Thoughts & Updates

January 27, 2020

 

I'm still working on the artwork for the "regular" version of the compact disc. I have decided that I'll do a special edition of the album which will contain 18 songs and feature a unique signed collage cover. The regular version of the album will feature standard artwork and 16 songs. Both will have lyric sheets.

 

The streaming version will debut a little later than the physical versions (though it's impossible to predict exactly when streaming services will upload an album, unless your name happens to be, say, Taylor Swift or Drake.) I will start taking orders on the web page store this Thursday evening. Orders will ship one or two days after they're placed. It takes time to put together unique collages.

 

January 25, 2020

 

I recorded an eighteenth, and final, track a couple days ago and tweaked it a bit over the next two days. It's a redux of the first song I recorded during the sessions that began September 4 of last year. I'll master it tonight and then listen to everything one final time or two and make any (very) minor changes as needed, if any. I'm thinking the album in its compact disc form will be ready to mail next Thursday. I'm still working on the jewel case insert. There'll probably be a lyric sheet as well. I haven't decided if there will be a special version of the album. I'll announce details over the next few days.

 

January 22, 2020

 

Mastering is close to done. I needed a break from the constant audio work, so after a few hours of editing I decided to turn my attention to putting together the artwork for the compact disc album cover. I ended up actually finishing a 12" x  12" collage which will serve as the standard artwork for the insert. I like it. I'm still leaning towards not doing any unique artwork albums this time. The disc will be housed in a standard jewel case, not a slim case. The physical album will probably drop a week or two before it's available for streaming.

 

January 21, 2020

 

I'm pretty close to finishing up the mastering. It's largely a matter of matching volumes of all the tracks (which is actually harder to do than you might think since I don't have a software program that automatically takes care of that issue), figuring out if there'll be any between-song sounds or simply gaps of silence, and, of course, coming up with a satisfactory track sequencing--which is also really hard to do. Sequencing defines the relationship between each song. Without good sequencing, an album is just another playlist rather than a musical journey. It helps to think in terms of putting together a vinyl record with two sides. Here's a good article about sequencing from PopMatters.

 

January 19, 2020

 

Interesting essay from Paul Sinclair on his excellent "Super Deluxe Edition" website concerning the viability of compact discs in this new era of music listening where supposedly vinyl lp's and, of course, streaming are king. If you've never checked out SDE and love buying deluxe compact disc box sets, you might really enjoy taking some time to poke around.

 

January 18, 2020

 

I'm nearly done with mastering. I know some people are confused as to what entails mixing and mastering a recording. These descriptions from Wikipedia and The Icon Collective explain the two processes as succinctly as I could on my own:

 

"Audio mixing is the process of combining multitrack recordings into a final monostereo or surround sound product. In the process of combining the separate tracks, their relative levels (in other words, volumes) are adjusted and balanced and various processes such as equalization and compression are commonly applied to individual tracks, groups of tracks, and the overall mix. In stereo and surround sound mixing, the placement of the tracks within the stereo (or surround) field are adjusted and balanced." (Wikipedia.org)

"Audio mastering is the final step in the music production process. It’s the post-production process of taking an audio mix or album and preparing it for distribution. The mastering stage involves a series of subtle audio processes including equalization, compression, saturation, stereo enhancement, and limiting. The purpose of mastering is to balance the stereo mix, make all the elements sound cohesive, and to reach commercial loudness. It also ensures playback optimization across all systems and media formats." (IconCollective.edu)

January 17, 2020

 

Well...I did my third remix yesterday. I found myself still adding even more little guitar, percussion and vocal bits. That said, there comes a time when you just have to let the mixes stand and move on to the mastering. I don't particularly care for mastering. It's more of a technical process as opposed to the art of mixing. I'm about halfway through the mastering process. It takes a couple days, sometimes more.

As I've noted before, I have seventeen songs, plus a few alternate takes. The question is this...or maybe I should say the questions are these: (1) Should I even be thinking in terms of an album? Or should I simply consider this project just a compilation of a bunch of songs, not unlike any other compilation album I've released? Does anyone really care anymore about albums? I know I've asked these questions before, but when I start writing songs, I invariably think of them as a unified collection of tracks that takes you on a kind of ‘journey’ from start to finish. And then when I'm done writing and recording, I start questioning the validity of calling the songs as a whole an "album". (2) If I do consider this an album, is it better to make it a twelve or fourteen song thing or should I just release everything I've recorded, even the alternate takes? Isn't it best to make the album a lean, mean fighting machine? I don't think I want to make a special bonus tracks version. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Drop me a line. Honestly, your opinions mean a lot.

 

January 16, 2020

 

I was asked again yesterday evening why I am not updating the various other pages on this web page, particularly the music and photo pages. Again, I will be leaving my server, Wix, in the spring and going back to CDBaby, so it makes little sense for me to add lots of content that will simply be coming down in two or three months. That said, I did add a photo today to the photographs page.

Spent more time than I thought I would yesterday re-mixing all seventeen songs. I even ended up adding a few guitar parts to several songs. I made another compact disc of the newest mixes and I'll be listening to them again today. There is no way I'll be uploading everything for streaming distribution this week. I don't even know why I said that was a possibility!

 

January 14, 2020

 

I spent a lot of time today on mixing and remixing all seventeen songs. First, I took the compact disc with the first mixes out to the car and...yes...sat in the driveway for an hour and a half playing each song and taking notes on what needed to be done to improve them. I'll always believe that listening to a song on a car stereo is the best way to figure out an optimum mix. I've been doing it since the late '80s when I used to listen to preliminary mixes on my car's cassette deck. Then I went back inside and made the necessary tweaks and burned the new mixes to a second CD. I'll listen to everything again tomorrow and, most likely, come up with a final product. Then it's on to designing the compact disc. I imagine I'll be uploading the album for distribution to CDBaby this Thursday. Information on limited edition CD's should be forthcoming shortly.

 

January 12, 2020

 

Finished seventeen first mixes. Yeah...there are seventeen songs. I rendered them all as compact disc quality files, then burned them all to a CD. When I get the chance (probably Tuesday), I will go out to my car and listen to each song on my stereo (which'll be the first time I've listened to a CD in the car in ages) and take notes on each one. Usually what I do is write something like this:

 

"Raise drums 5%. Move rhythm guitars wider. Lower backing vocal on left 3%. Raise backing vocal on right 3%. Cut 200Hz 10%. Add some sort of rhythmic intro to chorus?"

 

You get the picture. Then I'll go back to the multi-tracks and make the needed adjustments. Then I'll probably go through the process all over again. After that, I'll make final tweaks and get a final mix through headphones, though I won't change any volume levels at that point. You cannot mix your songs solely through headphones, although of course most people listen to their music most of the time through ear buds or headphones or the car.

 

Headphones can expose lots of tiny details in your mixes that you might miss on speakers. I find that you can't get good drum and vocal levels using only headphones, however. Coming up with optimum stereo imaging and panning is hard to do on headphones, as is equalization. Simply put, mixes that sound impressive over headphones can sound very wrong on speakers and vice versa, so the solution is to use both.

"Engineering and mixing are absolutely key. Once a song is done, for me personally, it's usually two or three days to get the mix down." Dr. Dre

"I'll know when a song's really awesome, for sure, and I get super stoked, and I'm so high when I'm hearing it back, but then you sit with the record forever. You're mixing it, and you can really just over-think everything." -- Kurt Vile

"Paul [Simon] has more, I think, of a feel for the stage. Whereas I have it more for the notes themselves. I love record making and mixing, arranging, producing. That I love. I love to make beautiful things, but I don't like to perform." -- Art Garfunkel

 

January 9 , 2020

 

I am done as far as recording new material for the album. I put in several hours of work on the song I started yesterday and as I was wrapping it up, I realized it was the perfect song to end the record. It's one of my favorites of the couple dozen I've written since early 2019 and if I never wrote or recorded another track, I'd be proud that that was the last song I ever created.

 

Now I'm back to thinking that maybe I'll just jam 16 tracks on the album. Guess I'll make a final decision after I've completed mixing everything.

Speaking of mixing, I did a little bit of that today. In fact, I even added a few vocal and instrumental touches to several songs, since I had the time. I think I'll take a few days off and then take the plunge into full-fledged mixing early next week.

On this day in 2008, I played bass and guitar and sang lead and back up with George Nipe's Plague Dogs at the long-defunct Rocktown Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. If my memory serves me well, about seven people showed up for that frigid Wednesday night show.The set list: Lost, Different, I Hang Heavy, Stanley The Steamer, River Of Blood, You Know You're Right, It, Salvation, The Thief, You Don't Know Me, Release, Fly, My Friend, The Flow, Mexican Buzz Saw, Paint It Black, Fat Woman Lying In The Street, Little Metal Toys.

 

January 8, 2020

 

Maybe it was for the best that I took a couple weeks off from recording. I was able to write a completely new song today and even managed to get about 90% of it finished. I have a few minor instrumental touches to add, but other than that it's done! And I think it's one of the better songs on the album, too. I'll have three or four hours at best tomorrow to focus on music, but I'm beginning to think that the album is done. I've considered recording an alternate version of what will be the lead-off track which would serve to conclude the album (sort of like Neil Young's opening and closing versions of "Tonight's the Night" on TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT and "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" and "My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" on RUST NEVER SLEEPS) but that's not a cinch. Of course, I still have to do some substantial mixing and I'll also have to subsequently add whatever final bits each song might need, but I'm pretty sure that the album will drop by late January. 

 

January 7, 2020

 

I didn't have quite as much time to work on recording today (it snowed four inches this morning) as I'd hoped, but I was able to lay down the bass and drums and rhythm guitars of a song I essentially wrote yesterday in my head. It's a pretty easy song, but I haven't come up with lyrics yet so obviously I didn't have the opportunity to do any vocals. I usually write lyrics first or at least simultaneously with the music, so it's a little unusual to work this way for me. I'd like to say that I'll have time to finish the track tomorrow, but who knows. I'd also like to say that it'll be easy coming up with lyrics, but we all know that's not true.

“After writing a song, there's a feeling of elation followed by the sinking feeling that it will never happen again, and you go back to thinking that you can't do it. It creates an ongoing feeling of inadequacy.” ― Chrissie Hynde

“The melody and the chord structure come pretty quickly, lyrics are the bitch.”
— Rufus Wainwright

“I let the music decide what the words are gonna be. But I spend a lot of time and effort on the lyrics, because I’m not good at it.”
— Ben Folds

January 6, 2020

 

I am (almost desperately) hoping that I'll have at least a couple days starting Tuesday to put in some serious work on the album. I haven't done any meaningful recording since around mid December simply because I've pretty much been involved in family stuff. Heck, I was out of town for several days just hanging out in other places with my wife. But Tuesday through Thursday I should have a goodly amount of time to devote to the record. Maybe it's a good thing that I got away from recording for a while. Maybe I'll feel a little more energized to make the effort to finish things off. As always, I'll keep you guys apprised of my progress.

 

December 31, 2019

 

Happy New Year's Eve. Another year gone. Wow. Time sure is moving on. The older I get, the faster it goes. Really. Honestly, I never really cared much for New Year's Eve as a holiday (pre-holiday holiday?), but that's just me.

I understand that some folks who've followed Book of Kills a long time are getting a little frustrated with the long wait for the forthcoming album. I'm sorry that it's taking so long; I don't move (in more than one way) as fast as I used to. But I didn't start writing and recording in earnest until late September, so it hasn't really taken that long to churn out all these new songs. Over the years, it has usually taken me four to five months on average to put together a new record. I think this one'll drop in late January, so I'm right on schedule. I guess all the updates on the website perhaps have created some unreasonable expectations.

George Nipe III, Garfield Banks, and Randy Simpson are going to begin work on a new album soon! I'll keep you posted on its progress.

I know there've been all kinds of formatting issues with this page over the past few weeks. I blame it on my server, Wix. As you might recall, I will be switching servers back to CDBaby in 2020.

December 29, 2019

 

It has been a while since I listed the most streamed BOK songs for the month and I know some folks who visit the site regularly like to see those lists, so here are the twenty most popular Jim Shelley/Book of Kills songs for December 2019 (I won't be able to include 12/30 and 12/31 for various reasons, but I doubt if two days would make much difference):
 

1. This Time Maybe
2. If I Should Fall
3. Can I Come Over Tonight?
4. Dink's Song

5. Like Flies in a Jar
6. Your World Will Shape My Bones
7. It Starts Here With Us
8. Until the Day I Meet You
9. I Roam the World Between Your Thighs
10. Few & Far (Demo)
11. Who Is He Crushing Now?
12. I'm Going Back to the Zen Arcade
13. Blue Heart Drumming (Fear + Whiskey Live on WXJM)
14. Free Assembly

15. The Last Dumb Show
16. Remember to Forget
17. Then I Kissed Her
18. Your Jets
19. She's the One (Extended Version)
20. A Bluebird Will Do

Haven't heard one of these songs before? They're ALL available on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon and all major streaming services!

 

December 25, 2019

 

Merry Crimble and a Very New Year!

Here's an outtake as my (very small) gift to BOK listeners everywhere! All three of you! (Sorry...it's not great.) It's called "That's Just The Way These Things Go". Thanks for listening to my music over this past year! 

 

December 20, 2019

 

Sadly, there'll be little time for me to work on music over the next three weeks. I'll try to do what I can when a spare minute becomes available. I did work on a couple of tracks briefly today. 

You know how I said I was done with the album? Well, a song appeared in my head and it won't go away until I bring it out of my mind and into the world. When I'll have the opportunity to do that, I don't know. But I guess there's going to be one more song that comes out of these sessions.

"Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn't get some of that stuff out." - Dolly Parton

"Songwriting's a weird game." -- Keith Richards

"There's an element to songwriting that I can't explain, that comes from somewhere else. I can't explain that dividing line between nothing and something that happens within a song, where you have absolutely nothing, and then suddenly you have something. It's like the origin of the universe." -- Nick Cave

December 19, 2019

 

You might or might not know that back in 1968 when The Beatles were putting together (one of their) masterpieces, the so-called WHITE ALBUM, their long-time producer, the great late Sir George Martin, strongly felt that the band should release a 14 track single disc rather than a 30 song double one. ("I thought we should probably have made a very, very good single album rather than a double. But they insisted. I think it could have been made fantastically good if it had been compressed a bit and condensed. A lot of people I know think it’s still the best album they made. I later learnt that by recording all those songs they were getting rid of their contract with EMI more quickly." -- George Martin, 1995) I'm glad the boys stuck to their guns, though. I still consider the WHITE ALBUM the greatest rock record ever.

But Martin's point was nonetheless a valid one. And after spending another day with all of the stuff I've recorded over the last year, and particularly what I've done since September, I've decided to do a George Martin and cut out 4 songs, which will make the new record a twelve song affair. I spent hours today adding minor bits of vocal and instrumental additions and mixing everything a second time. I'll pick the twelve songs and master them for release over the next week. There are at least three alternate versions, one partially finished song and, as I said, four complete tracks that won't make the cut. All of it will probably show up on a future BIG BUSINESS MONKEY compilation, though I might add one bonus track exclusive to the CD.

I'm ready to move on to the next musical adventure, whatever that might be.

“That [The ‘White Album’] was just saying: ‘This is my song, we’ll do it this way. That’s your song, you do it that way.’ It’s pretty hard trying to fit three guys’ music onto one album – that’s why we did a double.” -- John Lennon

“When we came back [from their trip to India to study meditation -- JS], it became apparent that there were more songs than would make up a single album and so the ‘White’ album became a double album. What else do you do when you’ve got so many songs and you want to get rid of them so that you can write more?” -- George Harrison

 

December 18. 2019

 

I enjoyed the gift of several free hours of time today to focus on mixing the fifteen songs that will comprise the new album, the first proper new record from Book of Kills since 2014's RIDING THE ECHO DOWN. I have a lot of work to do on it still, but it was fun, and certainly involving, to listen to everything again. I'd almost forgotten what many of the earliest songs I'd recorded even sounded like! 

“I’m still trying to find myself [at 89]. I study a lot to become better. All the time, I look ahead.” -- Tony Bennett

 

December 17, 2019

 

I thought I'd have literally almost the entire day to write and record one more song and then Wednesday I'd begin mixing, etc. I had to do some last minute vocal and guitar stuff for the previous song (which might now be my favorite of the whole album) and I got that done fairly quickly. Then I took a break from recording and walked over to the post office and mailed a couple books I'd sold the previous night. Then, I took the long way home (since the weather was really nice..in the 50s!) and walked upstairs to start writing. I had a pretty good idea of what sort of song I wanted to write and a general notion of what it would sound like. I picked up my guitar and...the lights went out.

Seems some guy was bombing down Main Street on his tractor (I live in Bridgewater, Virginia, in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley) and lost control and took out three power poles. I reported the outage on my phone (at the time I didn't know why I'd lost electricity) and saw a note that power would probably be restored by 4:00-ish that afternoon. Yup. That's about when the power came back on. I lost the entire freaking day to a guy who couldn't drive his tractor straight.

So that was that. A sign, I think. Time to stop writing and recording and start mixing. No final song. I've got enough. Fourteen, I think? That's always a good number of songs in my book when it comes to albums.

And speaking of albums. It's weird making them these days. Nobody listens to them anymore, do they? And really nobody listens to albums by unknown musicians, right? But I don't make albums because I want to. I make them because I have to. And that's why at an age when most musicians are simply flogging stuff they wrote forty years ago, I'm still dropping new tunes and trying to make them as good as I possibly can. I don't even know why I have to create new music. I simply know I do indeed have to. Okay. Enough italics.

Here's hoping tomorrow is more productive

December 14, 2019

 

I had quite a lot of free time over the last several days and made good use of it. I wrote and recorded another song (kind of a goofy thing at least lyric-wise) which I like a lot 'cause it's got a very odd structure to it, even though it's rather simple as far as chords go. I should have a decent amount of time next week to finish off one last song. Then I'll start the mixing/touch-up/mix again process. I still don't think the album will drop until the new year, though. 

 

December 11, 2019

 

Wanna learn how to play punk guitar? It's easy! You just pick up a guitar and play it! How hard is that, right? If you need a little more information, go here.

 

December 10, 2019

 

Got the newest song about 80% done. Still have some guitar and keyboard work to do on it. I'll try to get it done later this evening and tomorrow, if I have any free time. I'll write and record two more songs (probably uptempo things) and then go through the process of listening to each song carefully, adding minor vocal and instrumental touches, and then creating a preliminary mix. After I'm done with that, I'll go back and do a final mix on each track. I've no doubt that the album won't be dropping in 2018. Most likely I'll make unique collage cover compact disc albums available initially and then a week later, make the album available through streaming services.

 

December 9, 2019

 

39 years ago, I was in mourning along with millions of other Beatles fans. I still can't wrap my head around the senselessness of that stupid act.

The next song has been written and I've already laid down the drums. It's a tribute of sorts to Terry Turtle. I hope that I'll be able to more or less finish it tomorrow. I've got the arrangement completely worked out in my head.

"To me, John Lennon and Elvis Presley were punks, because they made music that evoked those emotions in people." -- Joey Ramone

 

December 5, 2019

 

Finished another song today. I had part of the last three days to put some decent amount of time into writing and recording and made the most of it. I guess I'm up to eleven songs? I'm not even sure how much material I've got in the can. I'm definitely going to include three of the songs I recorded back at the start of the year when I was trying to record some stuff that Jane could work on with me but of course I ended up finishing them myself and including them on the last edition of BIG BUSINESS MONKEY. I'm thinking now there might be sixteen songs on the album! I should have a couple days next week to work on a song or two. I'm getting near the end of these sessions!

I think I might have put a link to this site in the past, though I'm not sure, but if I didn't and you haven't taken this listening "test", you ought to try it out. It's something NPR put up back in 2015 concerning how well the average music fan can hear the difference in various sound files from 128 kps mps to 320 kps mp3s to compact disc quality files. I took the test and sadly could only successfully identify three out of six CD quality files. I actually picked two 128 kps files (which apparently is quite common as far as those two listening selections go.) I picked one 320 kps file. A much easier test to pass is this one, which lets you know if you have the ears of an audio producer. I got all six of them right.

 

December 2, 2019

 

Those of you who've followed Book of Kills for a long time will probably know the name, Terry Turtle. Terry was 1/2 of Buck Gooter and a long-time fan of BOK. He was a truly unique (a word that's so over-used, but not in this case) musician and artist who made the most of his life and his talents. I am honored to have had the chance to know him and to work with him. I'll miss you Terry.

 

December 1, 2019

 

Time just keeps moving faster and faster. How can it already be December? 

Speaking of "faster and faster" streaming music continues to grow faster and faster in popularity with paid subscriptions up 30% in the first half of 2019 to 61.1 million subscriptions, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Streaming music made up 80% of the $5.4 billion spent on music in the U.S during the first six months of the year, the RIAA says. That's astounding to me, but then again I listen to music now almost exclusively through Apple Music or YouTube these days, even though I'm well aware that neither provides optimum sound.

 

It's interesting, I think, that Amazon Music Unlimited has rolled out a new Hi-Def/Ultra High Def plan that feature compact disc quality or better. HD tracks are 16-bit audio, with a minimum sample rate of 44.1 kHz (CD quality), and an average bitrate of 850 kbps. Ultra HD tracks have a bit depth of 24 bits, with sample rates ranging from 44.1 kHz up to 192 kHz, and an average bitrate of 3730 kbps.

 

Of course, Tidal has been offering CD quality sound for several years now. There is a crucial difference between Tidal and other streaming services, as I've explained before: Tidal pays the highest ratio of royalties vs. revenues to music creators of any streaming service, and equal rates are paid to artists regardless of whether they're signed to a major label, an indie label, or not signed to a label at all.

 

November 28, 2019

 

Happy Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday! And always over far too soon. Seems like the family that attends these things dwindles a little in the number of members every year. I guess once you get to a certain point in your life that's just the way it is, eh?

Song 9 is done! On to 10. That's five more songs and I'm calling it an album. Can I finish before the new year? Doubtful. I'm not even going to say I'll try because, honestly, I won't. The songs will come as they will and when they will.

Does anyone like Big Thief as much as I do?  I hear so many classic influences in their music from Neil Young to Elliott Smith to R.E.M. to Sonic Youth to Kim Deal. They're one of those bands that feel like they could've existed and enjoyed a fervent fanbase in any rock era from the late '60s onward. I love Buck Meek's wild, artless, anything goes guitar solos. Reminds me of me. Yeah, I said it. 

“Even though it’s a slower process sometimes, in terms of building a fan base, but I believe if you’re fulfilling yourself in a really genuine way, that’s what people want to be a part of. We’re constantly changing things around on stage and flying by the seat of our pants, but I think people really just come for the honesty. Trusting us to be ourselves. It’s good to see that people want that.”

-- Adrianne Lenker

 

November 27, 2019

 

Stop me if you've heard this one! Got the (second) 9th song about 90% done and decided I didn't like what I was hearing so I wiped all the vocals and most of the guitars. I did keep the solos, though, because they'd turned out really well. It's just a matter of building everything up again back around the drums and bass since I do like the song.

"You couldn't possibly judge me harder than I judge myself."

 

"There's still a level of comfort that is unparalleled with being able to write alone. It's really vulnerable to try to come up with ideas, because it's like you're diamond mining. I't uncomfortable to have someone be in the room watching you nothit the mark. So, as far as writing goes, I think that's...a solitary process."

 

-- Annie Clark

 

November 21, 2019

 

Song #9 was tortuously slow in coming. Though it was a relatively simple five chord thing, the intricate picking I had to do took FOREVER to get down. Then, after I'd spent several long hours writing the lyrics and completing the basic drums/guitars/bass foundation, I started in on the vocal(s). Unfortunately, I'd written the thing in the key of E and it is very difficult for me to sing in E unless it's in a very low voice. It just did not come off well. So, after all that time and effort, I gave up. Why did I even bother to write a song in E? I don't know. I guess sometimes I just hear a song in a certain way in my mind when it's gestating and I come up with the appropriate chords without thinking.

 

Anyway, after that fiasco, I sat down last evening and wrote another song in fifteen or twenty minutes which I like a lot better. I even finished the drums and a couple of rhythm guitar tracks just moments after writing the music. I still have to compose the lyrics, though. As you know if you've been a long time visitor to bookofkills.com, oftentimes the lyrics are the hardest thing for me to do. 

With the holidays coming up now, there'll be far less time for me to focus on making music. That can be good, but it can also be not so good. Taking the time to step away from writing and recording can help recharge my imagination, but it can also steer me away from the focus I need to get an album done. Maybe I'll work on some compact disc collage covers. I will be offering some for certain, though I'm quite aware that few folks these days care about physical manifestations of their music, unless perhaps we're talking about vinyl and I won't be doing any vinyl again any time soon!

November 14, 2019

 

Wrapped up #8. A slower, acoustic guitar based thing that evolves into lots of drums, keyboards and electric guitars by the end of the track.  I'm trying to bring a variety of sounds to the table this time around, though this is, of course, a straight out rock and roll album, if a bit of a restrained rock and roll album. (My screaming days are long over, you know.) There's definitely more piano this time...even though I don't actually know how to play the piano. It's fun to work out keyboard parts, however, and force myself to learn how to play them. 

It looks as though I'll have some unexpected free time to begin work on another song tomorrow. I've got a vague idea what I want to do already.

"People just want you to keep doing the same kinds of thing, and that's a box I cannot accept. They want to box you in and departmentalize, and that's torturous for anybody that is a free-thinking individual...I never found it easy to fit into any group. Because there's always that pull in me to stretch it beyond their imagination. It's been the story of my life, really." -- John Lydon

 

November 9, 2019

 

Another track is in the can. I think that's #7. Seven more to go? I think I can do it.

It's funny...when you're working on an album, you listen to the song you're currently putting together over and over as you lay down each track. Then, the song is done and you file it away and begin work on the next one and you pretty much forget what the previous one, and all the other ones you've completed, even sound like. So it's almost a shock (though usually not an unpleasant one) when you finally finish the whole thing and go back and listen to every song you've created over the course of however long a time it took you to do them all. 

By the way, I spent a little time listening to the multi-tracks of the four new songs I wrote and recorded early in the year ostensibly for possible inclusion in our set list back when I was still part of a sort-of band with Jane, Randy, George and Garfield. I did more than a little bit of tweaking to the mixes and, since they're all good tracks, I think I might make them all (or some of them) part of the new album. I'm not entirely sure about that. I know they've already shown up on BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, VOLUME 7, but let's face it...bands have a long tradition of putting a song or three on one record and then later making them a part of another (usually better) record. Think, for instance The Beatles's MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR or Nirvana's HORMOANING, or any number of Pavement CD singles.

On this day way back in 2002, Book of Kills played a strange (at least to me) show at Alston's in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was, if I remember correctly, a strange Saturday afternoon gig that Randy Simpson couldn't make due to some college things he needed to attend to. So it was just BOK as a foursome consisting of Jane and Casey Firkin, Bill Bird and me. I think we played a pretty good set, but I didn't enjoy not having Randy there. The set list: Accidentally Naked, Cave In, Caroline, Bikini Radio, Gemini, Then I Kissed Her, Face, To Dream A New Dream, Running, Simple World, Clever, Jesco White, Money.

 

November 3, 2019

 

Early this morning I was just messing around on my acoustic when I thought about all the little "voice" recordings on my iPhone. See, when I get an idea (usually just out of the blue when I'm not really even thinking specifically about music) for a song or a riff, I know from experience that I won't remember the idea if I don't immediately record it. That's why the "Voice Memos" app on my phone is such a great thing. I can "turn it on" and make a little memo of the idea, by either just humming it or playing it on a guitar if one's near by, and not have to worry about losing the thought. And believe me...I have lost dozens and dozens of ideas over the years that I kidded myself into thinking I'd remember later. Anyway, the second old recording I checked out (probably from 3-4 years ago) really struck me as a great riff to work a song around. So I think I'm going with it for song #7 when I get a chance to work on it next week.