It's difficult to write these "post-posts," going backwards in time, trying to remember all that happen. So, why don't you just write them as you go? you ask: well, I abandoned my laptop on this tour in order to have my home/recording computer out with me; at least I have a hand-written diary as reference - good old paper and pen; it will never fail you, never crash, never has to be updated, etc.
Anyway, let's first answer some questions posted some time within the last two weeks:
1. What are you using for a portable recording studio? I use an iMac (3 gigs memory & 500 gigs of storage) with ProTools and the M-Audio NRV10 audio interface. 2. What's your favorite DJ Shadow song? There are so many, but one that sticks out in my mind right now is "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 2)" off of Preemptive Strike. I believe it was used for the movie soundtrack Dark Days (a great indy film about homeless life in the abandoned subway tunnels of NYC).
3. If you get some time is it possible to post a video blog and play the bass line of Reset? Yes.
4. Maybe sometime soon you could perhaps (when you get time) put a tips and tricks video up about sampling? Yes, but this will have to wait until after the tour.
5. Is the whole band present when you record? No. Most of the time we work separately and then, share ideas; however, sometimes Paul and I will work on things together, or Paul and DK, or Greg and I, etc. There is no formula. 6. Could get Greg to tab, or record a lesson, for the guitar parts to Typical and Chaos? I'll ask him, but it's highly unlikely to happen any time soon. He doesn't like computers.
02.05.08: Milwaukee, WI: decent show, but nothing memorable to me; at least, I didn't write anything down about it. Oh well, sorry.
02.06.08: Cleveland, OH: day off, somewhat productive day in hotel room.
02.07.08: Cleveland, OH: great show, best of the tour so far. Why? We had a soundcheck, which always helps, and the audience was right there with us, even though the majority of them didn't have a clue who we were.
02.08.08: Fairfax, VA: This show felt like punching in and our on a day's work. I didn't enjoy the venue, disgusting shower.
02.09.08: D.C. to L.A. flying. Fairly easy flight, direct to Los Angeles, just a bit long but I finished reading Animal Farm, which I hadn't read since high school. Most importantly, I was able see my better-half for this weekend, and we had an amazing time.
02.10.08: This was a historic day for us. I've been thoroughly enjoying it with Wendy. It's been kind of like a second, short honeymoon. In the morning, we got all nice and went out to the ceremonies, starting around 12pm. We were the first nomination up, and as they announced everyone's names, it was nice to be mentioned amongst such talented artists. We made the mistake of not heading out to get something to eat after our nomination was over, and sat through the whole thing basically. We should have gone to eat. We ended up not eating for about 12 hours; it was a long day, but memorable.
2.11.08: (from diary) "I will have to first say that this weekend was a historic weekend. It felt a lot like a paid vacation for Wendy and me. Well, we didn't win, and lost to Johnny Cash, but what an honor that was. I saw countless famous people. Where do I begin? Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr, Dave Stewart, Foo Fighters, B.E.P., Cyndi Lauper, Usher, George Lopez, Kid Rock, Slayer, Seal, Kermit the Frog, etc. Now, when I say I saw them, I was like within feet, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with them. From my seat, I saw a lot of memorable performances: Jerry Lee Lewis, Feist, Beyonce and Tina Turner, Herbie Hancock, etc. I've met more famous people in this year's first month and half than my entire life. Strange."
2.12.08: Syracuse: Spectacular crowd and fun show. Crazy snow coming down!
2.13.08: NYC: After a rough night of travel with snow/freezing rain, etc., we found ourselves in a bus repair shop. Luckily, Dan and I immediately got a cab and made our way into the city. I met my homeboy, Raul Castillo, in Penn Station, and we had a chido day of hanging out in the village and later up at his place in Washington Heights.
2.14.08: Madison Square Garden: Are we here? What are we doing here? Very interesting day, the best part was being reunited with the love of my life, and exploring the city a bit. The disappointing part was that the Garden is actually the ugliest venue we've played on this tour. It's historic and amazing to be there as a part of this long, crazy tradition, but wow, it could use a face-lift back stage. It was also Rob's birthday; so, we hung out at his party after the show; it was fun.
2.15.08: Niagara: day off. cold outside, so we sat in a hotel room all day and ordered in.
2.16.08: Seneca Casino: Little room, but it was a nice change. It felt a little more concentrated energy wise.
2.17.08: off day near Hartford, CT. I did laundry and slept a lot.
2.18.08: Uncasville, CT. One of the coolest casinos on the tour; too bad my better-half left this day. What have I learned on this tour so far? A venue is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.
2.1.08: Chicago: Sears Centre: I brought out my skateboard, not so much to skate but to cart stuff around; however, I couldn't resist to get on the board to see if I could pull off any tricks, but I quickly learned that melted snow and skating don't mix. I slipped off in no time, landing straight on my bum. Anyway, I think I'll stick to using it to wheel my mini-studio around; we don't want any broken wrists on this tour. So long are my skating days. By the way, skateboarding is not a crime.
2.2.08: Detroit: Palace of Auburn Hills: Probably the best crowd of the tour so far. We had them on their feet clapping and shouting by the end of "Break the Same." It's a good feeling when we are able to connect with people that have no clue who we are. We've been going out after Alanis' set to talk with people and meet new faces. It's been fun and interesting to connect with these new fans. We also had the coolest dressing room ever in the history of MM: from hot sauna to whirlpool, it was insane. Thanks Pistons. If that wasn't enough, the guys hung out with Alanis a bit (I unfortunately was busy and didn't know about until it was too late), and later that night, MB20 invited us to their dressing room to hang out; they are truly down to earth, genuine guys, and we had a great time with them.
2.3.08: Superbowl: Thank God NY won.
2.4.08: St. Paul, MN: Xcel Energy Center: This was a historic day for me and MM. Why? Well, after the show (which was a little strange from the stage perspective, but later seemed very nice when we talked to fans out near the merch), we headed out to 1st Ave and watched DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist live. If that wasn't enough, Steve (our FOH engineer and mate of Shadow) got us back stage to meet the two maestros. DJ Shadow has been a huge influence on MM. He is one of our heroes. I learned how to sample and program by listening to his records. To this day, I listen to much of his work to gain perspective and compare his stuff against my tracks; that is, I want my stuff to sound as close as possible to his; well, that is the lofty goal at least. So, needless to say, we were in awe. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture, but this encounter will always last in my mind. This memory is engraved. What a beautiful surprise and wonderful day this was.
I remember playing at this venue a long time ago with Earthsuit; it was for some outreach/gathering thing with Grits. Anyway, it sounded washy back then and still sounds washy today. The sound just bounces everywhere out of control, no definition, especially in the low end. Nevertheless, we had a great time because the crowd was probably the hypest of the tour to-date; I felt we had a lot of fans there; I heard people shouting our name. Anyway, we are still not getting a soundcheck, and it's a lot of last minute getting up there after doors are open and doing our best to make the most of the opportunity. In spite of this, I've had a great time on this tour; the MB20 guys are really cool. After every show, I see Rob on the side of the stage; he watches us everyday. I think little by little we are growing in our "arena playing" chops. Maybe, one day soon will be headlining these places ourselves; who knows?
by Brian FoxHow did you get your start in music?
I started out playing drums when I was a kid, and I thought of myself as a drummer for many years, playing in local punk bands and high school jazz band. After a friend gave me an old P-Bass for high-school graduation, I started playing whenever anyone needed a bass. Later, I had some formal training at University of North Texas and at Loyola University in New Orleans.
What carries over from your background as a drummer?
I think all bass players—all musicians, really—should learn drums. It helps you lock in, because you can better understand what a drummer is doing; you can speak the language and use those ideas on bass. All of us in Mute Math were drummers at one point, so we switch instruments onstage.
How did you start playing upright?
I’d always been into jazz and wanted an upright, but they were way too expensive. I grew up on the Texas border, and when I’d walk across to Mexico, I’d see these cheap old uprights. I bought one and took it to North Texas, but people wouldn’t stop laughing! I finally mustered up enough money and bought a ’50s Kay about ten years ago.
What’s your favorite amp for recording?
I’ve used Ampeg SVTs, but we got the best bass sounds using guitar amps. I used an old ’60s Maverick guitar amp, and for my own home recordings, I use a Fender Concert combo with four 10s. The grit and energy you can get from guitar amps seems to translate well on record. Live, I use a Mesa/Boogie 400+ head with a 4x12 cabinet. It’s somewhat like a guitar amp—I can turn up the gain to get some grit, and the 12s break up in a nice way.
What about basses?
I play mainly a ’78 P-Bass, and I also tour and record with the Kay. A New Orleans luthier named Sal helped me rig a P-Bass pickup at the end of the upright’s fingerboard, which really helps me get my live upright sound.
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