This post is TOTALLY different than any other before it. It’s a response to Amy M’s response to my Facebook request for ideas of what to write about. Amy wanted to know what I’ve been doing on the creative side since I put this blog on hold. I’ve never blogged about my creative efforts. I thought that’d be boring for readers… but here goes.
Mainly, I practiced like hell.
I’d been so busy with managing the business of the band for several years that my performance suffered. I am not a natural talent like Leila or Gina… I have to practice to keep up with my own band mates! I hadn’t had a GREAT show in years. I realized that I had not set myself up for success in the Czars. When Hen3ry announced he’d leave the band as of JAN 1 (more on that later), he mentioned to me that The Invincible Czars had become NOT the best band for me to be in anymore. I agreed with him. When every single song is difficult with no real rest… that’s a hard show to play for a guitarist like me who is unique but not particularly virtuosic. I’d stacked the cards against myself and needed to change that.
So I buckled down. I kept singing daily and started taking online guitar courses in country guitar pickin’. I also dedicated myself to really, really preparing for the upcoming Czars holiday season. I played all my trouble spots SLOWLY until they weren’t trouble spots anymore. Since we were without keys, many tunes were re-arranged and I was the logical instrument to fill in several spots. I learned the hell out of the material and even practiced what to say between songs. I even put the blog on hold to keep focused.
It worked! In NOV-DEC of 2013, I played the best I have ever played in my life performing some of the most difficult material I’ve ever learned. It was satisfying. I still made mistakes but they were minimal.
Meantime, we decided to do a special fundraiser for Golden Hornet Project on March 28th called “Invincible Czars Play Reynolds and Stopschinski”. If you’re not familiar with Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski, they’re pretty much Austin’s favorite composers. I have played with/for both of them for various projects for years. I chose 6 compositions from each composer and began Czarifying them. That’s been fun and enlightening. Peter and Graham both shared their huge catalog of scores with me and started perusing them. I tried to get a good mix of rock tunes, chamber works, theater pieces and movie scores.
It was easy to pull “the hits” from Graham’s catalog. He has a number of tunes that have popped up in various project over the years that anyone paying attention will recognize immediately. I chose a few of those. Duchess, DSCH and Disco in particular.
Peter had a much wider scope of awesome material that was so intricate I didn’t think we could do it justice in a short amount of time. On the other hand, some of his stuff actually has lyrics so I was able to pull some tunes for Leila to sing.
It was fun to dig in and review stuff I had only heard once or twice live and then never again!
Speaking of short amount of time, we’re actually going to Ohm Recording facility tomorrow (FEB 8) to track an EP of 4 tunes for release at the show on March 28!
This is a very compressed time table. I knew it would be. I actually started arranging these while we were doing our Nutcracker shows in DEC! I essentially arranged 12 tunes with help from Leila and Phil in about a month. That’s pretty quick. Then we picked the ones we thought we could nail down in time for a recording and limited it to just four (I wanted to do all 12. Insanity! Good think Phil is there to keep me realistic.)
My point is, so much of this kind of thing has to be done WAY before the show. That’s not something we’re used to doing in Austin. We tend to throw it together and when someone says, “oh shit… our show is a week. We’d better record/mix/master our album, make posters, tell the press….” Of course, by then it’s really too late. Remember my early post about half-assed efforts?
I’m going to share links to some private soundcloud links audio of the demos we’ve been making below. Since we don’t have a drummer or bass player right now (more on that another time), I’m playing bass and guitar. Chuck Fischer is doing the drums on this project. (I’m excited that Mother Falcon’s Dusty Rhodes will play bass at the show!)
These demos aren’t amazing. Our practice room’s temperature seems to fluctuate a lot in the winter and you can hear the flute and guitar get out of tune in these.
Still, they’re not bad. These are the tunes we’ll record this weekend.
I’ll post more info about this project as I’m working on it but please ask me any questions about the arrangements or otherwise! The show will be good.
Lastly – Regular readers of this blog know that I like to get on tangents. This time, the tangent is a request of my own: If you like or don’t like what I write here, please leave me some comments ON THE BLOG.
This is not because I want to get my numbers up so I can become a pro blogger. Not at all. It’s because many of you have given me great feedback on Facebook. That’s fine but finding any of those comments on Facebook is virtually impossible. Your comments are important to me. They help me learn and know what to write about. Not being able to find them makes writing this hard.
Even more of you have talked about this blog with me in person. That’s fine, too, and much more memorable for me.
If you want to comment to me privately, please email me: my gmail address is jjsnibor.