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Author Topic: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?  (Read 26267 times)

bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #45 on: August 27, 2010, 10:05:31 am »

This was to Jamie...I'm still figuring out this PSW thing.
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Bob Ebeling
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RSettee

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #46 on: August 27, 2010, 10:29:15 am »

bob ebeling wrote on Thu, 26 August 2010 20:56

Elliott Smith recorded most of his first two records on a $75 guitar he found at a pawn shop.  The vocal mic was some radio shack thing.  He found a nice sounding area under the stairway of his then girlfriends house.

If it were 2010 he wouldn't have recorded those records because he'd be convinced he needed to wait until he had Neumann mics and an 1960's j45 acoustic.


Perhaps. Those are great songs, regardless of the equipment used. But the other train of thought is either that he'd do it anyways and be lost in the deluge of artists and musicians, or he'd be so intimidated by that, where he wouldn't even record the music.  Laughing To a certain extent, I think that Elliott kind of pioneered the lo-fi intimate indie artist type thing.....nowadays if it came out, i'm not sure if it would have the same effect.

Personally, I wouldn't want to listen to my four track lo-fi stuff if I were not me. I don't think that it's very good, mainly because i'm not really that naturally skilled--I need lots of tracks to fully develop what I have going on in my head. Sometimes I do think that artists should wait until they're ready and where they've got pretty close to the vision of what they're trying to accomplish. Some artists succeed with the raw and spontaneous thing; others have nuances that are best developed over the course of a song or album, which is all time and money. Mainly time these days. Recording software has got amazing--you just need to develop what's going on and spend the time to get it right. Part of me is a little disappointed that with all the cheapness in technology where one can  make a top flight album, that so many acts are taking the quick and easy way out and staying at the demo level and making underwhelming records.

T-Model Ford didn't start playing and recording until he was in his 60's, I think!
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C.Cash

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #47 on: August 27, 2010, 10:54:35 am »

Awesome thread!
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #48 on: August 27, 2010, 11:47:20 am »

I really wonder how much further I would have made it as an artist, which was at one time my sole aspiration.  As equipment entered the picture to get the art made, even in 1992, buying a 16 track for 5 grand, the stress of being a studio operator started to directly take away this free and always writing guy and turn him into an always thinking about money and gear guy.

There was a direct effect where gear, in my case, wrecked (erased?, slowly turned away?) an artist.  Now, that was my choice and there have been hundreds of great things that have come from going the gear way, but could I have been that great artist who today would be sitting in Scotland, drinking a Guinness and scribbling lyric ideas on napkins while trying not to let those 4 girls in the corner recognize who I am?

I think if I had to do it all again, I might not have ever bought that 16 track in 1992 and rather put all that time and effort into rehearsing a band, writing songs, and spending more time in Jamaica...but who's to say?  
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Bob Ebeling
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compasspnt

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #49 on: August 27, 2010, 12:21:59 pm »

bob ebeling wrote on Fri, 27 August 2010 11:47

I really wonder how much further I would have made it as an artist, which was at one time my sole aspiration.  As equipment entered the picture to get the art made, even in 1992, buying a 16 track for 5 grand, the stress of being a studio operator started to directly take away this free and always writing guy and turn him into an always thinking about money and gear guy.

There was a direct effect where gear, in my case, wrecked (erased?, slowly turned away?) an artist.  Now, that was my choice and there have been hundreds of great things that have come from going the gear way, but could I have been that great artist who today would be sitting in Scotland, drinking a Guinness and scribbling lyric ideas on napkins while trying not to let those 4 girls in the corner recognize who I am?

I think if I had to do it all again, I might not have ever bought that 16 track in 1992 and rather put all that time and effort into rehearsing a band, writing songs, and spending more time in Jamaica...but who's to say?




This is an EXTREMELY important point.

There is something in the "creative spirit mindset" that does NOT like the intrusion of business ideals.

That's one reason a good band manager is so important. Sometimes there is one band member who can take on the basic responsibilities (often the bass player for some reason?), but so so many musicians just plain do not want to do "the business thing."

This is yet another reason that the music business today, wherein a band or single artist is almost expected to write the songs,
book the gigs, handle the merch, collect the money, record the demos (or worse, MASTERS) in their own house on their own recording system, drive their own van, load their own gear, design their own album cover, market themselves extensively, call David Letterman's booker, etc....is causing a DEARTH of truly creative flow.

And the WORST thing, I have seen it several times, is when a band or artist decides to "put in their own high end studio."  Can it work...yes, it might.  Will it work?  Likely it will diminish the creative juices as the focus is diverted towards day to day business ideals.

Yes, on the other hand is the fact that in today's "artistically democratic" world, there are more chances to record oneself, more opportunities to go worldwide, than ever.

But where is the Golden Mean?
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #50 on: August 27, 2010, 01:58:13 pm »

Amen Terry!

The Golden Mean is...pretty much nonexistent and I'm sure will be second guessed to death if it exists.

I go to sleep dreaming of microphones and not melodies now.  I'm gone as far as being an artist.  But I was damn unique and good once upon a time.

In 2004, when peaking as an artist, my label and I sat at a restaurant in Manhattan and the discussion turned to album order, song order.  Suddenly suits and accountants were weighing in on this all important part of MY process.  MY PROCESS.  I work for 2 1/2 years and you're going to change my album order over a $2000 dinner?  I get divorced from someone who can't be a second to my attentions, write the songs, but you're going to put them in order for me.

Then, when I fought that fight, and the record came out, that is ALL I heard about over and over from my A&R and every-freakin-body at the label--the guy who makes stickers, etc..  'Maybe the order of the record was a little off?'  'I played the record for so and so and he thought the second track should have been fourth or fifth.'  'Maybe we should have led off with more up-tempo stuff.'  

Later this turned to insult...'it's not going to be another collection of your slow-jams is it?'

It wasn't hard to want to walk from that biz.  I was near the very top of the sacred stairway when they really started demanding healthy chunks of my soul.  Being one of the guys that could engineer and write, I simply took a few staff engineer positions.  Swallowed my pride for a long time.  

Mics and Pres and Compressors and Tubes now have replaced those melodies and lyrics and concepts that would help everyone get through a day or a week.  It's been a tough transition because I still have that artist inside me and I still get offers to do records where they want my co-writing and melodies or string sections.  But I can't, for my own sanity, blend the two.

The future generations will have to be jacks of so many trades and I can't see it happening, unless it's playing video games, sorry kids.  And so it will be video game 'written' pop melodies. Get ready studio guys!  Aren't you so excited!

Specialization is where it's headed because people will have no other choice.
 

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Bob Ebeling
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Skullsessions

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #51 on: August 27, 2010, 02:38:05 pm »

Funny.

I wanted to hate this song from the first note.  Not really sure why.  I just ate lunch, perhaps.  Maybe it just wasn't what I expected to hear.

But then I got about 50 seconds in and realized I liked it.  Very cool verb/delay on that single note keyboard line.  And finally...about the time the second chorus hit I was sucked completely in.

A little Floyd,  a little Duran Duran, a little Kraftwerk, perhaps.

Vocals are massive, and I love the relentlessness of the 808.  Good stuff!
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James Hook
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #52 on: August 28, 2010, 07:27:59 am »

Thanks James Hook!  If your lunch stayed down I must have done somthing right.  hah.  

It is a tough proposition to hold a feeling of longing for the past going for 4 plus minutes, and I must admit there have been times when this song made me hate it too!  But once that chorus hits how can you not chant along?  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C28omOuUFkA

Thanks for the patience!    
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Bob Ebeling
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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #53 on: August 28, 2010, 08:45:09 am »

I dunno.. I feel that machines in general rob you of artistic energy.

I have this idea that maybe the best thing that a musician (especially a solo-songwriter) could do is write and concieve their material as far away possible from machines, and try to envision the arrangement in their head from beginning to end before getting near any gear.

even during the process of recording, I believe that to keep the vision pure and clear in the mind there should be no contact with machines..
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #54 on: August 28, 2010, 11:45:33 am »

I love that concept!  Syd Barrett, if around and working, would surely agree.  I think Syd was onto it.  

The other thing machines force you out of is the habit of working by yourself, not always, but you wouldn't be able to sit there and let the generically zipping Alesis HR-16 slowly seep in and change the very feeling you had before you started.

For me, for this song, I felt a connection with the 808, the real dear TR-808.  I'm a pretty darn good drummer and it wouldn't be any drum machine that could inspire me.  Something about the way the computer runs on a real 808 is very imperfect but has a pocket.  I honestly think it was a mistake but I don't know.  When I get a groove happening with it I feel inspired to write chords, and I'm describing exactly how this song was written.

Machines suck, but we are all dependant on them and being turned into them.  What can we do?  Where would 'One More Trip Downtown' Be without the 808?  Honestly, nowhere.  It wouldn't have happened that night.  
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Bob Ebeling
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RSettee

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #55 on: August 28, 2010, 12:14:59 pm »

Some good words, Bob. I hear you on the gear thing--sometimes I get a bit more focused on the gear than the songs, but i'm really happy with the gear that i've got now. Sure people have "better" stuff, but even with guitars and amps and pedals and stuff like that.....I find that after a certain level of money spent, that the gear may feel or may be built nicer, but it's not necessarily better sound-wise than what I already have. But sometimes I too wonder if I shouldn't have moved onto something else than music, a long time ago....gone back to school or had a legitimate "career", etc.
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #56 on: August 28, 2010, 04:48:51 pm »

Well you've got me there Mr. RSetter!  God!  It sounds like we are cut from the same exact experimental cookie cutter!  You guys rule.  Don't you always wonder, 'why are we not getting all the soundtrack work?????'

I was musing on what if I had become the strict studio unintelligent artist.  I wonder.  It's weird.  Guys like Dead Meadow and Interpol walked into the studio and looked at everything like it was a bunch of gadgets--'whatever' they could have said with their looks.

I kinda wish I had remained ignorant at some point.  

Way too late now!!!!!  Control Freaks!!!!!

Part 7 was getting me off!  I need these alsbums to sleep to, and that is a big complement!  hehe
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Bob Ebeling
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bob ebeling

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #57 on: August 28, 2010, 04:52:50 pm »

PART 7!!!!  Use the drums more guys!
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Bob Ebeling
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RSettee

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #58 on: August 28, 2010, 05:09:43 pm »

bob ebeling wrote on Sat, 28 August 2010 15:52

PART 7!!!!  Use the drums more guys!


It's funny you mention that--it's a drum machine (highly modified SR-16....sounds sent to each of the four outs, ie: snare/ hat in one, toms in another, bass drum in another, cymbals in the 4th out). I have some real drums here and there on the records, but when there's drums, there's always the idea that everything should be bigger. It's kinda nice to just let the melody take over. Programming drums to sort of bridge the gap between the mechanicalness of the drum machine and having some sort of realism to it is kind of hard to do at times.

bob ebeling wrote on Sat, 28 August 2010 15:48

Well you've got me there Mr. RSetter!  God!  It sounds like we are cut from the same exact experimental cookie cutter!  You guys rule.  Don't you always wonder, 'why are we not getting all the soundtrack work?????'


Thanks! Sometimes I think that, yeah. But I like the idea of not having pressures, too--no deadlines. I just work at this day after day and sometimes if it's too frustrating, i'll stop doing it for awhile and return to it when it's flowing.

"Downtown" reminds me of "Playground Love" by Air--same vibe, kinda sounds 10CC-ish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAgX1jO3No0
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Unwinder

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Re: Downtown: What Are PSW guys doing?
« Reply #59 on: August 28, 2010, 07:19:50 pm »

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 27 August 2010 17:21

bob ebeling wrote on Fri, 27 August 2010 11:47

I really wonder how much further I would have made it as an artist, which was at one time my sole aspiration.  As equipment entered the picture to get the art made, even in 1992, buying a 16 track for 5 grand, the stress of being a studio operator started to directly take away this free and always writing guy and turn him into an always thinking about money and gear guy.

There was a direct effect where gear, in my case, wrecked (erased?, slowly turned away?) an artist.  Now, that was my choice and there have been hundreds of great things that have come from going the gear way, but could I have been that great artist who today would be sitting in Scotland, drinking a Guinness and scribbling lyric ideas on napkins while trying not to let those 4 girls in the corner recognize who I am?

I think if I had to do it all again, I might not have ever bought that 16 track in 1992 and rather put all that time and effort into rehearsing a band, writing songs, and spending more time in Jamaica...but who's to say?




This is an EXTREMELY important point.

There is something in the "creative spirit mindset" that does NOT like the intrusion of business ideals.

That's one reason a good band manager is so important. Sometimes there is one band member who can take on the basic responsibilities (often the bass player for some reason?), but so so many musicians just plain do not want to do "the business thing."

This is yet another reason that the music business today, wherein a band or single artist is almost expected to write the songs,
book the gigs, handle the merch, collect the money, record the demos (or worse, MASTERS) in their own house on their own recording system, drive their own van, load their own gear, design their own album cover, market themselves extensively, call David Letterman's booker, etc....is causing a DEARTH of truly creative flow.

And the WORST thing, I have seen it several times, is when a band or artist decides to "put in their own high end studio."  Can it work...yes, it might.  Will it work?  Likely it will diminish the creative juices as the focus is diverted towards day to day business ideals.

Yes, on the other hand is the fact that in today's "artistically democratic" world, there are more chances to record oneself, more opportunities to go worldwide, than ever.

But where is the Golden Mean?



That's a good reason that if you are an artist that is recording yourself, you need to be acutely aware of the seperation between these two things, or you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin...and neither one ends up being any good. I'm glad I put in all those hours (years) reading about gear, setting up a signal chain, listening, etc... but it has nothing to do with what happens when i'm writing a song? Absolutely nothing. It's nice to have some idea when i'm setting up a KM84 into an API and a Gates Sta level... or if i'm recording or helping someone else. Otherwise, i setup a chain, make it sound as good as i can, objectively, then attempt to release that mindset and move into the creative mindset that brought the song about in the first place...and stay there for awhile attempting takes and listening for something that feels right. A difficult thing to go back and forth between. Even to begin to start to be successful at 'recording' your own 'song', you need to be aware that you are unable to do both.
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