Friday, March 31, 2006


In my ongoing effort to use this blog to help our good friends promote their shows, I offer this notice from Strikes Again!

"Hello! You last heard from us in early December, but we haven't been off hibernating since then. We spent the long winter months writing and recording material for Album #2, to be released, we are very proud to say, by Midriff Records. The full album is still developing, but
here's your first opportunity to see us perform some of what we've got so far:

Strikes Again!
at Sin-é (150 Attorney Street @ Stanton, NYC)
Saturday, April 8th

In the meantime, visit to hear one of the new recordings: "Can't Stop Now," a live show staple.

Thanks for your support up to this point. We're damn excited to play our first show in four months, and we hope to see you at Sin-é.

Strikes Again!
- John, Mike, John, Jeff"

Go see them if you can. I've seen them live a few times and they're intense. Nice rock and roll, really heavy, stuff you can drink a beer to.


This is good.

Note to self: Do not do this.


The new Darvocets 12" is currently on sale...

I got my advance copy last night, clear green vinyl with images of crop circles:

George and I gave it a listen and it sounds great - just like vinyl. The packaging is really nice - it comes with a poster and the printing quality is very high. The clear vinyl's (glow in the dark!) already sold out but I expect more will be pressed...

I'm credited as "C Space" on this one, which makes sense since my middle name starts with an "S". I've gone by CSPACE on some old email addresses... and the studio is credited as "Smoke 'n Mirrors". This isn't the first time we've been credited this way... maybe we should change our name.

I'm happy to say I got Co-Producer and a performance credit (synths) in addition to the regular "Recorded By". This was recorded almost entirely live at Smoke and Mirrors; we only replaced 1 vocal track (all of the others were done live, in the room with the band). Main recording took place in 1 day with a second 1/2 day for the additional vocal. Mixed at Smoke and Mirrors and mastered by George over at Skyway.

My favorite tune is probably "Space Shuttle's Final Mission", although "Eyes Like Ants" is a killer (there's an mp3 of it on the Painkiller Website).

You can purchase it online from Painkiller Records here, or contact for information about ordering direct from the Darvocets.

Buy it! Buy lots of copies! Support your DIY musicians!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


There goes the neighborhood.

I am, once again, proud to be a Williamsburger.


Once again, the promise of nano.


I'd like to say a few words about the Brain Shivers record "Santiago Love Songs".

The words are: "this record is not yet done."

I've taken some shit in the last few days for this project not being completed, and it's totally warranted. It's now nearly April and we have not yet released it.

Then again, we never released the Wall, and that took an enormous amount of time and effort.

This is starting to become a bit distressing to me. If "Santiago Love Songs" isn't finished by this weekend, I'm going to take the files as they are and release it myself, on my own label. It's very depressing to work on something and have it never see the light of day, and it's not going to continue.

At this point we're looking at one adjustment to the first track and finishing the artwork. The actual production of the record took a few years, and the fact that it's this close - and not done, as it languishes in essentially the same state it's been in for months - is disheartening. I give an enormous amount of my free time, very often without pay, to get other people's projects finished.

I'm not doing any more of it until this one is done. I will partake in no cover records, no solo records, no audio transfers, no side projects, no band rehearsals, no live shows, no nothing until Brain Shivers is sent to the pressing plant.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Last night I caught "Charly" on TCM. Never seen it before.

I've read the book "Flowers for Algernon" a number of times and always loved it. I was first introduced to Charlie Gordon and the genius mouse Algernon in the short story version of the tale (written in 1959 by Daniel Keyes, who in 1966 expanded the story into a novella), which was included in one of the literature anthologies we used in elementary or middle school. We didn't read it for class, but I found it and was fascinated.

If you don't know the story, it's pretty simple: retarded man undergoes experimental brain surgery that increases his intelligence to genius levels. He's thrown into a world he's not emotionally prepared for, falls in love with his teacher, rebels against his doctors, only to learn that the success of the surgery is temporary. He slips back into his former world.

As a novella it's a great read, told entirely in the first person, in the form of Charlie's (he initially misspells his own name, hence "Charly") journal entries. We get to see his progress through his writing, and it's downright heartbreaking when he begins to lose what he'd gained.

The film is classic 1968. Split screen effects, a wonderful "Charlie goes into the world, rides motorcycles, smokes reefer, and dances to bad music" acid-trip montage, a giant overemotive 60's soundtrack. There're some nice sequences of the smart Charlie being chased by his alter ego Charly that are pretty creepy. Cliff Robertson took home the Oscar for Best Actor, and he does a damned good job. He's utterly convincing as both the slow, happy Charly and the quick, angry Charlie.

Missing is all the psychological background in the book - Charlie's childhood memories, his relationships with his parents and sister, and his longing to improve. The bittersweet sadness of a man who just can't seem to see what everyone else sees is a powerful part of the book, while the love story becomes the central thread of the film. This allows us some nice soft-focus-lovers-frollicking-in-the-park bits, which isn't all bad. As Alice Kinnian, Charly's teacher and Charlie's lover, Claire Bloom even provides a thoroughly entertaining pseudo-British accent straight out of the 50's.

Good fun.



We arrive at Headgear Studios at noon to begin mixing "Hugo Magnolia" for House of Blondes. The first step is loading the project onto the studio's Mac; fairly easy.

Next is calibrating the 2 track tape machine. Not so easy.

Calibration involves sending test tones to the machine, recording them on tape, and playing them back. If the machine is calibrated correctly, the tones will come back at the same volume they were recorded. They don't. That's OK, since the machine has controls that allow it to be adjusted. So the assistant adjusts and we try again. Still no good. The high test tone (at 10000hz) is coming back louder.

Calibrate again. Still no improvement. Problems with the recording card? Call the tech...

He suggests adjusting the bias. Fine, done, run the calibration again. Still no good. Suggestion from the assistant that we may need to cancel the session. He claims the machine calibrated fine the night before.

Ugh. Calibrate again from scratch. No improvement. This process should take about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes, and now it's been 2 hours. More calls to the tech.

Finally we decide to try and calibrate the machine at 30 inches per second (ie with the tape moving across the record heads twice as quickly; we'd been calibrating at 15ips, the standard for rock n' roll). At 30ips the machine lines up. OK. Back down to 15ips to try again, still no good.

The decision is made to mix to the tape at 30ips. Re-calibrate the machine at 30ips, lay down the test tones, and move to the ProTools project. 3 1/2 hours gone.

Now we're playing back the project and I'm hearing distortion on drums. We check everything, start bringing up other tracks, and realize the audio is not playing back at the correct speed. So we have digital clocking problems.

Start trying to diagnose the clock. No one seems to know how the clock is set up in this studio, but it's obvious the project is not playing back correctly. We disconnect one synch box, try synching to another. Without proper synch digital is worthless.

Call the tech. It's 4:30, and we haven't gotten very far...

John from House of Blondes (singer, writer, guy paying for session) arrives. He and I go out to get beer and chips. When we come back things haven't improved. I suggest opening the session setup (I don't know much about ProTools but I know it's possible for different sessions to have different preferences). We get the tech on the phone and start going through the switches...

At some point the clock resolves and the audio starts playing normally. I don't remember when or how (things are getting hazy). It's now something like 6:30 or 7 and we're hearing our tracks back through the board for the first time. I get a quick lesson on the board's automation from the assistant, who has to leave at 8 for a gig in Hoboken. Flying faders are cool. So is DOS, the OS running the program that moves the faders...

By around 8 we're building a rough mix. Now we get to play with the toys! Geoff Daking EQ's and compressors, Manley compressors, Eventide harmonizers, a Distressor, and of course the EMT plate (about as big as a queen sized bed) start making their presence heard. The plate sounds amazing. The compressors are damed good. The Trident's EQ's are pretty nice as well. Mixing with moving faders is a dream, super quick. There are 3(!) echoplexes in the room but we don't use any of them. There isn't enough time.

We get the automation running, record the faders for the rough mix, and start playing back the track and making adjustments. In analog everyone can hear you scream. John does some vocal rides and says the moving faders "feel like there's a ghost moving them". They twitch under my fingers, or are my fingers twitching?

We need to be printing to 2 track tape by midnight; our session is over at 1am (we've been graciously given an extra hour to make up for the 4 we lost earlier). We'll have time and tape to run maybe 4-5 mixes. After number 2 or 3 the tape breaks during rewind. George pulls out a razor blade and cuts out the fucked up portion. Run the mix again. Again.

By 1:15 it's all over. We listen to playback while recording the 2 track mixes into ProTools so we can hear them back at our studios and make a rough master for House of Blondes. We're back at Skyway studio by about 2, listening to the mix, which sounds fucking great. The vocal may be pushing the tape into distortion at times, but the sense of space and depth is notably different. We compare the new mix to the ProTools mixes George has been working on and there's no comparison.

We'll be back, I think. We definitely left a part of ourselves there.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Good news for Mikedot (and me).


Mixing it up this weekend...

Tonight Strikes Again! comes to Smoke and Mirrors (all 4 members - a first? maybe a second) to finish mixing their 5 song demo (Working title - "It's Not An EP"). When I say "finish" I mean get the songs to the point where our mixes may be finals... we'll listen in our various environments over the next few days and decide if they really are done. If so, cool. If not, cool. We'll tweak and go again.

I anticipate some loud music and possible imbibing. I, of course, will remain completely in control. After all, mixing a song is like flying a plane. I base this on my extensive piloting experience.

Basically, I try to keep my eyes on the dials, keep us level, and make tiny adjustments to maintain balance. If I stall, I point the nose down, and I always make sure I have enough space between me and the ground to recover (thanks Dave).

We'll have air sickness bags on hand.

Tomorrow... more mixing.

George, Ted, and I will be heading over to Headgear in Williamsburg to run an analog mix of "Hugo Magnolia" for the upcoming House of Blondes record. At some point George was able to convice lead singer John Blonde that running the ProTools session through an analog board and mixing to tape would benefit the sound immensely. They ended up booking Headgear, and we'll mix through their Trident 80C console to 1/2" tape (moving at 15ips - that's "inches per second" - the prefered speed for rock).

I'm excited about the session. The board's got flying fader automation, and the idea of mixing to tape has enormous appeal for me. Unlike mixing in ProTools at Skyway Studio (George's space), you can adjust levels on more than one track at a time. This seems so simple that it's hard to believe that it's been lost more and more as people mix in computers. Unless you have a dedicated control surface, ie a bank of faders connected to the computer, you're forced to use your mouse to do one thing at a time. Not the way it used to be done, not the way it was meant to be, and not the way we'll be doing it tomorrow.

Headgear has an actual EMT plate reverb. For those that don't know what that is, it's the weird looking box in the upper left hand picture on this page. This is one way they used to do reverb. It's heavy and very cool, and it certainly ain't digital.

Will the mix be better on analog? As I said to George, Mike, Ted, and John, we know it'll be different.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


This old guy has passed away.

Seems liver failure killed him. Guess he should have quit drinking at 200.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, talking about the band's debut record on his infrequently updated blog:

"I remember thinking that we had totally botched it—the guitars were too loud, the drums were too dry, the vocals were too low, and the energy of our live show had completely avoided being captured in the studio."

The album has sold over 3 million copies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Holy shit.


When I head over to Misanthrope Blog, I get a blank, black page.

While this is certainly appropriate, I am worried that Dave's corner of the blogsphere is damaged.

Kindly click and let us know if its working...

Monday, March 20, 2006


Interesting question in one of the comments on "Capitalism At Its Best" below. The Misanthrope asks if this is really a symptom of capitalism, or a symptom of human nature.

I'm not sure it's an either/or thing.

Anyhow, for the purpose of this blog, I will consider it a symptom of capitalism when a group of humans, acting together as a business entity with the purpose of making money, acts malevolently* toward another group of humans. When I come across stories about such occurrences, I will talk about them here as part of the new, exciting feature sarcastically entitled "Capitalism At Its Best".


* obviously, what is really malevolent is open to interpretation. I'll do my best to keep things in perspective. Giving contaminated water to our troops... evil.


Although I don't really care (I'd rather eat ground glass than run Windows), I know others will be interested in this:

Confirmed - XP on the Mac

Friday, March 17, 2006



I have no problem with this.

I'm sure they saved some money. Isn't that a corporation's obligation to its shareholders?


From either the "Permanent Waves" or "Moving Pictures" sessions at LeStudio, Morin Heights, Quebec.

Note the overhead mics. Certainly small diaphragm... are they even condensors?

Thursday, March 16, 2006


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A San Diego arena was evacuated for about two hours on Thursday, delaying a first-round game in the hugely popular national college basketball championship, after a hot dog cart attracted the attention of a bomb-sniffing dog.

Not really that surprising. Buck once grabbed an entire sausage out of a woman's hand as he was walking up Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Hue B. Mooksuki is a Minnesotan, a hockey fan, a blogger, a musician, a husband, and a father. Not in that order.

There's some pretty remarkable stuff on his blog today - this post, which questions George W. Bush's motives for appearing with young Jason McElwain. Hue's not a big GW fan, and he's got his own reasons.

He links to some stories about autism and pharmacueticals that are downright sobering and more than a bit frightening. I think Hue is pretty level headed and thoughtful about this stuff (after all, he only says that he thinks there should be more research); I haven't seen him slam on big business or be quite as dogmatic as some of us (OK, me).

Read his blog, often. And remember that next month is autism awareness month. Try to do something to help if you can.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


...who mentioned Johnny Rotten's message to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on his blog.

Here's the offical statement from his website.

Now THAT'S punk rock.


Another example of how there really aren't any bugbears involved in war profiteering.


Turns out that a number of congressmen are using taxpayer money to pay for leases on their SUV's and luxury cars. And as (giddily) reported by the New York Post, two of the most expensive leases are held by New York Democrats - Reps. Charles Rangel and Gregory Meeks, of Harlem and Brooklyn, respectively.

The most expensive ride is leased by Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark, whose Ford Expedition costs taxpayers $1,248.31 a month (that shit better be pimped out). What the hell is a Democrat doing driving a $1200 a month SUV around Arkansas? In close second is Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif, whose Acura is $1,231.51 a month, followed by Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, whose Lincoln costs a cool $1,078.21. Rangel and Meeks round out the top five.

Leave it to failed NYC Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (D-Queens) to have the cheapest taxpayer paid ride - a $219 a month Chevy Impala (sweet). Hope he doesn't get in a wreck with Mike Ross. An Expedition will roll right over an Impala.

Four New York area representatives do not use taxpayer funds to pay for their cars - and three of them are Democrats.

Personally, I think these public servants, Democrats and Republicans alike, should all be taking public transportation or carpooling (Mike Ross oughta have room in that Expedition for at least one Kennedy, and even Anthony Weiner's Impala can carry three passengers plus the driver). A grand a month for your congressman to cruise around in his Lincoln... sounds like someone may be out of touch.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Kind of a mixed weekend.

Friday I was in a daze - too many germs, too little sleep, too few vitamins. Bumping into things at work. By the end of the day I was a zombie, so I went home and slept.

Unfortunately, there was supposed to be a mix session with Strikes Again! on Friday. We were going to dive into the Hell Disaster, the perfect ending to the week.

There's nothing I hate more than cancelling a session. I'm usually just as excited as the client to crank up the speakers and see what's happening. The rush when a mix first starts to come together is a good one, not often equaled. So you know I ain't feeling right when I actually postpone a session.

Slept in Saturday, then spent a few hours at the studio trying to make up for lost time. Ted had actually taken a look at "Hell Disaster" the night before, and we got it ready for the actual mix. After a while my head was stuffed and my ears' frequency response was shot (remember, we monitor loud to counteract the equal loudness curve), so I called it a night.

Slept in Sunday (starting to see a pattern here) before walking the dogs (two of them in the house this weekend, Buck and his friend Lola, the 98 pound Rottweiler). Headed to the studio, met Machold, and threw down some quick drums on Ted's tune "Virginia".

I've begun to question the large diaphragm condensors for recording overheads. In the past, when we used small diaphragms (the AT4031's), I felt like the localization of the drums and cymbals was really clear... this cymbal here, that cymbal there. But with the large diaphragm's (the Studio Projects C1's) I'm starting to feel like there are two "clouds" on the left and right that overlap haphazardly. Sometimes the cymbals seem smeared across the whole stereo field...

After we did the "Virginia" drums we moved on to recording drums for one of the last 2 songs on George's upcoming "Robot" record. After making some mic position adjustments, George was happy with the sound of the overheads (go figure) and we got a couple of really good takes. Around 20 songs down, 1 to go, and the drums will be completely recorded. Many of them still need to be editted, and then the real work begins...

Expect that record in a year or two.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


There's been some chit chat about vinyl over at Savage Distortion (not a surprise) and we've been discussing whether colored vinyl and picture disks sound inferior to good old fashioned black vinyl.

Picture disks are different from other records (and colored vinyl) - they are simply two pieces of clear vinyl with a printed sheet in between.

Here's an interesting post by Richard Feirstein I found on SH Forums:

"One job I had in the mid to late 60's, during vacation breaks, was working in a quality control lab at a Brooklyn, NY firm that made vinyl products. They invented grass tex (artificial turf for sports), and coated vinyl used in shades!

I learned that one essential additive in vinyl for disks is carbon black. Others are anti-UV compounds, lubricants for production under heat, filles and plasticisers. A great compromise has to be made, or far more expensive additives have to be selected, if a clear enough product is desired by the customer. Can you make a good sound quality vinyl disk clear enough for a picture; sure - but it would cost you since you leave out the carbon black and many additives, and use more vinyl and less filler."

In many cases these extra costs were too great, so the quality of the vinyl was compromised for the sake of the picture - many of these, after all, were meant more as promotional items. In picture disks, the vinyl itself is also thinner, so the grooves aren't as deep - once again, lower quality sound. Indeed, picture disks released by Capitol Records often had a disclaimer which explained that the sound quality of these records was not up to the usual standards.

I expect that my copy of Luna's "The Days of Our Nights" on white vinyl sounds bad because there is less (or no) carbon black. It's also not very heavy vinyl, which doesn't help.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that colored vinyl also doesn't sound as good, and many people flat out claim that colored vinyl is compromised. One explanation I've seen several times is that the coloring process - which means putting additives (and impurities) in the vinylite - tends to harden it, degrading its response and shortening its life.

The consensus seems to be that the blacker the record, the better it will sound. So save your picture disks and colored vinyl for collecting, and get that heavyweight, jet black virgin shit for the serious listening.

And don't forget - a well cut piece of vinyl can reproduce more bass than a CD.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

THE DROIDS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR... the name of a new band I'm starting.

It will be a good time Rock and Roll band, with lots of songs about Star Wars, beer, and cars. The songs will be easy. The Star Wars songs will have no references to the "Prequels."

I plan on playing guitar and singing, and I'm looking for a second guitarist (or keyboardist), bassist, and drummer.

All interested parties can comment here or email me at

This band is going to be big, and someday you'll wish you were one of THE DROIDS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR.


Yanni's in trouble.

Monday, March 06, 2006


A nice email from the founders of, informing me that the free ride is over....

"Hello Podblaze Free Member,

We regret to inform you that we will be deleting all the
free accounts effective this Friday, March 10, 2006. We
have not made this decision lightly.

But the staggering cost of providing bandwidth has kept us
operating at a significant loss for several months now.

If you wish to continue podcasting with Podblaze, please
login to your account and upgrade to at least the $14.95
per month level. Upgrading will remove you from the list
of accounts to be deleted.

It was our sincere hope from the beginning that we could
offset our costs through selling advertising on the site.
However, that support has not been sufficient to keep us
in business.

We hope you have enjoyed using our service decide to stay
with us. But if you can't afford to stay, we understand.

Rodney Rumford & Steve Humphrey
Founders of"

Well, Rodney and Steve, I'll think about it. I do like Podblaze, and the paid service (like the one for the "Smoke and Mirrors" podcasts) is pretty good.

But, once again, it's an example of the people generating the content who are also paying for it to be made available. This happened with as well. One day, after 2 years of paying around $30 a month to have our music online and available for download, POOF!

It was all gone.