The tracks I recorded last year with She’s Still Dead ( I wrote about the process here, and you can see footage of us working here ) are coming out on deluxe vinyl soon. In the meantime, here’s the title track – or you can go download it, name-your-price, here.
Dead Oak are a superheavy group from Austin TX. They’ve got cool gear for days ( vintage guitars, amplification by Matamp, a mountain of stompboxes, BIG drums – in short, everything good ) and great tunes, but they can’t find a singer. I’ve gone to Texas a couple of times to record them, and you can check out the raw tracks we did here. Think you’ve got what it takes? You can contact the band on their Soundcloud page or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Tracks for Ricky B compilation album sent to mastering place. Check.
* Mixes completed for She’s Still Dead Keeper Of The Witch EP. Waiting to hear about mastering. Wondering why labels aren’t falling all over themselves to release this record as it’s the kind of classic thrash metal everyone loves.
* One more mix to do on Chopper Stepe album. Waiting for Chopper to return home from his travels so he can listen to the stuff on a real stereo instead of his phone.
As related to this post of a couple of weeks ago. So, you’re a musician in 2012, nobody’s willing to pay for music, things are rotten, nobody cares, there are no fucking jobs, I know, I know. Here, though, is a band who, by thinking things through and budgeting carefully, are pulling it off. I met these guys when they’d been together only a few months, and we bonded immediately over a shared love of old hardcore, classic metal, and horror movies. Most of them have been in bands before, so they were able to come together pretty quickly, write songs, and play shows – they hit me up about recording, and it was based on these early gigs, flying-bodies-mosh-pit-super-action, the band burning it up right out of the gate, that I thought, ” yeah, we could do that – we could make a raw, old-school thrash record “. I was attracted to their strong DIY ethic. They are not rich kids, and they will not spend money on anything they can learn to do themselves, like hand-screening t-shirts, fixing amps, painting banners.
The band rehearsed quite a bit before recording ( this is something I can’t stress enough : if you’re good at playing the songs, they will be much easier to record. Practice EVERY DAY, for at least a week, before you go into the studio ), and we were able to capture something good fairly quickly, often on first or second takes. So, She’s Still Dead, New Orleans metalcore horror band, debut album. Now what? First of all, want the tracks? They’re free. Here. That Radiohead pay-what-you-want thing a couple of years ago was kind of a fiasco, but the honest truth is that most people will download your digital music files for free, and you, the artist, might as well direct them to a place – your website or Bandcamp page or whatever, where it’s about not just your tunes, but you, and what you’re doing, and other stuff you’re selling. Offer people a chance to pay for the tracks, and, surprise, a few will.
For the physical release, as has been the case recently with just about everything everyone I know has been recording, the primary objective was vinyl – good quality, heavyweight colored wax ( just look at this ” blood and teeth in a porcelain sink ” color scheme ), nice inner sleeve with photos and lyrics ( one of the funnest things about this group – it’s all Jack The Ripper, coffins, knives, blood, and screaming ), and a heavy matte cardboard cover ; all this ( plus a free download code ), by the way, for $14.00, direct from the band. Getting a record pressed is pricey, and there’s no way around that, but rather than coming out of pocket or gigging for a year to pay for mastering and manufacturing, they funded the whole thing with Kickstarter ( you’re probably familiar with the concept, but if not, this ). I’m a big fan of Kickstarter ( and of crowd-sourcing in general ) because it allows things to happen that might not otherwise be possible, but also because it can be a pretty good indicator of whether or not you should be trying to sell your music. If you mount a Kickstarter campaign, and you really work it, making sure all your friends and relatives know what you’re trying to achieve, and you don’t make your goal, well, that’s sobering, but it’s a lot better than ending up with 490 of your 500 CDs under your bed, forever, which is what happened quite a bit in the very different world of 10 years ago.
Speaking of CDs, they made those too. They did the smallest run possible, the packaging is as simple as possible ( a CD in a matte cardboard sleeve, really just a little replica of the LP — no plastic, thanks! ), and they’re selling them for as little as they possibly can ( $6.00, which is a pretty good deal considering that you still see handwritten, burned discs on merch tables for $5.00 ). As I’ve said before, some people still want CDs ( I sometimes buy them, although it makes me feel funny ), but if you make a few and they don’t sell, it’s not the end of the world.
Star & Dagger is Sean Yseult of White Zombie’s new band, and here are a couple of songs that I recorded for their In My Blood EP, which is available as an ultra-limited, deluxe, heavyweight color-vinyl 12″ with fancy foil-stamped cover here. These tunes will not be on their forthcoming LP, and when the vinyl is gone, it’s gone.
Immortal, Eternal. Classic metal / hardcore from New Orleans. Super heavy mosh action, Jack The Ripper, blood, witchcraft – in short, all your favorite stuff – it’s all here! Recorded live in the studio ( yes, this band can play, extremely well ), available on deluxe colored vinyl here, and name-your-price download here.
Records are back in a big way, they keep telling us, and it’s true : vinyl shops are not anymore solely the lonely domain of old dudes who spend their days dreamily recounting the Zappa/ Uriah Heep gig they saw in ’74, but of enthusiastic kids looking for scratchy soul 45s, limited edition pressings of European black metal albums, underground noise cassettes. I collect records myself, and although I did largely give in to the idea that CDs were here to stay ( I distinctly remember someone showing me the first compact disc I’d ever seen in 1989, so I think of the CD era as being from ’89 to about 2005, with near-total obsolescence coming around 2008 ), there was always music I wanted to listen to that wasn’t available on any format but vinyl. In fact, one of the very first things I bought myself when White Zombie started to do well was a Technics SL-1200MKII turntable, which cost me something like $399. That was crazy, extravagant money at the time, and I had a real “ Damn! I earned this!! “ feeling about it. I still use that same 1200, and it still makes me happy. Sometimes, before I put a record on, I pick it up. The thing weighs 25 lbs., and I find the weight reassuring.
All of the artists I’ve worked with lately have recorded with the intention, first and foremost, of making records. They want hand-screened matte cardboard covers, and they want heavyweight colored vinyl. They will, of course, offer the tracks for download, but that’s really an afterthought, because, quite frankly, where’s the fun? It’s just .. air, which becomes a tiny, hard-to-find part of your iTunes library, which you will mostly ignore until your hard drive wears out and you lose everything. Have you backed up your mp3 collection recently? I didn’t think so.
I still buy CDs, occasionally, because I like to have a hard copy. The CD itself is trash, a fragile thing that holds the data, but sometimes people put a little thought into the packaging, and the result can be an object worth owning. Usually not, though, and if a disc comes in a jewel case, I throw the case away and put the booklet and CD in a paper envelope, which takes up 1/3 the space and doesn’t have those little plastic teeth that always break. God, I’ve always hated jewel cases. If I think a band can sell CDs ( which depends on the popularity of the artist, but also on the age group of the fans ), I will recommend that they make as short a run as possible ( disc manufacturers are falling all over themselves to stay in business, and making as few as 100 can now be slightly profitable, if you can shift them ) – if they sell, great, and if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. Still, hearing your band back on a CD, or over the internet, can’t begin to compare with what used to be milestones for musicians : hearing yourself on the radio for the first time, and, especially, dropping the needle on a record that you made.
And now, this : here’s a 45rpm 12″ ( best fidelity! ) from Star & Dagger, which is Sean Yseult’s new band. Side A’s got In My Blood, a track from their forthcoming album, and side B has Stories and S&D’s take on Out Of Focus, the Blue Cheer psycho-blues stomper, both of which were recorded by me. This is a pretty cool item – limited to 500 copies, with a fully illustrated inner sleeve and clear / blood-red vinyl. Some of the discs, like my copy, shown below, have a sort of ” blood pooling on the bathroom floor ” effect, while others will have more of a ” crime scene splatter ” look. You can order a copy from New Orleans’ Last Hurrah records, which is here.
These sessions were hassle-free : a tight band, and lots of guitars, specifically Dava’s 1974 Gibson SG. Also in use are my 1978 Marshall head, Marshall cab ( stock, except I replaced two of the greenbacks with G12-65s .. you’ve heard this cabinet before, on Fu Manchu’s The Action Is Go LP ), and my Big Muff, pot-dated to 1980. I have several of these pedals, including a ” ram’s head ” model, but I refer to this particular one as The Killer Fuckin’ Death Big Muff. Finally, this : on Stories, that’s my loopy, rubber-bandy fuzz solo that fades in around 2:57. They handed me a guitar and said, ” here, play on this “, which I did, not thinking much about it, but as soon as people started to hear the track, I got a lot of comments like, ” This is the first time you and Sean have played together since White Zombie — dude, that’s huge! ”
A short-lived band fronted by King Louie — it’s like, what wouldja call it? Punknewwavecaptainbeefheart? A cool, sold-out double 45 which we recorded on tape at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studios. Check Deviled Oyster to hear the world famous Tele-Mic in action!
Rik Slave sings with Rock City Morgue, which is the band that Sean from White Zombie plays bass and keyboards with, but he has fronted many groups, including The Phantoms, who were originally active from 1984 to about 1995 and were quite popular here in New Orleans. Back then, the band’s core consisted of Rik, bassist RJ O’Rourke, drummer Greg Terry, and a rotating cast of guitar players.
There are a variety of recordings of the original Phantoms, including a 12″ EP, a 45, and numerous demos and board tapes, but when they reformed last year and asked me to produce their album ( which is pretty evenly split between old songs and entirely new ones ), I reasoned that this is a different time and a different band and so I purposely didn’t listen to anything they had.
It’s not really fair to compare this version of ” Do You Believe ” from 1989′s More Drunken Buffoonery EP to the modern recording – they were in their early 20s then, and they’re grown-up men now, and their lineup has been fleshed out with two guitarists and a keyboard player, but it surprised me the other day when I listened to it for the first time. The new recording is a lot more hi-fi, and it’s got a lot more stuff in it, but it really is the same song.
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. This here’s about as close as you’re ever going to get to a White Zombie reunion, not that Sean and I are actually playing together on this record – well, I probably did play a little tambourine or something, but it’s hard to remember. This album was recorded over a bunch of different sessions at Piety Street and some other places in New Orleans. Rik Slave sang ” Carry It With You ” in an abandoned pre-civil war building, in 90º heat, in the dark, lit only by the glowing tubes in an antique radio. That sounds so made-up, doesn’t it? It’s not — if you listen closely you can hear the extra-spooky sound.
This here’s about as close as you’re ever going to get to a White Zombie reunion, not that Sean and I are actually playing together on this record – well, I probably did play a little tambourine or something, but it’s hard to remember. Here’s 3 songs from the brand new Rock City Morgue LP, ” The Boy Who Cried Werewolf “, which we recorded over a bunch of different sessions at Piety Street and some other places in New Orleans. Rik Slave sang ” Carry It With You ” in an abandoned pre-civil war building, in 90º heat, in the dark, lit only by the glowing tubes in an antique radio. That sounds so made-up, doesn’t it? It’s not — if you listen closely you can hear the extra-spooky sound.
Here’s how we make records in the future : engineer emails me basic tracks, band comes over to studio, does guitar and vocals, we mix the track real quick, we email the mix to the pressing plant, and the band is out the door and headed back up to Canada to go on tour. This song is on a limited 7″, although you may be able to get one from the record label, and you can learn more about C’mon here.
This track is an example of what I call my ” Silver Surfer ” style, where I form a mental image of the Silver Surfer breakdancing, and then try to imagine what the music being played would sound like. You can see the video for ” Keeping Up With The Jetsons “, which is my favorite song on the album, here.
What’s that? Using a microphone you found in the trash to record guitars? Well, why not? Back when Sean and I ran The Saint, I found an Electro-Voice 635A in the giant ( I mean giant, all the way up to the ceiling ) mound of trash we cleared out of the back room. Turns out that this mic was considered a kind of secret weapon on guitar amps in the 70s and 80s. This particular one sounds sort of okay, and it doesn’t really do anything that standard mic choices ( Shure SM57, Sennheiser MD421 ) don’t do. Who knows how much liquor has been spilled on it through the ages, though.