Drop of Rain redux

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated the site, but that’s just because things are getting busy!  I’ve scored two short Highlander films, recorded drums and bass for the next Cirrus Bay album, and have been writing lots of tunes for the Bushwick Book Club.

As for the album, that has been on the backburner…Until NOW!  With the exception of a few small projects lined up, the next few months are going to be spent working on writing and recording for the new album, which will be titled “The Evil Machine Is Broken”.

Drop of Rain was a song I wrote several years ago, and always liked, but wasn’t that happy with the mix.  So, as a starting point for the album, I’ve been working on refining the mix, and changing some of the sounds to make it a little more…er…evil?  I’m taking some of the sounds and tricks I’ve been working on with the film scores, and using that to make it a bit more orchestral and dark.

The current mix is not likely to be the final album mix, but it’s close.  And as a little treat for all of you, it’s right here for you to listen to and download.

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Album progress – Drop of Rain

Drop of Rain is a song I wrote in May of 2010.  I was fooling around with the mandolin and decided to write a song about turning into a zombie.  This seemed like a perfect combination to do in a musical/broadway style, so I decided to skip the standard rock instrumentation, and instead use some orchestral instruments.  At the time I put together a quick music video:

For this song, I liked how things came out in the original version, and decided that I would just go in there, make some tweaks with the orchestration, and smooth out the mix a little bit.  Unfortunately, when opening the session, I learned that in updating my software over the last year and a half, I had made most of the older instruments unusable.  The midi data was there, but no sounds were playing.

I spent about an hour going through and reloading instruments to replace the piano, strings, and brass.  Some of the percussion was still there, and I decided to replace the drums that were missing with some new Taiko samples I recently added to my film scoring template.

The next step is going to be orchestrating things out a little more at the end.  The brass samples I am using now sound significantly better than the ones I was using last year, so I may add more horns and deep brass to the mix.  The lyrics may also get some tweaking, although at this point that is up in the air.  I may keep the vocal tracks, and just add a few more harmonies.  The final version will sound very close to the original version in the video, but more polished, with more oomph in the percussion, a bigger orchestra sound, and a few more vocal layers.
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It’s time… New album preproduction has started!

After many many many years of talking about putting together an album, the time has finally come.  I’ve got too many songs written that have just been sitting around, doing nothing except occupying my website, and it’s time to do something more with them!

This album is going to be a collection of most of the songs I have written over the last few years.  Rather than just compile all of them together, I have decided to rerecord most of them.  There are several reasons for this, the first of which is quality.  Some of these songs were thrown together quickly, and never really given the attention they deserve.  Others were recorded and produced fairly well, but after listening to them for a while, I think I want to do something different.  There are also a few which I don’t own the rights to the recordings (Mr. Terrible and Nothing), so I will be doing these over from scratch, which is actually a great thing, because my studio has improved significantly since I recorded these songs, and they are going to sound better than ever when finished.

The Album Progress Nov 24, 2011

Earlier I put together a big chart to keep track of the progress for each song.  I’ve got about 18 songs on the list, and my guess is 15 or so will make it onto the album.  Most of them are written, although there are a few which are only half done, and 2 which I haven’t even started on yet.  The goal is to have all of the songs written and recorded in the next couple of months for an early Spring release of the record.

I’m going to press physical copies of the CD, so that one day when my kids are older, I can show them the boxes of unsold CD’s in the basement and tell them about the days when I wanted to be a rock star… er, well, I don’t know about the rock star bit, but there will be physical copies of the CD, and I’ll be putting it up on itunes and all of the other major digital music stores as well.

If you look at the chart right now, it doesn’t look like much is done.  Many of the songs already have some of the parts recorded, but I didn’t want to start checking anything off until I had a chance to sit down with the session files and make sure that the parts didn’t need any changes.  I’ll be posting about each song with some more detailed information as I begin working on them.

The artwork for the album is still undecided, but I’m thinking I might do a painting of some sort, and that painting will be sold off to help fund the mastering and pressing of the record.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have so much fun working on the artwork that I’ll give up this music stuff and start painting for a living.

This is pretty exciting for me, the last time I released and sold an actual album was right after I graduated from High School.  Funny enough, one of the songs from that album is on my list.  It’s one that I’ve been thinking of redoing for a long time, and it’s going to get it’s chance to shine again for this record (unless it doesn’t turn out well, in which case I’ll pretend like it never happened).  In addition to working on the album, I’m planning to put together videos about the songs and the recording process, as well as more music videos for some of my favorite songs.

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New song and video for “Ponyboy”, inspired by “The Outsiders”

After a wonderful night with the Bushwick Book Club last Saturday, I decided I needed to get this song recorded and posted sooner rather than later. It was also an excuse for me to try out my new green screen and put up a video of the song performed “live” with me playing drums, bass, guitar, and singing. It came out somewhat rough, since I just wrote it the other day, and don’t really know it by heart yet, but I wanted to see what would happen. After filming the video I went back and re-recorded all of the parts so that there would be a good quality version of the song for people who wanted to download it.

What is this song about? Well, it’s about Ponyboy, the main character from the book “The Outsiders”, by S.E. Hinton. I wanted to do something somewhat funny, while still talking about the sadness, death, and longing for adulthood which is such a large part of the book. Did it work? Well, I’ll leave that for you to decide, but the audience seemed to like it, and how can you go wrong with a song about greasers which contains references to Justin Beiber, Halo, and Scientologists? Don’t answer that question.

Anyways, please enjoy the video, and if you like the song, you can download the much better studio version to listen to your hearts content.


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Video for “Did I Fall Asleep”, inspired by Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse”

This is a tune that I wrote a couple of years ago, when Dollhouse was still on the air.  I initially wrote it for a competition, although that never happened due to the show being canceled, so it has lived a life of obscurity in the back pages of my website until now.  Like a starving child locked for years in the basement, it is now walking out into the light, and is hungry for twinkies.

You can watch the video on Youtube (please make sure to comment so that I can feel extra special), and once you’ve done that, you can buy the song to listen to it on your ipod, or zune (really?), or whatever.  Now, I know what some of you are going to say: “But Mark, you had this song available for free on your website for years, and now you expect me to pay for it?”  Well, the short answer is this: Yes …  I told you that answer would be short.  The long answer is this: Yes, because I did adjust the mix a bit, and spend way too much time and effort to make the video.  You are gaining precious minutes of enjoyment from my labors.  By watching the video or listening to the song, you didn’t go online and buy that new Hannah Montana themed tea pot cozy that you have been thinking about for the last few months.  In essence, I just saved you a bunch of money.  I mean, come on now, your tea pot isn’t too cold, and if it was, I think it was designed to counteract that exact problem.  You can thank me later.

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Video for “No You”

I spent part of the weekend trying to work the kinks out of my camera setup in the studio, and decided to make a video for the song “No You”, which I recorded a few weeks ago. I’m going to be making more video’s like this one in the future as I write more songs, so if you like this one, make sure to subscribe through Youtube.

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Article about Bushwick Book Club

Victory music recently posted an article about the Bushwick Book Club.  It features some of my photo’s from past shows, and includes comments from many of the performers, myself included.  It is an interesting view on the event, including how it comes together, and what the goal of the club is.  Take a few minutes to check it out:
Article about Bushwick

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No You – a song based on the book “American Gods”

I’ve been kicking this idea around for a long time.  American Gods by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite books, and is one of the only books I have read 3 times, and will likely read it again in another year or two.

This is one of those rare times where I write a “pop” song.  I was inspired by the recent collaboration between Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, and Amanda Palmer, so I sat down at the piano, and plunked this one out.  It’s the first time in many years I have actually recorded my piano, rather than using samples from the computer.  Part of this is because I am not a great piano player, and part of it is because the piano hasn’t been tuned in over a decade, and in that time has been moved between 6 different houses.  Needless to say, it is not sounding it’s best, but it had a vibe for the verse that I really liked (although I did use a sampled piano for the chorus and bridge, since I wanted it to sound in tune with everything else).

The lyrics are based off of the idea that gods get their power from the belief and rituals of their followers, but from there I took it in a slightly different direction.  I thought I would present it from the point of view of someone teaching a new god the ropes, and how it’s all just a con game to get people to follow you.  I think the song could also fit in with the idea of fame, with the power it brings, and the fickle people who will turn on you in a heartbeat.

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Purchasing the song will help enable me to write and record more songs more often, so if you find you got something out of listening to it, please consider plunking down the $0.99 (or whatever figure you feel is appropriate).  I’m thinking that I’ll probably follow the trend of making this song available for free once I upload the next new one, so if you can’t spare the dollar, it will be available for free before too long.

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New song from the May Bushwick show

For the May Bushwick Book Club show, I wrote two songs based off of the book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”.  Recently I had some time, and recorded the slower of the two songs.  This was inspired by the end chapter, where Feynman encourages all scientists to admit to their failures, and not to lie to themselves.  It also takes some inspiration from his first wife, who died while he was working on the atomic bomb.  This is a produced version with drums, guitar, keyboards, bass, and a few layers of vocals.

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Now, for those of you who have been coming to my website in the past to download songs, you’ll notice that this time around I haven’t included a download link to the mp3 file .  Instead, I’ve decided that if I’m going to start being serious about calling this endeavor a “music business”, I need to put a little more emphasis on the “business” part.  So, I’m trying something new this time around, and making the download available to purchase.  For the low, low price of just $0.99 (or more, if you are feeling generous), you could be the proud owner of a brand new, shiny, never been off the lot, still has the dealer tags on it, straight from the factory mp3! (or, if you prefer, flac, or one of several other formats that most people have never heard of).

For those of you who are saying “I don’t trust this internet thing with my money”, or “music isn’t art if it isn’t free”, or “I need to save my money for my next botox treatment”, let me know, and I’ll be happy to send you the song in exchange for some good vibes (either the spiritual kind of the musical instrument kind, you’re choice).

If any of you out there have better suggestions for ways to sell and distribute music, please let me know, as this is a new venture for me, and I’m open to any ideas.

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Recess Monkey at Folklife 2011

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Recess Monkey is one of the best kids bands around, and we took some time the other day to see them at the Seattle Folklife festival. They put on a great show, if you have kids you definitely need to … Continue reading

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