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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:

video

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