Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad/Brain Hunger

Today is my dad's birthday. All I really need to say is that my dad rules, but I'll elaborate. Not only does he do everything for us (driving, cooking, etc.), but he is also the reason I play music. I am forever in his debt just for that.

Thanks Dad, Happy Birthday.

I decided to make two cards today, one for him and one for my mom's un-birthday. I'm sure that she will post pictures in her blog, but basically I just drew Neil Gaiman. This is all I've learned after 20 years of knowing my mother - you just have to draw Neil Gaiman. Or make a song about him for Christmas.

I'm still continuing with this 8AM on the dot wake-up call. It backfired on me the first day, but I'm starting to get used to it. I spent most of the morning traveling to the Sound of Market to pick up some gifts of the aural persuasion. Sound of Market is one of the last good record stores in Philadelphia, besides AKA Music. As long as those two places don't go out of business, I'll be a happy man. My duct-tape wallet will continue to be unhappy though.

I'll finish this post with a rant of sorts.
On the way home I was ruminating on the future of musical composition. This topic seems to preoccupy my walks into town, regardless of whether or not I am actually listening to music. Perhaps I'm not worried about the future of composition as much as I'm worried about our voices and our instruments becoming obsolete. As for the musician playing the instrument, the muscles can only develop so much for the purpose of excessive speed and accuracy.

Quite useful, but mostly unnecessary.

Our musical vocabulary is vast but more limited than the vocabulary we use on a daily basis. For example, we have twenty six letters, but we only have twelve tones. Of course, there are many rhythms that have been untouched. But what is the purpose of creating the most unimaginable and complex rhythm? Having a definitive and clear musical statement is of utmost importance, and I'm not sure that complexity is the key to clarity.
This leads me to the big mystery. I'm trying to figure out what the next evolutionary step is, but it always begs the question: What hasn't been done yet? The only way to know is by absorbing as much music as possible. I was able to satiate my starving brain with that conclusion when suddenly...

I thought about all of the articles which discuss the "best new music of (insert year here)".

The "best new music" seems to mend many adventurous, sometimes absurd, and previously unwanted musical ideas (read: the acknowledgement of free jazz in popular music). The once outlandish ideas are then regurgitated into a pop song format, which in turn makes it accessible to a wide commercial audience. There are interesting results, but how is the art progressing? Especially when we are using the same elements that have been available for hundreds of years? Some say we are at the end of the creative rope. I say we search for a reasonable compromise!
Calling myself a postmodernist is a cop out, so I'll just have to keep thinking about it until I'm satisfied. That'll happen. Hah!
I should get some sleep, and then wake up at 8AM. Maybe my thoughts will be clear when I'm not thinking about how delicious the birthday pound cake was.

Eric Slick

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Boring and Somewhat Productive Monday

I suppose it's time to turn this into a real functioning blog now, instead of just a Project/Object tour diary.

Let's talk about today.

Last night I decided that I want to start waking up at 8:00 every day no matter what. I feel like there's never enough time to do the things I truly want to do in the 24 hours I am allotted. My brain moves very quickly in the morning, so reading is a good match for that. When it's the afternoon my brain starts to slow down and I want to do is practice my drum technique. But I also need to work towards the inevitable, which is acquiring my driver's license. I have never been able to the gather the motivation to even look inside the Driver's Manual. I just know that once I get a car, I'm going to be paranoid about killing squirrels. Now is the time to do it though. It's necessary to continue my dream as a working musician.
I'm going to get my physical soon. That shall put the figurative wheels in motion! Pun intended.

I didn't ignore the cell phone alarm and I woke up at 8:00 today expecting to help sell records on eBay. However, I am rather naive so this never happened. It got moved to tomorrow afternoon instead.

Instead, I spent the morning reading "Point Counterpoint" by Aldous Huxley. I remember when I bought that book. It was almost exactly a year ago, December 3, 2006. I was on a weekend tour with Chris Harford and the Band of Changes. We were about play a show at a small bar in Washington, DC called Iota. Scott Metzger and I decided it would be a good idea if we went to the local shopping center. It reminded me a lot of the big shopping complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. It seemed like the entire neighborhood was built around it, a hypnotizing Mecca for wannabe hipster suburban teenagers and the retired golfing type. You know, the two age demographics with the least amount of gross income (groan with me everyone).

The centerpiece of the complex was a gigantic Barnes and Noble. I have no problem with a giant bookstore, even if it is a national chain. At the time, I was inspired by a book that Chris lent me called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It was a self-help book without all of the bullshit, and it's the reason I started practicing and reading again. At the time I was being overzealous, and I wanted to purchase the most challenging book I could get my crooked fingers on. So I got "Point Counterpoint". I have 32 pages left, but the vocabulary is so outrageously difficult that I have to go to every 5 minutes. It's no wonder that I'm still reading it to this very day.

This story then presents a series of fun but stressful flashbacks.

(cue the Debussy whole tone arpeggio)
That weekend we also played the North Star Bar in Philadelphia and the Recher Theater in Towson, MD, opening up for the Benevento/Russo Duo. I get nervous before every show, but I was feeling particularly bad before that one. We got through the show and it was good. Afterwards it was a laid back affair. Joe Russo (the fabulous drummer) and I had our first unofficial dance competition, which led to furious finger snapping and leg shaking. If I remember correctly, it got really heated and passionate during Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know?".

I still torture Joe about having a real dance off. We were supposed to have one at the Bonnaroo Centeroo Fountain, but my 3 show a day schedule forced me to be relegated to the Ice Cream Man truck backstage. He is an incredible drummer, but little know he is an even better dancer. I may have to pull a Tonya Harding on him.
(cue Wayne and Garth going "Doodledeedoo")

After reading this morning, I spent some time heating up ratatouille and brown rice. I then practiced on and off for a couple hours. My hands hate me right now. I'll stop typing.

Eric Slick

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Day Four: Asbury Park, NJ

If I remember correctly, we didn't get to the hotel until shockingly late. It was freezing outside. Did Christmas come early this year or what? We arrived to the hotel at 5AM. This happens sometimes with us. The sun was rises as we go to bed. I sometimes think we are a nocturnal ensemble, but then again, New York shows are overwhelming.

(cue Debussy whole tone chord arpeggio for dream sequence)
I have fond memories of this particular Motel 6. It was the very first place I stayed with Project/Object. Just being in the laundry room brought back a warm sensation. Back then I still barely knew my band mates and I was green to say the least. My only previous touring was with the Paul Green School of Rock Music. Back then I was surrounded by parents and peers who would take care of me. That first tour with P/O was so different. I had no idea how to handle myself. I remember following Svalgard everywhere he went. I was a nervous kid with a family and a girlfriend at home. I also had no idea how to eat. After the shows I would foolishly get decade old snacks from the vending machine - most of the time it was stale Pop Tarts. Seahag and Dave would haze me from time to time too. I always went to bed so early (which isn't much different than now). One time they came in my room and lifted up my mattress and started humping me vigorously. Ah, the good old days.
(dream sequence end, cue image of modern day East Brunswick Motel 6)

I slept for most of the day. It was okay, because East Brunswick and Asbury Park are not far from each other. Our show that evening was originally supposed to be at the Stone Pony, but it was moved to the luxurious Asbury Lanes Bowling Alley/the World's Most Amazing and Bizarre Rock Music Venue. That afternoon we found ourselves buying extra gear at the local Sam Ash Music. I definitely buy way too many musical things. My way of rationalizing it is by saying, "If it's educational, it's worth purchasing." Musical instruments are educational, right? Right?!
We left for Asbury Park at around 4PM and somehow got lost along the way. We still made it to the venue on time! How has this been happening? We've been blessed. Ralph of Music Club Studios was there to do our sound for us. I love Ralph. He's got a good taste in music and he recorded the show I did with Bob Musso. He's also possibly going to record Crescent Moon in the future. I hope that comes through. There was a lot of free time to kill before the show, so I just practiced a whole bunch behind the stage. My dad drove all the way from Philadelphia to be there. It was great to see him. Guess what? The Downtown Music Gallery/Lunar Bear Ensemble crew showed up too. Great to see John Lunar Richey and Bob Musso in the crowd.
The show that night was calm but still hilarious. The drum duet in "Don't You Ever Wash that Thing?" got even more outrageous. I can't remember what stupid motifs we did. It probably was the Folgers Coffee Song again. After the show we went to Wawa at 4:30AM and got vegetarian hoagies. I forgot to mention - this particular Motel 6 has wireless internet that is $3 for 24 hours. Motel 6 is finally catching on to the internet obsessed market. Good job.