a real update

OK, a real update. Obviously I haven’t been writing much in any forum for a while, including this blog. This is OK with me; blogging is a cyclical phenomenon and I’ve been very busy and generally uninspired to write. In no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve been busy with:

  • Freakwitch is still moving forward. We are closer than ever to producing a tangible product of all our work. It’s odd, Matt and I have been working on this particular project now for 4 years. And at this stage we have little to show for it at first glance; though a deeper glance would reveal a bunch of well-crafted songs, a tight band to play these songs, and an ever more capable studio to record these songs. The acoustic panels are under construction (we have all the materials now for phase one, it’s just a matter of finishing the construction), the band is ready to record, the new headphone system is really working well such that we can all listen while we record, and the energy around Freakwitch just feels better than it ever has. We’re getting close!
  • I seem to be evolving as a guitarist, feeling stretched and challenged for the first time in many years. For most of my career, I’ve preferred electric guitar, but with Freakwitch I’ve pretty much started playing acoustic guitar exclusively. I’ve always used a thin Dunlop Tortex pick (the red ones), because I like the shimmery sound they give when strumming. But lately, I’ve been playing more and more with my fingers (as opposed to with a pick). Not so much in a fingerpicking style, but almost closer to a slap funk bass style; I will literally strike the strings with the backs of my fingernails to create a percussive strum. It’s not as full of a sound as with a pick, but in the context of a rock band that’s not a bad thing. This new style seems to fit in the mix better than the regular strumming I used to do. It’s interesting stuff.
  • Related to the previous item, as I said I haven’t been playing electric guitar for several years. I need to be inspired again with what I can do electrically. Back in the Acumen and Amanda’s Boy days, I had quite a nice guitar rig, it was a rackmounted system with 2 bag end speakers. It was loud, but more importantly it was very versatile sonically. Several years back I reached a point where it was just too much. I couldn’t do any recording with it because it was so loud, so I ended up trading it in on a smaller, simpler rig. In retrospect that’s about when I stopped playing electric. I wasn’t inspired to play electric anymore. When playing electric guitar, I like having lots of different tones at my disposal, and my current setup just doesn’t deliver that. So I’m considering trading in everything — all my electric guitars and the effects units I have, including my treasured Ibanez Artist that I’ve had since I was 15 — in on a new rig that would give me even more versatility than my old rackmounted setup.

    It’s the Line6 setup consisting of the Pod XT Live (a pedalboard that provides all the electronic possibilities you can imagine, models of amps and effects and a way to program detailed combinations of them and save them as presets) and the Variax 300 (black) guitar, which can model up to 25 different kinds of stringed instruments. This rig would give me a sonic versatility that I’ve never had, and plenty of playing room for sonic experimentation. This setup is a modelling setup, which some analog/tube purists despise because they are essentially digital recreations of long-treasured guitar setups. The map-is-not-the-territory argument applies, though my take is that I’d much prefer the versatility to have dozens or hundreds of sound options, rather than one or two “authentic” sounds.

    So yes. This is still brewing. I do realize that it is likely to change the sound of Freakwitch, but this is the right time for that. I’ll still record the acoustic tracks I’ve been doing, but experimenting with overdubs for the album with this rig will be a great opportunity to learn the new setup, and also to give more interesting sounds for the album. But if past experience is any indicator, I’ll get this rig and suddenly, as if by magic, a skilled lead guitarist who gets what we’re all about will materialize and want to join the band. And that’s A Good Thing. :-)

  • I’m still plugging away at No-S. Exercise is still sketchy, but that’s OK. I’m doing what I can given the low temperatures lately, and not worrying too much about it. I do have to say that it’s fantastic that my food intake can be this healthy with almost no effort and attention on my part; the new habits of No-S are certainly ingrained by now.
  • My own headspace is also clearing up. I’m feeling better about my reality lately, and my mood is reflecting this. That’s a good thing, too.
  • I’ve been distracted from my political theory research by the music. And I’m NOT complaining about it. :-)
  • Perhaps the biggest news of all, my wife and I are in all likelihood going to purchase our first house. We’re still technically in information-gathering mode, but it’s looking promising. It looks like for our first house we’ll have 2 options: 1)buy some land somewhere with some kind of structure on it (like, say, a double-wide trailer) and live with that until we can afford to build our house or put up a yurt, or 2)buy a duplex somewhere and rent the apartment to a good friend of ours who wants to do it. Our finances dictate one of those two options, or perhaps another option has yet to reveal itself.
  • Spring is coming! The light is returning!

So yes. Things continue to move.

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