Diss Rants

This is the news/ranting forum for Diss (a.k.a. Tom Kercheval), an independent musician. Check here for new music, updates on new music and just random rantings on a variety of subjects. Feel free to leave a comment or four. For Diss' main web site, go to www.dissmusic.com.

Friday, July 15, 2005

New Music!!

Okay, I'm going to take a break from the terrorist/religious/political talk for now (but I'll get back to it) and leave a post about music.

I finally have some new demos up at my site, on the Sounds page. I hope you'll check 'em out if you haven't already. There are three up for now, with more to come (have probably about 6 or 7 that are shaping up).

Please keep in mind when listening to these: they are raw versions that I normally wouldn't let many people hear, because they are not played that well, there are mistakes, etc. I'm too much of a perfectionist, so it sort of makes me feel a bit insecure letting people hear these, but I thought it might be interesting for some to see how a song sounds when it's born and how it develops over time, learns to walk, then run, etc.

The first demo is the more fleshed out of the three. The other two are just rough guitar parts. I did the first one last night, recording the drum parts in about 30 minutes and the bass in about 10, so I'm sure there will be changes to both of these parts, but the general feel is there. This song, whatever it ends up being called, is pretty indicative of the style/feel I'm going after this time throughout - harder, aggressive, but hopefully still uplifting and anthemic. I can't seem to get away from that style no matter how hard I try.

The one problem I'm facing at the moment, though, with the new stuff is a fear that everything is starting to sound the same. I really want to branch out a little on this new effort, so I'm going to try to write some songs in different ways. Usually, I try to envision the entire thing with the guitar as I play, try to arrange the whole song that way. That's pretty much how I've done the demos that are currently up on the site. It's all very guitar driven. I truly miss, however, having a full band interaction where we would just "jam" and see what happened. Sometimes in that environment, songs can spring up as a result of drum parts or even bass parts. I'm going to try some different things this time to come up with another batch of songs, maybe start building from the drums this time and put a guitar part to a drum part rather than vice versa. We'll see. I may see if I can get ahold of some different instruments, too (stringed, of course) and see where that takes me. So, expect something old and, hopefully, something new on this new effort, whenever it materializes.

I have a real problem sometimes with taking on too much in my life, doing too many things at once, and when I jump into a project like this, it's often very, very hard for me to be patient and not be overwhelmed by all the work required to do a full CD on one's own. What makes it worse is that I can often hear the finished product in my head, and if I like what I hear, I want the finished product IN MY HANDS NOW, even though that's not humanly possible. I need to start thinking about one song at a time instead of an entire album. Even now, I've had to force myself to concentrate on one demo at a time instead of five or six. So, hopefully I can learn to relax a bit, we'll see...

So now the big problem is lyrics. What I'll do for awhile is listen to these demos and try to come up with lyrics for them...well, melodies first, then lyrics to go over the melodies. I was having "music-related" writers block for awhile, now it's lyric-related. I have some titles, but I'm finding it difficult at the moment to get the words together. I'm sure they'll come. They always do.

Okay, as for OTHER new music, from OTHER people, I've really been very happy lately as I've discovered some new stuff that I'm really enjoying.

First up, Garbage. I was never really into this band (they've been around for 10 years now), but I always thought they were interesting when I saw a video. Just never felt inclined to go out and buy a CD. Well, their new one, "Bleed Like Me", is amazing. I saw them on a DirectTV freeview concert, and I was really impressed by the new songs. I'm a big fan of Blondie, and this is very much a throwback to that style - mysterious, menacing girl singer, clever lyrics, good guitar, nice production. The new CD has some amazing songs, and the guitars sound fantastic. It's one of those experiences where I enjoyed the CD so much that I've since gone back to the band's back catalogue, which has been fun. It's been a little disappointing to realize that the older stuff was nowhere near as guitar-heavy as the newer stuff, but there are still some absolute gems that I feel like I'm discovering. So nice to have some new music to listen to that I really love.

Second up, The White Stripes. This is a band that I pretty much dismissed entirely when I first saw them a few years back. The song was catchy but I didn't pay much attention, as the band struck me as just some sort of throwback fad. How wrong I was. Jack White, the guitarist/songwriter, is just amazing on both of those counts. I first began to give the guy a second look when he popped up all over the "Cold Mountain" soundtrack. Not the greatest movie, but the music was wonderful - lots of old-time bluegrass-tinged stuff that my wife and I both really enjoy from time to time. Anyway, Jack White was singing a lot of these songs, and he sounded like he'd stepped right out of the 1800s. He'd even written a couple, that were great. It gave me new respect for him as a writer and artist.

Then, my wife bought a White Stripes live DVD. I sat down to watch it with her and was absolutely blown away by the performance. I love the old clips of The Who and Zeppelin and Hendrix from the 60's, where they're just absolutely pulverizing the stage with huge guitars and incredible, distorted playing. That's what I was taken back to when watching this DVD. The guy is just a monster guitar player - and his energy onstage is insane. I think the DVD is called "Under Blackpool Lights" or something. I highly recommend it. Also, White just produced a new album for Loretta Lynn (70 years old!).

Now, I'm not a big fan of processed country music, but I do like a lot of music with country roots. Never been a big fan of the twang, but I love projects that fuse a country artist with a more rock-oriented backing band. Case in point, most of the recent Emmylou Harris releases, some of which were produced by U2 guy Daniel Lanois. Just beautiful, beautiful stuff. And now Jack White has done the same sort of thing with Loretta Lynn. I'm just getting through the CD, but I love it so far. Hard to believe I'm getting into a rockin' song being sung by a 70-year-old, but that's the way it should be! White assembled a backing band of no-names, not session players, and they play with the same wild abandon that he does (he plays on the CD, too). Marry that with Loretta Lynn's weathered and wonderful voice, and it's a real interesting combination, believe it or not.

So, there's a lot of music in my life right now, and that's good. Looking forward to cranking out some more tunes and, hopefully, doing it without all the painstaking obsession over the minutiae this time out. Hope y'all enjoy it....

Diss

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