Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Place To Bury Strangers

I've settled into a routine here at Death By Audio. I wake up at 8:30, do some Kundalini Yoga that I learned from Drew, make a huge breakfast, pack my PB&J sandwich for lunch, and bike the 8 miles to work. Then I arrive home around 8 pm and am too tired to make it past midnight, usually.

I guess I'd like to have some more time off. I really don't do anything for myself anymore. I don't play drums or saxophone or guitar, I put off all my circuit-bending projects, since both the altoid amp and the theremin are having problems that I don't feel like fixing. I have been writing sporadically, and I occasionally still do sound effects for Columbia students. I think I may leave this job after the busy season. Thinking about a cross-country trip, couch surfing with some friends. I can make it to Wisconsin from here, at least. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to get the rest of the way.

Anyway, one of my roommates' bands played the other night with Holy Fuck at the Williamsburg Hall of Music. They're called A Place to Bury Strangers, and before I lived here I had not listened to them.

Now, being a drummer, I was never really a big fan of guitar fuzz. My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc. I could appreciate what it was, but never really listened to them. I was promised that A Place to Bury Strangers would put on an amazing live performance, and I was not disappointed.

Oliver plays his Fender Jaguar through two half-stacks on each side of the stage, and I'm pretty sure they usually use more amps. His guitar has no tone knobs or pickup selector: each lipstick pickup is wired directly to an output jack. If one of the jacks breaks during the performance, he can simply plug the other one in. He keeps three of these guitars on the stage, because at various points throughout the show, he gets compelled to rip all of the strings off, or swing the guitar around in the air.

The bass and drums give an industrial feel to the massive amounts of guitar noise in the air. The overwhelming volume was on the verge of being too much to handle. This is definitely an earplug band. The projectors on the band flashed in blue and green patterns, giving an eerie, dark feel to the entire performance.

This video shows a performance from 2006 where Oliver gets his amps involved in the destruction.

As far as the actual music, it's not really my thing. But I will say that A Place to Bury Strangers was one of the best live bands I've seen recently. I stayed around to watch Holy Fuck, a band that I enjoyed listening to while working out or driving. After three songs I'd had enough. Two guys turning knobs and head-bobbing just wasn't as exciting to watch as someone ripping apart a guitar on stage.

As a side note, Oliver is the creator of the Death By Audio guitar pedal line, and he uses many of these on stage. I had the opportunity to play the Robot pedal, which will be released sometime in June. It's a fantastic device, with a modulated chip transforming your guitar into 8-bit fuzz, sort of like an old telephone sound. His pedals are gaining popularity, and with the band, it's great to see success take off for someone who's been working hard for so long.

As for me, I feel young again. These guys have been hard at work for so long, so I don't feel too bad at this point in my life. It's time to start playing music again. I feel inspired and I think I'm at the perfect place to do something great. It's summer in the city, and life is good.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kleeb, Foley Artist

Since my move into Death By Audio, I have been in a haze of moving, circuit bending, cleaning, working, and practicing for the Columbia MFA Radio Play where I am the Foley artist.

I discovered the MFA Drama program through Craigslist, when I was applying my face off for jobs back in February. I did sound design for them in the past, taking snippets from and editing things together to make the sound and music for their plays. It was a fun thing I did on the side. I made $50 for the last play. But these are grad students and have no money, and I just want to do something fun, so I signed on to do their old time radio show with live Foley sound.

For those of you that don't know what a Foley artist does, watch the following video:

Essentially, they make sound effects live using various objects and foods.

The play tonight consisted of three smaller plays. One detective drama, one communist-scare mystery, and one high school zombie comedy. I've been collecting objects for the last three months to recreate zombie attacks, gun battles, and cigarettes lighting. Although a lot of it had to be played from a laptop, it was still fun to break celery and crunch nachos when zombie bites were happening.

After a stressful week of showing up to rehearsal straight from work and being ill-prepared and super unprofessional (this hit a peak last night, and I sat depressed on the DBA roof for 2 hours), I had a glorious performance, almost flawless. It is a fast paced play and I think I proved myself to the cast and directors, despite my immaturity beforehand.

Which leads me into an insightful look at my own personality. I can work well and efficiently when I need to and can concentrate on one thing. When there is too much going on, and this happens frequently, my attention is sacrificed and I am constantly late and I look really bad. For anyone who worked with me on ALT Magazine, it was a similar situation.

That said, I am going to take a break and concentrate on 2-3 activities instead of trying to do 10. I like having free time where I'm not worried about getting things done. I like having projects, but one at a time. I'll start drumming again, refurbish my own drums, and occasionally circuit-bend something. Maybe I'll get started on this novel I've been kicking around.

On a side note, I moved into Death By Audio and built this 2 Watt amplifier the next day:

The energy here is great. I'm going to be really motivated. Things are looking good.