Archive for Josh Homme

The 4-Track Tape Trader’s Club

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Gideon K

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I mentioned a little earlier on that I’d been collaborating with various musicians on an experimental tape project. The idea behind the whole thing was to make music for the sake of making music.

I wanted to play with people without any kind of formalities or real responsibilities. It has been hard (in London) to find people who are willing to just let go of their egoic sense of purpose, band, career even and just find the time to make noise for the sheer joy of it. To take the leap and collaborate awkwardly and nakedly with strangers.

I was inspired principally by the idea of double-exposure on analogue film; where two different photographers take pictures over the same roll of film. The results are often chaotic, and either brilliant or a complete mess. I wanted to find a way for that gamble to translate musically, and given the inherent limitations of cheap analogue mediums, my mind turned towards 4-Track Cassette tape. I’d been looking for a way to use 4-Track for a while because of its ease of use, throwaway nature of the results, and to a certain degree the way it has now become almost entirely obsolete.

Of course, there is also a certain romanticism about 4-track tape, especially to someone whose musical adolescence was shaped in a big way by lo-fi independent music made using such equipment, but having learned of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, I had been searching for a means of doing something similar for a long time.
The problem is that in London, not many people have access to their own studios for recording a whole band live, and those who do are rarely up for the idea of getting groups of people together to record just for fun – they’ve got bills to pay. That’s understandable.

The tape idea has helped fill this gap to a certain degree. It may not have the immediacy of getting everyone together in the same room (in fact, at this point I still haven’t met some of the other collaborators on this project face-to-face yet), but the hidden blessing is that freed from other people’s presence, gaze, and breathing on their neck, everyone is free to do whatever they feel like within the confines of the tracks they record. It has been very surprising, and a lot of fun.

On a personal level, having spent so much time, effort, and focused concentration making sure all the Black Hay recordings have been ‘just right’, and working in quality studios, with quality equipment, for long hours making sure everything sounds nice, it is a nice relief to be able to rebel against that and against myself in a way, by throwing all of those notions and lessons out the window and just going wild with it. I’m not saying anything against quality recordings or the somewhat laborious nature of studio recording, just that a change is as good as a rest. It’s a welcome and invigorating contrast to be able to lay down such horrible noises, and for them to still sound ‘good’ to my ears.

Here are the results from the first ‘Project’. The second one has been underway for a while, but that particular saga is ongoing…

 

 

 

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Cheap Instruments & What Fate Hands You

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by Gideon K

I have this strange fatalism regarding instruments.

I think a lot of the musical changes in history have come from circumstance as much as anything else. We should consciously cultivate this. That’s why I think there’s a lack of imagination and a soul-starvation to people in bands spending stupid money on expensive American guitars.

Really obvious and unimaginative example:

A lot of indie/alt/rock bands play Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, because they have a great and unique sound, and all their favourite bands use them.

All their idols played them in the 80s, mostly because they were dirt cheap. No one wanted them back in the era of post-Van Halen pointy guitars. That’s the only way Sonic Youth could afford to have thousands of them, the same reason why My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, Nirvana, etc etc used them.

Now however, people spend loads of money on them. But to me it’s completely counter to the spirit they were used in the first place.

Is it really necessary to spend stupid amounts of money on some crazy thing when there might well be something just as great but different lurking in the dusty, forgotten corner of some tucked-away junk shop?

This goes for everything. If bands aren’t willing to be creative and spontaneous about how they outfit and equip themselves, how likely are they to be creative or unique in other areas?

Billy Corgan said he wrote most of the songs on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness on an old electric he got for $60 in a junk shop.

Josh Homme bought his Ovation GP from a record store that had just a banjo, an acoustic guitar, and the electric that he bought.

Nearly all my guitars are secondhand, old and Japanese – All under £300 except for one. They sound great, and what’s more – they sound unique. No one else is playing them.

You can probably tell I’m in thrall to the romantic notion of finding lost treasure in forgotten places….

I wholeheartedly advocate junk shops, car boot sales, ebay, gumtree, craigslist etc, or my favourite – charity shops. Just keep an eye out.

I like the fact that I don’t know where my next musical fling is going to come from, and it leaves you with some interesting stories about each of your toys.

Here’s how I see it: The era will provide whether it’s in a way you like or not. But there will be ample equipment that has been thrown out that is ripe for re-use.

Find out what type of gear is really good but unpopular, and go get yourself some great gear for cheap.

Happy hunting.

Do You Remember the First Time?

Posted in Songwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by Gideon K

Do you remember writing your first song you felt happy with?

I must’ve been a late starter. My first fully formed song that I was comfortable enough to play only came when I was 17.

It was a lazily hot afternoon. I was supposed to be in my room studying for my school end of year exams, but my guitar was standing against the wall leering seductively at me. My cheap, sticker covered, black and white Encore strat copy, making silent promises…

My first serious girlfriend

Happily and naively I picked it up, plugging into the amp and instinctively started playing these two chords – clean first, and then I kicked on the distortion and the hairs all over my teenage head stood up.

I started singing a melody on top, and words came out. I just kept playing and then before I knew it I had me a song. Magic.

I call music the bittersweet curse. When you write something and you’re all alone and you go “Ahh!” Just know that the second that feeling is over, you’re doomed to face it again and do it again. It’s never over. That’s why I love it, because it’s so mean to me.” – Josh Homme

I’d been coming up with riffs, chord sequences and ideas before this, and taping them on a little cassette player. Likewise with lyrics, scribbling down bits of lines, phrases and some awful early attempts at songs and poems.

This time however, it all came together. I don’t know why. All I know is that everything felt different.

You know that bit in Inception, where the girl has gone into the dream world for the first time? One of them says she’ll come back – because reality just won’t be enough anymore.

I felt alive in a way I never had before. Every time I’m writing and I feel like I’ve finished something, it’s a similar feeling, but never the same – a blessing and a curse.

Needless to say my school revision for the rest of the day went out the window…

So what’s the story of your first “Aah!” moment?