Thursday, May 31, 2018

I feel it when it crawls...

We rehearsed for the first time together in 8 years.  As you'd expect it was a bit rusty. One thing is playing along to the recordings in the living room,  it's another to do it live.  Some folks knew some songs better than others but we were able to get a lot done, whatever one person struggled with a bit we would review or figure what needed to be done to patch the leak.  I'm confident we'll have a strong set together, there are some things we're going to try and maybe add to the core set as we go along.  We have another run of rehearsals planned and we're dedicating a lot of time to it just before we leave, which is actually only 15 days from now.

In other news many people have really stepped up their game with promoting the tour.  Manuel got the tour poster printed up which looks really cool.  The Barcelona Crew at Beauty Fool Records also printed up a poster, produced a promo video, and a radio spot. Thank God for friends.  I hope these folks can keep networking and helping each other out. It'd be great if it makes it easier to get bands to Europe if Manuel and others know they have people they can turn to and trust to put together a good show.

Now for the frustrations.  Merch.  The plant is running really late on printing up the 7"  we were supposed to have it by now and I was hoping to have it in Europe already but now it looks like we'll get it next I'm hoping United Record Pressing will help us out and ship them out there.  With customs and all the other bullshit to deal with it's coming down to the wire.  We should have a tour shirt done also.  There are some other stuff in the works but I'm not even going to mention them until we have them in hand because I'd hate to get people interested in stuff and not deliver.

One more thing, I know you're all clawing at the walls waiting to hear what the pedal board will be...gear geeks take note. I intentionally chose a small board so I would limit what I use but as of now the chosen few are: Boss TU-2 Tuner, Boss, NS-2 Noise Suppressor, Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz (I guess I gravitated to the "2" series of pedals from boss), RAT distortion and taking care of reverb and delay in one stupendous, glorious box is an EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run.  I think that has all the bases I need covered.  That EarthQuaker pedal is pretty impressive, they have a more stripped down version called the Dispatch Master but I went with the Avalanche Run because it's more versatile and it'll come in handy at the studio.  I also got an Afterneath and a Palisades but those won't be going to Europe with me.  Other upgrades, I slapped a Curtis Novak PAF Jazzmaster pickup in my Classic Player, before we head out I might even swap out the tuners as well and call it my signature model.  I kept the 1 meg pot in there and it retains the sound of the original pickup quite well, still bright but a little smoother than the P-90 style.  It was just a bit then for my rhythm parts and considering that David plays the brighter, more melodic stuff in the band I wanted to make sure that midrange didn't drop out and also interfere with his parts.  I remember when I joined DP David and I spoke about how they always saw it as Tricia being the double bass, Robert the cello, and David the violin components of the band, so I'm trying to maintain that original philosophy.

I think we all wish we had another month to prepare but it's really amazing that this came together.  It feels like just a few days ago that it was even mentioned as a possibility, now we're down to just about two weeks before we leave.  I'm looking forward to the shows, meeting some cool people, hanging out with everyone in the band, we get along pretty well, laugh a lot, mostly at ourselves and the fact that we're in our 40's and 50's and heading off on a tour that most people do in their 20's.  Like Ted said, "I don't mind sleeping on floors, I just hope they aren't punk rock floors." Say a prayer and sacrifice a chicken for us...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

One Month...

Sorry it's been some time since I've posted.  The rerelease of the first  Distorted Pony single that we're putting out has kept me quite busy.  The reference lacquer I received from Dave at Lucky Lacquers sounds great.  He did a really good job.  Thankfully I was able to ask friends to help with almost every aspect of releasing it.  My friend Frank from the band GORT has a print shop locally, GBY, that printed the covers.  Usen Gandara (Sleestak, White Eyes) who I've known for 25+ years handled the artwork and graphics, everything from laying out the new photo on the cover, the center labels, etc.. He also got the Instant Winner rerelease art ready for production.  I even sourced the nice poly sleeves with the sealing strip from my buddy Phil (Distortion Felix/Chavez Ravine) at Far West Record Suppy.  Sticker Guy came through with the pony logo sticker we're including too.  I first used him when Leopold went on tour in 1997.  It's a release between Total Annihilation Records which is myself and my best friend Anthony Francoso (Sleestak, Geronimo, White Eyes) and Beauty Fool Records (the 7" isn't on sale yet so don't bug them to death about it) in Spain which are also friends of mine Daniel  (WANN, Glitterhouse) and Edú (Glitterhouse).  I'm very grateful to all of them.   So we're pressing up 300 of them.  We'll have atleast 150-200 of them on tour with us but Beauty Fool is also going to have some up on their bandcamp. If you can't make it to the shows or want to guarantee you get one order it from Beauty Fool when the site goes up.  I'll put the link to their site on here.

The Instant Winner rerelease looks great and from what we've been told it sounds really good.  I don't think we'll get out copies until we're in Europe.  That's also a limited run of 500 with various colors and a limited poster.  Again, if you can't make it to the show order them because we probably won't have any available once we're done with the tour.

Tricia and I got together last week to go over music.  I have the multitrack tapes transferred onto Protools so we can listen to individual tracks to figure out our own parts when we need to analyze what we should be playing,  as well as play along with the rest of the band and mute our recorded tracks. We're trying to have enough material for an hour set which I don't think I've ever played except in the Ebola Orchestra, most of the time it's been 20-40 minutes for me. It'll be interesting to see how we come up with sets to vary things.  We have full band rehearsal coming up and I'm pretty confident but there are some songs where I have no idea how Robert created the noises that were coming out of his guitar and amp.  I remember from seeing DP live that it was more of a variation of things that he played and getting within the ballpark was what would happen most of the time.  I've learned a few things over the years so I'm excited to have my own spin on his parts.  To quote Tricia "Don't worry, at times Robert was so loud and feedingback we'd be like, what the hell is he playing, we couldn't' even hear ourselves!"  I'm all for the noise!  The more fucked up the better.

The guys in Cani Sciorri have been really helpful with getting gear together. London got lucky.  He'll basically only have to take his drumsticks and clothes.  The Cani guys scored a double bass pedal for him and their kit is pretty much what he uses...Ted even has a metal drum to bang on.  I'm a bit stressed on taking my Travis Bean.  Just a couple weeks ago I was working with Brujeria at the studio and the airline lost Anton's ESP/LTD custom (please see link below) It was supposed to be on his flight, then on the next flight, then arrive a few days's been a couple weeks and still nothing.  So taking a rare, vintage guitar to Europe sounds risky but I've been playing that guitar at every show for the last 21+ years.  I got my Travis Bean Artist for $700 back in 1997.  After hearing the Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Sonic Youth, Six Finger Satellite all playing those I decided it was a pretty versatile, amazing sounding instrument.  I placed an ad on an America Online message board and some guy replied who was the roommate of someone in the Archers of Loaf.  His friend (I guess the guy in the Archers) was selling his TB because he wanted a Gibson SG.  So a few weeks later I had my TB1000 Artist in my hands.  I had that and a Karl Sandoval  custom tele for a while (he's the guy that built Randy Rhodes' polka dot flying V).  He's a local and I did the math and it was cheaper to have him build me a custom guitar than it was to buy a new Fender American Tele...go figure.  Anyway, soon after our drummer in Leopold bought a TB1000 standard that was pretty beat up for $450.  He eventually sold it to me for the same price, so now I have two Travis Beans. I'll be taking one on tour along with a Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster that I've modded a little since I need to use a bit of tremolo for dives and noise on some songs.  I spoke with Mario Lalli from Fatso Jetson, he goes to Europe a few times a year with FJ and Yawning Man and he said he uses a MONO double gig bag that he insists on taking as a carryon to make sure his guitar and bass don't disappear.  He's lending me his bag and he straight up said, "You have to be an asshole and make sure you get it on the plane with you."  Thanks, Mario.  Noted.

Still working on the pedal situation.  I've been trying out a bunch of stuff but nothing seems to sound as good as my amp.  The Cani guys have a Brunetti and claim it's bad ass so I'm praying that amp does the job on its own.  I looked up a few youtube clips but these guys on there play all these 80's hair metal riffs and never push the amp as hard as I'm used to. You see these guys copping Guns N Roses riffs and pretty much any Marshall based amp is going to sound good but when it comes to noisier music, there's just not a lot of examples out there.  They also play guitars that sound nothing like what I'm interested in, Charvels and BC Richs.  Whatever works I guess....
Well, that's it for now.  I'll let you guys know how rehearsals go.  I think we'll be pretty strong with the songs we did the last time around but the songs we're adding to the set we'll have to work on quite a bit. Wish us luck.

One last note.  I realize I'm name dropping a bit but really it's simply to add details and give you a more vivid picture of what this experience is like.  I think it'd be pretty boring to be doing something like this blog and not include specific people and also, these people are helping me out and I very much want to publicly acknowledge them because I really appreciate their friendship and all they are doing for me and Distorted Pony. Thanks.

Antena Krzyku - Instant Winner (scroll down there's a few order options)
Beauty Fool Records
Lucky Lacquers Mastering
Far West Record Supply
Sticker Guy
Anton's missing ESP/LTD

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Tour Dates Announced

The tour dates have finally been announced on the Antena Krzyku FB page (see below). They are the label rereleasing Instant Winner. We have twelve shows so far with a few left to confirm, so it looks like a pretty full schedule. Manuel has done a great job of putting this together. I've been practicing the set quite a bit, I know the Punishment Room stuff a bit better than the IW songs, probably because the tracks on there are a lot longer and the counts aren't exactly as predictable, some sections last a certain amount of bars in one verse but in another verse they may be a different number of them. I hate having to count so I'm really trying to get things to become natural where you can feel and tell that it's time for a change in what I'm playing. As much as I felt pretty confident with the Real Tube pedal a few weeks ago, now that I've used it more I'm not so sure it's going to make the cut. I tried different tubes in it and it was an improvement but it has a compression to it that I've noticed now that I've played it a bit that I don't care for.  It limits the low end from blooming in a way that I'm used to.  My friend Jon from the band Torche has a new amp and pedal company called Nuñez Amplification and he makes a great amp, it's the only amp that I've thought if I didn't have my Soldano, maybe I would get one of his. He also makes a bass distortion/preamp pedal and at the moment he's about to prototype the guitar version. So I am pestering him a bit about letting me do a little R&D. I have a feeling it's going to do the job. Tricia tried out the Bass Annex pedal he makes and she ordered hers a few weeks ago. I'll include links down below. If you play loud noisy music it's worth checking out his gear.
On the rerelease we're (total annihilation records) doing of the first 7" everything is good to go but I found a 1/2" two track reel amongst the 20 or so that Robert entrusted me with that is the stereo mix of the 3 songs, so I think what happened is that originally it was mixed onto to 1/2" but when they sent it to get mastered and pressed, for whatever reason, it was duplicated on to 1/4". So the 1/2" should have a bit more low end on it. I don't have a 1/2"  2-track machine, so that's getting transferred over for mastering. Also on that session was a song called "Whole of the Law" and "Scratch Out the Sky" from the Psychotechncis HURT comp. That's a great comp if you can find it. It has Slug, Babyland, a great band called Gecko that I really like but besides this comp track all I have from them is a 7", I don't know if they released anything besides that. Ethyl Meatplow (RIP John Napier) is on there, Death Ride 69 (David U was in that band for a minute), I only saw them once at Club With No Name years ago. Anyway, we might have some of those on tour with us since a friend got a hold of some copies. When I mentioned it to Ted, he said he didn't even have a copy so I'm sure it's rare in Europe. The original pressing of the 7" is a bit murky to be honest compared to the master so this pressing should sound really good. Dave at Lucky Lacquers is handling the mastering and lacquer cutting and United is pressing it up. A friend of mine has a print shop to ink up the covers so luckily everything fell into place.
Someone on Facebook asked if we'd have merch for sale after the tour and I'm sure whatever we have left over we'll make available somehow, maybe set up a bandcamp page or something like that where we can have a store on there too. We're still throwing around some ideas for other items. I'll post an update at some point once we've finalized things.

16.06 Freakout Club, Bologna
17.06 Birrovia, Cuneo
18.06 tbc
19.06 Sala Begood, Barcelona
20.06 Bomberena., Tolosa
22.06 Mondo Bizarro, Rennes
23.06 Dibar, Plougonver
24.06 Magasin 4, Bruxelles
25.06 Mc Daid’s Le Havre
26.06 DS 17, Dordrecht
28.06 Poznan tbc
29.06 Urban Spree, Berlin
30.06 Grander Saloon, Hamburg
01.07 Fusion Festival

The kids home for Easter
Tour Dates Announced
Nunez Amps

Friday, March 23, 2018

12 weeks and counting...

We've been busy getting things together. We booked our flights a couple of weeks ago, that was a task in and of itself, Tricia had been keeping an eye on flights for quite some time, a decent deal came up so we jumped on it. We're hoping they won't stick it to us when it comes to taking our instruments over there. Travel light is the best plan I guess. It's a bit worrisome when I think about taking my Travis Bean on the plane, I hope I can carry it on. I thought about not even taking it but I love playing that guitar. They've gone up quite a bit in value since the $700 I paid for it in 1997. I've played that guitar for every live show since then. We're planning on having quite a bit of merch to sell at shows. As of now we'll have a repress of Instant Winner that antena krzyku is releasing, the Concrete Bruises 7" is also going to have a limited pressing of 300 with an alternate cover. We'll have a few copies of Punishment Room and also possibly a compilation of tracks from each release as well as comp tracks. They'll be at least one poster, possibly two, and some buttons. I hit up Manual and the band if it was cool to bring along some Leopold CDs so those will be eventually floating around Europe too. I just found out that our friend Will, is going to be joining us. We've met over Facebook a while back when he asked Michael Gerald from Killdozer to be on one of his projects and he ended up recording his tracks at my studio. Since then he's also had Tricia on a track and he's put up David and his wife when they visited the UK. We're trying to figure out rehearsals before the tour. David will have to get over here (L.A.) from Austin for a few weekends. I am an owner in a rehearsal studio business so we'll luckily have access to that and we also hope to rehearse once we arrive in Italy. Usually I'm used to being overly prepared for shows but this one is going to be by the seat of our pants. I think we're pretty confident though since we've all played together before and know we can do it. I've been trying to get pedal setup to take on tour. Since we're not taking our amps, it's kind of rough to rely on pedals. I went to try out a few pedals this weekend with my buddy Dani from Barcelona from Beauty Fool Records. They're fronting the Barcelona show. Luckily he's a guitar player so it wasn't much of an ordeal for us to go check out some stuff. I settled on a Real Tube pedal and luckily found one for really cheap on Craigslist. It sounds ok but I won't know until we land and I plug into whatever backline we have available. I may also take some other distortion pedals like a RAT and maybe even a DS1 or Eq pedal to tailor the sound a bit more. Last time we played I also had a boss noise reduction, Hyper Fuzz, and I'll probably have some kind of delay in there for a few songs where the feedback has a bit of ambience to it. To be honest I'm not a big pedal guy. Once I got my Soldano the search was over for my tone. That was it. I also need to take my Jazzmaster for a couple tracks that need tremolo and that behind the bridge noise. It's a fun guitar to play. I tend to like the Jazzmaster for the Punishment Room tracks and the Travis Bean for the Instant Winner stuff. If anyone in Europe has a Soldano Decatone I can borrow please let me know. ;-)

Friday, March 9, 2018

8 Years Later...

It's been a while since I've even looked at this blog. The reunion shows went well that we did in terms of our playing but the attendance wasn't all that great. The show at Echo Curio (RIP) was by far the best one we did, more of our friends and fans were there that saw the band in its original form in the 80's and 90's. I had a great time playing those songs and as a fan I think I did Robert's parts justice, I hope so anyway. We got together to record a new song a few years ago but not much came of it. It's up on Distorted Pony's FB page so feel free to take a listen. Fast forward to the later part of 2017... First thing I heard of the potential for a European tour was when Ted mentioned it on FB. A guy that's been reprinting shirt designs from noise rock bands contacted us some time ago asking about the Punishment Room t-shirt. Ted said to go ahead and do it and that lead to discussing us going to Europe. (Links at end of entry) I had tried to get us over there when we got together but the guarantees were not going to cover the costs, not even close. As much as we appreciated all the offers, 100 Euros for a gig was not going to cut it. We did get a few good offers but when it's five person operation, flights, backline, van, accommodations is a costly proposal. I met up with Ted for lunch and he told me the few details that he had. Manuel was going to try to book us a two week tour. He'd taken the Cherubs and some other bands out there and had some success so he was willing to see if he could get some interest and go from there. We posted about it online to try and spread the word and see how people would respond. It's been quite amazing how excited people are out there to see us play. The band never got to go out there the first time around since they broke up in '93. So as of today, we're are good to go. We bought our flights and have about a dozen shows booked, maybe more by the time all is set. There's also an effort being made to re-release Instant Winner, put out a compilation of rare, unreleased, and "best of" tracks. And my old label Total Annihilation along with my friends in Spain Beauty Fool Records is planning on re-releasing the first single that Piece of Mind put out. This all came about quite quickly so we are all scrabbling for time. I'll post more about those things as things progress. I've been going back each night and relearning/practicing the songs, we are expanding the setlist a bit to include more stuff since we last played. We'll see when we can all get together to rehearse. I have to tell you guys, this whole thing, when I think about it is incredibly cool for me to be a part of. Distorted Pony was a band that really excited me and inspired me to play music again when I was a kid. I was in a hardcore band during high school but that got boring after a while and I didn't want to repeat that. So all the bands of the 90's like DP, Slug, Sandy Duncan's Eye, Oiler, Babyland, The Jesus Lizard, The Unsane, Melvins, Cherubs, Shellac, Fudge Tunnel, on and on the list goes...they really excited me and I was lucky enough to form Leopold and be a small part of that lineage of music...but I never thought I'd be actually playing in Distorted Pony and especially now, it's quite mindblowing that I'm going to be on tour in Europe playing guitar in one of my favorite bands. I love the music and the people very much. Even when we haven't been playing music together I still meet up with Ted or Tricia once in a while. As expected, every one is just a lot busier now, some are raising kids as well as have careers so it's quite a task to find time to go to Europe for two weeks to play music. A while ago I was talking to a friend about how much I missed playing loud noisy music and maybe I should get Leopold going again or start a new band...well here comes Distorted Pony again and I can't wait to make noise. (US shirt link) (EU shirt link)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Reunion Shows!

This past weekend we played our first set of reunion shows. They all went really, really well. The bands were great, venues were cool, audiences were into it. Our first night was at the bootleg theater as benefit for Blood Red Lost Head Dead Flacon, a performance that my friends Lyn and Michael are working on. We played with El Haru Kuroi and Totimoshi. HK seduced the audience and then we pretty much violated them. Totimoshi played a great set. They keep on evolving and you can hear the Spanish/flamenco guitar influences in Tony's playing have really pushed the band to become much more melodic than even a few years ago.
I think our set went well especially being the first show. I had some antics on stage, cut my hand, almost tripped due to mics cables in my way and at one point even my guitar strap slipped off and I almost dropped the Jazzmaster. I thought everyone else played well but of course afterward people vented whatever mistakes they made, there were no catastrophes even though there very well could have been.
The next night at the BLVD. we played with Toward Distant Suns and Aztlan Underground. I'm friends with both bands so it was cool to have them on the bill. Toward Distant Suns really impressed. It was my first time seeing them and although I'd heard Frank and Bradley play together in Gort it was cool to hear them in a new band. They have some similarities to Gort but the addition of a bass player adds a groove that Gort doesn't have.
Aztlan had a rough start, Zo's guitar rig died and they had to borrow mine, it took a while for them to get rolling but once they did they played a pretty strategic set. They usually play a bit longer but due to it being a Sunday night and the tech problems it was cool to see they could still pull off their set even with some time constraints. It made me think of a Coltrane interview I read where he said that normally they played My Favorite Things for over 20 minutes but when they were at a festival and only had under 10 minutes left in the set the quartet still puled it off and Trane was wondering "so what have I been trying to do with all this extra time we take to play?"

Our set was strong and loud. It was better than the night before and the audience was into it, mostly the members from the other bands were really into it and of course that fueled us. Here are some pics from the show.

We hung out and talked with the bands for quite a while after the show was over, in fact we probably hung out for longer than we played! Everyone was really cool and we hope to play more shows with them. Not bad for a Sunday night.

On Monday our show was at Echo Curio. We played with Devin Sarno, who at one point was an early member of Distorted Pony. He does an effected bass drone ambient noise that travels from one mood to another. I really liked his set, I knew of him from back when he was running WIN records, I think he put out my friend Lynn Johnston's album as well. Devin's set was only about 15 minutes but people were into it and I think it as a great way to get things going.
The Mormons were up next and if you don't know who they are, well, get a life. They play a sort of Devo-ish punk rock. Patrick the singer is a great frontman, he really performs and gets the audience to maintain focus, you just don't know what he is going to do next.
Our set was a monster! By far it was the best set of all the shows we played and the audience was really pushing us, it was our show and there was an anticipation in the place that let us know we had to deliver. At one point I was lost in the energy. I didn't have to think about what I was playing it was all very organic and we were very much one entity. Some songs for me were crushing, Go kart, Death in the Turnstile, Slow Leak, and God's List were rushes. The venue is tiny, so it was hot, sweaty and in your face. We were loud as hell and powerful! By the time we were done I was exhausted. The crowd was great and people had nothing but praise for us, well except for the few songs that we didn't play that they wanted to hear! Towards the end of the show I went into the audience. I wanted to see it for myself, 17 years after Distorted Pony broke up there they were again and it seemed surreal that this time I was playing in the band. I think I did my part in making as it intense and furious as I remember as a fan. I had a great time and I had people coming up to me and being very supportive. We put a lot of hard work into making it happen and we plan on doing a lot more. I'll add a quote that London recieved:
Al's Bar soundman Greg--
"children turn away---MOTHERDISTORTEDFUCKINGPONY ! pardon my french"

"their third (and last for right now) reunion show last night was the best thing I've seen in years...YEARS! so happy, so unbelievably tired...better than sex. better than drugs. better than sex on drugs."

What else can I say?

Luckily someone shot video of the show:

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Show is set!

May 10, 2010
We’re getting ready for our first show. It’ll be on May 22nd at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. Totimoshi is also on the bill and we might have a 3rd band. The event itself is a fundraiser for my friends Lyn and Michael. They are artist that put together a theater production that has to do with an ancient Germanic play. Like anything else it takes quite a bit of funds to make it happen so they’ve asked for a bit of help. I first met Lyn in 2003 when Leopold was looking for artwork for our album. I spent weeks looking at various artists online. I happened to go to Totimoshi’s website at some point just to see what they were up to and they had a link to Lyn’s work. I was really impressed by her work and I emailed her asking if she’d be interested in having her work on our album. Everything worked out great. She and Michael came to our record release show and met us for the first time. Since then we’ve become good friends. They moved to L.A. from the Bay Area and seem really happy here. They work hard but we manage to find time to hang out. I feel like this is a way to repay Lyn for being so generous with her work. She really cut us a deal and let us use the images on not only our record but also the now defunct website. I would have loved to have pressed our record on vinyl and make it a gatefold to really do the artwork justice…maybe someday.

David will be in town for a stretch so we hope to have a 2nd show as well as come up with some plans for future goals. We’ve talked about recording some new stuff, touring a bit but we really do need to work on a game plan so we can be efficient with our time. I don’t think I’ve ever been this busy. Killsonic (I play tenor sax in that band) has been pretty active lately we played on KPFK last weekend and it sounded great. Distorted Pony will probably get on there soon. I’ve been busy at Total Annihilation working with a few bands, archiving the DP tapes and mixing the DP rehearsal we did, it sounds pretty blown up but you can hear that we aren’t holding back at all. By the third night of rehearsals we were pretty confidant with our playing. We sounded a bit rough on the 2nd night when we realized we had to fix some parts that David pointed out. I was (and still am) also getting used to singing Angel and Forensic and solely focusing on my parts and not playing the hybrids I was playing before.
By the third night of rehearsal we were pretty on it. We have some video footage and a few friends came by to check us out and let us know if we should just slit our throats now or keep it going .
London is going to try to put up a video of us rehearsing at the studio so look for that to come out soon. We’re hoping that it’ll get a bit of attention and convince folks out there that we aren’t old, fat and slow. One out of 3 is ok but more than that and you’re out of the band.

I have to say that I really hope people make it out to our show. We’ve been working hard, it’s a good cause and it should be a great night. Totimoshi kicks major ass so the bill is strong and we hope to hold our own and maybe get a few people that haven’t heard of us to pay attention.