In February of 2012 I began inviting bands to come into my studio to record a live 5-song performance for Musical Family Tree. I have been volunteering my time and resources to helping document local music in the hopes that it will somehow help to preserve part of America’s musical heritage. One of the reasons I wanted to offer these sessions to bands for free was because I didn’t want money/capital to the be a determining factor for which bands get recorded and remembered and which do not. I don’t want musical history to be financially biased. There is a lot of good music out there and there are a number of talented bands that may never organize the funds necessary to record a proper album before them dissolve. By offering MFT sessions, I hope to at least at least act like a net beneath the cracks.
The current MFT Session model is based on a pay-it-forward approach that will result in a end-of-the-year kickstarter campaign to help raise enough funds to perpetuate the project. These sessions have become popular rather quickly and I have received dozens of phone calls and texts by bands interested in being featured. Bands have driven to Muncie from as far as Chicago to be featured in these sessions. I know a lot of you are probably thinking… WHERE IN THE HELL IS MFT#010!!!!!!? You have every right to be curious. Up until this blog post, I have been releasing MFT sessions on a bi-weekly basis. I am constantly striving to ensure that each new release is better than the last in terms of content, quality, and format. Currently my only limitations with the project are my geographic location and the availability of local bands. That being said, let’s get on to the reason for this particular blog announcement.
The MFT Sessions that you have come to know and love are evolving.By the beginning of 2013 I am looking to take this project to an entirely new level. MOBILE! So what does this mean? Well, to put it simply… Rather than inviting bands to come into the recording studio to cut a live 5-song EP, I will be taking my studio to the bands. I want to capture the essence of a band’s inner sanctum… Their practice space. By bringing the studio into a band’s practice space, I am hoping to capture a more intimate and in-depth recording. The band will feel more comfortable in their own environment and the surroundings will tell a better story. The focus of our content revolves around the music but will also be augmented by the documenting process itself. The goal is to tell the story of the band being featured from the vantage point of a friend of the band that was invited to a practice. What could be more rad than recording songs in the very spaces that they were conceived?
I am currently putting together a mobile recording studio that will be capable of traveling the good ol’ US of A in search of up-and-coming bands in the various music hotspots (as well as some lesser known spots). Each session will consist of a photo shoot, video coverage of the entire session plus an interview, a live 5-song performance recorded in the practice space, and a write-up of the entire event. These services will be provided to the bands free-of-charge! One of the most important aspects of this project is to document and preserve America’s musical heritage. I don’t want the ability to raise capital and ensure music sales to dictate what bands are remembered and/or forgotten.
So this is all fine and dandy but where in the hell is MFT#010!?!?!?! About that… The studio has been fairly busy lately and it has caused a few complications with schedules. I am trying to work in as many paying sessions as possible to help pay for the mobile recording studio purchases that I need to make. One of the most important purchases will involve a new vehicle! My car just isn’t cutting it. I can’t fit enough recording gear into it for it to be viable for the project. Ah well, I’ve already been hard at work looking for a new motor vehicle. I’ve actually decided on a 2012 Scion XB. I should be obtaining one of these in the very near future. Anyway, aside from getting a new car… I am also working on securing a number of sponsors from audio equipment manufacturers and distributors. It’s a lengthy process and is taking a lot of time and patience. Oh, and on top of all of this, I am getting married in September! So basically, MFT Sessions are being put on a temporary hiatus so that I can retool the entire project and get it ready for the new format.
Right now I am trying to raise all of the funds necessary to make this project happen via sponsors and my own hard work. However, if I am unable to hit my mark on my own… I will more than likely be putting together a kickstarter to help raise whatever I could not. So if it comes down to the kickstarter, any help would be greatly appreciated.
So I hope this helps to bring you all up to date. Stay tuned… Awesome things are in the works and I am excited to be able to share them with you.
This week I am bringing you a live performance by The Bonesetters. They originally formed the band in Muncie, Indiana but have since moved to the fountain square area of Indianapolis and have been making a name for themselves ever since. You can read a review of one of their performances at NUVO to get an idea as to how well they are being received by the Indianapolis music community.
These guys bring a blend of rock, pop, and folk elements to the metaphorical table. While their older material consisted of larger and more rockin’ material, I feel that they are starting to head into an area that is slightly more tame and tasteful while still maintaining their rock roots. The Bonesetters performed three new songs for MFT#009 and although they are still rock songs, they are also a bit more stripped down than their cadre of musicians all performing seemingly simple parts that all came together to form a complex arrangement. Now it seems as if they are doing more with less. Although there are only four musicians, each part is becoming more complex and tasteful. They are maturing together as a band and it is showing in their music. I am looking forward to hearing new musical creations by this band in the future. Currently, the band is looking to put together a tour for July and are looking to begin recording a new full-length in the near future.
Last but not least, we are bringing video back. Lauren and I have purchased a new camera (Canon 5D Mark 2) so that we can try to capture these sessions with proper video quality. The Bonesetters were our first guinea pigs in terms of testing things out for the first time. Now that we’re able to handle video properly, it will become a much larger aspect of sessions to come! However, in the meantime, enjoy this scatter-brained video that we threw together with the test clips we had taken.
Oh, and last but not least… Don’t forget to check out The Bonesetters on the internet.
The studio has been incredibly busy this past week and I feel like I’ve been running around like a chicken with no head. Despite being slammed with sessions, I still managed to find time to record another session for all of you fine people to enjoy. This week I invited Dan Schepper to come in and perform a few Cowboy Angels tunes. I’ve known Dan for a number of years now and I consider him to be a pretty swell guy. Dan is probably known to most people as the drummer for Everything, NOW!, but over the past couple of years his solo project, Cowboy Angels, has been turning some heads. Unlike the psychedelic space folk music that he plays in E,N!, Cowboy Angels can be pretty diverse. At times it sounds like a crunchy old school rock and at others it borderlines some sort of back-country shoe-gaze. Regardless of the styles and genres being utilized, every element has some strange vintage feel to it. The timeless tones that remind me of countless old records.
Since Dan writes and plays EVERYTHING it was a bit of a challenge to record a multi-tracked session in such a way that it would sound like a live performance. To pull this off we opted for single takes. Essentially we froze a piece of time with our technology so that Dan could go back and rock out with his past selves. Is your mind blown yet? I bet you never thought of a recording engineer as manipulator of time! No big whoop.
Back to Dan… He recorded 5 songs. 3 of these 5 are NEW. I could tell you which songs are new but that would take all of the fun out of the hunt. Do yourself a favor and head CLICK HERE to listen to MFT#008 featuring a multi-tracked performance by Dan Schepper. Try not to tap your foot. I dare you.
Now if you’re longing for something to look at while your ears are being stimulated, take a gander at some of these amazing photographs taken by Lauren Bultman Photography. She always does an amazing job and I’m not just saying that because she’s my fiance.
This week I am bringing you the lo-fi psychedelic garage stoner rock explosion that goes by the name of THUNDERS! They are currently on tour supporting the release of their new album “BEAUTIFUL BABY IN THE BUMMER OF LOVE.” Despite their hectic tour schedule, they managed to make time to stop into REBER RECORDING to record five songs to be consumed by the masses via Musical Family Tree. This performance was stellar and the recording process resulted in a sonically thick product that really captured the intensity of their live shows. A thick wall of distortion driven bass lines and shrill guitar tones combine to create an impervious wall of sound that will animate your entire being into tapping your feet and nodding your head. You will become intoxicated by these audio drugs. Did I mention that two of the songs they performed are NEW?!? It’s true. Two of the five songs are new and you can only get them here! The new tracks are titled “NORTH COAST TIDAL WAVE” and “DIAMONDS.”
THUNDERS revolves around guitarist/vocalist/front-man Ryan Reidy; whose primary musical influences are comprised of The Stooges, Nirvana, and Guided By Voices. When I say that the band revolves around Ryan, I mean that he is the songwriter. However, he’s not a one-man-band. He still requires other musicians to help bring his musical visions to the stage. For this particular tour he is playing with Duncan Kissinger on the bass and Michael Preuschl on drums. You may have heard these names before being that they are both members of HOTFOX (featured in MFT Session #004)!
The stunning images that you see above are provided by Lauren Bultman Photography! She helps document every MFT session that comes through the studio and without her we would have a whole lot less to look at. She does a killer job and deserves a round of applause for putting up with a bunch of rowdy and smelly musicians, not to mention myself. ha! But seriously… her pictures are awesome and her work is appreciated by everyone involved in these projects.
Last but not least, I was able to sit down with THUNDERS and ask them about the new record and talk a little bit about their current tour.
This week I am mixing things up a little bit. Until this point I have only featured bands and acoustic artists… This week I had the opportunity to work with Raafiq Alim (formerly known as Merc Versus), a 10-plus year veteran of the local/regional underground hip-hop scene. He has been compared to such diverse artists as Mobb Deep, Outkast, Wyclef Jean, Wu-Tang Clan, and A Tribe Called Quest. His inspirations include Kool G Rap, Sam Cooke, Bad Brains, Peter Tosh, and The D.O.C. Being from a unique geographical location in terms of hip hop (Indiana), Raafiq represents a rare perspective of the culture. He is currently Vice President of the Indiana chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation and is managed by former Def Jux artist and underground hip hop legend C-Rayz Walz.
The first three songs featured in this session are a collaborative effort between East Harlem, New York native Udi the Erratic Assassin, Indiana native Raafiq Alim aka Merc Versus to form BEDLAM BRETHREN. I took my time to fine-tune these tracks and add subtle changes to make the listening experience unique. The final 2 tracks are previews of a second collaborative effort titled, Mystery School. The Mystery School tracks are not complete. They are merely previews featuring Raafiq Alim’s contributions. The finished versions of these songs will be made available on an upcoming album titled, “Class Envy.” There is no set release date as of this time.
If you’ve been following the MFT sessions that I have been releasing you may notice that this particular session is a bit different; and not just in terms of genre. The whole performance is a different creature. There are no amplifiers or drums for me to capture… the music is essentially pre-recorded and ready to go. This makes it rather difficult to capture the feel of a live performance and so I have opted to approach the hip-hop genre a bit differently. Although there are still elements of the live performance in terms of vocals, I have opted to create a unique mix of the music in addition to the vocals so that there are subtleties in the music that you wouldn’t be able to hear anywhere else. But that’s enough shop talk… I was fortunate enough to sit down with Raafiq Alim and ask him a few questions regarding his transition from Merc Versus to Raafiq Alim, his affiliations with the Zulu Nation, and his outlook on current hip hop trends.
This week we were fortunate enough to hook up with The Bears of Blue River on the last leg of their Dastardly Tour. Our session took place on a Tuesday morning before they were scheduled to drive up to Michigan for their last two shows. We were scheduled to start at 10AM but The Bears had played a show the night before so I had expected them to be a little late. It was a good thing I did because they didn’t end up arriving until 10:30. The band loaded in around 10:45AM while I made up a big pot of coffee. Early morning sessions are usually pretty rough. It just isn’t natural to make music early in the morning unless you stayed up all night and haven’t gone to bed yet. Nonetheless, we marched on in the hopes that the morning bummers would pass (and they did). We hashed out a few early takes to get everyone warmed up and feeling good as the fatigue fled our bodies. I can hear the early morning hour retreating throughout the session.
The weather was exceptionally warm for February which made the outdoor photo shoot nice and comfortable. The Bears picked a few hats, glasses, and props from around the studio and trudged out into the forest to have their likenesses captured by Lauren of Lauren Bultman Photography. The photo session was pretty fun. The Bears made sure to include my dog Cleo in the shoot… oh, and a grill. Yeah, it was one of those mornings.
We didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend on the interview process because the band needed to hit the road if they were going to make it to Michigan in time for their load-in. Despite our limited amount of time, we were able to get a quick interview with The Bears of Blue River. Hopefully it will make you crack a smile.