Anyweef Ief neef beef heef in some teemf. Is this place still here? Does anyone read a blog anymore? No really. Really. Back when MySpaz was hip I blogged a lot. I mean a real lot. Lots of bloggos! All is disjointed now. Anyway. Speak up. Rock a world. Yo. I’ll be back soon. I promise this time. At the moment I’m watching John McLaughlin play really fast. A lot. I like it. For sure. Love!
WE PLAYED AND SANG
That’s pretty much how it went down. As part of my New Year resolution, I wanted to actually bother to finish things that were left undone. It’s the way it is with most people I know. I had tons of pop/rock songs that I demoed the music for but never finished. I decided to send some to my friend Allen Wentz. Allen played bass in Wild Cherry and was a session bass player in NYC for many years. He’s a fount of wisdom and still has an ear to ground and is up on the times. I wanna be just like him when I grow up. I must have sent him more than a dozen tracks and of those he picked three. That’s normal. The rest I put into the trash and deleted. It felt good, really good in fact. Allen listened to all my music and rendered judgement in exchange for me playing on his LEGOLAND EMPIRE ambient music album. You can find that gem here:
There’s some seriously neato stuff on there and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
And now the story of this song:
The drum track came from a song deemed unfit for consumption. I adored the drum track on its own though. Kevin Radomski plays with enough energy to light up Bermuda. It would have been a shame to let it go to waste. I trashed the other song, kept the drums and put a new song with the old drum track. I actually bashed out the bass and guitar takes in one fluid moment for each. I then added another guitar track. I used an amp sim for one guitar and miked up a real amp for the other. Which is which is not important. I recorded the bass in a manner, which I have frankly forgotten. It was my punked out P bass though.
Ties that bind or the influences, such as they are:
The track sounded live. Like a real band playing on the natch. It sort of WAS like that. Kevin and I can make a real noise either separate or together. We have a sound. And I like it. I also grew up listening to records where the players DID track live. Then they sang. Sometimes they did it ALL AT ONCE. Isn’t that neat? I still think so. I also like ambiguity. I LIKE not being able to tell what’s going on all the time. That way, with each listen I can find something new. Now, that’s isn’t to say I don’t like crystal clear recordings. I do. But my fave rock, has an element of mystery to it. I like the fact that finger scrapes, and little licks and surprises would jump out of mixes because everything was not edited to perfection. We’ll do a track at some point where it’s all perfect and tidy. That said, I do LOVE modern technology for the options it gives.
I wanted it massive. I wanted a sound you can touch. Period. I hate small. Rock today seems so small and so same. I’m 43. What do I care about cultural relevance? I’m free to do what I want and do it without a wall of cascading gain, camaro-mullet amp sound, a homegenous bass sound and beat doctored drums. Frankly, I wanted it to sound like 1981. Retro is IN, right? Whatever. I watched URGH! A Music War in its entirety and I was amazed how almost EVERY band had a Fender bass. And they ALL sounded different. Here’s my old fart remark: Back in my day, we wanted to sound different.
Which brings me to my FAB voice:
My nasally voice does not fit well with others. On this song again, I wanted massive. Like a cheerleading squad! That was the TICKET! I like those. Kim Janes came in and doubled my already doubled tracks. Then she added harmonies on that. We wound up with 9 tracks of vocals. (We blended so well, we decided to be a cyber-band.) Not one was autotuned. (Yay! MUSIC PEOPLE TEAM!) I wanted a natural sound. She made it all come alive and I got the sound I was hearing in my head. Thus, The Inked UP Eighty-Ones was born. There’s will be more music from Kim and I in the future. A collection of singles that builds and builds, so don’t expect the same thing over and over. Each one will be different. Thanks for listening. Doing this live? It’s possible. We could sing and play it.
An album needs a title. A title needs an album? Why, yes and no. No and yes. Yep. OK. Let’s Active! Let’s play! Infrablab? Well. I’ll get to that in sec. I’ll go through some of the failed titles. I’m my own worst critic, so anything harsh anyone has to say about my work, I’ve already done it for you and it’s quite caustic and demoralizing and enables me to continue with a smile. Weird huh? Kinda gives me ammo. Weird again. Some failed titles (seriously):
ABCDE (Pronounced AB-SUH_DEE) Since I was composing around improvisations there would be no real AABA form. Henceforth, hereafter, ABCDE.
THE CHRONICLES OF FUKAZAWA BOOK I
MUSIC SARAH PALIN WOULD HATE
TWO FRIENDS (lame)
FUN CATCHY POP TUNES ABOUT HOT COUGAR MILFS
THIS PART OF THE DARKNESS (good one)
UKUSOKBYME (good one)
INFRABLAB (da winna!)
Infra: meaning BELOW.
Older guys may remember a button called “infrasonic” on some old stereo receivers. It filtered out excess rumble from the electro-mechanical sound reproduction from the phono cartridge and needle.
Blab: Do I really need to define this?
That word popped into my head while I was trying to remember, a certain photo editing program I liked many years back. I was recalling a lizard on the logo and that it started with an “I”. (It was Irfanview). So, in my mind I was thinking of , igstibbit, ignoofer, infrastump, etc. Then I thought of the annoying robot on the Jetsons called Uniblab and that went into Infrablab and all of a sudden I was laughing out loud. Alone. There it was, simple as that. But, we are two bass players yes? Infra. We chat on the musical yes? Blab. And I think it’s funny and doesn’t take itself to seriously. I suppose, I should be Mr. Serious all the time. Nah.
Steve’s part was actually recorded at my house in 2007. He laid down tracks on a sketch I had. He actually played like 6. I took two. I had to leave some room for me in places. Natch. I chopped up a few licks from one of his solos to make a nice melody. I also found a snippet to make an intro lick to introduce solo sections. The beginning, I made a homage to our 80s upbringings. I made a synth patch using some PPG WAV samples I had. Think Tears for Fears. I ran my trusty battered Alembic ERB boosted by a PsionicAudio Triad 1 pedal into a THD guitar amp for the leads. I stepped down the gain of that amp, using a 12AT7 tube in the boost section that was liberated from an old Philco radio. (That’s for the amp geeks) The fretless items on my part were my trusty Alembic fretless. (for the bass geeks) Steve’s solos were not edited per se in any way but for length. They are as they were played. The ending solo on Steve’s part, I did assemble a “opening” melody for the sake of flow. (There’s that but the SOLO is what he played.) If that tune flows at all, which is why it’s called Doors. At the end it all slams shut.
Give me lumps of sound and I’ll organize it for you. That’s what I do. –Frank Zappa
One line is my sins, and the other is forgiveness-Arvo Part (taken from an interview of Part by Bjork.)
WHILE I’M HERE, REMIND ME OF FORGIVNESS
Yes. The next tune is just that. I was thinking of Arvo. This is a man whose music I HAD to listen to. Know why? I saw a photo of him. I was so terrified and enthralled by his APPEARANCE that I knew he had to be THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE SACRED ORACLE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING. He is. Go figure. He vibed me with a thousand mile stare. This was done in 20 minutes including the mix. I took out most of my bass track, which frankly RUINED the entire thing. I then left Steve’s alone and it was perfect. I made a bass appearance at the end but didn’t get the last word. As an artist, you get in a state where it’s all about you. Since, having a son, and since my father’s departure, I realized I don’t give enough. Trying to rectify that. This tune is a musical step towards that. The person and the artist cannot be separate. That’s what they say anyway. What Steve played was perfect. There you go. Me getting rid myself was in a way symbolic of forgiveness. Again, I didn’t get the last word here. Forgiveness. Getting rid of baggage. Not hanging onto to past. This one MEANS the most to me. It’s actually my fave.
He doesn’t look like a Jon or a Johnny, he looks like a Jonathan. We all have seen people like this. Titus was titled by me mistyping “title,” I think. Then it sounded like Titus. Who is Titus? There is a book in the Bible. That’s not him, though. But, it is Titus. Steve did the grooving. I added a chorus bass line and soloed with the Alembic ERB. Solo was one take all the way through to the end. The first one. I did a few more, but that one I felt was READY.
THAT PART OF THE WORD
That Part of the Word is funny. My son gave me that title when we were goofing off reading books. I did a homage to English music of the 80s (which I love to this day) by doing an imitation of New Order a bit. I used my battered no-name J-bass into the THD amp for that. Steve does the insane soloing stuff, playing his Modulus fretless with a slide. Solos were done on the natch and only edited for length. The song has a fade on my solos. Which were the ERB and my J-bass. I trimmed off 3 minutes of myself wanking at the end. Even, I thought it was tedious. There you go.
I’d like to leave you with some bad reviews of this EP recording:
“Wamsley’s transitions are done with all the subtlety of a stun-line at a slaughterhouse.” Mudville Art Review
“I can’t dance to this at all.” -fat chav chick at Buffalo Wild Wings
“This. THIS JUST SUCKS.” -Welsh Implement Tractor Review
“Wamsley apparently bathes in chemical refreshment.” -Girls Gone Wild Monthly
“I’ve never heard of a country called UK. Where is Uck anyway? I don’t wanna go there ever. Them people mus’ be weerd to allow this kinda, this kinda, kinda, kinda, kinda….KINDA CRAP to perpetrate aural raperage on my eardrums.” – Uptight Redneck Gun and Truck and Deep Fat Fryer Review.
Man. Those critics are mean. Listen to the music and decide for yourself. Big LOVE!
Get it here: http://tripwamsley.bandcamp.com/album/infrablab
I’ll speak of my recent working process here putting together some tracks with UK solo bass guitarist Steve Lawson. Steve came in and we hung out and of course we got around to playing. I mean who WOULDN’T want to play with this guy right? We recorded some stuff onto to his apparatus (which always reminds of a disemboweled robot) and did it with the organic on-the-fly methodology, which of course is his modus operandi, two people interacting in the moment. It’s always great fun and challenging. Sometimes I don’t know where to fit in with what he’s doing, but I do find my way somehow. That “somehow” is where you grow, I feel anyway. So, when we’re done with that, the inevitable question always comes up which is, “what have you got, Trip?”
So, I start hemming and hawing, and then I start digging out soundscape sketches that I never finished and probably never would have, had that question not come up. So, I dug them out of the computer, (an old MAC G4) and it was “play on these.” Some had been sitting there for years, frankly. I kept them because something was there, I just didn’t know what. Here’s where my process comes in…
Me: Here play on this.
Steve: OK. I’ll start here with this sound and the slide.
Me: Great that’s done. Now, do something else.
Steve: I’ll “else” with this sound.
Me: Back off the reverb a bit and shorten it up.
Me: That’s great. Do something else.
Steve: How ‘bout this?
Steve: Are we finished with that one?
It takes about ten minutes or so.
It’s a rather cold way of working. I get that. But, inside I’m really so excited that I have to cancel the emotions out and become Mr. Spock. Steve being English, just gets quiet and goes for it. I don’t really know what he’s thinking. I almost don’t want to know. I’m just asking wordlessly (a rare thing for me) for help to make this thing come alive. I did keep it after all for some strange reason. Waiting for the right action to present itself. A very Tao thing to do and say, I might add. Speaking of cold, I was mixing another song in which Steve and I tracked at the same time, doing some interplay. Well, it didn’t sound right upon later listening. So, the first thing I did was mute my track and it was instantly perfect. So, I let Steve take the majority of the tune and I make an appearance toward the end. Heck, the tune IS mine and music exists outside of my chosen instrument. If it doesn’t need it, it just plain doesn’t need it. Silence is what we clothe in sound. Why ruin a good sonic serape by spilling low end 57 sauce on it?
I took the tracks from the G4 and DP and dumped them to an external HDD, which was purchased after my Macbook HDD died. Then I transferred them to the Macbook with its new and speedier HDD so I could work all over the house and all over town on the tunes. This is where the time consuming part comes in. I have to find sounds and beats and an overall direction for the thing. Asking the music what it wants and then interpret metaphysical data and see if my interpretations are correct. I then start programming the aforementioned data. I’m always alone, with no one to tell me yes or no. Which sometimes sucks. I often have to let an idea sit overnight, return to it in the morning to see if I was as smart as I thought I was. Usually, it’s not so good. Something is out of place. I then attempt to correct it and get a new direction going. Time consuming to say the least. I usually don’t mind. I am working these days at abandoning things and labeling them “finished” a bit faster these days. I must say, that I love digital tech for this reason. We are in a blessed time for powerful affordable recording tech these days. That said, when it comes time to record my basses. I like old school. I love tubes. I love big trannies. I like organic heavy ugly gear. There’s a certain something you get from the real thing that doesn’t happen in a modeler. Although, those Guitar Rig plug-ins are starting to look more appealing, to blend with the real stuff that is.
The way I recorded my bass solos were to do ONE take all the way through, which I did. I allowed no edits. I usually nailed it in 1 to three takes. Each take this time was a keeper but I did a few more, just to see if something spoke better and with more clarity. I used to do 230948 takes or so. Which was ridiculous. I began to think long and hard about that, I started to reason that perhaps playing outside of my ability was taking precedence over my ears, heart, soul etc, rather than the technique that I already HAVE, executing the direction. When, that method was adopted things began to run more smoothly and were 100% fun. I hope it shows. Love to all and later.
I think and feel that fear of getting in touch with our inner voice is what’s missing. We all have a musical voice that exists OUTSIDE of the bass guitar. It exists on its own. Having said that, I would be quite gutted if for some reason I couldn’t play bass guitar anymore. BUT! My musical voice would not be silenced. It exists on its own. It’s free of dogmatic diatribes that merely serve to obfuscate and limit THE VOICE. I am Trip Wamsley first and formost, and that’s where I get into trouble. I happen to own and operate bass guitars in a few different sizes and shapes. I can do some fiddley bits and play some solos too. Big deal. So can a lot of people. What sets me apart is that I write. Some say I do it well. In bassdom, I can see the obvious gaps. I can see what no one else is doing and start doing that. Doing your own thing is easy. Really easy. Look at what everyone else is doing and just don’t do it the way they do it. It’s that simple. Or is it?
Getting in touch with that voice. That thing that is REALLY you, can be quite exhilarating! It can also plague you with doubt, fear and host of other emotions. These inner feelings (if you’ll pardon the oxymoronese here), are the same and different for everyone. I can tell you a few things that might give some insight into the voice. Finding your voice. Some observations here:
If you read the writings and letters of famous composers you realize that this very thing has gone on for centuries. (For an excellent book, read COMPOSERS ON MUSIC, COMPILED BY JOSIAH FISK.) Getting into the heads of of the heavies can give insight into the reality of what being an artiste is all about. You can read them bag on certain players, people that I’d never heard of being mere technicians and having no feel for the fugue, sonata or what have you. This is nothing new. It has gone on for centuries. I suggest we try to get over it or get used to it. Some insights from my point of view:
The most INTERESTING people make the most interesting artists. Make yourself an interesting person. Darren Michaels is an interesting person. Jay Terrien is a fascinating person. Victor Wooten is an interesting person. Steve Lawson is interesting. To wit:
The most interesting players have the most interesting influences. In music. Life. Art. Books.
The most interesting players are fearless. At least on the outside.
Olivier Messien said that “Technique is the means in which the soul flies freely.” Technique is to be mastered to serve its master. It’s master should be music. The music already knows what it needs. Use technique to give it just that.
The good artist borrows the great artist steals. That was a quote supposedly by Picasso. I would like to add, that what we steal we should turn the stolen property into something else. An analogy: Steal a car, but supe up the engine, beef up the suspension and turn it into a performance machine. Steal a painting, and add a few funny faces to the fruit in the basket.
The most interesting artists are not interested in growing UP, but growing in all directions.
The most interesting artists find something to dig and steal from almost everything they see or hear. I love speed metal. In SOME respects. I like the fact that people bother to DO that. It astounds me and I’m glad it exists. I adore the intensity. Most death metal players I have met have been highly intelligent, and the most interesting people ever. Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse, is into all thing bass. He LOVES all players of all styles. I have seen him digging Marcus Miller, Steve Lawson, ME and host of others. Interesting guy. Not to be dismissed as a bonehead. I hate rap but LOVE the way the rappers lay the vocals back on the beat. It’s really cool. I hate mindless slappers. But love the fact that they do all this work on ONE thing for me to steal and turn it into something else. I love the rhythmic ideas I can steal and do in another way, by a pick or what have you. There is good in everything.
The most interesting artists are aware of the history of their craft. They look to the past. My father, when I was wanting to learn slap bass told me about , Pops Foster, Milt Hinton and the Rockabilly guys. He said it’s nothing new. History. Abe Laboriel was doing all the double thumbing in the 70s. Muzz Skillings of Living Colour was doing it a heavy rock context in the late 80s. Again. History. Eyes and ears open. Always. Dig deeper. Become deeper. Bake cookies. Listen and read the works of serious composers. Dig Dig Dig. Look into that place in your heart. The dark place. Where there are no dogmas. Just you. Just music. Turn the light on, but wear shades, because initially the revelation can be quite blinding.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY FATHER
In loving memory of H. Edward Wamsley Jr.
My real name is H. Edward Wamsley III.
I’m badly in need of a clever opening line here. I don’t have one. So this will have to suffice: I buried my father this year. He passed away due to extreme complications from a liver cancer operation. He died on September 4th 2009. He was 81 I see it as more than fitting that a tribute to him should open this WordPress thingamajig.
I am a living legacy to the leader of the band. My father was an excellent trumpet player and musician and educator. (So was his father.) Truth be known, with scattered exceptions I find most trumpet players annoying. In personality and musicality. My father had neither the holier and higher notes than thou, attitude and NEVER said anything derogatory about other players. He had class. In person, and in tone. His trumpet tone was part and parcel of what I wanted my bass tone to be if you can believe that. It was rich, deep and clear. (Perhaps the tone and the man cannot be separated?) It was a big room that you found comfort and solace in. It took me many years to partially achieve that in my bass, but in part I succeeded. He taught me that without words. Player’s with class teach us so much without words, regardless of instrument.
Most people described him as quiet. Which he was. He spent words liked marked currency. Conversation was like chess. Here’s one: The few times I played chess with him. He would checkmate me in no more than 7 moves. His greatest moment was checkmating me in two! He called it a Fool’s mate. Then he, smiled left the table leaving me basking in my quick and humiliating defeat. When I was forming my first real band, we had a meeting in my room and we were discussing ideas, goals, metaphysical properties of our ROK and time signatures etc. Dad walked in and said, “All those ideas are great. Now, go rehearse them and get a gig. Then you’ll really learn what’s going to work and what isn’t. And, by the way, figure out how you can make some money too.”
He embraced technology. When I told him about Reason and other computer programs, he got Reason for me for Christmas one year. I still use it to this day. At the time he was 77. While he was getting Reason for me he found out about Sibelius and got into that software for arranging music for his students. There’s a big lesson there. My father never lived in the past. He never once said that yesterday, yesteryear or yester whatever was better. It may very well have BEEN better. He never said it. He lived for today. I didn’t realize it until he had less than a month to live. He taught me this lesson, again, without words. It does him honor for me to adopt the same attitude. I find it frankly difficult. But, I’m trying. I’ll be posting more about him later and the things he taught me. I realized how lucky I was to have had a father. Not a biological unit, but a real father. Thanks be to God. Love to all and later.