Sunday, December 9, 2012

That about wraps 'er up!

I like to quote movies. Some movies like "The Big Lebowski" have a ton of fun quotes to pull out at the right time. "That about wraps 'er up" is fitting for the end of another marathon run of Squids traveling. This time on the West and East coast of the USA. From LA to New York and now back to sunny Miami where I can relax for a minute... before I come back up in a couple of weeks to meet up with Francis Dunnery for some holiday hang time, a little studio recording and a New Year's Eve gig at the Tin Angel!
Here's me, Squids, with Francis Dunnery, Steve Hackett and friends performing one of Francis's songs called "Still Too Young To Remember" which he originally recorded with "It Bites"

Squids Travels Update: 

So, here's what happened over the last couple of days. A CD release party in upstate New York with Randy McStine for his Lo-Fi Resistance album "Chalk Lines" which I played keyboards on, co-produced and co-wrote 3 of the songs. At the same time I did a session with Keith Emerson remotely on the West Coast. I'll explain what I mean by "remotely" in a bit. I've been working with a very talented 3D graphics artist on something "secret" that will be launched this coming week (finger's crossed). Another cool thing that happened in the last couple of days is the release of an interview I participated in with writer Anil Prasad (Innerviews) who was doing an article for a guitar magazine and covered Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited 2 and Squackett albums. I also got a nice mention on Steve Hackett's website Thanks Steve! Thanks Anil!

Your blog host Squids provided some production work on Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited 2 album bringing in vocalists Simon Collins and Francis Dunnery as well as playing keys on "Supper's Ready".

Lo-Fi Resistance Chalk Lines Just Released on CD!
Colin Edwin, Dave Kerzner & Nick Davis at Genesis' studio The Farm

It was great to visit Randy in his home town. We did a "CD listening party" in Binghamton, NY where we played some previously unseen videos including an interview I did with Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree at Genesis' studio The Farm in the UK about his participation on the album. We also played a video collage of various takes in the studio during the making of the album. 
Listent to a collage of audio clips from the album here.

Then we played the entire album from beginning to end. Randy put together a very cool visual of the beautiful album booklet graphics to accompany the music so there was something to look at while listening. There's a great thing when you hear something in the presence of others. You get a sense of their fresh perspective. I was very proud of the work we did on the album, especially when hearing it this way. It's well crafted with a healthy balance of songwriting substance, ear candy sonic production elements and musically tasteful performances from album contributors Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), Dug Pinnick (King's X), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and John Giblin (Brand X, Kate Bush). I got to infuse some of my vintage and atmospheric style of keyboards and sound design in there, John Wesley helped Randy get great guitar tones and effects in his studio as well, we used Kevin Gilbert's old U47 mic on the vocals in my studio... a lot of quality ingredients! None of that would matter if the songs weren't there but fortunately that's the core anchor of the album following Randy's lyrical story and vision. It's a 51 minute 'concept album' with segues and tie ins at the end to earlier parts on the album... a very "put on the headphones and listen to the whole thing" type of album which I've always liked and you don't hear so often these days. 

After the album listening we did some Q&A which was recorded on video. So was the college radio interview we did earlier in the week which I will post at some point when I have access to it. It was great meeting everybody including Randy's family, friends and local fans. It was especially interesting hearing impressions from people who came there after hearing about it on the radio or by word of mouth. I remember one person came up to me after and said that he was totally blown away and it was instantly one of his favorite albums to come out in a long time. He was really sincere when he said it and I tried to imagine what it must have been like from his perspective. I think if you like artists like Jellyfish, Kevin Gilbert, Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears, Keane, Radiohead, Muse, Sigur Ros, Yes, Genesis etc. and you came to some local presentation of a relatively new artist's independent album release you might get a nice surprise. It's no ordinary production.

Chalk Lines is now shipping and available on CD from Burning Shed
Randy and I signing posters and CDs at the event. 

Keith Emerson Session Part 2!
Keith Emerson with SR's remote sampling engineer Simeon Spiegel

If you've followed my Squids Travels previous posts there was some back story behind a session I did in LA with Alan Parsons and Keith Emerson a week ago. It was incredible! Just the other day we had part 2 of that session which involved more sampling of Keith's incredible Modular Moog synthesizer and yet another music session as well for an album I'm producing with "Sonic Elements". The first music session in LA involved two different songs and albums. One is something I was assisting on for a progressive rock artist from Europe that I can't name yet but will be revealed at some point in time. The other was for a Sonic Elements album I am doing with Alan Parsons based on vintage sounds in the style of Pink Floyd. In fact, since I am doing a sample library with both Alan and Keith this is a really cool 'cross-over' between those two worlds sonically (in other words the Moog Modular vs. the EMS Synthi & Minimoog in a cool synth jam duel between myself and Keith!)
The rare EMS Synthi (not "Battleship")

For this session the other day Keith was playing a very ELP-Tarkus-style bit and full on keyboard solo on a track I'm producing again for Sonic Elements featuring Billy Sherwood (formerly of the band Yes) and Neil Peart Drums (drum performances from Neil Peart of the band Rush sampled by Sonic Reality and produced by myself and Nick Raskulinecz). This is one EPIC prog track! To have Neil's drumming (via the sample libraries I've done with him) and Keith's keys, Billy Sherwood's 'amazing bass' (very Squire-influenced... meets Geddy in this case) and an additional element I haven't even mentioned yet... WOW! I'm psyched beyond words and so grateful to Keith and all those guys for being part of my music projects. It's truly an honor to be able to work with such legendary talented artists. I'm having a field day with it. I love making music even it's just me with a beat up old piano or ragged guitar. But I also enjoy elaborate productions and mixing up the creative elements to see what happens when you collaborate with incredible musicians of different generations and musical backgrounds. 
Keith Emerson and Dave "Squids" Kerzner with the Mighty Moog (and Mini iRig Keys)

This time I had to do the session remotely from the other side of the country. Fortunately I have a long time friend and associate engineer Simeon Spiegel there in LA to capture what I needed from Keith. I have some incredible resources all around the world now to be able to do some amazing things I never would have thought possible 10-20 years ago. But thanks to the internet the world is smaller and your options are greater (but don't get too excited... thanks to the internet the music industry has practically imploded!!!).

Still Reading? I'm impressed! :) 

So you've seen a lot of cool stuff happen on here in the past month or so, especially with regard to some big names in classic and progressive rock. As you might imagine I'm dangerously close to getting used to being spoiled here with all these amazing musicians willing to work with me! But I've kept it all in check. When it happens like this it's great but there are no guarantees. You just have to ride the wave and be clear with your intentions... and bold enough to take some risks while ready to accept that it may or may not happen how you want it to. 

Being in the production chair and directing the music or sample session is a place I'm very comfortable with even in cases like this where there are high profile players involved. Not just to pat the inner fan in me on the back for finally getting to work with my childhood music heroes but more so I have the opportunity to do my best to help make it great whatever it is or ends up being. My motivation to make sample libraries is to offer the sort of sounds that inspire me when I make music or the kind of sounds I feel people can make great use of in their music. My drive to write, produce and perform music is to give back to other listeners the type of qualities I myself have enjoyed in music over the years. That's in every aspect from songwriting to arrangement to production to sound design to performing with any of these guys. The music, the performances or the sampling itself is the priority because that has to be good no matter who it is you're working with.
Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Dave "Squids" Kerzner & Nick Raskulinecz
SR in the studio with Ken Scott, Keith Emerson, Rod Morgenstein

One thing that ALL of these guys have in common no matter how "famous" they are (I bet both Neil Peart has been listed as "best rock drummer" and Keith Emerson as "best rock keyboard player" at the same time in some poll somewhere) is that they are MUSICIANS and REAL PEOPLE first and foremost. They have a vitality to them and they don't rest on their laurels. They continue to create. I'm sure they appreciate the accolades, the success, the role they play and position they're in etc. but that doesn't mean they want everyone to worship the ground they walk on. They want the respect they have earned. But from my experience I think most of the truly great musicians enjoy it if you're just real with them and work like you would with any other musician you respect, famous or not. If you think the take could be better you say so. If you want to get a great performance recorded you do what you have to do using wise psychology and social skills combined with proficient technical chops and most importantly a vision for what you're after. That and a sense of humor is key! Don't take yourself too seriously and don't take them too seriously either. It's a balance! Each person's ego is different and you always have to feel the situation out, take a few chances and see what happens. What will be will be. But when it does all come together... it's absolutely amazing! 

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