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Brad Sucks: Guess Who's a Mess album cover

Guess Who's a Mess, my third album. 10 tracks, instant downloads.

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Hey, we’ll be playing in Kingston at The Mansion on January 7th:

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Facebook events here and here.

Posted on - December 6, 2010 [at] 4:20 am by Brad
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Getting the laptop into the live show has been a long dumb technical process. It’s been working solid now for a long time so the last step was to get it all into a nice portable form factor that was quick and easy to set up and tear down.  I think I’m just about there:

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I bought this Gator Studio-2-Go case – which is a 2U rack case (front and back) as well as a laptop compartment on top (and most importantly a hole between the rack and laptop compartments for cable runs). Getting it was a stupid ordeal. I actually couldn’t find it anywhere in Canada (everyone said it was discontinued) so I had to order it from Sweetwater, get it delivered in the US and drive across the border to get it.  Sine then it’s been a gradual process figuring out everything I need in it.

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In the front (sorry for the crappy photos) I’ve got a Furman M-8X (rack-mounted power strip), a MOTU Ultralite mk3 (sound card) and a Shure PSM200 wireless transmitter (for feeding the click to the drummer). The power strip means I only have one power cord for the whole box, which is great.

In the back:

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The sound card’s outputs go into a Behringer ULTRA-DI PRO DI800, giving the sound dude three channels of DI’d output.  I had to learn how to build some short angle patch cables since non-angled ones wouldn’t fit with the back cover on.

Remaining issues:

  • I need an 8-channel XLR s-s-snake for the DI outputs (this has been ordered.)
  • The power supply for the PSM200 is one of those dudes with the AC adapter block separated from the plug. Meaning the block is floating around in the case, threatening to knock all my other connections out. I’m not sure how to secure it down or if I should try and replace it with a different adapter.
  • The Firewire adapter in the laptop sticks out of the side of the laptop a great deal and makes the side-foam the case comes with not fit properly. I guess I’ll cut a hole in it.
  • I wish it was easier to get the DI in and out in case I need to adjust something.  Right now I can squeeze my arms in but I’m only getting fatter so that’s not a permanent option. I don’t know much about racks – is there a. thing for that? A rack drawer maybe?

So instead of bringing in a pile of devices and having to set up all my cables each time, I’m down to one AC adapter and a handful of XLR outs and I don’t need any DIs from the house.

That was a lot of work.

Posted on - November 18, 2010 [at] 3:38 pm by Brad
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51Anc1ZmXFLI own several books by Bobby Owsinski and since I’ve been putting a live show back together I bought his new book and DVD: How To Make Your Band Sound Great.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. The new live show’s sounding pretty good I think and I’ve got a fair amount of experience on stage now but figured it’d be worth checking out.

Good Stuff

The most useful sections in the book for me were his technical descriptions of dynamics and playing “in the pocket”. Bobby talks a lot about playing “bigger” rather than louder or faster which has been an issue I’ve struggled with. For instance I liked this observation about why a lot of musicians feel like the life’s been sucked out of their performance if they aren’t playing really loud:

The internal dynamics of each individual usually go out the window. Instead of playing crisp yet quiet, with the same attacks and releases the band had at the higher volume level, the attacks and releases get relaxed so the playing becomes less precise. The real trick is learning to actually play with the same intensity at lower levels.

Makes a lot of sense. He suggests plotting out song (and set) dynamics on a 1-10 scale and to make sure the band members agree on what the levels on the scale sound like.

Bad Stuff

But besides a handful of useful tips, the book is geared towards the beginner. Repeated admonitions to tune your instrument, turn off your cell phone, take vocal lessons and be a professional might be useful to some readers but they seemed obvious to me.

The included 60-minute DVD of Bobby coaching a band rehearsing a song is interesting, but could easily have been edited down to around 15 minutes, which would have made it more effective and reduced my exposure to ska considerably. Cuts back and forth between the earlier and later (improved) performances of the song would have been a helpful demonstration.

Conclusion

It’s not a bad book, I’d recommend it for a complete beginner. But it made me more aware of questions I had going in that it didn’t answer. I’d love to see another book that dealt with situations that are more geared towards laptoppy Internet recording artists who are branching out into live performance like:

  • How to deal with a laptop on stage – my first few times out I had issues with only having unbalanced outputs.
  • Backing tracks. How many outputs to give the house, how to treat them, how much backing stuff to include.
  • How to simulate band dynamics with drum backing tracks or a drum machine.
  • Vocal treatment & effects. Especially in small venues I’ve found running my vocals through a compressor/limiter helps my vocals sound more like the records.
  • How to handle crappy sound guys. (Constructing an alibi, body disposal, etc.)

I’m sure it would be a huge, huge money-making hit.

Posted on - February 26, 2010 [at] 3:06 pm by Brad
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Totally not dead up in here. Stuff I’m working on:

New music

It’s being worked on. I had a slow start in the new year but I’m back on track finishing up demos for the new album. See photographic proof:

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I’ll post stuff as I finish it, which better be soon if I hope to be nearly finished this album this year.

Live show

The live show is coming along nicely and is basically ready to go. It’s myself, a laptop, a drummer (Justin) and a guitarist (Ben). I think it’s sounding a lot closer to the albums than the last live setup that was more of a garage rock version of the songs (which was fun for me but apparently not what most people wanted to hear). I just got this book today so you know it’s serious.

Figuring out what to do with my live show

Did you know I’m not at all popular in my home town of Ottawa? That sounds amazing but it’s actually true. Gigs here are generally both empty and demoralizing. So I’d like to actually play for some people and maybe make, rather than lose, money.

Apparently I’d do well in places that are very far from my home but I’m not sure how to get the live show there without losing a ton of money also. And furthermore: money.

Recording a band

There’s a band I know (and like) and I’m recording their album. They’re pretty different than my stuff so I’m learning a lot. How to record a drum kit, how to record a rhodes piano, how to binge drink, etc, etc. I just bought this book so you know it’s serious.

Boring stuff

I’ve been trying to be better about a lot of areas I’m bad in. Bios, photos, t-shirts, promo and so on, they’re tedious and boring processes and I don’t want to talk about them. I also bought a car. And an iPhone.  And we have a new foster dog (our fourth!):

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His name is Milo. He has no home but he’s hanging here until he gets one.

Posted on - February 19, 2010 [at] 9:36 pm by Brad
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Been hacking around trying to get some nifty synced visualization stuff going. Best (and cheapest) visualization seems to be Milkdrop in Winamp, so I got it responding to MIDI signals sent from Ableton Live on another machine. Here’s a quick demo:

I’d like to be able to trigger video clips next, then I’m not sure about combining them all onto one display and swapping between them.

Posted on - September 16, 2009 [at] 12:17 pm by Brad
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Over the weekend I broke up with my band. It wasn’t them, it was me. Thanks to Bruce and Matt for the awesome support and good times. I’m trying to figure out what’s next and I’ll probably be looking for ideas on here.

How does a “one man band” do a rocking live show that isn’t boring as all hell?

Posted on - December 1, 2008 [at] 1:47 am by Brad
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This past Friday was the occasion of my birth. I am now old enough that I wasn’t sure what age I’d be turning. Thanks for all the kind wishes.

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I am in “crunch mode” for the Denver show on Thursday. I am also “nervous”. This’ll be only my third solo show but it’ll also be the first one where I’m not doing my own sound.  So maybe that will be good? Maybe I have nothing to worry about?

Posted on - November 17, 2008 [at] 5:54 pm by Brad
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There are some upcoming Brad Sucks shows:

November 7th & 8th: Playing two nights at Kelly’s Welcome in Manotick, ON. Full band.

November 20th: The Bluebird Theater in Denver, Colorado. Solo.

There’s a pretty good possibility I’ll be doing some touring in the new year, so be sure to put yourself down on the map on my live page.

Posted on - November 3, 2008 [at] 1:58 pm by Brad
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Welp, I had a good time at the CD release party last night. Thanks to everyone who showed up and anyone who jumped on stage at the end there during the crowd-participation part of “Out of It”.

Besides the talented Dave Norris and the Harvey Cartel who played, musicians in attendance were Jesse Dangerously, Claude from The Peptides, TheHipCola, Meredith Luce and MC Frontalot was on a phone in IM capacity.

Various Songfighters and REAPER users came out of the woodwork, which was awesome.

Out of It goes on sale for everybody out there tomorrow night at midnight (EST). Woooooooo.

Posted on - September 6, 2008 [at] 4:23 pm by Brad
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Outofit-cover-300pxThe CD Release Party for Out of It is booked and officially on September 5th at Cafe Dekcuf in the city of Ottawa. Times and bands are still TBD, though I am practically guaranteed to be there and drinking heavily. But you are super invited and hey, you could pick up a copy of the CD three days before the release date! What a coincidence that is!

This will also likely be the last show as a regular old three piece rock band. It’s been super fun, but I can’t resist putting a computer in the live show and electronifying things and making us prone to tech problems. Anyway, I hope to see you there.

Posted on - August 8, 2008 [at] 2:14 pm by Brad
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