial for us to get things to our liking by next summer. Fortunately we have the equipment we need. Just need to practice and spend time honing our performances. But that is our hope at this point. Wish us luck!

4) One other tidbit of info. I have mentioned in previous posts that I took on some freelance work for a London-based band. They have now released their song 'Runaway Heart' as their first official 'single' along with a 'remix' version of the same song. They tracked/recorded their parts in London and then I took care of the mixdown and post-production of the 'original radio version'. Dubterminator (a dub producer from New Zealand) took care of the 'dub remix' version. Below is a link to their site. If you like what you hear you can purchase their song on iTunes, Amazon, etc..

z.electric

Go check them out and support the band!

And so I think that's all for now. Time to call it a day and watch some South Park.

Peace and Love and all that Jazz...

~ Todd

Friday, August 20, 2010

FP Weekly Update: 8-20-10

Just checking in for the week...

1) 'SOY' is getting dangerously close to being ready for mixdown. I sang more overdubs this week and we have all of the backing vocals tracked and (mostly) edited. Backing vocal contributions are coming from Mike Jett, Thomas Holley, my sister Charlyn Hester, myself, and Jake. Jake came in this week and sang a few passes for one of the higher parts we needed and he has a really good voice. Matt and I have decided we'd really like to exploit Jake's hidden vocal talent on a regular basis from now on. I'd classify his voice as being in the elusive 'cool' category. Would easily stand on its own...

2) 'Marigolds' is still where it was last week. Nothing to see here. Move along...

(Here's a pic from the recent 'Marigolds' guitar sessions:)



3) I'm thinking I may want to postpone any more work/rehearsal on 'Rabbit Hole' until 'SOY' is finished, mainly so I can switch hats and be the singer/song-writer/guitarist again for 'Rabbit Hole' versus the producer/mixing engineer that I need to be for 'SOY'. Hard to go back and forth when we get to the intense stage of mixing stuff and putting the finishing touches on a recording like 'SOY'. Plus I have to believe that 'Rabbit Hole' would get shortchanged by my focus on 'SOY'. No hurries though. Quality before Quantity. Everyone wins when we take the time to do things right... :-)

No promises on a release date for 'Some Other Year' yet. Soon. But it should 'Wow' many of you when it hits your ears. Last week Matt heard the rough version of 'SOY' that I've been working on with some of the newer elements and textures, and he made the statement that if 'Sycamore' got people's attention about our style/vibe, 'SOY' will make people think 'Wow...those guys aren't playing around...they're serious'. I think that says it all. And I think that Matt is right...it sounds pretty good. Will be fun to play it live one day...

That's pretty much it for now.

Peace and Love...

~ Todd

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FP Quickie: 8-12-10

This week things are cookin' for FP as we quickly approach the mixdown stage of 'Some Other Year'. A few more vocal overdubs, a guitar solo, and the last section of bass, and then we will be off to the mixdown. There are a ton of tracks on this one so it won't be an overnight mix, but it will be worth the wait!

No FP rehearsals this week due to the mix prep in my studio. Once I start 'getting in the zone', I may only come up for air and brief doses of sunshine. I cannot wait to get this one wrapped up and in people's players. Dang.

'Marigolds' is not too far behind 'SOY'. Lots left to be done, but we have a ton of it recorded already. Mmmm...Mmmm...Mmmmmm...

Be good out there....

~ Todd

Thursday, August 5, 2010

FP Update 8-5-10

Here's the week in review (according to Todd)....

Last Friday: Mowed for a few hours at my late Gma's farm. It was blazin' hot and it wore me out. Then I went home, showered and crashed for a couple of hours in my AC'd bedroom (with two fans blowing straight on me). Then my wife came home from work and woke me up. Both of us were feeling very 'spent' (she had a rough week at work) and so we directly proceeded to the nearest Outback Steakhouse and enjoyed a couple of adult beverages (the whole reason we went to the Outback was because she wanted one of their Wallaby Darned drinks...she had a rough week at work), comfort food, and time with our boys. Then we went home and crashed...

Saturday: I went to work and gave a day's worth of guitar lessons. Then once lessons were wrapped up, Jake and I met up at a local private pond with both of our boats and we proceeded to catch 43 'keeper-sized' bluegills. My two sons went with us and we fished until dark. And the weather was perfect. And best of all no bugs. Then Jake and his dad cleaned all 43 fish. Then I took my boys to Arby's at 10:30pm and we pigged out. And it was exceptionally good. Thus ended Saturday...

Sunday: I woke up utterly exhausted (from mowing in the extreme heat on Friday, giving lots of guitar lessons Sat morning/afternoon, and being in a boat for several hours on Saturday night). I was seriously considering opting out of the rest of the day. I was sore and brain-dead and two steps away from being grumpy, but alas I pulled myself together and got on with things. Church in the a.m.. And then we spent the afternoon at my in-laws' house for my mother-in-law's birthday. Fortunately, both of my sons are of the driving age, and so my younger son was at the helm as we traveled and I rested in the back of the van. And luckily the van's AC decided to start working again. And so after we enjoyed a good dinner with Julia's folks and we then came home and crashed.

Monday: Jake came over in the morning to help set up mics on my guitar amp, as did a student of mine, Seth McBride. I was pretty worn out when the day started but it was a fun day. And so the set up began. A part of that set up required a spare laptop to talk to my guitar amp. My amp can interface with a computer (with the right hook-ups) which makes it much easier to keep track of knob settings and the like, a job that is normally done by handwritten notes. But the spare laptop I needed to use for this job did not have the current software installed that was needed for the task. So I needed to get online and download the updated programs. Normally that is no big deal, since we have WiFi in the house. However, the older spare laptop decided it didn't want to use WiFi (for reasons unknown...it has always worked before), and so the next step was to reroute a spare Ethernet cable into the studio via the basement in order to plug directly into the old laptop. The route needed was through a slightly modified heater/AC duct that feeds into the living room and studio room. To access that duct I had to remove the furnace grates in the studio and living room and reach down into the duct and pull the cable through to the top. Except that it was dark in the duct and I couldn't see what I was doing. No problem. There's an app for that. So I fired up my iPhone flashlight app and started to look around. The Ethernet cable was missing. Not good. And so I started to pull my arm back out of the duct, at which point I caught the back of my arm on a sharp corner of the duct, which in turn made me release (drop) the iPhone, which in turn slid all the way down into the duct and out of site. Crap. So first I tried to reach around the bend in the duct but couldn't feel the iPhone. So then my younger son brought me a wooden spoon to see if I could drag the iPhone within reach. That didn't work either. So then Jake (who is taller than me and has longer arms) proceeded to do everything I had just done (including the wooden spoon trick) but to no avail. Crap. So then I headed to the basement, found a vent panel on the duct in question, removed the said duct, and was able to just barely reach the missing iPhone. Phew! So now the iPhone was Ok but I still had to find the missing Ethernet cable. It was routed into my boys' shared bedroom. So I yanked it back through the floor, rerouted it to the studio heater/AC duct, and handed the cable to Seth who was still upstairs. And so I hooked up the old spare laptop, and downloaded the needed amp communication software, hooked up the proper cable between the amp and the laptop, and of course nothing worked. The amp was not talking to the old laptop and the old laptop had nothing to say to the amp. Crap. All that work for nothing. And we hadn't even started setting up the mics on the amp to begin recording.

By it was now lunchtime and everyone was getting hungry. And so Jake fired up the stove and started frying up all 43 fish fillets from Saturday night's catch, and that was very good. And our entire house smelled like fried fish. Not so good. But that's the price you pay for fried fish and it was worth it. And so we ate. And then I went back to troubleshoot the problem between the amp and the old laptop. Turned out to be a bad MIDI interface cable. Luckily I had another back-up and things started cooperating. So then we set mics up, ran a gazillion cables between my studio room and the living room (which is where the speakers and mics were...better acoustics in the living room for recording loud guitar amps). And then we ran a couple of test passes of me playing the guitar parts I wanted to record (on 'Marigolds'). And then I went off to work and gave more guitar lessons. And then after lessons I came home and crashed. That was all on Monday.

Tuesday: I made the smart decision to work on something other than FP material for most of the day. I have taken on a side mixing project for someone in London and was wanting to get that rolling. So I worked on that until it was time to go to work to give more guitar lessons. But Tuesday was a nice relaxing day compared to Monday. Uneventful.

Wednesday: I decided to start tracking the guitar parts that we had set mics up for on Monday. Turned out to be a good day for that. My head was back into the game and I got all of the chorus parts recorded for 'Marigolds'. The living room was punishingly loud, but it sounded amazing and I got the exact tones I was after. Then once Julia got home from work, we loaded up the van and met up with Matt and Brittany at the Georgetown Fair (about a 1/2 hour south from our neighborhood). Matt wanted us to go to an ITPA Tractor Pull with he and Brit and it was pretty fun, especially for 'people watching'. I could tell some stories here about some of the 'interesting' people we noticed but will resist the temptation lest I say something that cannot be redacted. But the best part of the tractor pull was how loud the 'modified class' tractors were. It was really friggin' loud. And I mean really friggin' loud. And of course we ate fair food (and of course we paid for it the next day) and had lots of fun. Also of noteworthy mention, the weather was horrendous that night. A rather strong storm system swooped in from the north and nearly rained-out the fair. But what was even crazier is that while we were at the fair, a funnel cloud hit our hometown and did some serious damage within a few blocks of our house. No damage to our house thankfully, but it must've been a close call. Another Phew!

Today (Thursday): I started the day by trying to record lead guitar parts on 'Some Other Year' but never found the tones I after. Bummer. I may go another direction for recording the lead parts rather than the mic'd amp method. Not sure yet. But I can hear the tones in my head and I won't stop until I am able to dial in those tones one way or another. Part of the creative process I suppose. It can be both frustrating and fun at the same time, depending on deadlines or budgets (self-imposed or otherwise), and especially depending on how much sleep you've had the night before. So in between moments of frustration with my bad guitar tones, I took mental/creative breaks by working intermittently on the London stuff. The London stuff saved my sanity and kept me from 'going dark'. Then, in the afternoon, another friend, Mike Jett, came over to sing some back-up vocals (BV's) on 'Some Other Year'. We got through those parts fairly quick and then Jake and Matt came over for dinner and more guitar tracking sessions on 'Marigolds'. That went pretty good as well. And now that everyone has gone home for the night, I am blogging. And I'm about to crash. Again. :-)

And so at the end of the week, lots has happened and much has been accomplished. 'Some Other Year' is nearing completion and only has a few more things to record before the mixdown can proceed. I need to re-record a couple of my vocal parts (for more 'feel' and vibe), and I need to record the lead guitar parts. 'Marigolds' now has all of the bass, drums, and chorus section guitars finished and ready to go. Vocals will begin soon. Hopefully I'll be able to find the right 'clean guitar tones' needed for the rest of 'Marigolds' in short order. They have eluded me thus far. But I am persistent. I will prevail. And the world will thank me for it when they hear it for the first time....

So that's all for now. I approached this blog post a little differently tonight (almost 'stream of consciousness' style...probably because I am tired) and I guess I had a lot to share this time around. Has been another fun-filled week in FP-Land. Hopefully next week I won't lose my iPhone again....

~ Todd

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekly Update: 8-2-10

So we've made some changes...

The original FP Blog background that we have used since the inception of our blog is no longer available for usage. Not sure why...it is simply no more. Bummer. I really liked the look and the vibe of it. We had to make a few template changes as well as the overall look. Hope you like it. For now I have made a few 'get-us-through-for-the-time-being' changes and things are now rearranged slightly to streamline our cluttered mess. I've been feeling for a while that our old layout was getting more and more crowded with gadgets and whatnot, so perhaps change was in the works anyway?

So now we have a red background. It works for now. I like red for the most part. I even remodeled my studio recently with red walls and it has been quite lovely when sitting in there for long hours. Makes me feel creatively aggressive. And who knows? Maybe the red theme of our blog will have a similar effect on our viewers that makes them aggressively/frequently check us out and aggressively tell everyone they know about this new up-and-coming band from Nowhere, Illinois...

We can only hope...

Also, I do plan on posting new pics and new videos and other exciting new elements to our beloved blog in due time, so keep coming back for more.

The half-week in review....

1) I now have a rather elaborate 6-mic array on my Line6 1/2-stack speaker cab. I do plan on taking some video footage and a ton of pics over the next few days as guitar tracking sessions ensue. To that end, I have mics scattered all over our living room area and even in the front entrance way of our house. I have one mic dangling from a small chandelier and another mic suspended from a ceiling fan. And as expected, the ambient/reflective sounds I am getting from those two mics are very vibey. Funny thing is that the house is now a jumbled mess of wires and music equipment and other recording odds and ends, and even though times like these prove that my obsession with good guitar tones can become a little invasive on my family's living space, everyone just steps around the mic stands and cables and nobody seems to mind the temporary clutter. I love my family...

2) Mike Jett is planning on coming over Thurs afternoon to sing some backing vocal tracks on 'Some Other Year'. That will be fun!

3) I'll be tracking guitars all week this week (and maybe next week?) on 'Marigolds' and 'SOY'. I also need to rework a few minor mixdown issues for a London client's recording that I am assisting with. Busy busy busy...

That's all on the week-and-a-half update. It has been a long and adventurous day and I am in serious need of rest. Time to call it a day and head to bed....

~ Todd

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekly Update 7-29-10

The Latest...

1) For all intents and purposes, Jake's bass lines are finished on 'Marigolds' as of 9pm this evening. He came. He saw (err...listened). And he conquered. Funny thing is that he had actually practiced one of his crucial bass line maneuvers incorrectly most of the week (wrong notes), yet when he came in for tonight's recording session he was still able to relearn/play the correct parts in a matter of minutes. Impressive. Very impressive. The crucial bass line in question is rather tricky on the brain and especially on the fingers, but he made it look and sound easy. A real professional that Jake is...

2) 'SOY' is nearing the end of its tracking sessions. It has proven to be more difficult and elaborate than we originally expected. But we are prevailing. I still need to record some more of my vocal layers and variations, and we have one other non-FP person in mind for helping with the some of the backing vocals. I am also getting ready to set up a multi-mic array on one of my amp rigs to lay down the lead guitar solo section on 'SOY' as well as everything in 'Marigolds'. I'll take some pictures once we get it all set up and rolling.

3) 'Rabbit Hole' is still in the works but somewhat on hold as we pick up the pace on the 'SOY' and 'Marigolds' recordings.

4) As mentioned in my last post, I took on a quickie London-based mixdown project. It has gone well and it may very well lead to more work of this sort down the road. And if nothing else, it was a good detour from our FP material and helped clear my head a little bit since I got to help solve someone else's mix issues. Funny how it helps to pull away from the things that are most near and dear to us (in this case the FP material). It was almost like a 'working vacation' and it has really helped relight the fire in me to sing and perform on our own band material.

5) Yesterday I got to be the first (non-family) test driver for a newly formed guitar company called Vibrance Guitars. The good folks at Vibrance brought the two prototypes by my house and all I can say is 'Wow'. I've been privileged to have a small hand in certain elements of the design of these new guitars from their inception, although I do say that lightly. Craig Collins, the owner and luthier of Vibrance Guitars, has obviously done the real work. He's just asked for my opinions and thoughts along the way as he has designed developed his first two prototypes. But his prototypes were stunning in every way. And my own very first Vibrance Guitar is soon in the works! I cannot wait! Craig is a perfectionist and his high level of craftsmanship is evident in every way. I will definitely take lots of gratuitous pics of my guitar(s) once it is finished.

That's it for now....

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Todd

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekly Update: 7-23-10

And now for the Evening FP News...

Things have been very busy this week. A huge chunk of this week has been allocated to various tracking sessions on both 'Marigolds' and 'Some Other Year':

1) The first session of the week was with Jake playing bass sections on 'Marigolds'. He has been able to put a lot more time into his parts on this one and we've spent more time per section than previously on 'Sycamore' or 'SOY'. Fortunately the extra time has proved to be worth the effort and Jake's bass lines have been quite stellar and have elevated 'Marigolds' to another level as a song. He's very very good and very consistent. And he's also got a natural knack for bass and is quite creative with it. Fun fun fun...

2) The second session of the week was with my sister Charlyn singing backing vocal textures for 'Some Other Year'. I had a couple of melodic ideas in my head that she was able to crank out effortlessly, and then she took several takes doing improv. It was stunning. And in the immortal words of my late Grandpa Bush, all I could I could do was raise my eyebrows and say 'Damn'. I wish I had her sort of vocal intuition and control. Under normal circumstances I would assume such a person with her natural vocal ability was not 100% human but rather part-alien or something. But alas I've known her since she was brought home from the hospital as a newborn and I in fact know for certain that she is a mere human being (unless of course I'm also part-alien...hmmm...never really thought about that until just now...)

3) The third tracking session was with an old friend of mine, Thomas 'Tommy' Holley. I had him come in and sing some unison vocals alongside the main vocal in the choruses. We never actually went through any sort of vocal tryouts or screening with him since I could still remember how Tommy had quite a talent for singing back when we were growing up. We had a good time and laughed a lot and he was a real pleasure to work with (as I figured he would be). Then after his vocal session, we (Tommy, his son, my youngest son, and myself) all went out to his place in the country and shot air-soft guns. I mentioned how badly those air-soft BB's hurt when they hit the palm of your hand (has happened to me only once and will only happen once), and so Tommy stuck out his hand to 'take one for the team' at point-blank range. That ended up being a bad idea. For Tommy that is. When my son Anderson pulled the trigger, Tommy ran off yelling like a madman and was shaking his hand wildly. Turns out he ended up with a crescent-moon shaped blood blister in the center of his palm. It was pretty funny (and impressive) after the fact, but I'd venture to say that will be the last time he (knowingly) volunteers his any part of his flesh to an air-soft BB at close range.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk...


4) The fourth tracking session of the week was another bass session with Jake for more 'Marigolds' sections. Steady is as steady does. Did I mention that Jake is very good at what he does? Good tones. Good times.

5) And lastly, I have volunteered my mixdown services to a London band for one of their latest songs. They've done all of the tracking and leg-work and they are having me take a stab at the mixdown. It's good stuff and a good song, and I think I fell in love with the singer's voice (the singer is a 'she' incidentally). If this first one works out, perhaps there will be more to come? Will see....At any rate, this sort of mixdown work is fairly easy for me (and a lot of fun) and it offers a nice change of pace from the FP stuff whenever I need a mental change of pace.

6) I have someone else in mind for more backing vocals on 'Some Other Year' and so hopefully we'll get him into the studio early next week. And then I still need to sing more overdubs I think, and then I plan on setting up a four-microphone set-up on one of my 4x12 speaker cabs so that I can finish tracking guitars on 'SOY' and also begin tracking guitars on 'Marigolds'. One minute I'm a producer/engineer, then a freelance mixer, then a guitarist, then a singer. Plus a dad, a husband, a homeschool teacher (for my 10th and 11th grade sons), a guitar instructor, etc.. (And every now and then I need to slip in some fishing...) Keeps me busy. For now I have reduced my guitar instructor load down to three days. Hopefully that will suffice for a long while so that I can have time to pursue other options of music-related revenue. It's all good in the meantime...can't complain!

That's all for now. Keep checking back for more updates and FP news!

~ Todd

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

FP Video Blog Episode 2: Late-Night Calisthenics



For our next installment in the FP Video Blog series, we offer you a 5-minute clip of me 'farting around' (figuratively speaking) on my blue Telecaster 'Daphne' while my younger son Anderson is 'farting around' (literally) while shooting the HD camera. This footage was taken at a very late hour back when I bought my first Line 6 SpiderValveMk2 half-stack. I was unwinding after as busy day (sometime back in March 2010) and I was casually exploring a few arpeggios and scales.

Also, at the very tail-end of this video I played the main intro riff to our upcoming song 'Rabbit Hole'.

About the style of this footage: the ambient lighting was horrible for shooting film, and I didn't even realize Anderson had the camera on me at first, so we ended up using an 'Edge Detection' video effect (plus B&W) on the entire clip in order to brighten things up a bit. As such, this entire video may at first seem corny or haphazard, and in a way I would agree with you, but at the core I felt like this was a good representation of how things are around the house when I am working on stuff. Also, I really dig how the frets, strings and pickguard stand out with this sort of video treatment. It almost has a cartoon-ish vibe to it. Hope you enjoy the nonsense and the casual approach we took with this episode...

~ Todd

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekly Update: 7-2-10

Just a few quickies here:

1) 'Some Other Year' has made some major progress this week. Last week Jake and I spent a couple hours focused on recording my chorus vocals and this week I have gone through all of those takes and organized the 'keepers'. Sounds easy but it can really wear your brain out just making decisions on what to keep and what to trash. Some takes are obviously no good when played back, but the good sounding ones can be hard to sift through because of all of the subtle differences. What's more...this sort of editing is more technically challenging versus creatively fulfilling and so I tend to lose some of my creative connection to my guitar playing when wearing the Producer/Engineer hat. Ughh. Which leads me to...

2) I have had a fairly crappy week this week in regards to my guitar playing. I think the logical/technical side of my brain is hogging all of its synapses from the creative side. Go figure. But it seems like every time I have picked up a guitar this week (including at band practice) I have fumbled around on the strings as if I am clueless. At band practice this week, Matt was even joking with Jake saying (about me) 'See? He's human...' What an epic fail. Oh well...the pendulum will eventually swing the other way. And it will be glorious (and hopefully that will happen about the time I am scheduled to lay down guitar tracks on something)....

3) 'Rabbit Hole' is still being mapped out on some of the finer details, especially for a bridge section. I still need to come up with some good guitar parts for some accents in the bridge section. This song gets pretty loud and ballsy at that point so I need to figure out some guitar parts to match. Once those parts are in place and have passed the litmus test of 'live playing' at band practice, then we should be fairly close to drum tracking sessions for 'Rabbit Hole'. It has come along quicker than I anticipated. Good deal...

4) Jake has totally delivered some creative genius by way of his bass lines for 'Marigolds' this week. We spent a couple of days recording more bass lines on 'Marigolds' this week and he totally nailed the vibe on what was needed. Got to love a bass player who can discern the fine line of when to support kick drum rhythmic accents, rhythm guitar riffs, or key vocal melody lines, all while keeping his volume dynamics consistent and most all playing with feeling. That's Jakeman in a nutshell....

So that's it for now. Working on three different songs that are all at three different phases is both challenging and fun. Can't wait to show these tunes off in the not-so-distant future....

Peace and Love ~

Todd

Friday, June 25, 2010

FP Update: 6-25-10

And now for the latest FP-News:

1) 'Rabbit Hole' now has an official song structure/arrangement. We spent the better part of this week's practice session getting the song structure ironed out as far as where each section goes. Here's a copy of my iPhone notes that we jotted down:

1) Intro Riff (x2) w/Jagger-vocals
2) Verse 1
3) Chorus 1
4) Intro Riff (x1) w/Pull-back
5) Verse 2
6) Chorus 2
7) Bridge A w/LedZep accents
8) Full Instrumental Bridge B (Verse/Chorus Variations C/D/E/E/C/D/A/A sections)
9) Intro Riff w/Tribal-esque percussion stuff that points towards Chorus 4's vocal cadence + Bass grunge or slap/pop bass + Very Small Speaker Guitar tone
10) Verse 3 (In same vein as above Tribal Intro Riff)
11) Chorus 3 (Basically the same as Chorus 2)
12) Chorus 4 w/Vocal Round Cadences
13) Intro Riff (x2) w/Jagger-vocals and xxxxxxxxxxx...
14) xxxxxxxxxx.....


(As you can see, we'll use any sort of 'jargon' under the sun that helps us remember our ideas when writing up a list like that, hence the funny names in the descriptions: 'Jagger-vocals' anyone?)

Now normally it is unusual to show folks your grand plan before letting them listen to a song, but I thought we'd do things a little differently this time around to make things more interesting. And since nobody has the faintest clue how this song actually sounds, what's the harm in sharing the early layout? If anything I hope this offers our small (but loyal) fan base a poignant look into how we craft a song from its inception. The core ideas started out in my head, but the really cool thing is that several major improvements and alterations to my original ideas have been made thanks to Matt and Jake's input. It's a true joint effort. I love how the three of us collaborate and how we all gel together.

2) Jake is laying down more bass tracks on 'Marigolds'. We conjured up a few changes to his parts on Verse 3 to coincide with the vocal lines. Well worth the extra time to dig a little deeper creatively-speaking. Good stuff is happening!

3) I'm still whittling away at vocals for 'Some Other Year' in between all of the other writing/recording sessions we are doing on the other songs. It is getting there. Then backing vocals will get tracked and layered. Then other odds and ends. Still, there's a lot left to be recorded and grafted into the recording in order to do the song justice. Right now the data tally for 'SOY' stands at 25 GB of hard drive space from 2,006 project files. And it is growing daily. Weirdly enough the track count for 'SOY' is only around 55-60 so far. Sounds like a bunch but that really isn't too bad (all things considered). The backing vocals will likely bump the numbers up quite a bit. Hehe....

4) Slightly off topic, I have been spending an enormous amount of time playing guitar, even to my own hurt. Or rather to the hurt of my hands and fingers. I've been playing rather fiercely of late, and I've really had the opportunity to reconnect with my guitar playing. And that has been long overdue. Sometimes I forget just how many guitar licks and riffs and styles I have worked on through the years. And even after 25 years of playing and studying my instrument, I still feel fascinated and mystified by the instrument's possibilities. The primary guitars I have been playing on are my 7-String Ibanez RG7420, 'Daphne' (my modded-out blue Fender Highway One American Telecaster), and the '05 (my Gibson Les Paul). All of which have a unique voice and vibe and each of which makes me play a little differently. It has been a good past couple of weeks for my guitar playing, and I am very blessed to have some very nice equipment to get the job done. Guitar playing just never gets old or boring to me. Ever...

5) Matt, his wife Brittany, my wife Julia and I all went on a one day excursion to go see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field last Friday. The Cubs lost of course, but it was fun being at the stadium on a nice summer day. Until the bottom of the 8th inning when we had to ditch the game and head back to the car pronto. Mother Nature tried to intervene on behalf of the Cubs by sending hurricane force winds (over 80 mph) along with torrential sideways rain and tons of lightning to the Chicago area. But alas, the Los Angeles Angels were able to give the Cubs a royal beat-down before the storm reached the stadium. Had the game continued for another 5 minutes there might have been a 'rain delay' long enough for the Cubs to get their act together and come back fighting. But they lost. Oh well. The $6.75 bottle of stadium beer was good while it lasted and it is always fun being at an actual game in person. Watching pro baseball on TV is like watching a chess match. Ho-hum. But it is an entirely different (and more exciting) scenario when you are actually at a stadium. The sights. The smells. The chatter of Chicago accents 40,000 people strong. It was a fun time. Even if Chicago traffic is as bad as it gets. At least Matt and Brittany were driving...

6) On an even more personal note, this last week has seen some major happenings in our lives. For starters, Julia and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! Yeah I know, neither of us look or act like we are that old (we hear that all of the time), but we've had a very good marriage and we're more in love and 'into' each other than ever before. Twenty years flies by like a blink of an eye.

And perhaps even bigger news, Jake is now happily engaged and quite smitten with the love of his life, Sarah. He popped the big question this week and Sarah of course said 'Yes!'. We're all very happy for Jake and Sarah and we're all looking forward to their wedding day (date yet to be determined). And best of all, it is so good when you see your friends' happiness....

7) Back on the music-related front, a good friend of mine, Craig Collins, is nearing the completion of his first two prototype guitar models. I've been able to check out these two initial builds as they have evolved, and I am very pleased and excited to be in line for a guitar (or two) of my own once he gets past the prototype phase. These first two prototypes are turning out to be quite amazing and exquisite and the words 'high-end' and 'boutique' come to mind. Craig is utilizing some original structural designs and they are being overbuilt by hand. He's primarily using local walnut for the bulk of the neck and body, and walnut has very good tonality to it. All of that, plus a lot of other intentional departures from the status quo of modern day guitar design, are stacking up to become an extraordinary instrument. I can't wait to own one of his guitars myself and I'm guessing his guitar(s) will become my #1 go-to. It's like waiting for Christmas....

So there's the latest goings-on in FP Land. Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

~ Todd

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FP Update: 6-12-10

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Todd here with the latest:

1) 'Some Other Year' is getting closer and closer to completion. I have had very little time to focus on it these last two or three weeks, but it will be debuting soon. We're keeping it a little more under wraps until it is actually finished and available for listening. But it is sounding pretty amazing and we're very excited about how this one is turning out. Very cool song....

2) 'Marigolds' is temporarily on the proverbial shelf until we get 'SOY' done. Not forgotten. Just queued in line at the 'FP Factory'. Stay tuned...

3) 'Rabbit Hole' writing/rehearsing sessions are well under way as we speak. This one is going to be much darker and more elaborate than its three forerunners. 'Heavy' comes to mind when trying to describe it. But not in a metal sort of way. More in the vibe and mood. Not completely over-the-top heavy. Just certain sections. And this song calls for a lot more guitar intensity and more intricate instrumentation. Definitely not as radio-friendly as say 'Marigolds' will be. But this one is fun to play and will be a balance to the 'FP Force'. Lots of weird variations of diminished chords/scales/riffs/etc. This one would make a good Rock Band or Guitar Hero song. And it has a cool drum/bass groove going on with a certain swampy feel. Again, we are organizing sections and riffs and such as we speak. Also, we just came across some video footage of me horsing around on Daphne (a.k.a. my 'Daphne' blue Telecaster...hence the name) and towards the end of the video I started playing the opening riff to 'Rabbit Hole'...We'll look into putting something together in the next couple of weeks to post it on our YouTube channel.

That's all for now. Just wanted to write a few quick blurbs about what's happening in 'FP Land' while I had a break at work. Busy busy busy....

All the Best...

~ Todd

Saturday, May 22, 2010

And So A New Chapter Begins...

Hello FP Friends and Family...

This week marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. My family experienced the loss of my maternal grandmother, Winifred Bush. She had been in failing health for quite some time and this past Sunday, May 16, she lost the fight against pneumonia, Hodgkin's lymphoma, diabetes, and a host of other diseases and ailments. She was in her 80's. My Gpa Bush passed away back in 2005, and his loss was equally difficult to accept, and my Gma's passing seemed to bring back a lot of those feelings of grief from when Gpa died. So it was like a double dose of emotional and mental struggles to cope with knowing that my life will now go on without my grandparents. To some folks this may not seem such a big deal, but I was fortunate enough to be very close and connected to both Gpa and Gma Bush for my entire life thus far, and it goes without saying that the bulk of who I am stems directly from their influence on my life. Of all the men in my life, Gpa Bush ranks the highest in my mind as who I aspire to be like. And of all the women in my life, Gma was equally as significant as my own mother. Both Gpa and Gma played a fundamental role in raising me and I look to their example the most when it comes to how to live out my life. To know me is to also indirectly see a reflection of my Gpa and Gma Bush, and though I am 100% my own person, there isn't a day that goes by where I haven't based at least some decisions on the basis of 'What would Gma and Gpa Bush do?'

Consequently this has been a very tough week of mourning and laughter, memories of the past and dreams for the future. On a positive note, both of my grandparents made decisions to ask Jesus Christ into their hearts, each within a week prior to their passing. And so I do anticipate seeing them again when my time comes, but until that day arrives I hope to live a full and honest life that would honor the heritage that they afforded me.

And so their passing is bittersweet, as is the end of the era of having Gpa and Gma Bush in my life. At times I feel lost and afraid as to how I will continue on from this point, almost as if I were a nine year old child. But this week part of me also realized once again that God's timing is perfect for all things, including those times of great loss and uncertainty. And though part of me wishes they were still here on earth with me, I also envy them in knowing that they are now in a much better place where there are no tears, no diseases or dying, and no evil or sin to soil our very souls. And so may God rest their souls...

~ Todd

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bi-Monthly Update 5-13-10

And so the saga continues...

1) The vocals to 'Some Other Year' have taken a lot more time and effort than anticipated. Go figure. The ongoing onslaught of tree pollen in our area has not helped matters. I have now been to the doctor's office twice for allergies that settled exactly around my voice box. Nose has been fine. Eyes have been fine. But the tree pollen this year seems to have a thing for my voice. Also, we are shooting for having the vocals very 'up close and personal' which means they have to be spot on. Back in the day singers would cover up their mistakes with loads of ambiance (echoes and reverb) and a few other effects that helped smear the details just enough to tidy things up. The only problem with doing that now is the risk of making something sound 'dated'...we're shooting for a more 'timeless' sound that will still sound good in 20 years. As such, it makes singing a much more labored and intensely detailed process. But I do have several parts finished and they sound really really good. That being said I have had to pace myself on singing and working on the vocals in order to avoid bad decisions (unworthy compromises and other unmentionables) and/or burn-out. I suppose it will get done when it gets done....

2) I promised a 'Some Other Year' Preview YouTube video of some sort, and I haven't forgot about that. However I have been flooded with several other non-FP distractions that have required a higher priority. But we do have some sweet video footage of our most recent 'FP Family Night' get-together, including a dazzling (albeit dangerous) campfire explosion. Matt has a method of instantly putting out a campfire with a can of cheap spray paint (or engine starting fluid) and a 12-gauge shotgun. Pretty impressive and the mushroom cloud it creates is always spectacular. Good times on the cheap!

3) 'Marigolds' is currently on hold until I get certain things finished up on 'Some Other Year'. Only so much can be done at the same time. If anything, we may continue to record Jake's bass parts on 'Marigolds' over the next couple of weeks. But at this point my biggest priority is 'Some Other Year'.

4) In my spare time I have been fiddling around more with song arrangement ideas for 'Rabbit Hole'. May is proving to be very busy for everyone on a personal level and so we are postponing writing sessions for 'Rabbit Hole' until the first week of June. Sounds like a long ways off, but it will be here before we know it. Which means I need to keep at it and hit the ground running. Fun fun fun!

That's all for now. Did you notice I titled this post as 'Bi-Monthly'? I've been slacking on these band updates and I thought I better label things accordingly. Will try harder to get on the weekly update schedule again....

Until then...

~ Todd

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weekly Update: 4-20-10

OK....

So I really can't justify calling this post a 'Weekly Update' since it has been several weeks since the last post. But it still sounds good right? At any rate, my apologies for the radio silence. But let me just reassure everyone who reads these posts that we have indeed been busy little elves in the studio....

1) 'Marigolds' is well under way with about 60% of Matt's drums tracked and maybe(?) 20% of Jakeman's bass parts tracked. We haven't had the luxury of several consecutive days to record the drums this time around so it is taking a little longer. The good news is that the 'Marigolds' drum sessions are going very well and Matt has once again raised the bar with his playing. In true 'Matt Goodner - Drummer Extraordinaire' fashion, he has shrugged off his success by saying that this song has been 'easy' but I think it is very apparent that the three of us are finding our groove and that we are getting much more comfortable with the whole recording aspect of things. Case in point, 'Sycamore' took forever to wrap up because it was such a complex song arrangement, it was our first official release, and everything about 'Sycamore' was our beta test on a multitude of levels: mic choices, mic placement choices, guitar choices, amp choices, bass tone choices, my first real attempt at vocals, my first real attempt in drum tracking, etc.. But now things are rolling out a lot easier for us (and we are more confident) and I think Matt's ease in tracking 'Marigolds' is proof of that. Them there drums sure do sound good...

2) 'Some Other Year' is coming along very very nicely. Most of the guitars are tracked (but not mixed just yet), and I have officially started vocals. I had actually been delayed vocally due to some very bad tree pollen allergies (which landed me in the doctor's office last week) and I sounded like a baritone Kirstie Alley, but I'm getting along much better now and have been able to start singing again. (Yeesssss...) Hopefully I will get the bulk of the vocal parts done within the next week or so. Also, we plan on having my sister Charlyn provide some female vocal textures on 'Some Other Year' for some ethereal sections. And I still need to find the right lead guitar tone for the bridge, but past that 'SOY' is getting close to being done with the tracking stage of things. (And Jakeman still has bass parts to lay down towards the end of the song once the guitars and vocals are finished up.) That being said, we will most likely post some sort of 'SOY' preview teaser on YouTube like we did for 'Sycamore'. That may be available within a week or so. Keep checking back!

3) Looks like song #4 will either be 'Rabbit Hole' or possibly 'The Antebellum'. Both songs are dark in nature but we need some darker material to balance 'Marigolds' and 'SOY'. We are all happy chaps, but too much happy music gets boring for us as musicians and we need to vent a little bit. So the plan is to go dark on the next one (or two). Not sure what will happen after that....

That's all for now. Lots of recording going on right now. Will post again soon!

Cheers!

~ Todd

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekly Update 3-27-10 (In Pictures!!!)



Todd here...

So we asked my son Tyler to come along to our rehearsal this week to take some pics and shoot some videos. We have admittedly been lax in providing our growing fanship with new eye candy of late (been too busy brewing up new ear candy instead) and honestly we (Matt, Jake, and myself) never seem to think of taking any pics or video when we have band practice because we are always too focused on actually practicing. So we enlisted some third-party help by way of Tyler and he came home with over 500 shots and lots and lots of video footage. Good kid. As such, he is still editing what will soon be the first video from this new footage, but in the meantime I sifted through his pics and did some mild (or in some cases wild) editing to my personal liking and posted a new batch on our Flickr page. I also thought it would be fun to throw down a few of the new pics here on our blog. Hope you enjoy a glimpse of 'FP Time'! And if you want to see more, go check out our Flickr page and rummage through our modest collection. Of course, like all things FP, more will be added on a regular basis....

Ciao....






















Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Sycamore' mp3 Distribution...

Just a quick Public Service Announcement: the free download link to our first song release 'Sycamore' is down. I'm not sure what has happened to the URL that was embedded into the mp3 link, but it no longer works and the file hosting service we have been using thus far no longer allows us to embed an actual download link. That sucks. But in a way the timing is good since we just received confirmation today that our song is now 'Live' at several online locations. To those of you who really feel the need to hear 'Sycamore' again and again but haven't downloaded it yet (and we totally understand your ravenous cravings for all things FP), there are several ways to get the mp3:

1) If you have a FaceBook account, go to our Fan Page and click on the free streaming Music Player. The mp3 quality is exactly the same as before, however you will only be able to 'stream' it versus actually being able to 'download' it into your computer. But this is a great way to 'Try before you buy'. Kind of like how the oriental food court restaurants in malls offer those little toothpick samples to wet the appetite. Also, while you are there, please become a fan and support the band. As a fan you'll get to post comments, suggestions, feedback, and whatever else is FP-relevant on the FP Fan Page Wall. We have a growing following and now is the time to jump on board and get in on the action. We also occasionally post 'Fan Page' exclusive content, updates, and other tidbits that you won't find here on this blog or elsewhere. Just another good reason to do the FaceBook thing....

2) Very soon we will have a streaming mp3 player widget here on this blog where you will be able to 'stream' our songs without the need for any special accounts or memberships. It will also include a few pics, basic band info, mp3 purchase links, video content, and FP related upcoming events. Stay tuned...

3) You can now purchase and download 'Sycamore' at the following iTunes Stores: US, UK/European Union, Mexico, Japan, Australia/New Zealand, and Canada. You can also purchase the mp3 from Amazon.com. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, 'Sycamore' will also become available for purchase at the following online vendors:

(Please note that when searching for our songs, we are catalogued in these various vendors as 'theFPband'.)

Rhapsody
Napster
MusicNet
eMusic
Sony Connect
GroupieTunes / imvu / SonicTap
Lala.com
ShockHound
Amie Street
Nokia
LimeWire Store
Zune
Myspace Music


So there's what is going on with 'Sycamore'. Will post more FP activity updates later on this week....

~ Todd

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekly Update 3-18-10

And here's the latest....

1) 'Sycamore' should be showing up on iTunes in the next few days. It is currently on Amazon.com (and a handful of other similar download sites). But perhaps even more significant, I finally got all of Sycamore's data files organized and archived properly! Admittedly when we were working on 'Sycamore' I was somewhat haphazard in how I organized everything, largely due to not fully understanding how best to label things in Logic 9 (the recording software we use to record everything with). And so even though I have been a Mac user for over two years now, there are still some areas where I am figuring things out and am learning new habits accordingly. Hindsight is 20/20 and I am now being more disciplined and structured on current song recordings. The less work I have to do on the back-end of our next songs the better.

2) I've been diligently recording guitars and experimenting with amp tones and mic placement for 'Some Other Year' these last couple of weeks. And it's beginning to take shape rather nicely. That being said, we joked tonight at our band rehearsal that 'SOY' sort of has the 'middle child syndrome' going on. 'Sycamore' was our firstborn, and lately as a band we have been primarily focused on writing 'Marigolds', and so 'Some Other Year' has been seemingly lost in the middle. Poor 'SOY'. But honestly once I get the guitar tones I'm after and am able to find the sweet spots for mic'ing my amp, then 'SOY' will blossom very quickly. As such it is completely written and arranged and just needs to actually be recorded. And honestly it is an awesome song that will stand on its own merits without being too heavily overshadowed by its siblings 'Sycamore' and 'Marigolds'. Like any overlooked middle child, 'Some Other Year' will really attract certain people who take the time to get to know it....

3) 'Marigolds' will most likely be ready for drum tracking in the next two weeks. We haven't been able to rehearse 'Marigolds' for over a month now for various reasons and so I expected things to be really rough and ugly tonight at our rehearsal. But I was wrong. Actually we somehow jumped over several hurdles tonight in the song-writing process for 'Marigolds', and even though I expected the worst, I actually came home feeling 'back in the saddle' as Matt put it. Mind you, we weren't playing 'Marigolds' good enough to where we would feel comfortable performing it publicly somewhere, but that isn't the goal when we're in the writing phase of a song where we are doing pre-production to prep for the recording process. But we worked out the kinks in the song arrangement, and we were able to rough-in the needed fills and hooks in the instrumentation, and my vocal parts are even improving. I actually found a certain grit in my voice that was very flattering and good for the song and that is a major confidence booster for me. And since singing is so relatively new for me (on this level), I could use some confidence boosting whenever I can get it. It's one thing to hear certain vocal parts in my head, but it's something entirely different to be able to actually pull those parts off properly in a live environment. I just need to stay at it and sing every chance I get. But 'Marigolds' is taking shape and we are all excited about getting it done. Most likely 'Marigolds' will be our 'pop' song if ever we are to have one. And of course it has those catchy WooHoo's in it that are simply too fun not to sing along with. You'll see soon enough. And you'll thank us later once the song gets stuck in your head. But don't tell us we didn't warn you...

So that's all for now. I have no idea which song we'll pursue once we have 'Marigolds' ready to record. Maybe we'll post a poll for fans to help us make that decision? After two happy songs ('SOY' and 'Marigolds') we may feel the need to do one of our darker tunes. Or not. Who knows? So long as we don't put ourselves in a creative rut. But seriously I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

Until next time....

~ Todd

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekly Update 3-12-10

Hello Hello....

Sorry for the unusually long radio silence! We've all been very busy, distracted, and otherwise preoccupied! Lot's going on in the world of FP....

1) We are having to legally change our band name from simply 'FP' to 'theFPband'. Yep. You read that correctly. Our official band name shall henceforth be 'theFPband' in order to avoid confusion and potential future legal issues with a little-known (but formerly established) German techno-pop band also called 'FP'. We believe that their 'FP' name is an abbreviation for 'Future Pop' but they have very little useful or indicative information available that will confirm or dispute this. But apparently they have been working as a band for several years.

Now obviously, when we first came up with our simplistic name of 'FP', we underwent a lot of research into whether or not anyone else was already using that as a band name. And to our credit, we never saw anything on the web or otherwise in regards to the German band 'FP'. We figured we were safe with our choice of band name. But we were mistaken. And we only recently came across this other 'FP' band once we had our song 'Sycamore' listed for sale in the USA iTunes Store. This other 'FP' band already had three albums of techno material in the iTunes Store since mid-2009. And our song 'Sycamore' was being lumped in together with their music. Not a good situation. Who'da thunk? I guess we never thought to browse through iTunes for anyone else going under the moniker of 'FP'. Ouch. So we ended up issuing a 'takedown' of our song 'Sycamore' from iTunes (and a slew of other online music distributors), and we have now resubmitted 'Sycamore' under the new band name of 'theFPband'. Once the new iTunes links are up and running we'll post links and remove our 'freebie' links to the song. One step forward, two steps back (or at least sideways)....

2) 'Some Other Year' is busy being recorded. Most of Jake's bass parts are finished and I've recorded several sections of guitars. I will also begin vocals here within the next few days. One thing that is exciting about this song is that I am using a brand new amp for all of the guitar tracks. It is a Line6 SpiderValve MkII 100-watt head (pictured above) and a matching 4x12 speaker cab. And it sounds glorious. I'm mic'ing the cab with an Audix i5, a Shure SM57, and a Cascade Fathead II ribbon mic (with a Lundahl transformer). I'm also using the SpiderValve's direct out as a fourth signal source and I am blending the four tracks to taste. And I like how it sounds and feels. Good stuff. We'll likely post a teaser sample of 'SOY' like we did with 'Sycamore'. Will keep you posted....

3) We're still writing/rehearsing parts for 'Marigolds'. We've been a bit scattered here these last three weeks or so, in no small part due to my surprise appendectomy back in February. Also, we've opted out of a couple 'Marigolds' sessions in order to focus more on actually recording 'SOY'. But things are still moving forward with 'Marigolds'. We've just had a lot on our plates lately. Excuses. Excuses...

('American Marigolds' pic by Petr Kratochvil - Public Domain)

4) On a personal note, I'd say that I am 98% healed up from my surgery last month. I've started doing sit-ups again and I've even gone for a couple jogs. My jogging pace hasn't been much to brag about, but I really haven't been very active all winter, especially in February. But it has felt very liberating to jog again and I hope to enjoy it more this year. Plus my two sons like to jog with me (partly because they like to leave me behind in the dust and haggle me about it later). The first jog was 1 mile, and the second jog was for 18 minutes with a one minute break after the first mile. I think I ran roughly a total of 1.5 miles on that second jog (with an emphasis on the word 'roughly'....it was very rough indeed!) But I'd like to get comfortable with 2-4 mile jogs again. And decent times. I just need to work my way back up to that again. It's been a long winter...

So that's the latest. We've been quietly working in the background (albeit at loud volumes when needed). Good times....

Cheers!

~ Todd

Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekly Update 2-26-10

Howdy Howdy!

Todd here with the weekly FP update. Part of me feels like these last two weeks have been unproductive, but now that I look back I find I am mistaken. Quite a bit mistaken actually....

1) Jake has finished up two very difficult Chorus sections and two-thirds of the bridge sections on 'SOY' ('Some Other Year'). That was major. We got hung up on those sections two weeks ago, largely because Jake's bass parts needed to closely follow Matt's kick drum timing. And Matt's kick drum patterns on the choruses were kind of crazy. Pure genius. But crazy. So Jake had to have more time to get the timing patterns memorized, which I might add he nailed with aplomb. Funny thing is now I need to restructure my guitar parts to make room for the synergy between the bass and kick parts. No big deal. But this is the part of recording that I love. The need to adapt and get creative in order to make things work makes the entire process exciting for me. I love it....

2) We finally got 'Sycamore' sent off to iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody, eMusic, LaLa, etc.. I made some last minute adjustments to the mix (mainly sibilance fixes on the main vocals and a slight volume boost on the bass track during the instrumental bridge section). And that exact version/mix of 'Sycamore' is what we have linked on our blog here as well as what is streaming over at our FaceBook Fan Page. We're trying to work out a workable solution of how we can provide our friends, families, and local supporters with free access to our song mp3's while at the same time being able to charge for downloads made by the general public. In so doing that, we may end up taking away our direct links to the song downloads, and if that happens we will try to work something out for our 'inner circle' to have access to private (non-public) download links (perhaps via email or some other similar method). But our biggest concern is having a sellable product available for the general public once we start promoting our band a bit more by way of company endorsements, music reviews, editorial write-ups, etc.. I think we are planning on completing the next two or three recordings before we try to make a bigger splash on the market, but once we get those two or three songs complete, we'll begin to push the marketing a bit more. Having our songs ready and waiting at various places like iTunes, Amazon, etc will be essential to that big splash. Of course, we have plans beyond that stage as well, including live-playing, but for now we are solely focused on recording our initial material. And we are enjoying this leg of the process....

3) And speaking of making a splash, we commissioned Matt Lamb of www.customyoutubepage.com to design a really sweet-looking YouTube Channel background and YouTube video 'splash' for use on our upcoming video blogs. You can check out our YouTube Channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theFPband

And here's the video splash he made for us:



Not bad for our first splash....

4) And now to explain why I have felt like we've had a less-than-productive week. Or rather why I haven't had a productive week. I think that I've had that mentality because I'm still not 100% back to my normal energy and creative levels due to my emergency appendectomy a couple weeks back. I've weened myself off of the Vicodin pain-killers and I am 90% mobile again. But I have been very tired these last two weeks and foggy in my brain. And if you know me very well at all, you'll know that I hate being like that. And so I get dark or gloomy, and suddenly nothing seems like it is working out (even if things are going wonderfully). Frustration. Plain and simple. Nobody likes to get slowed down, especially when there are other people involved, and that is how I have felt these last two weeks. Worn out and tired. But I also realize that my recovery has been excellent and that I have pushed myself to get back into the normal routines of life, and I've had a lot of people tell me how quickly they have seen me bounce back. Not bad for a 38 year old I suppose. But I still feel frustrated because I am still waiting for my 'edge' to fully return and frankly I am being impatient. Yada yada yada. But there's a honest peek into my mental and emotional state right now and I've allowed you to see me in a vulnerable, telling light. But that vulnerability is what makes life real and authentic, and it is also a huge contributing factor to my creativity. I'm not always a strong and purposeful person, and many days I feel like pouting and giving up on anything that requires difficult work or extra effort. But everyone I have ever known has ongoing struggles with the exact same thing in their lives, and we all have good days and not-so-good days. That being said, I do need to confess that these last two weeks haven't been bad at all. To the contrary, I feel like God has especially blessed me these last two weeks, if for no other reason than the fact that I am still alive and I managed to survive something that could've potentially killed me if certain situations would have gone awry. That's a very real thing to be thankful for. And I am indeed grateful for my life. I just wish I wasn't as tired as I have been. But things could always be worse, right?

5) Having whined about my lack of 'zip' these last couple of weeks, I will admit that I have hardly touched my guitars, nor have I attempted to sing and practice my vocals or whatever. Again, the lack of energy is the culprit. So consequently this week Jake, Matt, and myself (along with my two sons) opted to make a road trip to Terre Haute (in lieu of our normal band rehearsal time) to get me a new half-stack guitar amplifier that I have been eyeing for a while. I ended up trading in my Mesa Boogie quarter-stack that I have been hit-and-miss with for several months and I was able to get a new Line6 SpiderValve MkII half-stack. I've owned a big Line6 Vetta amp/cab(s) rig for several years now and I love it for live playing. But as time goes on that Vetta is aging and it's anyone's guess as to how much more life it has in it. It could keep on truckin' for another 20 years or it could give up the ghost tomorrow. And so a fresh amp rig has been on my wish-list for a while now, and so now I should be good in the event that something dire happens to the Vetta. Having more than one amp rig is a luxury for sure and it is like having a safety net for me. As such, the new amp rig is crazy loud and powerful and it sounds and feels really good. Now I just need to break in the speakers. Better get the ear plugs out....

So that's it for this week. Thanks for tuning in...

Peace...

~ Todd

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekly Update 2-14-10: The Surgery

Here's the latest for this last week:

This was a pretty productive week for all things FP until Friday at 2 a.m.. At that point my appendix decided to go on the fritz. Of course I didn't realize what was causing the pain until Friday evening at around 7:30 p.m. when I was being rushed into the operating room at our local hospital. But it has been a whirlwind of events once that stupid appendix decided to bite the dust. So now I am fairly sore and bloated from all of the gas they inflated my abdomen with during the surgery. And I also have a little fluid drainage pouch that hangs off of my right side. According to the surgeon, my appendix looked 'rotten and perforated' and it was oozing bacteria everywhere. Good times. So the drainage pouch is gradually vacuuming all of that nasty fluid out of my belly. And the juices coming out look eerily similar to the juices that come from raw chicken meat. Again, good times.

So the only thing for me to do at this point is to rest and keep moving around as I am able to prevent getting any unnecessary stiffness in my muscles. So now I putt around the house at a break-neck speed of about 1.35 mph(?). I can really put the pedal to the metal if I am in the middle of my 4 hour pain med cycle, which effectively doubles my putting-around speed I think. The trick is to maintain one's balance. The pain meds help taper the discomfort but they also make me a bit wobbly on my feet. It's a welcome trade-off though. Anything to curb the pain.

Another funny side-effect of my emergency appendectomy is how it affects my bathroom visits. Taking a leak is easy. And so is going #2 if things down low have been jostled around a little bit. But the real issues involve the aftermath of taking a stool-break. I can't easily reach certain parts of my anatomy to take care of the clean-up. My arms need to be about 8 inches longer to do the trick. And it matters not if I try to approach things from behind or up through the middle. Either option hurts and puts a lot of strain on my punctured belly muscles. Can you say, 'Good times'? Luckily, I am not racking up too many frequent-flier miles in regards to my bathroom visits, and so this isn't a major deal. And as my muscles continue to be stretched and exercised, this too shall pass....

So there's the unexpected latest. Just goes to show you that you never know how any particular day will end. Surprises await us at every turn....

And now back to the couch...

~ Todd

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weekly Update 2-5-10

Hello Everybody! It has been another crazy week. Here's the latest:

1) We've received a lot of favorable remarks and comments concerning 'Sycamore' as we have passed out a ton of CDR's to friends and family. We've also received some helpful critiques which we are also glad to hear. Keeps it real for us. At this point I think it is fair to say that we will let 'Sycamore' rest for a bit before we think about making any changes, and honestly even if we do make any changes they will be very minor and not noticeable to the average listener. We like where it landed overall even though there will always be things that we would have wished we would have done better. Hindsight is always 20/20. So now we are raking in feedback from listeners and taking notes. And at some point we'll open the 'Sycamore' project back up and make some adjustments. But just not right now. We are very eager to move on to the next songs and for now we need to move on and move forward. As to those new songs...

2) 'Some Other Year' is being tracked as we speak. Right now it is mostly on Jake's shoulders and he has been working hard at it. It feels good to be starting at ground zero again and we have a lot of ideas that we are trying out. Most of the basic song arrangement stuff is done, but the details and nuances are still being sorted out for the actual recording. Fun fun fun!

3) 'Marigolds' is where my head has been most recently. We had our 2nd 'Marigolds' rehearsal tonight and as one might expect, some of it went very well while some of it fell flat. And of course that is what we need to have happen if we hope to see where a song's strengths and weaknesses lie. 'Marigolds' main strength is in its choruses, due in no small part to the 'Woo Hoo!' that Matt, Jake, and I all yell at one point. We actually practiced our Woo-Hooing this evening and got into it. And the mood was fun and happy. Imagine if you took a poppy Third Eye Blind song, mixed it with some classic 'Jack and Diane' era John Mellencamp, and topped it off with some Woo Hoo's. That might put you in the neighborhood of 'Marigolds'. Sort of. That all being said, I'm struggling with the Pre-Choruses vocal parts (kind of like I initially struggled with the big vocal bridge in 'Sycamore') and I just need to spend more time honing my vocal skills. But this song may be a really good candidate for a radio single someday. We get to the point, do our woo hoo's, and then we wind the song down. I'm guessing this song will hit around the 3:30-4:00 mark (give or take). No crazy guitar solos. No moody interludes. No subliminal phones ringing in the background. It's just a fun song that will be easy to hum and most importantly it will make people go 'Woo Hoo!' Gotta love a song like that!

4) We were hoping to start up a weekly YouTube Video Blog this week but we weren't quite ready for that. Next week most likely. We are needing to spruce up our YouTube Channel a bit before we make a big deal about it and start directing traffic over that way. Also, we are brainstorming on ways to keep all of our networking sites tightly integrated and synced up. If we post a YouTube video then we want it to automatically feed our other networking sites. If someone visits our blog then we want to have obvious (and enticing) links to all of our other sites (MySpace, Twitter accounts, Photobucket, FaceBook, Flickr, etc). Etc etc etc.. The more traffic the better. Which means a lot more media being put up each week. This of course just takes time but we are on it. And I think the worst of it is just in the initial set-up. Once things get rolling it is usually easy to maintain. So having said all of that, our YouTube Channel is next on our list of sites to dress up. We have a web designer in mind that we are planning on commissioning for some custom artwork and layout design. Should look pretty spiffy when it is finished. Stay tuned....

5) I'm pretty tired right about now. Head hurts, eyes are itchy, and my neck is stiff for some reason. But I am pretty excited about posting all of this stuff. I love FP and I am very excited about what we have in the works. One of these days we'll even start 'playing out' live and that'll be an entirely new dimension for us. But we know it is on the horizon at some point and we hope to do our songs justice. Like everything else, we just have to put our hands to the plow and push forward (or hang on tight....depending on your perspective). It's all good....

Will post again sometime next week!

~ Todd