Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stream "The Golden State" in Honor (cough, cough) of the Grammys.

Sure, you could win a Grammy...if you've recorded with a well-known producer in a well-known "music town" or had a number one song or album.  Or, are the handful of famous names in your niche genre that the regular Grammy voter may recognize.  Otherwise, you are us.
    Why did we join the RIAA when I've disliked the Grammy's since 1978 when  Elvis Costello lost out to Hot Chocolate as Best New Artist?  Even though I've always paraphrased Grouch Marx by stating I'd never join a club that would have someone like me as a member?  Publicity.  Every little bit helps.  My big gripe is the RIAA ties your hands right off the bat by limiting your ability to publicize by stating, "While for your consideration"-type advertisements and communiqués are not prohibited, the specific category, field and balloting numbers are proprietary information belonging to The Recording Academy; such information may not be used, disclosed, published or otherwise distributed in connection with any advertisements, communiqués or for any other purpose."
   What the hell?  So I can't even say our album is in the "Children's" category.  There's a 122 entries in that category.  Are we to expect voters to scroll through every category to find our album? 
    However, I did receive a "for your consideration"-type email from a big (biggest?) name in the "Children's" category that had no problem with violating the above prohibition by listing their category, field and balloting numbers.
   So, what's a band like The Hipwaders to do?  We've been accused of being "closet punks" by some promoters and we've always had the view that kids are punks - in a good way.  They question authority, test limits and are frequently contrarian.  However, by violating the RIAA guidelines we could get kicked off the ballot and out of the Grammys. Hmm...oh what to do?

The Golden State - The Hipwaders  (Field 16 - Children's - Category 50 - Best Children's Album - #043)

“Where are the albums for kids too old for Laurie Berkner but not ready for Lady Gaga? This year's best album for that age group is the latest record from the Bay Area band The Hipwaders…Golden State isn't just a great album for the tweens in your life, it's album, period.”-
“These guys have a super hip retro surf sound that is instantly infectious and just plain fun.”{KID} Independent

“I've stated before that kids have pretty good BS barometers. The Hipwaders project a happy, healthy, unforced, kid-friendly attitude. You can enjoy the lyrics and melodies and trust that they came from - and succeed with - the best of intentions…The Hipwaders celebrate the shared community that music creates, whether it's schoolmates or neighbors, but mainly with family.”  - Mr Jeff 2000

 “Be on the lookout for this newest CD from "The Hipwaders" and be warned...once this CD enters your CD're going to be hooked!” One Bored Mommy

"In The Hipwaders’ new CD The Golden State, the trio reimagines some best-loved tunes from their live shows for a home audience. The result is among my favorite CDs of the year. This album for the whole family even includes “My Dog Steve,” whose shoutout in rhythmic patter sounds intimate and universal at the same time." - Kathy O'Connell, MetroKids

 "This is one collection that will speak to your preschoolers and grade schoolers with smart lyrics that don't baby-talk down to favorite song ('Hey, Josie!')  pairs the sweetest lyrics with a chorus that makes me want to grab the nearest sticky hands and jump around the room for a few minutes." - Christina, Cool Mom Tech/Cool Mom Picks 

“The tunes are catchy, daring in their use of unusual harmonies and vocal lines, and altogether enjoyable to kids and parents alike…Every song nails the perfect tone in its writing, speaking to kids the way they want to be spoken to: as an audience worthy of respect and direct discourse.” Myles McDonnell, You Know, For Kids

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

That's My Jam!

This past Sunday we had the privilege of opening for Charity & the JAMband at Park Chalet on the western edge of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  Charity Kahn and her band have been hosting shows almost every month for the past few years featuring a fabulous assortment of kids & family music entertainers.  Through her tireless efforts to bring the joy of music to young people, Charity has amassed quite the following of little fans that have taken her various music & movement classes & camps
     Her fans were great to us and were quick to start dancing as we began to play.  It was also the first time I ever had a toddler try and slip me a $20 bill during a song. I later found out it was her father’s attempt to tip us!
     We rarely get to perform on a bill with other kids & family acts so it’s always enjoyable for me to try and learn a thing or two about how to connect with young audiences by watching some pros.  This was the fourth time I've seen the JAMband perform and I’m impressed at their consistent dedication to the groove.  It’s a cliché in the world of children’s music to say your music appeals to both kids and their parents but in the case of Charity and the JAMband it’s absolutely true.   
     The JAMband is made up accomplished Bay Area musicians who are not only seasoned professional musicians but also engineer/producers who know their way around crafting interesting arrangements.  With Daryn Roven on guitar, Paul Lamb on bass, Hud Bixler on drums and Danny Zingarelli on assorted percussion (and Kaossilator!), the band effortlessly switches between rock, funk and folk/bluegrass genres - nice for those of us with short attention spans.
     Of course, what sets the band apart from other kids & family bands is the quality of songs.  Charity lyrics promote love & peace and the joy found in exploration and the commonalities that unite us all.  What I really enjoy is the vocals.  Charity has a voice that I can only describe as “bubblegum”.  It’s a joyous/childlike voice that seems to be also shared by her singing partner, Laurie Pomeranz.  Charity and Laurie's voices fit perfectly together and almost sound like the same voice double-tracked.  You can’t help but smile at the beautiful harmonizing and I found myself laughing during the times they’d adopt southern accents and sound (to me) like dueling Victoria Williams’.
       If you live in the Bay Area you owe it to yourself to come out to the Park Chalet to enjoy a Charity and JAMband show.  They have a couple more shows left in the series with the next one featuring the East Bay’s delightful family music band, Octopretzel
     Here’s a little video I made with my iphone using the ‘70’s setting of the 8mm app which seemed to fit the band vibe. It’s a performance of their #1 Sirius/XM Satellite Radio hit, “Amazing Rocket Ship”.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In a Golden State

I was so excited when I saw the UPS truck coming up the street as I was cleaning up our garage/rehearsal space.  The UPS man looked nothing like Santa but it sure seemed like Christmas to me.  Boxes and boxes of stuff were carted up my driveway  - it’s our new cd “The Golden State”!  After fighting the urge to give the UPS man a hug, I quickly tore open a box to check out the album.  Wow, I was really impressed how well (the amazing) Brian Clarke’s artwork came out.  I’ll give Disk Makers props for doing a great job on the printing.  The whole package looked better than I expected. 

I’m glad that I choose to feature Bob Waller’s“California surf culture-inspired” Woody longboards in the artwork to aid the theme of the album.  His handcrafted skateboards are beautiful.  I felt bad when I rode mine for the first time and immediately ruined the clean white wheels!  Evidently a lot of purchasers of his boards just put them up on the wall as art.  One can see why. 

The audio files were transferred nicely and I really appreciate the mastering job Ken Lee performed.  It’s not the “in your face” “brick wall” limiting so many albums have that cause ear fatigue and make them sound distorted.  It’s sits in the middle of the volume spectrum for most cds and has nice dynamics.  If you want it louder…turn it up!

It was satisfying to have our first gig with our new cd in tow be another acoustic performance at Children’s Hospital Oakland.  The children's hospital shows always put us in a "golden state".  DJ and I try to keep it upbeat and fun which the staff and parents really appreciate.   As a paramedic I have no problem teasing the kids and treating them normal.  The staff kept asking us to stay longer and we did.  We were just about out the door when were asked us to serenade a child who could hear us performing in the playroom from his room and felt he was missing out in the fun.  Because isolation precautions were being taken we had to perform from out in the hall where he could still see us.  I made some comment about how we were honored and “feeling the love” so we performed “Valentine” which seemed a perfect way to end our visit.

Now comes the task of sending out copies of the cd to radio stations, music reviewers, friends and family and try and get some feedback.  If you’re one of those people…tell us what you like! Hopefully, you can make it to a show and pick up a cd.  Otherwise, it’ll be available online on August 2nd, 2011 from Amazon, CDBaby and other internet retailers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pressure? What Pressure?

Rob Smith Can’t Say No: The Hipwaders

I’ve been compelled by the rules of this column, as well by my own expanding tastes, to listen to a lot of kindie music in the last year. As I’ve explained previously, there’s a lot of the stuff out there—a veritable universe of artists addressing the whims and peculiar mindsets of kids, explaining to the rest of us what it’s like to see the world through their eyes, and setting those expressions to music that is, at its best, as good as anything I’ve heard from “hipper” artists of the day. Part of me wishes I’d been exposed to this stuff years ago; that’s the part of me that last year heard my 11-year-old son listening to Rihanna sing “Come here rude boy, boy, can you get it up? / Come here rude boy, boy, is you big enough?”
Prudish protectionist regrets aside, there are fine sounds to be exposed to in the genre, and it didn’t take long for me to find a favorite band out of the bunch. Renaissance art had Michelangelo; Romantic poetry had Keats; detective fiction had Chandler; swing had Sinatra; Metropolis had Superman. Kindie music has the Hipwaders, a California trio who specialize in perfectly written and performed anthems for the kiddies. Quite simply, they are a great power pop band that just happens to play music for children. Think Fountains of Wayne performing songs aimed at six-year-olds, instead of thirteen-year-olds.
These guys, to these ears, are the best. My love for them is immeasurable, my respect for them immense. The band—singer/songwriter/guitarist Tito Uquillas, drummer Nick Baca, and bassist DJ Kinville—observe three essential rules for making great entertainment for children:

Rule #1: Don’t Talk Down to Them
Whether they’re extolling the virtues of maternal units in “Always Mom” (from their 2008 EP Goodie Bag) or dissing budding assholes in “Stand Up to the Bully” (from their self-titled 2005 debut), the band treats its topics, as well as its audience, with respect. The chorus to “Bully” even gives some sage, empowering advice:

Don’t feel shame
You’re not to blame
Bullies act out

They need to stop

You need to walk

With your head held high

They can also tell a story in a manner that grooves as well as it narrates. “(The Work Song) Cinderella” provides the ages-old tale from the perspective of the downcast title character, with a beat straight out of Creedence’s “Fortunate Son.” Even original stories, like “Field Trip”—a song about the coolest thing you’d ever have to get a permission slip to do—are done with a palpable sense of joy. Who wouldn’t want to take an interstellar trip, play laser tag with Martians, pass into another dimension, and take a space walk—all on a school day? And who wouldn’t want to have a cool new-wavy guitar riff as the soundtrack for the day?
Rule #2: Give the Parents Some
That joy is part of why parents should love the Hipwaders’ music, but there’s also a bit of winking content for parents in their songs. Think of the first time you saw the first Shrek movie—how the film’s makers sprinkled their creation with knowing asides and pop culture references that flew over kids’ heads, but hit adults squarely in the noggin. Likewise, Uquillas (the band’s chief songwriter) tosses out lyrics and musical snippets that entertain the adults in the room (or the car, or the party) as well as their progeny. The title track of 2007′s Educated Kid has a simple riff and cool chorus harmonies, as well as lines like “Get scholarships, student loans, special grants, get schooled at home, uh-huh.” Your kindergartner won’t know why Mommy just shuddered over the mention of “student loans,” but there ain’t an educated ex-kid who wouldn’t. 
And if you’re anything like me (God help you), the Association-like bah-bah-bah vocals in “Valentine”—a love story, played out at recess—will seem like a setup for the second verse:

You had my heart when you tackled me

The recess monitor ended your assault

No, it’s not your fault

Cupid’s shot

Hit its mark

And drove you crazy

Ah, to be young again! Boy shows his affection by yanking Girl’s pigtail, and she showed hers by bloodying his nose. Assault and battery never again seems quite so lovely.

Rule #3: Play It Like You Mean It
Let me stress again that the Hipwaders are a terrific band, capable of moving from tempo-shifting toe-tappers (“Dewey Decimal System”) to a sea shanty about dinosaur-hunting pirates (“The Song of the Paleo Pirates”) to pure power pop goodness (“Yes It’s Christmas”). All the smart, funny lyrics in the world would be null and void without great melodies, singing, and playing to get them across to listeners, and the Hipwaders do that as well as any other pop or rock band you can name.

They have a new record coming out in July; I’m looking forward to hearing it as much as just about anything else on my wishlist of upcoming releases. Give the Hipwaders a shot, particularly if you have kids; I’m pretty certain you’ll become a fan, too.

Everything's Coming Up (Bread &) Roses!

We've been having some great shows lately.  I believe it's due to the re-newed energy we're feeling from making our new album.  We're very excited about it and it's giving us confidence in our performances.  Here's a review of a recent show we had for the non-profit benefit, Bread & Roses. The best part of the day for me was at the end of the show when a little girl asked me to write a song about "saving the planet".  When I found out her name was "Gaia" I was impressed and the next day quickly wrote a song about a girl named Gaia who's trying to save the planet.  "Thank you" to my young muse! 

The Hipwaders at Fairfax/San Anselmo Children’s Center *
Date: 4/5/2011
Host: Debbie Matson
Essence Story by Debbie Matson:
(With additional details from Lisa Starbird)

Today I walked into San Anselmo/Fairfax Children’s Center thinking I would be hosting a typical children’s show, which are usually great, but the attention span of the audience is usually around 30 minutes. Was I in for a big surprise today, as the Hipwaders lit up the room with electric excitement and tons of fun for all ages nonstop for over an hour. Their business card has a perfect description of what the band plays – “hip music for kids”. There was rock, pop, folk, reggae, and even disco songs performed for the enthusiastic crowd.  The band played both originals the kids could relate to like “The Messy Room Song” and covers of such favorites as the Sesame Street and Sponge Bob songs. One of the staff mentioned that they should be on the Disney channel. Every song was high energy, had a great beat, and fabulous singing.

When the band first started, the smallest children were up right away hopping and dancing with giant smiles on their faces and squeals of delight. As the music continued, the older children quickly joined in, but it did not stop there. Many of the adults, including teachers and even the head of the facility were up dancing and shaking their stuff right in the middle of the dance floor. Even the shy kids eventually got on their feet.

There were young girls up in the front the entire time that asked for autographs after the show. There were “cool kids” who started by tapping their toes, and next thing the “too cool for it kids” started a congo line that moved around the room and then wrapped itself onto the dance floor. Another boy had a big group around him imitating his every dance move and his hand movements - like the jerk, which went on for a few songs. And when one mother came to pick up her son, he said, “No way, I’m not going now.”

Something very special happened today in Fairfax, and I am grateful that I was able to be part of it!

Lisa Starbird
Bread & Roses
Program Assistant


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Tito, DJ and Alisa

We've finished tracking vocals, instruments and assorted percussion.  Excelsior!  That's apparently a catch phrase Al Gore uses for a missions accomplished and quite apropos as our engineer, Willie Samuels, informed us he recorded Mr. Gore a few days prior for an audiobook.  Sweet.  The Hipwaders are using the same engineer as Al Gore - an inconvenient truth for some.

I had more fun with this final session more than any other as I had less stuff to do than the Nick and DJ who still had some back up harmonies and vocals to perform.  Actually, the first thing we did was record (ala Al Gore) a spoken word performance by Nick's better half, Alisa Cromer.  OK, it was only 5 words but it'll be the first vocal heard on the album.

DJ & Tito desecrating George Winston's piano

The next task was to record some mouth "pops".  I remember as a kid seeing an actor named Fritz Feld who was in lots of movies, commercials and t.v. shows like "Gilligan's Island" and "Lost In Space".  His shtick was slapping his hand up against his mouth to make a "pop".  Of course, being a kid I had to learn this trick and perfect it.  Now, as an adult I give it a prominent role on our new album.  Actually, the most prominent "pop" was done by DJ.  But he did it the yucky way by putting his finger in his mouth - don't tell his mom.

Nick and DJ carried on with a few harmonies and backing vocals and I did some hand percussion bits (shaker, tambourine and afuche cabasa).  We all gathered 'round the mic and did some clapping bits that were quite fun and then... we were done.  Woo hoo!
The Hipwaders:  clap yo' hands...

Next up:  mixing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

Oh, boy.  We've never recorded so fast over such a long period of time.  This is what happens when everyone has jobs, families and life getting in the way.  We began at the end of January and so far we've only had 5&1/2 actual recording sessions.  We're so close to finishing up the tracking I can taste the sweet satisfaction of knowing there's nothing more to add.  If we were in a position to record straight through we would have been done in less than a week.   I was planning to post after we were all done with all the tracking but I figure I'd forget what the heck we did 3 weeks ago.  So I'll tell you now.

Willie muting DJ's bass strings with foam
With the drums and final guitar bits & keyboards recorded, we decided to put DJ under the (not so) harsh glare of the studio lights and record his bass lines.  Again, Willie (the engineer) astounded us with his ability to get some great tones as DJ ran his Fender Precision through an Ampeg SVT (4-10).  Willie also ran DJ's bass through a direct line and mixed the two sounds together (mostly amp with a little d.i. as needed).  As Willie had done with me during my guitar recording, he constantly "dialed" in appropriate tones with the bass tone knobs and outboard gear for each song.  Sometimes adding "grit" as needed or rolling it off depending on the song.  About half way through the recording we came across a song that needed a more old school R&B sound with deader but sharp attack.  Willie stuffed some foam under the strings at the bridge of the bass guitar and "voila" - there it was.  We even used the muted sound on several other songs.  I know DJ was happy to finish his bits as I took on the role of an armchair quarterback having him try different bass lines out on songs that he had been playing the same way for a very long time.  It's just that with some slightly different guitar and/or keyboard lines having been added, and the ability to hear "clean" recordings of the songs, I got some new ideas.  Sorry, man.  You did awesome!
As soon as DJ finished I jumped in front of 3 mics Willie had set up to record my lead vocals.  Why 3 mics?  Because Willie wanted to find the perfect mic for my vocal "timbre".  After listening to me warble for awhile, Willie decided the Neumann U67 was best suited for my voice.  Strangely, when we recorded our last album at "The Hangar" in Sacramento, the engineer found the U67 also best suited for my voice.  I guess I now have "my mic".   Again, this is where being well-prepared for recording comes in as I was able to sing 15 songs in less than 2 hours.  With good pitch and emotion (per Willie - your mileage may vary).

Brian & Tito

A couple of days later, Nick and I came in to record our backing vocals.  We brought in my old songwriting partner, Brian Boyd, whom I've known and played with since high school.  Brian is a great vocalist and vocal mimic.  He does terrific (and terrifically funny) vocal impersonations.  He sang some backing vocals on the first Hipwaders album  - doing some funny spoken dialogue and singing on "Insect Safari" , for example.  Brian also wrote a fan favorite, "Things You Want" ( I added a bridge and some additional lyrics) from our "Goodie Bag" EP


On this session, Brian did a spoken vocal bit for us and sang some backing parts.  This is where his talent as a vocal mimic came in. 
He doubled some bits we were singing and we couldn't tell what vocal was Nick, Brian or myself.  Nice.  What was also nice was how Willie truly made us work and cajoled us into trying different vocal harmonies and pushed us into doing things we never knew we were capable of doing.  Also, a special mention should be made of Nick's heretofore unknown (at least to me) ability to sing higher than huMANly possible.  Just as in the Olympics he will have to submit to a chromosome testing procedure.
Brian, Nick & Tito

Next week:  DJ joins in the singing and we clap along.  Tito does his Davy Jones imitation (maracas and tambourine), and Nick looks on perplexed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guitar Tone-Seeking Gearhead Obsessives Only (others may be bored)

So I spent a couple of days last week recording my guitar and keyboard tracks for the new album.  As a huge fan of Tape Op magazine (the BEST recording magazine ever), I’ve always enjoyed reading about recording instruments and vocals.  What I’ve learned is there is no set way.  The Tape Op ethos is to experiment and try something different than the norm as sounds are subjective and doing something “wrong” may sound just right.  With that in mind, I’ve tried "right" and "wrong" but have never been happy with my guitar tones.
     Enter Willie Samuels.  Now Willie already impressed me with his ability to get the best drum sounds I’ve ever heard come from our band.  Sure, but he’s a drummer.  It should be his forte.  I wasn’t expecting to get much of a different guitar sound as I still play the same as I always have and I’m still using the same basic guitar/amp set up.
     Willie asked me if I wanted to record my guitar from the “live” room where my amp was set up or from the control room.  I’ve always recorded in the same room as my amp (despite headphone bleed) as I’ve liked the ability to change the settings from song to song without running back and forth from the control room.  Willie had set up a mixer with headphones for me to monitor so I figured I was set.  I explained that my amp was a combo amp (Vox AC15) and I couldn’t replace the amplifier section from the cabinet (1- 12” speaker).  He suggested we try running my amp through a early ‘70’s Marshall cabinet with 4- 12” speakers.  That just frightened me as I didn’t think it would represent my tone.  I asked that I be allowed to try and set up my amp first and see what I kind of sound I could get.  I quickly hooked it up and was amazed at how great it sounded in the room.
     “Yep, that’s my tone and it sounds great in here!” I beamed proudly.
     Willie asked that we now try running my amp through the huge Marshall cabinet.  I skeptically agreed as he went to work hooking it all up.  Once he was set he suggested I try it out.  I played a jangly riff from one of our songs and was stunned.  The Marshall cabinet sounded fantastic.  The tone was huge!  It sounded like my guitar and amp  - but bigger and better.  It was the difference between listening to music on a transistor radio and a nice home stereo.
    “Uh, yeah.  Sure.  I’ll set up in the control room.”

So, we retreated to the control room after Willie set up a different mic on each speaker.  Not a one was the "standard" SM57 but a very expensive assortment of mics that together were worth more than our entire recording budget.  Willie explained that we could switch which mics were being used for each song to tailor the best sound.  Great idea.  He had also set up a room mic to capture some natural reverb and add depth to the sound.
     Once we were ready I began playing along to the drums, the guide vocal & “scratch” bass.  Willie leaned over and began moving my guitar’s toggle switch and tone knobs.  Once I got over the shock of having my personal space violated I realized he was dialing in a better sound.  He also fiddled with the gain and tone knobs on my amp, his own array of preamps, EQ and compression.  It was truly amazing to see how he was sculpting the tone as I was playing and he instinctively knew when the sound was “dialed in” and would stop.  I could hear how the different mics sounded working with each other.  Some sounded more edgy and some softer.  Song after song, Willie would work his magic on the guitar tones – adding more overdrive/crunch where needed or backing it off for a cleaner sound.  My main guitar is a semi-hollow-body Cort that I replaced the stock pickups with Folgers coffee crystals - I mean some TV Jones pickups to give it a more Gretsch-like tone.  I used that guitar on a little more than half the songs for the album.  I had borrowed a Fender Stratocaster for a more snappy solid-body tone from my neighbor, Guyle Tabor.  I was happy to find his Strat (modeled on a ‘70’s era Strats) had a great “out-of-phase” tone I love (think Alex Chilton’s tone on Big Star’s “Radio City” album).  It was a funky, slinky tone that was perfect for the balance of songs I had to record.
       I couldn’t have been happier with the tones I achieved on guitar.  After I quickly recorded a smattering of keyboards (mostly presets with a few EQ changes) I left the studio a very happy man.  Now, what I can’t figure out is why I didn’t always record guitar like that?  Oh, yeah.  I didn’t know Willie!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Got Dope Beats?

The Hipwaders spent last weekend recording the drum tracks for our next album at Studio Trilogy, in San Francisco.  Just prior to recording,  I read an article in Discovery News about the link between dopamine (the “feel good” chemical) and the enjoyment of music.  Apparently, for the same reasons people enjoy sex, gambling, food & drugs, people enjoy music.  This would explain why as a teenager I would head down to Berkeley and buy stacks of used vinyl to fuel my music addiction.  I liked the rush of discovering new music that “moved” me.  This got me thinking about the direction of the material we were about to record.  Producer by default, I’ve always made the executive decisions regarding arrangements of the songs and what instruments to use primarily because I usually write the songs.  With this being
our 5th album of music aimed toward kids (mostly), I’ve made some observations about what has worked best for us in terms of how the songs are arranged.  It seems, like everyone, kids focus on voices and rhythms.  When it comes to instrumentation, simpler seems better.  Children, for the most part, are unsophisticated listeners.  They don’t understand complex melodies and chord progressions as well as experienced listeners , e.g. adults.
In the Discovery News article they explain how people listen to music:

"You're following these tunes and anticipating what's going to come next and whether it's going to confirm or surprise you, and all of these little cognitive nuances are what's giving you this amazing pleasure," said Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. "The reinforcement or reward happens almost entirely because of dopamine."

     As you grow older and listen to more music, you’re able to follow more complex music and are capable of withstanding more “tension” prior to “release” in music.  For this reason, I know that as a kid I wouldn’t have enjoyed Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu as much as I do now. 

     What’s tricky is creating songs - and the recorded arrangement of songs - that allows the anticipation of knowing what’s coming next while still being able to surprise a listener.  If it’s too simplistic it fails to capture listener’s attention.  If it’s too complex, the listener loses interest.  The tight-rope I have to walk is keeping my own interest in the material and still make the material interesting enough to a young listener.

Nick & DJ with our engineer, Willie Samuels
     Fortunately, we’ve been performing these songs for quite a while and are comfortable with the simple guitar/bass/drums arrangements.  With recording, it’s fun to “fill in the spaces” with a lot of other instruments but I think I’m going to make the conscious decision to try and use voices and rhythm instruments prior to other resorting to melodic instruments.  I think leaving as much space as possible so as to not detract from vocal sounds may be the key to keeping a young listener’s attention.  Our engineer, Willie Samuels, has captured amazing drum sounds.  There seems to be a lot of “space” between the drums that I’ve never heard in our recordings prior to this project.  I’d like to continue keeping the arrangements as sparse as possible.  I think it creates music that sounds more timeless.  I can’t wait to see what our next recording session reveals in the music.