Author & Punisher
Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals
Apple is well known for being at the forefront of music recording gear and software. For years now, many musicians have agreed that, if you want to use your computer for composition, editing, or anything else involving music, you need to go with Apple. The same is true today, as Apple continues to put out new versions of recording software and better gear to go along with it. In this blog, I’m going to talk about three Apple products you can use to record on your iPad, iPhone, or other Apple product.
The iRig and the iRig HD are two similar products (you could probably tell). The iRig connects a 1/4″ guitar jack to an 1/8” headphone jack and plugs into the top of your iPhone or iPad. There’s another 1/8” jack on the rig, so you can listen to what you’re playing and any effects you put on your guitar using whatever app you choose. (As with anything you stick in your ear, make sure you’re careful to turn the volume down before you start playing and adjust as needed)
The HD is a similar set up, but you can plug it into the bottom where the power line comes in. The HD interface gives a slightly better sound quality, which is to be expected. I like it a little bit better, just because I don’t have to run my headphones through it. It has an 1/8” jack as well, though, if you prefer that. Both hookups are small and pretty portable. All you have to do is plug them in to the source and your device will recognize them, as long as it’s from Apple.
The iRig Midi is a little different. There’s a similar interface, but this product is designed to connect to Midi equipped instruments, like an electronic keyboard. There are three different Midi ports (in, out, and through) and it includes IK’s SampleTank, which has an additional library of instruments to give you a wider array of sounds for your keyboard.
The iRig Mic looks like your standard microphone and works pretty similarly. It’s unidirectional, but it has a pretty wide range, so it’ll pick up a lot of things around you. Luckily, it has settings to narrow the focus a little, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The iRig Mic plugs into the headphone jack with a supplementary jack so you can put in your own headphones and listen to what’s being recorded. The clarity of the recording didn’t blow me away, but it wasn’t popping or dropping out at all. It caught everything I wanted it to catch and not much I didn’t want. All in all, it’s a solid piece of recording gear.
All three pieces worked well, but it’s important to remember that a lot rides on your recording software. The products suggest using Amplitube, but I wasn’t crazy about my user experience with that. I didn’t get a lot of time to evaluate it, but what time I did have didn’t inspire me to want to use it again later. GarageBand is a very popular alternative that I know is pretty easy to get used to, gives you a lot of different production options, and has a good amount of support around the web. And, of course, it’ll work with these products, because they’re all Apple!
Gear. Acquisition. Syndrome. It’s more common than you might think. Nowadays, we can log on anytime we want and surf the web to find out what gear our favorite musicians are using. Among the glitz and the glamour of the images and videos of the latest and greatest, it’s easy to forget that all of them are only a means to an end. You’ve gotta pick the right Tool for the job, and guys like Danny Carey know how to use their tools as well as a master craftsman or a distinguished surgeon.
Just about anyone who has ever picked up a pair of drumsticks, or even thought about it, has heard of Danny Carey. His main band, Tool, has a legacy that spans over 2 decades and would require its own blog, at the very least. If not, a book or two. The rig Danny uses with Tool keeps all of us gear junkies frothing at the mouth and the banks our credit cards are drawn on giddy.
Danny’s acoustic kit, while not changing drastically in layout, has gone through several iterations, specifically regarding the drums he’s used. The current foundation is a pair of bass drums cast from the cymbal company, Paiste’s (rhymes with feisty) Signature bronze alloy. These were a part of an entire kit that was designed by Paiste and John Bonham’s former drum tech, Jeff Ocheltree for Danny. While he has used the kit in its entirety, in an effort to maximize efficiency and ergonomics, the bass drums and an 8” deep by 14” diameter cast bronze snare drum are all that are currently used on tour. Above the kicks, in lieu of traditional rack toms, Danny is using a pair of Remo Rototoms. Then, to his immediate right, is a 14”x14” ebony Sonor floor tom, and to the right of that is a custom clear acrylic gong bass, also made by Sonor. The acoustic drums, however, are only the beginning.
For over 20 years, Danny has endorsed the Swiss cymbal company, Paiste. They have created a very unique palette of sounds for drummers to choose from and the bronze that surrounds Danny’s kit illustrates this. Let’s start on the left side of the kit. There are 3 pair of various splashes and bells mounted on top of one another in such a way that each one can be played individually. They include a 7.5” 2002 series cup chime over an 8” 2002 cup chime, a 6” 2002 accent cymbal over an 8” Signature Series bell, and an 8” Signature Dark Energy splash over a 10” Signature Dark Energy splash. Above all of them, is a massive 20” 2002 Novo China cymbal with its distinctive inverted bell. Moving to the right, there is an 18” Signature Full crash, a pair of 13” Signature Sound Edge hi hats and a 19” Signature Power crash. If you’re having trouble visualizing it, yes, the hats are mounted directly between the 2 Rototoms. While it’s a very non-traditional location, Danny needed the area to the left of his snare to place some of his electronic drums, which we’ll dive into shortly. To the right of the 19” crash is the mighty 21” Signature Dry Heavy ride. The cymbal set up is rounded out with a 20” Signature Thin China, a 20” Signature Power crash with a 5” 2002 cup chime inverted above it, and an 11”/18” Noise Works Dark Buzz China stack all on the far right side of the kit. Lastly, a legendary 40” Symphonic gong provides the physical and sonic backdrop to this percussive landscape. We salute you, fellow cymbalholic!
Nearly everyone who has seen his kit in photos or in person knows that electronics play a significant role, so much so that Danny worked with the Synesthesia Corporation’s Vince DeFranco to develop the Mandala pad to fulfill his sonic needs. The Mandala is a high resolution, position sensitive MIDI controller used to trigger whatever sounds or samples one would like. Danny uses his 7 prototype pads, 4 to his left and 3 to his right, in conjunction with Native Instruments Battery drum sampling software to create all of the non-traditional drum set sounds he needs to perform Tool’s library of songs. Other electronics used include an original Korg Wavedrum and a Roland Handsonic HPD15, both of which can be used with hands or sticks. These both differ from the Mandala in that they contain their own internal sound libraries. What they have in common is that they are the stuff that we gear nuts dream about.
So now what? Do we all rush out and try to replicate Danny’s kit in hopes that it will unlock some hidden internal ability to play like him? As much as we can hope, we also know deep down that it’s just not going to happen that way. Practice on what you’ve got and keep getting better and better at whatever instrument you play. All the while, save your pennies, because even though it won’t make us better players, there’s nothing like the rush from picking up a new piece of gear!
So, you’ve decided to learn an instrument, but you’re not really the pluck and strum type. It’ll be the drums for you, then. Good choice. You’ll have to compete with 808s and other drum robots for your entire career. But that doesn’t scare you, does it? It does a little? Ok, that’s understandable, but you need not be afraid, because Sonifly* is going to help you get started. Here are 3 starter books of drum sheet music to help you combat the robotic percussionist uprising:
Realistic Rock for Kids – Carmine Appice
This book is very much for beginner drummers looking to learn how to read sheet music for drums. If you don’t know who Carmine Appice is, it’s ok, because neither do I. I have, however, heard of some of the people he’s played with (Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, and too many more). The man has some street cred and he certainly knows how to simplify learning the drums. The book isn’t going to get you headlining in night clubs, but that’s good, because it’s for kids and kids don’t belong in night clubs. Jeeze, do I have to do ALL your parenting for you? Anyway, it’s a good starter, easy to follow, and very straight forward way to learn to play drum sheet music.
If you’re thinking about becoming a drummer, chances are you look up to Dave Grohl, at least a little bit. On the debut album, Foo Fighters, he played all the instruments on the album, except for one guitar part on one song. The drumming continued at a high level when the rest of the band formed, and this book is designed to help you learn to drum like the Foo Fighters. The parts are a little simplified, but it’s not for experts. It provides lyrics and melody for ambitious types who want to drum and sing at the same time.
The book comes with two play-along cds to help you learn each song and don’t miss the drum key on the back page. If you’re just starting out, that’s going to be pretty important.
By pure happenstance, it appears that I’ve put these in order of increasing difficulty. The Chili Peppers are a pretty good choice, though, for getting into the drums. They’re not super complicated, but the quick beats are fun and interesting enough to satisfy the ambitious beginner. The selections are favorites that, even if you don’t know the band, you probably know the songs. Like the Foo Fighters book, there is a play along cd that will help you to follow the sheet music if you’re having trouble. Each piece of music has its own key, so you shouldn’t have any trouble knowing which piece of your kit to whack and when. If I understand drums correctly, that’s all there is to it!
*Sonifly has become Band Merch Now
I’ll start by recognizing that there are some strong similarities between the two bands, not the least of which being that Nate Ruess is in both of them. He also writes the bulk of the lyrics for both of them, which explains why neither band can shut up about stars. The main difference is, not to sound too pretentious, you’ve never heard of the Format (probably). You have heard of Fun., because they are completely inescapable. If you don’t know ‘We Are Young’, shut up, yes you do.
Similarities aside, however, there is a clearly superior between the two of them. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the band your 13 year old sister is singing along with in the car. (That song is about cheating and alcoholism, by the way. Keep that in mind when little Suzie is singing about setting the world on fire.)
Both bands stick to fairly similar themes, which is not really surprising. Ironically, perhaps, the Format’s songs are more, well, fun. ‘Dog Problems’, especially, has that somewhat indie quality of delivering familiar emotions in an unexpected package. ‘We Are Young’ did provide some misdirection with its musical style and catchy chorus, but ‘Dog Problems’, like many other songs on the album of the same name, takes things a few steps farther. It uses its own sort of vernacular that is, at once, unfamiliar and completely understandable. That sort of inventive language is rare, and missing throughout most of Some Nights.
Evidence that less is more, Nate and Sam seem to be able to create better music between the two of them than Fun. can do with three. Complexity isn’t everything, but Sam certainly makes it sound that way. The album flows through musical styles with a nimbleness that most band’s wouldn’t even dream of attempting. It’s clear, at least to me, how well these two knew each other when they wrote together, because everything fits perfectly in a way you pretty much just have to hear to understand. I’ve heard it said that Means doesn’t compare with Antonof and Dost talent wise, and that may be, but he certainly knows how to play with Nate.
Some Nights is, essentially, the Fischer Price version of Dog Problems, with extra bells and whistles, but half the functionality. Please believe me when I say that I’m not criticizing Nate Ruess, but he clearly felt the need to make his music more commercially consumable. I compare these two albums most, because they are both the sophomore efforts from the respective bands and contain a number of parallels. That being said, Dog Problems demonstrated a maturing of musical and lyrical pairings over Interventions + Lullabys, while Some Nights demonstrated a maturing of market research over Aim and Ignite.
When you compare Dog Problems to Some Nights head to head, the difference is pretty evident. The lyrics and themes are similar, but musically, the latter sounds a lot like the rest of the hip-hop infused rock that comes through the radio. The former, on the other hand, is more complex, incorporates a more eclectic pallet of musical styles, and is, frankly, more satisfying to listen to. Just compare the titular tracks from either record. Both have shifting melodies, changing tempos, and forlorn lyrics, ‘but Dog Problems’ is an experience so rare that it makes ‘Some Nights’ sound like child’s play. If you want to hear maturity in song writing, look no further than DP’s ninth track, ‘Snails’.
Fun. is a really great band, until you listen to the Format. Then, they’re just a pretty good band. Some Nights is a really great album, until you listen to Aim and Ignite. Then, it’s just fun.’s second best album. If you’ve ever been in a famous band, you know that you don’t want your first album to be better than your second. More successful, sure, but if you compare the band’s first album with its second, you can start to see the writing on the wall.
I touched on that earlier when I pointed out the disparity in the Format and Fun.’s respective second albums. If you’re not maturing musically, it doesn’t matter how successful you are; your band is still going nowhere. Changing isn’t the same as maturing and, between their first and second album, fun. changed noticeably, but they didn’t really mature. It’s not surprising that Aim and Ignite, while good, did not live up to Dog Problems. Forming a new band is difficult and it takes time pull together. With that in mind, Aim and Ignite was a brilliant album. However, Some Nights was a step back in comparison.
Worth Noting: Sam Means was still involved in the writing of several songs on Aim and Ignite. After that, he disappears and in comes Jeff Bhasker, frequent partner of Kanye West and other hip-hop acts, for Some Nights. That kind of explains a lot.
My verdict? Nate and Sam may not be getting back together anytime soon, but Fun. may have run its creative course for Mr. Reuss. It’s kind of hard to give up on this kind of success, though, so I would understand if he stuck with it, especially after the way the Format was manhandled by its original record company. Maybe I’m wrong, though, and Fun.’s next album will be a step forward rather than back. I certainly hope so. If not, I’m still interested to see what comes next for everyone involved, because they really are terrific musicians.
By now, it’s safe to say that Dave Grohl has solidified himself as rock ‘n roll royalty. Getting his start as the drummer for grunge pioneers Nirvana, Grohl surprised everyone when, after Nirvana’s break-up, he formed his own wildly successful band called the Foo Fighters. Since then, the rocker has grown to be a legend in his own right, filling stadiums and selling millions of records around the world. If you’re just discovering him now, or if you’ve been a fan since his days with Nirvana, here are some t-shirts you absolutely cannot do without.
Sound City Studios operated out of the San Fernado Valley and played host to some of the most famous acts of the last century. Neil Young, Nirvana, Tom Petty, and many more, all spent time recording in the classic studio. Dave Grohl’s passion for the studio went so far that, when it closed, he decided to make a documentary called Sound City: Real to Reel. This Foo Fighters t-shirt salutes the Reel to Reel tape mechanisms used in many recording studios, including Sound City. It doesn’t get much more classic than that!
This shirt isn’t much more than just awesome. What I mean to say is, it’s only a really sweet shirt from a really sweet band. That being said, Dave Grohl is a bit of a gear head. No doubt this design was inspired by that fact. Personally, I could easily be convinced Grohl actually owns a flying motorcycle, but I have no proof of that. No offense to Gary Oldman, but Grohl is kind of more how I pictured Sirus Black, anyway.
No Dave Grohl wardrobe is complete without a nod to his start with Nirvana and this shirt is the classic Nirvana look. If you’re too young to actually remember this, don’t worry, so am I. But you know the drunk smiley face and the simple font. This shirt is so Nirvana, it probably comes already smelling like teen spirit. Don’t let that scare you off, though. Teen’s spirit doesn’t smell quite as bad as actual teens.
Neil has been playing Drum Workshop sets since the “Test for Echo” tour, but used standard finishes at that time. Starting with the R30 tour, DW began making custom-built kits with different logos on the shells.
This drum set is essentially the one created by Drum Workshop for Rush’s “Time Machine” tour. The Drum Workshop Collectors Series includes a 23” bass drum (VLX -shell series), 8”, 10”, 12” and 13” rack toms (X-shell series), 15” (x2), 16” and 18” floor toms (VLT-shell series), 14×6.5” VLT-series snare and a 13” X-shell series piccolo snare all in Steampunk finish. This finish is copper and chrome leaf inlays.
The shells are one-ply of walnut on the outside which matches the deck on the drum riser. The rest of the shell is all maple in either the VLT, VLX or X-shell style.
Neil performs on Sabian Paragon Brilliant finish cymbals with a custom Steampunk design that was applied by the Sabian factory. He uses a 10” splash (x2), 16” (x2) , 18” and 20” crashes, 14” hi-hats, 22” ride, 14” Artisan Brilliant X-hats, 8” splash, 20” china beneath a 20” Diamondback china with jingles and rivets, and a 19” china.
Neil plays Remo Clear batter heads on the toms, Remo Ambassador X snare batter heads and Powerstroke 3 heads on the bass drum. He plays all the above with Pro-Mark Neil Peart Signature 747 drumsticks.
The stands and assorted hardware are all manufactured by Drum Workshop and include copper-plated series 9300 hardware, 5000 series Hi-hat pedal, and the 9000 series double bass drum pedal. These have been customized with gauges and dials at most tightening points to further compliment the Steampunk ideas shown on other areas of the set.
Also included are the 9’ x9’ octagonal rotating drum riser in Steampunk finish, 2 cage fans, and a Kelly SHU internal kick drum microphone mount.
The entire back portion of the set is V-drums in the form of the Roland TD-20X mounted in DW Collector series shells and Roland V cymbals and hi-hats. The other electronics used are a Dauz trigger pad, Fat Kat trigger pedals, Mallet Kat Express Midi marimba, 2 Roland V-drum TD-20KX percussion modules, 2 Roland XV 5080 samplers, Glyph hard drives, Roland Midi Displays, Behringer line mixer, and a Monster power conditioner.
It’s time to move out of basement and onto the stage at your local coffee shop, club, or whatever venue has enlisted you to rock the house. So the question is, do you have all the music gear you need? You’re going to need someplace to put that guitar. We both know that shredding gets tiring after a while. And, of course, you need an unobtrusive way to stay in tune; that’s important as well. Finally, don’t you wish you could preserve the memory of your first show forever? Well, take a few minutes off from practicing to check out these three essentials for your next gig:
This is your standard guitar stand, which isn’t meant as a slight in any way. It stands at ground level with an adjustable neck, allowing you to use it for pretty much any guitar. The bottom shelf is padded to avoid any undue wear on your guitar’s frame. It’s essentially everything you want in a guitar stand.
This thing is tiny, so be careful you don’t lose it. That being said, this guitar tuner is pretty easy to overlook, if you want an unassuming clip on tuner that you can keep on throughout your performance. I’m use to a tuner that you plug right into the pickup, but during a gig, you’d have to switch it in and out with your amp. Plus, you can’t use that type if you don’t have a pickup. The advantages of this clip on tuner are pretty evident and it works perfectly. I would highly recommend it for use in your next gig.
I’ll have a lot to say about this, so prepare yourself. I love the H2next digital recorder. It’s pretty easy to get started with. The different speaker settings make it simple to record the way that works best for you. There’s not a crazy amount of settings and the instructions state pretty clearly how each one works, so it’s not overwhelming for a beginner like myself.
It comes with an SD card, but I used one I just had lying around. The mic is designed for a number of different uses, from venues to demo recording. I did my first round of recordings in my car, actually, and that worked ok. My later recordings were redone in a room in my house. I just placed the digital audio recorder on a desk in front of me.
It recorded pretty well from that short distance, but it works from farther away, as well. I was really impressed with the balance it was able to pick up on its own. It managed to get both my voice and the guitar through the same mic without having to do anything fancy. I adjusted the placement a little, but that took less than a minute to get right.
My only goal was to record some tracks that I could send to my bandmate in Delaware so we could collaborate from a distance. That’s not a gig, of course, but it worked out pretty well for that, as you can convert everything to MP3 and send it along. While you can’t record a track over another track and have both splice together automatically, you can listen to a track while you record a new track. After that, you can use to software (included) to merge the two tracks together. Of course, this is an article about things you need for your gig, so don’t worry, I won’t skip that aspect.
If you play through some speakers, you can put this recorder out in front of your band and pick up everything that the crowd would hear. As long as you do it directionally, you probably wouldn’t have too much crowd noise. HOWEVER, if you want crowd noise for your of indie live album, you can turn on the multidirectional setting. The balance from either side can be adjusted after recording, which is pretty cool, if you ask me.
So that’s it, now you’re ready. Get out there, play, and record your next folk-rock fusion set!
Arguably the best metal album of all time (though Black Sabbath’s Paranoid might disagree), Metallica’s Master of Puppets was the first thrash metal album to be certified platinum. On top of that, it’s got a wicked cover. The message is pretty clear, though I’m not certain which specific war Metallica had strong objection to in the mid ‘80s (Granada, I guess?). That’s not really important, though, because sending people to die for shadowy reasons is something I think most of us can object to. Of course, you could also just wear it because it’s a pretty cool rock t-shirt.
American Cancer Society spokes-band, Van Halen, created this design as a satirical jab at the unethical marketing tactics big cigarette companies used to sell their products to children. Known by many to be the 1980s version of Jonathan Swift, “Diamond” David Lee Roth conceived the design after seeing an underage fan smoking at one of the band’s concert. Horrified, Van Halen chose to change their wild ways and strove to set a good example for their fans from that point on.
Obviously, none of that is true. The design was drawn by Margo Nahas and picked by the band from her portfolio for their album 1984. It caused quite the stir, especially in the UK where the cigarette and pack were censored in stores. In France, on the other hand, a free pack of cigarettes was provided with each purchase by customers under the age of 12.
Sometimes, simplicity is really the best way to go: rumbling bass, thrashing drums, and a grungy guitar slammed harder than Latin slammed my grade point average. That’s the formula that brought Nirvana its success in the early 90s and the principle upon which the Grunge movement was founded. This rock t-shirt is the same way; it provides everything you need in a band shirt. Sure you want to look good, but you also want people to know what kind of music you’re into. This shirt takes care of both.
In 2006, Dweezil Zappa set about making sure that his father’s music would not be forgotten. Zappa Plays Zappa went out on the road with some high caliber talent, including some from Frank’s original bands. He had his work cut out, because he’d never played guitar like his father. He was taught by the likes of Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen who made regular appearances at the Zappa home, but Frank’s playing moved in and out of so many different styles and keys, he claims he had to completely unlearn what he knew and learn again from scratch. Through the magic of multimedia, he has also played lead guitar with his father on some live tracks.
Dweezil Zappa has played a Fender Stratocaster and an SG Standard in the past but is currently pushing the tribute guitar that Gibson is producing, ‘the Roxy SG’. What is offered from Gibson, is small compared to the modification that the original, residing at UMRK, now boasts. Dweezil also has a Paul Reed Smith Artist model named after him.
Dweezil Zappa is working with a number of stomp boxes wired into the Fractal Audio Axe FX II. This unit works as its own multi-effects and production device that includes a loop for component boxes very much like the one that Frank had, but instead of gutting the pedal, they resided on drawers in his rack until recently. Effects from companies such as Way Huge, MXR, Fuchs, Eventide to name a few plus three Triskelion Harmonic Energizers, the only pedal he says can make the sound of the original, were being used. These are all controlled from the extensive floor unit of the Fractal. The Fractal allows you to program scenes that are activated at the touch of a footswitch letting him bring in whatever effect he wishes to use at the time. There are also a series of pedal controllers used to change pre-programed parameters of the system allowing him hands free operation as he is playing.
For amps, Dweezil Zappa has used Cornford and Fuchs brands (his former Carvin rig is currently for sale)but at this point, he is running the Fractal system directly into the main house PA system so the only thing he has onstage, is a pair of monitors to hear what he’s playing. This helps cut down on transportation and maintenance costs since the system is more compact but is also better for one’s ears since the onstage volume is reduced plus it helps the other mic’d acoustic instruments which usually include flute, violin or sax, to have a cleaner signal for more separation in the main mix.
I often wonder, if Frank was still alive, would he embrace the same technology his son has or dismiss it as ‘one unit does too many things that it doesn’t do any one of them well’?
“Half the fun of buying a new piece is figuring out the best place to put it in your existing setup.” Mark Patterson
In the end, the three main components have always been the same, you have a guitar, some effects and an amplifier. Different combinations of these result in different sounds. Learning what each one does is an integral part of developing a unique tone and it will change constantly.
Which is after all, the one thing we as guitarists chase all our lives… that killer tone.