Gear Geeked

Mike Nobody Bass 02 - Jaguar Urge Bass

I was going through my hard drive, looking at designs for new guitars and custom instruments. I didn’t know if anybody would care about this sort of thing, except other musicians… maybe. Of course, lacking any money, I build these things as opportunities come along. I can probably work on the cheaper ones for awhile.

I always liked the customized design of Jimmy Page’s Les Paul Guitars, with push-pull knobs enabling coil-tapping and phase-shifting. But, I like baritone guitars a lot, too. The first draft at my version went something like this:

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Jimmy Page Les Paul Baritone Guitar

I kept making further refinements. Although Les Pauls have a nice tone, the original construction needs work. The headstocks are notorious for breaking easily. So, I changed it to a Zachary Guitars “samurai sword” style headstock. Also, I prefer guitar bodies with an offset waist, for comfort. So, I would keep the maple top mahogany body, just shape it more comfortably like a Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar.

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I played around with different pickup configurations, different woods, a graphite reinforced neck, etc.. I gave a Fender Bass VI style body a try.

MIKE NOBODY GUITAR 3

Mike Nobody Bass - Bass VIMike Nobody Bass 02 - Bass VI

Then, I moved on to basses. I want to combine a Fender Jazz, Precision, and Rickenbacker style tones together. Maybe a Gibson Thunderbird. Maybe not. But, I know it would not sound like any of them if I tried to do that. A close approximation would be nice, though.

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Mike Nobody Jaguar bassMike Nobody Bass 01 - Jaguar Urge Bass

It is possible that the only way around this is to build a different one for each specific tone. But, I thought about including Line 6 Variax Bass wiring hooked to a piezo pickup for variety. Not sure if it would work.

This is all out of my price range, for now. I considered having the body made, then adding parts as I go along. The neck is the most expensive piece. I don’t know to what degree solid graphite necks can be customized. Having a comfortable neck is very important. I think a “Soft V” contour is the right shape for me. But, I’m not sure. If a pro shop could work out details like that with me it would be extremely helpful.

Making experimental “noise machines” is a lot easier for me to put together on a low budget. The most common that I like making are basically stringed instruments built from scrap wood and junk.

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Anything that makes a sound is fair game, though.

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One thing that I thought about getting, for a long time, is a DJ rack case & table. It could store all sorts of effects, make room to operate small devices, and give me something to stand behind. But, they aren’t cheap. This is at the very bottom of my wishlist.

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Rack

So, there it is. That is just some of the things I’ve been working on, for a long time. I’ll probably build the noise machines sooner than the rest. It would great if I could scrape together enough money to do the basses / guitars, though. I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing until then.

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Today’s Blog

Music For The People

I haven’t posted much on my website blog in awhile. I have kept myself fairly occupied most of the time, despite outward appearances.

I’ve finally closed the door on The Island of Misfit Noise, as a recording group for good. It is still the title of a no-budget movie and comic book. But, for the purposes of collaborating with other musicians, it has outlived it’s usefulness. I will think of something else if I need it. I’m currently working on a new album with some friends and am keeping an eye out for available musicians to perform live with again.

My disability pay has not come yet. I’m annoyed. A mistake has been made by the Social Security Administration. I updated my account information with them over a month ago. But, they deposited this month’s payment into an account that is no longer active. I called their office and the bank. Hopefully, it will be straightened out soon. I need supplies to work on a few projects and it is holding me up. I have a lot of stuff to catch up on;

  • This week’s mail is ready to go out as soon as I get some postage.
  • My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) is coming along really well. I need to get some parts from a hardware store to put it together.
  • I’m working on a short film to submit to a film festival next month. I need a few items for building props, sets, puppets, etc.
  • I have some incomplete paintings that require art supplies.
  • Someone is offering a free drafting table on Craigslist. I’m out of gas, though. Hopefully, it will still be there when I can refuel again.
  • I need funds to send my zines to the printers, if I am to have them ready in time for upcoming events.
  • I have VHS tapes that need to be transferred to my computer for editing. But, the VCR needs cleaning badly and I can’t find any tape head cleaners anywhere. I gotta get replacements.
  • Of course, there is also the matter of monthly bills and mundane household things; rent, phone, internet, debts, medications, food, dish soap, cat litter, paper towels, toilet paper, car insurance & license plate renewal, etc.

I recently sent out an email to those on my mailing list with a few details of upcoming events and a plea for financial support. I doubt that anybody will take me up on it. But, it never hurts to ask.

I’m writing a new horror story to be made into another low-budget movie, after “The Island of Misfit Noise” film is finished. It is a little more ambitious. It will actually require a REAL budget and not be made piecemeal like the IOMN.

Another project that I will undertake, a little bit later, is a compilation LP.  It will be funded collectively by the contributing artists. Everyone submits a song or two and their share of the budget to produce it. After the vinyl is pressed, everyone gets their percentage of the finished product, to sell at gigs. It is an old method of doing things, that I have participated in before. Another share of the records will be sent out for promotion, through radio and press.

But, before I embark on these and other projects, I need to finish up a couple of things and sort out my financial situation. I have enrolled in a debt consolidation program. So far, my credit cards seem to be under control. But, I have yet to get my payday loan debts arranged. I don’t believe that I can do that this month, because I have to buy a car insurance policy to renew my license plates. We will see how that comes along. Anyway, that is what I’m doing lately.

A Few Little Updates

Mikeycat Jammin color

I did a little re-adjusting to my Patreon tiers, recently. Some rewards will no longer be available outside of the United States (sorry). But, I’ll make it up to my patrons somehow. Postage and costs would likely make them prohibitively untenable.
I have gotten some offers to perform live and showcase my artwork in a few months. I’m a little on the fence about that. It would behoove me to bring some stuff for people to take home with them (recordings & merch). I have delayed, delayed, delayed putting those out for quite awhile. I know. I suck. It’s embarrassing.
If I can get those ready, though, I MIGHT do it (emphasis on the “might”). Would anybody be interested in that? Does anybody care? I dunno.
I may be doing more collaborations again. I have incomplete recordings that have been waiting to get finished for a long time. An EP or something might get released. We will see.
Meanwhile, I have been scavenging for things that I need. I hit a few jackpots. So, I’m very pleased with that. Every little bit helps to move my projects along. If I keep going on this lucky streak, I’ll be sure to get something tangible done.
Leave me some comments or send some mail, won’t you? It would be nice to know if anybody gives a rat’s ass.

Vlogging Update: May 2017

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Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

Groundhog Day

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I was gonna record a vlog to go with this (including a new song!). But, I didn’t get around to it. I’ll try to get it out this weekend, maybe. I have been digging through my old practice tapes and recording new demos for a couple of months now. I am not happy with a lot of it. But, you always have to dig through a lot of shit to find anything useful. Since I haven’t put out anything in a long time, I have been contributing to other people’s projects. I was asked by Uncle Ghoulie to provide some artwork and sounds to Truth Porn MilitiaNo Budget Radio Podcast. So, that is cool. I will be getting that out soon. There have also been some zines and other things requesting my input. So, I haven’t been completely unproductive, I guess.

I’m really beginning to wonder if maybe I should just give away my notes & artwork to let someone else make my movies. At least then they would get produced SOMEHOW. Tim Burton had almost nothing to do with making Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, yet his name is still in the title. He just gave his old sketchbook to another director and said, “Here. Knock yourself out.” Good idea? Bad idea? I don’t know. But, it looks like if I’m gonna produce it, it will likely be a few years until it it is done. Even if I cut costs to the absolute bone and it looks like dogshit, I don’t think I can get it done.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that I can get Theee Urban SpaceCat finally going this month. I should have enough raw material for a few issues already. I’ve been continually painting, drawing, recording, writing, etc. It really comes down to paying for putting it out there. I’ll deal with other expenses later, if it becomes necessary.

After over a year of keeping my stuff in storage, lacking enough funds, I recently had to let go of my storage unit. I have downsized a lot of it. So, at least I can fit everything in my grandmother’s garage (between the Christmas decorations and patio furniture). She gave me a nice bookshelf that was no longer wanted. So, I finally have somewhere to keep what is left of my vinyl LPs. I was very disappointed to realize how much of my collection that I’ve sold off.

She also gave me a free pizza promotional card that she got in the mail from Domino’s Pizza. I later brought the pizza back to her house. She, my nephew Michael, and I enjoyed a large deluxe. Mmmmmm.

I gotta finish cleaning up here, soon. There is an apartment inspection coming Monday. The landlord is making sure that no bed bugs have returned. Thankfully, the place has been pest-free for a year now. As a matter of fact, it was during the bug extermination last winter that I began renting my storage unit. So, it lasted one whole year.

I just got a small loan to cover my rent problem (last month’s check bounced!). I needed to pay two month’s rent and late/returned check fees IMMEDIATELY or I would get evicted. I’m not sure how much more financial Jiu-Jitsu I can pull off before it finally catches up with me. The van has a lot of mechanical problems needing fixing. I still cannot afford to put insurance on it. I’m risking jail time for driving without it (a misdemeanor in Michigan!). I’m in debt to my eyeballs to doctors & hospitals, credit cards, collection agencies, etc.

I set up a Patreon account. Maybe, I can find a little help from some folks, to fix my money situation. It is a long shot, I guess. But, what have I got to lose? I will post music, videos, and other stuff for patrons that won’t get released anywhere else. I’ll be adding more bonuses for supporters (t-shirts, stickers, magnets, flamethrowers, meat cannons, etc.) when I have them available. Any assistance is appreciated! Thanks.

Become A Patron!

Is There a Mike Nobody Sound, or Visual Style? Maybe.

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When I am jamming with other people, they motivate me and kinda help focus what I am doing.

So, I am always bouncing ideas back-and-forth with them, trying to see where their talents and interests are.

If half of the group is into a specific style of music, that gives me a vague reference to work from.

I know what will work and what won’t.
My improvisational skills are kinda crappy, I admit, though.

Ironically, I need people to get out of my way and let me work alone when I am writing original music.

Cutting & pasting jam sessions into songs kinda works.

If I have no one to work with at all, I am kind of at a loss.

The music can go in all sorts of different directions.

So, finding my own “sound” can be difficult sometimes.

I am trying to shape what I do into a cohesive sound of my own, without tying my hands too much.

I would like to maintain the freedom to play whatever that I want.

Near as I can figure it, I guess that I kinda sound a little like Beck with a weird bass setup and tapes, maybe.

My working process, and limited resources, probably have more to do with any style that I may have than anything else.

I don’t have a drummer.

So, for percussion I must rely on drum machines, keyboard sounds, and whatever found objects that I can bang on.

I do not have other band members.

So, I rely on recordings of myself on guitars, noises, and assorted samples, to fill out the sound.

Compositionally, I like the cut & paste approach of artists like Magma, Cardiacs, Omoide Hatoba, Boredoms, Melvins, Ruins, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, John Zorn, Carl Stalling, etc. and “mixtape style” of the Butthole Surfers, Ween, Faith No More, David Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.

I like a mixture of Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi in recordings = Mid-Fi!

But, I prefer a specific squashed compression sound found on early Primus, Ween, and Butthole Surfers records.

I was able to ask guitarist / producer Paul Leary once about how he achieved that sound for the Butthole Surfers.

He said it was due to cheap tape recorders, and only having one microphone.

So, I think they recorded directly from their preamps a lot.

I know that Primus did.

That works great for me, since I only have shitty cheap microphones anyway.

Vocally, I have a kinda nasally high-pitched voice that I never liked.

Kind of a bit like Neil Young, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Curt & Chris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets), Marc Bolan (T. Rex), etc.

Although, I try to give it a little bit of a Tom Waits-like growl on the lower end.

I guess that I compensate for my voice with cheap microphones and whatever vocal effects that are available, trying to bury it.

Visually, of course, everything is very cheap by necessity.

I like papier-mâché and cardboard props and sets.

Puppets and miniatures can be very useful, too.

Green screen, data-bending, and other cheap effects.

My mixed-media paintings and artwork kinda have a cheapniz aesthetic, too, I suppose.

I use stuff from thrift stores, hardware stores, dollar stores, and found materials a lot.

I tend to visualize the exterior world, the “real” world, in black & white colors.

A cold, decaying, dying, world.

The interior world, the world of the mind and imagination, by contrast is warmer and more colorful.

It is vast and endless.

Duluth-lynching-postcard

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I will probably post more about my gear setup & playing techniques later.

John Zorn

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“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.”~ John Zorn

Continuing in a pastiche-composition style as Frank Zappa (although neither actually invented it) avante-garde jazz composer John Zorn has always interested me, since I first heard about him in the 1980’s.

His early career in the 1970’s included playing modified duck calls into buckets of water, as well as his improvised saxophone performances.

That alone, piqued my curiosity enough as a teenager to investigate further.

“The Big Gundown”, an imaginative reworking of Ennio Morricone covers, was his first big “hit” record in 1985.

Ennio Morricone, himself, praised the album.

His later hardcore jazz groups Naked City and Painkiller really made me into a big fan.

He was also instrumental in the release of Carl Stalling’s Merry Melodies / Looney Toons  cartoon soundtrack recordings.

I am guessing that those projects are why Mr. Bungle chose him to produce their first album for Warner Bros. Records. in 1991.

I think I have to agree with Mr. Zorn’s philosophy of musical composition.

I was always an obsessive record collector.

Everything that I listened to felt interconnected on some level, even if they seemed separated on the surface.

William Shakespeare isn’t James Joyce or Dr. Seuss.

But, they all speak English.

Something like that.