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Monday, October 29, 2007

10.28.07: Nashville: City Hall

A Mute Math sold-out night at City Hall!

It's great to be able to drive in my own car to go do a gig, and it's especially cool to be able to drive myself home after a show only a few minutes away, showering and sleeping in my own place.

I've noticed that there are mainly two cities where I get nervous in: one, Dallas, and two, Nashville. Obviously, I know the most people in these places, and I guess it has a knack for messing with my head. I just want everything to go perfect for my closest family and friends.

photos by Luke S.


10.27.07: New Orleans, Voodoo

One thing to say: Papa G!


10.26.07: Charlotte, NC: Amos'

We went from greasy fries to happy meals this night in Charlotte. Overall, I think it was a great night of music; however, Amos' is a very narrow and long venue, which causes the stage to be the same way. For example, I'm either close to the front of the stage or way in the back by my amp. There's no in between; moreover, this "tightness" messes with the interplay between the four of us. Regardless, we were elated by the huge, sold-out crowd. I know it may seem trite to talk about crowd size, but it has the ability affect the performance and vibe of the concert.

Apparently, each human body gives off 30amps of energy. If this is true, then image that multiplied by 1000 and trapped in fairly small room. All that power comes racing towards us and mixes with the energy of the music. Forgive me if I'm babbling too much about this, but since I deal with it everyday, this phenomena of what makes a bad show, bad and great show, great fascinates me. There are many factors working against each other, attempting to rip our show apart (entropy at its best), and I think we simply try to minimize those negative factors by practicing, controlling the quality of p.a. system, soundchecking, etc.

photos by "van.occupanther"


Friday, October 26, 2007

10.25.07: Myrtle Beach, HOB

Mute Math has played the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach several times, but only as openers (The Fray, Switchfoot, etc). Tonight was our first headlining experience, and I must admit that it wasn't too hot. There weren't too many people (probably the lowest of the tour yet) and thus, the energy of the overall crowd was minimal. I can't help to think of a quote I read from Trent Reznor: "I think, fundamentally, music is something inherently people love and need and relate to, and a lot of what's out right now feels like McDonald's. It's quick-fix. You kind of have a stomachache afterwards." I kind of felt like our show that night was a Big Mac, not much substance and not much satisfaction. I say this solely from my personal standpoint. I'm 100% sure there were people who had a good time and enjoyed the show. I saw them first hand. I shook their hands, and I'm immensely grateful that these people were present. Without them, there would have been no show, and I would have felt like I only had eaten some greasy fries.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

10.23.07: The Norva

Last time we played the Norva, it was a highly improvised show; that is, we had a lot of equipment freak-out and break down. Hence, the initial show we had planned went out the window, but we did our best to have a good time. I remember not being too pleased at that show, namely because I thought we could have done better. Fortunately, this time around, we had a close to perfect show; nothing broke or crashed on us, and the set flowed smoothly, allowing us to vibe out on the music.

One notable occurrence during the show was when Darren decided to create some drama to "Reset" (as he usually does by pouring water all over his drums), but last night he tried to pour glitter instead; however, he failed to consider the intensity of his fan blowing next to him. As he opened the bag of glitter to pour, it blew everywhere, before the song started. It was a good idea, just not well executed.

We also had a great time hanging out with Rob (formerly of Mae). When Mute Math toured with Mae two years ago, it was a pivotal moment for our career. We told Rob how much we appreciated them taking us out, and how much that tour did for us. Out of all the Mae guys, I always had the most connection with Rob; we both went to law school, played soccer, and had a similar disposition. It was nice to see him again. Check out Rob's blog.

photo by bustinloose82


Monday, October 22, 2007

10.20.07: Charlottesville, VA

This was rough show for me. Where should I begin? Many gauntlets crashed down on me as the night rolled on, and I did my best to not be annoyed; however, I found myself wanting to play better and tighter, but I couldn't. My hands didn't cooperate with my ears and mind. Sometimes, things just don't seem to gel. Whether it comes from not having good monitors to having extremely hot conditions in the venue (I know every one was feeling that), who knows, but some obstacles can prevent a musician or performer from feeling comfortable in order to get into a vibe to play well. That is what I want to try to capture in the studio: a vibe. And, that is what I want to capture live: that is, a working, creative atmosphere in order for music to breathe and take a life of its own.

Music is not science; well, at least, the music that I want to play must be evoked by the something beyond a formula. Who likes formulaic music? That is, what is music minimized to when things become a strategy of notes and chords instead of the inner workings of the soul. Formulaic music is fake and boring. It's hard to play meaningfully night after night. And, this night, things were not horrible, but they weren't great. Sorry to those of you who might of noticed this in my disposition. I was fighting a war up there. To those in the back, I hope you had a great time and felt something wonderful. Perhaps, next time I will be at peace with my hands and instrument.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

10.16.07-10.19.07: Cleveland, Conan, NYC & Sonar

I'm long over due for a blog post, but things have been extremely busy. Where do I begin? So much has happened since Cleveland. First, C-town (as I've heard it referred to, however Ohio has three big C-towns; how do you distinguish Columbus from Cincinnati, from Cleveland, whenever someone says "c-town?") was good. We didn't have a sell out, but it was respectable. And, more importantly, the audience appeared to be having a nice time. If anything should be mentioned of this Mute Math experienced that differed from the rest of the tour, it obviously would be that Paul wiped out on his keytar part in "Plan B." Literally, the Rhodes gave out, and he fell feet over head. Fortunately, he was not hurt. I just kept thinking, please don't be hurt . . . we're have to play Conan tomorrow! I know; it's selfish of me, but hey it's Conan! It's good for all of us.

So, speaking of Conan, this was my favorite experience of all the late night t.v. shows. For one, I think Conan is genuinely funny, and moreover, he is off camera who you see on camera. That is, when he came over and talked to us, he was totally himself and just making normal conversation. We was very complimentary to us. He said, "We get a lot of heroin posers here, but it's great to see a band that not only plays their instruments but are true performers as well." Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera. I can't believe I forgot it. Anyway, I have a feeling we'll be back. We also got to hang out with the band, Mike (bass), La Bamba, Jimmy Vivino, etc. They were all really cool and chill. I didn't get to meet Anthony Hopkins; although I saw him in person down the hall, and he spoke to my wife. She said he was very handsome in person and very nice.

October 17 was a whirlwind of a day. Wendy and I got up & took the train down to Union Square in order to meet the guys to take a 75 mile trip to Neptune, NJ to do a radio interview/performance at G-Rock. It was way too far, but we had a great time at the station. Around 12, we headed back to the city to try to get to another acoustic performance for an ad company. Then, we rushed back to Irving Plaza to get a soundcheck in, and after checking, I was wiped out. By show time came around, I was wondering where we were going to muster up the energy to do a show. It became very apparent that when we walked out on stage. The energy of the crowd hyped me up so much. This was by far our best NYC show ever. The one image I will never forget was when I was sitting on the drums for "Break" and DK was in front of me standing on top of a bass drum being held by the crowd, and clapping his hands with everyone in the building. These New Yorkers were hype. Everyone was singing super loud and pumping me up all night. I loved this show. The icy on the cake was being able to hang out with one of my best friends from childhood, my first band mate, Raul Castillo. You probably don't know him now, but one day you will see him in a major movie or t.v. show. He's a talented actor with lots of heart and passion. He was stoked by the energy of the crowd, and said he's never seen a NYC crowd like ours.

Then, the motion and waves of NYC carried onto Baltimore last night as we took the stage. I can remember the first time we played here in the small room. Not much had changed concerning the excitement and movement of the audience. They were wonderful and fun to jam with. If anything should be mentioned of this show, I will have to say that I thought it was very funny that I unplugged myself right at the beginning of "Obsolete." I'm not sure if everyone saw, but I held up my cord to show what had just happened. I decided to wait a bit and come in with a lick instead of frantically trying to make up for lost notes. It all worked out and was a good thing.


Monday, October 15, 2007

10.14.07: Cincinnati, OH

This was our first time at Bogart's, and I must say that I was happy not to be at 21st Century Theater. Don't get me wrong; we had some good show in that venue, e.g., Halloween 2006, but overall, the set up in that room is not ideal. A weak sound system and small stage usually don't make for great shows. Anyhow, we had a great turn out at Bogart's. It seems we've had a lot of Bonnaroo people, which always seems to add to the excitement of the event.

After the shows, I've been trying to talk to people as much as possible, and some of the same questions keep coming up, namely: when is the new record coming out? what's the next single? are you coming back to my city soon?

First priority has been to figure out our next single. It actually has not been decided as of yet. I would like to get your feedback on this issue; it seems like the top contenders have been "Control" and "Noticed." (By the way, it has recently come to my attention in some of these after-show talks that there is some confusion on what's already been a "single;" in spite of what you may find on the internet, technically all our songs off the debut album [minus "Typical"] are single contenders because none of our songs were ever officially released before "Typical." If songs popped up on radio here and there, asides from "Chaos," it had nothing to do with us and was during all of the lawsuit commotion. Any songs that blipped on any charts before "Typical" are inconsequential and should be disregarded). Therefore, check out the poll on the side column to vote between "Control" or "Noticed."

Regarding the second record, we should start recording after this tour, but our plans constantly change; so, who knows when we'll exactly be in the studio. We have a lot of under-developed ideas that we are excited about, and hopefully, soon they will go through the full song writing process.

As far as coming back to your city, it is highly likely that we will be back. This is our fourth or fifth time back to most of the cities on the this tour. I'm sure that theme will continue in the Mute Math book of life.

Remember to vote!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

10.13.07: St. Andrew's, Detroit

My favorite part of this day was seeing my cousin Hugo and his wife Carmen. Unfortunately, we were only able to hang out for a short period after the show, but it was better than nothing. I hadn't see them in years. I can't even remember the last time to be honest; it might have been their wedding. Regardless, it was nice to see them again.

My one experience with Hugo that always sticks out in my mind was when I was "helping" him in Matamoros with something. I don't exactly remember what we were doing, but it involved me needing to drive his truck as he drove another vehicle. I guess we were dropping off one of the vehicles somewhere. The problem was that I was only 13 and didn't really know how to drive just yet, much less drive in Mexico, where rules of the road don't matter.

I told Hugo my concerns, and as logical step, he decided to give me a quick driving lesson, which I felt gave me enough confidence to get me in the swing of things; however, that confidence all flew out the window when a little bus (called a combi) cut me off. I panicked. I didn't seem to understand the function of the brake, and swerved into the combi's bumper. Needless to say, I scraped the front side of Hugo's truck; it could have been a lot worse.

Hugo was completely cool about it; he didn't even looked phased about the whole thing. He's a real class act. I felt so guilty and like a complete failure. Fortunately, I've never been in an accident since.

Speaking of accidents, Darren had a scary experience as he almost fell off the stage, again.

Photos by Megan (http://flickr.com/people/livewithyourheart).


Saturday, October 13, 2007

10.12.07: Grand Rapids, MI

I think this was our fourth time to play the Intersection, and it was the best, by far. First of all, we sold it out! What another nice surprise on this Fall tour-the tour of surprises. I can never get used to that, but I like it; that is, the feeling of people being excited to see us never gets old. This time, however, Darren didn't hang from the rafters, thankfully; last time, I thought he was going to rip down the house and crack his skull in the process. In spite of the absence of such antics, DK still put on a fine show. Moreover, everyone seemed to be having a good time as well. Friday night in Grand Rapids is a good thing.

Changing the subject, I've been listening to the new Radiohead album "In Rainbows" non-stop, and it is amazing! I especially like "All I Need" and "Videotape." The most shocking aspect of it all is that Radiohead is basically giving it all away. I do plan to order the box set, which isn't cheap, because I believe in supporting bands by buying their records, but I guess I'm a bit bias in that regard; however, in the mean time, some wonderful music has been made available. This album will change the course of the music business in more way than one, just watch. For now, check out this beautiful song "All I Need":


Friday, October 12, 2007

10.11.07: Columbus, OH

On October 10, 2007, we had an amazing day off in Gibson City, IL with the Schultz, our Lighting Director's family. It felt like the 4th of July: burgers on the grill, footballs flying through backyard air, chocolate cake, brownies, and more of all the goodness one could ever ask for on a day of relaxation. It was probably one of the best off-days this band and crew have had in a long time, not to mention that many of us left Gibson City with cleaner, healthier teeth.

The next morning, I got up minutes before our appointed time to head down to the local alternative station and play a quick acoustic show for a small audience of lovely fans. It was kind of like getting up to play at church, half-awake and sore from playing sports the day before. In spite of our dragging disposition, we manage to pull it together to deliver an acceptable performance.

At the station, I found out that Smashing Pumpkins were playing that night as well. They have been following us this whole tour. It's not the band you want to compete against in ticket sales. So, I thought the Mute Math show for the evening was probably going to be a bit slim. Well, I was wrong.

Last night was a huge surprise. Like I said, I didn't expect much of a crowd since pre-sales were very low and Smashing Pumpkins were playing down the road; however, we had a great turn out. And, not only was it a good size crowd, but everyone was getting into it, singing and moving to the music. What else could I ask for? Nada, nada limonada.

Photos by Thannyx


Thursday, October 11, 2007

10.09.07: Chicago, HOB

This was the last show out of six in a row for Mute Math, which was a great relief for all the band and crew because we're simply getting tired; (we're well into the tour with only a month left to go). However, neither the band nor the crew played/worked like a bunch of apathetic slugs. Instead, the opposite was happening. I felt an energy that day, perhaps it was coming from the great city of Chicago and all the wonderful folk art hanging along the walls of the venue.

Wherever it was coming from, it translated that night into a beautiful exchange of energy and language between the band and audience. I was moved by all the diversity I witnessed in the faces before me, singing and dancing along to the beat of Darren's groove, Greg's anthem guitars, and Paul's soaring vocals.

I love to see music touch people. This is why I play. I love my job. I love music. Chicago makes me love it more.

Thanks, Chicago!

all photos by Zach Rosing


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

10.08.07: Milwaukee: The Rave

Some have commented that my blogs have been rather short lately, which is obviously true, and that is because I haven't had much to say. That is not a bad or negative thing. I've just been thinking of other things, like family.

Overall, this show went well despite the falling of instruments. The Rhodes fell over, Darren's drum kept falling over, etc. It was a technical challenge, but we had fun. I hope to come back and have twice as many people. It will make it sound and look better. Thanks to all that did take the time to come out.

Cambiando de tema, and a sad note at that, my tío Carlos passed away recently; hence, my preoccupation with family. He was my uncle that owned a record store in Nuevo Laredo, México. Because of him, I gained access to a lot of great albums that really shaped me as a musician, e.g., Tino Contreras' How to Play the Drums, B-52's, The Doors, etc. I still have all these wonderful things, and I can't help to not think about him when I play them. He was a wonderful, funny man that will truly be missed. I wish I could go to pay my respects in person, but unfortunately, I can't. So, I'll use this forum.

Tío, may you rest in peace. Thank you for giving so much to me. You will be missed.

Below are some old photos of my family, courtesy of my tía Doris:

My mom is in the middle with the fresh, black hat.


Monday, October 08, 2007

10.07.07: Madison, WI

Being that it was Sunday, not much was open around the venue in Madison, WI. However, I did go to one of the best diners I've ever been to; it's called the Blue Plate. Anyway, I'm sure we'll be back to this place.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

10.06.07: Nebraska

I'm really glad that we have fans that are great photographers. Thanks. I treasure these things. It was like the red carpet last night, a flash fest of photographers' field day.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

10.05.07: Kansas

It's a strange, but comforting feeling when you begin to know all the things you like about particular cities all over the world and how to get there. Well, I should specify that when I say "cities" I mostly mean the small vicinity of the city surrounding the venues that we play; for example, near the Gothic Theater there's a Starbucks right around the corner; near Slim's in San Fran there's a great drum store; near the venue in Salt Lake City there's a nice open-air mall; near Islington Academy in London there's a great Italian place that has exquisite cheesecake; near the Granada in Lawrence there's a good middle-eastern restaurant and a thrift store that I go to every time I'm here.

In the last two and half years of touring, I've amassed a pleasant collection of memories. Just walking around yesterday in Lawrence, I thought of the first time I was here on the Mae tour (fall 2005), and how I had sushi with some of the guys from Circa Survive. Then, I will never forget the stinkiest gig of my life at the Bottleneck, during the Album Release Tour (with Vedera). It just goes on and on, in a lovely way.

And, last night, we made more lovely memories. I think the show was one of our better performances on the tour. The crowd was incredible; it was an official sell-out, I'm told. The pictures below were taken by Maria and Michelle:


Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).