Fame vs Great by Nick Bullock

I'm on vacation. I'm staring at wave after wave crashing onto the sandy beach. I'm a lucky guy to be able to witness the millions of little happenings, lets call them experiments, that have over a long period of time brought about this particular sandy beach, ocean tide and sun shine into one masterful experience. I wasn't going to write a blog this week, but then I started reading The Rise by Sarah Lewis. I love vacations for lots of reasons, but at the top of my list, it allows me to kick back and enjoy catching up on reading and writing. Last time I had a couple of days of vacation I gave myself a challenge to finish three songs by the end of my four days off, this time, I'm being a little more relaxed about it all, not searching for perfection, but enjoying the process, and trusting it. photo-9

The Rise, at least so far, seems to be about the gifts that mistakes can bring to an artist or creative person as they develop. How mistakes, one by one, get us closer to achieving our goals as creatives. And that without them, we are worse off. Maybe a better way of saying that is it's not about the destination, it's about the journey (that old cliche!). I, as some may know, am not always a patient person when it comes to my career/creativity/destination vs journey... I'm not always patient with my own course of development.

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We as creative American citizens/artists/entrepreneurs can and should be pushing every envelope we are given. We should be striving for excellence, and fumbling on the way. We should not expect the world to stop for our genius, we should instead seek to never stop ourselves from striving to discover our own genius. It is not about fame or money, it is about mastery. Perfection is a concept that is unachievable, and mastery is a noun, that brings forth memories of actions taken. Mastery is born from the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, again and again and again. I'm reminded of The Gap, an idea that was first brought to my attention by Ira Glass (http://vimeo.com/85040589). The Gap is the space between our current abilities and what we see our true selves being capable of, to put it simply.

I never knew that Michelangelo was famous for leaving works unfinished. But it makes sense. If completion is the objective then what is an artist to do once the job is done, cease being an artist? I know that with every song that I have written and recorded I am only giving it up to be released or to be put down on tape because I am ready to say goodbye and walk away from an imperfect and incomplete idea or concept. No song is ever finished really. I could and sometimes do drive myself crazy with nitpicking my work to death. Sometimes, more often than not, I am needing to move on, so the song is "done". This is how I track my idea of mastery, this is how I grow. And really, my ultimate goal is not to write a hit song, or produce a hit record, it is to be a master of my craft, a master of my tools. That is what really turns me on, and what gets me going.

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And when I'm able to remember that I really do what I do (write, play, and produce music) because I love the inevitable discovery process that comes with wanting to master such crafts, I am able to take a deep breath, trust the process, enjoy the waves, breath, enjoy my book, and look forward with excitement to the good work that I am going to continue when I get back in my studio.

When I moved to Nashville, it wasn't so I could be a star, I moved there because that was where the biggest musical masters were from. So yes by all means, follow your dreams, start a business, start a band, paint a picture, try out for The Voice, move to NYC or Nashville, be an athlete. But do so for the love of the work, not to seek fortune and fame. Those things are fleeting. Do the world a favor, and seek to be a master. That is where greatness truly lies. That is what inspires people to change their lives and the lives of others for the better. The world needs more masters, maybe now more than ever.

Pop Songs with A Side of Meaning Please by Nick Bullock

There is nothing wrong with a party song. There is nothing wrong with a song about sex. There is something wrong with pop music when all we have are these two options as listeners. And yes, I know, you can dig, and find the niche artist(s) that fill the void for you, but with so much stuff happening in the world, you would think that some one out there in the pop music would start to question where we are as a human race. This is what music once did. Neil Young sang about Ohio, and Joni OHIO

 Mitchell sang about being Blue, and Springsteen sang about being Born in USA. They were and still are all considered to be part of popular music. What happened to all of our pop writers that were skilled with a melody and a turn of a phrase, AND had meaning and depth to what they had to say. I know they're out there.

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It doesn't have to be just an exercise in baring witness to the outside world, I'm just as interested in the internal struggles we all face as a music fan. Thats why I mentioned Blue earlier. But there is more to it than whiskey and bouncing asses. Is there no one that is willing to risk? Is there no one that is willing to tell it as they see it? I don't care what side of the coin you are on, what political stance you take, what you feel is what you feel, and that is all I want to hear, that's what I'll buy. I want to hear you sing of the beauty around you, of the struggles, of the humanity, both good and bad that you see. "Three chords and the truth" they used to say. I think we've lost sight of the most important part of that cliche, the truth! 

Again, I'll repeat myself, I need a good "dance party" song, or a "forget all our worries" song too (I used to play in a funky jam band after all!), we all do. Blowing off steam is good. And I understand that the professional song smiths out there have families to feed and bills to pay, so I don't blame them for taking care of their business (I'm in the same boat). But music, while giving us that particular gift of forgetting our worries, once was so much more, and I'm talking pop music here.

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I wonder if music in general can ever get there again? I believe it can. I have no idea how, or on what platform, or who it'll be. Maybe Miley Cyrus will grow up to have more depth than anyone would have guessed, maybe Bruno Mars will stop singing about banging like a guerrilla, or maybe Thom Yorke (one of my personal favorite song writers of all time) will embrace his lyrical side of writing like never before.

Bruno

I believe like all things, the pendulum will swing back, and I'm going to do everything in my power to help it along the way. Radio might be slowly dying (right?), but pop music is, as always, here to stay. Our challenge is to make it mean something again.

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What do you think?

Some things to think about before hitting record by Nick Bullock

I met with a friend last night to talk about making his record. We got together, and he played me all of the songs he was considering recording, and we talked about the arrangements, instrumentation, and production he was aiming for. As the person who is producing, engineering and finally mixing his album, it's my job to make sure that his vision is achieved, both artistically and sonically. There are so many factors that go into crossing that goal line that I thought I would just outline some thoughts on the process. board

1.) Pre-production can make all the difference in the world, turning a good song into a great song. It can also serve the artist by helping him/her get an even firmer grasp on the sounds they are going for. For the artist I mentioned above, we will be getting together at least one more time with the full band to rehearse and go over arrangements. This just helps to smooth out any kinks that show up. It's much better (and cheaper) to work all that stuff out before you actually hit record. It also serves as a confidence booster to everyone in the group.

2.) Don't be afraid to copy the greats. Get specific. There is no way that I can get your band to sound exactly like Surfer Rosa era Pixies, but it does help the producers and engineers to know that you love the bass sound on Michael Jacksons Thriller, or the snare on the Smashing Pumpkins Good Night Good Night. Borrow the sounds and the ideas of your heroes, just don't expect to make a DNA copy of their music, nobody wants that anyways. (This of course applies to the writing process too... chord progressions, snippets of melodies etc)

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3.) Now is not the time to quit smoking, or switch to tea. I'm not saying that I do not wish for you a long and healthy life, but recording can be stressful. You are spending a decent to a huge amount of money to lay down your soul for all the world to see, and you want to get it right. There can be a lot of internal pressure (and sometimes external). It can be a scary process for some. This is also where a skilled producer comes in to play as well, managing personalities and feelings almost as much as they are managing guitar tones and performances. All I'm saying is don't do anything that is going to add a big amount of stress to the process (which includes partying... the studio is not a disco tech, at least not anymore... at least mine isn't).

4.) Tune your guitar between every take. It's a good habit to get into, just do it.

5.) Make sure you have all the pics, strings, smaller instruments, cables, percussion you could possibly ever need. Write up a master list of everything you will be bringing, and get it all together the day before you load into the studio. Check it twice.

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6.) This is the moment you have been waiting for. Embrace it, trust the people you have chosen to work with. By the time you are ready to hit record, you have already made most of the difficult decisions. It's time to breath and concentrate on playing and singing your ass off. Let the rest float down stream. Don't worry about deadlines, don't worry about changing the world, don't worry about who will like this or that. Trust your self, trust in the moment, and play for the selfish joy it bring you and your mates. The best records, I think, are the ones where the band lets go of expectations, and they trust in the process of being in the moment. They make decisions based on what they enjoy about music, what they like. You've already dissected every chord and lyric, and channel strip, so now its just about having fun and making great music.

What do you do to help get yourself ready to record? Share your thoughts.

Touring: Experimental Existentialism and Shut Up and Play by Nick Bullock

Have you ever toured before or wanted to hit the road in a van, with your best buds, playing your music? Who wouldn't want to, right? A few weeks ago, my band went on a ten day tour, starting down south and eventually ending up north to play a festival set near my old stomping grounds of Ithaca NY. All in all, playing eight shows along the way. I thought I would share some thoughts on my experience, both anecdotal and practical. First, a brief background for those of you who don't know where I'm coming from. I spent the majority of my 20's, in a van touring with my best friends. tour6

We lived together, worked together, partied together, did chores together, wrote together, and recorded together. We were, in some ways, living the dream. One day at a time, we were figuring out how to be professional musicians in a professionally touring band, playing original music. We hit the jam band circuit hard for years, playing well over 150 shows a year for the majority of our time together. That is a lot of days on the road, I don't care who you are. We sacrificed much of our personal lives for the greater good of the band, and for our shared vision of what we wanted out of life. I'm very proud of those days, and I don't regret a single moment. Being in that band taught me many many things.

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But, like all things, everything comes to an end eventually. When we split up, we all went our different ways, and I, out of my creative restlessness started a new band called The Sound Awake a few years ago. In the time that has passed since my "touring as a living" days, I have gotten married, started a business, sold that business, moved to Nashville, and started my studio, and a new musical/professional life here in music city.... so this tour that I mentioned above, was really like a dipping of the toe back in the warm waters of the touring lifestyle. More than anything, I was curious to see how I handled everything... so here we go.

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The Existential Experiment:

Playing music you write to a room full of enthusiastic people is really one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced in my life. It is an experience that I would encourage anyone who writes their own music to aim for. The good news is it's a reachable goal. I didn't realize how much I missed the camaraderie of being in a band, hitting the road, and doing it together. There is a bond that gets formed, regardless of personal differences, or personality traits or whatever... it's unavoidable. You get tighter as people (sometimes this means you see both sides of people's humanity, the good and the bad), and tighter as a band. There is definitely a thing called "tour tight"... its kind of unexplainable, but after so many shows on the road, you all just gel better musically. We weren't out there quite long enough to get deep into that tightness, but it was there, lurking, and I could feel it. I wanted to drink it in more, I wanted to let that feeling wash over me more. I got a taste, and it was sweet. Touring is also an amazing social experiment, and way more times than naught, you get reminded of people's innate goodness. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing to behold. It is so easy to believe that the human race is going to hell in a hand basket, but when you get out there, meet people face to face, give them a genuine smile, you would be surprised at how many genuine smiles you get in return. Maybe that speaks more for the power of music, than anything else, but the fact remains, there are a lot of kind people out there who will offer you a couch to sleep on, buy a CD to support your dreams, cheer you on,  buy you a beer, talk guitar tones, or lend you an amp if yours breaks. I could go on and on. Touring is also a great time to catch up with old friends that you don't get to see on the regular. It is truly one of the best things about being on the road. I would go through and name all my friends that I got to see and spend some quality time with this last time out, but there are too many to name. I miss them already. All in all, the tour was very successful. When we got up to upstate NY to play the Grass Roots Festival (which is attended by about 10k-15k people), we were in shape, and we brought our A game. Nothing compares to the roar of a crowd after a particular enthusiastic song or musical moment... and my end goal all along was to get that roar, and we did, more than once. I can't tell you exactly what it feels like to be the target of a crowds raging storm of energy, but it feels so good. Its a drug, and I want more of it.

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I don't know what it would be like to do 150 dates a year again, and quite honetly, where I am in life, I would have to get paid way more than we did on this tour to consider doing it. I missed my wife, I missed sleeping in my bed. I didn't enjoy sleeping on couches quite as much as I used to remember. And I like my AC (sorry, it's true...). Touring is hard work. You drive all day, hurrying along the freeway, watching the mile markers count down, only to get to the venue to see there is no sound guy, or the bathroom doesn't have a door on it, or the PA that the venue said they have doesn't actually exist... or all of the above. If you are going to put yourself out there night in and night out, the one thing I would say, is that the music has to be the life blood, it has to be the source and the purpose, it has to be the thing that gets you off the most. And you have to believe in it, more than you believe in anything else, at least for the moment. So, if you're still into it, here are some very practical thoughts I can share with you on the my experience.

Shut up and Play: I'll keep this pretty straight forward.

Start booking the tour at least four months in advance. If you're booking yourself, it takes more time than usual to get all the ducks in a row, line up the routing properly, and make as much of a promotional splash in the market as you can before the concert date.

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It's up to you to get people through the door, and once they are there, to keep them there. I don't buy that it is only the clubs or promoters responsibility for the success of the show. We, as artists, are in charge of our carriers, not the venue. That being said, usually when venues see that you are working hard to promote a show, they will get on board and pick up the slack on their end too. A win win is what we are all aiming for, after all.

Advance the show! At least once, if not twice. Go over all the details with the talent buyer at least a month before the show. This can clear up any little hang ups, and make sure that communication is clean and obvious. This will ensure that you have little to no headaches on the road, it will help you rest easier knowing that all the t's and i's are crossed and dotted. Ultimately allowing you to concentrate on the music and relationships that can form while on the road.

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The music comes first. Don't drink too much, serisouly. Don't overdue the excesses, because it will be easy to. When I was on the road this last time, I started smoking again (why oh why! after months of successfully quitting)... why? because I'm human, and thought I could handle the temptation. Beware, is all I have to say. Have a good time, but music first, and music last. (I am now more than a week quit again, thank you very much... get back on that horse!)

Appreciate your band mates, you are all in it together. You are a team. If someone is in a bad mood, it doesn't hurt to give them space. Don't take everything to heart, people are people, love them for who they are and where they are in their own personal journey. As long as everyone is treating the music with the respect it deserves (see above), all will be good.

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Don't be afraid to warm up! In the van, in the green room, wherever. What ever you can do to make the show a better experience. Warm those pipes, warm those fingers, and don't be embarrassed about it.

You are there to provide entertainment. Read the room, it might not be a great time to take a set break after playing your second ballad in a row. You will get booked again if you keep people in the room, buying drinks. Unless your touring larger venues, and drawing hundreds of people, know that the one thing that will help you achieve your goals is to get rebooked, and get playing for more people next time. The people that were there had such a great time listening to you that they tell their friends, buy your merch, sign your mailing list and spread your gospel.

Have a mailing list. Have your merch table in a well lit and obvious place. Seems like a no brainer right? Bring a light, bring a cool table cloth or patchwork blanket to lay down... anything to make your products/merch look cooler, or more professional.

Know that nothing is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect tour. Have a a does of thick skin, if the promoter or bartender is being a total jerk, walk away respectfully. If the show is poorly attended, play your ass off regardless. Touring has its limitations, enjoy it for what it is and know that doing your best is all you really can do at the end of the day.

A big thank you to Kevin and Russ, bass and drums extraordinaire, you guys are the rock to my rock n roll. Thanks for making the tour possible. #tsatour

What are some lessons you've learned from touring? What about touring most excites you? Share you thoughts, we would love to hear them! 

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A Case Study: "Say Yes" by Elliott Smith by Nick Bullock

elliott4 One of the best songwriters maybe ever. I don't think everyone gets him, at least not at first, but when he hooks you, his genius unfolds. It's not just the words, its the twists of melody and harmony, and how the notes and chords sweep the words along. I'm a big fan, obviously, but if you are unfamiliar, do your self a favor and check it out. I started with the album XO, and my writing, production and taste in music hasn't been the same since... all for the better I like to believe.

Case Study: Say Yes by Elliott Smith

A cold start and a nice descending chord progression played on acoustic... simple right, almost seems like its just another folkie doing his thing.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl  Who's still around the morning after

Then the acoustic guitar becomes two acoustic guitars, panning immediately in time for the second half of this first verse. You also have an electric guitar appearing too, with his voice being doubled as well... maybe this isn't so cookie cutter after all. And I want to point out the lyrical/rhythmic phrasing here, without getting too music geeky, its so easy to follow along, and sing along... and the words are pretty straight forward and honest... simple and honest usually wins for me. More on that below.

We broke up a month ago and i grew up i didn't know I'd be around the morning after 

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Followed by the guitar playing the melody, panned on the right side still, then the second verse. Same simplistic beauty as the first. Again, that phrasing, and I love how the first three notes of the melody start by going up in register, as the guitar/bass line is moving down... yay for counterpoint! In general, the melody has more upward movement too.

It's always been wait and see A happy day and then and then you pay  And feel like shit the morning after  But know i feel changed around and instead falling down  I'm standing up the morning after 

Then the bridge, instrumentally, pretty much the same thing is happening... the doubling of the vocals, the electric guitar panned right, the acoustic doubled with one more or less down the middle, and the 2nd one panned to the left. That electric guitar is almost playing more lead type stuff, nice double stops... Also, worth it to mention that the bridge, depending on how you count it, is a five measure phrase.

Situations get fucked up and turned around sooner or later 

And then back to a quick verse: This is the first time in the song that he gives away his control, "you tell me"... I never knew what to make about that line, is he resigned to his role, resigned to play the fool, and he just doesn't care, or is there something more... the next section, I think, answers this, but I always wondered about this lyric, as if this is the point in the song where the main character is teetering... whats going to happen?

And I could be another fool or an expection to the rule  You tell me the morning after 

The second bridge! He harmonizes with himself, which he does really well, does it with two voices an octave apart too, which is a little bit different than what you would normally do... in a classic pop sense anyways... Other than that, it's the chord changes, and the extension of the bridge and phrase that is so cool, especially on the word "is" (and notice the electric guitar mimicking the vocals there too)... any you guitar playing songwriters out there, check that second chord out (thats how you use an augmented chord!). Lyrically, this is where he answers my earlier question, to me anyways... its not up to him who loves him and who doesn't. Just like its not up to me who loves me and who doesn't, who cares for me and who doesn't... these are all things out of my control, but we still have to ask. It's worth it in the end, even after the rejection, to ask someone to care for us, to ask someone to say yes. This moment right here, this is why I love this song, and its arguably one of my favorites by one of my favorite songwriters. Simple. Vulnerable.

Crooked spin can't come to rest  I'm damaged bad at best She'll decide what she wants I'll probably be the last to know  No one says until it shows and you see how it is They want you or they don't, Say Yes.

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And how does he end the song? With a dash of optimism... i think. And wraps it all up in barely over two minutes.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl Who's still around the morning after

If you're a fan, there is a new documentary on Elliott called Heaven Adores You, you can find more info  here:  https://www.facebook.com/HeavenAdoresYou

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGB8meDWQeQ

What song or artist should I do next??

 

Some Words with Music Band from Nashville TN by Nick Bullock

Hello from the road/tour! One of the best things about living in Nashville is the incredible talent that you are surrounded with everyday. It can be daunting, but mostly I find it extremely inspirational, and enlightening. It helps me clarify what and why I do what I do with my musical career.

Music Band is probably my favorite band in Nashville, and and I only say probably because I'm very aware of my own tendency to get super excited when I bear witness to great musicians singing great songs... Music Band is positively great. I've gotten the opportunity to see them a bunch since moving to Nashville, and under full disclosure, I've have the great fortune of knowing them personally for the last three or four years... And to sum up my feelings, last time I saw them, I immediately went home and wrote a song that was very inspired by them. And for me, whenever someone makes me want to go home, pick up my guitar and start writing, I'm all in. That, is true inspiration. Thanks for that Lee, Harry and Duncan.

Enjoy the interview!

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Nick Bullock Music: What is your favorite thing about the Nashville music scene?

Music Band: The music scene here had been gaining momentum well before we moved here two and a half years ago. Really steaming, cooking with gas. It's like a big steam engine ripping through a residential intersection at 3 in the morning and the driver is all coked out and fucked up just laying on the whistle because he hates his life and wants to ruin everyone's night. That actually might be one of my least favorite things, when a train sounds its horn for way too long and you're just too close to it. It cuts right to my core, enough for me to shout out loud, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" every time I hear it. Damn, it makes me so mad. But the Nashville music scene does not make me feel this way. We got mad respect for these streets and these peeps here. Mostly everyone who plays music here rules, and I think that's because it's the kind of town that if you come here and don't have any respect for the folks who have been holding it down OG-style then you're liable to get yourself banished. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. It's "Music City" and people have been doing this for as long as anything here. That's what's cool about Nashville. It doesn't matter what kind of music you're into because you should be able to appreciate the real heads who are on their grind. It's funny to go to shows here, and a lot of touring bands I meet will lament about this, but a lot of the time when Nashville people are watching bands they don't move around much. I think it's not because everyone's jaded on music but it's more because everyone is a musician in their own right and are actually watching the band, I mean having a real peek-see, and I can respect that.
NBM: How do you balance the artistic/creative side of being in a band with the business side of being in a band?
MB: We've been pretty much doing our own business since the beginning, so it's not really something we think about much anymore. Although lately there have been more business-related things going on for us, it's fun to learn how it's done, and I think we're fortunate to have some guidance from our friends who know what they're doing. Everyone in a band is always like, "I just want to play, man. The music industry is killing me. Etc." but we're quickly learning that if you can't deal with the business side of things then, well, what the hell? Music ain't a hobby. Not for the real heads, at least. If you're actually trying to make money or a career out of this then you gotta learn how the shit works, even if it's learning by trial and error. I think it gets to a point where the creative side of playing music is sort of like the "reward" for everything else. Or at least that seems like a good situation. I guess it's something we've just had to start balancing out of necessity.

NBM: How do songs come into creation for the band?
MB: Most of the time one of us will work on the structure of a song alone and then bring it to the the rest of the band in practice and we'll spend a few days working it out, trying different things. A lot of the songs on our new tape "Can I Live" actually came out of fucking around at our old practice space, as bands are wont to do. Some of my favorite songs we have just came up off the dome from a late-night "jam", as corny as that sounds. Once we have a song though, we spend a lot of time tweaking it and working on dynamics, harmonies, etc. usually by recording a demo at home and seeing what we like/don't like. Lyrics are really important to me (Harry), and so that's often one thing I personally start with.

 

NBM: Do you have an end goal, a big picture you are shooting for?

MB: To become immortal, and then, die.

NBM: What about being in a band excites you the most? What are you working on now? How is the process going (how did it go)?
MB: Live shows are the best. Going on the road. Meeting people, meeting other bands. Good audiences. Makin' em laugh. Free meals. Being in the van just getting all crazy. Figuring out a new song and being really excited about it. Recording. Takin' a peek-see at mixes in the studio (shout-out to Andrija at Bomb Shelter). Venues that really know how to treat musicians, and not that bullshit where you show up and everyone working there is like "I don't even want to be here tonight. What's even going on?" Havin' a plate of Lil' Smokies in the morning. Fun doggies. Seeing our parents on tour. Putting friends on "the list" due to mad respect. 

 

MB 1

Check out their new release "Can I Live" a cassette release on Infinity Cat: http://infinity-cat-recordings.myshopify.com/collections/music-band

You can listen/stream there stuff here: http://musicband.bandcamp.com

For music info/shows etc go here: https://www.facebook.com/musicband.gov

Support Local Music!

What Nashville band should I interview next?

Play For Me... by Nick Bullock

famwash

Hi, Musician on stage... I'm here, I'm the only guy in the room... can't you see me? I'm listening, I'm clapping, I'm engaged in your music... this is your soul, remember, and I am liking your soul... hello? I don't need or want you to stare at me the whole time, thats just creepy, but some eye contact would be nice when I'm the only one clapping. Just saying.

And at the end of the show, come say hi, because I stayed, I am still here, and I'm not counting the wasted girl who is flashing the bartender, or the drunk dude passed out and slowly sliding off his stool, they doesn't count. Lets talk, and get to know each other a little bit.

I was hanging at the Family Wash over on the East side in Nashville, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites spots to hang, and saw a band there in this exact context. And you know what, the singer made eye contact, and came over and said hello, and thanked me for being the only one paying attention.

It makes a difference.

A little eye contact goes a long way.

 

 

The American Dream: Just Do it (Happy 4th of July) by Nick Bullock

4th of July

Sometimes as a musician-artist, knowing what to do next can be a struggle. Questions like "How do we build our team? Who can help us get where we want to go? Where are our cheerleaders? How can I get a pub deal or record deal?" etc. These were all questions that to one extent or another, I used to ask myself all the time when I was in a full time band. And sometimes I still do. The bad news is that no two music success stories are truly the same. The good news, however, is that every one of those success stories have the same DNA, the same essence. People say you should do A to get to B, which gets you to C, then to D etc... that is all great, and you should absolutely check out what the experts say and do, after all, they're experts!

But you must remember, the best idea to get your band signed, or get that publishing deal, is always going to come from you. You have to do it, and the good news here is that you are very capable. You will need to think better and more creatively than you ever have before, and you will be tried and tested like never before. It will not be easy. I'll say it again, you already know what to do. You have all the cool, crazy and unique ideas that you will ever need, you just need to fish them out.

It's a business, and you must really understand that, even as an artist. Respect the business side of it, know that people are out there doing it so they can feed their families, know that people are out there busting their ass so they can put a roof over their head. You will need to be one of those people busting your ass. But you already know this. The most important thing is that you do it, start it, what ever it is for you. Start recording all the time, start uploading your videos, start working with smart people... what ever it is, do it. That is the only way that you will ever accomplish anything. Don't wait, do it.

Happy 4th of July. Three cheers for the american dream, all of them.

 

 

A Case Study: The War on Drugs, Red Eyes by Nick Bullock

My wife and I started a new tradition this past week, our date night has become a weekly record listening party for two. We'll go to the local record store (last week was Grimey's, on 8th Ave here in Nashville), pick out a vinyl, and go back home. We'll lay a blanket on the living room floor, picnic style, set up the speakers so we're in the sweet spot, and dig in. Last week was my turn to pick, and I grabbed a record that I have been meaning to listen to since March. We were swept away. WOD1

I saw The War on Drugs about three years ago maybe, back when I lived in Ithaca, and I fell in love with them. I know I'm in love because whenever I do fall, I always walk away with a sense of "That is what I want to do", and that is exactly what happened three years ago. And, it is with that in mind that I chose this song for my next case study... here we go :)

Intro: super cool, I love the synth sound, and instantly you get a pulse for the song, the drums enter with the bass, the bari sax, and a guitar playing some pentatonic tastiness... then the vs starts...

I'm not sure what exactly he is talking about here, but it doesn't matter. That is one of the things I love about rock n roll, yes you tell a story, but it is just as much an audio story as it is a lyrical one. What I mean by that is the music serves the lyrics, and vice versa... they make sense together. It's not about one, its about them both, together.

"Where are we This everything On my knees To beat it down To get to my soul I guessed my way Anyone can tell it's you coming But baby, don't mind Leave it on a lie Leave it your own way"

At this point its obvious that the acoustic guitar and drums are really serving as the back bone, pushing the song along at a nice pace, cruising, accompanied by their big brother the bass, and happy for the company. They are there, watching the spectacle of lights that the synths, and the guitars create, and making sure no one gets hurt.

The piano is nice in the verse too... buried a little bit in the mix, but it's there...  a nice texture.

The verse has a cool 2/4 to 4/4 meter rotation... kind if spinning on itself, you can certainly count it all in 4, but it's more fun to throw some 2's in there, I think :)

And I love the sound that he got on his voice... nice reverb/delay etc. I like how the vocals really sit nicely.

Then you have some interlude material that is pretty much the same as the intro. Is that a leslie effect on the three note guitar lick?? It happens too quick.

The 2nd verse pretty much maintains the pace of the 1st verse, with a nicely added guitar that doubles the vocal and synth line in there for a real quick second...

Which leads to my favorite part! This isn't so much a solo as it is a "lets get really excited for a minute"... they are pulling at us, teasing us, saying you know you love the momentary intensity here, and you know you love it because it's fleeting... nice guitar playing, brief though it be. All over the same chords as the vs:

2/4 I | 4/4 IV | IV | vi- V | 2/4 I | IV | IV || for those of you who care... then the breakdown.

WOD2

It's nice, swelling organ, really great sound... and still the drums, at first without the acoustic strumming its reassurances, then it builds. The acoustic shows up again. The bari sax is back, did it ever leave? Man, that organ sounds so good. I miss being in a band with an organ player. There might be some percussion back there in the mix too, can't tell. The singing starts again, and we are jolted into another solo section, which repeats the themes from the earlier... almost feels like a chorus really, on this second repeat of it... I guess it really isn't a real solo section after all... more of a chorus. And the piano returns!!! All the while, he sings for us. It's an intimate kind of vocal performance, very familiar... I think I can relate to the feeling in his voice... it's part conversational.

It's amazing to me how good all this sounds. Like really, really good. The drums are clear, the piano doesn't sound too tin-y... the vocals... This song really just transported me away. I can't think of a better song to listen to while laying down on the floor with the lights low and closing your eyes.

For me, it's just magic. And it as I write this I have three thoughts: 1. That is what I want to do. 2. I love my wife for having such an awesome idea for our weekly date night (yes, that was her idea!) and 3. I have a studio, and it is calling my name... inspiration indeed!!!

 

What song should I do next?

 

 

Playing a guitar solo on the back of a motorcycle... by Nick Bullock

cloud I get it, they go super fast, and the rush... man, it's addicting! I was on the back of a bike for the first time last week, sweeping through the Dragons Tale in North Carolina and Tennessee. If you like to ride, then you know The Dragons Tale. (After I said a few Hail Mary's) I was blown away by how oddly safe I felt once I got used to the glide of the bike. In a somewhat strange way, it reminded me of a great guitar solo. In it's breakneck pace, the sudden turns, the leaning in with your body, the speeding in and out of a curve, the tension of unforeseen scenarios that a driver will encounter, and the ability to deftly handle any precarious situation he is given. The driver must be zen at all times, flowing with the curves, and at the same time keeping a watchful eye for anything that might disrupt the pace.

A great guitar solo (or any instrument for that matter) does the same things, staying in the moment, trusting your instinct, hearing when the music "turns", keeping your technique relaxed at all times. They even made a books out of it... (Zen Guitar and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). And like the driver of the motorcycle, the driver of the solo needs to be aware of many things at once, all while keeping that improvisational wonder. Where is the drummer, pushing the beat, pulling the beat or riding the middle? What did the keys player just play, what chord extension was that? Where are we going? Am I taking the audience with me? Am I leading us up the mountain, sweeping around curves, or am I just sitting letting the bike idle?

I could talk for years about what scales go with what chords, and what you could do by superimposing a triad over another chord. I can talk about dotted rhythms, triplets, playing over the bar lines, extending phrases and  the simplistic beauty of the one note solo, but really, a good solo simply moves us to feel alive and excited. It comes from passion, and the freedom to risk falling on your face combined with the confidence to be able to take any turn in the road.

What do you do that gives you that same freedom?

Gerry

Refresh and Reset by Nick Bullock

Last week, my wife and I went on our first honest to god vacation since our honey moon, over two years ago. And I'm talking about the "lets get a way and have some fun in the sun" kind of vacation. photo-2

Meredith challenged me to write three complete songs, and be able to perform them to her by the end of the stay. The stakes were high, back rubs and getting out of kitty litter duties were on the line. I wrote the bulk of the songs by the end of the second day... I won :)

photo-3

I was reminded how healing vacations can be.

Whenever Thomas Edison had a problem he couldn't solve, he took a nap. And inevitably when he awoke he was able to solve the problem that plagued him earlier.

Vacations can reset your creative juices, and give you more energy and a new perspective on your creativity and your process. I can't remember the last time I had a care free afternoon to just do nothing but write music. When I did, my brain exploded with song ideas, and I was able to take the time and get them all down.

So, take a restful vacation, and if you can't right now, take a nap every now and again (or whatever your version of Edison's nap is).

When was the last time you had a good solid get a way? What insights did it give you?

photo-4

 

 

Infinitely Available by Nick Bullock

Infinitely available... Probably the most important thing you can ever be. The biggest gift to someone else is your time. That is the most precious possession we own, because we only have one life, and it goes by fast.

When you are meeting a friend for coffee, or going on a date with your husband or wife or girlfriend or boyfriend, give them your full attention. Look at them when you listen, and look at them when you speak. Smile with your eyes. Those non verbal cues are the most important.

When you are writing a song with a friend, give their ideas 100% of your attention. Really listen. If both of you do this, the inspiration will run over, and you will write a great song.

photo-5

When you are making an album, put away your phone. Listen to what the guitar player just overdubbed, and cheer him or her on. Tell them what it was that was awesome, before you say anything else. Be goofy, make jokes, and laugh with your band mates. Celebrate at the end of each stage. Even if it is just a high five.

photo-3

Be like a puppy, infinitely available. As best as you can. In the end, your art, your relationships and your life will have more of an impact.

photo-2

 

Thanks to GoodSex for a great week of recording. I love your songs, and I'm excited to mix this record!

 

Country Music Is... by Nick Bullock

photo-2 When was the last time you listened? I listen every day, and I have no idea really what country music is today, do you? I think we can both sit here and name a whole bunch of differing descriptions of modern country music, and we would probably both be right. It's bro country, it's 70's classic rock, it's hip hip country, it's power chord country... these are all words that get thrown around. It think it's going through a bit of a identity crisis.

I heard on the radio (NPR of all places) that Big Machine (Taylor Swifts record label) and Cumulus Radio are teaming up to form an "oldies" country music station. Basically because the older artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain have no real place in the current country music landscape. And this makes sense to me. County music has become just about the only musical outlet for all angst ridden teenage boys (albeit white teenage boys), and the boys brought their girlfriends along too. For whatever reason, the general public has decided that rock/alternative music is dead... we haven't found our next Nirvana, and maybe we never will, and country music scooped that audience up and ran with it. And in the mean time I can only imagine that Willy Nelson is scratching his head. To quote Shotgun Willy, "you can't make a record if you aint got nothing to say", maybe he was wrong, it certainly appears so. I don't blame the old guard for wanting a place on the playing field, and I hope they get there, and soon. 

I will also mention that there is practically no room for female artists in todays current landscape, which is a shame... there are some great ones (check out Miranda Lambert for an artist and Victoria Banks for a songwriter... two super talented ladies).

photo-1

For someone who just moved here, being a songwriter and a studio owner, it's an interesting view. I'm on the "inside" looking in, but still from an outsiders perspective. I can't help but be influenced by it all, and I can't relate to (let alone write) most of the tunes that are on the radio right now. But every now and again, something good shines through, something that catches my ear, and I think, yes, there is still a place at the table for people who write with sincerity. I just have to look through the beer can and chevy truck haze... but those songs are out there. Music still comes down to emotion, and at the end of the day, it is emotion that sells it. 

Benson

Here is what I like about country music. I like a good time/feel good/summer time party song, despite what I wrote about above. I can't fault anyone for wanting to shut the brain off every now and again and just enjoy the moment. So when a song goes there and sells the summer time party vibe, I'm in, but it has to be smarter. The songwriter and artist have to care more than just rhyming beer can with summer tan. I also love how there are no "musical" boundaries really, when I'm building a track for someone, or writing a tune myself, I can borrow from Jackson Brown as much as I can borrow from Dre, and it's all good. That to me speaks of endless creative potential. And at the end of the day, country music emanates from Nashville, and Nashville has always been a song city, and always will be. It's all about the song, and music that is based on the craft of songwriting will, in the end, always steer true. 

What do you like about todays country music? What do you dislike?

Death to a Musician is... by Nick Bullock

What have you listened to lately? What have you challenged your ears and musical tastes with lately? GD Public Enemy

I heard someone say this weekend that if you're listening to the same things that you listened to five years ago (or fifteen years ago etc), then you're not growing. And not growing is death to a musician. 

Dookie thriller

This got me reflecting on what exactly I have been listening to lately. My current and past musical DNA if you will. Since moving to Nashville, I have definitely been challenged to "get into" things that I normally never would. Not because I would refuse to listen, more because I never would have been exposed to these new sounds in my former surroundings. I'll be honest, I don't love it all. But there are nuggets of greatness in almost everything. Every day, by being willing to listen to new things, I grow as a songwriter and a producer. Which in turn, helps me do a better job in realizing the dreams and goals of the artists I work with, gives me new inspiration and new techniques to try as a songwriter, and new vocabulary for this beautiful language we call music. From Eric Church, to Lourdes there are a lot of crazy and creative new ideas flying around, so I challenge you to listen to it all. The cool and the uncool. Eat it up, consume every dotted rhythm and inverted arpeggio, every auto tuned vocal, and every raspy whisper of Tom Waits.

Dino Jr Junta arcade fire S Cook

I challenge you to listen to something you would never have "liked" before, in your past musical life, and write down five things that you like about the song. I'm going to do this right now with a Taylor Swift song (yup, thats right, T. Swift!) to see if I can prove my point, here we go (by the way, I've never heard this song before right now):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xg3vE8Ie_E&list=AL94UKMTqg-9Ds071vp-9iWci4ryhkG4Us

1. harmonics in the banjo in intro: who doesn't like harmonics! 

2. guitars panned r and l at 1st vs: I'm a sucker for panned guitars, especially when they are doing the cool layering type of parts, not just out right strumming

3. the scarlet letter you were Juliet line is a good one in the 2nd vs: it stuck out to me, I couldn't type fast enough though to get all the words down right here.

4. the pizzicato in the violin at the breakdown: sometimes I forget that you can pick at the fiddle, you don't always need to bow it... a nice reminder

5. i like the simplicity of the instrumental, and how the fiddle sounds more like a guitar... a little coldplay in terms of the rhythm/phrasing: just a cool and creative instrumental break, not a solo per se, which is a nice change

Trane A go go XO BTS

Well, there are my 5 things. For the record, at first listen, I see why the song has over a million you tube views, it's catchy, it pulls at the ol heart strings... I think the song is good, but I don't necessarily like it. And really, whether or not I like it is irrelevant. The important part is that the next time I'm recording a banjo, maybe I'll think to have the banjo play with harmonics instead of the actual fretted note. Or maybe I'll ask the fiddle player to play it pizzicato instead. There is a whole big world of inspiration and ideas out there, we just have to be open and wise enough to know that we should be looking and listening for it in even the most unexpected of places. Once again, if you're only listening to the same music you listened to in your past, you're musically dying.

What song did you try the challenge with? What did you like about it?

ps: I have to congratulate Danny Sierra on releasing his first EP this week. Danny was the first artist that asked me to work with him when I moved here some months ago. He is an amazingly talented songwriter and singer... you can check him out at http://danielsierraleone.bandcamp.com Go Danny Go!

Ego is a Stubborn-No Good-Rotten Tomato by Nick Bullock

ego 1 The Not So Obvious 

Have you ever struggled with the balance of ego, and humility. I know I have. Every time I get on stage I wonder how many people will come, will they like (love) me, and what does it mean if they don't. Is it even ok that I'm feeling these feelings? These are all small bits and pieces of my ego poking through. We've all been told, or tell ourselves to not worry about that, just go out there and be yourself, and do your thing. Sometimes this is easier said than done. The ego here, is playing hide and seek with our own sense of self worth. We all want to be loved.

ego 2

The Obvious

Then there are the obvious ego jerks, and we all know the type. Truth be told, we've probably all been guilty of this behavior at some point in our lives. Most of us learn that it does now pay to be a dick. On the surface it doesn't pay because everyone will look at you with daggers of judgement in their eyes, sometimes behind your back, sometimes right to your face. On a deeper level, it doesn't pay because (even if we're super rich and famous and trick some people into liking us) we are just robbing ourselves of meaning by covering up our vulnerable insides that we all carry. And that vulnerability is the good stuff.

ego 1

The Stubborn Ego

Then there is the pesky and persistent ego. This kind says, "even though nobody likes these polka songs I write, I know they are the best thing ever. I just don't understand why the record companies, music supervisors, and booking agents don't get it?". It might be true that those polka tunes are the best ever, and if you are writing polka songs purely for your own artistic expression, then more power to you. But if you are trying to have some kind of measurable success, then you might want to drop the ego, and say "my polka songs are great, but they aren't for everyone, maybe, if I want to be a professional musician, I should be open to other possibilities". I know for myself, I am constantly struggling with this one. Do I write/produce/record for you, the listener, or me the artist. I'm learning slowly but surely, that there is a possibility of me doing both. Either way, I think it is very healthy to be open to all possibilities, and not let ego cloud your vision. Sometimes you can grow, learn and achieve amazing results, that you never would have thought possible had you been stubborn and only stuck to your "I want to be a polka superstar" mentality. Life is too short to be short sighted.

ps: no offense polka enthusiasts, you all rock. :)

first picture is from http://www.vine2victory.com #1, the second is from http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com and the third is from http://esotericmystica.blogspot.com

 

 

Bob Marley, Redemption and Me by Nick Bullock

I'm not really a fan of Reggae, as I'm sure my old friends (and old band mates especially) can attest to, especially living in such a small hippie town for so long before moving here to Nashville. It often seemed like it was everywhere in little ol Ithaca NY. It's not that it isn't good, there is some great stuff out there, especially some of the older recordings, but in general, I always felt distant from it. Maybe I was just over saturated with it at one point and got jaded. But once upon a time, when I first stared to play the guitar, I learned Bob Marley's Redemption Song. The intro lick was easy, but for the beginner still posed a little bit of a challenge, and the chords were all nice and simple. It was, and still is a great camp fire song. And truth be told, I had heard Dave Matthews perform it, so it was obvisouly cool (does Dave Matthews count as a guilty pleasure now?). This was when I was young, impressionable, and susceptible to the hippie jam band culture, and I inhaled it all whole for a long while. Only to reject my younger musical ways as I got older and grew into my own skin.

Which brings me to last night, as I'm driving my car home and listening to the radio. When the song starts to play and I hear that opening guitar lick, my immediate instinct is to switch the station, and my hand reached out to do so. But for some reason I stopped, hand hanging in the air, half way to the radio dial. I started to listen, really listen again. And the words cut through all the bullshit in my mind. I was reminded again of what I knew at such a young age, the lyrics are genius, and even more so moving. Not because they are clever, or hip, but because they are honest, and go way beyond the initial meaning. And I'm not going ot really get into what that initial meaning is, or pretend to understand the mind and soul of another man and his intentions for writing a song, but I will say that the lyrics are undeniably universal. And I was reminded that maybe some things from my past are worth rediscovering, and that I should suspend my auto-discard impulse response. Who knows, maybe I'll dust off the old patch work pants... probably not.

What stories from "yesterday" can teach you something new "today"? What songs have new meaning to you in your life today?

Bob 2

photo taken off the internet, not from me :)

 

Everyday by Nick Bullock

Everyday: read a book in your field

write a song

songwrtng

teach someone younger than you

teach

listen to your favorite vinyl record

vinyl

go to a house show

houseshow

go to a big concert

bigshow

kiss your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend

tell a friend you love them

schedule a coffee meeting with someone you admire

Calenadar

learn something new about gear

gear

look for a mentor

go to the gym

record music with your friends

studio

smell the flowers

flowers 7

...or, if you're like me, take a breath, and do what you can today, and trust the process.

 

Ten Thoughts on Touring by Nick Bullock

Do you ever wonder what it's like to drive cross country with your best buds and play music that you love? If you are thinking about making that move, here are some thoughts on it that I hope you'll find helpful. tour

I miss touring! I spent about ten years of my life playing well over a thousand shows and living out of a van. Touring with the same guys night in and night out. We were lucky, we made our living playing our music for audiences around the country. Touring can be such a fun way make a living, and it can be a very tough lifestyle. Here are some thoughts/tips/advice (call it whatever you want)...

1.) Don't be an ass and drink when it's your turn to drive.

Seriously a dick move here. It's a great way to build resentment in the van, and can make for a very angry band in the morning, and at the next show, which of course, an audience can pick up on. Pull your weight, I don't care what you play.

2.) Set up your merch every night, even if you don't want to. When the show is over, go and hang out by the table.

An obvious one it would seem, but I've been to so many shows where it'll be 4 or 5 bands on the bill, and only two of them have their shwag out and viewable. Even if you don't have any t-shirts, and the record hasn't come out yet, at least have a snazzy mailing list, a pen (yes!) and a light by which to see. Also, when you can, place the merch by the door, so people walk by it on their way out.  (Admittedly, I could take my own advice here sometimes too!)

3.) When you crash with strangers, treat their house with respect, make your bed, do the dishes, say thank you with your actions, not just your words.

The strangers you meet on the road are the real reason we do this. They are friends in the making and fans for life. It builds good will, and the next time you're in town, they are likely to have you over again, come to the show, tell all their friends that the coolest band in the world is coming to town etc.

4.) Try not to eat at too many greasy spoon joints.

When  I finally learned this lesson, I started the habit of packing and bringing some healthy food with me, especially on the shorter runs of shows. You aren't always in control of what your eating options are, but make healthy choices when you can. A good trick is to shop for breakfast at a local grocery store instead of the diner. More now than ever before it seems like they'll have an organic section with some healthy options. If you're touring, your in it for the long haul, your gut (and your wallet) will thank you.

5.) Be on time, even though no one else will be.

Hurry up and wait is the name of the game. But being on time is a good way to build trust with venues and promoters, even though most people won't be. It is also a good way to guarantee you a sound check, which will make the show that much better.

6.) Never, ever, ever talk shit about another band you are playing with. 

Word will get out, and it's not the other bands that will suffer, you'll be known as a prick. Don't be a prick.

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7.) Don't stare at your shoes.

The show is for you, AND the audience. Look at them, or at least pretend to. I still struggle with this one sometimes, but inevitably, when I come out of my shell, the show takes a turn for the better. Have fun, you're playing music.

8.) Tip the bartenders at every show.

They, more often than not, have the ears of their bosses, and promoters. Treat everyone you meet well, and they will more than likely remember you for it, even if it doesn't seem so at first. Oh yeah, and of course when you do meet an asshole, ignore them.

9.) Give your band mates space when they need it. 

Everyone gets pissy now and again. We miss our significant others back at home, we're hung over, we don't want to drive 5 hours today, we're missing the game, whatever the case, don't take things personally. If someone says something that (you know) they don't really mean, let it roll off your shoulders at the moment, and when calmer heads prevail, bring it up then if you really need to (maybe after the kick ass sold our show you just played). Communication is of course key, but timing is a good thing to get a feel for too.

10.) Stop to smell the roses.

There are so many wonderful experiences to have when you're out there on the road, playing show after show. You're with your best friends (at least some of them!), you're getting to see the country and meet so many cool people, making friends every where you go. Don't take it for granted. Some of those friendships I formed I still cherish dearly to this day. Stop and smell the roses, and smile.

So what did I miss?? What are some other things that every band should know when they start touring?

Case Study: Arctic Monkeys "Do I Wanna Know" by Nick Bullock

arctic-monkeys-2013 Do you ever wonder how they do it? When you hear that song that just kills you with it's goodness? It doesn't happen to me everyday, but when it does, it hits me like a ton of bricks. So I thought I would share this with you, you lover of music, you songwriter, you producer.

Writing a great song isn't the easiest thing in the world, but sometimes if we listen with the right mind set and ears we can sneak a peak, lift the vail, and understand the creative decisions that were made. And when we do, we are blessed with new ideas and influences for our own music, and it will push us all to create better art.  It can help us to write a great song.

This week i'm choosing Do I Wanna Know by the Arctic Monkeys. Here we go!

Intro/1st Vs

It starts with the kick drum, and maybe some claps, definitely some kind of cool percussion sound with lots of reverb... for only two measures, then come the guitars, panned left and right. Anyone who knows me, or has worked with me knows I'm a sucker for panned guitars, they just sound so good! So the guitars start this riff, and as you will discover, this riff is really the basis of the song. It's cool when a song doesn't stick to the classic chord changes kind of vibe, and instead is based solely around this cool melodic idea. The band does it really well here. What is really like about this one, and what I think separates it from the rest is that it is a four bar phrase, which is long, and makes it more interesting for me. Then the vocals come in, and I really like what they did with the subtle reverb/slap back on his voice, it is, on the surface, pretty clean and it sits nicely with the drums/percussion/guitars. I almost forgot the bass! The bass entered with the guitars, but is tucked in nicely, a round-ish tone, that doesn't scream for attention, and is just sitting there (great!). Also notice that it is cherry picking certain notes of the guitar riff, and not playing the whole thing.

Pre-chorus/Chorus

Nice BGV's (back ground vocals), and you gotta love that the tambourine on beat 4. There is also a tremolo guitar that they added to both the right and the left speakers, as well as a feedback sound in the right. Both of those sounds continue through the chorus. The tambourine goes to beat 2 and 4 for the chorus, as well as another guitar gets added right down the middle, which is interesting to me. The vocals are nice here too, they take the BGV mentioned before and sing the main melody an octave above, along with the lead vocals. And lastly the drums open up a bit more, with crashes on the cymbals. It's interesting here that they really keep the drums way back in the mix, with the exception of the kick and the percussion I mentioned in the intro (which goes all the way through the song).

2nd Vs/Pre Chorus

Almost always my favorite thing to really mess with. It's almost like the second verse is really the place to pull out the special stuff, try some way to make it different, pull a little bit of the magic out. This is of course not the rule, but I am always listening for how other artists/producers treat the 2nd verse. They do it really cool here, yes the percussion stays, but they drop the guitars out all together for the first half, just leaving the lead vocal, and that unsuspecting bass. They also add some BGV stabs, at the ends of phrases, a cool idea. The tambourine gets added to the 2nd half of the verse on beat 4, as well as the guitar riff. similar to what it did in the prechorus. There is a nicely timed little pause that leads right into the prechorus, and I didn't mention this at the first prechorus, but the fuzzy/feedback guitar leads the song really nicely into the prechorus, and it's even more obvous going into the second prechorus because of that pause. Again, all the same instruments that were present for the first pre chorus are present here at the second.

2nd Chorus

Again, all the instruments that were there in the 1st are there again, there is a cool piano or guitar upper register octave thing that is playing on the down beats, as well as a slinky guitar melody that is way back in the mix (which doesn't get added till about eight measure in). There is also a great call and response happening throughout the first eight measures, that is a little different from the first chorus. There is still the octave above BGV. At first, you're thinking ok, cool, they added some more elements to the music, but this chorus is just like the last one, then the next eight measures start and you realize, oh shit, they are repeating the pre chorus here, but with the chorus treatment, that is pretty cool. Then they do what I think is my favorite part of the whole song, throughout the next eight measures, they combine the two, the pre chorus melody/lyrics, the chorus melody and lyric, they both kind of circle each other, while the guitars/bass/drums and all the other wonderful sounds are swirling all around. Pretty rad move there arctic monkeys, I like your style. All thats left is the vamp out, with the slinky guitar melody repeating (which is actually two different guitars, one backwards, and one playing a melodic, single note staccato part), and the big guitars. The drums slowly fade, and your left with the kick, claps, and guitar riff... Pretty awesome.

You tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpOSxM0rNPM

Give it a listen and tell me what I missed? What song should I do a case study of next?

 

You Never Know Who's In The Room by Nick Bullock

brodge 3 When I meet people, I imagine that one day they could be president.

It's good to be aware that there are many times in the life of a musician (or any profession for that matter) where we need a helping hand, and you never know where that helping hand will come from.

In my twenties, I made most of my living touring the jam band circuit across the country. Like most bands, our earliest fans were our friends and roommates. One such friend/roommate was Mike, who after moving back to Boston post college, introduced us to one of his best friends, Andrew. As we continued to tour more and more, we became just as tight with Andrew, and once Mike moved to California, we would stay with Andrew at every Boston stop on tour.

Fast forward a couple of years and Andrew is working for a licensing company, and getting our music placed on TV shows, getting us massive exposure and a good pay check. To this day, Andrew is still championing the music I make and write to different TV shows, movies and the like.

You never know who is in the room, you never know who will be a new super fan and can take your music to the next level, you never know who will be the one to give you that helping hand. It pays to be aware, and genuine. It pays to be humble and to love. Build your bridges with concrete hand shakes and look people in the eye, it pays.

Do you have a story of unexpected help or surprise friendship? Share it in the comment section below.

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