Our electricity went out three days ago. Still waiting for it to come back on. We are running on generator, with only half-power. Nothing really works, though, except the computer and dim lights. Microwave won’t work. Coffee maker won’t work. The refrigerator is barely functioning. I hope nothing gets spoiled. Even the pilot lights on the stove aren’t working. I had to use a bic lighter. It has been pretty much ramen and sandwiches with lukewarm water everyday.
The internet went out, as well. But, I got it back on a few minutes ago.
Mostly, I’ve played with my cat and watched a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magicmarathon. I really like the guest stars they’ve had on so far, like ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic and John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation).
I posted a blog yesterday, immediately regretted it, then promptly went back and deleted everything. It was just too negative (more than I usually am). I know that I can be a downer, sometimes. You don’t need to be reminded of that. But, I did want to leave a few updates for this overdue blog.
I spent a couple of days trying to shoot a vlog. But, the webcam is broken. I kept fiddling with it and looking for a software solution. It has got to be the hardware, though. Everything else is fine.
The transmission on my van is going out and the wheels wobble. I don’t know why, yet. Yesterday, I aired up a flat tire, drove my decrepit van to the post office, got the mail, changed the cat’s litterbox, fed her a can of food, busted a guitar string, wrote some letters, etc. Mostly, I’ve been sleeping a lot. I think I missed taking my meds three or four times this week, including today (and I really feel it). I hate when I do that.
Tom Zarzecki, of Death Cat, is planning another film festival later this year. I think I will pass on that this time. I wasn’t very happy with how my previous contribution turned out and the festival itself last year was kind of a bust. Practically no one but the filmmakers themselves showed up. It was an insightful experience, though. Now I’m more aware about some mistakes to avoid when I’m performing live.
My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) has a problem. The bass drum pedal is totally broken. I was building a wooden base for the kit when I noticed that pieces of the kick pedal were missing. Shit. I don’t have any money to replace it. Maybe someone would accept a trade? They could possibly repair it if they have the parts.
My friend Max Grean is putting together a Glam-Core group (whatever that means). Not exactly sure where he is going with that. He asked me to contribute to it. So, I guess that I am the keyboardist. I have one decent quality keyboard (on loan from my ex). The rest that I own are cheap crap. We will see what happens.
This is a mixed-media painting that I finished a few months ago. It will probably end up as a zine cover, at some point, eventually. Just to have SOME consistency here, I will continue to show you my paintings & artwork in each blog, w/ a song from my record collection included. Maybe that will help me, somehow, to remain in a better mental state.
Over the past few months, I’ve been talking with two novice musicians (Jon and Dennis) who relocated to Michigan (from Florida and California).
Jon is a Drummer, Guitarist, and Vocalist living in Grosse Pointe.
Dennis is a drummer living on Grosse Ile.
I’ve tried for ages to get a double-drummer type band going.
It never lasted very long.
Jon, Dennis, and I appreciate bands that have done this sorta thing before (Ministry, Butthole Surfers, Melvins, Boredoms, etc), although we aren’t trying to copy them.
If I can get ANYBODY to play with me for longer than a few months, I consider that a success.
Getting two drummers is an added bonus.
Getting one acoustic and one electronic drummer is a double bonus.
I have a homemade drum kit built from scrap metal and junk.
So, I think we have everything covered, percussion-wise, for at least one project.
If we get any others to come onboard, that would be cool, but not entirely necessary.
Another project that I would like to do, however unlikely, requires a really bad-ass drummer.
More in the jazzy, proggy, math-rocky spectrum of music, it’s basically just drum & bass with noisy samples and effects.
I have some foot-controlled tape machines that I set up for a solo thing.
They’ve been broken for awhile.
But, my friend Pam Richards (guitarist from Cat Lung) seems to have fixed them.
If I could use that set-up with a decent drummer the combination would be a lot better. I’m not sure if either of the guys are really up to it, right now.
In the past, I always adapted to the tastes and capabilities of who I’m playing with.
We would jam together for a couple of hours, I’d record everything, and later edit whatever we had into songs.
But, I think doing it the way that I did slowed us down too much.
I spent too much time second-guessing myself, worrying about what they wanted.
For now, I’m gonna keep recording stuff alone, send some of it to the other guys, and see what sticks.
They can add onto it, send it back with suggestions, or just pass on it.
I’ll use the rejects elsewhere.
If either of them have something that they wanna try out, they can send that to me and vice-versa.
I did the Island of Misfit Noise album like that, swapping music back-and-forth online.
It also means that less time is wasted at rehearsal if we already have some songs to practice with and work the kinks out.
I’m pretty sure that we all have ideas that will work or won’t work together.
But, if we keep trying things out, something will stick.
Jon and I currently have transportation problems. Dennis has gone above and beyond to help me resolve mine (thanks Dennis!). Both of them have their work schedules to manage. My time is the most flexible between the three of us.
I’m kinda excited about my custom guitars project. I’ve been talking with Tim Sway, an artist in CT who builds furniture & stuff from found materials. We seem to be on the same wavelength when it comes to reusing discarded things. He is gonna help me make my “dream guitars” a reality! Making them myself was going to be too costly (and probably not very well done). I also lack the tools or somewhere to work on them.
To save money, I’m bartering and scavenging for parts that could be useful. I already had some in storage. I’ll gradually save up some money to pay him to finish the rest with upcycled materials he has found. It is gonna take us several months. The results won’t be perfect, of course, by the nature of what we are working with. We have a disagreement on the nature of tonewoods. But, I think my designs could make the differences negligible. We’ll see who is right.
Just thinking out loud here, but I thought of a possible band name, Mike Nobody & War Animals. If Dennis & Jon wanna use it or not, either way, is fine with me. I could save it for another project if they don’t like it. I was listening to some Eric Burden today. I thought is was kinda funny that he was in two totally different bands with his name attached to them, Eric Burden & War and Eric Burden & The Animals. Silly? Stupid? I dunno. I can’t tell.
I’ve gotten another offer to play a solo gig in a few months. I’m a little hinky about doing that. Bad experiences. But, I have played around with what I have to see what could work. I’m a little undecided on that. I might use a single kick drum, the tapes, a bass, and some video projectors. My footwork SUCKS! I ain’t gonna be no Keith Moon with a simple kit like that. But, I’m no Keith Moon, either. I’ll practice with it for awhile and see if I can sound halfway competent at it.
At least it will give me an excuse to sit down, and play like a real one-man-band.
Making mistakes are inevitable. You learn what you can from them and try not to make the same ones twice. But, as I’ve been told, I “never know when to quit.” I guess there are upsides and downsides to that. I’m persistent.
I’ve always hated the business side of art & music. There are some aspects that I don’t mind doing myself. But, most of it I’ve always left for someone else to handle (booking shows, collecting the door, etc.). I’m just really bad at it. But, as a club owner once told comedian / performance artist Andy Kaufman, “This is show-business. Show… Business! Show…Business! Without the business, there’s no show.” It took a very long time to beat that into my head. But, I still relied too much on others to get things done.
I’ve always known how important it is to have backup gear; strings, cords, cables, picks, etc. But, I never considered having a backup for other contingencies. A friend would set up a show for me and I’d prepare to get by at that one show. If something went wrong, though, I’d be fucked. I’ve been stood up by bandmates at booked gigs. I’ve had important pieces of equipment fail. If something CAN go wrong, it usually does.
I was, recently, reading a blog explaining the pros and cons of touring alone vs touring with a band. It got me thinking about how I can better prepare myself. I should ALWAYS have a backup plan ready for when shit goes wrong, “Always have a plan A, B, C, and D.” If an offer comes along and I don’t have a backup plan for it, then I probably shouldn’t accept it. I’m not ready. The best way to avoid this from happening is to DIY all of the work, as much as possible. If I’m bad at it, then I’ll learn how to get better. I’ve always been bad with cars, but eventually I had to learn shit or it didn’t get done…period.
If I’m setting up a show by myself, I can control the variables and take precautions. If bandmates flake out or cannot show up, I can still do it alone. If a piece of equipment fails, I can do something else instead. Whatever happens, I got this.
Part of this mindset is influenced by my “prepping hobby” or whatever you want to call it. I liked the TV show “Doomsday Preppers”, while it lasted. Sure, there were lots of nutcases on there with too much money to waste and not enough common sense. But, the general principle is a sound one, “Be prepared…for anything.” It got our grandparents through the Great Depression. The pioneers survived travelling across the wilderness because they prepared for it. Shit’s gonna happen, inevitably. What are you gonna do? Cry about it? No. If something needs to be done, get it done. No one else will do it. Think ahead, then you won’t have to worry as much.
I have repairs & replacements that need to be taken care of. But, I would like to set up a few mini-tours down the Midwest or The East Coast. Whether that is with a group or alone (or both) I’d like to somehow make that happen. If I can secure a decent-priced rental van and insurance with Roadside Assistance it would make a world of difference. Would it be a deal-breaker if I can’t? I’m not sure.
Another thing that has taken me a very long time to learn is, “If you can’t do it the way that you want to do it, find another way to do it. Then, do it anyway.” Being stubbornly perfectionist can really hold you back. I’ve had to learn that the hard way. I’ve had some great ideas which would have been fantastic to see materialize, “only if…” It’s always some details that prevented it from happening, when I could have done it in some other fashion and at least gotten SOMETHING done – instead of nothing.
This kinda goes back to my point of being more self-reliant. I’ve often needed someone around to break me out of my depression, get me motivated, and to bounce ideas off of. If I had simply recorded & performed everything myself, all along, I could have accomplished so much more! I thought that I NEEDED other people to do things. But, I really only WANTED them. That is a big difference. It is a huge mistake to wait for anyone for anything, if you can avoid it. “Don’t wait around for help, because it isn’t coming.” Otherwise, you’ll be sitting there, forever, Waiting For Godot.
One of my favorite cartoons is “Rick & Morty.” I think that the best episode, so far, has been “Pickle Rick.” In this episode, the title character (transformed into a limbless pickle) is physically helpless, trapped down a sewer drain, but manages to save his own life through sheer ingenuity and persistence. Just like one of my other favorite TV characters, MacGyver. He could have simply despaired there at the bottom of the sewer, hopelessly crying to himself, until the rats and roaches ate his lifeless corpse. But, instead, he used his environment to escape and survive. I’m a little envious that I don’t have more positive moments like that myself. It is something to strive for, though.
I’ve been kinda busy lately, helping my aunt and ex-gf move. I was also not feeling well for a week or so. Then, my van broke down. I’m behind on my projects, including providing this month’s MP3 for Patrons. I’m doing my best to catch up.
I received a small batch of comics, recently, that I contributed to. It’s called Five O’Clock Shadow. This is issue #25. I’m including them with orders and donations on my Bandcamp page, while they last.
I am recording a bunch of exclusive music for my supporters on Patreon, as well as contributions to The Residents, David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”), and some new collaborators who want to put a band or something together with me. Lots of stuff going on!
Issues of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” Cassette-Zine have been held back for an absurd amount of time, mostly for financial reasons. I’m always broke. Just to get them out there in some form, , I will be releasing the first couple of issues digitally (PDF & MP3). They may get printed physically at a later time. But, look on the bright side. At least you can download them instantly instead of waiting by your mailbox.
Another project that I’m working on is a series of paintings, each including a compact disc of unique material. I will show them for you on future videos. Plus, there is all of the other art that I’m making every day. So, perhaps good things are happening.
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