Sunday, December 19, 2004
plak-bog!

On most weekends, we’re either holed up in Mark and Yan’s pad practicing the arrangement of our songs or doing band rehearsals at Handuraw. For this weekend, we decided to do some extra-curricular activity—following the path to musical enrichment (or something to that effect).

 

So last night (sans Joy and our instruments), we converged in Mark and Yan’s pad to study Rock Theory 101. We were supposed to listen to different genres of music—especially the ones that have influenced us the most, individually and collectively as a band (cue music: “Getting To Know You” from The King and I) but Mark suggested we watch U2’s rock-umentary “Rattle and Hum” for our first rock-appreciation-and-theory session. (For all U2 die-hards, if you haven’t seen this film let alone heard of this one, shame on you.) 

 

Rattle and Hum” chronicles the experiences of the Irish band while they were playing their “The Joshua Tree” tour in America. The film contains footage of U2’s live concerts, jams with musical legends (B.B. King), and in-depth interviews from the members as they try to explore American music in the hope of rediscovering their musical roots."

 

But it’s the concert footages that proved immensely useful to us. In their live set, U2 demonstrates a textbook example of how a band (or a musical artist for that matter) can marshal good songs and passionate performances to make a living, breathing rock show.

 

As much as we put so much energy in song crafting, that’s only half of the whole thing. The other half is making sure those songs are played exceptionally well on stage.

 

And though we still need to work on improving our live performance, we value our live sets very much, and we damned sure want to get them right. It would be a great source of personal and collective pride to be able to play a rhythmically tight set. And secondly, a live rock show is the most direct way in which a band can interact and connect with its audience. And once we make that connection, we’ve done it.

 

In the words of the great Mister Shneebly, a great rock show can change your life.

 

P.S. If any of you were wondering what “plak-bog” means, I guess you’re gonna have to ask Murray and Jayson for that. Trust me, they can explain it much better. And yes, it’s definitely related to the subject of live stage performance.


Posted at 06:01 am by squirreltalk
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Sunday, December 12, 2004
milestones

It's 9 in the morning and I had only four hours of sleep...

We've just had another of our "important" band meetings a few hours ago. This is one of those meetings where we sit and talk about us--the band, what we've been doing, what we've achieved so far. Basically, it's like constructive band self-evaluation of some sort. We discuss the problems encountered individually as band members and collectively as a band. Then we talk about how we deal with those problems and how we all could learn from it. It's not exactly Alcoholics Anonymous but it kinda works.

This is also a way for us to review the goals we've set for ourselves as a band and see if we're going in the right direction. We might need to go over some specific goals and decide to change them or disregard them altogether. I'm not sure if we've resolved everything in that meeting, but this I can say -- we've managed to make clear some gray areas about ourselves and our band.

On another note, Jerros Dolino and Ian Zafra (both of Sheila and the Insects) dropped by Mark and Yan's pad last night while we were in the middle of our sessions. Both experienced musicians themselves, they gave us indispensable advice on the subject of songwriting.

For instance, upon hearing the latest arrangement of the song "When Misery Speaks", Ian showed us a hundred and one ways through which we can still explore other arrangement possibilities. Maybe we could accentuate a particular word or phrase in the song or complement it with a guitar riff or bass line or drum fill-in. Or we could scrap the standard verse-chorus-verse format and find a more suitable arrangement. The important thing is that, individual musical orientation notwithstanding, we can all reach some comfort level where we're all satisfied with how we play our separate instruments and the whole song as well.

But the tricky thing is that there is no set formula to guarantee that people will like our songs. So while we may be satisfied with our songs, the audience may have a different take entirely. Oh, well.

Bottom line: we've got work to do.

P.s. Congratulations to Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (it's interesting how Americans pronounce Manny's surname, instead of "Pak Yao", it comes out sounding something like "Pa Kay Yo") for beating Thai slugger Fahsan. And his pool game is getting better, too. Manny bai, we give you our utmost squirrel allegiance. May you have many more asses to kick. Or better yet, faces to punch.

-Guile


Posted at 09:17 am by squirreltalk
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Wednesday, December 01, 2004
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

It's been almost a month since the last entry. Dang, the days go by so fast. I admit I've been kinda lazy in updating the blog and I'm happy to say that finally I'm doing something about it (grins). Thanks to fellow "blogdriver" eLa for the reminder.

Yes, we've been busy. Aside from the usual songwriting sessions and band rehearsals, we also had to spend time coaching Jayson with our older songs especially "If I Can" which contains, as Mark would say, a million chords. Other than that, he also had figured out the rhythm guitar parts for our newer material which I must say he's doing quite well. 

And acquiring a new guitar doesn't hurt either :). I'd say that he's probably the most excited among us--no doubt looking forward to the next studio jam when he can bring out his new gear and rock. Hehehe. He's got a guitar. 

And speaking of fresh material, I daresay we've made progress in churning out new songs. In the last four weeks, we've been working on the final arrangement for "Virgin's Orgasm". A sharp contrast to the heavier and more upbeat songs in our repertoire, this song is decidedly gentler and more melancholic. And with the way Joy sings it, the words (kudos to Geneelou for the sublime lyrics) come out unforced and unencumbered--yet with a searing urgency to it. With the guitars, Murray and Jayson opted for a subtle guitar approach to give the vocals more sonic prominence. Murray even gets to employ a wickedly playful guitar solo consisting of not-so-rapid arpeggios. I get to do an Adam Claytonesque bass line this time around (initially I did a more dynamic bass treatment but it just didn't work for the song's mood). Mark gets to exercise an iota of restraint for the drumbeats but I wouldn't be too surprised if he figures out another gut-busting drum roll or fill-in. I'm kinda thinking of getting a string quartet just for this song (grins again). But if we could nail it using only keyboards then it's fine with me. 

Another thing--it's quite funny how some people interpret this song. This song is actually about self-fulfillment. Geneelou just used a virgin's orgasm as a metaphor. The song is much deeper and more profound than that. But if others choose to intepret it as a literal virgin's orgasm (or something else entirely), then let them be our guest. For example, I've always thought that The Police's "Every Breath You Take" is a song about a lover's pledge of his undying loyalty. The song is actually a stalker's anthem.

Anyway, we're currently doing an online survey on whether or not we change the title of "Virgin's Orgasm". Check it out here. And the lyrics can be found at http://squirreltalk.com/music.htm.

We've also started working on "Trick of Light". All I can say is that I was heavily influenced by Trent Reznor when I wrote this. It's actually a rather old poem I wrote a long time ago and Mark asked me if I could turn it into a song. So I did. It's definitely a work in progress and we're still pretty much exploring how we would play this one. We might even have to change the melodic structure to give it more build-up before the chorus part. Or we retain its simplicity and go for a somber, haunting arrangement. I was even thinking of doing this as a solely acoustic track. I guess we got a lot of work to do on this one. 

Oh, and Mark is pretty excited about "Plot of My Revenge". Murray is currently working on it and here's hoping we could have something additional to work on by this weekend.

And before I end this entry, let me give all of you a challenge. Send me your most wicked, most mischievous Christmas greeting cards. And it has to be related to music/bands. Send them to iampaperbag@yahoo.com

P.s. A little piece of trivia. A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes. But what I'm really interested to know is how the bloody hell the scientists found out. How about squirrels. How long do theirs last? 

- Guile      


Posted at 07:08 pm by squirreltalk
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