Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ginkins Finding Emo

Ginkins Finding Emo


It was like a million years ago but I still remember recording this EP somewhat. Ginkins (jeen-kins) was my first real band and we'd done a demo before hand that turned out pretty well. I was still attempting to learn how to sing properly so that I could play live without a hitch. Mike, the bass player, helped out a lot with this. I think I owe my sense of melody to him. Definitely. Our drummer, John, was the somewhat competent drummer rounding out our little circle.
The original idea was to make a concept EP. Mike and I always joked about how they had concept albums but never concept EPs. So I decided to make some of my songs work within a framework of a concept. I got the idea about the rise and fall of a hipster and that pretty much stuck. I don't think the others knew exactly how it was going to go down but I had a loose idea.
I was employed at Jamba Juice right before recording and I remember that I had broken my collar bone stage diving off of the Gothic's stage. Unbeknownst to my drunken old self, the Gothic discourages such actions, so the crowd just split like the red sea when I got up there... It sucked but I got some great pain medications for my trouble.
So I lost my job and Mike said he had saved up enough of his own personal money to invest in the recording. I didn't realize it then but it was one of the coolest things he's ever done for me. Well, I mean that aside from him saving me from a few over doses... Ahem, anyhoos.
We had to practice in short intervals because of my broken collar bone. It sucked but we got the songs down enough to record them without any hitch really. I called up Brian from Uneven Studios (and of Hot IQs and Accordion Crimes) and set up a time for us to go over there and do it. I've known Brian ever since I met the afro laden white guy at one of his band shows. His reputation preceded him and we'd recorded our demo with him. Once I get into a groove I like to stay comfortable to say the least.
It was on a cold December day that we packed our things and headed downtown toward the studio. I was happy on my medication and I think I rode with John there. When we convened over at Brian's place we set up in his living room and he mic'ed us accordingly. My amp (a Peavy Supreme solid state head with no name 4x10 cabinet) was mic'ed up and set in the basement of the studio. Mike's bass was just a direct line into the console. John was the only one with his instrument in the same room as he was. We went through the songs a few times taking rough takes, just enough to build click tracks for the songs we were about to record.
What followed was the genesis of Finding Emo.

Pay Day
This song is about how your check is always gone before you even realize you had it. The concept for the EP was that this was the song where the scenester had a job to get money to go to the show. Recording it was a lot of fun because it's just two chord progressions. It wasn't up until recently that I really gave it much thought.
The pre-chorus vocal was based on Mike's bass line. Originally I just kept on with the verses up until the chorus. Mike added a little ska surf chord to it and we just couldn't resist adding hand claps and random percussion. The ending apparently switches keys within the key or something like that... Mike said it was odd. People generally tell me that my songs shouldn't work and that my choruses come out of no where, but it works. So meh.

This song has to be the bounciest song ever written about date rape. The original demo of this just had the verses with me shouting “Tie me up! I'll throw up!” throughout the chorus. I came back to the song after Mike salvaged it from older demos and I thought up a new chorus for it, seeing as it was sort of bland considering my new-found skills at making melodies work.
The song was inspired by these two gay gays who lived next to me in Georgia. Mind you that I was a virgin in every sense of the word up until about the time I was twenty one or twenty two. So the idea of guys giving other guys drugs for sex really scared me. Then again, so did taking off my shirt in public...
Oh yeah, the guys talked about drugging potential mates and I wrote a song about it.
The bass line is what really makes this song. It took me forever to figure out Mike's bass line for the chorus but it's doable I suppose, that's if I ever have to show another bassist how to play it. What was cool about Mike's lines were that they were melodic like something you'd hear in a ska song.
The bridge in the original just had me screaming “I was a boy and I never got saved!” but for the EP I decided to sing it instead. However this worked out well enough but Mike made me scream it again over the sung part.
In the concept of the EP this is the song where the hipster goes out on the town.
Allie Hale did backing vocals for the choruses. She took the melody in a different direction and at first I didn't dig it. I do now though because it just adds that much more to the song. That's if you can pick it out in the mix. I think maybe there are a wee bit too many tracks on each of these songs. However I like extra stuff so you can just suck it. Metaphorically speaking of course.

You're Not Cool
This song was written as a response to another song by a local band called The Symptoms. I remember I went to one of their shows at the Larimer Lounge and I was in obvious distress I would think. This is because while I was in the cordoned off section of the bar for all agers, the band was in the bar area getting their drink on. I promised myself that I would never hide in the bar if I was playing an all ages show. But of course I turned twenty one and the alcohol won over the morals so... Anyways, the drummer, #3, came out and asked me if I was okay. I told him that crowds just get to me and he smiled. When they played their set they introduced one of the songs as being dedicated to me. It was called Yr Cool. I just heard that part so I went home and wrote “You're Not Cool” as a response. It wasn't until later that I found out that the original song was written about a really cool bartender. I was embarrassed but the song stuck.
Conceptually it's about the hipster going to the show and feeling as if they were his people. You're not cool and that's what's cool about you. That sort of thing.
This one and Excuse Me? Both have the most guitars in the album. The clean opening chords were the scratch guitar. Once the drums kick in the verse is made up of about two guitars in the first verse and three in the second verse. This song has my favorite solo I think I've ever recorded just because it gave it a total Nirvana vibe.
The second and third choruses had Josh from The Symptoms singing during them. He's also the guy who yells “Josh says you're cool so I'll take his word for it!” What's funny is that we both have similar voices. I remember Brian saying that Josh sounded like the rich kid and I was the kid he was beating up. Mike also sings on this but it all still sounds like me in the end...
One thing that I like to do is make the guitars bigger as the songs progress. I'll generally add two clean guitars and two or three distorted guitars over that. It was hell mixing but it pays off in the end with the over all sound I'd like to think.
Brag About Sex
Ok... I've had some problems with sexuality before. Still do. I just think that it's best enjoyed by sexy jocks and submissive females but I've grown to rely on it myself. The original song was about how people, like my drummer, brag about sex. I'm sure he was quite the man whore but I just didn't want to be the one dripping wet or... Actually where am I going with this? Eew...
The riff is as old as me playing guitar and I remember I had an old guitar demo of it. Once John added the opening drum beats it became a real song. Conceptually it's about how the hipster is now a full blown hipster. Hurray!
The second verse was a jibe at the scene crowd. But the animosity sort of receded as the years progressed. Nothing big anymore really. It's almost embarrassing to listen to now. It was so paint by numbers punk. I think I was trying to write a Pennywise sort of song to appease John. He wanted a fast punk song and that's what I hope I gave him.
The bridge was done by Mike. He also added the whoas in the end, I helped too but it was him who really did it first. I'm just a follower. I was happy that I could actually sing the part to be honest. I don't do a lot of my own back up vocals because me harmonizing with myself sounds like a chipmunks record.

Save Me
This song was written on the spot when I still had about two or three hours before Mike and John would be at the studio. I stayed the night with Brian and once we woke up I wanted to make the most of our time together so I just did the entire thing acoustic and added the electric guitar later. The vocals were the hardest to record. At least at the time it was a hard song to sing. I really want to redo the vocals but then again if you went back to make everything you've ever done perfect then you'd never get anything done. At least I suppose that's how normal people do it.
The beginning tisk is not a drum or cymbal but is actually me opening up a can of PBR before I had to do vocals. It just aligned perfectly so we kept it.
Please don't get mad about the Tears for Fears bridge. I know it's like that. It just came out the way it did. So we did what any other plagerizing entrepreneur would do. We added background vocals.
The song is about the many times Mike had saved me from myself. It's hard to listen to now because it just makes me feel so damn guilty. For the EP it's mostly about the hipster having second thoughts.

Excuse Me?
This was a fun song to play live. Mainly because I could always sing it just like the recording. There has to be more than eight guitars on this song if I remember correctly. Mike did the first verse oddity while Allie Hale did the first pre-chorus, second verse, and third pre-chorus. She was awesome because she just gave the song a perfect creepiness. Josh B. sung the third verse, the same guy as in You're Not Cool.
The guitar solo at the end is actually two guitars just going at it at once. The song is just a total mind fuck with head phones.

Idiot Colorado
This song is the send off the hipster gives his people. The song means pretty much the same thing personally as well. It was originally a Milkshakes song so the song had an in-joke about being a scenester. However once we recorded it as a full band it sort of gained a sadness to it. It's my favorite song on the recording and Brian's too. We had like five songs recorded and I wanted one more just because we had time. So I thought of the Milkshakes song I had and John just went along with it. It's the only song where I play bass, not very well, but I play it on the song.
The bridge was just awesome when we recorded it. We just kept layering on the vocals until it had this huge whoa sound. Almost Offspring in some ways I'd suppose. I think it's the strongest part of the EP.
Mike being Mike, added the cool little solo at the end of the song. We had him just keep playing for about five minutes and instead of us fading out we added white noise that just clicks off. Just like this journal article. It just clicks off...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Meanings behind The Vanilla Milkshakes songs


1: We Sound Shitty so Spin will like us
            Inspired by listening to a lot of Dressy Bessy and the Thermals at the time, this song came to me instantly. Both bands recorded with a four track recorder and because I was privy to one at the time, I just played a simple chord progression and kept repeating the pattern. The chorus was me just stating the obvious.

2: Cookie Monster
            I know (or knew?) this guy named Ian Cooke. He was technically my first boyfriend I think and I sort of blew it by still being closeted. I love him and his music. He plays the Cello and sings as either the Ian Cooke band or solo as Ian Cooke. This song is basically me saying that he’s so awesome that it confounds me as to why he ever even hung out with me in the first place. The chorus was a play on my imperfect pitch. When I sing “You seem to have perfect pitch and I’m never on” I tried going out of tune as to make fun of the line.
            I wrote this song on the spot when we recorded at Brian’s Uneven Studio. Anyone who knows me can say that I just sing what comes to mind. Ian came to mind so I made the song about him. It was the first song Fez and I recorded for the album so it gave me sort of an idea as to what the album’s over all theme was going to be. Technically the album has ten songs but seven songs are really about people I know.

3: Sara T
            This song is about one of my favorite people. DJ and entrepreneur, Sara T was the first scene person I met when I first came to Colorado. I saw her band “Hot House” play before the Thermals and I immediately took notice about them. Then the Hot IQ’s played a set before the main attraction came out and I started to get a migraine headache. I was still underage then so I wasn’t allowed to go to the drinking area and such, so I suffered through most of the night. Sara came up to me when I started sitting down on the floor and putting my hands on my eyes to give them some pressure. Anyways, Sara asked me if I was alright and I said no. She then said that she would see me in a few minutes. I didn’t know what she was doing but when she came back she offered me a ride home. The Thermals were into their fourth or fifth song when we left. She bought me some dinner at Denny’s and I think just being around someone nice for a change really soothed my headache.
            She used to run a store on South Broadway called “Chielle” (I really hope I spelled that right?) Her two co-owners were Wendy Marlow and Alisa Dowel. So, like in the song, Alisa would let me into the store and Wendy would make me tea. Sometimes I’d fall on the floor and, look! It’s Sara T!
            The drug references in the chorus were just me saying things I’ve done to cure my headaches from time to time. Thank goodness I don’t get them like that anymore.
            The last part about Rob liking music AND Sara T was just me joking about his obvious crush on her. So… Yeah. Good stuff.
            The very end where all the noise is was me finishing with Fez and then going up to the amp and I turned the reverb all the way up. I played the strings across from the guitar nut (where the strings connect to the tuners) and started plucking.

4: Alan (You’re Out of the Band)
            This song is really in four parts. The verses are about the first girl I ever was “with” and about our awesome night together. The pre-chorus is about this girl who worked at a theater I frequented and mentions her in that she is a worry wart. At least that’s how she came off at the time. The chorus is about how this guy Alan from the Photo Atlas said he’d drum for me but he never did. So I fired him via song. He got the joke thankfully so it was all cool.
            The no future thing was just me saying what first came to mind, which happened to be the Sex Pistols. Because I’ll be dammed if I would ever think about my lyrics before singing them!
            The beginning “wha hup!” was actually a tape error in one of the other takes from a different song. It was too good to throw away so we added it to the beginning of the song. The ending noise came from the previous take we did and it was a little longer than the second take. So it ends where the first song ends.

5: Sorry Desi
            One of the worst things in my life had to do with getting drunk and slapping / punching (I don’t remember which…) this girl and all around great person, Desiree. I basically drank way too much and she said something mean to me, which now I’m sure wasn’t intentional, and then batted at her. I feel really shitty about it even to this day. I thought that instead of doing something like a letter or send flowers, I wrote a song for her. It’s really cool too because this was the one song that got some good radio play.
            This one also has my favorite intro to any of the songs I’ve written. Brian hit the record button on the eight track just as Fernando started up his beat. So it has a cool warp sounding thing in the beginning.
            The theatre part was just me making up something memorable that I could sing when playing. I am so bad at forgetting lyrics so I basically just repeated myself, only with different days of the week.
            The chorus was me singing about how nothing could take away the guilt. Then the bridge officially tells her that I am sorry. Although it’s along with another list of names, but the song is for her.

6: The Pessimist
            This one is basically about me being sad all the time. The chorus is almost a suicide letter I think.
            I had Fez do four drum clicks before the song started so I could sing the opening part on cue. The last chorus is me trying to sing an octave higher and I totally bombed it. I tried it twice but instead of cutting it altogether, we just distorted it and I screamed the rest. It really took Brian back because I can seamlessly scream and transition to softer vocals without even a hitch. It is always cool too because many people I’ve talked to say I can scream on key. Whatever that means… But it’s cool nonetheless.

7: Vampires
            Honestly this was a joke song that became popular during the live shows. It’s fun to play and such but it doesn’t really hold my attention. I had recorded a demo of this song and basically just redid it with better drums and recording. I even did the last part on both songs where I go “we did it!”

8: Yr Scene
            I won’t say who this is about. But I’m sure he knows he’s the brunt of the song. Yr Scene is about a scenester who has a lot of control and influence on the scene and he’s being a dick about it. It’s been so long now that I’m sure even he has realized that he wasn’t being nice to anyone and has hopefully started acting appreciative of the people who put him there.
            He had a label that had three of the biggest bands in Denver on its roster. To be honest, I wanted to be on his label but I wasn’t and never will be cool enough for him to notice me in that way. Later the label failed but for that little while he owned the scene.

9: Rich Kid
            I wrote this song a loooooong time ago, before I ever even had singing lessons. It originally started on a “B” chord but when I learned how to sing I figured that was too low to comfortably sing. I wanted it to be fast and energetic so I switched it up to a high “E”.
            For the most part the song is about this girl I met online. I was a totally creepy nerd back then and I didn’t really have the social skills to handle someone mean like her. I guess I’m to blame too seeing as I tried calling her a hundred times… For that I’m sorry. But nonetheless the song is about her and her being mean to me. The pinnacle of our relationship came when she was playing bass guitar for the Patrick Porter band. They had a little gig at a coffee shop and I totally spoiled the show for everyone. I didn’t know I did that when I did it but looking back now I feel, yet again, really bad for it. Stuff like me taking Patrick’s guitar and trying to play and sing. I was always out of key back then so I’m sure it was horrible for those around me. Plus I was just always talking and wouldn’t shut up…
            The title Rich Kid came from back when I was in high school. I lived in a rundown trailer while the rest of the town was living in McMansions. It always hurt me because I’d be made fun of all the time for having just “one” car in my family. There was this handsome guy who drove a truck and he said he paid for it all with his part time coffee shop job. I knew he would never be able to afford a brand new vehicle working there so I called him out on it.
            Maybe that girl was from a rich family too? Meh…

10: Chai
            This song was always intended as a solo song with just me and a guitar. To be honest though I probably would have added drums if Fernando hadn’t left so early in the recording process. But I think it works out alright. Brian was sort of making fun of me or something, I don’t know… I was pretty drunk by the time I did vocals and I think I was crying throughout singing it.
            The song is about how the scene can be your friend and enemy at the same time. “I will die along / dressed in smoke” came from how the bars here in Denver used to allow smoking in their facilities. Not anymore though, which is good because I need to quit smoking.
            The song is sort of like a anti love letter to some of the people in the “scene.” I just never really felt welcome. This song is about not fitting in. Although it would of sounded a lot better with drums I think it does the trick with me solo. At least I hope it does?
            I suppose it’s up to you to decide.

11: One More Song
            My favorite all time local band was called “The Symptoms.” They broke up just as they were writing amazing songs due to inter-band conflict. The bassist wound up going into The Overcasters while the singer / guitarist and drummer went on to form Lion Sized.
            My favorite song by them was a song called “Yr Cool” and they didn’t even play it at their last show, which was disappointing.
            I wrote the song pretty much on the spot but I had the chorus from an earlier song. Well, just the chorus chords and melody, the final lyrics are just what I randomly sang into the microphone. It’s my favorite song on the record and it was just so much fun to play. It still is the song that I end shows with, of course with a sense of irony.
            This song is the only one with two overdubs aside from the music that the guitar and drums played. I think Sorry Desi also had one extra overdub when I clapped the sides of my legs along with my handclaps on the main vocal track.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The history of The Vanilla Milkshakes


This band started as a drunken duo of me and my old Ginkins drummer, John. We got drunk one night and there so happened to be a friend of his with a four track handy. The guitars and the drums were all recorded by one hanging microphone. So the three songs on the demo are just that, with me doing vocal overdubs while Kent held up the microphone to my mouth. John didn’t have the stamina to do full songs so they sort of break up in the end like that.
            Of the three songs, the only one that didn’t make it to the LP was “We Sound Shitty So Spin Will like us.” I don’t know why I didn’t record that one again… Anyhoo, that one and Vampires were made up on the spot. Rich Kid you can find three versions on my website at http://goodbyetimebomb.bandcamp.com. My favorite recording is from the Seattle John’s session. I really wish I could get in contact with him now. Anyways, I played the song because I felt that it could be a solo guitar song so I just started playing it and John followed suit. He didn’t know where to end it so that’s sort of how the ending wound up on it.
            The song “We Sound Shitty So Spin Will Like Us” was the basis of the whole joke. I’d like to re-record it in the produced Milkshakes way.  That day will come soon I hope.
            The demo is all one take and was basically a throw away until I put it into MP3 form and burned disks. I gave them to my friends in the scene and to my surprise they all told me that instead of doing Ginkins, I should do the (Vanilla added for legal reasons) Milkshakes. So I gave a demo to the Hi Dive and immediately got a show. The singer from Codename: TRIXIE could drum so I asked him if he’d do the impromptu concert and he said yes. It was at that show that I met Fez Guzmen. Off a whim I decided to record as the Milkshakes and asked him if he’d do it with me. He borrowed Taylor Evans Rice’s amp (A Twin Reverb) and within a few days Brian from Uneven Studios and The Hot IQs / Accordion Crimes was ready to record us. I told Fernando the day before and met him with my Ibanez Jet King guitar down at the Burger King off of Kalamath and Colfax. He picked me up and we went to Brian’s house and set up. All he did was do two mics on the guitars and three on the drums. We recorded pretty much everything in one take. Fez just seemed to know dynamics in and out so it was no problem going from low to noisy on the spot. All the vocal tracks are one take, plus any hand claps or what knot. The only song with two vocal tracks is “One More Song.”
            The few songs I wrote up on the spot (meaning I told Brian to record and just did a guitar and drum take off the top of our heads) were: Cookie Monster, Alan (You’re Outta the Band!), and One More Song. I think that Yr Scene was one of those too but I’m not sure?
            Recording the whole drums and guitars process took about an hour; it was just the recording set up and the mixing that took the extra two hours. Brian used all of his old school mics to do it and even recorded it all on eight track tape (for that great lo-fi sound) before transferring it to Pro Tools. He also plugged in the eight track when I went to do vocals. Just saying, the microphone that Brian used on my vocals was the same one that the girl from Fleetwood Mac sang into recording Landslide. Fez left after nine songs saying he had somewhere to be. I wanted ten songs so we decided to do Chai with just a guitar and voice. I did the guitar first and then went ahead and did all the other songs first, knowing I’d have to be in the zone for Chai. I think I did Cookie Monster first and then worked my way up. I had just chugged almost eight PBR’s so I was pretty drunk and susceptible to suggestion.
            On The Pessimist Brian told me that the whole recording session was going to waste so it helped me add the whole vocalized sadness to the tracks. Then for Rich Kid and One More Song he egged me on saying that I was being made fun of in the scene. I don’t know why I felt the way I felt (probably the booze) and I just let my heart rip.
            Rich Kid came from the initial anger that I had about this girl who talked smack about me on the internet… And when I told Brian what One More Song was about, he told me to sing it like just truly and utterly wanted my favorite band to come back on stage. So I sang it like I really wanted the (now defunct) Symptoms to come back and play me one more song. Honestly that’s where the passion came from. This song features one of the only two overdubs in the entire album. It’s my favorite song on the recording.
            This joke I made to the hipster scene really just blew up. Originally intended to be a parody this whole record just turned on its head, selling over three hundred copies in two months. Each CD was made by hand, my hand. And I found myself playing in front of fifty to a thousand people each show!
            It was so easy to do and I wanted nothing more to be a touring band.
            Alas… Drugs and self-abuse ensued and I had to stop it all. It took about six or so years before I could even think about doing music again. But here I am, and I am ready and willing to do all that again! Of course I mean sans drugs.