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Monday, August 20, 2007

My band is playing a big show in September!

About damn time! The Damn Dirty Grapes are playing the El Mocambo on September 7th! This is a battle of the bands, and tickets are $10 each. The more we sell, the longer we play, so come on out and support the band!
10:25 am - 4 comments - 0 Kudos
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Gospel According to Fitz - Chapter 1: Flea

Maybe this series of blog are a bit pretentious, but hey, they're EPIC! Anyway, I'd like to start off with a disclaimer: every word I type is my opinion. If I state fact, I've researched it. Too many times I've had an arguement about music with a friend and they'd say "well, it's just your opinion!" Yes, yes it is. Moving on...

Flea. I would call him the face of what mainstream music fans consider the best bass player to be. He's wild, he's naked, and he's... wild and naked. Oh, and he's tattooed. There seems to be a concesus that, like Rush, you either love him/them, or you hate them. You'll never really hear someone say "meh, Flea's a decent player." I find this strange, because I think that's exactly what he is.

First of all, since when is decent a bad thing? It's as if as soon as someone says something isn't the best fucking thing ever, it's considered an insult. Fleas playing is intense, loud, and passionate, but simply does not match up to proper bass virtuosii.

But why do the mainstream consider him to be so un-fucking-believawesome? I have a few reasons:

1. They simply do not know what a bass is. I've had people ask me why my guitar is so big and why it sounds so low. I always consider large groups of people (especially at concerts) to be collectively ignorant. It's as if the mainstream hears 3 things: the words, the beat, and the instruments. The words come from the singer, the beat comes from the drums, and the instruments are from the bass/guitarists/keyboards. They hear Flea slap and slap and slap and it's something that doesn't quite gel with the aforementioned 3 things. It's a bit of beat, and a bit of instrument, and it's...


2. ... much louder than the other things. Face it: John Frusciante has his guitar totally clean most of the time and he's pushed way back in the mix. The bass is the loudest thing in any Chillis song, and that draws attention. Add that to the elements from reason 1, and you're beginning to notice that

3. The singing and guitar playing have little range and dynamics -especially the singing. Anthony Kiedis rarely breaks an octave in any given song he sings. Chart Magazine says the RHCP have released the same album 3 times already, and I think this is one of the reasons why: Mr. Kiedis sings barely 5 notes, and half the time those notes are sung about California. As pleasing as his voice is, it's almost rangeless. The bridge to Californication and the verse to Snow are so similar it scares me. The guitars clearly play second fiddle to the bass, and other than a melodic solo here and there, hooks are scarce (especially post-Blood/Sugar).

4. Slapping! Nobody's going to confuse a slap bass line with a guitar line, now will they? Never! Put a crazy guy up front in the mix, above some very underwhelming singing and guitar playing, and make him SLAP SLAP SLAP! A guitar player doesn't slap! If you play the bass, you have to slap! Otherwise, you're just playing an instrument! The mainstream never have an eye for detail, now do they? Slap bass is a really blatant way to separate the bass from guitars. With these 4 things, how can the mainstream not think Flea is the best?
The bass is the loudest and most interesting thing in a Chilli Peppers song. They shoot right to the top of the charts because of Anthony Kiedis's very simple, catchy, albeit dynamically inept melodies are wonderful to sing along to, and hey, California kix ass yo! The OC Rules! Chad Smith keeps the heads bopping, Anthony Kiedis keeps the tone-deaf singing, and Flea takes all the attention.

I've barely mentioned Chad Smith! Well, as far as I'm concerned, he and Flea are tied for the best rhythm section I've ever heard. They simply get it. As much as I hate some RHCP songs, I simply cannot deny that Flea and Chad Smith are so musically in love that they seem to perfect the tightness that's required for a successful rhythm section. It's as if every note was played for the drum beat and every drum beat was hit for the bass line. Who are they tied with? JPJ and Bonham, and if I have to explain why, you really don't belong on this forum.

JPJ and Bonzo are the polar opposite of Flea and Chad Smith. I think JPJ and John Bonham are like a menage et trois with 2 of the most beautiful and wild strippers you've ever seen, while Flea and Chad Smith are like making love to your soul mate. Or... or... or... Flea and Chad Smith are like a wonderful home-cooked meal, while JPJ and Bonzo are like... a menage et trois with 2 of the most beautiful and wild strippers you've ever seen. Flea and Chad Smith are like taking a hike along a beautiful trail; you cannot help but be swept up by the beauty of the situation in every metronomic step you take. JPJ and Bonham are like a double-black-diamond ski down mountain; you never quite know what twists and turns are ahead, and there's nothing quite like it.

OK, enough of the positive crap. I think if you fancy yourself a bass player beyond the hobbiest level and trully believe that Flea is the best bass player around, you're missing the point. His bass playing is simply above average. If you are a slap happy fool who tries to emulate Flea whenever you can, and you actually think you're sounding great, you're missing half the ingredients: the drums. Specifically, Chad Smith. A simple 4/4 wouldn't cut it, no matter how bald, tattooed, naked, and slappy you are. Chad Smith is the person that turns bottled water into wine.

Anyway, that's the first chapter. I enjoyed this. Until next time, let the flames begin!
5:55 pm - 4 comments - 4 Kudos
Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Gospel According to Fitz - Chapter 2: Fretless

These blogs aren't as hateful as I had hoped. OK, this is justthe second one... they'll get there.

I've noticed that a lot of fretless players on the forum are having problems with their intonation. For some reason, it's never been all that problematic for me. However, I did notice that I do a few things that are somewhat musical that keep me playing in tune. Anyway, here are some of the tips that have helped me out.

YOUR LEFT HAND: Duuh, uh, duuh, uh, duuh? Duuh? Alright smartasses, let me finish. The physical position of your left hand is the single most important thing in fretless bass playing. Simply put, you have to always play one-finger-per-fret. Now, I know some of you are thinking, 'jeez, I already do that and can't play in tune?' Well, if this is the case, you're probably not doing it properly.
This may sound strange, but I think that 75% of fretless training should be learned on a fretted bass. Vibrato and slides are for fretless; intonation and general playing habits should be onthe fretted bass. That being said, bust out your fretted bass and put one finger on each fret. Now, stop thinking 'alright asshole, I know how to do this.' In order to be a successful fretless bassist, you need your fingers to ALWAYS be parallel to the frets. If you're stretching beyond the 1-finger per fret, make sure your ring and middle fingers are parallel to the frets. If you angle your fingers, sure, they're on where the notes should be, but the physical weight of your finger (the pressure) is off-centre. I guess you can just offset your hand to compensate, but that'll be difficult. Make your fingers TOTALLY PARALLEL to the frets, and make sure your thumb is the only thing touching the back of the neck. Not only do frets provide a visual reference, they provide a feeling reference. Make sure every time you fret a note you can feel the fret in the corner of any given finger. That way, you'll 'learn' the spacing of the frets. Once you master the rigid one-finger-per-fret hand position, you're on your way.
I'm going to talk out of my ass and say pretty much all good fretless players play this way. At the very least, Jaco did. Guys like Billy and Geddy, as good as they are, have horrible left hand positioning. I bet both of them had to make some adjustments when they grab their fretless.

USE STAINLESS STEEL ROUNDWOUNDS: No, not because they sound the best. No, not because of the callouses. No, not because Jaco did.Why? Because they're sticky, gummy, and dry. When you slide with stainless steel strings, you need to be precise. As soon as you stop sliding, your finger will immediately be 'glued' to where you stopped, instead of being able to slinky into position like nickels do. If you slide and feel the fret like I mentioned above, you'll begin to be able to slide with authority and confidence. When you fret, your fingers will stay in the same spot instead of greasing around like with nickels.

HARMONICS AND OPEN STRINGS ARE YOUR FRIEND/LIFE SUPPORT: Huh? Another Jaco rip-off? Nope. This really only applies to unlined fretless basses (the only one's I've owned). You have to appreciate and be aware that open strings and harmonics are musically useful things you can do while playing to check if you're playing in tune. This is especially relevant in frets 9-14. First, open strings: Having problems finding fret 10? Well, look for it on the E string while playing an open D. When the notes match up, voila. Use that position on any string you want. Fret 11? Sound the string above it. For example, fret 11 on the D string. Do that, then play an open A. You'll immediately be able to tell if you're in tune. And, if you are, you're playing the root note A with a beautiful major 10th for some Continuum-y action. 12th fret? Sound the harmonic. The 12th fret harmonic should be really loud, and if you're slightly off, they're much, much quieter. 13th fret? Play the 13th fret of the G and sound the E. Ohh, another major 10th. Use that position on any string. 14th? An octave. Play the open string 2 strings up. If you want a root-5 power chord a la Hejira, play the open string 1 string up. 15th fret? Use the side dot marker, fool.
Many of the 'in between' side dot marker notes are difficult to play, but luckily, they're either very harmonically playable, or they sound great with an open string. The 4th fret, for example, has a great harmonic. For others, try an open string. The 5th fret should match the string below, and the 7th above (even though they're not in-between notes). If you can't seem to find an open string, well, chances are there's a harmonic, or you'll rarely play it.

ARE YOUR HANDS TO SMALL FOR THIS KIND OF HAND POSITIONING? Well, Billy Sheehan and I both agree that any sized hand can play one-finger-per-fret 'properly' (even though he doesn't). But, for arguement's sake, let's say you're insistant that your hand is indeed too small. Upright bassists have had problems like this (and rightfully so... electric bassists are babies). This is where the Simandl Method comes in. Simply put, your ring finger and pinkie share a tendon. Therefore, use your ring finger and pinkie as one. On electric bass, the easiest way to do that is to ignore the ring finger altogether and fret using your index, middle, and pinkie... umm... fingers. Past the 7th position you'll be able to one-finger-per-fret it, but before that, you can do Simandl Method. Upright bassists double the middle finger over the pinkie for added strength, but that's simply not needed on electric. If you have small hands, Simandl Method makes keeping your fingers straight much, much easier.

Anyway, that's all I can really think of for now. This should really help you learn intonation alone. Of course, using PowerTab/Guitar Pro to play along and playing with a band helps, but this way you can practice whenever you pick up the bass.

Let the flames begin!

Fitz
6:17 am - 3 comments - 2 Kudos
Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Gospel According to Fitz - Chapter 3: The Gig

These blogs are less hate-filled and more relevant to... things than I had originally intended. Oh well! Here goes!

Last night, my band played our first gig. We've been together for years; we've recorded, rehearsed, and all sorts of things. However, we never actually played before yesterday.

The event was a rather low-priority battle of the bands held at Toronto's legendary El Mocambo. The Stones held a surprise concert there; U2 played there; SRV recorded a live album there; U2; Cheap Trick; The Ramones... and now, The Damn Dirty Grapes.

You could really tell the promoters, staff, and soundman were punching the clock that day instead of doing something they love. They were very disinterested, and I was appalled by our stage sound. A worker turned me down several times to the point I couldn't hear mysef play. It was as if they were doing us a favour instead of getting something from our performances, but, in essence, they were.My 6'7" fatass frame was in front of the only spotlight on the stage, so a massive shadow covered our poor drummer. I was totally blind. The shadow of the frets made them look like they were in different places, and let's just say that my frantic bass lines had some new chromatic passing tones in them. Luckily, my bass was so low (as was the guitar) that nobody noticed any anomolies. Unfortunately, it made my $500 effects loop sound like it wasn't on. The only thing I could see was my microphone and the outlines of the heads of the front row. My pedals, bass, and anything else was blinded either by darkness, or by light.

Setting up in the dark wasn't fun, but the crowd chanting "Damn Dirty Grapes! Damn Dirty Grapes!" helped a bit. When I was setting up my effects loop, I gave a little ass-shake to the crowd, who proceeded to go nuts. This was going to be a fun gig.

I was really irked by the near silent instruments, but my vocals had to carry the show. It was the best stage performance, theatre or otherwise, I've ever given. My voice had seemingly unlimited headroom; the songsthat I had trouble singing while recording or practicing became easy. I could scream, croon, vibrato, and growl like I never could before. I hit every single note with authority without having to resort to James Hetfield-esque ahhh's. Oh, I still did them, but I didn't have to.

The crowd was unbelievable. I couldn't see them, but they sang along, cheered, chanted, yelled requests, asked me to father their children, and just went nuts. It wasn't just the friends that enjoyed it; the drummer's dad, a classical music fan, couldn't help but get swept up in the pandemonium.

I was glad to be able to switch between my main Jazz and my '51 P-bass. Even though the output was low, the Genz Benz NEO-PAK 3.5 is a great piece of gear. I will admit, however, that 10 years in theatre gave me 1000W vocal chords, so perhaps much of the volume problem was because of my own obnoxiously loud voice.

To me, the highlight of the night is when I forgot to un-mute the amp when I switched basses. I ran back and unmuted without missing a line, but for a second, I was terrified. Oh, I also managed to unplug one of my pedals in between songs. The stage was so fucking dark/bright that I couldn't see that I did that! And stepping on the distortion instead of the chorus is also fucking excellent and totally appropriate for the lighter playing that chorus usually lends itself to. Add those things to the fact that sometimes I was simply playing the wrong frets and we have a bloody bass playing disaster. But, again, nobody noticed, so who cares?

The guitar player was dancing around all over the place and was really into it. I got to pump the crowd, tell jokes, take a shot at Pete Wentz, and wield my bass like an assault rifle during the crascendo of our final song. There's something so incredibly empowering about singing about lasagna in front of a paying audience.

After the gig, I was totally spent and in the zone. I wasn't giddy or overly excited; I felt like I had just finished a play or a presentation like I had years ago. The last time I was in front of a large audience was in 2004, and performing again really helped my confidence and put things back into perspective for me. I really love being on stage, and I have to stop denying myself this. I want to play in front of more and more people, and I never want to stop. Hopefully, the judges appreciated the performance enough to let us advance to the semi-finals or even give us prizes. Hell, for what it's worth, a fan said the sound man was rocking out to our music. Why the fuck was he butchering us then?

All-in-all, it was quite a rush, and it has been put off for far too long. I want to take the band as far as it'll go. If it stops here and now, so be it; I don't have any regrets. Hopefully I'll have pictures (maybe even footage) up soon.

Let the flames begin.

Fitz
7:23 am - 2 comments - 3 Kudos
Sunday, September 09, 2007

WE WON!

Current mood: thankful

Thanks to those who voted for me. Unfortunately, WE WON! Too bad! 12 hours studio time!

AND!

We were asked on short notice if we want to play a bigger gig with better prizes this Saturday! Apparently a band called the Saint Alvia Cartel is playing there. We're 'opening for them'. We're going to rock the friggin' place down.

http://supernova.com./shows/1527/
8:45 am - 5 comments - 7 Kudos
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Gospel According to Fitz - Chapter 4: Jaco Ton

I'd say Jaco's tone is the most instantly recognizable bass tone. You hear one note, and you know who it is (or at least who the player's trying to be). Conversely, the least instantly recognizable bass tone involves a Big Muff pedal, since you can't tell it apart from a guitar, but that's another chapter...

We all know Jaco was a phenom, he left an unmatched legacy, and he blah blah blah blah blah. No doubt there. Well, Jaco was also known for spinning tales. Some of them were shrugged off (for example, multiple stories about the origins of the Bass of Doom - JPJ used stock fretless Fender basses in 1975), but some of them are still believed, even though they're not all true. One of which is the concept that his bass sound is 'all in the fingers'. Jaco knew how to get the sounds from his bass that he made famous, but listen: he's not the only one who can get those sounds. Follow these steps and you'll be closer to Jaco's tone than you ever thought.

Let me disclaim, of course. You won't nail the tone unless your Jazz is vintage and you're running it through an Acoustic 360 (or a tube amp with an 18" cab with a horn). You will, however, sound more like Jaco than 95% of the wannabies. You won't sound a God-damn thing like Brian Bromberg from his tribute CD, Jaco.

Second of all, most of these 'secrets' come as standard features on the Jaco signature. The Artist model would get the same sound as the Tribute, plus it would hold up better (more on that later). Alright, here goes:

1. USE STAINLESS STEEL ROTOSOUNDS: Quite simple, really. Each string has their own 'trademark' tone, and Rotosounds definitely do. They don't sound like, say, D'Addario ProSteels. Each string has it's own unique harmonics signature. If you want to sound like Jaco, you need to use the strings he used. Playing bass isn't like getting a blowjob; it's not supposed to feel good. Rotosounds hurt the fingers. However, there's a simple way to solve this problem - STOP BITCHING. Stick with them for 2 weeks and your fingers will be calloused to the point where they'll feel like any other string. Stop being babies. Secondly, flatwounds (which Thunderfingers and I agree are much harder on the fingers than Rotosounds) are totally out of the question, period. If you really are a piece of crap, get nickels... but no flatwounds. You might think, well, it has the characteristics of Jaco's mellow tone, which I want more than his biting tone, but harmonics ring totally different on flats. The fingerplaying might cop a Jaco feel if you're 65% deaf, but the harmonics simply do not sound half as good. Bottom line - use Rotosound Stainless RS66's. I'll explain how to negate the negative effects Rotos have on fingerboards and on mellow tones.

2. FINGERBOARD FINISH: Another obvious choice, right? However, there's a lot of important detail as to why this is important. First off (and perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier), if you're one of these guys who believes there's such a thing as a best $100 bass, or want a $20 synth pedal, stop reading. Jaco's tone requires the things I'm mentioning. Sure, some things have more of an effect than others, but this step is essential. Some may think 'oh, well, the epoxy is just for protection, I'll take my chances with bare wood.' Well, you can take a chance with by bare ass, because the epoxy on a fingerboard is as much about tone as it is about durability.
Now, there are 2 types of fingerboard finishes I would recommend: epoxy, like Jaco used (Pettit's Poly-Poxy, to be exact), or polyurethane/polyester. What do I recommend? Polyurethane/polyester. Unlike wood, it's not the composition of the material that gives the sound, it's what it does. Epoxy and poly will have the exact same effect on your tone. The major difference is how each finish deals with damage. Epoxy is meant more for impact damage, while poly is better for wear and tear. Because of this, epoxy tends to peel instead of chip or shatter, while poly tends to chip. There's no way the constant rubbing of strings will cause a material to chip. However, it will cause peeling. Therefore, poly is more suited for fingerboards (this is what the Artist model Jaco sig uses, as well as Pau Ferro, a stronger wood).
Now onto the sound impact. Bare wood is porous. It can 'absorb' the sound of strings. People tend to like the sound, but the aural properties of Jaco's fingerboard wood was made all-but irrelevant when the epoxy was applied. Sure, the wood will vibrate differently than another wood, but it won't absorb the sound. The epoxy 'growls back' all of the sound, and this results in a much more present and 'growly' tone. You simply won't get any of Jaco's sound without this kind of fingerboard.

As an aside, there are 2 elements to Jaco's sound. Above I've outlined the first part, the growl.

3. BRIDGE PICKUP OF A FENDER JAZZ BASS: Duh. But seriously, there's no substitute. A humbucker simply won't get the tone of a bridge single coil, tap or no. The phase cancellations and what have you of the humbuckers wiring gives the harmonics the same tonal quality of flatwound strings to my ear. To get the sound, you need the pickups. Period. EMG, MEC, and all modern sounding pickups won't get the tone Fender pickups get.

4. EQ: Or should I say none? Jaco was recorded DI, and he was almost always left flat. If you want some more bottom, turn up the bass a touch on your amp. More air, turn up the highs slightly. Simple. Don't be one of those jabronis whose bass knobs and treble knobs are cranked.
You can get the right tone from an active bass or a passive bass, believe it or not. In fact, if your amp isn't near Acoustic-360 level, an active bass may actually be better. Anyway, you should spring for a passive bass. Simply roll off the tone to get rid of some finger noise, but keep enough to keep it clear. Not brain surgery here. Crank it if you want that staccato tone. On an active bass, you'll need to do the following: first, all-but-crank the bass knob on your instrument's EQ. This can fake the tube warmth from Jaco's amp. It also acheives the same effect of the added bass from rolling off a passive tone control. For the mid knob, I like to leave it 3/4 up; it feigns the harmonic presence of tubes. Now, the treble on an active bass is the key; for mellow tones, cut the treble to taste. For biting tones, at max, turn your treble to flat. Don't ever boost the treble on an active bass if you want the Jaco tone. That's where the modern sound comes in and it totally ruins it. Again, flat treble = full passive tone. Roll off to taste.

Now, from this point out, I'll outline Jaco's most important tonal quality - Mwah.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF JACO'S MWAH: Neck relief and action. First off, getting mwah (as in Hejira) involves picking the string between the neck pickup of a Jazz and the 15th fret (more on this later). That said, the neck relief of your bass has to be laser straight. Let me explain why; the mwah actually comes from the strings slightly fretting out. Now, since the fingerboard has no frets, the strings are choking out on the wood. Now, since your fingerboard is epoxied/polied, it's growling on the finish. Get it now? You need to adjust your action to the exact point the strings start choking out on the fingerboard. Too low, and it'll choke way too much. Too high, it won't choke at all, and you simply will not get this tone. Now, I didn't address why the neck is straight; with a straight neck, the strings will choke out evenly in any given fret position. This way, the strings will mwah at any given position. With a bowed neck, the bass will mwah at some positions more than at others. With a straight neck, your tone will be much more even and wonderful. It's a delicate operation and takes time to find the perfect spot, but once you have, you're set for life. Now, this is the most important feature: a fretless bass with flatwounds and humbuckers will sound more like Jaco with this neck setup than a Tribute Jaco signature without the neck setup. This, combined with the other steps, gives you the perfect bass to sound exactly like Jaco.

6. PICKING LOCATION: If you're familiar with straight necks on fretted basses, you'll know that they start fretting out when you play closer to the neck. At the bridge, however, they ring clear and true (this happened at a recording session). You can literally control the amount of mwah by moving your picking hand either closer to the bridge or closer to the neck. For a very subtle Continuum mwah, play by the neck pickup. For a noticible A Remark You Made mwah, play by the base of the neck. For an incredible Hejira mwah, actually play ON the fingerboard. This causes the strings to choke up even more, which on an straight epoxied fretless fingerboard with Rotosounds, adds more mwah. Now, use those root-5 power chords and slide. When you play at the bridge, the mwah will seemily disappear. If you roll up the tone, you'll find yourself with that Teen Town tone. It's as simple as that.

OK, this is more like it. Practice with the bass and discover exactly how Jaco got the sounds he got. You'll find that it is indeed all in the touch; but it's not all in Jaco's touch. It can be in your touch too, but if and only if you have the exact bass setup I've described.

Let the flames begin!

Fitz
8:19 am - 3 comments - 1 Kudos
Sunday, September 16, 2007

WE WON!!! pt 2

I'm not typically superstitious, but I think there are a few things I have to do during every gig that will ensure my success. I was the third last band at yesterday's gig, just like the one last Friday. Also, like an idiot, not only did I unplug myself from my pedals again, I actually forgot to plug in my bass when I switched! Luckily the songs didn't stop, and other than me stupidly flopping around between parts I was singing, nobody really noticed. And, just like last time, my band won the battle of the bands.

2 weeks ago I was a frustrated bass playing frontman, and now I've 2 first-prize awards, 12 hours of studio time, and a music video. Yes, that's right. Fitzy and the boys are getting a music video storyboarded, written, cast, and recorded. I can't fucking believe it.

The gig itself was a gas. Before we got on, I was talking to the stage manager. I was wearing http://www.engrish-store.com/ihatmystshir.htmland he said "I can help you with that." I thought he was joking, but as it turned out, he's killed dozens of people back in India when he was in the army! "How was it?" I asked. "You won't be able to sleep for a month." He responded. "Hmm... I guess I should kill someone before exams, eh?" was my response, to which he thought and said "yeah, pretty much."
You see, that's what you want to do before you hit the stage. No, no chants, no harmonizing like the Eagles, none of that pussy shit: let's talk about killing dozens of people and then let's rock the fuck out!

Other than my chronic unpluggery, the gig went smooth. It was outdoors, and it was only 60 degrees or so, so the strings were rough on the fingers. Sure, I switched around some lines from the songs, but hey, everyone does that, right?

Last gig, I was complaining about the horrible sound. This time, the sound was brilliant. I was given free reign on volume and we could hear every note we were playing. In fact, the stage manager (the guy I spoke with before the show) said our gear sounded "fucking awesome". Even the vocals went well: Sexy Lasagna is a song I sing rather softly (as most songs about lasagna are), and the sound man turned my mic up so my voice sounded as loud as it did when I was singing louder. Great stuff. Even the band after us were dancing and playing along to our stuff as we were playing.

I got to slip in some good jokes. For Another Friend, I noted that we played this song at every single gig we've ever done (i.e. 1). When we played the Barbecue Song, I said "I'd like to switch gears for a minute... I'd like to dedicate this song to a close childhood friend of mine who recently passed away..." (to which a friend of ours in the audience said "WOOOOO! Wait, he's dead!?!?") "... Pavarotti, if you're listening, we miss you, buddy." Oh dear. I also said "are there any Fall Out Boy fans in the audience?" One guy started flailing his arms and cheered. "GET OUT!" I yelled. Ah, fun.

After the show, we went to a bar/club and partied like rock stars. Before we left, people all over the building (we were playing outside a gigantic arcade) told us we were awesome. It was a great night.
6:57 am - 3 comments - 0 Kudos
Monday, September 24, 2007

Fitzy needs your help!

Yeah, I know this is a bit ridiculous, but here goes:

My band, The Damn Dirty Grapes has entered a Bodog online Battle of the Bands. We basically could win a spot on a reality show for a $1,000,000 record deal. To get us noticed, we need people to vote for us. So, if you all could, please vote for us at:

http://www.bodogbattle.ca/bandsandmusic/6956/The+D amn+Dirty+Grapes

Much appreciated.
10:15 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Show, New Company!

Ah, yes. Blog 1 of 2 for the day. Anyway, A local studio/promotion company contacted me via myspace and asked us if we wanted to play one of their shows on October 12th at the Kathedral in Toronto. How exactly could we say no? It's not a battle of the bands, and if we sell over 20 tickets, it's a paying gig. Sure, the set's only 20 minutes, but after that we'll get 30 minute sets.

I'm not sure how exactly they found us, but I think it's amazing that they did. Damn, we've been gigging for 3 weeks tomorrow and we've already got 2 battle of the band victories under our belt and people getting interest! Well, maybe that's an overstatement, but it's awesome. If only I wasn't so bloody stupid, I'd be graduating this year and could potentially move some ass. Oh well; I believe in the Chaos Theory and that means if I wasn't an idiot then I probably wouldn't be in the situation I'm in right now musically. Weird...
11:23 am - 1 comments - 2 Kudos
Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Gospel According to Fitz - Chapter 5: Halo

Don't worry, I'll chew out Cliff next chapter.

Anyway, I'm not sure exactly how many people know I'm a video game enthusiast. I've been a video game enthusiast as much longer than I've been a music enthusiast, and I've been a wrestling enthusiast much longer than I've been a video game enthusiast.

Anyway, enthusiasm aside, I'm just as hard and outspoken about videogames and wrestling as I am amout music and gear. Just like music and gear, I immerse myself in all the details, I know much of the history, I have no nostalgia for simpler times, and I have absolutely no soft spots on the subject. Here's an example: The NES was a piece of shit that had, oh, 6 different kinds of games on it.

Yeah, I just said that. I'm THAT hardcore.

Anyway, granted I was too young (i.e. not born) when Atari made the video game market collapse, but I definitely have had experience with all real consoles since then (i.e. not 3D0, Saturn, CDI, etc). I've owned a Sega Genesis and anSNES,and I currently own all 3 types of Playstation and a Sega Dreamcast with 2 light guns. There's an Xbox and a Gamecube in my current household as well. I've played it all, and like gear, I know my shit. I am an avid computer gamer. Computer games and console games are as different as the bass and the guitar: to fucking idiots, they're very similar. The same, even. However, if you know shit about shit, you'll know they're totally different. Sure, like guitar/bass, you can bullshit your way through by playing the exact same way on both things, but you're going nowhere if you do.

First of all, I'm a Sony fanboy. I won't lie. However, I only like good shit, so that explains that. The Xbox is the worst thing to happen to console games since the industry crashed back in '83. The whole concept behind the Xbox is so fucking vile it hurts my soul. You know where they got the name? Microsoft's proprietary graphics renderer, Direct 3D, comes with an entity known as Direct X. Microsoft fucking loves the letter X. I love it only when tripled and in movies without Vin Diesel or Ice Cube. They took the X from Direct X and put the word Box at the end. Fucking great, eh?

Imagine if a company that knew nothing about musical instruments, say... Ibanez? Naw, let's say Ford, decided to enter the instrument market. Their flagship instrument is a new bass. The bass has 25.5" scale, 6 strings, is tuned EADGBE, is an octave higher than any other bass, an has a tremolo. 6-tuners-in-a-line headstock and a double cutaway body. 3 pickups and a 5-way switch. Oh, you play it with your fingers like a normal bass. Ford says it's the future of the bass. A startling number of people own Ford's bass and say it's the only bass they'll ever play. If they don't say all other basses suck, they say they just like Ford's bass the best.

Is your blood boiling?

What the fuck am I talking about?

Well, read the above paragraph. Consider the bass to be a console. Consider a guitar to be a computer. Consider Ford to be Microsoft. Consider aguitar pick a keyboard and consider your fingers a console's controller.You get the picture? Microsoft quite literally knocked a computer on it's side, plugged a mammoth controller into it, and called it a console. They released computer games exclusivelyon their machine and pretended they were console games. Halo.

Halo.

Halo.

Fucking Halo.

Halo was being made for years, years, years. What people don't know is that it was being made for the computer for those years. Halo was supposed to be the game to dethrone Half Life. That was, oh, 7 years ago. I have CD's from PC games magazines (way, way, way before DVD's were common) that had video demoes of Halo. When Xbox decided to stick their dick into the console market, they decided to replace the keyboard with that stupid controller and be off. Change nothing. Take every single clichee computer game element and show it off to an audience that were too fucking ignorant and stupid to see it before. Computers are just for MSN and porn, after all.

Halo is the most average game ever made and it's popularity makes me sick. Halo was nowhere near the best first person shooter, let alone game ever. Halo added nothing new to the console games market. OK, maybe a recharging health meter (because the people who play Halo would get too frustrated and wouldn't play it if they... well... died). Halo took every single element of every first person shooter ever and said "Hey! Me too!" But of course, there were so many people totally oblivious to computer games they were seeing this shit as if it were new.

Ooooh. Vehicles in a game. When that came out in Halo, I'd have played games with vehicles for years and years. Anywhere from 5-7. Starseige, Tribes, Redline, Battlezone... dozens of games that came out years before. Mulitplayer? Are you fucking kidding me? I was at least a7 year multiplayer veteran when Halo came out. I remember a magazine reviewing Halo and they took a picture of a guy playing Halo multiplayer. The picture was of him looking back at the camera with his mouth dropped open like it's the best thing he's ever seen. What the fuck kind of video game reviewer is this? Has he never played Unreal Tournament? A game that literally trumps Halo in every way? Quake? Quake II? Quake III Arena, a game that's pretty much ALL multiplayer? Was this man half-retarded?

A friend of mine told me with glee that you can make maps in Halo 3! Has the world gone mad!? Fuck computer games - you could make maps in Timesplitters back in 2000! Do all Halo fans live in caves or something? How can you play a videogame so friggin' much and have absolutely no desire at all to... play... anything? Are all Halo fans guitar players or something!? How can you seriously sit there and devote your life to a game that offers nothing to the genre? First person shooters were plenty popular before Halo - they just didn't have people going on MSN saying 'omfg i like halo its fun i like to win'. They didn't need them, either.

Apparently, the fact that half the enemies are little blue munchkins that run around with cutesy voices doesn't take away from how badass Halo is. Ewoks didn't ruin Star Wars - but there were cool aliens, too.

Xbox, and the Xbox360, are simply OS-less computers. Every single Microsoft exclusive title eventually finds their way onto a PC. It's just a matter of time before Gears of War and Halo 3 are on a PC near you. There's no reason to own an Xbox of any sort.

But am I missing the point? Is Halo perhaps the total package? Maybe it didn't do anything new, but maybe it did everything so well it doesn't matter? BULLSHIT!

Unreal Tournament is simplya better game. It plays better, it looks better, the weapons are ten times better, and it's better paced. Some people say UT is too fast and difficult. Since when is you sucking an excuse?

If you're not a multiplayer (and if you pronouce that word "mult-uh-player", jump off a roof), Half Life, Half Life 2, fuck, any computer FPS is better. Halo simply does not stack up.

Some people say they prefer a controller to a keyboard and mouse. Some people like Fall Out Boy. The keyboard and mouse is the best controller ever made. You get total pinpoint accuracy and keys are responsive as hell. People who have problems playing with a keyboard and mouse have problems because they get confused - typing 'omg halo kix ass' isn't how you win a game on a computer. They don't immediately get it, so they give up.

If you want an XBox360, get a computer. If you want a console, get a PS3. At least their discs are over 8.5GB so in, oh, a year, it won't be obsolete in the console market.

Anyway, I'm done blasting Halo. Finally, a blog up to Fitz standard.

Let the flames begin!
11:23 am - 15 comments - 6 Kudos
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