History of the tunes
(I will be posting pics of the home studio later. Right now the room is completely taken apart due to the fact it's getting painted this week.)
I'm writing this post just to answer the "How did he do that?" when it comes to recording question. (grin) And to also give some insight on my whole music thing.
For well over 10 years I have been doing the musician and home studio recording thing. Here's a brief history of how it all happened:
Ages 6 thru 9: Pop goes out and buys a Casio keyboard for the reason that I wasn't taking to the trumpet too well. And yes, I did play the trumpet for about three months. I think this is the first time I have ever mentioned this anywhere. But anyway, the trumpet thing fell through like a lead balloon. I instantly fall in love with electronic keyboards.
Pre-teen to early teens: I am constantly recording with long time best friend Ben, doing jokes and so on using cassette tapes. I still have a duffle bag full of those old tapes, literally. During this time I am using the Casio's to do music with, one of them being the SK-1 (a tiny little synth - but it did sample!) Others inlcuded several cheapo "Casiotone" boards.
Early teens cont'd.: After going through several Casio boards (I wore them out, literally) I pick up a Roland Juno-60 - a fantastic 61-key analog audio synth, with wood trim and all. One of these days I will have pick up another one of those. Amazing action on those heavy boards. Rock solid construction, too. Price paid: $200 bucks. Had I any idea the board would be as "classic" as it is now, I never would have gotten rid of it.
15 years old: I pick up an electric guitar, the Fender Stratocaster Squier II. After 1 month of guitar lessons, I train myself from there on out, mostly from Black Sabbath Ozzy-era circa 1970 to 1978 (from "Black Sabbath" to "Never Say Die!" - I learned every single song front to back) and Van Halen.. plus some Led Zeppelin here and there. While other people my age were interested in cars and booze, I played. Every day. For many hours at a time.
17 years old: Junior year in high school. I see my first "workstation synthesizer", the Peavey DPM Series. My reaction: "This is the coolest thing.. I.. have.. ever.. seen." I quickly master the DPM and find that sequencing songs is the coolest thing - ever. Shortly thereafter I beg and plead with my pop to buy a workstation synthesizer. The Peavey was not available anywhere. There were only two other synths that would do the job for me, either the Korg M1 or the Ensoniq SQ-1+. The Ensoniq won. Reason? Sounded better (and it does). Bought brand new for around $3000. Note: I sacrified getting a CAR for this synth because I wanted it so bad.
17 years old, cont'd: Played with a band that needed a bass player that summer. All members of this band were well into their mid-to-late 20's so I had a lot to prove. Scrapped together everything I had to my name (at the time) and bought a brand new Epiphone P-style bass for $340 and a used Peavey TNT 100 bass amplifier (don't remember how much was paid for that). Played bass for that band for several months while still honing my guitar skills. End result: Learned the bass backwards and forwards.
17-18 years old: Found out the Ensoniq doesn't save files to floppies without an external disk drive. Purchased an Alesis DataDisk SQ to take care of that. Also found out that stomp boxes suck for guitars. Purchased an Alesis Quadraverb GT to take care of that.
17-18 years old, cont'd: Was able to program/sequence songs on the synth and play guitar along with them, but really needed a way to record parts separately on some type of recording medium. Hmm.. how to do that.. ah, found the answer: Multitrack recording. That year, Tascam introduced the 424 to the market, a 4-track audio cassette recorder. Begged and pleaded with pop once again to buy it. Got it. Price: $525.00
From the rest of my teens to present, here's a short history of what has happened from then until now, not necessarily in chronological order (I don't remember the exact dates). These are the most important things that have happened to me musically. The rest of the crap is crap and doesn't need to be mentioned. 🙂
- The '424 is used all the time, and I mean all the time. I'm in several different bands. I also record several different bands and further master the use of the 4-track. I did every single possible thing you could do on a 424, including the (in)famous "ping-ponging" of tracks. For those who know the 424, you can actually get 7 tracks of recording out of it if you know how to ping-pong correctly.
- My electronic music (composed all on the SQ-1) is featured in four Merit Industries (now Zax Amusements) video games. Game titles were QB Zone, Wild Apes, Wild 8's, and Strip Poker.
- Several different bands come and go during my late teens and early 20's. I am mainly playing with dudes in the mid-to-late 20's and some in their 30's. The reason for that is because very few people my age are good enough to play with, and I was the few guys around with "true" pro gear. Sorry if I come off conceited there, but the plain fact of the matter is that most guys around the neighborhood at the time had crappy gear and crappier playing ability.
- The 424 finally gets worn out and I buy another one.
- As an 18th birthday present, my pop buys me a USA made Fender Stratocaster. I wanted the Strat because I saw Eric Clapton play a similar one on tv and had to have it. I still have it. Midnight blue with blond neck. Most people I know have never seen it because it stays in the case most of the time. Gorgeous guitar. The pickups need replacement which is the reason I'm not playing it right now.
- The 2nd 424 breaks quicker than the first one. I decide to go for the 8-track realm and get a Tascam 488 - the worst piece of recording equipment I've ever owned. The cassette mechanism constantly failed. Very unreliable unit.
- The Ensoniq SQ-1 finally wears out. I go out, trade it in and buy a new Ensoniq MR-61 which I still have.
- While working at a music store in Southbridge Massachusetts as a temporary thing, I pick up a Guild Burnside "The Lance", which is a cheap copy of a Rhoads V. The guitar is awesome. I love it, and still have it. It is the heaviest crunchiest guitar I've ever own. The EMG 89a pickups are so hot that they distort even clean when the volume pot is turned all the way up.
- Some blues recordings I do are featured on a local radio show in New London Connecticut. This was my first time on the radio. It was cool. 🙂
- I ditch the '488 for the Roland VS-880. Hardly used it. Difficult to use and even more difficult to record with. The worst part is that it would run out of hard drive space constantly and it was extremely difficult at the time to back it up to anything. The VS didn't do much but collect dust.
- During my mid-to-late 20's I finally wised up and bought some decent computers. During this time I have always been a computer guy, so a decent computer was inevitably going to happen sooner or later. The first good box was the Dell Dimension 4400, which I still have. The second box which I built from scratch is a custom AMD Barton 2600 with a 1.9GHz proc and 512MB of RAM, although for a while it never occurred to me that I could do audio recording with this thing...
- Epiphany: "Wait a sec. I can record with the computer. DUH." I outfit the AMD with recording software and have been recording/mixing/mastering 100% digital ever since.
- Reinventing the wheel: I completely transition from analog recording to digital. I also learn the wonders of burning CD-ROM's way before anyone else.
- One day, the MR-61's keyboard completely fails. The keyboard keys are dead. All the buttons work on top, but none of the keys on the keyboard work. I try to get support from Ensoniq. No luck at all because they've just been acquired by Creative Labs. I visit a local synth tech and he says "If you can get me the schematic of the board, I can fix it." Many phone calls are made. Finally I get an answer from Creative: "We don't know where the schematic is." WHAT?! I have to deal with my dead board?! Frustrated, I go out and buy a Korg N364 synth. Hated it. But I had to have a synth workstation that worked.
- Another epiphany: "Maybe I can use the Korg as a MIDI Controller to the MR-61?" Bought some MIDI cables and tried it. WORKED! The MR lives again, using the Korg as a controller board only.
Stuff that's happened in the past 3 years:
- Takamine EG-330C acoustic guitar is bought and got a screamin' deal on it. It's got the electric piezo and 3-band EQ. Sounds very good.
- My first really expensive guitar is bought, the Schecter C-1 Classic. I will eventually post pics here of that. Positively the most beautiful guitar I've ever owned, and best sounding and best playing. Bought with case.
- I'm starting to really hate that Korg N364 now. The lowest "C" key fails. All other keys work except that one. Man, I hate Korgs. Knowing I could use any board as a MIDI controller (that's capable) I say to myself "I wonder if I can find another Ensoniq SQ-1+ on eBay?" Sure enough, I do. Bought one. Price paid was $200 bucks. Awesome. Sold the Korg on eBay shortly thereafter and finally got rid of that piece of junk. Bought another Datadisk SQ for it also. To note: It's crazy that I bought that board brand new for $3000 and can now get one for $200 bucks.
- A failed music project is featured on a radio broadcast at a major FM station up north - several times (I had submitted the disc a week or so earlier). I am excitedly informed of this by a friend who has a band of his own. Unfortunately, since the project failed, I couldn't pursue it. However, good learning experience is acquired for getting decent radioplay, so all is not lost. The project may have failed - but the experience gained concerning radioplay is invalulable. This is something I will definitely utilize later with a different project with different tunes.
- New bass guitar is bought - finally. Price paid at Guitar Center: $168 BRAND NEW - and it's the same exact quality (a little better actually) as the bass I paid $340 years and years ago. It's a Yamaha blue p-style thing. Works great. Sounds great.
- Joined a band and it didn't work. It was one of those "hardcore" band things. Not really my style. The drive to Groton sucked ass too, so I disbanded from that.
What's happening now:
I am actively working on a new music project which I haven't mentioned here before. I have several "scratch tracks" which no one has heard yet. They sound really good (at least I think so). Once I have four or five finished tracks completed, I will acquire a vox and see what happens. I was going to acquire a vox earlier, but decided to put that on hold until I had some new stuff done. Once that's all completed I will start posting ads in a few local circulars. I plan to have something going in the next month or so.
Further bulletins as events warrant. 🙂