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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bobby O Interviewed On The Inspirational Creatives Webcast

Inspirational Creatives image
I want to thank Rob Lawrence for having me on his Inspirational Creatives webcast.

He asked a lot of thoughtful and insightful questions regarding the creative process that I'm not often asked.

He also got me thinking and talking about a lot of people that have helped me in the past, that I can probably never thank enough.

Check it out if you get a chance.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Def Leppard "Rock Of Ages" Isolated Vocal

Rock of Ages isolated vocal image
When Def Leppard's Pyromania album hit in 1983 it turned the band into superstars, and rightfully so, since the record was filled with hits (and selling more than 10 million copies in the US alone). One of the best was "Rock of Ages" and that's what we'll be looking closely at today.

Pyromania was produced by Mutt Lange, who has long been known as a perfectionist, and you can hear it in the isolated vocal track. Here's what to listen for:

1. The vocals are perfectly in tune and in the pocket (except for the doubles), and although the punches are pretty smooth (this was recorded back in the tape days), many of the vocal phrases are so on top of one another that the only way to sing them was via tight punching.

2. There's a lot of compression of the vocals so there's almost zero dynamics. That was a trademark of engineer Mike Shipley, and one he did very well.

3. The vocals are doubled primarily on the chorus and intro to the chorus, but on select other phrases as well.

4. Listen for the backwards vocals at 3:02.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why You Can't Perfectly Tune A Piano

Why You Can't Perfectly Tune A Piano image
Real pianos are unique instruments that have an interesting set of tuning problems that most players aren't aware of.

Here's a great video that explains why perfect tuning of a piano is impossible, Kahn Academy-style.

Beware - there's some physics involved here but it's laid out enjoyably well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Correct Understanding Of Gigging Language

It's time for something different. Here's an excerpt from How To Make Your Band Sound Great that talks about how understanding some basic gigging language can be the  secret to getting your band booked.

"The following was in a widely circulated email that went around the music community.  It’s from Memphis promoter Chris Walker who explains both how to get gigs, and more importantly, how not to get them.  If you want the hard cold facts about club gigs for acts with original music, read on.
Load-In Time
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: If a band has a load-in time of say 6:30, from that time they may attempt to enter the premises and inquire about loading in their gear. If they by chance happen to arrive early, they can occupy themselves with other activities to fill in the time, such as visiting the library, worshiping at a local church or synagogue, or beating up the homeless guy living in the dumpster.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: If a band has a load-in time of say 6:30, they arrive at 1:45 in the afternoon and knock incessantly on the back door. Usually they knock while the owner is standing knee-deep in water in the basement working with a plumber to fix a leaking drain pipe. After trudging all the way upstairs to find 5 snot-nosed kids asking if they can load-in now (and hang out all day!), they are politely told to screw themselves and come back at 6:30.

CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a person who actively works to promote a show. He promotes by distributing flyers, plugging the show wherever he can, and tries to get as many people as possible to come to the show. If he has an out-of-town band booked on the show, he takes financial responsibility to ensure they get paid and are taken care of in whatever way they need. He also takes charge in organizing the show and making sure all the bands know when they are scheduled to play and how the money works for getting paid.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a person who, after asking repeatedly to put on a show, does the following: 1) fails to promote show in any way, 2) fails to communicate any show details like lineup or order of the bands to the club (or the bands themselves), 3) makes themselves very scarce at the show, assuming they show up (they sometimes make a pathetic phone call just before doors open to say they've just contracted a rare disease and to please take care of the out-of-town band). If they do show up, when questioned about things like band order, who's taking care of the bands etc, they only respond with a blank stare.

Gas Money:
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: Gas Money is a term used to designate an amount of money to get a touring band to their next show. It sometimes includes a little more than that so they buy themselves some fast-food on their way or if they’re lucky enough, cover a room at a Motel 6. Generally gas money would be considered anything from $30 to $75 and depends on how well the show goes.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: $200 is not gas money. $200 is, “We're partying all night on the East Side” money.

Touring Band:
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a band that is engaged on a "tour". They come to the Creepy Crawl while on their tour and often come from far away places such as the far corners of the country, Canada, Europe or Asia. They are on the road for extended periods of time, sometimes for several months at a time, in a van or bus, and experience many new places along their journey. These bands are always entitled to at least gas money or more.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: Driving up from Festus (about 30 miles away) does not make you a touring band.

A "Following":
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: A "following" is a collection of fans that attend the performances of a particular band. This is what bands try to develop and grow over time to get ahead in the business, and is a measure of their general popularity. The larger a band’s following generally means they will be booked more often and on better nights at the Creepy Crawl.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: A "following" does not mean all the people that attended The Queens of The Stone Age show you opened for counts as your band’s following (perhaps the rush to the bar by the entire audience and club staff when you started playing was an indicator). And, yes, this means the Jager girls at the club that night probably didn't come to see you and probably won't be following you to your next show.

Now you get the idea of how cynical and jaded booking concerts can make you."

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Modern Look At Record Pressing

Vinyl pellets that become a record image
Vinyl is booking these days, but the problem is that the basic technology is still stuck in the 70s. Most lathes and pressing equipment is at least 30 years old, and new ones aren't being made (although there are some rumors floating around).

That means that the gear keeps on getting keeps on getting recycled from plant to plant, and new parts custom manufactured to keep those presses running.

The New York Times ran a great article on the vinyl revolution, and included this video from Independent Record Pressing in Bordentown, N.J.

Although there are lots of videos online showing how record pressing works, most are in black and white from the 50s and 60s. Here's one in full color HD that shows a plant in operation.

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: Ampeg PF50T Portoflex Bass Amp

Ampeg PF50T bass head image
For many years, the legendary Ampeg B-15 (or the smaller B-12) has been one of the most revered bass amps used on hit records because of its big round tone.

The Portoflex feature (which allowed you to flip the head over into the cabinet for easy transport) didn't matter much in the studio, except it seemed to add something to the sound that everyone really liked.

Ampeg has gone through a lot of management changes through the years, and the amps have changed along with it with the replacements being much higher than the 50 watts of the original B-15.

Now Ampeg has reintroduced a new 50 watt version that claims to have reproduced all the subtleties of the original unit with the new PF50T.

The PF50T is an all-tube head with a host of modern features including a 5 position mid control, ultra hi and low boost, input gain control, and 0 or -15dB inputs. The unit also has a transformer balanced preamp balanced line out with a ground lift as well as a preamp line out that can be taken either pre or post EQ.

Other cool thing about the PF50T is that it can be used with no speaker load without causing any damage, so it can be used as the ultimate DI. Plus it features user-adjustable bias control for easy tube replacement.

The Ampeg PF50T has an MSRP of $1259.99, while a smaller 20 watt version called the PF20T, is available for $839.99. A match cabinet, the PF-112HLF is available for $519.99.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Producer/Engineer Joe Chiccarelli On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Producer/Engineer Joe Chiccarelli image
I'm really pleased to have one of the best producer-engineer's in the business this week on the podcast - Joe Chiccarelli.

Joe has a ton of great credits including Spoon, My Morning Jacket, Morrissey, White Stripes, The Killers, The Shins, Elton John, Frank Zappa and many more.

On the show we'll talk all about being a producer today in this environment of ever decreasing budgets, and some of his techniques for getting the best out an artist.

In the intro we'll take a look at metadata and why it's so important when it comes to your songs, as well as what the new iPad Pro might mean to music creation and production in the future.

Remember that you can find the podcast at, or either on iTunes or Stitcher.


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