Various Interest

Warning, lots of music ahead.

My music taste can easily be guessed, but there are some things in my music collection that I just want to show people because they are, in my mind, interesting or unique.

Henry Rollins started his career fronting the punk band Black Flag in 1981, replacing their old vocalist. He has since gone on to be an actor, writer, television and radio host, and comedian (his stand up is mostly rants but they’re funny). He formed the Rollins Band and they released this video for a song they originally were just gonna put on the B-Side of a cassette or as a Demo song. The label liked it so much they made it THE single for the album and it starts off very un-punk, but the theme of the song is what really get’s me. Having a liar in your life is no easy thing, but one who willingly manipulates you is tragic ally an often occurrence.

Die Antwoord…what to say…Honestly this group is just so weird, out there, and crazy that you just can’t love them. What started out as one friend showing me a song to annoy me turned into have that song stuck in my head, which led me to then play that one song nonstop, then proceeding to genuinely get into them after looking up a few songs. The Rap/Rave group from South Africa features is made up of Rappers Ninja, Yolandi Visser, and producer/DJ God (Formerly Known as DJ Hi-Tek) Their live shows are incredible and they just put out so much energy I’d dare even the Grinch to not smile at one of their shows.

I’ll keep this one short since most people have probably seen Westworld. Ramin Djawadi’s rendition of Paint it Black with an old western feel is just to good not to like, and without spoiling anything it is introduced in quite an epic scene.

Polyphia is…well my view on it is a little more private. Great Progressive Metal band that is very chill and relaxing. Almost all of their songs, in my opinion, basically make up a perfect “sexy time” soundtrack. I’ve never been one to like R&B so discovering this band only just a few weeks ago was pretty interesting. All of the guitar parts have that stereotypical smooth jazz twang/R&B twang to them. The bass while being a six string bass isn’t playing at 260 bpm. It’s all very low key, smooth, sexy music.

Ghost is a modern Heavy Metal band with a very 70’s kind of sound. Their gimmick is being a bunch of guys in masks with secret identities singing about Satan, Cults, and other sinful things. The vocalist even dresses like the pope and the band are actively trying to take over the world. It’s honestly all tongue and cheek but this band is the epitome of the stereotypical 70’s band that parents feared. Talking about Satan, trying to brainwash the young people of the world etc.

Alright this one I HAVE to keep short. Vektor’s Terminal Redux is simply a masterpiece, lyrically, musically and just the songwriting in general. The story behind the concept album is incredibly well thought out and backed up by amazing music. I even in my own spare time wrote up a synopsis of the album after listening to it in full for the 15th time. I posted the full album but if you want proof of just amazing songwriting just look at the first song “Charging the Void”. At the 6:20 mark some wonderful guitar melodies give off a sci-fi vibe with some Star Trek-esque vocal harmonies later in the song.

 

 

 

Video Games and Music Videos

A long time ago around 2003 – 2005 when I was in Elementary School, transitioning into Middle School, before I ever had a computer in my house I’d basically get home and pop on MTV2 (before the reality TV shows started) and just listen to music HOPING something rock would play. One day they played something I had never seen before.

So one I’d never heard of Breaking Benjamin before since MTV never ran their music videos until after this album came out. And two the video was so well done I’d thought the game developers had done the video for the song. It was great, I wanted more, little did I know this was already a show on MTV2.

From 2004 – 2005 Video Mods took songs from artists popular at the time and paired them together with video games that were just releasing or popular at the time.

Here are some of the videos they made along the span of the show.

Game: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Song: Take Me Out

Game: SSX 3
Artists: Missy Elliot ft. Ludacris
Song: Gossip Folks

Game: Death Jr.
Artist: My Chemical Romance
Song: I’m Not Okay (I promise)

Game: Tribes: Vengeance
Artist: The Von Bondies
Song: C’mon C’mon

What is a Xylosynth?

First of all I had no idea what this instrument was until I came upon a band’s music video and it just perplexed me. “Wait he’s playing a Xylophone?” To the Youtube comments I said to myself,  “Wait. It’s a synth too?”. More on that latter but let’s talk about the instrument itself first. The xylosynth, also known as a “xylophonic synthesizer”, is an instrument created by Will Wernick in 1986, and was originally designed specifically for the English pop band, the Drum Theatre. So far there seems to be only one manufacturer of Xylosynths and that is Wernick Ltd in the UK.

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They describe the instrument as “the world’s foremost MIDI mallet percussion controller with a natural playing surface. The solid hardwood bars make the Xylosynth™ stand out in the field of electronic percussion”. It seems that a lot of effort and development has gone into this instrument because  they’ve managed to get the latency of each input down to 0.003 seconds or less. “Our revolutionary sensing and filtering technology enables the Xylosynth™ to bring out the best in your playing. With a vast dynamic range, lightning fast response and triggering time, what you play is exactly what you hear.” Wernick offers 2, 3, 4 and 5 octave models of the instrument, they made it lightweight and compact with fast set up and portability.

Here are the prices for a Xylosynth, this includes delivery as well all of the different variants of the instrument. Honestly $2,000 – $4,800 is about what you would pay or even less for a good quality studio/touring guitar that was hand made (not necessarily a custom shop)

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Now this band ONI is a Progressive Death Metal band from our (my) neighbors to the north, Canada or more specifically Ontario. Their xylosynth player Johnny DeAngelis plays it for every song, it’s not just a one off thing they do for 1 or 2 songs. Here’s a video of him playing along to a song from their newest album, especially check out the part at 3:22 to see the solo.

In the video description Johnny  says “Everyone is always asking me at our shows, ‘what the hell is a xylosynth?’, so I’m glad that our fans can finally see the instrument demonstrated clearly. It’s definitely built and played like a xylophone, but it’s essentially a traditional synthesizer which allows me to play with a wide range of sound options. Everything from solo/lead parts to more textured stuff, like when I’m riffing with the guitars. This ‘Barn Burner’ video is a really good example of what I bring to the table in Oni.”

Why can’t I live in Europe?

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I won’t even say anything right now……….

 

 

OK FINE!

Every year I  see these huge European festival posters have anywhere from 10 – 30+ bands that I want to see live . now granted every band I want to see has toured in the U.S. at one point or another in the past 2 years, but going to each individual concert costs way more that what it would for a 3 day camping pass for one of these festivals.

Traditionally the European festivals take place over the Summer and are 2-4 day outdoor shows with food and merch vendors, band signings/meet & greets, giveaways, bars, outdoor camping, and of course dozens of bands.

Hellfest which is held in Clisson, France is one of these massive festivals. The festival is SO massive that the camping grounds are not big enough to hold all ~150,000 attendees, so the festival also offers all day shuttles to near by hotels and towns. They even have a sponsored train that brings festival goers to Clisson all day long.

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I’ve collected a few photos to show off some of the awesomeness that is Hellfest Open Air

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Here is an “Aftermovie” or a wrap up of the 2016 Hellfest

 

Sports?

So coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday most people (me included) are getting tired of the leftovers from Thursday. One thing I’m not getting over is my Pittsburgh Steelers winning against the Indianapolis Colts 28 – 7.

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Honestly I never really got into Football enough to watch it week to week until 2 years ago despite playing in Middle School and my freshman year in High School. I’d always watch the Super Bowl, just because (theoretically) you have the two best teams of the season competing for a good game of Football. My parents never watch Football, but my Grandma on my mom’s side loves to watch, and since she comes from Pittsburgh I naturally grew up a fan of theirs.

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For those who may not follow Football the Steelers are one of the most famous teams in the league. They have 6 Super Bowl wins, which is the most in the history of the NFL. Rather than explain all of their history here is a nice summary prepared by the team themselves.

 

 

Me Playing?

So you’ve seen my guitars, listen to me talk about them and describe them, as well as my love for Metal, but I’ve never shown a video of me playing. Mostly because I think that I suck, also just because it’s not ideal to record a video of me with the amp I currently have.

#gojira #wheredragonsdwell #guitarcover #espguitars #metal

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These were recorded before the Instagram update that allowed longer video length. I’m very proud of the second video because 1. It got more likes (a couple from an official ESP Guitars page) and also the audio is balanced out so that you can hear my guitar more, versus the first video.

So recently I bought myself an Audio Interface and an Amp simulator program (Bias FX) and it’s a night and day difference in terms of audio quality from my 15W practice amp. And this time I show some of my chops with a little shredding. Spoiler Alert, I like Middle Eastern/Arabic scales.

Here’s a photo of my Audio interface, as well as what Bias FX Desktop looks like.

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Rain and Music (ft. Beer)

While these are all “old” videos, I go through my own Instagram and watch my own videos (humble brag) because I post things that I like, and that I’d like to see, so yeah

#survive #ahb #music #chill #rain #thunderstorm

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S U R V I V E is an 80’s sounding Electronic group. I knew of them since late Spring, but I posted this video after realizing that they did the soundtrack for the Netflix Original series “Stranger Things”. So it got me in the mood for this clip.

#decrepitbirth #solarimpulse #metal #techdeath

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This clip is a little different, it’s a panning shot of the sky/treeline to a heavier song. Decrepit Birth lyrically talk more about spirituality, the cosmos, and the ether. They’re really hippies who play Technical Death Metal instead of “Peace & Love” music. Bonus photo of me and their lead singer Bill Robinson at Summer Slaughter 2014.

Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth. Very chill dude. #decrepitbirth #deathmetal #techdeath #idol #brutal

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Overall this is just a side hobby for me, behind guitar, video games, and music as a whole. however going further I’d love to get a tripod for my camera (now that my phone camera is cracked) and try to get the audio to have similar acoustics while still being able to hear the rain.

Also, Beer

Mastodon and Beer night! #mastodon #metal #stargasm #beer #stellaartois #goodvibes #chill

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Rain and Music

So a little side hobby of mine is to sit on my porch when it rains, usually with a beer, and just watch the rain pour onto and around my walkway and just think of songs that go well with the rain. Some are light, and peaceful, others are what I usually listen to, but a more melodic part of the song. I started recording these onto my Instagram whenever I could and I ended up liking them a lot with a gray scale/black and white filter (usually)

Rain and Borknagar go well together. #borknagar #metal #kvlt #theearthling #rain

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Somehow my front yard is just the perfect visual for these snippets. The plants just grow in a way that allows them to float above the water like lilies. The audio is just played through the phone while I simultaneously record and a nice echo is added by the case my phone is in.

The limiting factor early on was that Instagram only allowed up to 15 second videos, however with the update this past Summer now I was able to record up to 1 minute in length.

 

My Guitars: Part 2

My first guitar (and of course my favorite, no matter how stubborn) is my Jackson RR3. I got this guitar in December, 2009 as a Christmas present to myself along with a cheap guitar amp. I got the guitar for a pretty good deal because at the time these retailed for $799.99 USD but Guitar Center had them on sale for $399.99, and free ground shipping with a guaranteed delivery date of December 23rd. Win win in my book.

The reason this guitar is stubborn is because of the Tremelo system, or whammy bar for those not fluent in guitar. Long story short it’s not a good idea for a beginner to get a guitar with a tremelo system just because it’s finicky with tuning, is a pain to restring, and also like me you may find that as you never use tremelo for anything other than controlling feedback. End rant.

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The RR3 is very similar to my MS-1 in terms of body shape. Jackson guitars is the originator of this body shape with the invention of a custom guitar for late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads (RR)

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Grover Jackson, who was working for Charvel guitars at the time came up with the idea of Rhoads’ custom guitar and shape, but knew that it wouldn’t fit in with Charvel’s typical line of guitars so Grover founded Jackson guitars.

Here are the specs for the RR3

Alder body
Bolt-on maple neck with scarf joint headstock
Ivoroid binding on neck and headstock
Seymour Duncan JB TB4 humbucker (bridge) and Jazz SH2N (neck) humbucker
Compound-radius rosewood fretboard
MOTO sharkfin inlays
25-1/2″ scale
22 jumbo frets
Floyd Rose Licensed Jackson low-profile double-locking tremolo
Volume, volume, tone, three-way
Sealed die-cast tuners
Chrome pickguard
Black hardware

 

 

My Guitars: Part 1

So I own a few guitars and each of them is pretty important to me, they’re my tools for my passion and each of them is unique in certian ways.PB070022.JPGPB070039.JPGThis is the 3rd guitar I’ve ever owned, I got it as a High School graduation present from  my dad. The guitar is made by ESP Guitars and is part of their affordable LTD line, but even being affordable this thing is pretty top quality.  What makes this guitar special is that it’s a signature guitar, meaning it’s a guitar made to the specifications of an endorsed musician.original.jpg14-04-19_DevilDriver_Mike_Spreitzer_06.jpgMike Spreitzer of the band DevilDriver signed an officialy endorsement deal with ESP guitars in 2005, and in 2011 his signature guitar was announced at the NAMM show. DevilDriver was never really one of my favorite bands until the end of High School and I just saw videos of Spreitzer with his guitar and it just seemed perfect for me and what I look for in a guitar. A “V” shaped body, it has more wood for a nice rich tone, and a guitar shape like that just looks right on a big guy like me.

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Set-Thru-Body Construction
25.5″ Scale
Mahogany Body
Mahogany Neck
Ebony Fingerboard
42mm Standard Nut
Thin U Neck Contour
24 XJ Frets
Black Nickel Hardware
ESP Locking Tuners
TonePros Locking TOM Bridge
EMG 81 (B & N) Active p.u.
Master Volume/Tone
3-way pickup switch